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17
Aug

Long Island Sound of Music

If you ever watch Jeopardy, then you’ll understand that the title of this blog would fall under the category “Before and After”. The clue would be something like, “Movie set on the 110 mile tidal estuary with Connecticut to the north, and Long Island to the south where the Von Trapp Family children pick Edelweiss and are taught their Do Re Mis by a problem like Maria.” “What is ‘Long Island Sound of Music’ Alex?!” (If you don’t know The Sound of Music, none of that made sense to you – move on.) Well, it seemed fitting because there was music intertwined heavily through this part of the trip!

We pulled out of Pt. Washington, looked to our left to wave goodbye to the city in the distance, then turned hard to starboard and headed east on the Long Island Sound.

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NYC in the distance behind us, we proceed east on Long Island Sound

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First sweatshirt day of the trip!!!! I had forgotten what a sweatshirt was. (And a vest!)

Our next stop was Pt. Jefferson… the next logical stop when you’re headed that direction. We’ve never paid “Pt. Jeff” any mind… just used her and discarded her. It is a very nice, secure, protected place to anchor and that’s what we’ve done – anchored, stayed on the boat, gotten up the next morning and run without so much as a “how do you do.”  And yet we’d heard people talk about what a delightful little town it is. It was time to stop dissin’ Pt. Jeff and go see what was happening there. We knew we’d be tucked in for two nights because weather was moving in, but the afternoon we arrived was beautiful! So we took off in the dinghy and went to Pt. Jeff. What we found was a vibrant little shore town with restaurants, shops and live music. We’ll remember the live music – some in a good way and some not so much.

The bad live music: Okay, we’re not even sure where this was coming from, but somewhere there was outdoor karoke that could be heard for blocks. And some unfortunate soul who had clearly had a few adult beverages too many was belting out (VERY badly) Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”. You can hear it, can’t you? I mean, people for blocks were cracking up at this guy, and I’m sure he had no idea just exactly how far his voice was being amplified. We passed a very cool looking older dude who was shaking his head – and we shook ours back – to which he responded, ‘Hey, at least he’s trying!” Good point, my man.

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Can’t imagine why this building appealed to Frank…

The good live music: We landed at an outdoor bar to sip a brew and listen to a guy singing and playing acoustic guitar.

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Fun live music at the harbor.

This man had a challenging assignment: perform music that would appeal to ALL the age groups in the audience which ran the gamut. When we tell you this guy could play/sing songs from every decade since the ’50s, that is no joke. That’s impressive and he was good. And when he had two sides of the audience facing off about which decade to cover next, he killed two birds with one stone: He sang a song that was a hit in the 60s and then redone by Pearl Jam in 2000, and it is the world’s most depressing song ever. Okay, I won’t make you guess at this one: “Last Kiss” was made a hit in 1964 by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers – then the Pearl Jam success. For some reason, Frank knows every word to that song. Every single one.

“Oh, where oh where can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She’s gone to heaven, so I got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world.…”

Uplifting, right? Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed listening to this guy sing.

The best kind of live music: Frank playing guitar in the cockpit. Except that he had this depressing song stuck in his head now, so he of course had to pull a guitar tab up for it and (since he knows EVERY word) I listened to the tragic story of the car wreck and his baby going to heaven for quite a while. Apparently, birds like sad love songs, because they started showing up. Now, when we were last in this same anchorage, Frank made friends with the swans. He named them what he names all animals that need a name: Bubba. (Ask my great niece who now calls Frank “Uncle Bubba” after a lengthy discourse about everything being named Bubba.) So how many years has it been since we’ve been in this spot? And guess who comes up to the side of the boat… Mr. and Mrs. Bubba! They heard Frank was back in town and knew that meant good eatin’!!

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Mr. & Mrs. Bubba

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The pied piper of feathered friends

When he tired of hand feeding the Bubbas and getting his finger nibbled on, he went back to the guitar. Seagulls gathered.

The next day was supposed to be a washout, but when we woke up, we looked at the radar map and discovered we had a couple of hours of dryness, so we explored a different dinghy dock that dropped us in the less touristy town of Setauket. After about a 5 block walk to Main St., we explored the store fronts and restaurants.IMG_1559

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You know, stop by the barber shop and the violin shop all in one trip. Pretty convenient.

And even better, we found a barber shop!!! (Sorely needed if you ask me.) It was the classic, throw back barber shop – and Frank got a mighty fine hair cut there!

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Afterwards, a quick trip to a local deli for lunch and then – oops – we didn’t quite make it back before the precipitation. Hey, that’s what foul weather gear is for. We got a little soggy on the walk/ride back, but no big deal.

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We were back on the boat for the rest of the day enjoying the down time after our hectic travels so far. A day of reading, cards and a little dinner on the boat in the middle of a rainy, peaceful anchorage is quite delightful. I actually really like those days peppered into our other experiences. We did get a little break in the clouds later!

Next day we were back out on the Sound heading to Shelter Island – one of our favorite places. We have friends there who we met on our first visit – we have the same make of boat which automatically makes us cousins. We always look forward to meeting up with them. One of the things we MOST enjoy is playing music together, as our friend is an outstanding guitarist and all around musician and likes to rock out. We have a blast playing classic rock, folk and a little country together and were able to have two jam sessions at their house while we were in town.

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They’re jammin’ – hope you’re jammin’ too.

And Shelter Island Yacht Club is a beautiful place to hang out! Oh, did I mention we are back in the land of the canon? The yacht clubs from NY north seem to share the tradition of setting off a canon at 8:00am and sunset – and also observing “colors” which is the lowering of the flag at day’s end while everyone stands quietly at attention. It is actually a very cool tradition that is observed all over NY and New England.

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Shelter Island is a mix of developed and undisturbed land

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View from the Shelter Island Yacht Club

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Coming into SIYC via the launch

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Beautiful fleet of Herreshoff doughdish sail boats

And our friends were very generous to let us use their second vehicle to get around the island a bit, so we took advantage and did some grocery shopping and – went to a concert!! Yay – more music! The last time we were in Shelter Island,  I was able to convince Frank to come with me to the Perlman Music Camp. Itzak Perlamn and his wife started this camp for gifted young musicians. Only the finest up and comers get into this camp and they offer frequent concerts throughout the program. Last time was a special concert that Mr. Perlman performed in as well – that was unique! This time we saw a “Works in Progress” concert – performances  by a number of the campers. Most of them could go pro now. UN. BE. LIEVABLE. We will be interested to see how their careers take off! The setting is basically a tent that holds about 200 people with a stage up front, so the sound of crickets and cicadas is part of the accompaniment, too.

It is truly special. Great concert.

On a completely separate side note – we were happy to find that Frank’s #1 Choice for best milkshake can retain its titile… The Islander Cafe – hands down.IMG_1617

One morning we decided to take the short walk from the dinghy dock to the Greenport Ferry and have breakfast in that cool little town. Love the ferry ride.  IMG_1628IMG_1643Found “Crazy Beans” for breakfast again – just as tasty as last time – then expected a typically pleasant and uneventful 15 minute ferry ride back. Instead, we got a really crappy ride – literally. Look what they loaded onto the ferry with us.

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A trailer full of cows

Now understand, this ferry is SMALL! It does take vehicles, but not many – maybe 20? And the pedestrians or bicyclists just stand around the cars – not like there is an inside cabin to sit in – it’s very bare bones. So when we saw this trailer full of cows being loaded on, it made us wonder: should we wait for the next ferry? And the cows were NOT HAPPY about being rolled onto a boat which agitated them greatly. They truly were trying to kick their way out of the trailer. Now here’s the difference between Frank and I, ’cause you might remember, we’re different in some ways… he walks TO the trailer and I walk away from the trailer.

