Sunday, July 30, 2017


We woke up today as excited to head home as we were to leave Baltimore at the start of the vacation. Cape May is nice, but three days, especially when we planned on one night, was more than enough.

As we pulled out of our slip in Cape May at 8:30 a.m., we felt completely physically and mentally exhausted. We drove our boat through the peaceful Cape May Canal at an easy 10 knots, and then we hit the open Bay, just on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The wind was pounding at around 15 knots, and the waves were 3-4 in my estimation. Nothing too scary, but also not exactly comfortable. Even up on the flybridge, we got splashed quite a bit, and so Ann decided to take cover inside and left me alone up top. I could have driven form inside, but this was my last day on the boat for a while, and I just love being up there, so I remained cold and wet and happy.

As we moved further North, the wind died down, and the waves came down to 1-2 feet, which was hardly noticeable. We reached the tranquil C&D Canal in 2 hours, and Ann rejoined me on the bridge. After we arrived at the no wake zone in the canal, we made lunch as we putt putted at an easy 6 knots. Then, we opened her up, caught a nice current, and did 25-26 knots into the Chesapeake.

We were so eager to get home, that I skipped the shipping channel (longer route, but no pots), and decided to cut across the Bay and deal with the crab pots. Dodging them from the flybridge is pretty easy, and we shaved 15 minutes off our trip.
The last leg, from Cape May to Baltimore - finally!
Just before 2:30 pm, we arrived in Harbor East Marina. We decided not to call for dock help, and I easily backed into our slip, while Ann and Benny adeptly tied us up. We are pros now! Before this trip, I hesitated to go stern in, and had only docked bow in, and even then I was nervous. After this 3 week trip, traveling most days and docking in all kinds of situations, our home slip seems like a piece of cake. Nothing better than first hand experience to build confidence. I'm ready for my 75' boat now! (just kidding, Ann!!)
Home sweet home - our permanent slip at Harbor East Marina
We spent the next couple of hours packing up our things, washing down the boat, putting on all the covers, and closing down everything. Unfortunately for Ann, during her car's three week stay in the Legg Mason Garage, somebody swiped the rear and side and left a nasty scrape without putting a note. While she was dealing with that, I ran into my friend Eric Yospa with his daughter. He had just texted me to ask if we were back from our trip, and here we were, packing up the car in front of the Four Seasons hotel. Nice to be back in Smalltimore, where you always run into someone you know!

I thought it might be interesting to reflect on our trip and some lessons learned about cruising. These are in no particular order. I will revisit these before our next big trip.

