Thursday, June 13, 2019

Returning to Maine, Reprise #2

Fort McHenry on the way to Baltimore harbor

After a great time in Annapolis, I sailed to Baltimore on Friday (June 7, 2019) as planned.  Using Google Maps and a follow-up phone call, I found a nice restaurant with dock called Captain James Crabhouse, and they were great.  I felt a little guilty staying for 3 nights, but they seemed happy to have me on the (free) dock, and there were essentially no other boats wanting to use it.  I think it is in the Fells Point neighborhood, almost to Canton; an excellent location, with plenty of waterfront sights and shops, and near a Safeway for groceries. 

The dock at Captain James Crabhouse
I also did not need to leave on Sunday, so I got to visit with Echo and Chris that day, helping Echo with her community garden spot, eating a fresh salad, and hanging at their house for the afternoon.  They had been busy on Saturday and had big plans for the week, so everyone was happy with a hang-out day.  Echo also helped me to raise the dinghy and secure it on deck, in preparation for the New Jersey coast passage in a few days.  We had a fairly early dinner, and the thunderstorms never came in strong, just a little rain.  But it was still hot.

When I first arrived in Baltimore, I called Echo’s friend Andy who was interested in crewing with me, but we hadn’t been able to tie anything down.  He had a job, and didn’t feel like he could take more than three days off plus a weekend, maybe.  We agreed that he would figure out a way to get to Cape May on Wednesday (which was forecast to be stormy, so likely to be a layover day anyway) and he would help me do an overnight trip up the coast of NJ to NY City.  This would be very helpful for my schedule.

On Monday, I mostly motor-sailed up the Bay, with 2 hours of straight sailing, which felt good.  Chesapeake City is on the C&D Canal, so it makes a good stop before the long trip down the Delaware Bay to Cape May.  I got in fairly early at 3:15, hoping to get a spot at the Town’s free dock.  It was full, but I was hopeful that a spot might open up.  Next to the Town docks is the Chesapeake House Restaurant and Tiki Bar, so I called them and arranged to tie up for the afternoon to get a beer and something to eat.  I walked over to the Town dock and determined that all the boats were staying for the night, and I could not squeeze into any of the other potential spots that seemed promising.  I then chatted with the Chesapeake Inn dockmaster kid, who said if I left early in the morning, I could spend the night for free.  Yay! 

Tuesday was well enough planned as far as getting some favorable currents down the Delaware Bay (by leaving at 5:00 am), but I had a serious engine disaster.  Just after leaving the canal and entering Delaware Bay, the low oil pressure alarm sounded, so I shut the engine and investigated.  Due to inadequate observations on my part, an engine oil hose had worked its way against the alternator belt, and the resulting hole leaked onto the belt and sprayed oil all over the engine compartment, emptying the oil from the engine.  It started with some problems with the alternator not charging well, apparently the result of it being saturated in engine oil.  I just had enough clean engine oil to get the level to touch the dipstick, which is not ideal.  And the temporary hose repair leaked more and more as I continued down the Bay, so I collected that oil in a container, pouring it back into the engine every half hour or less.  I was worried about how I would get the hose fixed, but I made a lot of phone calls (when I had service) and I had a plan.  

I made it into the town of Cape May at 5:00 pm, and tied up to the Lobster House Restaurant floating schooner bar.  I then met a local guy who knew the manager, so I thought that I might get permission to stay for the night (or two), even offered to pay, but it didn’t work out.  I ended up staying the first night at South Jersey Marina, where a big shark tournament was starting the next day, so they wanted me out early in the morning.  The bad weather kept a lot of the fishing boats from arriving, so the marina was good about letting me stay while I went about my plan of fixing the engine.  There was a commercial marine operation nearby called SeaGear Marine Supply where I took the failed oil hose, and they used the old fittings to make up a new one.  I got it all put back together and cleaned up by about noon, took a shower, and moved over to Utsch’s Marina, which I recommend.  These two nights are the only times I had to pay for dockage on this trip from Virginia to Maine (but I paid for a couple of moorings, too.)  Just after arriving at Utsch’s, Andy arrived by car with his adventurous wife Lucia for a beach day of sorts.  It was very windy and cloudy, but they got to see the lighthouse and some other sights.  A line of rain squalls came through just before dinner time, and then the three of us went to the Lobster House for their take-out option with tables at the dock.  Although I was not happy with the restaurant’s attitude about spending the night, it’s an interesting place that is worth a visit, with the floating schooner bar and good food. 

