Newport Continued – July 23, 2016

We returned to Curiosity in the late afternoon, intending to relax and read.  We turned on the generator to charge the batteries and give us some power to cook dinner, as we decided to have a pasta casserole we had prepared and frozen before we left.  All was well.  We were awaiting the final Jeopardy answer when the generator suddenly cut off.   The generator panel said there was insufficient water flow.  So we headed to the engine room to look at the generator’s water strainer.  It had some debris in it, but it wasn’t clogged.  Jim cleaned it out anyway, popped it back in and started the generator again.  It started right up.  Problem solved.  We eventually headed to bed and were getting close to calling it a day when the generator cut out again.  Again, insufficient water flow.  But the evening was cool and still very windy, so there was no need for the A/C.  This time, we let it be and figured we would deal with it in the morning.

The next morning we fired up the generator again, and it ran without any problems for about 2 hours when we shut it down. Jim emailed Burr Yachts to see if they had any thoughts on the issue and they mentioned that there was a heat sensor on the exhaust pipe that might be bad.  This would require getting a tech on board to troubleshoot the problem.  Ugh!  We thought the problem was that something had clogged up the intake line and now was off.  At worst, we thought we might have to get a diver out to check the intake.  But all seemed well so we called the launch and headed into Newport.

This was Saturday, the second day of the Newport Folk Festival taking place at Fort Adams.  The docks were filled with people taking water taxis and launches to the Festival.  We probably would have tried to get tickets to the festival, but when we arrived on Thursday the Festival was sold out.  Just as well.  Saturday was going to be a hot and humid day, and baking in the sun all day did not appeal to us.

Instead, we hiked over to Bellevue Avenue, where the mansions are located, to tour Marble House, the home of Alva and William Vanderbilt.  As you might have guessed from its name, Marble House is constructed almost entirely of marble imported from Europe.  It was a gift from William to Alva.  Alva had selected a warm gold and cream marble for the entry way, which was a perfect cube shape, two stories high and huge, because she didn’t want the house to look or feel like a mausoleum. Instead she wanted a home that took its cues from the Palace at Versailles, so you can imagine how understated it was.

Marble House

Marble House

Marble House from the Rear

Marble House from the Rear

The dining room was done is red and gray marble on the walls and gold boar’s and stag’s heads on the ceiling.  The dining room table could seat at least 12 and the chairs were made of gold-plated bronze.  The side chairs weighed 75 pounds, the host and hostess chairs 100 pounds, and all required footmen to push them in and pull them out for family and guests.

Across the center hall from the dining room was the formal sitting/living room.  It was filled with mirrors and carved wall figures, which were plated in 22-carat gold.

Ballroom and Sitting Room

Ballroom and Sitting Room

Ade Wants This Fireplace for Our House

Ade Wants This Fireplace for Our House

Behind this room was the Gothic Room.  It had dark red walls and all its windows were constructed with gothic arches and stunning stained glass collected in Europe.  The purpose of the room was to house the Vanderbilt’s collections of gothic artifacts, such as ancient books, illuminated manuscripts, altar pieces and more.  Alva apparently believed that they and others in their class were the American aristocracy comparable to European aristocracy.  As such, they needed to have collections of ancient artifacts just as the Europeans did.  But unlike the European families who had had centuries to establish their collections, the Americans only had decades.  The Americans (and the Vanderbilts were among this group), therefore, decided they needed to buy collections en masse.  The Gothic Room was the result of that effort.

The Gothic Room

The Gothic Room

Fireplace in Gothic Room

Fireplace in Gothic Room

Gothic Room Ceiling

Gothic Room Ceiling

Up the main staircase on the mezzanine level were two rooms, one for men and one for women.  They were small, by Marble House standards, but their purpose was to provide a place for house guests to rest from their travels and clean up a bit.  This was the late 1890s and early 1900s, when the wealthy were traveling around in carriages and open cars.  As our audio guide pointed out, they got dusty and needed to freshen up, and these rooms were designed to provide a place for that.

Men's Parlor

Men’s Parlor

Ladies' Parlor

Ladies’ Parlor

The second floor housed the bedrooms, one each for Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt and two for their three children, two boys (William and Harold) and a girl (Consuelo).  Surprisingly, there was only one guest bedroom, which was quite large and elaborately decorated with an en suite bath.  Apparently, many of the families in these mansions did not have a lot of house guests during the summer social season.  They tended to socialize with the other families who were living in or renting the mansions, or who were staying in nearby hotels.

William's Bedroom

William’s Bedroom

Alva's Bedroom

Alva’s Bedroom

Consuelo's Bedroom

Consuelo’s Bedroom

Harold Vanderbilt - Three-time Defender of the America's Cup

Harold Vanderbilt – Three-time Defender of the America’s Cup

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Guest Stting Area

Guest Stting Area

Marble House did not long remain a family retreat for the Vanderbilts because Alva divorced William in what was a shocking move on Alva’s part.  In those days, according to Alva, the only people who got divorced were Hollywood stars, certainly not the upper crust of American society.  Her husband begged her to accept a separation, but she refused.  She wanted to be a trailblazer for women, to show them that they could be independent and survive.  So she got divorced and became a major supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. After the divorce, she used Marble House to store clothes and furniture.

Having seen the upstairs and the downstairs of life in the Newport Mansions, we decided to return to Curiosity for some lunch and R & R before dinner at Jo’s Bistro.  We hiked back to the wharf to pick up the launch and met another huge group of people trying to get over to the folk festival.  Normally, to get a launch all we had to do was show up on the wharf and in about a minute one would show up.  Not so that afternoon.  Many boats and launches came and went, but none were shuttling people to the mooring field.  Finally one showed up and we were able to return to Curiosity.

As mentioned, our destination for dinner was Jo’s Bistro.  The festival crowds were waning by early evening, and we had no trouble getting a launch.  We hiked over to the restaurant and were grateful for the A/C because the evening was still a hot and muggy affair.  We had high hopes for Jo’s Bistro because it had great reviews, but alas it didn’t quite live up to its billing.  The food wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that great.  Jim had seared scallops over mashed potatoes with peas and corn, and I had grilled shrimp over a pea and melon risotto.  Sounds good, but both dishes needed better seasoning and more flavor.  The rolls, however, were excellent.

Our return to the boat meant that it was time to fire up the generator again.  As with the other times, it started right away.  But after about an hour it stopped again.  And again it was because of insufficient water flow.  We thought the problem had resolved itself when the generator ran without trouble the previous time.  Wrong!  This was becoming a real problem because we were planning on going to Nantucket the next day where we would be on a mooring for three days.  If the generator wasn’t working we’d either run our batteries down or be forced to get a slip, and there was no guarantee that one would be available on such short notice at that summer boating mecca.

We really thought that it was something that was clogging the intake.  I had seen clumps of seagrass throughout the harbor when we were coming in on Thursday.  So I stepped outside just to see if there was anything on the port side where the generator and its intake are located.  And lo and behold, a long clump of sea grass and seaweed was wafting along the port side.  Now this was not definitive, but it certainly suggested that a glob of this stuff was periodically getting sucked up into the intake.  We decided to take a deep breath and forget about it until tomorrow.  We were planning on running the watermaker on our way to Nantucket, for which we would need the generator.  If it could power the watermaker for several hours without stopping, then there was a good chance that the clog theory was correct.