  1. Always have a backup plan, and a backup for that backup plan. In boating, it is impossible to predict the challenges that will come up. One day your anchor will get stuck. Another day, the generator will stop working, or one of the engines won't start. The most common delays will be due to weather. It is a good idea to study the marinas along the routes you will take and to know where you will seek shelter if weather hits. It's a lot easier to deal with an emergency situation if you already have a backup plan than to try to figure out what to do in the heat of the moment. As our trip progressed, we got better and better at writing down our backup plans, and even calling ahead to ask marinas if they could take our boat, and if they were willing to hold a spot for us in case we needed it. Many marinas were surprisingly cooperative and understanding as well as accommodating.
  2. Keep at least 2 days worth of food and water on the boat at all times. You cannot possibly predict when you will be stranded somewhere. If you have to take cover from weather, you may very well end up at anchor somewhere, and you do not want to run out of food or water. We were good on food, but we had a close call with water. Keep those tanks full and bring bottled water. A super idea Ann had was the 2 gallon cooler that we filled with fresh water from the hose each time we pulled into a new marina. Also, we got sick of eating out all the time, so we were glad we had purchased some cookware specifically for the boat and always had food that we could make. Don't let yourself run out of food. Whenever you are near a store with provisions, restock everything. Be proactive.
  3. If you can pump out the waste, do so. Don't delay just because you think you will be fine. It is not the most pleasant task, but you get used to it. This follows the same logic as food and water. If you get stuck somewhere, you do not want your waste tanks to be full. At a couple of points on our trip, we started rationing our flushes, and that's probably enough detail for my readers.
  4. Plan activities ahead of time. Traveling can be exhausting, and the last thing you will feel like doing after you arrive in a new port and get settled in, fuel up, pump out, fill water and wash the boat down, will be to then figure out what there is to do here. Ann was great about researching all of the interesting activities ahead of time. She even booked us some tours and had reservations in restaurants. This definitely enhanced the amount of fun we had and gave us something to look forward to on some of the longer and harder travel days. Of course, we were prepared to ditch our plans if the weather had other ideas, but it's great to have a default.
  5. Bring stuff to do on the boat. There is a lot of down time. Most days we only traveled 3-4 hours on the water. After cleaning the boat and other details, that left over 16 waking hours. Some places were very busy because we had water sports such as the dinghy or the paddle boards, and on shore activities. But, other times, especially when we were stranded, we had to keep ourselves busy. Even though it's a really big boat, it can feel cramped when 4 people are confined to the boat all day. We had Benny's video games, Netflix in most marinas, books, and my work from Hopkins and Harbor Labs, so we were able to keep busy. Make sure to bring laptops, iPads, etc. It's tempting to say that this is a nature vacation, and that you should enjoy the outdoors, but trust me, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors, and sometimes you will need to keep yourself from going crazy.
  6. Stay calm in crisis. That is easier said than done, but it's important to try to remember that. We had several situations on this trip that were quite serious. Whether it was deciding to leave NYC early because of weather (good decision), or to leave Boston in questionable weather (bad decision), we had lots of important decisions to make. Ann and I are a great team, and we were able to make these decisions together amicably and take the consequences together. It's important that all parties in a big decision that involves safety and whether the goals of the trip are met have ownership of the decision. No important decisions should be unilateral. Utilize whatever skills each one brings to the table. At one point, we were in the  midst of a storm, in an unknown cove, having just broken off our mooring, and we had to figure out whether to dock at the private yacht club and how to deal with the remainder of the storm. I think the best thing that we did that night was remain calm. Ann and I were in crisis mode, but we did not yell or freak out or lose our composure. We considered our options deliberately, and then mutually agreed on what to do. Then we executed to the best of our ability. If you can stay calm, you can accomplish much more than if you let the situation get the best of you.
  7. Don't forget that the whole point is to have a good time. A boat trip is much more taxing than I realized. We are physically bruised all over. My back gave out early in the trip, and now I have an issue with my leg and can barely sit down. It is exhausting and physically draining. The good news is that being so active feels good at the end of the day. I found it important to remind myself that I was living the dream, and even if one or two days were not fun or enjoyable, the opportunity take a trip like this makes me the luckiest guy in the world. I pushed myself to take the dinghy out even when I did not feel like unstrapping it and performing the 10 or so steps required to get it up and running, not to mention putting it away which is even more work. Don't shy away from the work on a trip like this. Getting the paddleboard down from the flybridge and then putting it back up seems like a huge chore and a pain, but I resolved to always use it whenever we wanted to, and the memories will be of paddleboarding on peaceful rivers and beautiful open waters and not of putting the board away and tying it up afterwards.
Anyway, many of my friends and family sent me fantastic feedback about the blog. It was a huge part of the trip for me and occupied most of my evenings. I'm sure it will be a living memory of the trip for years to come, and for those of you who actually read what I wrote, thanks for taking the time, and I hope you found it interesting.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 21: Still in Cape May...

Our trip was supposed to end in Baltimore yesterday, but we are getting ready for our third night on the boat in Cape May. Amazing how the weather for the first two weeks of our trip was just about perfect, and we only had to make one minor adjustment, leaving NYC a day early and spending that extra day in Mystic - a tradeoff where we came out ahead. Similarly, the past week was a weather fiasco.

On Thursday, as we were nearing Cape May, we seriously considered continuing on to Baltimore, but the waves got pretty nasty, and the skies darkened, and we realized that was a foolish idea. I forgot to mention in my last blog entry that as we neared the area just North of Atlantic City, we saw a huge whale. Right by the boat. Amazing - truly breathtaking. We also saw lots of dolphins.

Yesterday morning, we came within about 30 seconds of casting off. The generator was running, we were off shore power, and I had the engines going. I asked Ann to come release the dock lines, and wondered if we should wake up Benny, when Ann expressed that she would not be happy if we hit unpleasant waves, and asked me how sure I was that it would be smooth sailing. There was a reasonable risk of bad weather, although I felt we could handle it in our boat. But that did it. I do not want to risk upsetting my crew, especially since I hope to convince them to take boat trips with me again in the future.

