Tuesday, August 30, 2011

San Domingo Creek/St. Michaels

Riding Out Hurricane Irene
We are originally west coast sailors and have never experienced a hurricane; it is such an east coast thing.

In summary I would say that the most stressful aspect of a hurricane is the waiting. During the waiting, major decisions are made that could have a profound impact on results. A primary concern was where to go. We dismissed the hurricane hole because of close quarters with derelict boats. We dismissed the headwaters of Harness Creek since we knew boats had trouble finding good holding ground and many docks and boats lined the creek, all hard objects to encounter as opposed to mud on the main cove shores. We finally settled on staying in the main cove, but would move closer to the protection from the land and tall trees on the east and north. We re-anchored Friday and the other boats shifted around us to also gain protection. Now we had to live with our decision.

Our devotion for Saturday morning could not have been more perfect. “How long will it be ere they believe me?” (Numbers 14:11) It was about Joshua and Caleb, their positive report about the Promised Land and how disappointed God was when the multitude grew faint at heart at the giants in the land. It reminded us that the Lord will see us through things that look impossible, we just need to have faith in His deliverance and we have to do some fighting.

We visited with the other cruising boats and checked in on their plans. We felt it would be helpful to get to know others we would share an anchorage with during a storm. Everyone seemed to deal with the stress a little differently. Some masked it with jokes. I have been told you can read my face like a book, I have no doubt it was advertising my concern in neon lights. We all compared weather reports and found them to be a little conflicting, ranging from 30 knots with gusts to 40, or 50 knots with gusts to 65 knots. We knew it was best to prepare for the worst. We removed our jib and granddad (mizzen) and made sure the main was securely zipped with no front openings. The decks and cockpit were cleared of readily airborne items. We set out a second storm anchor, a 66 pound Bruce with 50’ of chain and 200’ of 5/8 double braid rode. We put all that out with the dingy in about 5 feet of water. If it held well, it was going to be hard to retrieve. I focused on the part about holding well…we could deal with the retrieval aspect later.

While waiting in the dead calm and high humidity, a great stress reliever was our friendly family of ducks we had been supplying with oats during our visits to Harness Creek [these were bulk oats that we did not like, not the good Quaker Oats given as a gift from Shari!]. The oats sink from the surface rather quickly and the young ducks would reach under water further and further until they had to paddle to reach down, all the while their unsinkable derrières darting and bobbing and often bumping into siblings’ bobbing derrières. This just never got old. It was a relief to giggle during the stressful waiting. We thanked God for these silly ducks. We were able to feed them up to about 15 knots, at which point we wore more oats than we fed them. Momma insisted that we try anyway. Finally she left and tucked her four ducklings away for the storm.
From Hurricane Irene
As Myron suspected, by 11 am we began to feel the winds strengthen. We were thankful that the vessel next to us gave us access to their internet service. This allowed us to keep current on Irene and the winds at Thomas Point Light just east of us (see chart below). As the winds increased, I found the noise to be incredible. I told Myron I thought I heard a jet flying around in this, but no, the noise of the wind was so loud it sounded like a jet engine. Around sunset, the trees were breaking around us. It sounded like a shotgun and then you would see a tree or a large limb fall. Once darkness set it, there were brilliant flashes, usually one or two orange flashes followed by a blue then a green flash. This was not lightning. It was the canopy purge (falling trees and branches) putting the power transformers through their paces. We watched the power go off and on around the shore and knew that the land folks had enough troubles of their own.
From Hurricane Irene
We had an exciting time when we chose to re-anchor to gain distance from another vessel that was coming near us. At about 2 am, we started up the motor, Myron drove Hold Fast taut against our secondary anchor and we pulled up our primary, the Manson. We reset the Manson further away from the other vessel. It was a risky action conducted in the dark when we were getting gusts of over 40 knots, but limbs and vessel were spared and we were able to get better separation. We prayed before and thanked God afterward. We pulled up the Manson a second time before daybreak, but did not reset it. At this point we were on the Bruce and later took the Fortress off the port stern with the dink to keep us off the shore. We heard talk on the radio now, many folks excited that the worst was over. However, we were watching the barometer climb as rapidly as it had fallen, forming a “V” on our barometer tracker, a good indication that we were in for more strong winds. They hit hard from the NW about 6:30 am and lasted for several hours. This may have been the worst for us because we were no longer protected by the point with tall trees. It is one thing to knock Hold Fast on her side momentarily; it is another to hold her there. I was extremely excited when I could finally see blue sky to the southwest beyond the end of the hurricane bands. Oh happy day!
From Hurricane Irene
Recovery of the Fortress and the Bruce was a chore indeed. We could not pull up the Fortress with the dingy, nor could we pull up the Bruce over the bow. We abandoned the Bruce and retrieved the Fortress over the stern with the jib sheet winch. It actually pulled the boat down! That Fortress must have gone four feet down in the mud. We got it up and moved to re-anchor then set about to retrieve our Bruce. At 66 pounds with 50 feet of chain at more than a pound a foot, this was going to be hard work. In the water, I could feel the edges of the Bruce near the surface of the mud. We worked the Bruce backwards with its chain and finally felt it give. Getting it up in the dingy was a major accomplishment as well. Miracle retrievals by the grace of God. With all that done, it was a matter of cleaning up the mud and putting the boat back into working order. It was Sunday evening and we had only about an hour of sleep since Friday night. By 8 pm, the anchorage was peaceful, true again to its name “Quiet Waters Park.” Unfortunately my ears were still ringing though the noise of wind was long gone.

