September 30, 2018Cape 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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.