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Frank, walk away from the cows… seconds before “stuff” started flying

You know what happens to those who peek their heads up to the trailer air holes to see what’s going on in there? They get an earful of shit, that’s what! (Okay, maybe a whole earful is an exaggeration, but he did scrape cow dung out of his ear.) There were several bicyclists boarded who were told to stay at the stern of the boat. After we explained to them where the stern was, they parked themsleves as told – which happened to be right behind the cow trailer. Yes, they went to their assigned spot dutifully – or should I say – doodie-fully. Yup, they got the brunt of the flying cow pies when the bovine beauties freaked out. You know who was also bummed? The guy in the Porsche convertible parked right next to them. You want to see a top go up on a car quick? I “hoofed” it to the bow of the boat so as to avoid any more of the flying feces. That was the stinkiest ferry ride I imagine any of us has experienced… so literally, it was a crappy ride. But it sure made for a good story around town that day! You know, one of my favorite songs is “If I Had a Boat” by Lyle Lovett…

“If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean… and if I had a pony, I’d ride it on my boat. And we would altogether go out on the ocean, me upon my pony on my boat.”

Just change “pony” to “cow” and that was sort of our day. Kind of a stretch on the musical reference? Fine.

So for now I’ll just say, “So long. Farewell. Auf wiedersehn, adieu.” Thank you Long Island Sound of Music.

 

13
Aug

New York State of Mind: De Planes! De Planes!

We’re definintely in a New York state of mind as we have been cruising through the state for the last week. Of course, that started with the Big Apple last Friday after stopping in Sandy Hook for a brief rest following our overnight trip up the Jersey shore. We have blogged about going through New York before, so I’ll just hit some highlights, mostly through photos, because the views NEVER get old! This was our fourth time through the city and it was still thrilling. We’re transiting waterways so you think boats, right? What’s the deal with “De Planes” subtitle? Well, ALL types of watercraft, commercial and personal, fill the waters around NYC, but we seem to have interesting encounters with aircraft on these trips!! We see planes coming in to land at LaGuardia… MULTITUDES of helicopters coming in to the business helipads… the SKIES are full of traffic as we transit the area. You’ll see….

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Approaching the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

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Ems taking in the view

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The Battery… Hudson River to the left, East River (our route) to the right, and One World Trade Center standing proudly.

So as we approached The Battery where you have to choose if you’re going up the Hudson River or the East River, Frank reminded me that this is where Sully Sullenberger landed USAirways Flight 1549 back in 2009.

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This came from a simulation I found (using the real voice recording from the incident).

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Yellow arrow – Sully’s route in. What could go wrong? Blue arrow – the direction we’re headed. Sobering.

By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, “Sully,” it is VERY interesting. Okay, moving on…

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The many bridges of New York – approaching Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

So a LOT of visual stimulation happens in this next part (because there hasn’t been enough already)…

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Empire State Building and The American Copper Buildings

I was fascinated by these strange looking towers! I sent the picture to my family and I don’t remember the EXACT quote, but my sister Christine thought they looked like hugging Gumbies, I believe it was. I had to find out… they were designed by SHoP Architects who also designed the Barclay Center… and they are apartments. The 2-story sky bridge houses a – get this – LAP POOL. No thank you.

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And, of course, the UN… I am stifling any political comments.

Okay, so I’ll post a flashback from our last transit going the other direction in 2014. That was when we passed port to port under a bridge with an NYPD helipcopter – that startled the %&#! out of us! Yup, he flew under the bridge. Hard to forget that one.

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Flashback from 2014…

So when you think that can’t be topped,  Frank looks up and I hear something like, “What the hell am I’m looking at?” DE PLANE! DE PLANE! That’s the same bridge where we saw the police helicopter! (Bonus for getting the classic TV show reference…)

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Well HELLO!

Yes, THIS time through we got to pass starboard to starboard with a sea plane! And 3 minutes later, we had another one!! Note to self… stay out of the middle of the East River.

And then there’s all size and nature of water vessels to dart around. Large cargo ships are anchored here and there…

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When you’re looking up at the ships you’re passing…

No picture could possibly tell the story of how busy the waterways are. At one point a small herd of 10 jet skis whizzed by going top speed! That’s a little crazy if you ask me. (Frank thought that looked fun…we’re different that way.)

So it was another exciting, memorable and successful trip through New York City. On the other side of the city is Pt. Washington (Long Island) – a very cruiser welcoming harbor! We have stopped there before and it did not disappoint this time, either. We had a couple orders of business there….

First order of business…. okay, anybody notice something important missing in this picture?

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What should be flapping behind Frank’s shoulder? Ooops.

At one point I went to take a picture over our stern, framed with Old Glory, when I realized “GASP” where’s our flag? Our offshore trip wasn’t bouncy enough to lose the flag… except for the 20 minutes that we turned around into the wind to await sunrise – and then we bounced real good! Apparently our flag gave up the ghost in that part of the trip… drats. That was a nice flag pole.

We had an extra oversized flag aboard… rigged a broom handle that fit nicely into the holder… this will do in a pinch, but we’re going to need to look for a more stable answer.

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That’s a pretty big flag!

And of course, ice cream (or in this case, Italian Ice) is in order.

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Main St. – Pt. Washington

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Looking out over the harbor after a stroll around town and a good dinner.

We found a new favorite for dinner… Finn MacCool’s. First – it’s Irish so what’s not to love. Good advice from a local… the further up Main St. you walk, the food gets better and cheaper. Good tip!

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The launch ride back to Eleanor Q with a nearly full moon

Next day we walked town and, upon advice from a friend, went to check out the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club… beautiful!

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Confirmed the rumor that there is a superstition that bananas on a boat are bad luck. If that’s the case, we are so screwed…

We walked BACK to Finn MacCool’s with nice folks we have met in our past cruising whose travels we’ve followed ever since! Good to see you, S/V Ullr!! (Yes, that spelling is correct.)

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Okay, that’s funny.

And so, after a very restful and fun stay in Pt. Washington, we said goodnight and prepared for our next leg… on to Pt. Jefferson – hopefully without meeting any aircraft on Long Island Sound along the way.

 

 

 

7
Aug

The Best Laid Plans… Sailing North

Do you know that famous literary quote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry?” Since we have no mice aboard that I know of, I’ll alter it to say, “The best laid plans of sailors often get revised.” Such was the case for us last week when we set off for our cruise to New England. After watching and waiting for a weather window, we left on August 1st at 6:11am. (My best time of day – note the sarcasm).

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Boarding the boat at dawn.

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Beautiful Sunrise… a good omen.

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Our favorite residents of #5 came out to wish us bon voyage.

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Out of the “lake” and into the bay.

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And passing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge heading north.

Truth be told, we both were a little verklempt as we pulled away from the dock. We have been having such a good time in Annapolis, we kind of wondered if we had made the right decision to take off for a while. Frank uses an expression from his former fishing days to describe a moment like this: “You don’t leave fish to find fish.” But Eleanor Q has been sitting there staring at us, pleading to go out for more than a day sail or an overnight trip. “Let’s GO,” we could hear her saying. And she’s right. So off we went.

Plan A was to travel most of the day up the bay, proceed on through the C&D canal and anchor up on the Delaware side at Reedy Island. The next day we would transit down the Delaware Bay, up the NJ coast, through NYC and into Pt. Washington, all without stopping. We’ve done it once before – it does knock a big chunk off of the trip early and we wanted to get to Long Island Sound rather quickly. That second part would take about 1.5 days straight. We were set. Right? Day 1 executed as planned.

