Monday, October 27, 2014

From Newport to Cape May

We just came down from Newport in the last two days. First night we had to sail 45 degrees off our intended coarse because of ill wind. Also in some unpredicted seas we had a very large wave break over the side of the boat and took out our front dodger. It broke through one of the front windows panels and then ripped out all the snaps and fasteners on the bottom of all the front and one side panel. Water was everywhere in the cockpit and downstairs. Helen took the full brunt of the power right in the face. Knocked off her glasses, and lost her hat overboard. She said it is one thing she never hope to experience, being pitch black and not being able to see it coming made it even worse. Trying to keep the subsequent waves out of the cockpit was a loosing battle.  We then had an ok day of hard 25 knot sailing, but it was good. just before dark we heard over the VHF a warning from the coast guard about a huge string of t storms coming our way. Major winds and lightening 40 miles wide and 75 miles long coming our way. We dodged them for about 8 hrs watching as many as 5 bolts making contact simultaneously with a 270 degree view of the storm.  Then we got hammered by the last one. For about 2 hrs we were in the middle of hell. At one point during the highest winds and rain we had two bolts hit within feet if our boat, but didn't take a direct hit. They were so close our autopilot went into reset and power down mode. Thankfuly no other electronics were on. One was about 5 ft in front, we thought it hit our bow roller,and the other about 30 ft behind. Worse lightening scene I have ever witnessed, literally felt like the gates to hell. Made it through with only our nerves hurting and arrived at Cape May in 30 knots of wind with 3 or less hours of sleep in us. Trying to find a place to anchor, we caught a boat's anchor rode in our prop, they had too much scope in 10ft of water.  We were pulled out of the water in order cut off the rode.  That was a very long 48 hours.   Ugh

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9, 2014 Season 8 Begins
Leaving Maine and Heading South
Find pictures posted in the blue box down and to the right of this blog entry.
We have had two great weeks here in Maine.  Our last week has been spent with Rob Anderson at his hide away on Hupper Island off Port Clyde.  We last saw Rob in Mexico, 2008.  What a perfect host.  He took us to three nearby towns, shopping and even let us do wash. We had great dinners, many happy hours, and drop dead gorgeous mornings looking out his windows onto the channel and out to sea from the bedroom windows.  Some days we were glad to be under his roof and not bouncing on the boat as the weather turned lumpy on us.  One day we hiked the island and Rob filled us in on the history and families that have been here for more than 5 generations in some cases.  It is a slice of serenity and even looks great blanketed in snow...we only saw pictures of that.
Tomorrow we drop the mooring ball line and head out to start another season of cruising.  Our calendar start is not pinned to a date but rather to when our migration south to warmth and sunny spots begins.  Our plans are to avoid Atlantic storms and uncomfortable weather. Our heading will be for Bermuda if the weather window is short or head for The U.S. Virgin Islands if all looks safe.
Last weekend we rented a car for 3 days, drove almost 600 miles and saw what Maine is famous for:  beautiful small seaside towns, great food, trees shedding their green coats for colorful Fall colors, a shoreline that reminds one of Washington, the San Juans, Desolation Sound, and Vancouver Island, B.C., and last but not least the friendly people. Keep us in your thoughts and pray for us to have reasonable seas and winds that help us glide and fly (not jet us) southward.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014 Where friends and are made
> Yesterday we reached Onset, MA and walked up the hill to find a happy hour bar. We Yelped the area and found Pierview Restaurant as a possible destination. Once up the hill we saw this sign and it reminded us of the series "Cheers" so we walked in. The people at the bar noticed us right away. We took the seats at the end of the bar and started talking to the bartender. Dave told him it had taken us 8 years to get to his bar and he shared that with the others. Soon we were sharing stories, swapping jokes, answering questions, and feeling like we were in an episode of Cheers. What great people they all were. Names were exchanged, the song "Sail Away" was played on the juke box for us by Kevin, a beer appeared bought by one of the generous bar crowd, and we started handing out boat cards and shaking hands. Uncle Bobby enlightened us on the meaning of the Tesno t-shirt and told us half of the group originated from the Cape Verde Islands. We left the place with a promise to return and as our dinghy pulled away from the town dock we saw Uncle Bobby waving us a fond goodbye. There is a deep truth to the advertisement in this window.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13, 2014. Newport, Rhode Island

