Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
We'll continue our journey south tomorrow and make the remainder of the voyage to Cambridge, where we're meeting Ron's sister, Laura, her husband Jeff and their two children, Marina and Jordan for a long weekend of family fun in the sun. The resort is a great place to meet, since the Hyatt has all sorts of amenities from a golf course, tennis courts, restaurants and two huge pools, one with a waterslide. Karyn is totally focused on the fact that Cambridge is also home to J.M. Clayton's, a local crab-packing facility there, where we can buy hand-picked lump crab meat by the pound. Perfect for Ron's fabulous crab cakes!! Yum!! Can't wait! Steamed crabs are also on the menu for Saturday night...REALLY can't wait for that!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Blue skies over Baltimore on our approach
Our return to BMC was marred by the fact that they had rented out our slip while we were gone (unbeknownst to us) and unfortunately, every one of our set docklines were either untied from our original positioning on the dock cleats or....missing altogether! Ron was rather upset about it, as it made tying up a bit hectic as Ally and I scurried to grab additional lines from the lockers at the last minute when we realized what we were dealing with. We will be keeping an eye on whether or not they bill us for any electric charges that were incurred while we were gone. (Tain't paying for that!) BMC did replace the two docklines when they heard we were missing them, which mollified Ron somewhat. He spent the afternoon splicing proper-sized eyes in the lines for the hawsepipes, and re-setting the lines where we needed them on the dock cleats.
We now have internet once again, although that was an issue upon arrival as well, as it wasn't working at BMC either. (Now, what's the common denominator with all the ISPs not working? Us? Let's hope not!) It really didn't matter on Saturday, since we were busy enough with other things to do that we didn't have time to get on-line. Getting in as early as we did allowed us to get the boat back in order, hit the pool for a bit with Ally, and chat with boat friends, then join our house neighbors for a surprise 25th anniversary/birthday party that Saturday night. Whooo --a whirlwind of parties all over again -- shades of Bermuda!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
While the girls were at the beach, Ron and I took a dinghy cruise around the harbor….definitely shades of years past when the Baldonis were here with us, although this was an abbreviated dinghy crawl due to impending rain. Still, we hit the Harbor View restaurant for some oysters and sushi (Ron raved about the calamari salad, saying it was the best he’d ever had!). We meandered over to the canal near South Jersey Marina amongst the big commercial fishing boats and the quintessentially New Jersey boat houses on stilts over the water. Some of them are in true disrepair, others are barely hanging on, but it’s so New Jersey, I love it! We eventually continued around, ducking under the Rt. 109 bridge to dock up at Lucky Bones for a shared plate of delicious ribs at the bar. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t muster up the energy to continue the crawl, but simply came around through the Ferry Channel back to Canyon Club for an early night. Can't claim it's jet lag, now can we?
The Master Les-- one of the commercial fishing vessels docked up near the Lobster House.
Some of the cozy canal homes
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Having arrived late Saturday night, once the boat was tied up, secure and shore power on, we crashed hard... slept 10 hours straight! (Fabulous!) Then, it was up early and to work on Sunday: washing Equinox and getting her back in ship-shape. It took us three sweaty hours in the high heat and humidity just to wash the outside of the boat alone....and then another three getting the interior vacuumed, cleaned and dusted. How can a boat get dusty being at sea??? You would think that things would stay clean, as there's no dirt and dust to blow in, right? Definitely not the case, though, oddly enough! As a reward for all our efforts, we treated ourselves to a decadent surf & turf dinner on the aftdeck that evening. Let me tell you, a real meal was quite welcome after the past days at sea! Ron is ready to write a new diet book, called "The Crossing Diet", guaranteed to make you drop a few pounds: find bad weather well offshore so you can't sleep, can't sleep and in fact, don't even want to look at the galley! It works!! The workout portion follows when you have to clean the boat once you're back in port....