We were basically up for 36 hours under physical demand, it was time to eat, shower and sleep. We bade Irene adieu and hoped never to see all that again.

Tonight we are at a new anchorage and we just stepped on deck to take in this beautiful calm night, so calm we can see the reflection of the stars on the water. That is a first. Yet while here in a dead calm, we see on the internet that Katia is making tracks towards the eastern shore. Really?! *SIGH*

"He leadeth me beside the still waters..." These are the most still waters we have seen yet. I am going to bed and enjoy the serenity. Will ponder the Katia dilemma tomorrow.

Love to all,

Posted via Wifi.
{GMST}38|46.147|N|076|13.441|W|Anchored San Domingo|St. Michaels{GEND}

Monday, August 29, 2011

Boby Owl Cove

Hey all,
It was with a heavy heart that we left Quite Waters Park/Harness Creek today, it had become one of our favorite places. We sailed across and down the bay to Choptank River then up Broad Creek to Boby Owl Cove. The Cove is beautiful with deer on the eastern shore. Dena and I are doing well just need to catch up on sleep.
Peace to all,
Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}38|44.760|N|076|16.166|W|Anchored Boby Owl Cove|Leadenham Creek{GEND}

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Holding Fast

We thank everyone for their prayers and we give God the glory for getting us through the night. It is not over yet as we still have over 30 knots steady in the anchorage with gusts of 52 in the last hour. It is supposed to lay down tonight.

After we do some clean up and get some rest, I will share interesting details about riding out a hurricane 90 miles from her track. The purpose of this note is to thank you and communicate that we are safe.

The number on the right(980.1) is barometric pressure at our location only 30 millibars higher than Irene's.

I will add this now, Myron and I cannot recommend riding out hurricanes.

Love to all,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Digging in at Quiet Waters Park

Our internet access here is intermittent, therefore I am very pleased to be online and able to give you an update. We thank you for your prayers and thank God that the current track of Irene will miss Jacksonville.

Now we are currently under a Tropical Storm Watch and there is a possibility that we could see 50 knots or more sustained. We are hoping that our Manson Supreme anchor is dug in well and we have as much chain out as our surroundings will allow with a second snubber ready to go in case this one gives. We are removing sails, clearing our deck, and making ready to deploy an emergency anchor. We will strap the dingy down on deck tomorrow. There was no room around to get hauled out and a number of boats at the marinas have been asked to leave as it is marina policy to send boats away during a named storm. We have five other boats in or near our anchorage and expect that more may arrive tomorrow.