Andy and I departed the next morning, with the wind greatly reduced, motor-sailing.  The wind got lighter, and we had some showers in the afternoon.  We motored all night, anchoring off Coney Island Creek before dawn, 120 n. miles in 21 hours—avg. speed 5.7 knots.  We waited a few hours for the current to be favorable in the Hudson River and more importantly, the East River, and then raced through New York City to the west end of Long Island Sound.  We talked about where to stop in Connecticut so Andy could catch a train back to Baltimore, but then he offered to continue on to Newport, another overnight run, all motoring with little wind.  

This is turbulence in the East River from the 5 knot current
Sunset on Long Island Sound

On Saturday morning, we arrived in Newport, took a mooring, launched the dinghy, and tried to get Andy on a bus, but we were too late.  No problem since Uber exists now, and he got to the train station on time.  He only had a short train ride to somewhere in Connecticut where he met Lucia who was visiting family in Connecticut over the weekend.  That was a completely fortuitous circumstance, and Andy’s crew assistance was more helpful than I can describe.  It saved me as many as five days of travelling, and probably more with weather uncertainties. 

Newport harbor

View from the Lobster Shack
I stayed in Newport for the rest of the day, enjoying the town and buying some food supplies.  I won’t go into all the interesting sailing and historical details about Newport, but it was fun to be there.  I also noted that all of the marinas had the highest dockage rates I’d ever seen, charging at least $5.00 per foot per night; for Magus, the cost would be $185 per night.  I guess they have nice bathrooms, but the city has a Maritime Center with dinghy dock and coin operated showers that were clean and hot. Overall, the city was very accommodating to visiting boat people.  

I also made a great find, considering all of the fancy bars and restaurants in the city, where I enjoyed a great lobster treat with a view from the dock and a byo beer.  It is the Newport Lobster Shack, a fisherman’s coop selling fresh and cooked seafood and sides.  I had lightly fried lobster tail strips, which were outrageously good.

Woods Hole Yacht Club

On Sunday, I motor-sailed towing the dinghy to Woods Hole, taking a mooring at the Woods Hole Yacht Club.  Woods Hole is a great place, but it was sad that the seals at the Woods Hole Aquarium on our last visit in 2016 had died of an unknown cause.  The restaurants look like some of them are good, and the Pie in the Sky Bakery and Café is really good.

Provincetown approach
On Monday, I left at 9:30 to catch the current through the Cape Cod Canal on my way to Provincetown at the tip of the Cape.  I anchored near the Coast Guard station for a bumpy night in the strong SE wind, with a hard rain and fog the next day.  It was calm for a short time in the afternoon, then it cleared and a strong NW wind came in, but Magus was reasonably protected from this wind direction. 

Provincetown downtown

Boston skyline, about 20 miles away
between Provincetown and Gloucester
The north wind was subsiding the next morning, as I departed for Gloucester.  Before noon, the wind had gone light from the south mostly, so I motored the whole way.  I arrived in Gloucester just after 3:30 to find the fuel dock at Gloucester Marine Railways had just closed for the day.  I anchored in the harbor in preparation for the easterly weather forecast for the next day, so I will need to see when I can get fuel before I leave.  Gloucester is still a fishing town, so the diesel prices here are very good.  The price of fuel at marinas on the whole east coast currently range from a low of $2.99 to over $3.50 per gallon, according to sources like Waterway Guide online, etc.  Those sources do not show the two commercial operations in Gloucester, where fuel was $2.40 and $2.45 when I called a couple of days ago.


The next day was Thursday, June 13, 2019, and I got up early in the morning to walk around the town and buy fresh bread.  I got back to Magus just after the rain was starting, and the wind came in strong from the southeast around 10:30 am.  The temperature was in the low 50’s, day and night.  The weather had turned cool in Cape May and seems like it will stay that way all the way to Maine.
Gloucester is another great town, and I am not going to do a lot of sightseeing on this visit.  I will mention an unforgettable story that I read several years ago about a Gloucester fisherman from the late 1800’s, Captain Howard Blackburn.  The link goes to a short summary on Wikipedia, but the full biography is really recommended: Lone Voyager: The Extraordinary Adventures Of Howard Blackburn Hero Fisherman Of Gloucester by Joseph E Garland.

