And They Lived Happily Ever After
Eleanor Q: For Sail or For Sale? – That was the original title of this post when I started it.
First, let me note that this blog has been written in stages over the last 4+ years. Yup… one blog post has taken that long. I used to just crastinate, but then I turned “pro.” What motivated me to wrap this up, at long last, was the desire to do a printed book version of the blog just for our own library… one that we could flip through at our leisure and use to reminisce in our declining years. I’m not planning for the declining years to start any time soon, but you can never be too prepared! As I got ready to print, I recognized that the story never had that nice, logical conclusion to it, and it really needed one. So here is the last chapter of the tale of Eleanor Q.
Part 1 – It was the summer of ‘18
The story of this summer has several stages.
You might remember, from lo those many months ago, that after lots of soul searching and agonizing, we put Eleanor Q up for sale. We decided it was time for something a little smaller and a little faster (meaning without sails) since we determined that our days of long distance cruising were behind us. And Eleanor Q wants to RUN! She wants to travel! She’s ready for new adventures!
So we put her on the market last October. By June (after only one looker) we decided that we were tired of tip-toeing around her like a model home that isn’t allowed to be mussed. Well balderdash. We’re going to use her and love her and just not sweat it. When someone is ready to look at her, they will see a loved and used boat. We loaded bags of stuff back onto her that we had removed in April. So we changed our thinking back to,“Eleanor Q FOR SAIL!”
We finally found ourselves a few beautiful, early June days and set off to Oxford, MD on the eastern shore of Maryland… our favorite anchorage. The added motivation was because our anniversary was coming up in a few weeks and this is where we anchored up and got married seven years ago. We figured we’d start the anniversary celebration early.
Here’s what I wrote about that trip back in June 2018 … it’s been sitting in a file ever since waiting to be finished…
The trip over was a motor-sail day… not enough wind to get us there without some assistance, but still, a VERY lovely day on the water.
We love to take our traditional walk up “The Strand” in Oxford on our way to the Robert Morris Inn… where we dined on the evening of our nuptials. We’re traditionalists… what can we say. And although they may have excellent desserts after the excellent dinner, we wouldn’t be able to vouch for that first hand, because, you know, there’s a Scottish Creamery around the corner with MIGHTY fine ice cream. Then a walk around the docks, a nice chat with some fellow boaters and then the dinghy ride back to our quiet anchorage where we sit alone!
We spent the perfect (for us) and typical evening on the boat … sit in the cockpit to watch the sunset, then go down below to turn on some great music, sip some whiskey and play gin rummy. (Could we sip gin and play whiskey rummy? Hmmm…) Too exciting, I know. Might sound dull to the average human, but it is heaven to us and something that we don’t do at home (the cards part, that is…) There is another important element that is usually part of this tradition, too, except I messed up. I forgot to pack the M&Ms. Whiskey without M&Ms. What is this world coming to. We endured.
Frank is always the first to retire while my night owl instincts kick in. Let me try to describe some of my feelings about being out here. It is a spectacularly calm, clear night. It is quiet. The boat is just barely rocking. I walked back up top after getting everything settled below and lights off for the night. I can hear Frank sleeping (identified by the not quite snoring/heavier breathing sounds). I tip toe back up to the cockpit and stick my head off the edge of the boat to see more stars than I have seen in a very long time – since the last time we were cruising last summer, as a matter of fact. I don’t even know how I ever slept when we were cruising… it makes my heart beat faster just looking all around at the peace and the dark and the stars and the distant lights on the water. It’s challenging for me to make myself go back down below…
I distinctly remember how hard it was for me to go to sleep that night. Maybe something deep in my gut knew it would be one of the last nights we would spend on Eleanor Q. Schedules got busy, weather got crappy and before we knew it, it was August and we had barely used her. And then we got the call that someone was flying in from Michigan to take a look at our girl. And look they did. And they fell in love, just like we had. You could see it in their eyes.
And so, just a little over a week ago, we said goodbye to Eleanor Q as she left our dock with her new owners. (Note: that section was written in September 2018.)
Part 2 – Is there life after Eleanor Q?
Well of course there is! A few years have passed and the wounds of separation from Eleanor Q are now just barely visible scars. We have not replaced her with another non-sailboat like we had talked about; that may still happen. But what we did do was procure our own smallish sailboat to race in the Annapolis area which is famous for its racing. After crewing on some other boats for a couple of years, we decided to purchase a Harbor 20 sailboat. Being a 20 footer means that it only needs a crew of two. She had been an instructional boat in the Boston area for a while and we got her for a fair price. After some thought as to what to name her, it was Frank who suggested the name we settled on: Dolly.