So, we stayed in Cape May, where it rained pretty hard all day. Before the rain started, Benny and I hit the pool where we swam and tossed the football around for about an hour, while Ann did laundry in the marina. We have a washer/dryer on the boat, but Ann decided that our machine is okay for towels and linen, but not her choice for clothing.

Later, we cooked dinner on board - Ann made falafel with fresh baked pitas that we had purchased uncooked at a vegan place in Boston, and which were frozen until now. Pretty, pretty tasty. Then, we got a ride from the marina staff to a movie theatre where we saw Spiderman. We all 3 loved it. Uber back home, and it was time for bed. The wind and the rain were intense, and I got up during the night to check on everything. The lines were holding, and the fenders doing their jobs. Love being in a marina in a storm as opposed to at anchor!

We woke up this morning again thinking about going home, but a quick look at the weather forecast, and a discussion with the marina manager on duty changed our mind. He said there were "monsters" out there, referring to the waves, and even the 60-75 foot fishing boats next to us stayed home. Waves offshore were purportedly as high as 12 feet, and although the Delaware Bay was surely not as rough, we did not even consider messing around.

Keeping ourselves busy today was a little harder than yesterday. It was too cold and rainy for the pool (which did not open today), and I think we had had just about enough of being in this boat in one spot for 3 days, not to mention living on it for 3 weeks. I spent most of the day working on one of my consulting projects, while Benny played video games, watched shows in his iPad and read his book. Ann mostly read her book. We started preparing some things for our return - packing up and putting things away. Benny and I deflated the paddleboards and stowed them in the crew quarters durning a break in the rain. At times the winds were unbelievably strong, and I had to move one of our fenders to protect our stern.

As I write this, our plan is to take our raincoats and umbrellas into town, walk around a bit, and then hit this restaurant for dinner that Ann found, which of course has great vegan and vegetarian options. Fortunately, looks like they have some regular food as well. After this trip, I feel I am owed a major steak dinner, and I will definitely arrange something with some friends. Big, thick, juicy steak, dry-aged to perfection. That's what I need.

The forecast for tomorrow could not look better. Good thing, because we really do need to get back home. I love my boat, and I love boat trips, but even good things must come to an end.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 19: Brooklyn to Cape May

The night in Brooklyn was rough on Ann. The water was choppy, and Sababa was rocking back and forth, at times almost jumping out of the water. Our marina was on the East River, close to where it meets the Hudson, and the large commercial boat traffic had no speed restrictions. Some of those ferries literally fly. (Okay, that's actually the use of "literally" that I hate because they did not actually fly in the air, but they went very fast, over 30 knots.)

The rocking and bouncing do not bother me, and in fact, I find them soothing, but they made Ann's nausea from the day before even worse. She did not sleep all night, and in the morning felt like she needed to be on land. We walked to a Rite Aid pharmacy that was 0.8 miles from our marina, and we picked up some dramamine and ginger ale. She took the medication, and we waited about 40 minutes before she came back on the boat, so that the anti-nausea would kick in. In fact, it worked really well, and she felt a lot better.

Note to self: don't ever go on a boat trip without dramamine or bonine on the boat. The drugs are not useful if you take them once you're under way, but if you know that the day will be choppy, they can be taken on land, and then apparently, they are quite effective.

Pulling the lines off in that marina was very tricky, so we woke up Benny so he could help. The boat was bouncing all around, and I regretted not calling the office for a dockhand or two to help us. I ended up hitting the dock ever so slightly in the back, enough to make me very unhappy.

The trip to Cape May was slated to be our longest run of the entire vacation, but it was surpassed by yesterday's long run from Falmouth to Brooklyn. Still, it was a good 6 hours. As we pulled out of the marina, I took one last glance at the Brooklyn marina, where I vowed never to stay again. We'll find something more sheltered next time.
Brooklyn Marina looks peaceful enough, but it is not
While we did not like the marina one bit, the views could not be beat. As I pulled out and headed to the left of Governor's Island, I took a quick shot of the Statue of Liberty, and then turned and photographed the Manhattan skyline again.