My plans for getting to Portland have been changing as the forecast and weather has changed.  The current plan is based on the forecast for the wind to go light from the west overnight, and then fill in from the south and SW tomorrow.  I plan to get fuel tomorrow morning and then sail to Isle of Shoals for a short rest, then get underway just before dark so I can arrive in Freeport in the morning.  It looks like I can tow the dinghy the rest of the way.

Note that the actual details of the next couple of days may need to be revised in an edit of this post.  I also want to add more photos, but that will have to wait…
One way or another, though, Magus will be back in Maine in June, 2019, maybe even by the 15th.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Returning to Maine, reprise

We have been planning to bring Magus back to Maine from Zimmerman Marine in Cardinal, Virginia since we left her there in May, 2017.  The first summer, we were too busy with getting our place in Maine and the gardens back in shape.  The next summer, we were busy training our new German Shephard puppy M'Ocean, thinking he could come along, but it became obvious that it was not practical.  There was some thought that he would be ready to come along this year, and we considered many options of bringing him, boarding him, with or without our other dogs, etc, but Jenny is also geting her dog training business, Whole Dog Camp, going, and a month away would be a problem.

Magus, almost ready to leave Zimmerman Marine
We finally settled on Albert just sailing Magus back between May 15 and June 15, more or less.  It ended up that I flew and drove to Zimmerman's on Tuesday, May 14.  Zimmerman's had Magus in the water, and I began the process of getting her commissioned to sail to Maine; and provisioned, and repaired in various ways.  The big news is that the engine now works better than it has since we bought the boat in 2008.  The transmission and exhaust work was just needed maintenance.  They also replaced the injectors, so now there is essentially no smoke from the engine, and they replaced the motor mounts so there is much less vibration.  Overall, I am very happy with the work they did.

I was also happy to get Magus ready by Sunday, May 19, when I departed for Deltaville.  I explored the Deltaville Marina area on Jackson Creek, and left the next morning for Crisfield.  On both of these days the wind was from the south and I could sail with no engine for hours at a time.  It was lovely.

Mac Ward in Deltaville
The first part of this trip has been full of social events.  While still at Zimmerman's, my good friend Mac from Charlottesville who has a boat in Deltaville took me up there for a Friday night marina party.  The next night I went by dinghy to Williams Wharf Landing across the East River for a dance party and seafood dinner that was part of the Tour de Chesapeake bike race.  I was missing Jenny, who was there with me for the same event in 2017.

Band at Williams Wharf
Party at Williams Wharf
Downwind to Crisfield
In Crisfield, I was able to find my friend Tom Hunter who lived next door growing up in Maryland.  He showed me around and we had a great afternoon.  Crisfield is a unique place, the Crab Capital of the World for one thing.  It was also flooded during Huricane Sandy and is still recovering, although they seem to always be recovering from something.
Boatyard boat in Crisfield
A Peeler shed in Crisfield
Near Tom's house
Tom Hunter at home

This photo was provided by a trawler who chatted with me
on the radio as he went by.
From Crisfield, I sailed to St. Leonard's Creek on the Patuxent River to visit another childhood friend Ed Chambers and his wife Karen.  The wind started off good, but then I had to do some motoring.  They live in a community with a dock that I tied up to, and they were excellent hosts.  After two days, Ed and I sailed down the Patuxent to Solomons Island, met Karen at a retaurant, and had a nice dockside dinner.  

Ed Chambers and me
At the dock on St. Leonards Creek
The scene from Bill and Katie's deck
To get a favorable current, I left early the next morning, Saturday, May 25, for the South River and Annapolis to see my friends Bill and Katie Ball.  I mostly motor-sailed, but I had a nice slow sail up the South River, where the giant power boats were going way too fast and close to other boats;Memorial Day weekend.  They also live in a community with water access and have a mooring just off a community dinghy dock with a short path to their house.  Super nice.  On Memorial Day, we went for a real sail on their Beneteau 321 to Cantler's Crab House for a waterfront dining experience.
Bill and Katie sailing on their boat