Hello Dolly! My mother, Dolly, was about to turn 95, and as a surprise for her birthday, we named the boat after her. The original Dolly is spunky and intrepid, so we thought it was a good fit. Plus Dolly the woman is pretty darn cool.
So all the while that we were on Eleanor Q, Frank kept saying that I would TRULY understand sailing more completely when I got to spend time on a smaller boat. Yeah, I kind of learned bass-ackwards. Now I understand what he meant. And now we’ve switched our focus from cruising to racing. Annapolis has so may great sailing traditions, and Wednesday night racing is one of the greatest. All summer long, weather permitting, hundreds of boats of various sizes and classes take to the Annapolis harbor to compete. I could write several posts just about our racing experiences, but I will spare you the details. We are in a wonderful fleet of Harbor 20s with the most amazing sailors. They are competitive, but in the best of ways. They are also helpful, gracious, welcoming and will do anything they can to help you sail your best, too. In our early races, our goal was just to not be DFL. You know… DFL. (Dead flippin’ last – that’s the PG version.) Last year our goal shifted up to being in the middle of the pack. We have good days and bad days and Frank is constantly tweaking the boat, the sails, the rigging, etc. I like to think that I have learned to be pretty good crew, but my love for the sport is not as deep as his. I still cringe when we are within a few inches of other boats or, God forbid, make contact in a tight turn. Hey, I didn’t like bumper cars when I was a kid, either. But I’ve come a long way. Truthfully though, I’m still more of a cruiser at heart. We will figure out how we will get back to exploring some of the special anchorages and towns up and down the Chesapeake while we’re still of sound mind and body…. well, of sound body, anyway! For now, our travels on the water remain close to home on Dolly and on our 17’ skiff that can take us into town for ice cream. Did you think I’d leave out the ice cream?
So thanks for reading along about our adventures on Eleanor Q. It was a good run for which we are extremely grateful. And though life does not always read like a fairytale, I feel okay saying that, in fact, we are living happily ever after.
P.S. – My mom, Dolly, passed on to start her next excellent adventure in May 2021, but S/V Dolly carries on in her name.
Transitioning into a New Year
Wow. If you review our life since 2013 when we took Eleanor Q out of the bay and started cruising waters north and south of here, it’s been quite a ride! Retirement #1…nearly 2 years of cruising…going back to work…moving several more times… retiring again and moving to Annapolis. Can’t say as we let any grass grow under our feet. We specialize in transitions.
Since Frank retired last March, we’ve been having a whole lot of fun figuring out how we most want to spend our time, and we are grateful every day that we live in an area that presents so many opportunities for activities that we love. In addition to sailing and racing, for me, there is so much to participate in musically. And then there’s our new shared obsession – PICKLEBALL! (Frank is more obsessed than I am, but I’m not far behind). Yeah, go ahead and snicker. And then, GO TRY IT! Seriously, it is completely addicting. There is a club 300-strong in the area with open play 7 days a week. Frank plays 4 – 6 times a week; I usually get in 3-4 depending on scheduling. It’s a terrific workout and is as competitive as you make it. Frank has quickly moved up the rankings in the league. You know, he’s not competitive by nature or anything. Or obsessive. Right?
All that said, this fall we learned a few things about ourselves. We recognized that, although we enjoy cruising and we love Eleanor Q, we are not looking to move aboard and go back out on the water for months and months at a time any more. We just don’t want to leave our home/life in Annapolis for long stretches. Frank has an expression from his fishing days: “You don’t leave fish to go looking for fish!” In other words, if you’ve got it really good where you are, why leave it to be somewhere else?” So in thinking about our nautical future, here are some conclusions we drew:
1. We are most likely to cruise for 4-6 weeks at a time, but no more.
2. The rest of the time we’ll be boating around the Chesapeake.
3. We want to be able to get places faster.
Eleanor Q has been our pride and joy and has taken excellent care of us. She is sea worthy, beautiful and comfortable. That said, she’s a long distance cruising boat. It is time to find her a new home. And so, after some soul searching and more than a couple of tears, we put Eleanor Q up for sale. It may take quite some time for her to be matched up with new owners, so we may get to use her for a while yet – we’ll just have to see how it goes.