So we forgot about our generator problems and hit the sack.  We would have to be up at 5:15 for a 6 am departure the next morning.

Sunset Newport Harbor

Sunset Newport Harbor

 

 

July 21-22, 2016 – Stonington to Newport

Thursday morning we were up early for the short 36 nm run to Newport, Rhode Island.  We wanted to leave early because moorings in Newport are on a first come basis – there are no reservations.  So at 6:30am, we slipped off our mooring lines and headed out of Stonington Harbor.  It was a relatively easy run to Newport in calm seas and without too many lobster pots along the way.

By 10:15 am, we were coming down the channel into Newport Harbor.  Adrienne called the harbor master to see if we could get a mooring.  Our hearts dropped when he said none were available.  We had nowhere to stay in Newport.  He suggested we try Old Port Marine, which also has moorings.  We called them and got no answer.  We continued down the inlet and just before we turned into the harbor, we got Old Port on the radio.  They had a mooring for us.  Hooray!  By 10:36am, we were tied up to mooring number 1, right in front of the Newport Yachting Center,  a great location.

As we were tying up, we noticed that Spray, the boat in front of us, seemed to be flying an Annapolis Yacht Club burgee.  A few minutes later, a tender from the boat came along our starboard side, and we met Russ and Margo from AYC. We invited them on board and we had a delightful chat.  While we had never met, we had a number of mutual friends at AYC.

After lunch, we were going to launch the dinghy and go into town.  However, the wind suddenly picked up and it was going to be tricky lowering the dinghy from the fly bridge, so we took the Old Port launch into town.  We wandered along Thames Street, the main shopping avenue.  Adrienne and I wandered into a number of shops and eventually she bought a skirt at the Haley Hansen store.  Then it was back to the boat for a quick shower before dinner.

Dinner was at Fluke Wine, Bar and Kitchen.  Our reservation was at 5:45 pm, which was early even for us but that was all that was available until much later.  When we arrived we were the only people in the restaurant, except for one or two folks at the bar.  We wondered why we couldn’t get a later reservation, but figured they were booked starting at 6:30, which turned out to be the case.

We decided to try a number of their small plates for dinner.  Our first two dishes were the fluke ceviche and an heirloom tomato burrata salad.  Both were excellent.  Our second two dishes were a grilled shrimp soba noodle salad and ravioli filled with foie gras and Medjool dates.  The shrimp were good but the raviolis lacked punch. The foie gras had been pureed and so lacked that lusciousness usually associated with foie gras.  Instead, it was just pureed liver.  For dessert, we split the blueberry bread pudding which was good but hardly compared to the bread pudding at AYC.  After dinner, we did a few errands and then headed back to the boat.

Our original plan was to head to Nantucket on Friday.  But NOAA had predicted high winds for Friday and part of Saturday, so we decided to remain in Newport for the weekend.

Friday morning, we woke to the wind howling across the harbor, and it was only supposed to get worse as the day progressed.  No way were we going to launch the dinghy in that mess.  We had also wanted to get a pump-out from the Newport pump-out boat but that also seemed like an invitation to disaster since most of the boats in the harbor were pitching and yawing with the winds and seas.  Instead, we called the launch and went into town to play tourist.

We decided to tour some of the Newport Mansions.  On previous trips to Newport, we had toured the Breakers and done the Cliff Walk.  This time, we opted for the “Servant Life” tour at the Elms.  This tour, as the name implies, explores the lives of the servants that kept the Elms running smoothly.  There was only one other couple on the tour so we had plenty of opportunities to chat with our tour guide.

We started the tour, appropriately, at the servant’s entrance.  The entrance, which was also used for deliveries, was a circular drive completely covered with overhead wisteria vines and therefore was invisible from inside the house.  We learned that the Berwind family, who built the Elms, traveled with over 30 servants between outdoor and indoor staff.  The married servants lived nearby in Newport, while the single servants lived on the third floor, which was designed to appear as if it didn’t exist.  This was because the Berwinds wanted the running of the Elms to appear as if no servants were there.  As our tour guide said, they wanted to make it seem that everything happened “as if by magic.”  Well, it may have seemed that way, but the reality was that the staff worked every day of the week, for about 14 hours each day, almost every day of the year.

Covered Servants and Delivery Entrance

Covered Servants and Delivery Entrance

Ade Lost in the Foliage of the Servants' Entrance

Ade Lost in the Foliage of the Servants’ Entrance

Servant and Delivery Entrance as Seen from the Interior of the Elms

Servant and Delivery Entrance as Seen from the Interior of the Elms

On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the servants came from Ireland and England and led lives of poverty where they were working at least that hard and struggling to feed and clothe their families.  As servants at the Elms, they got free room and board and enough money to not only support themselves but send money to their families in their home countries.  By these standards, the servants had good lives, as evidenced by one letter that a relative of one of the maids had written. The relative had visited the Elms and seen the maid’s room, with its bottles of perfume and comfortable furniture and judged it a good life.

Mr. Berwind had made his money in coal and was very interested in having a “modern” house; hence it had electricity and indoor plumbing with hot running water, even in the servants’ quarters.  We first saw these quarters, complete with relatively spacious rooms, beautiful hardwood floors throughout and three bathrooms, two for the ladies and one for the men.  The ladies’ bath was closed, but the men’s bath was open.  It had one bathtub, one sink, one toilet, and a shaving station for about 6 or 7 men, and it was not spacious.

Servant Quarters

Servant Quarters

Maid's Room

Maid’s Room

Men's Bathroom

Men’s Bathroom

The third floor also had a telephone and an elaborate, and very modern, for its time, “intercom” system. This did not operate the way we would expect an intercom to work because we would expect the system to allow someone to call another person directly to convey a message.  Instead, there was a button to activate in each room.  The master or lady of the house would press the button and on the third floor a bell would ring and a flag would light up on a large board, indicating where the service was needed.  The intercom would also “ring” in other servant areas of the house.  A servant would be dispatched and he or she would tell the appropriate household staff on the first or second floor what was wanted, and magic would happen.

Intercom System

Intercom System

On the third floor, the staff also had access to a roof terrace that extended around the entire perimeter of the house.  Sounds great, except that there was no view.  The outer edge of the terrace had  a 10-foot wall that, from the outside, looked like an extension of the second floor, part of the illusion that there were no servants’ quarters. As a visitors, however, we were able to climb a platform to see the view out the back, and it was a spectacular vista of the grounds, the shoreline, and the harbor.

