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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