Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Season 7 day one

November 6 2013
When we wake up we will set a course for the British Virgin Islands and arrive some 9 to 11 days later.  The weather report shows winds for most of the days and no tropical storms are currently forming.  We are at anchor in front of Fort Monroe, in sight of where the USS Monitor and the CSS Virgina fought a battle at sea.  Norfolk and Hampton have been our home for the  past week as we met fellow Salty Dawg participants and old cruising friends.  After a week of social events, seminars, and informational meetings we are ready to relax and enjoy the E ticket ride through the Gulf Stream.  Keep us in your thoughts and prayers and we will be posting blogs on the 2013 Salty Dawg Fall Rally site.
What keeps us doing this?  Right now it is the promise of a second summer.  Warm nights, idyllic days, hiking, swimming, snorkeling and diving, 5 o'clock gatherings or6 o'clock red wine and chocolate, reading, napping in a hammock, just lim in' the time away...did I mention the work or the repairs, the hunting far and wide for parts and tools?   How fast we forget the downside of the cruising life!  Ohooooo, something just snapped up above and Dave is opening the tool box.  Guess we will need to snap back into reality a bit sooner than later. P.S. It is almost 5 o'clock 


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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Chesapeake, Day Two

May 30, 2013
We just passed the New Point Comfort Spit Light off Mobjack Bay in Chesapeake Bay and are heading north to Deltaville, Virgina. The water depth is a mere 14 feet in the deep part of this channel. The majority of the Chesapeake is 25 feet or less--with anchorage sites bragging about 7-8 feet of depth. Our boat draws 7 1/2 feet so we are limited on where we will find places to anchor. Up in Deltaville we will anchor in 8-10 feet, and tomorrow check out their marina for boat storage. Hmm, wonder what the tide depth is here?
Last night was our first full night of sleep since May 16--we slept till 9 (me) and 10 (Dave)this morning. The boat sat as still as as house, and only the rub of a halyard on the mast could be heard. With the first light of the day, we heard the birds calling to each other, another sign we were near land again. After day 2 out at sea there were no birds, and no flies. The smell of land was replaced with the smells of the sea and our ever present boat smells. Yesterday I realized there was no welcoming smell of land greeting us as we approached Norfolk, Virginia--perhaps because the wind came from the east. However, there were flies, a horde swarm our boat and filled our salon. We eliminated over 30 and broke one fly swatter during the assault. So our shopping list now includes fly paper, eggs, more fly paper, potatoes, and spare fly swatters.
After 13 days at sea, Dave is more excited than ever for the passage to Europe he will make in the next few years. Nothing has daunted his spirit of adventure. I am wondering if after 13 days at sea I will be able to walk without the Earth feeling like it is pitching me to starboard and port. The trip was fairly smooth and normal for us--a few exciting hours while we jerry rigged a fix for an important part breaking, and then rearranged our sleeping and watch duties around what time we finished the repair. There were many days where we were the only boat on the water and 2-3 days between any sighting of another vessel under way. I gained a new appreciation for how vast the ocean is and how small and insignificant one boat can be upon its surface.
Dave said this trip across the open water makes him confident about crossing the Atlantic when he takes the boat to Europe. He was able to fix what broke, kept his mind clear to solve whatever was thrown his way, and he enjoyed the adventure and time at sea. The crossing of the Atlantic has been a long time dream for him and accomplishing it will be one of his lifetime highlights. But for now we are going to cruise the East coast, return to the Caribbean next winter, come back next spring to Maine and points south, and do another season in the Caribbean before he heads over the next horizon.
This summer we will be in Oregon in June, Texas for July and part of August--grandbaby #3 arrival, back to Oregon in mid-late August, then back on the boat to cruise the East coast from September through late November--avoiding thunderstorms and named storms if our luck holds up.
Life is good and we are looking forward to getting back together with friends and family. Time to quit writing, the flies have returned, are attacking me from all sides, and so I will take up the mighty surviving fly swatter and fight against their attempt to overtake our home on the water. It's clearly time to pull out of storage the bug screens!