As you can imagine, we are anxious, not only for ourselves, but also for the friends we have made in our journey through North Carolina. They are in our prayers. We would really like to see Irene take a right turn soon. We are asking for your prayers, not just for us but also for the other cruisers around us. It seems to be a cooperative lot and we all keep checking on each other. The two boats near us both have dogs and the dogs seem to sense the heightened stress among the humans.

Tomorrow is a busy day for us and I doubt we will be able to update you until the storm has passed.

Love to all,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sassafras River to Quiet Waters Park

While the Sassafras was pretty, it does not afford many coves that we can tuck into and escape the power boat wakes. We had intended to stay longer until we caught the weather forecast for NW winds at 20. When the winds are favorable, we want to go for it. Initially we thought we would head to Chester River, but we were zooming along at over 7 knots and went right past the entrance. With the help of an ebb tide of under half a knot, we shot through the Bay Bridges at 7.7 knots, all three sails pulling.

We sailed 45 miles today and it was a joy. That joy was very welcome as Myron and I are both suffering from 'get south-itis.' Our shakedown has identified some fixable items that we are ready to work on.

For those who are apt to pray, please pray for our friends in Jacksonville as it appears they are in the path forecasted for hurricane Irene. Please pray this storm goes east out to sea.

Love to all,

{GMST}38|56.010|N|076|30.597|W|Anchored|Quiet Waters{GEND}
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Quiet Waters Park to Sassafras River

As we passed under the Bay Bridges today, we recalled that 20 years ago we were on the beach northwest of the bridges. We had recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia and a few things amazed these two westerners, (1) that the sand was so brown; (2) that there were so few beaches we could take our dog; and (3) all those boats, where did they come from and where were they going? Well we were one of those boats today, and we were headed for the Sassafras River. It felt like some kind of closure, something come full circle.

A Saturday journey has one benefit, fewer commercial cargo ships. The reason? They want to avoid all the pleasure craft. At least that is my theory after an unnecessarily exciting journey with weekend pleasure boats, including a 90 to 100 MPH pass by a all out race boat. We were passed so closely by another boat that Myron was wondering if they were going to hand us a beverage. We came to appreciate the mid-Bay's quieter waters.

The Sassafras has its own beauty that makes the trip worthwhile. The evergreen lined shore is contrasted with orange clay cliffs. Earlier our anchorage spot was lumpy due to water skiers and race boats. I started up dinner hoping the smell of onions frying would make them all want to go home or go to a restaurant and eat. I cannot take responsibility for the tranquility we are currently experiencing, I think that has more to do with the sunset. We will do more exploring of this river this week and let you know what other jewels we find.

Love to all,

{GMST}39|21.943|N|075|58.685|W|Anchored|Sassafras River{GEND}
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Repositioned to Quiet Waters Park

We were happy to dig in at the Wye River during uncomfortable weather and contrary winds. In our quest for a viable alternative in obtaining crabs, we took the dingy out on our cove and met a local crabber. We happily supported his business. The crabs in Wye River are large. In Crisfield we did away with a dozen crabs in one sitting, but could only take on six per meal of these big fellas from the Wye. Our local contact, Mike, tried to get us to try to soft shell crabs. Without the proper aerating equipment, it was not easy. They were both females. By the end of the evening, one of the ladies had shed her shell - it is called 'peeling.' She was very docile after that and we could even pet her. This was a big mistake, we got attached. We researched how to prepare soft shell crab and were struggling with killing and eating our new friends. By morning, they were both very docile or, well, dead and we let them go when we crossed over a shallow area at the entrance to the Wye. I see the wisdom in eating soft shell crab, it is all meat and no shell. I realize now that I cannot spend any quality time with them before hand!
Our plan was to go north from the Wye, but the wait on the weather extinguished some of our supplies as well as clean clothes. Today we crossed the Bay, made water and are now repositioned at Harness Creek. We did laundry, will provision tomorrow and then look for a weather window for heading north.
I made up a calendar with places we would be over the next two months or so. Those of you that know me could see me planning this all out: so many days at this anchorage, laundry done here, provisioning there. We were only a couple days into my glorious little schedule when it got all bunched up. I will still make my plans because I cannot help myself, they just will not be blogged until they become reality. At least, that's the plan.
Love to all,
Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}38|56.082|N|076|30.557|W|Anchored Harness Creek|Quiet Waters{GEND}