Kayaking with Bill

Sailing past Thomas Point lighthouse

At the dock on Chase Creek

On Tuesday, May 28, I motor-sailed out to the Bay, and had a good sail up to Annapolis and the Severn River.  I went to Chase Creek to visit my friends Jim and Linda Mumper, who also live in a community with a dock where they keep their Grand Banks trawler Leilani.  They visited us in Freeport a couple of years ago on Leilani and they have done the Great Circle route and other adventurous travels.  Jim gave me a great ride in their runabout boat into Annapolis, and the first night there Jim's brother Bob came up for dinner.  I knew all of them when I lived in Annapolis in 1977 to 1980, sailing and causing other trouble.  
Me, Linda, and Jim on their deck

Did I mention that it's been notably hot?  There were a couple of thunderstorms while I was at Bill and Katie's, and last night there was a loud bang but no rain.  Thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon too.  It's been around 90 F the last few days.
So, that's a quick catch-up.  I've been trying to find a crew-person to help sail from Baltimore to Maine; or, more accurately, from Cape May to Maine, but Baltimore makes a good starting location.  I've had some people who want to do it, schedules did not work, so no definite plan as of now.  Without crew it could take two weeks to get to Maine, but with crew, it could take as few as 7 days.  In 2012, Jenny and I and Echo did it in 7 days from St. Marys City, but that was lucky, see here.  

Tomorrow is Friday, and I plan to sail to Baltimore to see Echo. She does not have much free time until Sunday, but the forecasts and logistics make me feel the need to leave Baltimore on Sunday morning.  That doesn't fit her schedule very well, but I think we can get together for a bit of time on Friday or Saturday. 

To be continued...

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Update Feb 2019

This will mostly be an update on Magus, but with a few other sailing and life mentions.  After we got back to Maine in June 2017, we realized we had been gone for a pretty long time—9 months!  It was really good to see Echo on our way back to Maine, and then Sophi, Travis and the grandkids in Bath.  And we enjoyed getting back to our life at Bliss Woods Farm.  

We did some sailing with friends out of South Freeport harbor, and Albert had the good fortune to sail with his friend Hans on his new project schooner Actress from Bristol to Belfast, Maine.  It was a glorious day. 

Bustin's Island dock (Freeport)

Our friends Bill and Katie from Annapolis visited for a weekend with their kayaks, and we did a lot of fun things. 

Albert’s brother Andrew, wife, and three of their four mostly grown kids visited for a long weekend.  

At the end of the summer, Jenny’s brother and one sister and all of their kids visited, and we all went to the Common Ground Fair, run by MOFGA, a great Maine organization.  

In the fall, Albert was invited to help his friend David sail his and Nancy’s boat Grace down to where Magus was on the hard at Zimmerman’s Marine in Cardinal, VA.  There, he would winterize the boat, since it was not done when we left in the spring. The trip down was great, with some FB posts for documentation; here are links that may work:  first, next1, next2, next3, next4, next5, next6, next7, next8.  

Our daughter Echo and her boyfriend Chris drove from Baltimore to take Albert back there for a quick visit and then a ride to the airport. 

The year 2018 was the year of our new German Shepherd puppy, M’Ocean; see Jenny's FB and other sites for lots of details and photos.  

We also did some other things of course, including an exciting but unproductive fishing trip in our motor-dinghy with grandchildren Felix and Hazel on the Harraseeket River, also known as South Freeport harbor.

The winter of 2018-19 found Magus still on the hard at Zimmerman’s Marine in Cardinal, VA.  Albert flew down there in the fall to replace the tarps that had blown off earlier in one of the not-quite hurricanes, and do a few projects.  This time Albert saw his brother Andrew for one night on the way from the BWI airport to Magus, and Echo on the day before the plane trip home.  It was on the cold and rainy side, but all the planned projects were completed; possible FB link.

The plan now is to definitely bring Magus back to Maine this spring, 2019—May 15 to June 15, more or less.  Details still to be worked out…

Monday, July 24, 2017

Abacos to Maine

All the\he kids at Green Turtle Cay

We can't believe that this blog does not have any mention of the great presentations that Jenny has been doing at schools along the way; its titled "How to make big problems small" and its an introduction to behavior science in a fun way with her guitar and the dogs.  Albert goes along and has a part, too.
One of several shows at Hope Town school
We went to all of the island schools in the Abacos-- Green Turtle, Great Guana, Man-o-war, Hope Town, and Grand Cay.  We also did a couple of shows on the mainland of Great Abaco Island-- Every Child Counts, a special needs school in Marsh Harbor, and the upper school at Coopers Town.  Jenny's website,, has some photos, but not much about the school trips, which were a blast.
Jenny with Tigerlily and Bee at Grand Cay school

Grand Cay, Bahamas
We dodged some weather as we took a few days to get to Grand Cay, and then stayed for about a week waiting for a (theoretically) good weather window to cross back to the USA.  We spent almost all of the time there at Rosie's Marina; what the guide books say is basically true.  The availability of food and most anything was terrible.  We happened to be there for their Homecoming weekend of parties.  Very loud music and plenty of alcohol.