Decorative Statue on Terrace Roof Wall

Decorative Statue on Terrace Roof Wall

View from Atop the Terrace Wall

View from Atop the Terrace Wall

We descended that servants’ staircase to the basement where we saw the enormous kitchen with and equally enormous cast iron stove, work stations for every imaginable type of cookery, and cabinets galore to house the pots and pans and other implements necessary to prepare the enormous quantity of food that was prepared each day for the Berwinds and their guests.  The chef was paid an astounding $10,000, which translates to about $250,000 in today’s dollars!  He, of course a man, was from France and was the sole ruler in the kitchen.  The basement also housed a large luggage room and the servant eating areas adjacent to the kitchen.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen Pots

Kitchen Pots

Servants' Eating Area

Servants’ Eating Area

Luggage Room

Luggage Room

From there we toured the nitty gritty of the household operations, the generation of the copious amounts of hot water needed for the Elms’ laundry, cooking and bathing needs and heating.  The house had hot water boilers and huge coal-fired furnaces to heat water and warm the house.  The furnaces used so much coal that Mr. Berwind had built a 150-yard tunnel through which small coal cars carried coal into the basement.  A process totally invisible to any guest – it all happens by magic.

Laundry Implements

Laundry Implements

Laundry Sinks

Laundry Sinks

Hot Water Heaters

Hot Water Heaters

Coal Fired Furnaces

Coal Fired Furnaces

Coal Car in Tunnel

Coal Car in Tunnel

After our tour, we walked back into town and had lunch at the Red Parrot.  We were starving.  Adrienne had a fresh tomato and pesto flatbread, and I had a gigantic calamari salad.  There was so much calamari that I brought half of it back to the boat for lunch the next day.

By the time we finished lunch, the wind was really whipping across the harbor.  White caps everywhere!  We hopped into the launch and headed for Curiosity.  Water flew over the bow, showering Adrienne.  It took the launch operator two tries to get close to Curiosity, but we were finally able to jump on board.  At least we made it.  Fortunately, we were not planning to go out again that day.  It was time to relax., since we figured the adventure was over.

Foolish thoughts!  We will fill you in in our next posting.

Westbrook to Stonington, Connecticut – July 20, 2016

Wednesday we were off to Stonington, Connecticut – a 28 nm cruise from Westbrook.  The current in the Long Island Sound was flowing west in the early morning, so we decided to leave later in the morning to minimize the adverse current.

Around 10 AM, Adrienne took Curiosity out of her slip and moved her over to the fuel dock to refill our tanks.  We actually had plenty of fuel to get to Nantucket, but might be getting low on our way back.  Since fuel is more expensive in the areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts that we intend to visit, we decided to top off our tanks. 410 gallons of diesel and a half-hour later, we were ready to head to Stonington. I started the engines and Adrienne headed for the helm.  We both noticed that the stern was swinging away from the dock and I yelled that the dockhand had untied the stern line.  Adrienne rushed to the helm and I shouted that the dockhand had tossed all lines off and we were drifting back toward a large sailboat.  Fortunately, Adrienne got to the helm, put it in gear and eased us forward just in time.  It was a little scary – we are not used to dockhands just undoing the lines before you tell them you are ready.

Other than that and avoiding a number of ferries coming out of Old Saybrook and New London and dodging a number of lobster pots, our trip to Stonington was uneventful,  The seas were calm and the winds were only 5 -10 kts.  A very pleasant trip.

Just before 2 PM, we were pulling into Stonington harbor and heading for our mooring at Dodson Boatyard.  The wind had picked up somewhat and there was an ebbing current.  But Adrienne easily spotted our mooring and I was able to bring Curiosity beside the mooring.  Adrienne grabbed the mooring mid-ship, walked it up to the bow, and quickly cleated it.  I came down to help her secure the other half of the bridle and by 2 pm we were secure.  For not having done a mooring in nearly two years, we actually looked like we knew what we were doing.

After resting for a little while, we took the launch into town and walked about the town.  We have been in Stonington a number of times but always enjoy strolling through this stereotypical New England town with small shops, stately homes, and tree-lined streets.

Along Main Street

Along Main Street

Along Water Street

Along Water Street

Stately Mansion on Main Street

Stately Mansion on Main Street

We then returned to the boat, Adrienne wrote yesterday’s blog, and we got dressed for dinner.  We took the launch back into shore and headed for Noah’s Restaurant on Water Street.  Noah’s is a chef owned and operated restaurant focused on basic, fresh and local ingredients.

We started dinner with drinks – I had a vanilla twist martini and Adrienne had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Both were delicious.  For an appetizer, we shared Korean Green Scallion Pancakes with a spicy dipping sauce. The crust on the pancakes was made from mung bean and the pancakes were crispy and delicious.  For our main courses, Adrienne had fresh  tomato relish and I had pan seared scallops with a ginger-scallion sauce.  Both were outstanding dishes.  We finished by sharing a Blueberry crumb pie – good but not as good as the appetizer or the entrees.

After a short walk, we headed back to the boat.

Stonington, Connecticut in then Early Evening

Stonington, Connecticut in then Early Evening

Tomorrow we are off to Newport.

Stonington Harbor At Night

Stonington Harbor At Night

Stamford to Westbrook, Connecticut – July 18-19, 2016

We left Stamford around 6:30am, as planned, for a cruise to Westbrook, CT.  We had hoped to leave a bit later, but the forecast for the day was southwest winds 5-10 kts, increasing to 10-15 kts with 20 kt gusts and seas 1 ft, increasing to 2 ft in the afternoon.  We knew it would take us about 6 hours to get to Westbrook, CT, our next destination, so we decided to go with the early departure to avoid the high winds and potential thunderstorms in the afternoon.

The seas and winds were behind us during the entire cruise, and we arrived in Westbrook around 12:30pm without incident.  We saw very few lobster pots, always a good thing, and only had to dodge one ferry.  The seas and winds remained calm, so all in all, it was a very pleasant cruise.  Leaving early, although painful, was the right decision.

We docked at the Brewer’s Pilots Point Marina, which we had never been to before.  It was excellent.  There was plenty of deep water on the approach and at the dock.  Well, except for a shoal that extended out from a beach directly across from our slip.  The shoal made for a somewhat tricky docking situation, but Jim guided us past the shoal and into the slip without any trouble.  Apart from the shoal, the marina had well maintained floating docks, a restaurant, club house and pool on site, and a knowledgeable and friendly staff.  We’ll definitely come back.

Brewers Pilot Point Marina

Brewers Pilot Point Marina

Once docked, we started on our usual boat chores, rinsing the boat, chamoising the teak and bright work, tidying the helm, washing dishes, etc.  We also attended to some emails and financial stuff.  Once that was out of the way we contacted Anne, my college roommate, who summers with her husband in Old Saybrook, a mere 15 minutes east of Westbrook. They swung by the marina and picked us up for day and a half stay at their cottage, which is less than a block from the beach.  Perfect!

We settled in and caught up on each other’s news since our last get together.  The afternoon was getting a bit overcast and windy, but we took advantage of the breeze by repairing to their second story balcony for drinks and cheese and crackers.  It was delightfully cool up there, but as we were nearing 5:30pm, I could see the sky darkening to the west and a line of thunderstorms, which was quite visible, moving east.  We sensibly decided to move cocktail hour indoors.  Although the sky and wind suggested a major storm, the reality was much tamer.  The storm blew through in about a half hour and dropped a minor amount of rain, not enough to interfere with our dinner of grilled jumbo shrimp, corn and tomato pasta salad, grilled swordfish and cherry clafouti.  Delicious!

