Friday, August 29, 2014

Location update

Just a quick update for those not following along on FB. We are currently in the Piankatank river at anchor. Looking to raise the sails today. I will have a better update when we get wifi. 
Cheers!
Pj


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Road Warriors

 Three thousand miles in two weeks. My ass is sore and I never want to be in traffic again, but it was worth every penny. We welcomed Aiden into our lives and spent some amazing time with the girls and their families. The boys are awesome and growing up fast. Little milk pirates.

I don't want to see this for a while.

When we travel by car it's usually me driving. I tend to want to break some personal record in getting somewhere in good time. There is nothing sweeter to hear after a trip then, "Wow, you made good time!" It's a guy thing I think because Debra never attempts to make good time. Deb is all about getting there in one piece. She will travel slightly over the speed limit and mostly in the right lane until she hits her limit. The limit to her patience with fellow drivers seems to be about the three hour mark. After that it gets scary and I know it's time to pull over and switcheroo.

Washington DC is not a place to drive a car. Not even around it! In fact, we went WAY around DC coming back down and still hit traffic. Something about the area, whether it's just sheer volume, or sheer stupidity, just makes it a sore spot in any trip along the east coast.
Did you ever imagine machine guns popping up from your hood and you fire off a couple of rounds at a car near you? Not to kill of course but to disable the killing machine the guy was driving? Rocket launcher? No? It kind of keeps me awake on long trips. Sometimes I am driving a Bond car with all kinds of cool stuff like smoke, oil slick, and guns of course.



We had a whole shit load of traffic ahead of us one day and all the brake lights were coming on in three lanes. This son of a bitch in a little Mazda behind us saw an opening to get ahead of a tractor trailer and as we are all slamming on the brakes he accelerated and dove in front of the truck next to us with inches to spare and then screeched to a stop fifty feet later. Twin fifty calibers got him good.

Left laners were out in force the whole trip. "I think I'll just sit here in the left lane and pace this tractor trailer for a few hundred miles or so". One knob had at least a mile of cars behind him and as he passed a truck he would accelerate until he could parallel another one and hold everybody up some more. This of course makes the people behind him an angry mob hell bent on revenge. Something you do not want to do these days now that the NRA has us all armed and dangerous. When I got within range I shot out his tires and he spun off into the guard rail. I thought I heard people cheering but "Highway to Hell" was cranked pretty loud.

All this aggravation and raging people behind the wheels was very traumatic for us people who have abandoned this way of life for the really slow lane. To top it off we had a Prius to drive, which for some reason generates scorn and ill will from fellow drivers. Not sure what it is about this car, which was awesome at fuel economy but relatively terrible at acceleration, that people dislike so much. Is it because of the mileage? Do the big Ford and Chevy truckers hate the little thing because they are pissing away a gallon every ten miles while the little hybrid goes almost fifty?
We had a few mother truckers pass us, get in our lane in front of us and then slow down. Really? Cruise control come with that forty thousand dollar monster you only haul patio furniture with? One guy kept doing this to us for about an hour until I lobbed a smoke grenade into his truck bed. I then pulled in front and let out an oil slick. He's going to need that four wheel drive.

Getting rid of the rental car was a relief. Even at our current residence here in VA the traffic is horrible. We find it hard to even walk to the grocery store. I'm happy to have abandoned that way of life. Nothing but stress behind a wheel these days. Normally happy people become someone else behind the wheel and that goes for us as well. We don't like it and that's why we find a car to be an unpleasant and expensive necessity at times.

Here are my suggestions for a better ride on America's highways:

  1. Cruise Control. Every vehicle has it. Use it. It's not scary magic that will make your car jump to light speed.
  2. Get the FK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE! Cops have to start ticketing these people.
  3. Tractor trailers should have a lower speed limit. Most accidents we saw involved tractor trailers.
  4. Lower speed limits overall. Faster Faster Faster! Where does it end? Most cars do ten over and 80 mph is too damn high. I'm not being a wimp. I had good grades in physics. 
  5. High speed rail and mass transit. We need it. I would use it.
  6. Start investing in infrastructure not the pentagon. We are falling apart.
  7. Relax people. You don't have to make good time. Pull over for a break and find your inner Debra.