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wye River

The stay on the Wye has lived up to all the hype in the guide by Shellenberger. We are spending our time on the east river because it appears to have less of a housing population. Our two days anchored under the Wye Heights Plantation were as perfect as we could have ever wished. On a daily basis, we took the dingy out to see the black sheep grooming the plantation’s large lawn.
From Quiet Waters Park to Shaw Bay
The absence of osprey was explained by our daily observation of the two local bald eagles. Snapping turtles abound and we have seen a large ray feeding near the mud flats. Our first evening under Wye Heights dazzled us with a stunning sunset.
From Quiet Waters Park to Shaw Bay
Staying in that tight anchorage could only have been comfortably accomplished with nightly lows below 70 and no strong winds out of the NW. Myron planned our stay there based upon the weather forecast, and this time the forecast held. Although the days may still climb to the 90’s, we are thankful for experiencing the coolest evening weather yet. Lately, the mornings and evenings have a fall-like feeling. Is it really still August? The cool nights make us feel as if we are tardy in commencing our journey back to Jacksonville. That is until we pull up the Jacksonville weather report. It is clearly still summer there!

For fun we have played around with ‘chicken-necking’ – the term for an amateur’s crab line. We do not have chicken necks, so we tied chicken bones left over from our dinner to a line with a small weight and sent it to the bottom next to Hold Fast. The theory is that the crab will hang on to his ‘catch’ as you pull up the line. We certainly see something working the line and can feel something on the line as we slowly bring it up. It is about half way up from the bottom that the theory fails and our potential dinner discovers the freedom in letting go. I heartily longed for a net yesterday when I saw a very large crab swim up from our chicken line and then alongside Hold Fast. I am not sure whether it was thanking me for the meal or taunting me. Either way the score is dismal, we are skunked and the crabs have picked clean at least five bones. While we are content with our rice and beans dinner, today’s adventures just might involve a small transaction with one of the local crabbers.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.
{GMST}38|53.100|N|076|05.809|W|Anchored|East Why River{GEND} 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Skipton Creek

Beautiful here, no internet access. We will write a longer post in the coming days.
Love to all,
Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}38|53.105|N|076|05.815|W|Anchored Wye Heights Plantation|Skipton Creek{GEND}

Monday, August 8, 2011

Quiet Waters Park to Shaw Bay

Our stay in Quiet Waters Park was a mixed blessing. We were thrilled to see the miles of expansive park that surrounded our little anchorage and knew this was the perfect place for Marie to bring the kids, and only a three hour drive from where she was visiting. As for us, not only is the West Marine within a mile or so walking distance, but so are some good eats at ‘Gramps’ and the Giant grocery is just around that corner. We hit ‘Tiffany’s for Boaters,’ dined on eggs benedict and did some provisioning including preparations for the kids. On our way back, we met a mother a son on the long park path. With camera in hand, she was attempting to digitally capture the local species of birds, including a particular woodpecker. Her son seemed to have an endless arsenal of rapid fire of questions when it seemed to hit him that we really had a boat anchored close. We offered to show them Hold Fast. His mom sized us up, and then put us in her vehicle to drive us to the end of the park and location of our dingy. Her son was not timid and wanted to see and understand everything on the boat. It was great fun!