The next day Anne suggested we visit the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, which is just across the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook.  Our brief storm from the previous day had ushered in a beautiful summer day.  The sun was out, the temperature was in the low 80s and the humidity was low.  We couldn’t have ordered a better day if we had tried.  The trip to Old Lyme was an excellent activity because the museum is situated on a beautiful location, surrounded by gardens and backing up to the Lieutenant River, a tributary of the Connecticut.

The Florence Griswold Museum is said to be the home of American Impressionism.  Florence Griswold was the youngest daughter of a sea captain who built a well-appointed home in Old Lyme for his family.  By the late 1890s, Florence, who by then was about 50, unmarried and childless, had lost her parents and older sisters.  Although once prosperous, her family had encountered financial difficulties after her father died, and by the time Florence had lost the remaining members of her family, she needed money to make ends meet.  She decided to convert her home to a boarding house. In the summer of 1899, Henry Ward Ranger, an American artist, visited Old Lyme.  He was looking for a place to establish an artist’s colony and found it in Florence’s family home. From then until about the early 1930s, Florence Griswold’s home became a summer retreat for many American artists who were important in bringing Impressionism to U.S. shores.

One of the things that so attracted Ranger to Florence’s home was her gardens, which at the time were in disarray, but clearly had been an important aspect of the home.  Over the years, Florence worked on the gardens and they featured prominently in the plein air work of many of the artists.  The museum restored many of the gardens, which are today impeccably maintained and lush with a wide variety of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

The museum consists of a modern structure that houses much of the artwork, a café, and the original home.  We toured the modern structure and were treated to a wide variety of paintings and sculptures by numerous artists who were residents of the artist’s colony.  Most of the work would fall into the American Impressionist category, but not all of it.  We took our time wandering through the rooms and learning about the individual artists.

Griswold Gardens 1

Griswold Gardens 1

Griswold Gardens 2

Griswold Gardens 2

Artists in the Garden

Artists in the Garden

Ade and Anne Strolling Thru the Gardens

Strolling Thru the Gardens

Art Colony Parlor

Art Colony Parlor

We then toured the Florence Griswold House, which was built in 1817 in the Late Georgian style.  The house is furnished as it would have appeared in about 1920, with some of the original pieces that Florence and her borders used.  The bottom and second floors of the home contain many more paintings by the colony artists, but the really fascinating thing about the home is the painted panels.  The artists decided to paint the inset panels on the doors and walls of the home.  This took place over a number of years, and the artists decided among themselves who would paint what.  Some of the panels, especially in the dining room, were collaborations by two or more artists.  These panels are stunning, mostly landscapes of scenes at the colony, in Old Lyme and elsewhere.  Any one of them would be a beautiful painting if framed, yet they grace the interior of the home in a surprising and original way.   There was much to see and appreciate at this small museum, but the panels were the highlight.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Painted Panels in the Dining Room

Painted Panels in the Dining Room

More Panels

More Panels

And More Panels

And More Panels

Panel Above the Fireplace

Panel Above the Fireplace

After touring the house we wandered to the waterfront.  It was easy to see why this location was a favorite subject of many of the artists who came here.  The Lieutenant River is a small, winding body of water lined with marshy wetlands and overhanging trees.  It was fun to imagine that it looked much the same today as it did back in the early 20th century.

We returned to Anne’s and Henry’s cottage for lunch, and then Henry shuttled us back to the boat.  We would be leaving the following morning and needed to do an engine check, review our route, check the weather and then get ready for the evening.  We had invited Anne, Henry and Ellen, another college friend of mine who was coming to visit Anne that afternoon, for cocktails on the boat before we all had dinner at Café Routier in Westbrook.

The weather, although breezy, was beautiful.  We opened up the flybridge and moved us up there for cocktail hour once everyone arrived.  I hadn’t seen Ellen in many years, and it was so much fun to catch up with her.  Our only regret was that her husband, whom we have never met, was unable to come.  That pesky thing called work got in the way.  But we will make sure there is a next time and that her husband can be with us.

On the Flybridge - Henry, Ellen, Ade and Anne

On the Flybridge – Henry, Ellen, Ade and Anne

Ellen, Anne and Ade

Ellen, Anne and Ade

On the Dock - Ade and Jim

On the Dock – Ade and Jim

It was a short drive to the restaurant, which served, as the name implies, French inspired food.  And it was delicious.  I had a pan seared trout with Lyonnaise potatoes.  Jim and Henry had miso ginger-glazed duck and Anne and Ellen had pan seared scallops.  All the dishes were very tasty and well-prepared. But the most enjoyable part of the evening was sharing good food and excellent wine with old friends.

Tomorrow we head to Newport.

 

 

Jersey City to Stamford Connecticut – July 16-17, 2016

Friday morning we took our time getting up.  Our plan was to run the 34 nm to Stamford in the afternoon.  Our route would take us down the East River, past Manhattan, under the Throgs Neck Bridge and out into the Long Island Sound.  The East River is notorious for fast currents, particularly at a point know as Hell Gate.  In the morning the current would have been against us.  We decided to wait till nearly slack tide to depart, so we would have the current mostly with us down the river and out into the  Sound.

While we were eating breakfast and lounging about the boat, I noticed a sailboat pull up beside us.  Several persons dressed in traditional Indian garb (as from India, not Native American) came down the dock and boarded the sailboat.  One man was wearing a heavily brocaded gold and burgundy robe with a matching hat.  The sailboat left and a few minutes later we heard drums from the main dock, which was several docks down from us.  We could see some kind of parade proceeding down the dock, so Adrienne and I pulled on our shoes and headed to check out the commotion.

Coming down the dock was a large party of individuals all dressed in traditional Indian garb, with the women in colorful saris, all dancing to the beat of the drum.  Clearly this was a wedding party.  In the middle of the pack was the man in the traditional hat, who we concluded was the groom.  Even though it was incredibly hot and the party was dressed in what appeared to heavy garments, the men and women continued to dance to the beat of the drum.

Everyone was having a tremendous amount of fun, and a number of spectators showed up to watch the show.  The party went indoors, presumably for the wedding itself.  We returned to Curiosity, but later we saw the groom and a woman, we assumed, was the bride re-board the sailboat next to us and leave.

We finished our preparations for departure and left the dock at around 1:35.  Immediately we entered the chaos that is New York Harbor.  As we turned down the main entrance channel for Liberty Landing we found ourselves surrounded by several power boats, 4 jets skis milling about, a number of sailboats and one of the New Jersey ferries that docks right next to Liberty Landing.  The ferry was coming out and crossing the entrance channel in front of us, of course.  When we left that mayhem, we entered the main harbor, which we knew would be a zoo because it was a lovely Saturday afternoon in the summer.  We had ferries to the right of us, ferries to the left of us, ferries in front of us as boldly we rode into the jaws of the East River and the mouth of Hell Gate (just a little melodrama to keep everyone awake).  Not to mention all the other power and sailboats bouncing around in the harbor.

