August 2012 - Chesapeake to Massachusetts

1 August 2012   Deltaville, Chesapeake
We've been on the hard for 41 days and 41 nights (just slightly longer than Jesus spent in the wilderness) and today my prayers were answered because we were put back into the water.  However, it was not easy.

Mack spent the morning working on the generator to get all the connections straight.  There were a few mystery wires that we didn't know how to connect back, so I emailed Fisher Panda in Germany yesterday and we got an answer back this morning – their hot line gives a very good service.  I talked to Chuck a couple of times during the morning to confirm that we would be launched today and he said yes, but he needed to produce the outstanding invoices which would have to be paid.

I finally received the invoices after lunch and then sent Chuck a spread sheet detailing invoice items that I was querying and also some that I thought were too expensive.  I went through the spread sheet with him and he said that he needed to discuss with Keith.  I went back to the boat and took a couple of inches off the bimini frame.  

Being launched by the skin of our teeth

By half past three, there was no sign of the travel lift, so I walked down to the dock where I collared Keith who said that he’d gone through the queries with Chuck and, if I agreed and paid, then there was no reason why we shouldn't get launched.  I tracked Chuck down who was working on another boat and said that he needed to credit some items and agree some others with me before I could pay.  I nearly went crazy, but controlled myself and calmly emphasised that all I want to do is get back in the water – how about I pay the outstanding bill less $1,000? He finally agreed that to save time, I could do this.  

Five minutes later, I was $7,000 lighter and the travel lift operator had agreed to work after four o'clock to put us in the water.  I find it amazing that, if I hadn't gone over and hassled, we’d not have been launched.  I don’t know if it’s lack of efficiency or are they really trying to piss me off?

Clifton held things up a little bit by stopping the travel lift as it went past the workshop because he wanted to use a compressed air rivet gun to replace the rod kicker.  So I was pretty stressed by the time that they dropped us into the water - just before five o'clock   I gave the travel hoist guys a beer each to thank them for staying late.  It’s a shambles – why on earth weren't we put in the water just after lunch?

We’re now in the travel lift dock, with the air-conditioning working, drinking a few cold beers, so life isn't so bad any more.  I'm hoping that the yard will give me the resources tomorrow to tune the rigging, get the generator going, align the engine and go out for a sea trial.  If it all goes to plan, we’ll be back at anchor tomorrow night.

2 August 2012   Deltaville, Chesapeake
We were up at quarter to seven again – it will be nice to have a lie-in at some time without worrying about jobs.  Chuck came over and said that he’s arranged a marina berth for us for two nights free of charge and he wanted us to move straight away.  When I tried to start the engine, I found that the starter battery was flat.  I quickly put jump leads between the domestic batteries and the starter battery and the engine started fine.

Once we’d motored around to our marina berth, Clifton arrived and spent the morning tuning the rig and tidying everything up.  I helped him and learned quite a lot about tuning our rig.  In the afternoon, Mack turned up and completed the engine alignment – he’ll be back tomorrow morning to go out for a sea trial. I fitted the dive compressor back into the cockpit locker and filled up the rest of the locker with all of the stuff that has been cluttering up our cockpit.  It’s great to have a clear cockpit again.

Stan's Crab Boil

I spent the afternoon hoisting the three sails and working on deck to sort out the ropes and tidying up.  By the end of the day we were looking very ship shape and ready for sea.  The weather forecast still looks good for heading south to Hampton Roads on Saturday 4th and then heading north towards Maine on Sunday.

In the evening, Stan from “Green Eyes” had organised a “Crab Boil”. He bought a bushel of crabs from a local fisherman for $45, which he steamed in a huge pot with sweet corn, potatoes, clams, oysters and Old Bay Seasoning.  There were only eight of us there, so it was a mega amount of food, but great fun and very tasty.   It’s a lot of hard work to get a little bit of crab meat.  Eating crabs is definitely a social event.  

3 August 2012   Deltaville, Chesapeake
We went for the sea trial and the engine looks and sounds great.  There is very little vibration on the propeller shaft seal and it is not leaking.  Everything looks good for leaving tomorrow.