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Salty Dawg Rally Completed

We made it! The morning of May 17th we left St John, U.S. Virgin Islands and in the afternoon of May 29th we dropped our anchor in Mobjack Bay on Chesapeake Bay. After 7 years of being away we had Jammin' in the continental states at last--with credit cards and the check book out ready to start refitting the old girl (Jammin' not Helen). The boat will rest in Deltaville and hit the water again the first of September.
What a great time it has been. Thanks to Bill and Linda on Sapphire, who organized this event, we met the other participants at numerous gatherings which fostered friendship and the exchange of information. Being from the Northwest we are newbies entering the waters of the North Atlantic. Over the past 7 years our boat/home has traveled from Oregon, up to Alaska, down the West Coast, passed through the Panama Canal, stopped in the Western Caribbean, summered in Panama, crossed the waters to Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean islands, and summered in Trinidad twice. Even though we are seasoned travelers, we felt new and uneducated about the Gulf Stream and the Atlantic East Coast ports and anchorages. Our reason for joining this rally was to get first hand accounts of the Gulf Stream and information on where a deep draft boat can anchor safely. The ICW is famous for its skinny waters and we are what you would call a beefy bottom boat at 7 1/2 feet.

We can HIGHLY recommend the Salty Dawg rally to anyone heading north (in May) from the Virgins, or south (in November) from the East Coast. With the help of Linda from Sapphire, Steve on Celebration, relays from Matt on Troupadore, and Dick from the DoDah net we were able to check in 3 times daily via SSB radio and hear the progress being made by all the boats participating in the Salty Dawg Rally. It surprised us that during the 13 days we never saw another boat after the first day, each of us took a slightly different course towards the U.S. The daily radio contact helped us feel we were not alone at sea despite the fact no one was ever in our sight. We owe Chris Parker a big thank you for giving us the data we needed to make informed decisions on our course as the weather conditions contorted into 3 different weather systems and us sailing at the edge of it all. And we owe a special thank you to the person(s) who posted our blogs--our son, daughter, relatives and friends followed our progress on the spot and read the daily logs we and others posted. It calmed their worries to hear our words, it entertained them to hear what was happening to us and others, and it brought back memories of time on our boat as a family.
This fall, when we plan our return to the Caribbean, we hope to join the rally for the Fall migration to the Virgin Islands. Safe travels and full sails until our paths cross again, Helen and Dave on Jammin'

P.S. We will be checking out the Salty Dawg Rally website and reading about the Spring 2013 Hotdawg Rally. Now that we finally have internet we can read what others wrote and how their trip went. Our kids tell us it was great hearing all the joyful experiences others were having, and they could commiserate with the dreadful conditions some of the participants overcame. Boating is rarely dull,but the good times are sooooo good that one quickly forget the hard times. My husband is already talking about crossing the Atlantic and how it would only be 6 days longer than the trip we just completed...a man of the seas can never be far away from planning the next adventure.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunshine Sunday

Jammin' is enjoying good sea conditions, clear skies, and motoring around 3.4 knt towards Cape Hatteras. Life is good!
The Salty Dawg Rally has been great and the support superb. The daily nets and the encouragement from other participants have made this long journey a wonderful event. We would like to also send out a great big thank you to Chris Parker and his weather report service. Chris's report have been right on and accurate in every case. We used what he gave us and ended up avoiding the worse of the two weather problems and ugly conditions at sea. His thorough explanations of what we would be facing supported by position recommendations gave us a path to follow that kept us and the boat relatively safe. His services are well worth the investment. For all you in Bermuda, hope your time there is sweet and restful, and that your seas and weather are perfect when you once more head out to sea. Looking forward to meeting up with you Salty Dawgs through the summer/fall or finding you back in the Carib next winter. Until then, we be Jammin' Helen and Dave Peoples

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 9 Hour After the Storm

Saturday May 25
We made it through the ugly trough with squalls and 40+winds, the chilly cold front with winds 20-25 knts. out of the north, and threats from the low in Chesapeake of gale force winds above us. The convergence of all three made us question sitting out here. Most of the Salty Dawgs chose to sit it out in Bermuda sipping dark and stormy rum drinks.
For three days we have zigged and zagged in the safe latitudes, and hove to for about 3 hours before Dave started zig zagging again. Hooray! The worse is over. No damage, no problems. Currently we are traveling west and all is good.
After clearing the messy weather this morning the steering wheel threw its nut overboard and fell off. Auto pilot does not require a steering wheel, thank goodness. The wheel is now back on--held fast by wire twisted around the exposed threads.
Our gear arm is also broken, and a pair of vice grips allow us to shift. A few days ago our out-haul blew apart on the boom and strong line is still holding it in place. The pictures of all these at sea repairs will make a great article.
Now as we wait for the beer to chill and the nacho to bubble,we are experiencing burst of wind that take us screaming at 7knts. and then suddenly die off and leave us making 2 knts. on our western heading towards the Gulf Stream and the states.
Earlier we tried motoring north a we were maing 1.7 knts and using up valuable fuel. Hard to say how many days it will take us to make the last 400 miles of this 1,600+ mile trip--an extra 200 due to zig zagging. We will be motoring for some of it, and sailing as well. So, I guess we will see you when we see you. Don't bother to set up a betting pool for our arrive day (forget hour of arrival)it is so unpredictable. The good news is we bought BoatUS towing insurance the day we started and paid for the Deluxe plan--the one where they will come out 150 miles and deliver fuel...Hopefully we won't need to make that call.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 6 At Sea

