After the Storm

I apologize for the slow updates to our blog.  We’ve been super busy!  We arrived in Norfolk yesterday and we absolutely love it here.

First… I’m pleased to report that Mavis came through tropical storm (formerly hurricane) Michael unscathed.  We had plenty of time to take down our large “screecher” headsail, put out lots of extra extra lines and fenders, and lash down anything that could become a projectile in the 45 knot sustained and 70 knot gusts forecast for Deltaville.  The winds were not expected to get serious until about 9pm but they would blow all night.

Hurricane Watch Party

Some of our fellow transient cruisers at the marina organized an impromptu hurricane watch party in the  lounge and the crews from various boats got together.  It was nice having drinks and talking sailing and cruising with yachtsmen who have done this trip before. I got lots of information that will be useful as we proceed south.  After the sun went down the winds began to pick up and everyone retired to their boats for the night. Earlier today, we met a few people who were anchored out in the creek. They were in for a long, wet and windy night.  But then so were we all. The difference in being tied to a floating dock vs. at anchor is significant. In the marina, we didn’t need to worry about our anchor dragging… Or somebody else dragging anchor and crashing into us or fouling our anchor.  It was also convenient to be able to get off the boat which is something I did around midnight to let Willow relieve herself.

The winds had picked up to a steady 35 knots with gusts up around 50 and a few over 60.  It is difficult to explain exactly how unsettling it can be to feel the whole boat shudder and to hear the winds shrieking through the rigging.   At times it felt like we were going to fly away. Just as I was having the thought of our tiny little floating home flying through the air our phones began to sound tornado warning alarms.  The alert said “Seek shelter immediately.” I wondered if being on a boat really counted as shelter but there we were. Cindy seemed a bit concerned as the winds picked up even more and the rain came down in sheets.  It was about this time when Willow made it clear to me that it was time to go to the bathroom. It was around midnight and the temperature was still around 70 degrees so I hopped into my foulies and out we went.

The floating dock, which seemed incredibly sturdy a few hours earlier was rocking quite a bit.  And the tide had risen many feet above the norm. Like on almost every floating pier, there is a ramp that connects the pier to the land.  This ramp allows the floating dock to rise and fall with the tides. Our floating dock had risen so high, however, that the ramp was barely accessible.  I had to lift the dog and help her up and then jump up myself. On solid land now, little rivers of runoff water were forming small whitewater rapids as they made their way to the creek.  After Willow finished up we both returned quickly to the boat — absolutely drenched.

I dried off and got into bed.   Cindy and I lay there for hours feeling the awesome power of mother nature.  When I woke up around 8am the sun was shining and the winds had died down to about 15 knots. It was a glorious day and I immediately got to checking on the boat to make sure everything was a-ok.  Mavis has two very deep hatches on the stern that have been giving me problems. The seals that are intended to keep them watertight are in need of replacement and on one of them the screws that are supposed to secure the latch have stripped.  I’ve tried a few times to make a good repair but it keeps failing. One hatch holds a 5 gallon jerry can of emergency fresh water, a bucket and our portable generator. The other holds our kayak paddles, 2 jerry cans of diesel, our shore power cords, water hoses, etc.  Upon opening the port hatch I discovered about 1.5 feet of fresh water in the hold and our brand new generator was half submerged. I was really happy to discover that after drying it off, it started and operated flawlessly. I hope that continues.

I spent some time pumping out those holds and doing some general boat cleanup.  I raised the screecher sail that I had removed and readied the boat to continue our journey.

Willow enjoyed the large fields in Deltaville.  She met a few Portuguese Water Dogs from a neighboring boat and spent time over the past few days running around with them and hunting for squirrels as usual.  Her appetite (for dog food) has not returned 100% but she seems much better.

After 5 nights in Deltaville, we departed at dawn and sailed most of the 40 miles to Hampton.  We used the engine for the last 3 miles because of a major lull in the winds but they picked up strong just in time for docking.  We were expecting light north winds at about 10 knots. This is a little light to keep the boat moving at an acceptable speed if it’s directly downwind.  Fortunately, we got gusty winds from the north-northeast between 15 and 25.  The winds kept shifting on us making it a difficult trip down the bay but I was happy to be under sail as it will likely be the last real opportunity we will have to sail Mavis for many miles.  In fact, over the 1,000 plus statute miles between here and Miami we may only be able to sail about 50 of them unless we hop out into the ocean which we probably will do if the weather is favorable.