September 13, 2014. Newport, Rhode Island

What a delicious slice of Americana this harbor town offers to all who take the time to explorer.  The historical vibe, the sense of times past and present blended together, an East Coast rounding of consonants and unique vowel sounds floating in the brisk air, and a small town neighborhood feel from homes peeking around each corner,  you feel the warmth but not the cold size of a big city here.  We arrived a few days ago to attend the Boat Show, meet old boating friends, and enjoy some relaxed time.  When we arrived there were plumbing issues to deal with, a boat is rarely trouble free, a wind generator issue, that can wait, and new friends greeting us.  Ian and Fiona have shared some anchorages with us and came over to say "hi".  They were able to put us in touch with Craig and Karene, friends from the Bristol, Rhode Island reunion, and we ran into Linda and Bill with Tahja from the Salty Dawgs organization.  Social time ahead of projects kept Dave happy.  Dave walked the Boat Show while I caught up with fellow Dawgs and friends at the Salty Dawg booth.  Late afternoon we broke away and had a beer with El Sogno who then tempted us to go with them to West Marine and dinner...we are easy, what can I say! They chose an owner chef restaurant that was in an older section of town.  The lyrical piano playing, the white cloth and napkins, and the antique stain glass  displays gave the perfect backdrop to a delicious meal.  We talked about the best places in Maine and their future plans to head through the canal and off to the Pacific.  After another peaceful night of sleep Dave awoke and dove on the boat to remove barnacles from our thru holes.  We are now trouble free and draining.  The wind generator problem is still out there but it can still wait.  Today we walked the waterfront, hiked up into the town, saw the church that the Kennedy's were married in back in 1953, shot pictures of the International Tennis Museum, and took a dinghy tour of the waterfront mansions.  It is now getting chilly and blackish skies surround us.  Weather is changing and we are tucked in for the night.
There is a small canal between us and the ocean that we will use to head north and into Maine.   We will write after we finish Maine, but feel free to write us now and share with us your must see in Maine spots.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Crossed Fingers and High Hopes

Monday we board the plane to Boston, MA and by Tuesday we will be back on Jammin getting ready for another trip afloat.  We will head north to eat Maine lobsters and see the rugged coast as we dodge and weave through the pots and traps.  Then come October we will find the one week of good weather (they say that is how it works most years) and head to Bermuda.  After relaxing and waiting out the hurricane end of season storms there we will sail south to the Virgin Islands for the holidays.
Our summer was more work than play blended with quality grand parent time in Oregon and Texas.  Our daughter, Kelsey, moved to Beaverton, Or and Dave built a barn bed for Kiwi, our grand daughter.  Then it was off to Katy, Texas where our son, Mike, moved and visiting with the other two grand daughters (Layla and Stevie) and daughter-in-law, Julia.
We will be better about blogs this coming season.  Last season we had our share of trial and tribulations and never really had a sailing season to share.  Adrift and windless best describes last winter's season.  This season with fingers crossed and high hopes drifting over us we look forward to more adventures, reunions with old friends, and making new friends in foreign places.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Season 7, March 19, 2014
 Jammin is back in the chill and working on repairs.  We arrived Saturday to Norfolk and plugged in the heaters as the temps were in the 30's.  We then discovered we had an electrical problem.  Touching the boat we received a 115volt shock, it took 4 days to discover a bolt from the new stanchion had pinched a wire.

Yesterday we drove through snow coated land to get a mattress and the anchor repaired.  Today we wore out one of our heaters but we had a back up ready to plug in. The next cold/snow storm is predicted for mid next week...UUUGH   We still need the yard to put in the wind generator, the boat heating system, and then put us in the water for a rigging inspection.  We also need to pick up the repaired sails, put everything away, and celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on March 30th.