We are just meandering our way today through the lumpy waters west of Bermuda with no need for speed or sails. With the news about the adverse wind and sea conditions around the Gulf Stream and waters North of 32 latitude from Thursday through Sunday, we decided to cut cookies down here in the lower lats and wait out the storm. We could be fixing things but the things that have broken to date are either fixed or cannot be without parts we don't have. Yet, life is good and we are baking a chocolate cake as I write this post.
As we departed Francis Bay last Friday and raised our main we saw two of our battens start to slide out. We quickly dropped sails, shoved them back in, velcro closed the openings, and got underway again. Day one was starting out with a challenge. When we shoved the battens in, our stack pack loops revealed their age and two of those ripped out as well. Day Two the sun rose and we looked up at our main and saw one batten was gone and the other was on its way, again we dropped the sail trying to save it but the dip in the sail worked against us and sent it flying out of our reach. Two gone, two still there. Day 3 as we ate lunch our loose footed mainsail out-haul (which hold the back end onto the boom)blew out. The only thing holding it was our reef line. A quick thinking Dave pulled out some reserve line and he improvised a fix--still working and not chaffing. Day 4 Dave turned 63 and the boat gave him respect, Not one thing went wrong or broke. Day 5 we discovered the other two battens had left their home so we added new battens to our refitting list. Day 6 has been a day where we could catch up on sleep and relax our bodies, seas are 1-3 with an occasional 6 foot roller, with winds of less than 10.
On my late watch (2AM-7AM)many lofty thoughts take me wandering through the meaning of life, man, relationships, etc. and meaningful AaHaa moments stream through my mind, but I always stray to lesser ideas by the end of my watch. Such was the case last night/morning...I watched the wobbled shape moon change from its bright yellow reflection to a deep orange red on its approach to the western horizon. When it slid into the Atlantic it was more blood red than orange which led me to ponder the old saying about the red sun in morning, sailor take warning...is there such a rhythm for the moon? Well, in about two hours I would see the sun rise and compare--the sun rose redish at first and then faded to a pale rising sun. My musing then went off to the lip stitched across the top of my coat pockets (Yes, it's time for fleece coats and long pants) which made it hard to get my cold hands into them. Is it designed to keep water from running in? Perhaps to keep from snagging things as you move about the boat? Or does it keep things from falling out when you go to pick it up upside down? It sure gives a trimmed line to the front. Bet it would look great on the back pockets of pants, better than the flaps that never lays flat and the corners curl up making your butt look bigger! Hey that would make a good ad, "Do these pants make my butt look smaller?"...OBVIOUSLY, I am slipping into sleep depravation, time for a bite of chocolate and another cup of caffinated tea.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Taking a detour towards Bermuda

Our rhumb line to Chesapeake just took a sharp turn to the right. Jammin' is use to taking side trip when traveling--usually to eat or see new sites. This detour however is due to weather reports forecasting gale/storm conditions from Thursday through Saturday (where we would be if we stuck to our rhumb). So to avoid having our sails eaten, and being blown to sites we don't want to see, we will hang out below 32 North and East of 70 West with a few other boats.
Today we hit slower speeds and softer winds. Our average speed up to this point has been 7--this boat is use to doing 5. It has been a consistent slant to the port that requires one hand holding onto something when moving about, the up and down motion is predictable, its that occasional slap of a wave on the starboard that sends your feet skidding. I finished my 9th book this morning and Dave is still fishing. We are 0 to 1, zero fish and the fish scored one lure. Perhaps on our detour we will find a fish or two that want to come aboard for dinner...LIG (Life is Good)

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Third Day.

