Monday, April 28, 2008

Annapolis for the weekend

This past weekend we cruised down to Annapolis, as we needed to leave Eclipse, our dinghy, at Maritime Solutions for repairs. (Time to get rid of the duct tape holding together the aluminum radar arch, after the welds failed while in the Bahamas!) We hosted a couple of Ally's schoolmates, Mary Seaman and Olivia Segalman for the weekend as well. They're all sophomores at Oldfields School, and it's always fun to have Ally's friends along, since they make the journey so lively. Ally enjoys sharing her love of cruising (particularly when running the dinghy, which she considers "her" boat) and Annapolis is always a great destination with its pretty architecture, rich history, water views, and (most important to the girls) good shopping all within easy walking distance!

Before arriving in Annapolis, though, in the midst of the usual Saturday morning sailboat races, we offloaded the dinghy since we wouldn't be able to do so once in our marina slip. Ally and the girls brought the tender in, following in our wake, as we headed for Yacht Basin where we had a reservation. As we approached our slip, there was a bit of excitement as the dinghy started stalling out in the middle of Spa Creek. After a few frantic moments of confusion on the girls' part, we tossed them a line and simply pulled them to the pier as we slid into our slip. Well, we were there to bring the dinghy in for repairs, after all...just one more thing to add to the list.

Ron and I stopped at Fawcett's for a few items (and were pleased to see that they are well-stocked again) before hitting the Middleton Tavern for their oyster shooters and steamed shrimp. The girls, of course, went shopping. Ron and I returned to the boat and began to diagnose the dinghy, mystified as to why it would start so nicely, but then stall when put into gear. When the engine refused to lift out of the water, Ron used our glass-bottom bucket to see what was going on....and found the dinghy bow line wrapped around the propeller. Aha!! Ally was demoted from dinghy pilot back to swabbie for that one!!

We easily cut the line loose, and after picking up the girls downtown with all their purchases, we took a leisurely ride up Spa Creek, listening to the radio and singing in the sunshine. After that, we enjoyed a late dinner at The Chart House (with a wait despite our reservations due to the crowds) but the delicious food and great views made up for any delay. We enjoyed the evening together, again taking a cruise up Ego Alley to drop the girls off for some Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert. We headed back in the boat and let the girls walk back. They arrived back just in time to beat the thunderstorms that prevailed the remainder of the night.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Back in Baltimore

It feels so good to be home! The journey is over, and being back aboard with Allison again is lovely. We really missed her! Then, throughout the week, being welcomed back by the marina staff and our pier neighbors has been delightful.

We've already enjoyed 2 fabulous Italian "pier dinners" aboard Medici with Charlie and Trish, our slip neighbors, with various and sundry folks stopping by for drinks and conversation. It's always convival and cheery, everyone happy to be back aboard after the winter lay-up, everyone catching up with one another about their family happenings and future cruising plans. Good to be home! Charlie and Trish keep teasing us about the lovely shade our boat provides theirs, as the solid profile of Equinox definitely towers over their SeaRay, and blocks out the afternoon sun. No need for an shade awning when we're in the slip next door, that's for sure!!

Best of all, we are now back aboard full-time. It's an easier commute to work for Ron, although a bit farther to get Ally to school, but at least its an easy drive with all the traffice coming IN to Baltimore, and we've the reverse commute. Trek, too is happily aboard, and I'm enjoying my early morning walks with him, with my views of Ft. McHenry across the quiet harbor. At that hour in the morning just after daybreak, the solitude and peace of being on the water are very much in evidence despite the ever-increasing sounds of a city awakening in the background.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On the ditch again!