Monday brought more cleaning and boat chores, but we weren't all work and no play, for at the pool, we met some other transient boaters on C pier, Lenore and Scott Norris aboard Sea Watch II, as well as some of their friends. Always fun to meet new folks, as is the case with cruising! We ended up going out to a fabulous dinner with the Norris' at 410 Bank Street in downtown Cape May that evening: delicious gumbo!!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The highlight of the last day at sea was that Ron caught a BIG white marlin at the same latitude as Ocean City, MD (about 100 nm offshore, or thereabouts, as we were nearing Baltimore Canyon) ... over 6' in length, although at first , being fishing neophytes, we didn't realize what it was. In fact, for a minute, as the fish neared the transom for the first time, Ron thought it was a shark because of the tall dorsal fin! But, no.....definitely white marlin, when we saw its bill, color and stripes! Needless to say, we were startled, since we weren't expecting to catch any billfish...we were hoping for tuna or mahi-mahi! We hadn't a clue as to what to do with it, so released the poor thing. We've since found out that the local superstition here is to jump in the water after you catch one, or you won't catch another. (Ron didn't jump in, and believe me, it's fine if we don't catch another!) It was wild, though!
In any event, we came into Cape May in the late evening, around 9:00, just as it was getting dark. Lots of fishing boats around the breakwater in the midst of a wicked current...I looked up and we were doing ...what??....10 knots??...Coming in the inlet?? Yes indeed! There was one big charter boat that was perpendicular to the entrance as we arrived, apparently caught by the current and swung sideways -- it blended in with radar and we didn't realize there was a boat there at first, thinking it was just lights at the end of the jetty. It ended backing away from the entrance as we approached, amongst several small fishing boats. (I admit to being very confused by the lights I saw: What is that? A tug? Pushing barge? No tow lights, so...what IS that?) Looking closely with binoculars, I realized it was just a lot of little fishing boats and one BIG one, directly across our bow! Good thing we were entering cautiously and carefully! Not that anyone bothered to use their radio, either....thankfully we have been here before and knew the lay of the land -- or buoys & markers -- so to speak. We'd timed it right to come into the harbor at high tide, but weren't anticipating the fishing boats everywhere. Even after we entered the breakwater, there were boats zipping at us and by us at a good clip, some ignoring the marked channel. Welcome to New Jersey!
We inched into Canyon Club marina, jockeying with the current even inside the marina, and Ron did his usual superb docking job, sliding Equinox into a 20' wide slip. (Our beam being 18' 10", it's a bit tight!) Lines secured, engines and gensets shut down with power cord out, phone call to Customs to clear in....we'd arrived. It was hard to believe we weren't moving after 84 hours of being underway and 5 weeks on the anchor previous to that.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Then, somewhere in the early hours of Friday, within the space of an hour, we went from huge rolling beam seas to short, choppy head waves, wherein we pitched violently and had to slow down to barely 6 knots to make any way whatsoever, without snapping our necks and/or the boat mast. In fact, we slammed into some head seas so roughly that we got water in the forward cabin again, through the two portholes, when the gaskets were displaced from around the edges. (Not sure if they were properly installed or not, but they weren’t sealed in place and were very loose indeed: bulging out from under the lips of the window frame, letting in water with every slamming wave). Water shorted out the outlet near my side of the bed...thankfully, we’d been checking the stateroom very regularly so Ron noticed the water when he checked at watch change. SO…major mop-job and gasket re-securing (as best as could be done underway) was necessary and thankfully while it wasn’t a lot of water, but now we’re paranoid about the windows again.
We really got bounced pretty good here….not totally beaten up, as the boat is doing well otherwise but for a few leaks here and there, but … it’s a boat! Always trying to shake itself apart in a hostile environment, thus you have on-going maintenance and a watchful eye is necessary. But, I love Equinox. I feel very safe and secure aboard her; she’s a stout little ship. My attitude is that yes, we do have a few leaks, but with the exception of the cabin portholes letting in so much water, I feel like the boat’s solid. The engines are consistently humming along, and thank goodness the stabilizers have been trouble-free. We really put them to the test this trip with the heavy weather. Gratitude!!
So, heavily fatigued (neither of us could sleep or eat in such horrid waves – moving about meant hanging on or getting slammed about) we soldier onward, still 161 nm from Cape May, with an anticipated arrival in the wee hours tomorrow morning, about 26 hours from now. Not sure how we’ll do that….will need to wait for the high tide; if we recall, it’s a bit thin in by the Canyon Club so we want decent water under the hull after all this way.