Still almost perfect sailing. I guess I never realized that Jammin could sail so long at near hull speed. Very seldom during the day do we see speeds below 7.3 knts. I had gotten so used to 5.5 I thought that was normal. Our winds have mostly been out of the east at 15 to 18 knots. We have been on a broad reach since we left. In a couple of days the winds will turn more south, southwest. Not sure how well she will do more down wind. We have been fishing most of the time and no luck yet. Something bit my lure off yesterday but nothing on the line yet. We haven't heard of anyone catching a fish going north so I don't feel alone. We had a freighter cross one mile in front of us last night, and one other sailboat heading east. Those are the only boats we have seen. The freighter caught us off guard a bit. We didn't see him till he was a couple of miles away. I think mom is on her sixth book and I have finished 2. Not really much else to do but read, sleep, eat, and be on watch. Just found another boat on AIS miss us by 2 plus miles. Getting good sleep is still a problem. I am sure we will figure it out soon.

Life is good

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day two

So far it has been wonderful sailing all the way. We have logged 333 miles in 48 hrs. If we keep this up we will arrive at the Gulf Stream by Saturday the 25th. This is not good. There is a cold front with north wind coming in on either Friday or Saturday. This would make it very rough crossing the stream. We have never done it before but have heard it is not a good thing in any kind of a Northerner. So we have decided to slow down. I shorten sail this morning to about 50% jib and full main. We are still making over 7 knots most of the time. If the weather forecast doesn't change we will try to slow down some more so we can arrive on Monday or Tuesday which we hope are better days. Jammin is doing great the conditions are near perfect. The ride is good and we are still trying to figure out sleep patterns so can get enough. Life is good. Sailing fast but sailing safe

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day one

Good first day log 172 miles which is on of the fastest days ever. Had a steady 15 to 18 knots of wind with 6ft swells and 4-5ft windwaves. We were on a broad reach all day. We lost two battens out of the sail, poor design, but other than that no problems. It really has been a good day. We have about 1100 to go to get to the Chesapeake. Chris Parker says we might have some adverse weather by the time we get there. We will see. Another sunny day no squalls on the horizon.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday May 5th Cinco De Mayo

Sunday, May 5th in Virgin Gorda Happy Cinco De Mayo

It's 3 PM and I am almost done with my book. Today we completed many small projects and readied the boat for its LONG voyage back to the states. Jammin' is taking part in the Salty Dawg Rally to the East Coast. We leave here on May 15th--weather permitting.
We are all sitting on mooring balls, doing last minutes preparations that stop before 4 so we can join together and enjoy the 2 Happy Hours (4-6) offerings the $3.00 pain killers/rum punch/Carib beers. After working below in the heat and humidity those drinks are ever so much sweeter and refreshing.
I have been back on the boat just a week now, having returned from 2 months in Oregon helping to take care of family members. I was also able to get a 5 day trip down to Texas to see Mike, Julia, Layla, and Little Stevie through the wonders of ultra sound. She will be arriving around July 18th so Dave and I will be in Texas for this event. In between time we will be in Oregon and hopefully visiting friends in Washington as well.
Dave spent the two months I was gone twirling around St John and St Thomas. He hiked over 130 miles and managed to befriend some new boats. One day a man and a woman stopped by and said they were from the Portland area many years ago...well after many exchanges of bits and pieces the main piece fell into place. The woman had gone to OSU, had been in my sorority, had even been my roommate, and Dave remembered her name, Roberta Wilson! We had a chance to catch up when I returned, and we will see them next season down here in the Carib.
The Virgins have their own special magic and one cannot get too serious about doing too much--it must be the gently sway of the boat that causes us to pick the smallest jobs and feel accomplished after completing just one a day. I am getting back my tan and catching up on my sleep.
This time before leaving will be filled with gatherings, parties, and conversation. Once we leave it is about 10-14 days at sea with just the two of us for entertainment and relief of duties. We will have our radio and Ham radio email, but if something BIG happens where you are please let us know!!! We will not have internet or telephone service...or newspapers, or tv, or...any of those conveniences that one might take for granted. But if you are looking for a Salty sailor and his first mate, we'll be poster material by the time we hit the Chesapeake 1300 miles later!!!!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Jammin' Did Not Fall Off the Face of the Sea