View of NYC from Our Liberty Landing Slip

View of NYC from Our Liberty Landing Slip

New York City

New York City

Once we made it past the Brooklyn Bridge, however, things calmed down considerably.  Most of the ferries were behind us, and only a few pleasure craft and small commercial vessels remained.  The actual current was running about 15 minutes behind the predicted current, so we had some current on our nose.  About half way to Hell Gate we picked up a barge that was also heading to Hell Gate but only doing a few knots.  We were concerned about being caught behind it if there was current running at about a knot at Hell Gate.  There wasn’t enough time to pass before Hell Gate, so we slowed down to let him go first.  Just before Hell Gate, we also saw four U.S. Navy patrol boats coming up the river.  Not sure what that was about but it could have been part of the heightened security we saw the day before in the harbor.

Entering the East River

Entering the East River

Approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

Midtown

Midtown

By the Queensboro Bridge

By the Queensboro Bridge

Along the East River

Along the East River

Classic Empire State Building with ModernArchitecture in the Foreground

Classic Empire State Building with Modern Architecture in the Foreground

Approaching Hell Gate

Approaching Hell Gate

Navy Patrol Boat

Navy Patrol Boat

We reached Hell Gate just a little after the start of the flood.  The current was fine and we were able to pass the barge shortly thereafter.

Our trip out of the river and through the Sound was uneventful.  There was a flotilla of sailboats near the Larchmont Yacht Club, but they were all heading into the harbor and we did not have to play dodge ball with them.

By 5:00 pm, we were nearing the entrance to the Stamford Harbor.  A large barge was exiting and passing us well to port.  However, the barge called us and asked that we pass him on his starboard side.  This made no sense, but I confirmed again with him that that was what he wanted.  So we started to turn in front of him to get on the other side.  He immediately called us and wanted to know if we were a power boat or a sail boat.  He had been calling a small sailboat but using our AIS information.  We quickly turned back to starboard and passed him on his port side. Not sure how he could have made that mistake; we were probably at least a quarter mile from the sailboat.

We entered the Stamford Harbor and headed for Brewer Yacht Basin.  The winds had been calm all day, but just as we reached the slip, it began to rain and the wind starting gusting.  My first attempt to dock was thwarted by the wind but I turned us around and docked the second time with heavy use of the thrusters.  As soon as we were docked, the wind began to ease.  Of course!  It was 5:30pm.

We took Uber up to Adrienne’s father’s house, had dinner with her father and older sister and then drove back to the boat to relax for the evening.

Sunday morning, I drove Adrienne up to her father’s house to spend the day with him, while I did chores – shopping, engine check, route plotting, laundry, and repairing yet again the pesky navigation light.  The chores done, including a successful repair of that navigation light, I drove back to house where we had a delicious dinner prepared by Adrienne.  Adrienne’s father turns 91 on July 20, so we had a little birthday celebration for him.  He was in good spirits; it was a fun dinner for all.

Tomorrow, we are off to meet Adrienne’s college roommate and husband in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

 

Atlantic City to Jersey City – July 14-15, 2016

Thursday in Atlantic City was largely a rest day while we waited for more favorable weather on the Atlantic.  It was also a day of boat chores.  Adrienne took the cleaning chores and I took the mechanical ones.

While she cleaned, I took a look at the depth gauge to see if I could figure out what was wrong.  It was still acting up showing depths at our slip that ranging from 5 feet to 183 feet.  I checked all the connections, wriggling wires but to no avail.  After consulting with Burr Yachts, it was time to call a diver to check the transponder located on the hull exterior – hopefully there was something on the transponder causing it to fluctuate.  Based on a recommendation from Farleys, the marina we were staying, I called Marina Diving Services.  I was not optimistic that I would be able to get a diver to look at the transponder on Thursday, but it was worth a shot.  I left a message on the answering machine and went about my other chores.

Task two was to fix the port side navigation light which was out.  I took it apart and the bulb was burnt out.  Since I had just replaced the bulb two days ago, this was not a good sign.  However, I noticed that the light fixture had not been securely latched, so perhaps it had banged about causing the bulb to fail.  I put in a new bulb, tightened the fixture and tried the light again.  Everything seemed fine, for now.  Finally I replaced a cabinet latch on the docking station which had broken.  I had spares on the boat, so that was an easy fix.

Meanwhile Adrienne had finished cleaning the inside of the boat and polishing the stainless fittings on the outside.  It was time for lunch.  While we were eating, Marina Diving Services called and said they could be at the boat mid-afternoon.  Great!

Mid-afternoon, the owner of the business and the diver showed up.  Of course there was nothing on the transponder.  Nonetheless he took a brush and gave it a light cleaning.  I tried the depth finder and it was not fluctuating, but the day before the fluctuations had been sporadic so maybe it was fixed by a little cleaning and maybe it wasn’t. We would see. I was not optimistic.

After our chores, our original plan had been to go down to the boardwalk in Atlantic City and sightsee, but it was already late afternoon and we were planning an early departure Friday morning.  I had learned that there was a nice walkway from the Golden Nugget along the river to Harrah’s Casino and then to the Borgata Casino.  So Adrienne and I took off on a long walk.

The waterway walk turned out to be really nice.  It was also a sculpture walk with various pieces of outdoor sculpture along the way.  None of the sculptures was great, but it did show an attempt by Atlantic City to have some type of art other than the tacky décor of the casinos.  The views over Absecon Inlet were nice.  We also passed right by the wind farm that you can see from the ocean as you approach Atlantic City.  After about two miles, we were at the Borgata.  We could see the Golden Nugget just across the highway, so we figured we could just walk straight to it.  Wrong.  With elevated freeways and exit and entrance ramps, there was simply no easy way to get to the marina.  We finally gave up and went into the Borgata, exited into its parking lot, took a dirt path to Harrah’s and then took the walkway back to the Golden Nugget.  A total of just over 4 miles for our walk.

Overlooking Absecon Inlet

Overlooking Absecon Inlet

Duck Sculpture

Duck Sculpture

Swirling Fish Sculpture

Swirling Fish Sculpture

Wind Farm

Wind Farm

For dinner, we ordered take-out from the Chart House, which is one of the Golden Nugget restaurants.  We knew that the entrees at the Chart House were large, and expensive, so we figured we could split a salad and an entrée.  For dinner, we had a chopped salad and braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was excellent and plenty of food for the two of us at half the price of eating at the restaurant.  Good deal!

Friday morning, the alarm sounded at 4:45 am – a very painful time of the morning.  Our goal was to leave for our 94 nm trip to New York Harbor by 5:30 am, shortly before sunrise and well after civil twilight.  We got up and prepared to leave.  While there was plenty of light, we went to turn on the navigation lights just to be safe.  Of course, the port light was out again.  Drats!   Fortunately, there was very good visibility so the lights were not really needed.  Adrienne eased us out of the slip and out the inlet with no drama.  Our ride north was uneventful.  We had 2-3 foot following seas and light winds.  Other than occasionally having to pick our way through a minefield of small fishing boats near the various New Jersey inlets, the trip was straightforward.  By 2:00 pm, we were entering New York harbor.