This return journey has been pretty brutal at times, but the trip itself was SO worth it. I loved every second in Bermuda!! The new friends that we met and who are now so dear to us, the times we had with them and the things we did to explore and acquaint ourselves with the islands…it was fabulous. Being on no schedule enabled us to spend about 5 weeks there, which was lovely. The fact that we arrived in our own boat by ourselves is a feat not everyone can claim! While many folks have done it in worse conditions and in much smaller boats, what I’m most pleased about is that we had the courage to do it, and did it! Life is about the stories one can tell, isn’t it?
One indispensible piece of equipment aboard that has worked well despite distance and rough seas has been our Sirius Satellite Radio, which, being Parrotheads, we’ve had tuned to Radio Margaritaville the entire time. Something about hearing Jimmy Buffett while you’re out at sea….pretty cool to have “A Pirate Looks At Forty”, “One Particular Harbour”, “Southern Cross” or any other ocean-loving tune playing in one’s ear when looking at the impossibly blue water 500 miles from landfall!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Newly freed, Equinox set out and threaded her way out Castle Roads past the outer reefs along Bermuda’s south shore. Having gone through it dozens of time with Eclipse to go out diving still isn't the same as taking one's deep draft boat through. We had plenty of water and Ron had no problems bringing us out through the reefs and around to Town Cut and into St. George's Harbour. We tied up at Ordnance Island to clear out with Customs, which went very smoothly... and quickly! We retrieved our flares and pole-spears, and locked everything back up aboard before we received our precious Form 5. With that in hand, we proceeded to Dowling’s to await the Shell fuel truck bringing our load of duty-free diesel. At .70/liter, it was considerably less than the $1.48/liter that gasoline cost, and worth the arrangements.
The highlight of the afternoon was a private tour of Bermuda Harbour Radio, located at Fort George on the highest point on St. George’s Island. Our friend, Scott Simmons, is the Chief Radio Officer for BHR and arranged to meet us to show us the inner workings of the lookout station. It was really pretty cool to climb the (very) steep hill to find a 3-centuries-old fort, then cross its deep, three-story moat to enter a high-tech radar and radio installation!
Scott showed us their radar tracking station and the variety of computers and radio workstations that they use to communicate wtih all the ships inbound and outbound. We were introduced to Tom, Nick and Peter, the technicians on duty, all of whom we've heard or spoken to over the VHF when we were first making landfall in Bermuda. The courtesy and dedication of the radio technicians is very impressive and seeing them in action was a real treat! As any sailor or cruiser who enters Bermuda by ship for the first time can attest, there is nothing better than hearing the calm, courteous and welcoming voice of Bermuda Harbour Radio (callsign VBR) after days at sea!!
Monday, August 3, 2009
After a leisurely lunch in St. Georges at Tavern By The Sea, we spent the afternoon immersed with heavy preparations for departure. Sea strainers inspected and cleaned, oil changed on the 12 kW genset, aft lazarette cleaned with dive gear fully rinsed, dried and stowed, bikes covered and secured, fuel arrangements confirmed and chart routes, waypoints and tides reconfirmed. We'll head to St. Georges in the morning for final clearance with Customs & Immigration before fueling at Dowlings. We need to clear out first, in order to get the fuel duty-free.
The reward for our efforts was a final swim at Castle Roads in the gorgeous azure waters and pink sands. Hot and sweating after our endeavors, the water never felt so good! Ally taught Ron how to find sand dollars in the fine Bermudian sand ...he was most unlucky and spent most of the time searching in vain while Ally and Karyn found several. But persistence prevailed, and he finally did find one at last before we headed back to Equinox for a jump off the pilothouse roof to cap the swimming session.
We all hurried to clean up for dinner; we met Helene and Vicky at the Mid-Ocean Dock for a ride into town and dinner in Hamilton at Barracuda, next to The Hog Penny (Or, "The Pig Coin" as Taylor inadvertently dubbed it!). Joined by Scott and Vicky's friend Kevin, we seven had a delicious dinner for our last meal in Hamilton. Helene arranged for us to get a gallon of Bermuda Fish Chowder to take home with us....Ron can't wait to share it with everyone! It's hard to believe that the month has flown so fast, but here it is, departure is soon upon us. The moon is nearly full...and we'll be gone when the glow worms make their next appearance in August. Sad to contemplate, as we will sorely miss this lovely island.