It appears to our followers that we have cease to exist... well we have in a sense.  Dave is on the boat and Helen is back on land.  Our "cruising lifestyle" came to a screeching halt on March 1st when 3 health issues faced various family members in Oregon and Helen got voted off the boat to go back home.  Dave has been on the boat, entertained Helen's sister and brother-in-law for 10 days in St Thomas and St John, and has hiked, re varnished, attended Happy Hours, and read many books to fill the time.  Helen has helped out supporting the local family members, being grandma, substitute teaching, and cleaning closets storing goods from 1978 and beyond.  But we are returning to the life of a cruising couple if all goes as plan on April 26th with Helen's arrival to St Thomas---I believe in time for carnival!!!!!
Our plans are to cruise for May in the Virgins and then start the trip north.  We are currently signed up to do the Salty Dawg Rally from Virgin Gorda to the States and bring Jammin' back  to US soil after 7 years away.  Our boat has never been on the East Coast and we are looking forward to having some time there eventually.  Dave's mom has Vascular Parkinsons and the doctor has suggested Hospice care.  We might be in Oregon in June.

Our son Mike and his wife Julia are expecting a daughter around July18th in Texas, and we will be down there for the event and to give what help is wanted afterwards.  
So bottom line, don't give up on us, we are still cruisers at heart, we still have our boat, and the dream is still alive and floating out there with our name on it.  The good news is we should have time to download photos and info this summer from the past year and make our life more visual to y'all with better internet connections than we have had for the past 2 years.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013
Sint Maarten (Dutch side)

Chilling at Barnacles
We are at a French bakery (on the Dutch side of the island) eating delights and interneting for free.  It is almost 9 AM here.
Kent and Heather Sisk had a great time here, on Anguilla, and on St Bart's.  We ate, we hiked, we swapped stories, and tipped backed some beers and rum drinks. We even made it to Sunset Beach Bar where you can reach up and be blown over by landing jets.  But they did come to sail, too and we had a great sail back from St Bart's to St Martin--we even saw Stars and Stripes out sailing. 
There was a full moon party on the shore that we could watch from the boat...but it quit early.  A bit of rain felled and today it is overcast,windy, and gray. Sirens are heard all day and all night and we are ready to find a corner of an island road free, siren free, and no where to spend money--palm trees and clear water would be nice, too.
Another storm is coming on Wednesday with waves and wind so we will hide out back in a niche on St Bart's called Colombier.  Last week we were there and snorkeled right off the back of the boat.  Dave is finding small projects to work on and I am reading/tanning so I don't interrupt his work or answer his rhetorical questions.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thursday January 10, 2013
Leaving Antigua for St Martin

Our destinations this seasons have been based on getting to friends and renewing friendships that time has distanced us from temporarily.  We are leaving one group of friends in Antigua to get to another couple that we cruised with in 2007 in Mexico.  The winds have kept us here in Antigua for an extra week, but the company has been so great that it pains us to leave this port.  However Classic Race Week in Antigua will come in April and we will have a grand reunion with whom we have left behind.
Hiking is a big part of the cruiser lifestyle, and we were able to go on one of the hikes here.  Granted we took a wrong turn, did not complete the planned hike, but we did end up at the bottom of the hill in a bar and drank 2 beers over an hour''s worth of good stories in great company.
Last year we circumnavigated the island and hit most of the lovely beaches.  This year we have been pinned down in Antigua with 25-30 mph winds for the past 10 days.  Great for the wind generator and our power source, but not so great for limin' the time away.  I have been busy reading and sewing and Dave has worked on boat projects and reading between social hours, short walks, and the occasional sundowners.  It has been windy and squally most afternoons and that has been quite uncomfortable.  So we have started meeting for after dinner drinks and chocolates---a change from 5-9 PM Happy hours.  The advantage is we all get dinner and a relaxed social time versus appetizers, social time, and wake up hungry the next morning for protein.
We can finally make a public announcement, this week our son announced to FB and the world that he and his wife are going to be having a baby July 18th, 13 months after becoming a husband and a dad to Julia and Layla Hansen.  We are so happy about this.  In high school he talked about how he would one day be a dad and what he wanted to do with his kids, now he will have two and we couldn't be happier for him and his growing family.  Our daughter Kelsey keeps us up to date with weekly videos of what her almost three year old daughter is up to.  This week we have a video of her Kiwi putting bubbles (from her bubble bath) on her face and saying, " Opa's face," and then taking her Happy Birthday washcloth out of the suds and singing Happy Birthday to Oma in her bath on a different night.  She is growing up so fast and thanks to computers we get to see and hear the changes from baby to little girl...not the same as being there but once removed.
Wish we could write more but then we would have to share stories between friends that no doubt would loose a lot in translation, and since the wind has kept us from exploring we really have little to add to last year's impressions of Antigua.  I will try to download photos from our walk and post them.