All in all, LIFE IS GOOD.  We are cold but can wear layers, we can see water and smell salt air, and we are closer to being at sea than not

Thursday, January 2, 2014

One, two, three, you are out!

Season 7,  Day 2,
Light winds and calm seas yesterday, November 6, made the passage enjoyable.  Tonight the stars are bright, three and sometimes four fellow Salty Dawgs are visibly nearby, and the seas make the ride a rocking chair experience.  All is good and in about 3 hours the sun will be shining upon us.  The boat is doing great, everything is working, and we be Jammin'…
Season 7, Day 3...

Thursday, November 7th arrived and was one of the foulest days we have ever encounter. As the sun was setting we came out of the Gulf Stream, things were calm enough to think about cooking. Dave was having trouble with the auto pilot–it kept beeping off so he had to reset it–that lasted about 20 minutes. Then we heard two noises, one off the stern and one above our head. The latter was the traveler and boom swinging to port, and the former was the buzzer for the auto pilot. Dave went first to the wheel and found it unresponsive, next he inspected the connection between the wheel and auto pilot and it was not the problem. Which meant…that's when the boom took off and the connection between the traveler and the main sheet pulley system broke. He went forward and with rope was able to connect the two parts. Now back to figuring out why we have no steerage, it seemed obvious that we were rudderless. To confirm that would mean putting Dave in the water and night had fallen as well. We called into the DoDah net and let them know we had some damage. That's when we heard other boats were in trouble and in worse shape than us. So we waited.

We were never in danger of sinking but we lacked the ability to set a course and get anywhere. We also lacked the conditions to build a rudder out of cabin doors and get the whisker pole due to the state of the seas. The seas were 2 to 6 feet for an hour or less, and as much as 10 to 20 feet the rest of the time. The winds were an issue as well. But it was the confused waves breaking over all sides of the boat, tossing us back and forth, pitching us forward and backwards, and swaying us on a diagonal every now and then. Water, water, everywhere. I counted how often they were occurring and occasionally I reached 55 seconds but most of the time it was every 5 to 12 seconds.
Friday morning we tried the bucket and anchor method but the confused seas would send the bucket airborne and it would entangle itself to the anchor rode. That is when we contacted Dick and together decided a call to the towing company should be made. They declined to come out that far even though we had bought their "unlimited" 200 mile plan. That left the Coast Guard. We were told we were third or fourth in line for assistance.
For two days my husband and I drifted further south and east out to sea. Help was coming but we had to wait our turn, many boats were caught by the weather stalling and developing into something nasty. On November 9th the Coast Guard cutter USCGC Forward arrived mid afternoon. They first established that we were not injured and not taking on water, then they wanted to know if our engine was in good working condition and it was, next they had to check if we had two points to tow from and that they were reinforced metal plates with strong bolts. After assessing us and our equipment, they were able to install a tow line. That began a 44 hour tow job with quite a few more exciting moments. Jib unfurled and Dave retrieved it, tow line chaffed, inverter stopped working, boarding a zodiac rescue boat and climbing up the side of a 200+ cutter…but we made it back bruised but not broken to Cobb's Marina, Little Creek, Virginia.
About 2 hours after the marina hauled us, Zulu was pulled out at Cobb's Marina. We talked to him the next day and guess what? He had the same auto pilot experience as us before his rudder broke off (in a similar place--clear break straight across).

We are now making up for lost sleep and working with our insurance company on repairing Jammin', our home away from home of 7 years. We are the fortunate ones, but the USCG crews are the true heroes. They managed to get all sailors to shore and out of the danger that unpredictable weather can create. They are truly our Coast Guardian Angels.
The crew of USCGC Forward were amazing. Their story is much more interesting than ours. Here is a link to the article and photos of the rescue they performed.