Cruising Under the Verrazano Bridge

Cruising Under the Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

Verrazano Bridge

As usual, the harbor was a jumble of anchored ships, fast moving ferries, small fishing boats anchored in the shipping channel (what’s that about??) and this day a departing aircraft carrier.  We could hear on the radio, the carrier calling various small boats telling them to get out of its way.  Most did except for one poor boat that apparently wasn’t aware that this massive ship was off his port quarter.  Go figure.

As we were approaching New York City, we could see one of the Staten Island ferries coming up fast on our port side.  It was on a heading to pass just in front of us.  Suddenly Adrienne noticed a small fast boat racing up the river, cutting between the ferry and us.  It was the Coast Guard, complete with the bow-mounted and manned machine gun.  The gunner indicated that they wanted us to slow down and move further away from the ferry.  No call on the radio, just an intercept.  We immediately complied and they escorted the ferry across the river.  We’ve been through New York Harbor several times now and have never before encountered a Coast Guard security detail. It seemed to us that the harbor was on high-security alert after the Nice truck attack, and apparently we were too close to the ferry for the Coast Guard’s comfort.

Coast Guard Up Close

Coast Guard Up Close

Protecting the Ferry

Protecting the Ferry

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

By 3:00 pm, we were at Liberty Landing Marina and quickly tied up.  As we turned down our fairway, we saw another Fleming 55, and a few minutes after we docked, a third Fleming 55 came in.  It was like a reunion.  We chatted with the owners of the other Fleming on our dock. It turned out to be brand new, and we had fun comparing all the new features of their salon to ours.  The new ones also come with a yacht controller, basically a remote control for the engines and thrusters.  Gayle, who does most of the docking, just uses that to dock the boat rather than the pilot house, fly bridge or rear docking station controls like we do.  In fact, they don’t even have a rear docking station because they don’t need it with the remote!  They were a very nice couple who hail from Fort Myers, FL. and were spending about a week in New York before heading up the Hudson.  Their itinerary did not seem to coincide with ours, but you never know we might run into them later on.

We returned to Curiosity, feeling the early morning alarm weighing on our energy levels.  Soon it was time for dinner on the boat, a white bean chili we had made before and frozen, and blessed sleep.  We were exhausted.

Tomorrow we can sleep in and then head down the East River in the early afternoon for our next stop, Stamford, CT.

Annapolis to Atlantic City – July 12 – 13, 2016

The kingdom is saved; the dinghy has arrived.  The long awaited motor showed up Monday morning and by noon the dinghy was onboard Curiosity.  We did one last sea trial and some last minute provisioning, and we were ready to go.  Our plan was to leave first thing Tuesday morning and make the long run (114 nm) to Cape May.

Tuesday morning, we were up at 4:45am – an ungodly hour.  As we staggered out of our cabin, we could see the rosy-fingered dawn stretching across the Annapolis Harbor.  The harbor glowed in the red light.  Remembering the old adage about “red sky in morning, sailor take warning,” we were not sure if this was an omen of things to come.  The weather report, however, was good all day.

Annapolis Harbor

Annapolis Harbor

Annapolis at Dawn

Annapolis at Dawn

By 5:30am, we were easing out of our slip and heading north.  We passed under the Bay Bridge with the sun just rising over the spans and the moon just setting.

Sunrise, Moonset Bay Bridge

Sunrise, Moonset Bay Bridge

The bay was very calm and the winds were light.  The current was, of course, against us.  We knew it would be – to make Cape May in a day, the current would be against us both in the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay with perhaps a little respite in the middle of the day.  Most of the morning we had 0.5 – 1.0kts against us; so for much of the morning we were only making 8–8.5kts.  At this rate it would take us almost 14 hours to get to Cape May, so we increased our rpms and were able to run 9kts or better.

By 11:00 am, we were at the west entrance of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which connects the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay.  The current had switched and we flying along at 11 kts.  All morning, we had seen virtually no other boats and the canal seemed equally empty.  However, as we neared the end of the canal, we heard that a massive cargo ship full of automobiles and bound for Baltimore was just entering the canal from the Delaware Bay side.  That meant that it would be heading toward each other. Fortunately there was room in the canal, and we eased past Cygnus Leader on one of the straightaways.  As we passed, it loomed over us. By 12:20 pm, we were exiting the canal and heading down the Delaware River to the Delaware Bay.

Cygnus Leader

Cygnus Leader in the C&D Canal

We had expected rougher conditions on both the River and the Bay based on the weather reports, and that’s exactly what we got. The winds were supposed to be between 10 and 15 kts and they were blowing at around 15 when we entered the River.  Seas were supposed to be 2 to 3 feet with a short period and that’s pretty much what they were.  We still had part of the ebb current, but the winds were from the southeast, so we had wind against current and a bumpy ride.  Not terrible just bumpy.  As usual, we encountered a number of commercial vessels, but the channel down the River and Bay is wide, so there was no problem passing them.

On the Delaware River

On the Delaware River

As we got about midway down the River, the current started to change.  Now we had both the wind, which was blowing between 17 and 20 kts by that time, and the current against us.  That made for a very bumpy ride.  Again, not terrible, but unpleasant enough that neither of us wanted to stand in the pilot house if we could sit.  Fortunately, a few miles after entering the bay, we could begin to angle to the east toward Cape May.  We were now cutting across the current instead of heading right into it and so the seas were much better.  At 5:20pm, we entered the Cape May canal and, by 5:50pm, we were tied up on a T-head at the Canyon Club Marina.  It had been a long day and we were very happy to be in.

We planned to eat dinner on board because we knew we’d be getting in between 5 and 6 if we could time the currents and our speed correctly.  While in Annnapolis we had made some meals and frozen them for days like today.  We pulled one of those out the night before so it could defrost in the fridge.  Our home-made hoisin chicken thighs with broccoli were delicious and required virtually no work.  Thank goodness.  We were shot and ready for bed.

Wednesday morning we were up at 6:15am, still early but far more reasonable than the previous morning.  We took our time getting ready, since the trip to Atlantic City was only 39nm.  By 7:20am, we were out of our slip and headed north. I (Adrienne) was taking us out and decided we didn’t have enough room to turn at the T-head where we were docked.  Instead, we would have to back up along the T-head and past the one behind us, move the stern into another fairway and swing the bow around so that we could get out.  That was the easy part.  As I put us in forward to leave the marina I saw the red and green marks that we had passed on our way in.  I headed for those and noticed some guys off the port side on a small dredge.  As I eased us out of the marina and approached the red and green marks I also saw a sign between them, but couldn’t read it.  As we got closer I could see that it said “Danger Pipeline.”  Now you would think that this sign would give a reasonable person pause, at the very least.  But I was having a major brain cramp and so I continued toward the sign thinking it was directing us to go on either side of the sign.  Wrong!!!  All of a sudden the guys on the barge and Jim were screaming, “Back up, back up!”  I threw us into reverse and avoided a major catastrophe.  Of course the sign meant, “Don’t go this way.”  We were fine, but it was a stupid mistake, which fortunately ended well.  I should have stopped to sort out the marks and the sign before going forward.   I will not do that again!