We made it into Hampton with plenty of time to spare before sunset but I didn’t want to press our luck and continue the additional 10 miles to Norfolk so we docked at the Bluewater Marina and took a walk to explore Hampton and find some dinner.  We found a little seafood place on the water and enjoyed steamed shrimp and crab before heading back to the marina.  On our walk we realized that Hampton wasn’t the nicest area.  There were some quaint old houses but the security bars and roll up doors on most of the stores indicated a high-crime area.

We ended up motoring down the Elizabeth River 10 miles south to Norfolk the next morning and we are both so glad we did.

R36 marks Mile 0 of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

We passed the famous buoy R36 which is right outside of the Waterside Marina.  This buoy marks the official Mile Zero of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway which runs 1080 miles from Norfolk to Miami.  The good news is that this waterway is mostly protected.  The bad news is that there are over 130 bridges between here and Miami and about 85 of them will require opening to accommodate our mast.  The other “bad” news is that for most of the ICW, sailing is out of the question.

Cindy and Mavis at the Waterfront Marina in Norfolk
The battleship Wisconsin

We both really love Norfolk!  It’s a clean, small and friendly city with a cool waterfront district and just about everything we could want or need within a few block’s walk.  We will probably stay here for a few nights before continuing because we are getting close to Cape Hatteras and we still have not secured approval from our insurance carrier to proceed south of Hatteras before November 1.  We hope to get this in place next week.

This place is crawling with mermaids.

So for now, we’re here enjoying restaurants and shopping and live music and things we often take for granted like barbershops…  I got a haircut and feel human again.  We will probably take in the Chrysler Museum of Art and do lots more walking and exploring before we depart here.

My mermaid, Cindy with one of her fishy friends.

So that’s my update for now.  I think Cindy is working on putting together her own post from her perspective.  Thanks for following the journey!

Capt Frank
S/V Mavis #816

 

Back Where it All Began

Back where our adventure with Mavis began in January. Deltaville Boatyard and Marina.
We are in Virginia!

After a full day of motoring down a calm Chesapeake Bay we arrived in Deltaville and docked at the Deltaville Marina.  We put 9.4 hours on the trusty Westerbeke and covered about 60 nautical miles on this run. In order to reach Deltaville before sunset and allowing for a few hours as a safety margin, we left our mooring in Solomon’s about an hour before sunrise.  The tidal currents of the Chesapeake Bay run generally north and south and can reach about 1 knot or more in places.  Because of the time and distance involved, I knew that we would have currents with us for most of the ride and against us for a few hours too. It all averages out though.  For a while we were hitting 7.5 knots and then for a while we were down to 5.25 but we made it in to Deltaville at around 4pm giving us plenty of time to settle in before sunset.

About an our after our departure from Solomon’s the sun began to rise as we exited the Patuxent River.

The day’s run was one of the calmest we have experienced since leaving New York but somehow Willow got seasick and vomited in the cockpit… Twice.  At least we think she was seasick. We can’t rule out the possibility that she ate something she shouldn’t have back in Solomon’s.  She didn’t eat her dinner last night and today she has no interest in eating dog food but was pretty interested in people food.  We are giving her the day for her stomach to settle. Hopefully she’ll be back to normal soon.

The captain enjoying the balmy 85 degree weather and sunshine!

Upon arrival here in Deltaville, we took on 10 gallons of diesel before getting into our slip and having dinner.  10 gallons is not a lot of fuel to move our home, and everything inside of it 60 miles. But it would have been nicer to sail.  Unfortunately the wind was not with us.

The crew is happy to be in our comfy slip in Deltaville.

It’s nice to be back in Deltaville.  Our adventure with Mavis began here in January when we sea-trialed the boat here and after we closed on the sale, we had her hauled out into their boatyard.  I spent many nights on the boat here on the hard in the middle of winter while I tackled the 10,000 projects that needed attention before the boat could be launched and sailed home to Long Island.  In that time, I got sort of attached to this place.  Deltaville is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody. There isn’t much here. Especially in the winter. But in the summer months the population explodes with boats and boaters.  In terms of shopping, there’s a 7-11, a grocery store, a fish market, a West Marine, a dollar store, a few restaurants, a gas station, a bunch of marinas, a sailmaker, a coffee shop, other marine services and shops and a liquor store. That’s basically Deltaville.  Situated on a peninsula between the Rappahannock and the Piankatank rivers, there is water everywhere.