The view of lady liberty as we were leaving our marina
Our view of Manhattan before heading South for home
Today's run was one of our easiest. A straight shot along the coast with my waypoints set about 60 miles apart. I turned on the radar, set tracking to the waypoints, and I had very little to do. The seas were relatively calm, but towards the end of our trip, they grew to the point of discomfort, probably around 4-5 feet for the last 10 miles. We got out just in time. To our amazement we saw all kinds of small fishing and other recreational boats heading out the inlet as we came in. I don't see how those guys could survive in those waves. Good for them. (or not)
Very easy navigation day
Since I did not have to focus on navigating, I spent the day looking at the weather forecast for the next two days. Our itinerary called for leaving Cape May for Baltimore tomorrow. However, the forecast at Cape May, halfway in between at Chesapeake City, MD, and in Baltimore all looked horrible. In fact, thunderstorms were listed as possibly severe, and there was a gale force wind watch in Cape May with waves potentially 6-10 feet scheduled for tomorrow. It did not look possible to get to Baltimore on time. I called the marina that I had reserved in Cape May and asked if we would be able to stay a day or two extra to ride out the storm, and they agreed.

Then, we had the idea of pressing all the way to Baltimore today. We did not have nearly enough fuel, so the plan we considered was stopping at the marina in Cape May, taking one last look at the weather, fueling up, and heading home - an 11 hour boating day. Crazy. But we would be home.

At one point, we decided that this was the plan. However, I kept tracking the forecast, and the best we could do would be a 40% chance of getting caught in a thunderstorm. Benny really wanted to go for it, despite being the one who gets the most seasick. I think Ann could have been persuaded either way. I suggested to her that there was a 60% chance we would get home okay, and a 40% chance that we would have to improvise and find cover, which might involve dropping the anchor in some cove somewhere. Given the forecast for the next 2 days, that could include being on the hook for 2 days with no access to water, food, pump out or any amenities. That did the trick, and we decided to stay in Cape May for the evening.
Tied up in Cape May, might have to bunker down for 3 nights here
We have been looking at the weather forecast every 10 minutes. Would absolutely love to go home tomorrow, but I cannot see that happening. The forecast would have to change drastically, and that rarely happens in your favor. Unfortunately, Saturday doesn't look great either. I'd say Saturday is 50-50. Sunday looks good. I have to be at work on Monday, so having to stay here beyond Sunday would be a bit of a disaster, and we'd probably go out of our minds stuck here on the boat in Cape May in storms for 3 days.
The radar picture looks scary - storm is coming
I have several apps that we are using to track the weather. We tap into the NOAA database directly to see alerts. Weather Underground is an extremely useful and information-rich app, and it's our primary one. I also use Dark Sky, which has surprisingly accurate short term information about rain wherever you are, and MyRadar, pictured above, which gives real time radar images. You can see we are the blue dot, and the storm is moving from West to East, so in the next 12 hours, I expect we'll see some action, not the good kind.

Anyway, vacation is just about over, and I'm going to spend whatever time we are stuck here getting caught up on work. Ann has a book, and Benny has his video games. There are also movie theatres here, and perhaps some indoor shopping areas, so we'll survive the waiting period, and the only thing I don't know is if we'll be able to go Saturday or not. We are okay with rain, but we want to avoid heavy seas and lightning. 

So we wait.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Day 18: Back on track - making up lost time

We woke up this morning at 7:30 and made up some of the sleep we lost the night before. It felt great to be in a nice marina with full water tanks and calm sea waters. I went to the service office, and they immediately sent out a very friendly mechanic to look at our generator issue. He found seaweed and grass in the water hose that led to the pump, as well as similar debris in the pump itself. After about 20 minutes, he was able to clear everything, and we once again had a working generator!
Once again, leaving Falmouth in our rear view mirror
With our boat in full working order, we set out for Milford, where we were scheduled to arrive yesterday. The trip to Milford would be about 5 hours at 23 knots. We had great clear seas, and I sat on the flybridge thinking that life is good. I reflected on the surprise we had when we arrived in Falmouth yesterday docking the boat.