I carried on finishing off various small jobs including putting the wind sensor and radar reflector back on the mast, replacing a leaking cockpit drain hose, fitted the SSB antenna cable, etc.  Glenys disappeared and did the final shopping before leaving.

In the afternoon, a lady arrived to steam clean the carpets and upholstery which looked great when she’d finished.  Eighteen months of grime removed in a few hours.

I paid the final part of our bill.  I managed to get just under $1,000 knocked off the bill because of their efficiency on some of the jobs, but the total still came to $23,000 and we've probably spent another $3,000 on other bits and pieces.  The biggest chunk was for rigging work - $12,000 for the standing rigging and $4,500 for the running backstays & new winches.  The rest was general maintenance.   It’s an expensive game this sailing lark.

Filling up with fuel before leaving Deltaville

Despite the hassle, we've actually achieved a lot in the eight weeks that we've been here.  We've now got brand new rigging; new winches for the staysail & running backstays; fully serviced sails; new engine mounts; new prop-shaft seal; new cutlass bearing; new anti-fouling; overhauled windlass; galvanised anchor & chain; major generator service; polished topsides; steam cleaned upholstery, etc, etc.  We’re now ready to continue around the world.

Would I haul out at Deltaville again?  Yes, because the quality of the technical work is very good.  However, I’d not rely on the yard’s project management.  I’d make sure that all investigation work is done as soon as possible, so that any parts can be ordered as soon as possible.  I would buy my own parts especially any specialist parts – it will be cheaper and I will be able to chase the delivery.  Then I would push and push to get things done – make the project manager's life difficult.  If nothing is being done then go to Keith – not ideal but effective.

A group of the yard staff always meet up at four o'clock after work and have a few beers outside the workshop, so I took over a case of beer and gave it to Mack to thank him for his work.  I also gave a beer to Keith who I saw wandering past. 

We carried on working to tidy up, Glenys hosed down the decks and filled the water tanks, while I went through the bags of stuff left over from the various jobs that we’ve done and decided what to bin and what to keep.  Garlic Prawns for dinner and then collapsed.

4 August 2012   Deltaville to Old Comfort Point, Chesapeake
We were up at seven o’clock and moved over to the fuel dock.  By half past eight we were filled up with fuel and motoring out through the very shallow channel into open water – we’ve finally escaped Deltaville!

Snagged an underwater electrical cable

The trip down to the anchorage at Old Comfort Point was pretty boring with a 10-15 knots wind straight on the nose, so we motored most of the way - the forecast was for the winds to increase in the afternoon and we just wanted to get to the anchorage to get ready to leave tomorrow.  On the way, we spent some time checking that we’d rigged the sails correctly.  The new running backstays and winches worked very well – we can now put up the running backstays without leaving the cockpit and the winches are perfect.  I’m pleased that we went to the expense and effort of fitting it all.

We had a little difficulty anchoring and dragged a couple of times.  I pulled the anchor up and discovered to my horror that we’d hooked an underwater electricity cable.  I lifted it clear of the water, slipped a rope underneath it, motored forward a little so that I could lift the anchor clear and then dropped it back down into the water.  We anchored a hundred metres further away…

We were both very tired and had a nap before getting the dinghy on deck and preparing the boat for a long passage.  We were in bed at nine o'clock – eight weeks of hard work and stress has finally caught up with us.

5 August 2012   Old Comfort Point to Maine (Day 1)
The weather forecast looks to be good with south to south-west winds at 10-20 knots for the next few days, so Glenys prepared her customary One Pot Stew and we set off at half past eight.  It was a very pleasant reach along the shipping channel and out through the Chesapeake Bridge into the open sea.  We turned east and I put out our spinnaker pole to starboard to try to run down wind, but there wasn't enough wind, so we had to motor for a couple of hours.  

We’re not quite sure where we’re heading yet, so we started to read the cruising guide for the area from Delaware Bay to Maine.  The plan is to head for somewhere in Maine, which is about 700 miles away, but that depends on the weather – we may stop somewhere further south.  We've no idea where to go in Maine, but we've got 4 days to figure it out.