We had some BEAUTIFUL day sails late into the season and anchored overnight into October… it was a warm fall.
Looking into the future, we are thinking of what our next vessel will be… and have some criteria:
1. Able to cruise at 10-12 knots comfortably.
2. Good engine access.
3. Comfortable state room bed for our aging backs and easy in/out for those middle of the night trips… you know what I’m talking about.
And yes, that means something other than a sail boat. We’re looking at smallish tugs that still have a nautical look and feel, but something that will get us places more quickly.
Being in Annapolis, we can still get our sailing fix in the racing scene. Frank recently purchased a Laser (a one person boat) and he’ll get heavily into that in the spring. And we have been sailing together on a J-80 which takes a 4-person crew. The captain of that boat has been an excellent teacher for me (me being new to the racing scene) and Frank has helped me transition into the feeling of a small boat. So we’ll still be sailors!
I do not look forward to the day when we actually let Eleanor Q go…. that will be a heartbreaking day for both of us. But when we think about the number of places we can get to in short order with a motor vessel, we can get excited about that. St. Michael’s for lunch? No problem! Scoot up the Chester River with ease because of a shallower draft? You betcha! We’ll be much more nimble around the bay, but will still have the comfort and stability to go to New England in the summer. We will not pursue purchasing a new boat until our current Eleanor Q is sold, so you may still see us out and about on her for a while yet.
So think good thoughts that she finds a worthy new home. And although it will be a special chapter for us coming to an end, we’ll transition into yet another new chapter of a pretty interesting book! Hope you’ll keep reading along…
And Happy New Year! Hope it is full of happy transitions.
Cruising Out of Summer and into Fall
Okay, so I’ve dropped the ball on finishing up on any posts about the end of our late summer cruise to New England. We got back home and hit the ground running with lots of Annapolis fall visitors and activites and music and racing and other events in our lives…so we’ll do some catching up on the end of our summer cruise before filling you in on newer developments.
We left Newport and headed to Montauk, NY – the last lengthy stopover in our cruise. I’ll do more pictures than words. The headlines from Montauk: friends, fishing boats, fun!
– Met up with our dear friends on Kindred Spirit for a few days of fun on the water! Their boat and ours kept bobbing and weaving about trying to figure out if and where we might meet up – and it worked out to meet in Montauk! Both vessels were out for a few weeks of cruising, but you know that cruisers set VERY loose schedules and commitments because Mother Nature can just throw too many wrenches into plans. But it worked for a rendezvous in Montauk.
We got to Montauk first and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the fishing community.
Frank was lovin’ on this old diesel engine. Claims he knows the sound of one from memory.
And if you didn’t get enough fine signage from the first visit to “The Dock,” here’s some more artistic fun for you…
We enjoyed a nice dinner out…
It is hard getting up for these departures, but they also reveal some of the most beautiful sights and sounds on these trips. This was no exception…
And we headed south and didn’t stop until we reached Cape May. The good news: It was an easy trip because there was no wind to speak of. The bad news: There was very little sailing because there was no wind to speak of. But it was truly the glassiest trip we’ve ever had down the coast. It was all motoring all the time. Sigh. But I’ll never complain about conditions that are too calm.
Goodbye, New England. Thanks for being a great host yet again. We’ll see you some time … just maybe not in this boat. But that’s another story for another post.
And goodbye summer. See you next year. On to fall!
If You Can’t Be Annapolis, Be in Newport!
Let me start out by saying that WE ARE HOME. I am catching you up on the second half of our trip in this post and the next, but we are snug as a bug in a rug at home, so no worries about us dodging storms in the boat – just in case it crossed your mind.
So there are TWO major sailing meccas in the U.S. – Annapolis and Newport, Rhode Island. And if you asked Frank two of his favorite harbors, he will answer with those two places in that order. Newport has more LARGE sailing vessels, and more vessels of all types overall, but Annapolis has that pure sailor kind of feeling. Of course, the America’s Cup did start in Newport… well, you get the idea. For us, they’re both pretty spectacular. So when we got to Newport, we were in no rush to leave.
Having found an excellent spot to anchor on a Tuesday (right outside of the New York Yacht Club, a VERY impressive looking building), we were poised to stay through the weekend.