Cheers!
PJB

We forgot how beautiful the green hills of New York are in the summer
Skip NYC! Go to the Adirondacks or visit Western NY.


Mighty Mason (Swab 1)
Beautiful Aiden (Swab 2)

Power boating on Ontario




Friday, August 15, 2014

Sweet to Salt

For my freshwater friends.



You can read all the blogs you want on cruising and the salty life but until you are actually out here you don't realize how literally salty it really is. From your hair to your shoes the salt is there and doing it's thing. Now that my hair is a tad longer it gets that Einstein look after a brisk day on the water. Deb actually broke out laughing one day as it looked like I licked the battery cables.
I had a pair of docksiders break down in months from saltwater. They have been relegated to engine room duty. By the way, Sperry docksiders just don't last out here. Don't waste your money.

Tools. My god don't buy expensive tools if you come out here. They rust quickly unless you clean and lube them and who remembers to do that all the time. Electronics will eventually crap out as well but we are not to that point yet. Backups. Make sure the hard drives and tablets are backed up to the cloud or a thumb drive.

All those years of freshwater sailing gave us a good resume but it didn't prepare us for the effects of the saltwater environment on you and your stuff. Some folks warned us  and we listened but it was still surprising. Here are some of the changes we had to get used to and remember we have not been offshore very often and have pretty much been ICW bound. Imagine when we head out this fall!

  1. Dock lines. In the Great lakes you kept your dock lines on the bow and stern after you leave the dock. You coil them nicely and keep them handy for when you get back from a day or a weekend on the water. Down here those docklines turn to salt encrusted UV faded skin shredders after a few months. Your $100 dollar smooth line is now a disfiguring weapon if you toss it at a kid helping you tie off. You really feel bad hitting a guy in the face with one of these lines. After we leave a dock now, the lines get stowed.
  2. Standing Rigging. Up north you might survey your standing rigging once every ten years. Every spring you give it a once over and shrug, "Looks good to me." Down here it gets so corroded so quickly that every tack or jibe you cross your fingers and say a little prayer. I'm sure it's fine but it looks like hell.
  3. Running Rigging. See docklines.
  4. Engine cooling. In lake Ontario your engine gets a fresh water douche every time it runs. Very refreshing. Down here it's getting a saltwater enema every time it runs. Sometimes it even gets a creature or two. After you shut the engine down all that brine sits there and eats your little Yanmar. 
  5. Dirty Bottoms. In the cold waters of lake Ontario we would haul our boat in October if we were hardy and the guys at the marina would give it a spritz with the pressure washer and then put her to bed. Here you need a diver every every six months with an assortment of scrapers, brushes, chisels and scotchbrite pads to reduce the biology from the hull. You could do it yourself if so inclined, but it's way harder than it looks and the last time I was getting in the dinghy and fiddling with lines in the water there was something large and grey that swam past me about three feet down. Sometimes you forget you could be dinner. I didn't think much of barnacles either until I left the swim ladder in the water for a few weeks. Damn things are sharp and they smell really bad too.
  6. Stainless. What stainless? It's all stained.
  7. Sunglasses. You can't live without them and you better have a backup pair. You also have to clean them about ten times a day from the salt accumulation. I had a string of bad luck recently and broke my sunglasses and regular glasses at the same time. I can't even imagine being on the water without polarized lenses. Always keep a line on your glasses. From all the sweat they can slip off your face. 
  8. The dinghy. So sad really. Our dinghy is only a few years old but it looks about twenty. In NY I would keep the dinghy covered and routinely washed. We had a zodiac for ten years that looked maybe a year old. Down here the dinghy is your car. It gets scratched, rubbed, stained, faded and covered in birdshit. It's ugly, but so is everyone else's.
  9. Sea life. No comparison. In Lake Ontario if I saw a fish offshore it was dead. Once I spotted a large fish in flat water from a distance and that was the only time in twenty years. In the bay we would see bass and pike and other fish all the time but out in the lake no way. We know they are out there because we see them on a hook off the back of a boat. Saltwater creatures we see all the time. We had a Ray fly out of the water next to our dinghy, spotted dolphins leaping out of the water next to us, flying fish, crabs floating on the surface, sea turtles popping there heads up, sharks in a marina, manatees, and many bottle nosed dolphins. Amazing and wonderful to see.
Some other differences that we were not really prepared for:
  1. Deep water. There isn't any down here. You have to go more than ten miles offshore to get into what we think is deep water. In Lake Ontario we were in 30 ft after we left the dock and over 100 in about a mile offshore and 200 to 800 depending on where you sail that day. Now we get excited if it's over 20 feet!
  2. Traffic. Ontario is wide open and traffic free for many miles offshore. The only freighters are running the borderline so unless you are crossing to Canada you are unlikely to see one. Sailing near Toronto or the St. Lawrence Seaway is a different story of course. Down here its crowded! Boats of every kind are moving constantly it seems. I can't tell you how much AIS has removed some of the stress of travel. I wish it was mandatory on all commercial vessels especially tugs on the ICW. Offshore fishing vessels at night scare me the most. Sometimes I feel they are asleep on autopilot dragging their nets. We have played hide and seek with some very large ships at night and without AIS its difficult to determine their heading sometimes.
  3. Hazards. Ontario hazards are the occasional log in the spring and a particular sailing vessel on autopilot with crew sleeping or doing whatever. Some lake sailors will actually run into the weather buoy from time to time :)  Down here you better keep your eyes peeled. Sunken boats in anchorages, crab pots, fish havens, logs, pilings, shoals, disabled boats, whales... 