Off to a fresh start on the ICW today....breezy conditions still prevail, but are due to subside by Friday, when we hope to make St. Augustine. From there, IF the winds and waves allow, we will run offshore. With all our shenanigans yesterday, it was a lovely, quiet run in the ditch, with Ron or Kerry alternating at the helm, and Karen ably keeping track of our progress on the charts and alerting us to any bridge restrictions. Not surprisingly, I didn't take the helm all day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lessons Learned

Wednesday began windy and wild, which did not coincide with our plans. In fact, we couldn't have chosen a nastier time to try to bring Equinox home. Nevertheless, despite the forecast, we ended up going offshore...Ron headed out the inlet, saying it was just to "take a peek" at the conditions. He was hoping that if we ran just a couple miles offshore, it wouldn't be too bad. I was not a happy camper - or cruiser- and voiced my concerns, but Ron was focused on the schedule. As we exited the jetty, Kerry came up, looking sleepy and disheveled, and when he looked out, he said with some disbelief, "So.....we're running offshore?" We looked at each other, both skeptical about this decision, but Ron just said "You bet!" While our Kadey-Krogen can handle rough seas, being stoutly built, we both thought, "why be miserable when you don't have to be?"

Right out of the gate we were in 5-7' seas, and soon they were nearing 10'. This all within a couple miles from shore! I admit to being rather worried, but I'm good at that. Still, I imagined a 10,001 things going wrong, and listened intently to all sounds from the engine room, not wanting to lose an engine to bad fuel, stirred up from the violent seas, and checked again that everything was battened down, strapped down or pinned shut. We were as secure as we could be, and the engines were humming along beautifully. Gratitude was aplenty!

I then started using my phone to text my sister, Jennifer and daughter, Ally, for two reasons: to let them know the new float plan of going offshore, and (more importantly) to distract and calm myself somewhat in the increasingly rough seas. It did help...but then, I noticed that Kerry went dashing down below, and when he didn't return after a few minutes, I went up to the pilothouse. When I found Ron looking more than a bit green, I then realized what was going on...that everyone was seasick, but me!! (I hadn't seen Karen yet this morning, either, despite two attempts on her part to make it to the piltohouse.) Think there may have been a bit too much Tommy Bahama rum the night before....not a wise choice before heading out to sea the next morning!!

Thus, my saga started. I took over the helm station, and stayed there for the next 6 hours, as everyone else was out of commission. We bounced, slammed and slid our way along to Port Canaveral, that being my executive decision to bring us back inside....I had had enough of this! The autopilot fought and wrestled with the seas while I clung to the helm, watching as the waves seemed even larger...pushing high above the bow, looming ever taller, with the boat rising, rising, rising and then momentarily going weightless a moment or two, before slamming down as we crested the wave. Sometimes violently, sometimes careening off balance down the front of the next wave, sometimes just gliding forward to find the next big wave. By now the seas were definitely 14-18', with the occasional 20-footer....yep, pretty much what was forecast. Winds were gale force, about 30 knots, and stayed there most of the day. It seemed like every sixth or seventh wave was a slammer, and none were polite about shoving Equinox around!

When Ron managed to be functional about 3:30 or so, and pried my hands off the newly worn grooves in the wheel, he took the helm to finish the approach into Port Canaveral. I was toast, and hit the saloon couch to crash for a bit. (Ron had said he didn't sleep much in our forward cabin, what with the waves literally tossing him up in the air and his having to listen to the anchor chain bang about the chain locker.) I can't say I had much sympathy at that moment.

By 5:00 we were in the Port Canaveral inlet, and moored up in the marina, with the guys wobbling around and trying to wash, scrub and/or chisel the salt off Equinox.
Dinner was a sandwich or two for those who could stomach them, before a very early bedtime. Bliss!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Try, try again...

Well, we're trying again, hoping to bring home Equinox from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay. This time we have some crew to help us out, another boating couple Karen and Kerry Moser, off their 56' Carver, Concrete Idea. Seasoned boaters and former USCG Auxiliary members, they're very interested in trawlers and cruising farther afield, so wanted to come along and help us out. We're flying down to FL on Tuesday night, and hopefully the weather will cooperate, although at this point, it looks dubious for the first day or two we're there. We'll wait and see!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back from the Bahamas....

Well, it's hard to be home without the boat. We are flying back down to FL on April 15th, to try once more to bring Equinox home. Despite the glorious time we had in the Bahamas over spring break, the weather window for our trip back home to the Chesapeake never really materialized, so we ended up leaving the boat in Ft. Pierce for a couple weeks. We'll get a few last-minute punch list items taken care of while it's there, gratefully so ... and hope the weather gods are more kind to us this next go round. Yeah, we know...schedules and boating don't mix, but until the time comes when we are able to cut the dock lines, we do the best we can.