Coming to this anchorage was part of our ‘plan’ to meet Marie and the kids on Saturday. It was not to be. Marie’s car had other plans. Plans that required temporary fixes until a proper fix was arranged, all before she made her long journey back to Jacksonville. We exchanged emails, left each other messages and finally talked on the phone. The closest we got to the kids that weekend was to hear their squeals in the background on the phone. Plan B is to meet in Jacksonville sometime in October. In the meantime, there is always Skype.

We had been warned that this anchorage would be busy over the weekend as it was a favorite place by the locals. A fair warning. Boats of all types came and went. Even with the turnaround of boats, there tended to be about 20-25 boats in the anchorage at any time during the day. At night, it was reduced to six or so. We feel blessed to have met a local couple that frequent the spot. They are interested in moving from a Rinker 31 to a trawler in a few years and doing some coastal cruising and/or the Loop. We tried to help them with any questions or concerns they might have. In the process, we were able to share with each other our love for Christ. This opened all kinds of doors for discussion. We spent Saturday evening and all Sunday with them, talking about boats and the Bible, and they fed us a wonderful meal. By dusk, they were the last boat to leave the anchorage. Suddenly we were completely alone in the anchorage that had been so vibrant during the weekend. I think I know now how mom felt when everyone left her house after Christmas. You do not want it to end, knowing very well it will, then seem surprised by the loneliness. We worked silently stowing the dingy and engine and preparing for our sail the next day. Sad it was over but thanking God we had met new friends that we will never forget. We hope to see them again, either on the Chesapeake or out on mission.

Today’s sail was the best we had yet on the Chesapeake. Winds were NW and most of the time we could keep our course on some doable point of sail. A lot of jibing and only about 45 minutes of patiently waiting on better wind when we dropped down to two knots of speed. It was such a fair sailing day that one sailboat came out of their way to cross out path and say ‘hello.’ Shaw Bay is a fairly open anchorage, plenty of room. There are four other boats anchored here tonight, most of us sailed all the way up to the anchorage. Some days we are frustrated with Hold Fast. Today, she redeemed herself. Another blessing!
From Quiet Waters Park to Shaw Bay
So far, our Alfa long-distance wi-fi is working flawlessly.

Love to all,

{GMST}38|51.375|N|076|11.072|W|Anchored|Shaw Bay{GEND}
post via wifi

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pirate’s Cove to Quiet Waters Park

Trippe Creek (Pirate’s Cove) was an enjoyable anchorage off the Choptank River’s Tred Avon River. The anchorage was protected enough to keep any significant fetch down and large enough to anchor several boats. Even so, the first night we shared the anchorage with one boat and the remaining two nights we were all alone. Our last day included more explorigating in our dingy. Yesterday morning the Tred Avon was so calm that our dingy raced along over 18 knots. The five miles to our destination at Easton Point Marina was over in around fifteen minutes. It seemed like it took longer to figure out a safe place to tie up the dink. There was not much to see at Easton Point, but we did buy and devour a couple of ice creams out of the tiny market’s freezer before jetting back to Hold Fast.
Our destination for today was unplanned, at least until last night. I thought we were done with the western shore, but our Jacksonville adopted daughter, Marie, and her three kids have occasion to be in the tippy top corner of West Virginia, and she wants to make the three hour drive from there to see us on Saturday. Call her crazy and us too, but we are going to try to make this work out. Myron found this anchorage off of Quiet Waters Park, which affords Marie a parking spot very near where we are anchored. We obtained permission from the boat rental joint to use their dock to pick up Marie and gang. These are our best laid plans, maybe it will all work out. Unlike Trippe Creek, this is a very small anchorage and yet there are about four boats in here tonight. We have found this is more often the case in the much more populated western shore.
The journey here was full of about every point of sail, on the Tred Avon, on the Choptank, dodging crab pots crossing the shoals between Tilghman Island and the former Sharp’s Island, and we were beginning to tack up the Chesapeake until, as you can see by our track, the wind died forcing us to motor-sail the rest. It was a refreshingly cool day at 85, mostly due to cloud cover and occasional showers. Much of this was marred however by another equipment failure. Upon arriving, we had to drop anchor in a hurry, Myron had to identify and trouble-shoot the issue, and then fix it. I help where I can. We dropped anchor just after 4 pm and were done with the concern about 8 pm. It is another disappointment for the shake-down’s equipment failure list. On the bright side, we did not see any sea nettles (jellyfish) which gave us the freedom to jump in and wash the engine room heat out of our memory.
Tonight I will leave you with a story disclosed in one of our guides about Sharp’s Island, named after its owner Peter Sharp. It was south of Tilghman Island, and in 1675 it was about 900 acres. By 1847 the Chesapeake’s weather had reduced the island to 473 acres, and then the erosion accelerated. The present lighthouse was built in 1882 on a 5-acre circular plot of land that disappeared along with the rest of the island. The lighthouse was tilted by ice in 1973 and again in 1976.
From Sharps Island
Our guide says “Periodically, the Coast Guard proposes to remove the lighthouse. So far it has survived both the weather and the Coast Guard.”
Love to all,
{GMST}38|56.045|N|076|30.569|W|Anchored|Quiet Waters Park{GEND}
post via wifi