With all these differences good and bad we feel we can never return to the Great lakes. At least that's how we feel at the moment. Ask me in ten years. We love the sailing in Ontario when the weather cooperated but the season was too short and the cruising too limited. We are not cold weather sailors anymore and this really determines our cruising destinations. Some day we would like to explore Maine, but the thought of a cold damp fog to wake up to is not very appealing right now. Hell, we even have the chills when we wake up and it's in the sixties.

If we are discouraged by any one thing in our new salty life it's the lack of actual sailing. We are determined to change that, and I think we can do it now that we are not so nervous about our surroundings. Our big plan was to head into the Chesapeake Bay to just sail around, but little Aiden changed all that. Some day I will remind him of his messing with our plans :)  We might sneak in a few weeks of the Bay before we head back down the coast.

Sorry we missed all you lake sailors on our visit. There just wasn't enough time. Damn rental cars are expensive and the marinas aren't cheap either so we had to hoof it back to avoid eating rice and beans for a month or two. If any of you are heading south at any time please look us up and come out to the boat for a while. We will even clean out the V-berth for ya. Well, not all of it but the toilet paper pack makes for a nice pillow.

Cheers!
P

Do any of our friends up north have a photo of our going away get together on the deck at Katlynn? I can't find a copy. Not sure who took the photo.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Good Morning Virginia

So, here we are in Virginia thinking we went too far north. Our Grandson came a month early and luckily we were still in Great Bridge planning our next move. Had we ventured into the Bay we would have really been panicked trying to find a place to dock for a week and pick up a rental car. Things worked out as you know, but maybe we should have stayed in Brunswick GA for the summer, only an hour away from our daughter. Our intention for coming this far north was to avoid hurricanes and be in a position of easy road travel to visit friends and family. We also wanted to sail around the Bay and visit some nice anchorages. We still have time to do just that.
The summer isn't over and when we get back from NY we fully intend to do some sailing around that crab pot filled body of water and drop the hook in some quiet spots. So far the weather has been ugly but we have been on the road for most of it. We have one more major project to do before we start south again in the fall, but we want to be working on this while we are moving. We have to keep moving to stay sane. At least people here don't have my bathroom schedule down yet. I don't think they do.

Now that I have some caffeine in me I'll do a little brain dump.