As I was backing into the slip, the dockhand told me to be careful because my swim ladder was sticking out. Ann and I both exclaimed at the same time "We have a swim ladder?" That was news to us. In fact, when we were out in Baltimore before the trip, I looked for a swim ladder, and concluded that since the swim platform goes up and down, there must not be a ladder. But, there it was, on the port side, sticking all the way out. It must have come out in the storm we were in, and the poor thing was hanging out in the water with 23 knots of pressure against it the whole way to Falmouth. It is surprising that it was still mostly in tact. However, it was bent out of shape, and we were unable to get it stowed. Not sure of what to do, I got it in as far as I could, and then I secured it with bungie cords and a fender line. Doesn't look great, but it will hold until we get home and get it fixed.
Turns out, we do have a swim ladder! Who knew?
Since there were no boats around and no waves on our trip to Milford, I decided to use my time to look at the weather for the next few days. It appeared that today and tomorrow would be calm, but there would be thunderstorms along our entire path on Friday. I dreaded the thought of getting caught in more weather, and I also did not want to get home any later than we already were. I looked at our itinerary and realized that tomorrow's trip to Brooklyn was only about 3 hours. So, I asked Ann how she felt about skipping Milford and heading straight to Brooklyn today for an 8 hour ride, longer than we ever planned on traveling in one day.

Ann was a bit under the weather today, and I think a bit nauseous from being on the boat so long. But, she agreed that this was a good plan. So, I canceled the slip in Milford, which we were able to do without having to pay, and I contacted the Brooklyn marina to ask them to ignore my request for a one day delay, and that we were coming today. It really was a long ride, but it was a pretty one. We saw great lighthouses on the way, and nice scenery and bridges.
Lighthouse on Long Island Sound
Another pretty lighthouse closer to Brooklyn
Getting closer to New York
I called the marina in Brooklyn to see if they had fuel because this long travel day used up almost our entire supply, despite having filled up last night in Falmouth. It turns out that they do not. It took me a while calling around to find a place where we could fuel up. There was no option not to because tomorrow is our run to Cape May - another long trip, and it's on open ocean, so we need to be full for that. Finally, I found a great place in Port Washington in Manhasset Bay. It was an absolutely stunningly beautiful cove, just outside NYC. Once we entered, we got a view of the houses, really mansions, right on the water. The dockhand told us that Chris Rock and Adam Sandler were currently renting houses there, and that he had seen them in town. Nice to see how the other .000001% live.
Nice little shack on the water
This one had a boat as big as Sababa docked in their private pier
Maybe next time, I should buy diesel fuel in a more run down area. The bill was almost $1,200. My most expensive fill up ever. Ann and Benny were no longer the only ones who felt like puking.

We arrived in Brooklyn around 6:00 pm, and amazingly, that put us right back on the original schedule. Ann wasn't feeling great, and Benny was pretty worn out, and I was completely pooped, so we skipped washing down the boat. After all, we're just going out on the ocean again tomorrow. Really needed a break. I took a shower while Benny scoped out the soccer fields next door and Ann checked us into the marina.
Tied up in Brooklyn
This place is really wavy and busy, but I have to say, it's not every day you have a view of the statue of liberty from your boat to the left and NYC up close to the right. What a location!
View from the flybridge in our slip
View from the cockpit, a 90 degree clockwise turn from the picture above
After cleaning ourselves up and tidying the boat, we headed out for a nice dinner in Brooklyn, aided by Yelp. It was not Peter Lugars, but it was pretty good. Ironically, if I had not told Cousin Kenny that we were running behind schedule, tonight would have worked out great at my favorite restaurant in the States, but once I told him I couldn't come, he canceled the reservation and made plans with his brother who was in town from Hong Kong, and so it was impossible to get the reservation and the plans back on track. I'll have something to look forward to next time.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is great. Seas should be 1-2 feet, which is basically flat, and the temp around 80. Ideal weather. I was able to book a slip in the same marina in Cape May where we stayed almost 3 weeks ago on the first night of our trip. We may have some challenges on Friday, as the forecast is not nearly as good, but there may be a travel window for us. We'll deal with that tomorrow night. For now, we're happy to be on schedule and ready to be home again soon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 17: part 2

We were not bored at all stuck on our mooring ball in Cohasset Cove, MA. In fact, we were super busy calling around to all the marinas between there and Newport, RI to see who could take us, assuming the seas were favorable enough for us to travel. The predicament was that some marinas said they had space, but only if we would commit and pay for the slip. Slips range from around $250 to $400 a night for a boat like ours, and we did not know where we would be able to get to, so we did not want to shell out the money, and thus, we could not guarantee anything.