We do a LOT of walking around the place. The last visits included a scooter ride around the cliffs, one mansion tour and a visit to the Tennis Hall of Fame – all things we would recommend. This visit we wanted to change it up a bit. No mansions, no scooter. We can be pretty easily entertained just sitting in the cockpit and watching all the yacht eye candy float by which is one of Frank’s favorite past times.
We did revisit one place – the IYRS or International Yacht Restoration School. This is a place that keeps the art and craftsmanship of boat building and restoration alive. We wanted to see how they were coming along on Coronet – a historic American schooner restoration project. It is a LONG TERM project, but we could see her progress as they meticulously and lovingly bring her back to her former glory. Here are a few shots of the work that’s been done. Even just looking at the massive pieces of rigging and furnishings that are waiting along the sides of her hull, waiting to be the final pieces of the puzzle reassembly one day…well, they look like their own pieces of art. Even the old piano was still sitting there waiting. I remembered that piano from our last visit.
Okay, I may have mislead you. That wasn’t our FIRST stop as we wandered around town…
Newport has some beautiful architecture and historic mansions. We enjoyed strolling and peeking inside some of the gates at the gardens and buildings.
Now, if you’ve read some of our previous blogs, you know that art galleries and museums aren’t always the first places we’re drawn to, but there are definitely exceptions to that! These signs piqued our interest and we had to go check it out. We do love music and musicians! The exhibit was photographs of musicians – jazz and country – spanning decades. It was a nice exhibit. This is the home of the Newport Jazz Festival after all.
After many hours of walking, we had to find a place to have a pint. Within that category, we had a couple of goals: 1) To check out the place that our new friend, Frances, recommended (the lady we met at the bar in Watch Hill… ) and 2) See if Tommy, our #1 bartender from last trip, was still in town. So first we went to Frances’ recommended place: 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar and Grill. And, we found a seat at the bar. And we found our NEWLY CROWNED #1 Newport bartender, Rachel. Who is Irish. (That automatically ups your rating.) We had a GREAT meal at the bar visiting with Rachel who has convinced us that we must visit Ireland some day! And although we did not go on one of Frances’ regular nights, as soon as we brought up her name, it brought a big smile to Rachel’s face. Of COURSE she knew who we were talking about! Frances, we’re sorry we missed you in Newport, but your spirit was there with us!
Now, there was one museum that we wanted to see… the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol. We had toyed with the idea of taking Eleanor Q up there, but there isn’t a lot else to do in Bristol, and frankly, we didn’t want to give up our prime anchoring location before the weekend, so we opted to take Uber there instead – only a 15-20 minute ride. Herreshoff made beautiful boats back in the day – we wanted to check the place out. And it was lovely.
We returned to Newport and stopped in to see our old buddy, Tommy, at the Oyster Bar. He was still there and we still enjoyed chatting with him, but somehow it wasn’t the same. The place has become very popular (congrats on that) but it didn’t have the same feel. It was cool, but no longer the place where Tommy would have two Narragansetts sitting on the bar waiting for us before our bums hit the bar stools. (Don’t gag because we like Narragansett… especially if you like Yeungling – then you DEFINITELY should not be judgey!! Just sayin’.)
We hunkered down for a day of rain the next day. We happily sat in the cockpit with the enclossure zipped up and were amazed as the tour boats and sail expeditions that continued to buzz in and out of the harbor, undeterred by the weather.
Then Saturday brought us some fun in the form of our friends Kevin and Dee from Marblehead. They were gracious hosts to us when we passed through Marblehead with Eleanor Q in 2013, and we were delighted when they made time to drive the 2 hours to come join us for the day in Newport! It was a true summer day, so we started with some quality time on the boat! Kevin rarely passes up an opportunity to swim!
They took us to lunch afterwards and we had a delightful day together. Thanks, Kevin and Dee!
I had a nature moment on the boat… one of those, “Ahhhh, aren’t they cute” spectacles that caused me to run for the “good” camera!
Yeah, not so cute any more…followed by….
Ems cleaning the bird dirt off of the bow. Sigh. Followed by…
Me totally stealing another boat’s idea to tie an extremely tacky looking plastic bag to the rail providing just enough flapping in the wind to make it a less peaceful place for our feathered friends to frolick.