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Anchored up at Reedy Island

Day 2 we headed down the Delaware and made it to Cape May in record time with favorable current. We rounded the tip of NJ in sunshine and a nice breeze, threw up the sails (unfurled them, not upchucked them), turned off the engine and stared at Frank’s home town, admiring the beach-goers, the light house and Cape May in all its glory.

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A veritable traffic jam on the Delaware

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Ems’ shift – check out the new enclosure! And Ems looking much more awake than earlier…

Yeah, 6am – not my best time of day…

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Left: The caffeine has NOT hit my bloodstream yet and I didn’t even get to brush my hair! Right: Try to look perky? I’ll show you perky, HONEY!(code for “asshole”) But let me get this damn hair out of my face first!

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You know you’re almost to the Atlantic when you see the Cape May-Lewes ferries cross in front of you

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Frank loving life as he admires his Cape May

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The parasail captain brought his passengers in for a closer look at us. We waved at the flyers and they waved back!

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More recreational vehicles off of Cape May

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If you want to parasail in Cape May, I guess I would call this number…

We were just about to set up the coast on this beautiful day when we thought, “Hey, let’s take a quick peek at the radar map.” Good plan.

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Okay, bad plan. Ah crap. Really? But it’s sunny and we’re sailing. It’s perfect (we whined, admittedly). We, of course, are the blue dot. Now, not that we haven’t been in thunderstorms on the boat before, and she can handle it… but there were more up the coast as well. When given a choice, do we really want to be in the ocean, overnight in thunderstorms? No, not really. There are very few “bail out” points on the NJ coast, but Cape May is certainly one of them, so we turned on the engine, took down the sails and made a hard turn to port and into the Cape May Inlet to settle in for the night. Sigh. The best laid plans… As it turned out, Plan B turned out to be a better plan in the long run. We had been running pretty ragged getting everything ready to go, so a decent night’s sleep and a better frame of mind to do our first overnighter in a couple of years was not a bad thing. Plan B was better than Plan A. Based on our NEW plan and timing the currents in NY, we didn’t have to leave until 11am the next morning. There is not much of an anchorage available in Cape May right now due to dredging equipment taking up a good portion of that space, but we found a little spot right beside the Coast Guard station, and right beside a piling with an osprey nest…

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We had a surprise visitor land on top of us while sitting in the cockpit! An adolescent osprey got pushed out of the nest and this is where he landed!

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Pretty sure he was saying, “What the hell just happened?? And who are you?”

That osprey made a serious “thud” when he landed… and didn’t look like he knew how to get off. We finally scared him enough with our incessant picture taking that he landed with a splash all splayed out in the water. Kids. He finally gathered himself and managed to take off out of the drink.

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This is us running out of the restaurant and back to the dinghy to get to the boat before the storm does!

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Amazingly, the dolphin and whale watching boats were still heading out!

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How close were we to the Coast Guard station? THIS close.

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The next morning we started getting back into our boat routine – morning coffee and checking in to the “nets” on the single side band radio.

Day 3 we set off for the 25-30 hour trip up the coast and through New York. That was truly one of the best pure sailing days we’ve had – definitely in the top 3. Perfect beam reach and sunny skies. Then we noticed this big, dark area forming in the sky in the distance. One again, the trusty radar map revealed another set of classic summer storms popping up all over, but still a ways away.

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Storms to the left of us, freighters to the right, here I am – stuck in the middle with you! (Bonus points for getting the song reference… an easy one.)

We had time to make a call… bail in Atlantic City? Bail in Barnegat – an inlet that has been rumored to have shoaled up pretty badly? Shout out to my friend Hank for helping to get us some intel on Barnegat. In the end, we decided that we can’t run away from EVERY chance of thunderstorms or we’ll never get there! So we kept going and had EXCELLENT storm karma. We watched storms all around us, but other than 30 seconds of rain around Sandy Point, we got nuthin’. Nada. Zippo. Yippee. When we lost our wind in the evening, we turned the engine back on and had a blissfully uneventful overnight motor up the coast taking 3.5 hour watches. Got to Sandy Hook ahead of schedule, so pulled into the anchorage by – well why not – the Coast Guard station to take a 4 hour break to wait for favorable currents through NYC and to take a well deserved nap. All was well. We did not have to go to Plan C. (Shout out to cruiser friends, Loretta and Jim, who aptly named their boat “Plan Sea.” I get it!)

Here is a collage of the sights going up the Jersey coast…passing by Atlantic City, sunset over land, the night time lights of Seaside Heights, then dawn close to Sandy Hook, the storms darting around us, and then a little bit of sunrise just as we were pulling in to anchor for a few hours.

And one last poetic picture with which to end this episode…. (I had to use proper grammar there so the grammar police wouldn’t strike – aka my sisters)…

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Frank spent 23 years working in Atlantic City… and there he goes sailing past it!

Yup – sailing past Atlantic City and his old office from many years ago. Poetic, don’t you think?

Think I’ll stop writing for now and crack open a beer – excellent plan. Next post: NYC, baby!

 

29
Jul

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Life on the Chesapeake

Don’t pass out… but the blog rides again!

Quick catch up… and most of you reading this already know this, but Frank retired in March. No really. He means it this time. So he is not living out of state for work any more – he is really, really here in Annapolis with me full time. This is truly home now.

It has been quite a while since we posted about our move to Annapolis. We celebrated two years of home ownership here in May. And how do we know when we moved in? Because it was the same week as the Blue Angels Show! Their demonstration is an annual event here during commissioning week at the Naval Academy. It is something you put on your calendar 6 months in advance and make sure you don’t have any out of town commitments on those days! And it is SPECTACULAR! That leads us to our first Chesapeake favorite…

CHESAPEAKE FAVORITE: BLUE ANGELS

And of course, one of the main reasons for moving here is the amazing sailing! Eleanor Q lives with us now which means staying on top of boat projects all the time. But it also means taking her out on a more regular basis!

But Annapolis also means Frank gets to race! He has been testing the waters (literally) by crewing on different boats. So far he has raced on J-30s and J-24s. Although he makes 61 look good, he’s trying to decide what race boat makes the most sense for him at this stage in the game. Lately he test drove a Laser which is a one-person racer. (That also means he’s the captain which suits him.) Stay tuned as his racing career evolves. I promised myself that I’d race this year to help with my sailing skills… perhaps next year. Stay tuned on that one, too.

CHESAPEAKE FAVORITE: SAILING

But our latest love is anything related to Blue Crabs. We both read “Beautiful Swimmers,” a wonderful book that gives a peek inside the business and culture of crabbing and crabbers on the Chesapeake including detailing the reproductive life of the blue crab in more detail than you ever thought you wanted to know! Frank has his crabbing license and is perfecting the trot line method of crabbing. Let’s just say, we have had some AMAZING crab feasts on our deck this year! We have come a long way from our early days of using weights and twine on floating water bottles (although that was pretty effective some days, too).

CHESAPEAKE FAVORITE : CRABS

Next…

We have a lot of visitors to our house, and not just the two-legged kind! There is WAY more “nature” here than we would have ever imagined. Critters of all kinds like to hang out around Lake Ogleton (where we live). By the way, “lake” is a misnomer. It is more of a harbor than a lake in that it has an inlet to the bay as opposed to being self contained. Anyway, we have critters and they’re fun to watch.

CHESAPEAKE FAVORITE: NATURE (a) Critters

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Still in the nature category is just the scenic nature of this entire area. Nicole said to me this morning (during our latest crabbing trip), “Pictures just can’t do this place justice.” She’s absolutely right… but here are a few anyway.

CHESAPEAKE FAVORITE: NATURE (b) The Scenery

But our #1 favorite part of being here… sharing it with friends and family.

The adventures of Eleanor Q will continue! We will be sailing north for about a month and visiting some of our old favorite haunts in New England as well as exploring a few new places, too. Stay tuned!