We were able to find a slip in Sandwich, MA, right at the entrance to the Cape Cod canal, but when we called back a couple of hours later, they said that someone snagged the slip from under us, since we did not pay. Given our lack of water and Ann's general feeling that she wanted to get off the boat, we decided to at least make a run for Scituate around 3pm. If the seas were really scary, we would just turn around and anchor again in Cohasset. If it was uncomfortable but not scary, we would make it to Scituate where we had a slip on hold. That would be an unpleasant hour to go 6 miles, but worth it to be on a dock with water and security. And, if the waves were not too bad, we would go as far as we could.

The problem was that by 2:30, I was not able to find a single place past the Canal that had any availability for tonight. I must have made a dozen calls to all the different marinas. Then it occurred to me to try the Kingsman Yacht club in Falmouth where we stayed on our way up. They remembered us, and they told me it is against their policy, but they could hold a slip for us, and if we could make it there, it was ours, and if not, we would not have to pay.

As we left Cohasset Cove behind us, Ann commented that she wanted to forget that place as quickly as possible. Pulling off the mooring ball and raising our anchor, I had to agree.
The view from our ill-fated mooring ball at Cohasset Cove
I decided to drive from the flybridge despite the cold air. It was 59 degrees and very windy when we pulled out. Initially, the waves seemed pretty manageable, but then we hit some big ones. Benny came up and told me we needed to go to Scituate because he did not want to travel in these waves. I had a sinking feeling that we were not going to get far today. I implored with him to see how he felt when we turned South, because the waves were coming from the East, and I thought that taking the waves on sideways would be less dramatic than head on. In fact, that was correct, and pretty soon we were surfing on top of the waves going in the same direction, and that is actually fun and not at all scary.  Benny agreed. We clocked in at 26 knots for a while with engine load at 85%. That is extremely good for this boast! I spoke with Ann, who was down below, over the radio on channel 73 (Lady Ann, Lady Ann, this is Sababa, over - yes, that's really how we communicate - using the marine radio and a portable that I keep inside), and we agreed to push on to Falmouth.

Pretty soon, the waves dropped to 2-3 feet, and when we reached the canal about 75 minutes later, the water was still and calm, and we were so happy.
The cape cod canal was our first calm waters in 2 days
Although it was still chilly out, we felt like the nightmare was over, and excited to tie up in Falmouth soon. We arrived just in time for a beautiful sunset, and I felt nostalgia for Elana, who was so into the sunsets on the trip with us. Lucky Elana managed to miss all of our adventures with the storm.
A peaceful evening at last
After arriving in Falmouth, we could not fill our water tanks fast enough. Ann was already in the shower as the water was coming in. I washed down the boat while Benny excitedly hooked up his video games. Without the generator, we did not have enough power for him to play video games on the mooring ball, as I did not feel that was a good use of our inverter and house batteries in a crisis situation. Call me old fashioned.
Tied up in Falmouth. The pleasure of a full service marina with floating docks
Tomorrow morning, we have an appointment with a mechanic at 7a.m. to look at the generator. If he is able to fix that, we will be at full strength with empty head tanks, full water tanks, food, drinking water and power. No stopping us now.

Hopefully, we will be able to get to Millford, CT tomorrow. I'm trying to get a slip at the original marina we were booked at, and if I am successful, then we will be exactly one day behind our planned schedule. Unfortunately there were two bits of collateral damage because of our storm delay. The Geva boys can no longer come with us to Maryland and instead will be taking a bus, and sadly, I will have to miss Peter Lugars with my cousin Kenny that was planned for tomorrow night. My vegan family even agreed to come with me if we could find something for them to eat because they knew how much it meant to me, but the restaurant is sold out. In fact, Kenny tried to convince them to let us have a table, but was unsuccessful. This is definitely one part of the trip I will have to make up some other time.

So, hopefully we'll have good weather the rest of the way. The next 2 days look good, and that should get us to Brooklyn, and if all goes well, we will get home on Saturday instead of Friday. But, of course, this is a boat trip, so anything can (and usually does) happen.

Day 17: Cohasset Cove

I suppose this blog got a lot more interesting the last couple of days. Nothing like a little drama to spice things up.