Our amazing outdoor office at the Deltaville Marina.

We plan to stay here for a few days to a week while we wait out Hurricane Michael which is targeting the Florida panhandle right now.  After Florida, it looks like it will skip across to the Atlantic Coast and make its way through here and up the coast. I’d rather be cautious and tied to a dock than be out somewhere wishing we were.  Plus, we will take a few days to relax and maybe get a few boat projects done.  The boat needs constant attention to stay ship-shape.  And with all the motoring we have been doing, Mavis is just about due for an oil change. Perhaps I’ll tackle that before we leave here.

We are thinking about sailing over the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay to check out Cape Charles before heading down to Norfolk and entering the ICW.  Both of us are looking forward to heading further south than we have been with Mavis in the coming days.

Virginia is for lovers!

We’ll keep an eye on Michael and will secure the boat as needed for the expected winds.  Our floating dock here has finger piers on either side and everything looks very secure.  In fact, the dock is brand new.  I watched it being built in March and April before we left here. If we need to strip our sails and double up the lines we will.  It looks like Michael may still be a strong tropical storm as he moves through here.  The current path has the storm passing basically directly over us.  It’s always better to be tied to a dock wishing we were “out there” than “out there” wishing we were tied to a dock!

Stay Tuned.  Another video coming soon.

Capt. Frank

 

The Journey Continues

If you haven’t checked out episode 1 of our YouTube vlog, check that first here.

As I write this we are on a mooring ball at Zahniser’s Yaching Center in Solomon’s, MD. But let’s back up a bit because the last time I updated the blog we were in Chesapeake City. Not a lot has happened since our last update. Life on a cruising sailboat is fairly regimented. We wake up most mornings before dawn, fire up the dinghy and take Willow to shore and are underway before the sun is up. We usually run for 5 to 10 hours each day before putting in for the night. As we sail along I scan the horizon for other boats, ships, crab pots, floating logs, etc… I look at the chart-plotter to check our course, and I watch the miles to our destination tick down.  I look at our sails to see if any adjustments need to be made and, if motoring, I refer to the engine instruments to make sure all is well with our temperature and oil pressure.  This is basically what  I do all day.  On the ocean and here on the Chesapeake, I usually have the autopilot engaged.  This means I really don’t need to touch the helm at all. We adjust course using buttons on the autopilot. Sometimes I’ll listen to a podcast but it’s hard to get any actual work done because even though sailing can be as boring as watching paint dry, the ship does require attention. Recently I’ve taken to trying to stay somewhat fit while cruising. I started doing squats in the cockpit. When the seas are rolling you can get a really good workout this way. I also discovered that the furled headsails make a good support for doing handstand push ups. Basic body weight exercises are going to be the routine for a while.

Continue reading “The Journey Continues”

Watch the vlog

Nothing major to report from here.  We are still docked at the lovely Baltimore Boating Center we’ve been kayaking and taking the dinghy out around Sue Creek and getting lots of work done and making the $$$ neeeded to finance this adventure.

Check out the first installment of the SAILING MAVIS VLOG on YouTube!

And please like and subscribe so we know you want more.

We’re in Maryland!

Welcome back and thanks for coming along for the journey.

Our stats for today… Today was the 3rd day of our adventure at sea.  We have traveled 210 nautical miles since leaving Long Island at an average speed of 5.2 knots.  I consumed 1400 calories of peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets today(with a whopping 2300 mg of sodium!)

So long, New Jersey…  Buh Bye, Delaware… We are now in Maryland!

We left our slip in Cape May at 7am and motored through the Cape May Canal into the Delaware Bay which greeted us with a 15 knot breeze and some rolling lumpy waves.  But the sailing was amazing!  For a few hours we were flying up the bay with speeds up to 9 knots but after some time, the breeze died down to about 6 knots and after a while of moving at less than 4 knots I decided we needed to motor sail to ensure that we would make Chesapeake City by sundown.  So for a few hours we cruised up the bay burning diesel and making noise…  But at least we were moving along nicely.  Mavis has a single 28 horsepower diesel engine for propulsion that sips about three quarters of a gallon of diesel per hour at my cruising RPMs.