 

18
Nov

Correction:Two Countries, FOUR States and FIVE Homes

Okay, maybe “correction” isn’t the proper term, but rather “updated status.” Last blog I indicated that in 2015 we had lived in two countries, three states and four homes. Well, Frank is getting transferred … again. I was in Annapolis and he was working in Toledo when I got “the call” one afternoon. It started something like, “Do you have a minute and are you sitting down.” I KNOW what that means! I’d heard it before. And I really thought I’d never hear that call again!! Toledo was supposed to be the last rodeo. No more job hopping. But this turned out to be a very good call. The “commute” back and forth between Toledo and Annapolis is not an easy one. It requires an 8+ hour drive (well, 7 3/4 for me, but let’s not talk about it…) or a flight from Detroit airport to Baltimore. We managed – we got to see each other about every 10 – 14 days. But that’s not very often. And as my work schedule has gotten busier, finding windows of time to be together has gotten tougher.

So when Frank’s company explained that, due to a number of promotions and moves within the company, the job in Grantville, Pennsylvania (Harrisburg area) was going to be available and was he interested – well, we got pretty excited. Harrisburg – does that sound oddly familiar? That is the same job he had before he … uhm, er, eh-hem… “retired.” Yup – getting his old job back. Right up the road from Annapolis. Less than a two hour drive from our new house. That beats the heck out of 8 hours!!! We will have WAY more quality time together and we both love the Harrisburg area.

Hello Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course!

We had rented a small apartment in Toledo – those belongings will be moved straight to the townhouse that we’ll have in PA. His “official” start date is a moving target, but he’ll be back in the east by mid-December.

We enjoyed our short stay in Toledo . . . a very hospitable part of the country. But being closer together and Frank being closer to at least part of his brood is a very, very good thing. (Shout out to Frank the third – inside joke- and Nicole… the NJ branch of the family. Shout out to Andrea, but she’s still in California, so not closer to her…bummer.) He misses spending quality time with his peeps. And Eleanor Q is very happy, too! Perhaps she’ll see a little more action in 2016 now.

Meanwhile, Frank was at the Annapolis homestead this weekend. With him only being at the house once a month, the visit is more about chores than anything, sadly. Glad that will not be the case soon. The boats have been winterized – that part’s a wrap. They’re all settled down for a long winter’s nap. And after yet another move in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be ready for a long winter’s nap ourselves.

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Have you ever gotten a skiff stuck in your yard? We have . . . it is not recommended.

 

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At the end of a long day of boat winterizing, we enjoyed an adult beverage and fall in the Chesapeake Bay area. Nothing like it. Eleanor Q is quite at home.

31
Aug

Two Countries, Three States, Four Homes

Wow. I just reread the post from last winter. It promised of charming tales about “Life in a Northern Town,” the posts I thought we would put out during our time in Ontario. And now it is nearly September. All of our family and more than half of our friends know where we have landed since . . . but it was a real wake up call last week when I received very lovely birthday greetings from some people I consider very good friends who said, “By the way . . . where are you????” That was the wake up call, perhaps, that the blog needed an update and that I need to do a better job of keeping in touch with friends.

Well, the theme for us in recent years has been that we’re always on the move. The last six months have been no exception. So far 2015 has included 2 countries, 3 states and 4 homes. Yeah, just in 2015. Let me explain – as briefly as I can.

First, a wrap up of the “Life in a Northern Town” chapter. We had visions of sharing stories about sledding and snow shoeing and learning the sport of curling, but it didn’t really pan out that way. We were in Canada from January to the first week of May. The two weeks before we left were just about the first time we saw the grass anywhere in the area. No lie. It was ice and snow all of that time. We wanted to embrace winter. Frank had proudly proclaimed that “If I can survive winter in South Dakota, how much colder can it be in Orillia?” We found out the answer . . . A LOT! Frank had also proclaimed that, “Once it gets below 20 degrees, how much colder can it really feel? Cold is cold.” He answered his own question on that one, too . . . with the same answer. Minus 20 degrees does not feel anything like plus 20 degrees. There is a difference! There were days and days on end when the temperature never got above zero. That said, our motivation to enjoy any outdoor activities was severely stunted. Still, it really was a beautiful area and we enjoyed the scenery and the very friendly people. The job was challenging and kept Frank extremely busy, and I made regular trips back to the states for either work or to check on family or the house in NJ. Driving became my preferred way to travel . . . winter flying on Air Canada’s tiny planes to the states was unpredictable at best. The 10 hour trip by car was much better and gave me a more flexible schedule to work around the weather. We rented a GREAT furnished house on a lake with super neighbors – and from the nicest people. We stumbled into that ideal situation! The lovely surroundings made it easy to come home at the end of the day and just hibernate!! We became part bear, I suppose. I’ll put in a picture or two here to make your hot, humid day feel a little bit cooler!

Home sweet home for a few months. Looks like a new house - actually a renovated older home. Very cool place.

Home sweet home for a few months. Looks like a new house – actually a renovated older home. Very cool place.

The view out the back door. That is a lake under the ice.

The view out the back door. That is a lake under the ice.

We did make it into Toronto for a weekend and paid a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

We did make it into Toronto for a weekend and paid a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Fast forward, the casino identified a new GM and Frank’s “interim” gig came to an end . . . but they had other plans for him. Staying in Ontario for a few years was presented as an option and we seriously toyed with the idea of bringing Eleanor Q up to Georgian Bay and hanging our hats in Ontario for a few years, but we both agreed that we missed our country (I’m not being trite there) and we missed being a little more accessible to family and friends. And perhaps, yes, it was a bit much to consider several more winters like that one!

A week before we left we got a glipse of what Orillia looks like in the spring! The ice melted around April 20th.

A week before we left we got a glipse of what Orillia looks like in the spring! The ice melted around April 20th.

After passing this giant Adirondack chair several times, I had to try sitting in it after the snow had melted off of it! Who remembers Edith Ann from

After passing this giant Adirondack chair several times, I had to try sitting in it after the snow had melted off of it! Who remembers Edith Ann from “Laugh-In” ??

While we had time on our hands during our evenings of hibernation, another plan was hatching. We have had it in our minds that our ultimate retirement location of choice would be Annapolis. Why Annapolis? It’s an easy drive to most of our family members, it’s right on the Chesapeake Bay and our favorite cruising grounds, and it’s a place where we’ve been hanging out for years on Eleanor Q. Hmmmm… the markets were up, interest rates looked like they were about to start moving up, the housing market was starting to pick up…was this the time to strike? I will spare you all the agonizing we went through re: “To Buy or Not to Buy,” but the moral of the story is that we (happily) purchased the home in Annapolis. It is a house that we had eyed up six months earlier, but we felt like the timing wasn’t right when we considered it the first time around. Here it was – our dream location – still sitting on the market. We didn’t walk away a second time – we bought the house. We plan to make that our home base for years and years to come. Being an older home, it has plenty of projects to keep us busy!

Eleanor Q's new home!

Eleanor Q’s new home!

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But wait! What about that work thing we’re supposed to be doing? Frank’s company had the “permanent” position in mind for him around the same time that we were dreaming up our Annapolis plans . . . Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio. Yes, you read that right – Toledo. (Hey, it’ still not as cold as Orillia, Ontario, I promise you!) Some of you might be thinking, “I didn’t even know there were casinos in Toledo!” The Detroit/Toledo gaming market has become a big regional gaming area and Penn opened Hollywood Toledo just three years ago. It is one of Penn’s “Tier 1” premier properties and truly a beautiful facility. Our cruising pals from Magnolia (you blog followers have read a lot about them) had a family reunion in the area and visited us and the casino – and gave it two thumbs up!