And just a couple of other sights around Newport to close us out here…
So being away from Annapolis makes us a little homesick, but being in Newport is the next best thing! But it’s about time to think about heading back…
Reconnecting in Connecticut
We’ve made some really good friends along the way while cruising and a couple of them happen to be from Connecticut, so we were thrilled at the change to reconnect with our friends from Cutting Class and spend a little quality time around their neck of the woods. When we pulled into the anchorage in Stonington, Dan and Marcia were there to greet us as we pulled up to the dinghy dock, scooped us up and took us to their home in nearby Mystic for catching up, laundry and a yummy dinner. Apparently we have “reciprocal privileges” at their house! Stonington is a lovely area and we took a little walk around town after dinner before returning to Eleanor Q.
We said our goodbyes and got back on the boat thinking we would head to Newport the next day… but we have been in this area before and not spent much time. What was the big hurry? So in the morning, we changed our plans and decided to head right around the corner to Watch Hill and see what it was all about. Hey, if Taylor Swift bought a house there, then it had to be okay, right? Maybe we’d stop in and say hi to her during our stay. We mosied the 3 miles up a very winding and skinny inlet to Watch Hill. Although it was only three miles, somewhere in that short route we had crossed into Rhode Island. It took us half of the afternoon to figure that out… it was when I saw a t-shirt in a shop that said “Watch Hill, Rhode Island.” Duh. I said, “So, we crossed into Rhode Island today?” Frank said, “Guess so!” You know, Garmin Blue Charts doesn’t really show state lines!
Side note: one of the things that really does change as you go north… VHF radio etiquette. It starts in NJ – that’s where we heard the first F-bomb dropped at a fellow boater. It got progressively worse in NY and in CT – and approaching RI, it’s really a doozie. We heard an unbelievable exchange of name calling between a couple of captains – all on VHF 16, the emergency and hailing channel. Someone finally broke in and said, “There is no civility in New England any more.” The Coast Guard kept coming on reminding folks that it is a hailing and emergency channel only… but they don’t know who’s on the radio or where they are, so nothing they can do to enforce that – even the guy that called another guy a “homo.” No lie. And even FRANK commented on it… and he worked in the fishing and casino businesses in NJ, so that’s coming from him, if you know what I mean. Some of it you have to laugh at, but really people, JUST CHILL! People squawk at each other a bit in other locales, but not quite so, uhm, colorfully as this section of New England. Okay, side note done.
Anyway, back to Watch Hill. It was an interesting place to visit… a busy, upscale shore town – but very scenic and a nice stopover for a night.
We went back in that evening looking for dinner in a pretty crowded town. We stuck our heads in the Olympia Tea Room Restaurant. I don’t know why it is called that – there is nothing about the place that resembles a tea room. The place was packed, but two seats at the bar opened – our preferred seating, anyway. GREAT food and where we met Frances. She was an endearing soul sitting by herself, and we struck up a conversation. (I know – shocking.) She is a Rhode Island native and she gave us a great tip on a good restaurant in Newport. She told us which nights she goes there and sits at the bar, and that we should ask for “Uncle Joe” when we go. Would we run into Frances again in Newport? You’ll have to wait and find out! So cute that Frances. I enjoyed saying, “Frances, meet Francis!” (Frank, you know.)
We were carefully instructed that the last launch would be at sunset… so we made sure we were back shortly before, but Donna the launch driver said, “You’re going to need to wait a few minutes. I have sundown duty.” No problem, Donna. Sunset duty means setting off that proverbial canon and lowering the flag. There was a small “bang,” and I said to Frank, “That’s a pretty wimpy can—-” and before I could finish, the real canon was fired. When I regained my hearing, I shouted to Frank, “Oh! They have a real canon!” The flag was lowered, properly folded and stored all while anyone anywhere close by stood in quiet respect. How nice. We like this New England tradition. Call me old fashioned! See, there is plenty of civility in New England.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Connecticut… oh yeah, and in the first little bit of Rhode Island, too. Please tell Taylor we’ll catch her next time.
(Hey Fred, were there enough pictures of me this time?)
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.
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.
The good live music: We landed at an outdoor bar to sip a brew and listen to a guy singing and playing acoustic guitar.
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’!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Found “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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, “Sully,” it is VERY interesting. Okay, moving on…
So a LOT of visual stimulation happens in this next part (because there hasn’t been enough already)…
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.
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.
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…)
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…
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?
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.
And of course, ice cream (or in this case, Italian Ice) is in order.
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!
Next day we walked town and, upon advice from a friend, went to check out the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club… beautiful!
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.)
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.
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).
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.
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.
Yeah, 6am – not my best time of day…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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)…
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!
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
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
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!
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.