After that drama, the Atlantic was a piece of cake.  We had southeast winds at about 7 to 8 kts with about a 2-foot following sea.  Great conditions.  As we neared Atlantic City, I noticed that one of our two depth sounders was showing about 14 feet when the chart and the other depth sounder said we were in 50 feet of water.  The first depth sounder fluctuated a bit and then settled in with a reading that corresponded to the chart and then other depth sounder.  But about a half an hour later, the same thing happened again.  This time we increased our speed and the depth sounder seemed to settle down.  We thought that maybe some seaweed was obstructing the transponder and that we were able to shake it off.  Everything was fine until we were about to make our turn into Atlantic City.  We were in 30 feet of water and the depth sounder was showing 4.5 and 5.5 feet.  The alarms were going off.  It was distracting, to say the least. Then it started to show 170 feet followed by 5.5 feet.  We were coming through the inlet and couldn’t deal with the problem so we just ignored it, relying on the other depth sounder to get us through some shoaling areas inside the harbor.  Jim steered us through those areas without any problems and into our slip at Farleys Marina.  We decided to deal with the depth sounder the next day since we had decided to spend two days in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City

Our decision to be in Atlantic City for two days was driven entirely by the weather report for the Atlantic.  The forecast for Thursday was not good, whereas the forecast for Friday was better.  Not ideal, but better.  So we decided to wait for our run to NYC.  Of course that meant we had more than a day to enjoy the charms of Atlantic City.  We are not gamblers, and so all the attractions at the Golden Nugget Casino, which is attached to the marina, are lost on us.

Nevertheless, we went to Happy Hour at the Chart House in the casino and munched on their bar menu for dinner.  It was actually pretty good.  We had lettuce wrapped chicken, some fire cracker shrimp and filet mignon sliders.  We strolled through the casino afterwards, inhaling the sweet smell of cigarettes, and spent a big $2 on some slot machines, winning $0.20!!!  Yes, that’s right, a whopping 0.20 cents.  We’re not sure where to spend it all.

As I write this blog entry, we are being serenaded by a rock band situated on the terrace overlooking the marina.  This is another one of the pleasures of staying here at Farleys—music on the terrace.  The base is so loud that the boat has been vibrating.  On the positive side, the band usually shuts down for the night by 11.  So only a few more hours to go! Tomorrow we’ll take care of boat chores and head over to the boardwalk for some more Atlantic City fun.

Annapolis, MD – July 8, 2016

A dinghy, a dinghy!  My kingdom for a dinghy!  Alas, there is no dinghy.

My apologies to Shakespeare, but some days it seems as if one is living in an Elizabethan tragedy.  We are ready to head north.  The engine is running beautifully, the bottom is clean, the FireBoy, the large fire extinguisher in the engine room, has been replaced, and the refrigerator and freezer are full.  But our dinghy is not to be seen.  It is sitting in a shop about 2 miles from us awaiting a new motor.  The motor was supposed to be in earlier this week, then it was supposed to be in yesterday, and now it is supposed to be in today.  No word yet.  We are skeptical!

All this week the Atlantic has been calm, a perfect time for the run up to New York, but we could not go.  Now of course weather is beginning to roll in from the west and we have only a narrow window between rough seas this weekend and seas that begin to mount again the middle of next week.  If we get the dinghy tonight or tomorrow, we will head north on Sunday, anchoring Sunday night in the northern Chesapeake Bay.  Monday we will leave early for Atlantic City (a good ten-hour run) and then onto New York on Tuesday (another ten-hour run), and then a short run to Stamford on Wednesday.  This will keep us just ahead of the Tempest.  Once in Long Island Sound, we can take our time, skipping along the coast and resting if the weather turns.

If we don’t get the dinghy soon, I fear we will need to change our plans from going north.  We are time-constrained in August because Adrienne is committed to taking care of her father for a week, lest she become one of King Lear’s daughters.  We do not want to be on a tight time schedule when we head north, since the weather is so unpredictable.

If we don’t go north, we will spend July exploring the southern Chesapeake Bay.  It is something we always wanted to do and it should be fun.  Unfortunately, we will not escape the heat of Maryland and Virginia.

We will see. Stay tuned for Act 2.

Annapolis, July 5, 2016

In April of this year, we brought Curiosity from Palm Beach Gardens to Annapolis.  Our plan was to keep the boat in Annapolis for the Spring and early Summer and then take it north to Nantucket for the better part of July and August.  So here we are in Annapolis awaiting our departure north.  And “awaiting” is the operative word as we’ve been in Annapolis since June 30.

Prior to June 30, we had a fair amount of work done on the boat.  The most important was the 1,000-hour maintenance for the twin Cummins engines.  We knew this maintenance was looming and planned to have it done in early June so that we’d be ready to go north right after July 4.  We hoped that the maintenance would be all that would be need to be done.  But this is boating; nothing is ever that simple.  Every time the mechanic came up from the engine room there was yet another part that was rusted, leaking or otherwise broken and needed to be replaced.   So we replaced two aftercoolers, several water pumps, one manifold and miscellaneous other parts.  All were installed.  We set out in mid-June for a sea trial.  All was going well until we started to increase the rpms.  The mechanic emerged from the engine room and announced we had to return to the dock; one of the coolant hoses was leaking.  It would need to be replaced and ordered because it was not in stock, of course.  The first of several delays.

While all this was going on we decided, when we had a free moment, to launch our dinghy and see how the outboard motor was performing.  We hopped in and cruised out to the mooring field in Annapolis Harbor.  Jim cranked the engine up, and it died.  He restarted the engine.  We puttered again, cranked it up again, and it died again.  This happened another 3 or 4 times, at which point we decided that the engine needed service, probably just a new carburetor or spark plug or both.  Well, that would have been too easy.  Remember this is boating.

We called Burr Yachts, the east coast Fleming dealer because we needed to return to Florida but the coolant hose still needed to be replaced, the boat still needed a sea trial to make sure there were no other problems and the dinghy motor needed to be fixed.  Burr said they could conduct the sea trial for us and would bring Curiosity back to their dock in Edgewater (about 1 hour south of Annapolis by water), fix a few of the miscellaneous items that were outstanding and fix the motor.  Great!  We returned to Florida.  Burr informed us that the sea trial went well.  Great!  Then we found out that one of those miscellaneous items was more complicated than we thought.  This was a UV filter that sterilizes the drinking water.  It consists of a light connected to a ballast.  We all thought the light just needed to be replaced, but of course it was the light and the ballast.  More time (and money).  Then we learned that Burr’s outboard motor guy, who “can fix anything”, couldn’t fix the motor.  So off the motor went to an outboard motor business in Annapolis.  They couldn’t fix it either.  Apparently all the bolts were seized up and couldn’t be drilled out.  The long and short of it was that we needed a new motor. More time and more money.  Then we learned that the large fire extinguisher in the engine room was badly deteriorated and couldn’t be recertified.  That needed to be replaced too.  Again, more time and more money.