The wind picked up to 15-25 knots from the south during the afternoon and we had a cracking reach with the staysail out, a reefed genoa and main sail – we were averaging eight knots. I love the new winches and running backstays.  As evening approached, the wind veered towards south west so we rolled away the stay sail, poled out the genoa and rolled off downwind.

6 August 2012   Old Comfort Point to Maine (Day 2)
It was a lovely night, clear skies with a ¾ moon.  The wind increased in strength to over 25 knots and the seas picked up to 3-4 metres, so we were surfing for a while – we logged 10 knots at one point. 

As dawn broke, I could see lots of dark cloud ahead and spent a couple of hours dodging thunderstorms.  Unfortunately, one eventually got us, but I’d already put two reefs in the main and rolled away the genoa when it hit us with torrential rain and gusts of 35-40 knots.  After that went through, I switched the spinnaker pole to port because the wind was more westerly and went to bed while Glenys took a watch for a couple of hours.

Dolphins at Dawn

By eleven o’clock, the wind died completely and Glenys turned on the engine.  The wind picked up enough to sail for a few hours in the afternoon, but died off again by dinnertime.   We were visited by a pod of Atlantic Dolphins – we could hear their excited whistles as they played in the bow wave for ten minutes.

We filled up our water tanks in the marina in Deltaville and the water tastes horrible.  There’s a slight smell of rotting eggs when it’s poured into a glass and there’s a nasty swamp-like after-taste.  We’ve resorted to boiling the water and adding some Sorrel syrup to every bottle of water to disguise the taste.  We’ll have to dump the water when we get to our destination and make a whole tank load with our water maker.

We were invaded by small, biting house flies.  We spent most of the late afternoon and evening swatting the little buggers – we must have killed over forty of them.  God knows where they are coming from - we're over 80 miles off-shore.  On Glenys’s 7-10 watch, I locked myself away in the back cabin with the mosquito netting up on the hatch, so that I could sleep without being bitten.  When Glenys went to bed at 10 o’clock, I “Bopped” the remainder of the boat with fly spray.  Let’s hope that’s the end of them.

At eleven o’clock, we were 100 miles south-east of New York, motoring north-east in flat calm seas towards Nantucket and then on to Maine.  We’re still not sure where to go in Maine, but Mount Desert Island looks promising.

It was cold at night

7 August 2012   Old Comfort Point to Maine (Day 3)
The remainder of the night was very calm with no chance of sailing as the slight five knot wind was directly on the nose.  However, it was a lovely moonlit night with lots of stars.  As dawn broke, I was pleased to be visited by a huge school of Atlantic Dolphins – there must have been over a hundred of them coming over to play in our bow wave in small groups for about thirty minutes.  I took loads of pictures, but they were mostly rubbish because I didn’t have the shutter speed set high enough.  Maybe I’ll do better next time.

The morning passed by quickly with both of us pottering about – it’s just like being at anchor because it’s so calm.  We had a few more biting flies, but we soon killed them off.  Glenys read her book and the Maine Cruising guide.  I slept for a couple of hours and then plotted some waypoints around Cape Cod and into North East Harbour on Mount Desert Island, which is our intended destination now.

The afternoon was more of the same.  Glenys had a nap and I practised my guitar and read a book.  We had a bit of excitement when I hooked a small Dorado, but it managed to shake the hook when I landed it on the back deck and then flipped its way overboard.  It was only about 1lb in weight, so I wasn’t too bothered.  I went to bed at seven o’clock and there was still no wind. The weather forecast is for more light wind tonight and tomorrow, so it looks like we’ll have to motor the remaining 250 miles as well – bummer! 

It was very cold when I started my watch at ten o’clock and by eleven o’clock, we had fog forming – yes fog!  I went down below and dug out some warm clothing including a woolly hat and a down-filled gilet.  We were approaching the southern tip of Nantucket Shoals which spread sixty miles south of Cape Cod and there were plenty of fishing boats out trawling these fertile waters.  Fortunately, the fog didn’t get too thick and it was beautiful to see the twinkling lights of the fishing boats in the misty, moonlit waters.