This will be part 1 of a 2 part post . . . but chronologially it will be out of order! Today was a momentous day and I want to share it while it’s fresh on our minds. Then I’ll backfill with some other cool stuff from the last week.
I mentioned before that Frank always visualized the day we would take the lines with us and head off into the semi-unknown. That visualization was his sleeping aid. Well, that day was today. For us, it felt like it was right out of a movie complete with people waving goodbye (well, one person) and a “yeller” dog. As we pulled away from our slip – home away from home for the last 3 years – we both blinked back tears as we looked at each other and said something like, ‘This is really happening. We’re really doing this.” The pictures tell it all . . .
It’s worth talking about Eleanor Q’s Annapolis home for a minute. First of all, there’s Annapolis, and then there’s Eastport. Yes, it’s still part of Annapolis by mailing address, but it is on the “other” side of the harbor from downtown, City Dock and the Naval Academy. It’s where the fun and funky people are who don’t take themselves too seriously. It suited us very well. We were in Stella’s Stern and Keel, a marina made up of about a dozen slips behind a row of houses in a neat neighborhood in Eastport. We found the slip by accident. We had looked at a lot of very expensive and fussy marinas that just weren’t speaking to us and were about to give up on finding something in the Annapolis area when we happended by a small, hand written sign by a house saying “Slips for Rent” with a phone number. We dialed the number and heard a phone ringing close by! The happy sounding voice with a slight southern drawl on the other end said, “Come on in the gate and have a beer with us and we’ll talk!” The rest, as they say, is history. Dean has been a wonderful, caring “landlord” and boat neighbor during our time. He and his wife, Patty, live in a house that he/his company built a while back. It was like living in their back yard and getting to know their friends as they sat around the fire pit or played shuffle board in the yard that was part of the marina. Dean, thanks for the good times and for always being a watchful eye on Eleanor Q when we weren’t there. If anyone needs a boat slip or a house built in Annapolis, we’ll put you in touch with Dean.
So tonight we’re anchored up in Swann Creek in Rock Hall, MD after an uneventful day of motoring under the bridge and up the bay. We are planning our timing to get to the C&D Canal as we make our way out of the Chesapeake Bay and into the Delaware Bay then down to Cape May, NJ by week’s end.
So I asked Frank what he was going to do now when he couldn’t sleep since this was the day he always pictured when he was suffering from insomnia. He laughed and said, “I guess I’ll have to picture buying lobster off the lobstermen in Maine or picture the blue waters of the Bahamas . . . ”
I think he’ll sleep just fine.
We are coming up on a week since we pulled out of the slip in Annapolis for our first stage of adventure and it feels like we’ve been out here for so much longer! Uhm, I meant that in a very good way, not in the “we spent a month on the water one week” kind of way! It feels like longer because it feels strangely comfortable and natural. (If you’ve cruised before and you’re reading this, you can stop snickering now while thinking, “Oh yeah . . . just wait.”) Of course, it’s easier for it to feel comfortable on a day that has been as idyllic as today . . . talk to us after it’s been raining for a full week and maybe we’ll sound a little less pie in the sky; but, for now, this has been a wonderful start. We’ll share a few pictures and thoughts from our visits to Solomons and Oxford this week as well as some observations about life on a boat.
Also, I’m putting this disclaimer out here now: some of our friends and family are boaters . . . some are not. If I throw in an explanation about a sailing/boating term, please don’t be offended, boaters! I know YOU know what it means. But I’m thinking it might be fun for some non-boaters to learn a little something about this along the way, too, so please be understanding!
Last Sunday we headed off to Solomons Island, MD. Although it was a little chilly, the wind was perfect (NW 10- 15 knots gusting to 20+) and we got there without tacking or jibing! (Land people, that’s a very good thing . . . it means less work for the crew. You set the sails once and you don’t have to do too much else to them after that. ) One of my sisters, upon hearing this, reminded me that it also meant that I had to find another way of getting a workout in that day. Sisters are oh-so-helpful!