Hollywood Casino Toledo

Hollywood Casino Toledo

So, we have become a two state couple. We have an apartment in Toledo and the house in Maryland and spend time in both. Frank gets back to the Annapolis home about once a month for several days and I have been getting to Toledo about twice a month, so we are together a good portion of the time, but I home base more out of Annapolis. Baltimore airport is only 30 minutes away making travel for work very easy. From door to door it is a 7:45 drive from the MD house to the OH apartment. (Hey – less than the 10 hour commute to Canada!) I’ve been driving to haul things back and forth and he’s been flying to maximize his time back. We’re figuring out how to make it work.

Checking out the German Festival in Toledo.

Checking out the German Festival in Toledo.

Frank is in search of the largest soft serve ice cream twist. So far this one is the leader in the club house!! Toledo knows how to do soft serve!

Frank is in search of the largest soft serve ice cream twist. So far this one is the leader in the club house!! Toledo knows how to do soft serve!

Frank had the month of May off between the Canada gig and the Toledo gig for us to move out of Ontario, move out of our NJ house in the “retirement community” that served us well during our cruising time and move into our more permanent home in the sailing mecca of Annapolis. A few weeks later, we packed some belongings up again and moved into the apartment in Toledo as well. Notice that some form of the word “move” was used four times in those two sentences. April, May, June and July are just kind of a blur at this point.

We will make our home in both locations until such time as Frank decides to do the retirement thing again. Eleanor Q is not getting as much use as she would like, but I keep a watchful eye on her and spend time on her at the dock so she knows she is still loved. We get her out when Frank is in town. When the time is right, we will pick up cruising with her again, although our plan will be to split our time between land and sea. We learned that we like both lifestyles very much and don’t want to give up one for the other. Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy visiting some of our old favorite haunts around the Chesapeake… a BEAUTIFUL place to be.

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So between Ohio, Maryland and a variety of other locations required for work right now, when friends ask “Where are you?” the answer will still be a bit of a moving target. For now, Eleanor Q lies in wait to see what her next adventure will be down the road.

28
Dec

‘Twas the Week After Christmas

‘Twas the week after Christmas and all through the boat,
Not a creature was stirring since she isn’t afloat.

The systems are drained of all water with care,
In hopes that no icicles will ever form there.

Eleanor Q is nestled all snug on her bed
With antifreeze throughout her, including the head.

With me in my parka and Frank in his cap,
Got Eleanor Q settled in for her long winter’s nap.

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And so . . . our first round of cruising has come to an end.

We finished out the season in late September and October with some quality time in Annapolis and with a few hops around the Chesapeake.

Our annual pilgrimage to the Annapolis Sail Boat Show

Our annual pilgrimage to the Annapolis Sail Boat Show

Taking a dinghy ride around Back Creek - Frank couldn't help but chase an unsuspecting blue heron.

Taking a dinghy ride around Back Creek – Frank couldn’t help but chase an unsuspecting blue heron.

Fall scenes around Back Creek.

Fall scenes around Back Creek.

But when the cold weather hit in November, we knew it was time to take Eleanor Q out of the water for a while and give her a well deserved rest.

Readying the boat . . . putting the dinghy up on the bow for storage.

Readying the boat . . . putting the dinghy up on the bow for storage.

We went through MANY gallons of the pink antifreeze. It goes in all systems that use water, including engines. We did as much as we could before Eleanor Q's last trip.

We went through MANY gallons of the pink antifreeze. It goes in all systems that use water, including engines. We did as much as we could before Eleanor Q’s last trip to where she was being hauled out.

The day came for us to pull out of Stella's Stern and Keel for the last time. Thanks for everything Dean!

The day came for us to pull out of Stella’s Stern and Keel for the last time. Thanks for everything Dean!

Traversing from one side of the Bay Bridge to the other.

Traversing from one side of the Bay Bridge to the other to Eleanor Q’s winter home.

Last time behind the wheel for a while.

Last time behind the wheel for a while.

This was an emotional trip across the bay . . . letting go of our live-aboard life for now.

This was an emotional trip across the bay . . . letting go of our live-aboard life for now.

Eleanor Q's winter marina on the opposite side of the Bay Bridge from Annapolis.

Eleanor Q’s winter marina on the opposite side of the Bay Bridge from Annapolis.

Leaving Eleanor Q in a temporary slip before she gets hauled to her land based parking spot. Frank dragging a multitude of empty gallon antifreeze jugs to the dumpster. We've done as much as we can for the day.

Leaving Eleanor Q in a temporary slip before she gets hauled to her land based parking spot. Frank dragging a multitude of empty gallon antifreeze jugs to the dumpster. We’ve done as much as we can for the day.

Second trip back to the boat to finish winterizing. Taking the sails off and storing them down below.

Second trip back to the boat to finish winterizing. Taking the sails off and storing them down below.

Frank taking down the radar detector.  Eleanor Q has a nice view of the local airport!

Frank taking down the radar detector. Eleanor Q has a nice view of the local airport!

We are diving back into the work waters . . . I have already had a couple of consulting gigs this month and have some more work scheduled in January. Frank is still in discussions determining where and when he will go back to work, so we are waiting for definitive word as to exactly where our next “port” will be. In the mean time, we have enjoyed time in our house in Smithville, NJ and have spent lots of time with family here. Christmas in the warm weather of Florida was an interesting change last year, but spending it with family this year was pretty special . . . and singing with my former church choir in Ocean City throughout the season has buoyed my Christmas spirit.

Yes, we occasionally have pangs about being on the boat in warmer climes about now, but we have also really enjoyed time with family, football season on our couch and the beautiful fall weather.

So . . . we are prepared to be transients again, just on land instead of sea for a while. We will return to cruising some day . . . it will not be a one and done deal for us. But we have lots of years left to return to the sea, God willing. We fulfilled our goal of cruising from Maine to the Bahamas and back and it was AWESOME! But for now, we’ll enjoy the stimulation that we both get from doing work that we really enjoy and having a few more land adventures for a while. We’ll let you know where we and Eleanor Q land!

And so we exclaim as we turn out the light,
Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.

26
Oct

September Song – Connecticut to Annapolis

It’s October. Our last post was early in September. We’ve been back in Annapolis for a couple of weeks. So we need to catch up with the end of our summer cruise.

“September Song” started running through my head. You know the song? It’s a classic that was written for a movie in the 40s and has since been covered by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and – our favorite version – by Willie Nelson.

“Oh, it’s a long, long way from May to December,
But the days grow short when you reach September.
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for
the waiting game.”

Well the days notably turned shorter, but we certainly made the most of them!

After Newport, we only had a couple of other “must see” destinations and those were on the coast of Connecticut, an area we didn’t see at all last year. The really cool thing about cruising north this year is that we had made friends with a number of cruisers over the winter whose home bases are in Connecticut and who had invited us to stop in on our way through!

We had a good trip from Newport to Stonington, CT. What a lovely port. We were very fortunate to visit with cruising friends who ran us around for some boat errands, groceries and laundry – AND fed us a delightful dinner.

Stonington

Coming in to Stonington, CT and the view at Dodson’s Boatyard.

I was amused by this sign. I'm sure there's a joke here.

I was amused by this sign. I’m sure there’s a joke here.

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One of many lighthouses in the area

Our next trip was up the Connecticut River to Essex, CT. We grabbed a mooring ball at the Brewer Dauntless Marina – a very nice stop if you’re looking – and enjoyed the quaint main street of Essex with the upscale shops and specialty food markets. Not where you’d shop every day that you’re cruising, but a nice treat for a couple of days. There’s just something about New England. We also discovered the Griswold Inn (or “The Gris”) for food and drinks. They have a pub and a wine bar and we tried both! Enjoyed a picnic lunch with cruising friends and a really fun dinner in town with friends that evening! Thanks to all our Connecticut hosts!