Sailing in the Gulf Stream
We left on Sunday, April 16, 2017, with the plan to get seriously north by going all the way to Beaufort, NC, about 550 miles, taking 3.5 or 4 days.  We pushed it, and got up to that area in 3 days, and ran into a cold front, with rolly conditions, so we diverted to Southport, NC.  The total distance was about 536 miles in 73.5 hours, average speed of 7.3 knots, although we were only going 5 to 6 knots, but the Gulf Stream pushed us up to a speed of 9 knots at times.  The last 12 hours were miserable, and the dogs were not happy, either.

An ICW view from the anchor
We arrived before noon on Wednesday, April 19, at the Southport Marina and paid for a slip.  This allowed the US Customs people to visit us that afternoon (instead of us figuring out how to get to Wilmington about an hour away by car.)  The next day we motored a short distance to the little basin at the town, tying up to the dock at Provisions restaurant.  We had a really nice time in Southport, buying some good American food and beer, and even doing some general shopping.  Here is a link to a Facebook post.

Oriental, NC
After a couple of nights, we motor-sailed up the Cape Fear River and took the ICW to Wrightsville Beach/ Masonboro Inlet, where we spent a short night.  Up early the next morning, we went out the inlet and motor-sailed downwind to the Beaufort Inlet, staying at Moorehead City, NC.  We saw friends from the Bahamas here, but wanted to keep moving.  We stayed a couple of nights in Oriental, NC, which is a great little town.

I think it took four more days to get up the ICW into Portsmouth VA on April 29.  That's the short story. 
This boat was in Portsmouth harbor last fall,
and does not look any better.

Theresa and Brian's farm in Dugspur
Cows at the farm

We learned about Zimmerman Marine in Southport, and we planned to go to their facility in Mathews, VA to have some transmission work done.  We arrived on April 31, staying a few days on the dock as we learned that more work was needed than we had anticipated. 

While we pondered our options, we continued with our plan to leave the boat for a week or so while we rented a car to visit our new friends from Manjack Cay, Theresa and Brian, at their 100 acre farm in Dugspur, VA, south of Floyd, which is south of Roanoke, if that helps.

 On the way there, we stopped in Charlottesville, and somehow arranged to meet all of our three good friends and partners there at the Sedona Taphouse. We then spent most of a week with Theresa and Brian in Dugspur, helping in their garden and being entertained and fed well.  On the way back, we saw Albert's brother Andrew and family, daughter Echo in Baltimore, and stayed with other friends.  Back in Mathews, we visited with Albert's friends Martin and Keith, who own Compass Marina, where we had spent the night before we got to Zimmermans almost two weeks earlier.

By this time, we knew that Magus would not be ready to sail north for a few weeks or more, because of the several repairs that were needed.  We decided to pack up and drive to Maine, planning to come back in August or September and sail Magus the rest of the way home.  Oh yeah, and Albert had to have a tooth extracted; he felt much better after that.  Did we say it was hot?   We finally did enough to prepare the boat for the summer, and then got back in the rental car for the drive to Maine.  We stayed with Echo again, then spent a nice night with Jenny's brother Ted and wife Fany in Freehold, NJ.  After a miserable day of driving through the city and Connecticut, we arrived at our house in Freeport on Thursday, May 25.  The trees had still not completed leafed out.
Walking in Baltimore

In the summer, there are usually a couple of hot days in Maine, and we also get a few days that are cooler than it ever got in the Bahamas, so the summer is very nice in Maine. That led us to thinking that Magus does not need to come back to Maine yet, but we should just go back to her in November and sail from there to the Bahamas again.

That was 2017, and it is time for a new post.

However, that decision is letting us enjoy the garden, and even the winters here in Maine at Bliss Woods Farm and Whole Dog Camp, where Jenny is making a career of dog training and having fun with people and dogs.  And Albert is having fun in the garden and enjoying live in Freeport.