After about 2.5 hours of motor-sailing the winds came back and we were able to sail the rest of the way to the C&D Canal.  It was during this sail that Mavis got another flying visitor.  A huge dragonfly flew into the cockpit and landed on my camera.  I picked up my camera and brought him to Cindy who played with him for about an hour before he flew off, unharmed.

Heading north up the Delaware Bay you enter the Delaware River…  You really don’t “enter” the river… The bay just sort of “becomes” the river.  There’s lots of commercial traffic here including huge tanker and container ships heading to and from Philadelphia.  Today we were passed by the Maersk Winnipeg and the SCF Provider.  Needless to say, we got out of the way.  The shipping channel is a narrow lane that runs generally north and south but there’s plenty of water for boats like Mavis in the rest of the wide bay.  So that’s where we sail, leaving the deep water channel for the big boys.

The Maersk Winnipeg
SCF Provider
PSEG’s nuclear power plant on Delaware River. You can see it for miles and miles. We passed right by. Why am I glowing?
The charming little Ship John Lighthouse on the Delaware Bay

The C&D Canal runs between the Delaware River and the Upper Chesapeake Bay and today it was probably transited by 100 or more sailboats all starting the fall migration south.  This was very different for me because the last time Mavis did the canal (in the opposite direction) we literally saw ONE boat during our entire trip.  The canal is about 14 miles long and sailing is not permitted while in the canal… So more motoring.

We arrived in Chesapeake City and were pleased to find only a handful of boats in the little anchorage here.  We dropped our hook and Willow jumped in the dinghy for a much needed visit to shore where she found REAL GRASS to run around in and to do her business.

Speaking of business…  We had a bit of a hard time today getting things done while transiting the Delaware Bay because there was no mobile data signal for long stretches.  We’re hoping for better connectivity on the Chesapeake and the Intracoastal Waterway.

That’s all for today.  I wasn’t feeling very much like writing but lots of people are asking to be kept updated…  So I sort of forced myself to get some news out.  I think it’s a good practice to write everyday.  So keep reading and I’ll have to churn out more.  It won’t all be exciting, or funny, or particularly inspired or meaningful.  But hang in there with me and I’m sure there will be some gems.  I promise.

Goodnight!

 

 

Heading South – Our First Days

September 30, 2018
Cape May, NJ
Days Aboard - 2
Nautical Miles Sailed - 146
Moving Average Speed - 4.9 kts
Trip Max Speed - 12.5 kts
Birds Killed - 2


We left our slip at the Oakdale Yacht Club yesterday “morning” at 3:45am. Let me just say that there is nothing “morning” about 3:45. We knew we had to leave at this hour in order to slide comfortably out of the the Fire Island Inlet with the outgoing tide so we spent the night on the boat in our slip on Friday night. I probably slept less than 10 minutes the whole night. The excitement of the trip ahead had my mind reeling. I kept trying to silence my monkey-brain but the thoughts kept coming. A non-stop stream of barely connected thoughts and worries. Mostly worries. Lots of worries. It’s part of the responsibility of being the Captain. I do the same thing when I fly. The responsibilities of the Pilot in Command or the Captain are awesome and I take them seriously. I’m confident but I’m always thinking about what could go wrong. Can you worry too much? Probably. But I guess its good to consider the problems that could be encountered in advance…

My thoughts were like…

Continue reading “Heading South – Our First Days”

Almost Time to Sail South!

After a fantastic first summer with Mavis on the Great South Bay, the chill in the air means it’s almost time to take her south.  Our plan, since before even closing on the boat was to sail south for the winter and spend time in Florida and perhaps the Bahamas. The summer flew by much faster than expected. It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were arriving at Oakdale Yacht Club from Virginia with our new (to us) boat.

One of many awesome sails with friends this summer!