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Going up the Connecticut River to Essex

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Who ya gonna call?

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High marks for the ice cream in Essex!

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The gang from the yacht club coming back from an evening sail.

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Frank making friends.

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Strolling around Essex

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Eleanor Q on her mooring ball at Essex

The Gris

Hanging out at “The Gris”

We learned about the strong current in the river by watching the sailing club trying to come back in to port at max flood!! They came in dead sidewise, crabbing their way through the mooring field. A few had paddles off the side of the boat trying hard to keep themselves from overshooting their target. Great entertainment.

The last night in Essex was sort of the last night of “vacation” in some respects. Now our mission was just to get back to Annapolis post haste. We really liked our approach to getting here in August – make a longer trip and passage and get it over with. That was going to be our approach going back, too, but a lot of things have to align for that to happen.
1) The weather and wind have to be favorable, of course.
2) From Long Island Sound, you have to go back through New York City. Talk about a place where you really have to go with the tides . . . so timing the tide through “Hell Gate” (that’s the name, really) and the the East River is critical.
3) Once you get through there, what’s the tide doing at Sandy Hook at the top of NJ?
4) Okay, so now what’s the wind direction as you head down the coast of NJ? That’s the overnight part.
5) And after that, if you want to keep going, what’s the current doing past Cape May and turning north up into the Delaware Bay?
6) AND THEN, when you get to the top of the Delaware Bay, which way is the current going through the C&D Canal?

If the current isn’t in your favor in any of those places, you have to break the trip up into chunks and wait it out . . . or you can try powering through any of those places against the current and just about sit still in place and waste a bunch of fuel. That makes no sense and is not recommended. We used our Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, the boater’s Bible for all things tide and current related, and found a window of about three days where all the tides aligned . . . if only we could get the good weather to go with it.

So we did a long but beautiful day down the Long Island Sound clear from Essex to Port Washington, NY just north of the city, passing right by Port Jefferson. We plotted the exact time we needed to leave Port Washington to start our trek which would be on a Sunday around 11am. That gave us all day Saturday to rest and prepare for the overnight trip down the coast.

The youth sailing class being towed back to land in the rain in Port Washington

The youth sailing class being towed back to land in the rain in Port Washington

And sure enough, the forecast looked great. We did a little happy dance (okay, I did a little happy dance . . . Frank just looked pleased) because everything was lining up perfectly. We departed Port Washington on schedule at 11:00am, had another exhilarating trip through New York City (never get tired of that), whipped around the top of NJ just before sunset and motor sailed, then just motored down the coast overnight in extremely calm, benign, comfortable conditions. Yes, some more wind to sail would be nice . . but for overnighters, we’re happy for really settled conditions so the one not on watch has an actual chance at sleeping. We were riding the engine pretty hard, too, to get us to the Delaware Bay in time to catch the changing current direction just right. There were a number of other boats who had the same idea and we found each other on the radio and suggested calling each other a few times during the overnight hours just to hear another voice out there in the dark and to “shepherd” one another down the coast a bit. We were not necessarily within sight of each other, but we were within a few miles. Always nice to have some company offshore in the dark.

Some of the boats stopped in Cape May, but a handful of us kept charging on. Another fleet of boats had been in Cape May overnight and were setting out up the Delaware. That was the most boats we’ve seen on that leg yet. It was fun! A virtual flotilla.

We zipped up the bay with the current (motor sailing), caught the current right in the C&D Canal and got to Chesapeake City, MD at the end of the canal by 5pm on Monday evening – 30 hours after departing Port Washington! Mission accomplished! The more overnights we do, the better we get at them. We did 4 hour shifts overnight and both got some reasonable sleep . . . but we did crash big time Monday night after a fun dinner with another cruising couple that we had met via radio and by waving as we passed each other in Ocracoke . . . finally got to talk face to face! Always a fun part of the adventure.

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I was taking pictures of the cable car over the bridge . . .

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. . . when I saw this helicopter approaching, low . . .

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. . . and it got lower and closer . . .

. . . and then passed port to port with us UNDER the bridge! Only in New York.

. . . and then passed port to port with us UNDER the bridge! Only in New York.

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Never get tired of this view.

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See you next time, New York!

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A gorgeous sunset as we rounded Sandy Hook, NJ.

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Heading up the Delaware Bay: This unusal vessel was coming down the bay. It’s a Joint High Speed Vessel named USNS Chocktaw County. (US Naval Ship). Can cruise from 34 to 42 knots. It didn’t put out a wake – it put out a tsunami! Look at the tidal wave behind it.

We enjoyed a lay day in Chesapeake City just wandering around town. I used the term “lay day” in an email to my family one morning . . . they were unfamiliar with it’s origins. It basically means a day when a vessel is at dock but the crew has no particular responsibility for that period of time. We were back in the bay!! Home waters! There is always a sense of comfort when we get back in the Chesapeake. We spent the rest of the week just enjoying short travel days and nosing around the bay. Stopped in the Sassafras River for a day. Visited Bodkin Creek the next. And then . . . we were back in Annapolis, back at Stella’s Stern and Keel. Back “home.”

Anchored up in Chesapeake City after a successful 31 hour voyage

Anchored up in Chesapeake City after a successful 31 hour voyage

We earned ourselves a couple of perfect Dark and Stormies!

We earned ourselves a couple of perfect Dark and Stormies!

Day 2 in Chesapeake City - parked at the free dock watching the tankers transit the canal.

Day 2 in Chesapeake City – parked at the free dock watching the tankers transit the canal.

Walking around Chesapeake City - saw this shop. They say it ain't what it used to be.

Walking around Chesapeake City – saw this shop. They say it ain’t what it used to be.

Anchored up in the Sassafrass River

Anchored up in the Sassafrass River

Sunset in the Sassafrass

Sunset in the Sassafrass

Sailing back under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - coming home.

Sailing back under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – coming home.

With the Bay Bridge behind us, we're filled with mixed emotions of a deep sense of accomplishment, gratitude and some melancholy.

With the Bay Bridge behind us, we’re filled with mixed emotions of a deep sense of accomplishment, gratitude and some melancholy.

Home. What will home be in 2015?

Well, we can tell you that we’ve decided not to go south on the boat this winter. We’re going to take a sabbatical from our sabbatical and go back to work for a while. What is that going to look like and where is that going to be? We’ll let you know just as soon as we’ve finished figuring that part out ourselves! Meanwhile, we just had ourselves a heck of an end of summer cruise and look forward to some fall time in the bay.

“Oh these days dwindle down to a precious few, and these few precious days I’ll spend with you.” You said it, Willie.

14
Sep

Newport or Bust!

After being waylaid in Nantucket for an extra day due to fog and drizzle, we were ready to move on. Our ultimate goal was to get to Newport, but that would be a 60+ mile day. What’s the hurry? We need to enjoy our time in these parts. We chose to do a 30 mile hop over to Martha’s Vineyard which meant we didn’t have to leave at the crack of dawn. Good thing, because at the crack of dawn it was foggy again, but the forecast promised that it would burn off quickly. Happily, it did (we thought) and we set off. The series of pictures below shows the progression of the trip: clear passing the light at the exit of Nantucket Harbor, then some fog, then pretty limited visibility for quite a while! We have radar and that’s exactly what it’s for. We saw lots of fog last summer in Maine and, compared to that, this was child’s play. We’ve been unbelievably blessed with great weather for just about this whole month. The last picture is the bright sun shining on the lighthouse at the entrance to Edgartown Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard. We figured we’d stay for a couple of days before marching on to Newport.

