Jeremy's blog

Repairs, Storms and Rallies

IMG_8819.jpg A year ago, we brought our boat to Deltaville,Virginia for a few "quick repairs". During a previous stay in Baltimore, junk floating in the harbor exposed some poor repairs in the hull above the waterline that had been made sometime in the nebulous past before we owned the boat. We also asked the yard to look into a leak letting water into our v-berth when sailing into the wind, which ultimately led to us getting a brand new bowsprit, custom built and replacing the old which was discovered to be rotten.

At Long Last, Cape Hatteras

img_4692.jpg The southern flow of the Labrador Current and the northern flow of the Gulf Stream collide off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. This disturbs the water and forms shifting shallow sandbars known as the Diamond Shoals up to 14 miles offshore that have sunk enough boats to earn the area the nickname the "Graveyard of the Atlantic". That is why we have repeatedly avoided going outside around the cape on our previous trips up and down the coast, instead favoring a three-day trip inside on "the ditch" as the Intracoastal Waterway is often referred.

Shakedown Cruise

img_2868.jpg After a few days cruising inside on the Intracoastal Waterway, we were excited to finally be heading outside again to the open Atlantic Ocean. The weather forecasts told us that we'd have to wait a few days in Beaufort, North Carolina for favorable conditions, including Thanksgiving Day, so we hiked to the local health food store in search of a well-raised turkey. Amazingly enough, an hour or so before closing time the night before Thanksgiving we found one previously happy turkey on the freezer shelf, and though it was spoken for, the store owner called the person who ordered it confirming they actually had ordered it for Christmas. She kindly sold it to us, ordering them another from a local farm. We carried our 15 pound bird and various other supplies Jamie needed to prepare a decadent feast for two back to the boat.

img_2882.jpg Thanksgiving Day my wife was up to start cooking by 8am, while I stared at my computer screen and caught up with work. My stomach was rumbling by noon as the boat had filled with amazingly distracting smells hinting at what was to come. We ate early, by 3pm, as I'd promised to take Jamie to see Harry Potter after the meal. When we finally sat down to eat, the food proved to be truly wonderful, and it stocked our ice box with ample (excessive even) leftovers for our upcoming trip outside, most significantly with endless bags of turkey.


img_1744.jpg The three months we planned to spend on the Oregon coast while Jamie worked at the Tillamook hospital were extended to seven months. We loved our Oceanside home and each other enough to get married there on the beach in front of family and friends. Despite the weather forecast, it turned out being a beautiful day complete with wonderful friends, tasty food and fine music. Returning to Boston, we found the boat in good shape, though looking ever more in need of love and maintenance. We were eager to head south, but had found a great home at the East Boston Shipyard and Marina where we were taken care of like family, complete with colorful and endlessly helpful neighbors also living aboard their boats.

img_6321.jpg My day job prevented us from heading south right away and forced us to make the final push through New York City, down the New Jersey coast, up the Delaware and into the Chesapeake in a last minute hurry and in less than ideal conditions. We arrived in Annapolis, Maryland a couple of days before our scheduled flight to Copenhagen for a work conference, a visit with friends in Sweden and Italy, and our honeymoon. There was a significant amount of trepidation to be had leaving our boat in the hands of people we'd only just met at the Annapolis Harbor Boatyard, and whom we didn't yet realize would become our hosts and friends for three months. The original plan was to check our rigging, paint our mast, and perform some basic maintenance before continuing on our way south, running from the cold of winter.

Sound Bites and Memories

img_6101.jpg We've been living aboard our sailboat now for over half a year, though for much of it the learning curve was too steep to know how to make things more comfortable. We've reached our summer destination, New England, which has allowed us to slow down a little and focus on fixing things and generally improving life aboard the boat. That said, the list of what's left may as well be endless, as the list seems to grow quicker than we can mark things off.

A Summer Gale

img_5994.jpg We've been exploring the northeast at a more pleasurable rate lately, moving our boat on the weekends and staying in one place during the week, an opportunity to explore, work on the boat, and stay caught up with the office. For this to be possible, it does require that the weather cooperate on our schedule, which in the past few weeks it has done amazingly well. Sailing from Greenport to Block Island we'd have more enjoyed smaller than the 4 foot seas that greeted us, but the wind on our stern allowed as to jibe back and forth and maintain a comfortable angle to the waves as we passed through Block Island sound.

This weekend, however, the forecast has remained rather fluid, the prediction seeming to change every time I reload the web page, from complete calm with little 2 foot waves up to a full on gale with 9 feet swells. In that same vein of poor predictions, last night the forecast called for a little wind and rain and a small craft advisory in the area. Shortly after night fell, however, winds climbed up toward 40 knots (~45 mph) putting us at an 8 on the Beaufort scale. By midnight we'd already witnessed a power boat playing bumper-boat through the mooring field complete with a yapping dog and panicked woman, fortunately quickly followed by a tow boat who went on to have a very busy night.

As We Sailed Into the Mystic

img_5627.jpg We had hoped to quickly reach New York City from Baltimore, following the C&D Canal from the Chesapeake into Delaware Bay and to the outside, north along the New Jersey coast. Cruising along outside of Ocean City in 4-5 foot seas, Jamie went below to prepare some dinner and evidently stayed there too long, succumbing to that queasy feeling marking the awful beginning of sea sickness. Rather than risk making her suffer all night, we instead turned in toward Great Egg Harbor hoping to find a place to anchor for the night.


img_5389-0.jpg Our intention to quickly head up the outside toward New England was aborted when some thunderstorms passed overhead and the winds picked up beyond our comfort level. Heading back into the Chesapeake, our steering failed again and we discovered how difficult it is to take down the sails when they're full of wind. (Normally you turn up into the wind which releases the pressure and makes it simple. img_5368-0.jpg We've since had it pointed out that even without steering all we really needed to do was tighten the sails and let the boat turn herself into the wind which she naturally does under sail.) With the sails down, the prevailing currents started carrying us toward a nearby container ship, so for another first we dropped our anchor in over seventy feet of water. The short trip ended with another visit by our new best friends, Tow Boat US, who kindly towed us back into Norfolk for repairs.

Inside, Running Aground, Chesapeake Bay

img_5141.jpg Our trip from Charleston to Beaufort went as smoothly as hoped. The light winds had allowed the sea state to calm down considerably, though sadly they also required that we motor-sail the entire way. Thunderstorms were visible in the distance throughout the first day, but when night fell we had a beautiful and unhindered view of the stars. img_5188.jpg The Milky Way was very pronounced, and I spent some time learning a few constellations.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Sailors have a tendency to be superstitious. Perhaps we're not good sailors, as Jamie and I tend to ignore the many superstitions out there -- we'll set sail on a Friday if the weather is favorable, we'll carry black traveling bags, we're not afraid of red headed strangers, we step on the boat with whatever foot is comfortable, and we'd never waste wine by pouring it on the deck for "good luck". I personally like the circular irony in the belief that it's bad luck to be superstitious. So when things start breaking, I really can't blame it on anything but our inexperience as we climb the steep learning curve.