We had planned to do some cruising over the summer and wanted to head north and visit Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod but it just didn’t happen. Business responsibilities, weather, and “life” kept us in the bay. This is not to say that we didn’t use our boat! We took her out quite a bit this summer and spent time over on Fire Island, and sailing to “nowhere” around the bay. We have really gotten to know the boat much better and have done lots of repairs and upgrades in preparation for this adventure.

We did lots of local cruising on the bay!

 

Our insurance policy limited our navigational area to the coastal waters north of Cape Hatteras, NC. It also required that the boat be laid up from November to March. When I gave our broker a call to expand this to include the entire eastern seaboard and the Bahamas, I expected our premium to double. Instead, I was pleased (and shocked) to learn it would only be about $100 per year more. There’s no longer a winter layup required and the only real restriction is that we remain north of Cape Hatteras between June 15 and November 1. This is a common restriction on many yacht insurance policies due to peak Atlantic hurricane season.

Speaking of hurricanes… As I write this, hurricane Florence, a rapidly developing storm, is barreling west toward the Carolinas where it is expected to make landfall in a few days as a Category 4 hurricane. We plan to leave in about a week or two to begin moving south. This storm will certainly impact our trip down in some way. It’s just not clear to what extent and how. Where it hits, and the damage it causes will dictate what needs to be done to get south of it. I have no idea what’s going to happen to the intracoastal waterway, the marinas, and stops for fuel and provisions in the area. It may be necessary to load up on provisions and try to bypass the entire area by running offshore around Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout and Cape Fear.

I think the boat is ready to go. I just completed an oil change and changed all of the filters. I removed and cleaned our starboard fuel tank. I replaced the DC diesel lift pump. I’ve replaced the genoa furling line and the genoa sheets. The house battery bank was made up of 2 flooded batteries which I changed to AGMs. We’ve installed a 265w solar panel and MPPT charge controller. I purchased a small portable generator. Before leaving from Virginia, I installed a new chartplotter and VHF radio with AIS receive capability. The only piece of navigational kit that we don’t have that I would like to have is radar. Our Garmin plotter supports it but I didn’t buy a radome. I didn’t want to make holes in our mast to install it, didn’t want to spend the $1200 and I was concerned about the power draw… So I skipped it. Hopefully we won’t find ourselves in reduced visibility. I encountered some fog on the trip up the Chesapeake Bay in the spring and it was pretty disturbing. We ended up dropping an anchor and waiting a few hours for it to burn off.

We need to pack our clothing. And while I believe that less is more, we will be gone for about 6 months… The seasons are changing, and we will be changing latitude. The weather can also be pretty unpredictable this time of year. All this makes it tricky to know what to bring, and what to leave home. My thoughts right now are to pack a few pair of jeans, some sweatshirts and sweaters, a few bathing suits and shorts and my foul weather gear. A nice thing about our Gemini is the fully enclosed cockpit. The isinglass makes the cockpit a cozy little greenhouse that some owners refer to as the Florida room. Sailing with the enclosure buttoned up makes it difficult to adjust sail trim and I personally like to sit on the cockpit combing a look out over the bow from the side, but this enclosure really increases the all-weather capabilities of the boat. It’s nice to be able to sail in cold or rain in shirtsleeves while other sailors are in their foulies.

We also need to do some provisioning for the first leg of the journey. Our fridge is a decent size and it has an awesome feature of being able to run on propane as well as electricity. This makes keeping things cool while underway easy and energy efficient. We will also have a small cooler that we can replenish with ice every few days if need be.

 

The Captain and Willow

We are bringing our salty pup Willow with us and a concern is how she will do being cooped up on board for days on end. While we plan to do this trip as a series of day sails, anchoring or pulling into a marina every night, there will be offshore passages that will keep us out at sea for 24 hours or more. We are hoping to get a small piece of astroturf and teach the dog to relieve herself on it before she explodes. She spends a lot of time on board with us and doesn’t seem to get seasick.

There’s so much to think about… I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything but this trip. I guess it’s anxiety. I’m looking forward to being underway soon.

Capt Frank

s/v Mavis

And We’re Off!

Cindy takes the helm as we motor Northbound on the Chesapeake Bay.

After a long winter in the boatyard we are finally underway. Early this morning we cast off from Deltaville, VA with our good friend Robert (aka Babou) on board as crew. We covered 61 nautical miles on our first day from Deltaville, VA to Solomon’s Island, MD where we are tied up at the lovely Calvert Marina where we will spend the night.