A clear trip - no a foggy trip - no, a clear trip from Nantucket to Martha's Vineyard at times.

A clear trip – no a foggy trip – no, a clear trip from Nantucket to Martha’s Vineyard.

Not much to say about our stay there. We arrived in the early afternoon, anchored, hopped off the boat and went into town. When we were in Edgartown last summer it was July, hot and crowded. We were looking forward to giving it another chance post-Labor Day. And this was the Tuesday after Labor Day. The weather was pleasant, the crowds were gone . . . this looked promising. And then we discovered that everybody who works on the island was burnt out. Okay, we’re familiar with seasonal business and end of season burn out from the years in Atlantic City, but even if you FEEL that way, a professional tries not to show it. Yeah, right. Servers and bartenders everywhere had no desire left to be kind to tourists. They were just done . . . and so were we. So instead of sticking around for another day of indifference, we decided to move on up the sound to wonderful Newport. Boaters’ paradise. Nautical Mecca. But first we had to get there.

Ah yes - a redeeming feature in Edgartown.

Ah yes – a redeeming feature in Edgartown.

So it should have been a sweet ride up the sound. The forecast was for quite a bit of wind, and that there was, and not downwind. What does all of that mean? We got slapped around a bit that day! If you’re not familiar with the term “fetch” (not as in what you say to Fido) it means, “a) an area where ocean waves are being generated by the wind; b) the length of such an area. There was a fair sized fetch meaning fair sized seas. Interesting that fetch rhymes with “retch.” Happily, we did not, but it crossed my mind once or twice. We could have bailed and stopped at a closer location, but we really wanted to end up in Newport and so resisted the urge. About six grueling hours later, we were in Newport. In my head I rate the comfort level of days as to “how would family members like being on the boat today?” As I told one of my sisters, NO ONE would have liked being on the boat that day. But . . . we were there, safe and exhausted.

I'll have my house on the rocks, please!

I’ll have my house on the rocks, please.

Welcome to Newport!

Welcome to Newport!

Last year we were in Newport over Labor Day Weekend and in not such great weather – and still loved the place. We also got wise to the good anchorage there. Now we were going to see Newport in all its glory. Newport is a good sized town and there are blocks and blocks of eclectic shops, restaurants and pubs. There are museums and historic mansions. There’s tons to see and do. Go there if you ever have a chance.

Newport - in all its nautical glory.

Newport – in all its nautical glory.

First evening in Newport. Frank making friends with the launch driver.

First evening in Newport. Frank making friends with the launch driver.

Day 1 – Walked and walked and walked. Frank had a mission: we had determined an appropriate belated birthday present for me: a GoPro camera. Online, he had scoped out local retailers and we were going shopping. Long story short, after many miles and three stores, we finally got the camera and necessary accessories. A new toy! Scouted out the Midtown Oyster Bar for lunch and met Timmy, our MVP bartender for this trip. It would not be our last visit to Timmy.

Midtown Oyster Bar - our hangout.

Midtown Oyster Bar – our hangout.

What a typical night looks like on Eleanor Q. Close up view thanks to the GoPro.

Back at the ranch later . . . What a typical night looks like on the Eleanor Q. Close up view thanks to the GoPro. I’m controlling the camera from the iPad!

Day 2 – Laundry Day and “time alone” day. Yes, we all need to have a little time alone, so Newport provides the perfect opportunity for us to go our separate ways for a while. I was stationed in the Boater’s Lounge laundry (GREAT facility for cruisers) with the plan to go actually walk IN some shops while the clothes were spinning around. Frank’s plan was to rent a scooter and see some other parts of town. Earlier he had asked me if I wanted to tour with him on the scooter. I pretty quickly answered a resounding no! I confess, I’m not a fan of open road two-wheel transportation. I did ride on a motorcycle with him a couple of times and lived to tell about it, but I was pretty much praying to come back in one piece the whole time I was riding. Yeah, I’m a chicken. Cut me some slack, I’m living on a boat, okay? So back to Newport – an hour after we’ve split up, Frank calls me and says, “I’m riding this scooter around and this is a GREAT way to see the place – it’s beautiful! Do you want me to come back and get you? You really gotta see this.” How nice was that? So I grabbed the last articles out of the dryers, we threw the finished laundry in the dinghy and off we went. I got over my nervousness pretty quickly and he was right . . . it was spectacular. And I managed to talk Frank into stopping for a tour of one of the mansions. A mansion tour is “something you should do” while you’re in Newport – at least that’s what people have told us. Ours was a self-guided tour that should take about an hour. Yup – we did it in 28 minutes.

Dinghy ride into town and some sights around town.

Dinghy ride into town and some sightseeing.

Our Scooter tour around town.

Our Scooter tour around town.

The Mansion Tour: The grounds of Rosecliff. I have NO idea what that sculpture is.

The Mansion Tour: The grounds of Rosecliff. I have NO idea what that sculpture is.

It so happened that the scooter rental place was right beside the Oyster Bar, so of course we had to stop and visit with Timmy. It would be rude not to.

Day 3: Woke up to a foggy day in Newport. We weren’t going anywhere so we didn’t care, but there were a number of regattas planned for the day. It cleared up enough to watch some stunning boats go by on their way to compete. We went in to town and THIS time, we went our separate ways for a while. I did girl things like go in shops and look at clothes and flip flops and then went to the International Yacht Restoration School. We visited there last year and I wanted to see what progress they had made on restoring the 151 foot “Coronet” – the oldest wooden yacht still even a little bit in existence. It is being rebuilt/restored at the school – a project that will go on for years and years.

Work on the Coronet is slow and deliberate. Everything that was found on the yacht has been carefully saved and tagged to put back in the vessel later.

Work on the Coronet is slow and deliberate. Everything that was found on the yacht has been carefully saved and tagged to put back in the vessel later.

It even had a piano on it!! That would be interesting to play when you're heeling.

It even had a piano on it!! That would be interesting to play when you’re heeling.

Frank went to boat yards.  A couple of hours later, we met back up at – uhm, er – the Oyster Bar to hang out with Timmy on our last day in town. Yes, we’re in a rut considering how many cool places there are in Newport to explore. But the Oyster Bar was just that good.

Newport is way up on our list of favorite stops. Great town! And if you go there, please say hello to Timmy.

Sunset in Newport.

Sunset in Newport.

11
Sep

Summering in the Sounds – Part 2 – Hyannis and Nantucket

Our next stop was Hyannis, Massachussetts. Yup, THAT Hyannis. Home turf of the Kennedy family. The Kennedy compound. THAT Hyannis. It hadn’t even occurred to us to go there until some friends in this area said, “Oh, you should stop at Hyannis. It’s lovely!”

Well, why not?

So to Hyannis we went. It was a nice day trip from Cuttyhunk. I had lots of nice details about the trip when I started this post – except somehow the draft of this post evaporated into the blogosphere and I don’t think I can recreate it . . . so let’s just get to Hyannis itself, shall we?

We got a non-resident membership to the Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis that has paid us back in so many ways in reciprocal privileges at other yacht clubs along the way, and Hyannis was one of those. We reserved a mooring ball at the Hyannis Yacht Club. I must confess, I was a little intimidated walking into the club to check in . . . it’s Hyannis for crying out loud. What we found was a very pleasant, welcoming place. A nice young man checked us in and then gave us a tour of the club. We enjoyed the facilities while we were there very much. Here’s what we discovered about Hyannis: there are the very high priced neighborhoods, yes, but when you walk into town, it looks like any fun, shore town you would find up and down the coast. It has tour boat companies hawking their trips. It has ice cream and tee-shirt shops. It was a classic shore town in the summer. We enjoyed walking around and quickly immersed ourselves in the Kennedy history so prevalent in the area. We visited the Kennedy memorial and the Kennedy Museum. Frank is currently on his second book about the Kennedy family dynasty and their rise to power. The museum was relatively small but had a great collection of family photos.