We had been to Solomon’s once before last fall and enjoyed it. Here is some of our visit in pictures. If you want to see the larger version of a picture, just click on it:
A couple of the ongoing challenges on the boat: 1) finding secure storage for stuff and 2) boat maintenance. A few examples:
Other notes about live aboard strategy: water management and power management. We left Annapolis with two full water tanks . . . it is 5 days later and we still have some water left! You have no idea how good that is for us . . . okay, especially me (MM). Besides, if Frank thinks I use too much water when I wash the dishes, guess what that means???? Yup . . . guess who’s doing the dishes! We have become very creative about the ways to use water efficiently. Could we leave at any time to go to the marina close by to fill up? Yup. But risk losing our perfect spot? No way! We installed solar panels last year which have been tremendous. For the three of you out there (my brother, the electrical engineer, being one) for whom this will be of interest, we broke a record making over 150 amp hours with our panels today! That means we haven’t had to run the generator or the engine to fill our batteries. We have had plenty of power to do what we need including charging our technology. We get very excited about such things. Scary, I know. But there is truly something about being that self sufficient that is pretty cool. Onto the next topic: Wednesday we sailed to Oxford, MD, one of our very favorite places. We’ve come here several times over the last few years . . . and it holds a very special place in our hearts because we anchored up here in June two years ago to get married on the boat. We are anchored in the exact same spot this week. Oxford is a stately little eastern shore town with beautiful homes and gardens. It has some restaurants and facilities, but it is not highly commercial and is a little slower in its pace. It really does feel like stepping back in time about 30 years. Here are some of the sights around Oxford.
Today we felt like true cruisers: We dinghied to town to buy groceries, did our laundry at the coin operated machines at the local marina, and while waiting for the wash, rented two bicycles and cruised town (including a trip to the post office to mail in a defective piece of equipment to Raymarine, but that’s another story).
And we’ll just leave it there for now!
After several years of plotting and planning, we (Frank and Mary Marie or “Ems”) are about to execute on our plan to cruise the US east coast and the Bahamas/Caribbean in our 41′ sailboat for the next 2 years. Since Frank retired April 1, 2013, friends and family have been inquiring about our preparations. So here is the pictorial answer to the question, “How do you prepare to go cruising and when are you leaving?” Here is OUR answer as it pertains to the last month.
We essentially moved onto the boat May 7th, spent a few days doing prep and provisioning and set sail on May 12th. Our “launch” will happen in three stages:
1) Spend the month of May cruising the Chesapeake. We still have a slip in Annapolis through the end of the month. In late May, we will “take the lines with us.” This is in quotes because Frank has often said that, when he has a problem going to sleep at night, his substitute for counting sheep is to picture us pulling out of our slip and “taking the lines with us,” so that will be a BIG moment.
2) We will make our way through the C&D canal to Cape May where we’ll spend some time in Frank’s old stomping grounds and birth place. Then we’ll head north and anchor outside of Atlantic City, NJ for a couple of weeks to spend some time with our families and take care of last minute details. This will also allow Mary Marie some good practice time in the ocean vs. the confines of the Bay.
3) In the second half of June we’ll look for the right weather window to make our first big journey from Atlantic City to Block Island. That will be the third and most official part of our launch. Then we’ll hop our way along the coast of New England and head to Maine.
For those who are interested, we will use this blog to chronicle our travels. We’ll try to make it somewhat fun to read and will include a bunch of pictures and stories of the good, the bad and the ugly. If you just want to come here when you’re out of ways to procrastinate working on what you really should be, bookmark us and come when you feel like it. If you want to know that we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth on a regular basis and think you’ll forget to look up our page, there is an option on this page where you can enter your email address and get an email notice each time we make a new blog entry. Your choice. Or . . . never looking at this site again is an option, too. Totally your call . . . but we hope you’ll visit us from time to time! So, here we go!