Morning Tea Thoughts

  • I would like to slap the stupid out of the kid that made my battery cables. Nice work, but they are routed over the caps.
  • The solar install went well despite my condition of cold and fever. I expected to look at it later with my WTF scowl in place but all looks good.
  • We can't live among pine trees anymore. 
  • Deb is back on allergy meds and I have my NY nasal voice back.
  • The Hampton Roads area is not safe for pedestrians.
  • If you ride a bike around this area motorists will hunt you down.
  • Black backpacks are not allowed in the local hardware store. 
  • People in the local hardware store are idiots.
  • Sweat stained backpack carrying old guys wearing faded shorts needing a shave are followed around the local Rite Aid by an Orville Redenbacher looking asshole manager.
  • Cruisers can be strange.
  • One boat couple here pushed a grocery cart from Farm Fresh to the marina and then left it here. Pleasant folks to talk to, though I really really wanted to ask them if they were taking the cart back to the grocery store. I kept looking at them, and then the cart. 
  • This is an affordable marina unless you want some work done.
  • Amazing how many boats pile up right next to the bridge before it opens. Why?
  • Our boat is a disorganized mess.
  • I make most of the mess on the boat.
  • When we pull into a marina I just want to dock and get it over with. I should really go to pumpout and re-fuel first. 
  • We need to pumpout and refuel today.
  • I need to re-bed more ports.
  • The boat really feels like home even though it leaks.
  • I can't sleep in or live in Air Conditioning. I feel trapped.
  • Need to drink more water.
  • Rental car pricing is a roll of the dice. I truly believe they pull the price right out of their ass when you walk through the door. Don't show up sweat stained with a black backpack.


Cheers!
PJJB


Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat.
Audre Lorde

Friday, August 1, 2014

Family Expansion

We can add a mainsail trimmer to the list of potential crew. Aiden Christopher weighed in at six pounds three ounces and a month early. Anything related to boating has stopped for the time being as we help out around the kids house while they come out of their initial shock. You forget how small these little ones are especially when they are early birds. Funny how it all comes back to you in a flash and you find yourself making baby talk and burping them on your shoulder in no time at all. One thing that didn't come back to me is diaper changes. I swore after our kids I wouldn't change another diaper ever again unless it's mine. So far so good and I can safely say I have escaped another round of excretions.



One happy Grandma


Happy Gramps as well. Do we look tired?

Eat, sleep, poop

Looks like a blondie

Mother and baby are doing great and grandma and grandpa are smiling but now it's time to head up to New York to visit more family and friends while we have the boat parked in a safe and reasonably priced location. It's crazy but if you go over seven days  in a marina you are better off paying the monthly rate, so as long as we are paying for another month we might as well go see some family during this hurricane season and soak up some family love before we vanish to warmer climate in the winter.

On the project side of things I can tell you that the new solar panel was installed and working. How well it works we will find out when we get back to the boat. We left the fridge AND freezer on this time. Hopefully I am not looking at buying a new battery bank when we get back. I have a partial install on the autopilot we bought. I still have to mount the display and the linear drive unit. I needed an adapter plate to mount the drive to the quadrant and I asked for a quote from the marina. An eight inch stainless steel adapter plate with five holes would have run me about four hundred dollars. I told them to stuff it. I was pretty much insulted by the price they pulled out of their ass and I really wanted to relay that fact to them but I figured as long as our boat was tied up there I am better off just saying no thanks. Seriously though, what the hell kind of labor are we talking about here for a machine shop to make a plate? I got prices from friends and other sailors that were way less than half of that. I think sometimes these guys just throw something at you and see if you'll bite or they are too busy to bother with you so they price it to scare you off.

Thank you to my sailing friends for the info you provided me on installing the linear drive, especially Magnolia and Veranda. Very helpful and appreciated.

So, after our trip to NY where are we off to? We are going to hit the bay, install the autopilot, re-bed some deck hardware, and sail. God do we need to sail. We plan on skipping most of the ICW on the way back down. Our goal after this summer is to avoid marina's like the plague and sail as much as we can. Our little adventure down A1A was kind of a shakedown cruise and we learned a lot about how we want to proceed in the future. Should be fun times so stick with us.

Cheers!
Grandpa Pauly