The harbor and Hyannis Yacht Club.

The harbor and Hyannis Yacht Club.

The JFK Memorial on the harbor. The Kennedys have done a lot of sailing in these waters.

The JFK Memorial on the harbor. The Kennedys have done a lot of sailing in these waters.

The harbor front in Hyannis. Frank's favorite things: looking at fishing boats and eating ice cream!

The harbor front in Hyannis. Frank’s favorite things: looking at fishing boats and eating ice cream!

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Frank captured this sight that you don't see every day! And this was only half of the pack. The guy said he has six more at home! They were VERY mannerly.

Frank captured this sight that you don’t see every day! And this was only half of the pack. The guy said he has six more at home! They were VERY mannerly.

That night we celebrated my birthday at the Hyannis Yacht Club restaurant. We had a table overlooking the harbor. What a cool place have to have a special dinner.

Going out for birthday dinner.

Going out for birthday dinner.

The next day Frank was determined to see the Kennedy Compound. We had a rough idea of where it was, but weren’t sure exactly how far it was. Well, we started walking and more than two miles later, we found it! There isn’t one house that makes it impressive; don’t get me wrong – the “main” house is pretty big and sits right on the water. What is impressive is that, over time, they bought houses for the children and grandchildren, so there is now a COLLECTION of houses on many acres of land sitting right on a point in Hyannis, thus the term “compound.” Once we achieved our goal of personally eyeballing the compound, we started the long hike back on the warm, sunny day. If you’re out cruising, we recommend Hyannis. Cool spot.

In search of the Kennedy Compound . . .

In search of the Kennedy Compound . . .

Sights along the way . . .

Sights along the way . . .

At last! The compound is found!

At last! The compound is found!

Our next stop was a place on my personal “Bucket List.” For a very long time, I have wanted to go to Nantucket. It was on my list last year and we didn’t quite make it. Matter of fact, Frank heard about the fact that we skipped Nantucket for the whole rest of the year. I had two places on my “must see’ list and Nantucket was one of them. And we missed it. He had a mild interest in going to Nantucket last year, but this year he had a MAJOR interest in going just to shut me up!! Guess what? It ended up being on of his favorite stops yet. (Is it rude to say I told you so?)

We had a BEAUTIFUL sail to Nantucket - no motor, just wind. Ahhh . . .

We had a BEAUTIFUL sail to Nantucket – no motor, just wind. Ahhh . . .

We saw this beautiful ship along the way.

We saw this beauty along the way.

Coming into Nantucket Harbor.

Coming into Nantucket Harbor.

We found ourselves there over Labor Day weekend. Although it was busy, it still was nowhere near the crowded feeling that you get in Ocean City, NJ during Labor Day weekend! What an amazingly beautiful place with an interesting history. High end? Upper crust? Expensive? Well . . . yes, it is those things. But beyond that, it is gorgeous and charming and interesting. Plus, it’s an island. Anywhere that you have to take a boat or a plane to get to is of great interest to me.

Here are a couple of tidbits about Nantucket and its history:
– It is slightly less than 50 square miles and it’s nickname is “Little Gray Lady of the Sea,” describing how the island appears from the ocean when shrouded in fog.
– The year yound population is about 10,000 which grows to 50,000 during the summer months.
– Native Americans first inhabited the island, and other native Americans would come visit the island seasonally. They had the idea of summering in Nantucket first.
– Europeans started showing up in the mid 1600s.
– Whaling became the major industry from the late 1600s to the mid 1800s and the island flourished.
– In 1846, when whaling was already in decline, Nantucket had “The Great Fire of 1846.” This left many residents homeless and really brought the first golden era of Nantucket to an end. Many people moved away from the island and it was a struggling settlement for the next 100 years.
– In the 1950s, several mainland developers started thinking, “Hey – there are a bunch of pre-Civil war structures sitting on this island pretty well untouched. Let’s buy up the property on the island, restore the old buidlings, build some new places that look old, make it seem exclusive and entice people from the mainland with means to build summer homes here.” Lo and behold, it worked and now Nantucket is a getaway for many people including a number of celebrities.

There is an endless stream of fast ferries that bring tourists to the island from surrounding areas. The downtown area close to the harbor is really quite large with many blocks of cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks with beautiful shops and galleries and restaurants and inns one after another. We enjoyed walking and walking through the town. We also went to a highly recommended place: the Cisco Brewery. Yes, Nantucket brews it’s own beer. At the brewery, they have an open air facility where you can enjoy their products, munch on samplings from a variety of food trucks and listen to some great live music. We enjoyed the brewery scene one afternoon and heard some good bluegrass.

Although we had planned to rent bikes to explore the island on the many bike trails it offers, we decided to use my Hertz points to rent a car to explore instead. We were thrilled to be offered a free upgrade to a convertible! For a whopping $8 plus gas, we toured the whole island in a Mustang convertible. Excellent! It was nice to see some of the outlying neighborhoods and to view the many beaches. What an amazingly beautiful place. It really does feel like you’ve landed in Ireland or Scotland. Here are some of the sights and scenes we captured . . .

If I'd known we were getting a convertible, I probably would have pulled my hair back. Feeling a bit like a golden retriever. . . but in a good way!

If I’d known we were getting a convertible, I probably would have pulled my hair back. Feeling a bit like a golden retriever. . . but in a good way!

You might have guessed, Frank couldn't resist jumping in the car once without opening the door. It had to be done.

You might have guessed, Frank couldn’t resist jumping in the car without opening the door before the day was over. It had to be done.

Checking out the beaches.

Checking out the beaches.

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Gardens are abundant – flowers are everywhere.

The Whaling Museum came highly recommended. Guide books say to allow at least 2 hours to tour it. We did it in one . . . because, well, you know, Frank likes a museum as long as you can do it fast!

The Whaling Museum came highly recommended. Guide books say to allow at least 2 hours to tour it. We did it in one . . . because, well, you know, Frank likes a museum as long as you can do it fast! It really is well done.

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The view from atop the Whaling Museum.

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Cottages with gardens in the village of ‘Sconset.

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Sankaty Head Light House - one of my favorite spots!

Sankaty Head Light House – one of my favorite spots!

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We had planned to leave on Monday of the holiday weekend, but when we woke up that morning, the weather was quite dismal and wet. We COULD have left, but neither one of us was inspired to face that weather out in the sound, so we chose not to. Now, you’ve probably all heard the refernce to the limerick, “There once was a man in Nantucket . . . ” right? It is a ribald rhyme to say the least, or at least one version of it is. We report in to a Ham radio net most mornings to report our location or float plan. The net controller that day is a man who we have become friendly with who helped with the installation of the single side band radio on the boat. When Frank reported our postion that morning, he responded by saying, “There once was a man from Nantucket . . . ” which made me laugh a lot since he is usually pretty business-like on the radio. I couldn’t help myself but to send him an email later, with my own spin on the rhyme, to inform him that we had chosen not to leave. It went:

“There once was a man in Nantucket
Checked the current and thought he would buck it.
When it came time to go
There was rain and some blow,
So he and his mate said, “Ah f*&% it!”

Moral of the story, we stayed in Nantucket an extra day. By mid-afternoon, it had cleared and was gorgeous for another day of exploring the town.

Tuesday arrived and we really couldn’t postpone leaving any more. You can go bankrupt staying in Nantucket for any extended period of time, but gosh it’s pretty!

So we said a relucatant goodbye to one of our new favorite places and moved on up the sound in search of our next stop, Newport, RI.