So, when could we leave?  We had no idea.  We left Florida on June 30, expecting to spend the 4th of July holiday in Annapolis and hoping to depart on Tuesday, July 5.   On June 30, we went immediately to Burr and picked up Curiosity.  The UV filter had been replaced.  The fire extinguisher was on order and would be installed on the 5th in Annapolis, and the dinghy would be returned complete with a new motor by “mid-week.”  Well, l am writing this blog entry on July 5th and we’re not underway.  The fire extinguisher is not here yet.  But it is only 3pm, so there’s still time.  We hope the dinghy will arrive tomorrow, but we’ll have to see. If we get delayed enough, we may have to change our plans, because I need to be in Stamford by mid-August to spend some time with father and give my sister a break.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

On the positive side, we have been treated to wonderful weather here in Annapolis since we arrived on June 30.  Usually Maryland is swimming in 90 degree temperatures and high humidity by the beginning of July.  But we’ve had a string of days of low humidity and 70 and low 80-degree days.  It couldn’t last, of course.  The 4th of July saw high humidity, clouds and rain.  We had planned to attend the Annapolis 4th of July parade, Naval Academy Band concert and fireworks on the waterfront.  The rain put the kibosh on the parade and concert, but fortunately the fireworks went off as planned.  Our slip mates at the Annapolis Yacht Basin, Bob and Patty, invited us on board their boat to view the fireworks along with another couple from the Yacht Club, Chuck and Ginny.  Bob and Patty’s salon was perfectly situated for viewing the fireworks.  They were fabulous, and we had a great time.

So, we’re sitting in our slip, trying to finish the few chores we have to get ready for the trip and hoping that we’ll be underway by Thursday.

As I was reading this entry over, Jim got an email from Burr.  Apparently the fire extinguisher is not going to be installed today.  It will be here tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.  Still no word on the dinghy.  We’ll see.

 

 

Charleston, SC to Oriental, NC; April 14 to April 19, 2016

We began the next part of our journey northward on April 14 at a respectable 9:50 in the morning.  This allowed us to catch the slack tide in Charleston, although for once it probably didn’t matter.  We had a boat length in front and behind us at the dock, so we had no worries about trying to squeeze out between boats.  But our later departure also allowed us to go inside on the ICW through some perennially terrible shoaling areas on a rising tide.

One of those areas is around the Isle of Palms.  We were told that this area had been dredged over the winter, and in fact, when we went through we had plenty of water.  But there were several other notorious trouble spots beyond the Isle of Palms and not all of these were dredged.  McClellanville is one of those areas.  We went slowly and made it through.  We learned later in the day from the dockhands at HarborWalk Marina in Georgetown, SC, where we were docking in the evening, that two Sabres had run hard aground in that spot the day before.

As mentioned, our destination on the 14th was Georgetown, and our plan for the rest of the trip was to run inside on the ICW all the way to Norfolk.   This also meant that not only would we have to contend with the shoaling just north of Charleston, but myriad shoaling areas through the rest of South Carolina and up to Oriental, NC.  South and North Carolina have not maintained the ICW for years and the result has been extensive shoaling.  Fortunately, we have the comments of fellow boaters on Active Captain to help us negotiate these trouble spots.  Boaters who have gone before us report their experiences and how they navigated through the shoal areas on the Active Captain website.  It’s invaluable.

The other piece of information that’s very helpful is the cruising packet that Hank Pomeranz ,at the Southport Marina in Southport, NC, hands out.  Every evening during the spring and fall migrations Hank holds a seminar, complete with power point presentation, on the shoaling areas north or south of Southport, depending on the season.  A lot of this information is also on Active Captain, but many boaters report to him directly, so he is able to provide information before it appears on Active Captain.  He also prints out color aerial photos of the latest Corps of Army Engineer surveys of many of these areas.  These photos clearly show the location of the shoal and the deep water.  Although Hank had not started his seminar when we arrived in Southport on the 16th, he very kindly dropped by Curiosity with a packet of photos and comments.

Hank’s information proved to be essential when we left Southport on the 17th heading toward Hampstead, NC.  Our trip that day took us north on the Cape Fear River, through Snow’s Cut and into Carolina Beach Inlet.   There is one spot in the Inlet where severe shoaling has moved from the red side of the channel, through the center to the green side.  The area is almost impassable even at high tide, except for shallow draft boats.  We made it through, however, because we had a copy of the Corps of Army Engineer survey for this area.  That survey showed almost 20 feet of water if we went outside the marked channel and left the green mark to our port.  That’s exactly what we did and we got through with plenty of water.  But it took some faith in the Corps survey, because going that far outside the channel is usually something we’re trying to avoid!

We encountered many more shoaling areas on our way to Oriental.  We got through them all, and were very glad to get to Oriental without any major problems.

Not Everyone is So Lucky

Not Everyone is So Lucky

I have to say that contending with all these shoals is one of the things we don’t like about traveling the ICW.  The rest of our trip, however, has very few shoaling problems.  There are other things to contend with, but skinny water, for the most part, is not one of them.

Dredge Heading to Norfolk; Hopefully After Clearing Channel

Dredge Heading to Norfolk; Hopefully After Clearing Channel

Our departure from Charleston also marked the beginning of cold and incredibly windy weather.  It was 57 degrees when we left Charleston at about 10am.  Doesn’t sound too bad, but the temp didn’t really go much higher that day.  And the wind was blowing, making it feel colder than it was!  We clocked 30k winds on the 17th when we were in the Cape Fear River and the temperature was 41 degrees!  Those winds diminished as we got out of the river, but it was still blowing between 17 and 25 knots for the rest of that day.   On the 15th, it was 48 degrees at 9am with 17 to 25kt winds. On the 16th it was 60 degrees at 10am and made it only to about 65 with 17 to 25kt winds and 40kt gusts. On the 18th it was 40 degrees at 7am, but the winds died down to the 10 to 15kt range.

Ade Enjoying the Weather

Ade Enjoying the Weather Outside

Jim Enjoying the Pilot House Warmth

Jim Enjoying the Pilot House Warmth

And then today, we had 5 to 10kt winds and temps up to 85 degrees!!  Crazy weather.

On the positive side, we’ve gone through some rural areas, like the Waccamaw River just north of Georgetown, where we saw many ospreys with chicks in the nest.  When we were heading to Southport from North Myrtle Beach, we passed many small islands between the ICW and the ocean, and on one there was a pair of goats, male and female!  We assume they were wild because there were no goat farms anywhere to be seen.  The highlight though was seeing a pair of bald eagles as we were traveling from Charleston to Georgetown, as we were passing Cat Island.  We also had some dolphins play in our wake at various points along the way, but none stayed too long or jumped too high.

Showing Off

Showing Off

They clearly didn’t measure up to the dolphins that have followed us in Indian River in Florida.  Those dolphins are spectacular.

We are now at Mile Marker 174 on the ICW.  We started at MM 1014 at Old Port Cove in North Palm Beach.  So we’ve come quite a long way.  We have 174 miles to Norfolk, VA and then the trip up the Chesapeake before we arrive in Annapolis.  If the weather holds, we expect to be in Annapolis on Monday, the 25th.  We’ll see if the weather gods are kind to us.