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cambridge to Pirate's Cove

The staff were very helpful and kind at Cambridge Municipal Yacht Basin, it made up for the rolly mornings and evenings we endured in the slip (it is a basin not a harbor). Although we were mostly focused on tasks at hand, we had a good time in Cambridge and met up again with Russ and Jane on ‘Luna.’ On Sunday we rode the marina’s loaner bikes to First Baptist Church about a mile from the marina. It is a small church and it was great to see the Holy Spirit move. We were blessed and we were told we were a blessing to them. We will visit that church again if we get back in Cambridge.

We mentioned the failure of the Bullet 2HP after only seven weeks of use. It is on the list of disappointing gear failures. Even before we realized the importance of the bullet, its advantage in staying connected, and its incredible 4.5 mile range, we were diligent in our care of it and would take it down for stowing if a storm or strong winds threatened. On inspection, Myron found condensation inside the bullet. Clearly we need a more robust solution. After hours of research, Myron settled on testing an alternative: Alfa 1000mW USB Wireless G/B Adapter (AWUS036H). It is a USB solution as opposed to the bullet’s Ethernet. Our departure from the marina was delayed until the Alfa was delivered, another helpful marina staff accommodation. Myron briefly tested it in the marina, and then we were off. We should mention that Alfa also has a Tube-U water resistant solution that we will likely test out as well. In any case, we realize that we need a backup, as with all essential equipment. When at anchor, the internet access is handy for monitoring thunderstorms and their proximity to us.

We motor-sailed the majority of our short trip today. We pulled in sail at the Tred Avon entrance to better maneuver around a gang of prams. We love to see the kids learning to sail and the last thing we want to do is traumatize them, even if they were hogging the entrance channel.
From Cambridge to Pirate's Cove
We are anchored in Pirate’s Cove. You could describe it as a big cove or a small bay. There is plenty of room for several boats, our favorite sticky mud, and we have 360 protection. Any fetch would require at least 40 knots and still should not be substantial. Just a few hours after anchoring, we had a thunderstorm blow through with winds over 30 knots. Thankfully it was not the main cell, we know this because of the internet! We also know there are more storms coming throughout the night. On the bright side, it keeps things much cooler!
From Cambridge to Pirate's Cove
Today is Myron’s birthday. No huge celebration, but I did make a pasta, zucchini and sweet Italian sausage dish, even in this heat, and then chocolate pudding for dessert. We are stuffed. This time I made the pudding with real milk. A few weeks ago I learned that almond milk does not cut it for making pudding, the result was more like something you would drink with a straw!

Love to all,

{GMST}38|42.673|N|076|07.267|W|Anchored|Pirate's Cove {GEND}
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