The Captain is happy to be underway.
Cheers to the completion of our first day of travel!
Babou at the helm.

 

We Bought a Boat!

Anyone who knows us well will tell you that for years we have had a dream of sailing off to explore new places and to escape the New York winters on a cruising sailboat.

We’re pleased to announce that we just took a huge step toward making that dream a reality with the purchase of a sailing catamaran!

The dream of doing long range cruising had been sort of put on the back burner for a few years. We were taking care of Cindy’s mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s which made it very difficult to take a vacation, nonetheless sail away for weeks or months at a time.  When her mother sadly passed away last September, there was suddenly one less excuse to not do it now.

As small business owners we can effectively work from anywhere we have solid internet service.  And  as cellular data coverage has been steadily improving over the years, the places we can work from have increased pretty dramatically. So there’s another excuse shot down.

Then, of course, there’s finances. Purchasing, maintaining, and running a cruising boat is not an inexpensive undertaking. I had been searching and fantasizing for years looking at all sorts of boats. Monohulls, catamarans, even trawlers and tugs. Cindy really doesn’t like the way monohull sailboats heel when underway. We sailed a Catalina 25 together for many years and I agree that cruising on a 10 to 25 degree bank gets old.  We both really love the interior space and flat-sailing that catamarans offered… But they’re pretty expensive. We had catamaran dreams and a modest monohull budget.

Our dream cats are the Fountaine Pajots, Leopards and Lagoons in the 40 to 44 foot range.  Not only are these quite expensive to purchase, but operating them would be out of our budget unless we sold everything… And we’re not quite ready to abandon land life entirely just yet.

I had discovered, in my internet searches a small catamaran called a Gemini, with their most popular model being the Gemini 105mc. These little 34’ cats featured a single diesel engine, shallow draft (as little as 18” with the boards and rudders up) and a narrow beam by catamaran standards of just 14’ which means they fit in most normal marina slips. Inside are three staterooms, a large airy salon and a full head with shower. The master stateroom features a queen sized bed, a deep closet and lots of drawers. The aft staterooms are a little snug but two people can definitely sleep in them… if they really like each other.

It was late fall and my plan was to find a boat down in Florida, purchase her over the winter, stay on board getting her shaken down and then to sail her back home in the spring. I had found a number of boats to look at and was about to head down to Miami when I came across a listing in Virginia. It was for a boat a few years older than the ones I was looking at but the price was right. So on a whim, Cindy and I hopped into our car on her birthday, December 17 and drove 8 hours south to Matthews, Va to check her out.

What we found was basically what I expected. We had looked at number of these boats and this one was pretty much the same.  It had about 800 hours on the diesel and had some gel coat spider cracks which the Gemini is notorious for.  There was no air conditioning but it had the factory cockpit enclosure which was in excellent shape.  The interior was clean so we made an offer subject to survey and sea trial.

Mavis in the ice at Deltaville Marina.
s/v Mavis in the ice at Deltaville Marina.

The holidays were upon us so we had to wait until after Christmas for the survey and sea trial and in the days leading up to the big day, the Deltaville VA area experienced record low temperatures which caused many of the creeks and rivers in the area to freeze solid. I was later told the last time this happened was about 40 years ago.

Somehow things worked out and we were able to get out on the boat and we concluded our sea trial and survey. The surveyor found a few areas of wet core near the bow and there were a few minor things but no real surprises or show stoppers. We renegotiated the price for the survey findings and sent a wire transfer and just like that. We owned a 2003 Gemini 105mc.

Mavis being power washed after haul out.

Presently named M/T Pockets (an apt name for just about any boat), she is being recommissioned as s/v Mavis.  With the boat about 500 miles away from home, getting the many projects done means a 7 hour drive each way.  We have done this a few times already and had her hauled out at Deltaville Boatyard where she will stay on the hard until her launch in early April.  We hope to have her sorted out and shaken down for the sail home in the spring which will take us up almost the entire length of the Chesapeake Bay, through the C&D canal to the Delaware River and Delaware Bay, past Cape May and out into the Atlantic Ocean for the straight shot to Fire Island Inlet.

Stay Tuned.

Capt Frank