When I left off last night, Ann and Benny were lying down in the salon because they did not feel comfortable in the bedrooms with no heat and greater rocking motion. It was warmer upstairs, and this way Ann could keep an eye on things. Neither of us slept much. Every time I started to fall asleep, we would get hit by a big wave or something, and I would jump up and check our bearings with respect to the channel lights. I don't think I ever slept for a full hour. At 5:15 a.m., Ann was concerned that the mooring ball was banging into the hull of the boat, and she asked me to go take a look. I walked out to the bow and adjusted the anchor a couple of feet, and noticed that this new setting was bad because the anchor line and the mooring line could get tangled. So, I put it back the way it was. It was wet, rainy and 55 degrees, and I was in my pajamas, so not the happiest camper in the world.

I tried to go back to bed, and I think between 5:30 and 8:00 the three of us must have slept a bit. The biggest concern I had was our supply of drinking water. We were down to just a few bottles with minimal prospects for leaving here today because the forecast was not very good. Four to seven foot seas in the morning, going down to 3-5 this afternoon. I was also worried about power. The generator needs a mechanic, and our inverter would not turn on.

I called our home mechanic, and he walked me through getting the 2000 Watt inverter working. With that in place, we can run the outlets to charge our devices, and even use the microwave and the toaster, but not at the same time. My plan was to run the main engines periodically for a short period of time just to keep the house batteries charged.

We are also just about out of water in our tanks. So, I asked our mechanic about using raw water from outside the boat - the water we are sitting in. There is no mechanism on the boat to pump in that water, but we can scoop it up and drop it into our toilets to flush. I will say this about Prestige in Baltimore, their customer service is amazing. Their main mechanic has been on the phone with me throughout the last two days, and he's always proactive friendly and patient!

After we ate breakfast, Benny and I took the dinghy to shore and filled up our two gallon cooler and about 10 empty bottles with fresh water from a hose. Now, with a working inverter and plenty of drinking water, we feel better, but we would also like showers, and Ann commented that she really wants to get off the boat.

We spent the rest of the morning making tentative plans for today. We checked on the availability of marinas ranging from 6 miles away all the way to Newport where we have a paid slip that will not be refunded. We also canceled our reservation in Milford where we were supposed to be today, and postponed our reservation in Brooklyn. We also checked on the availability of mechanics to fix our generator water pump at various places.

At the moment, the dockmaster here thinks that there are 6 foot waves out there. We saw a crabbing boat go out and then come back about 20 minutes later, apparently giving up on their outing. Not a good sign. So, we are staying put for now. If we get any indication that the weather is improving, we are hoping to take the boat over to the next town over, Scituate, MA. It's a 6 mile run, which will take us an hour if the waves are really bad, but could take as little as 15 minutes if we can go fast. We have a slip on hold there, and that would mean power, water tanks full, showers, and even possibly going into whatever town there is to find food.

As I type this, a 36 foot sailboat passed us on the way out and we overheard their conversation with the dockmaster on channel 10 saying they are deciding to brave it. The dockmaster told them to come right back if it's too rough, so we'll see if they come back. Our 59' boat can handle so much more than a 36' boat. In fact, I don't think 6 foot waves are much to worry about on our boat, but there is the comfort of my crew to consider, and Ann has been a little queazy today, while Benny is prone to seasickness with extreme bouncing of the boat.

If we head to Scituate, and we find the water to be manageable, then we also have a slip available to us at Sandwich, MA, which is 35  miles away, just inside the Cape Cod Canal. However, if we make it to Sandwich, then we might as well push onwards because the canal should be relatively calm. Our Newport, RI slip is a long-shot, but I suppose if the seas are not bad, we can push that far and arrive before dark. We have until 5pm to notify them that we are coming, and they will make our slip available however late we get there.

Thus the life of the boater in questionable weather - we really have no idea where we'll end up tonight, but we will make safety the first priority. I'll try to write again this evening if there are any interesting developments. I hope I won't write that we left Cohasset at 3pm, and returned to Cohasset at 3:30 pm with our tail between our legs... But even if we do, at least we have plenty of water to drink for now.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 16: part two

This is a continuation of an earlier blog post that I wrote today. I left off where we were attached to a mooring ball, and everything was finally okay.

Well, that was what we thought.

So, around 6pm, the dockmaster comes whizzing by on her small boat and gesticulating wildly. I run up to see what's going on, and she yells through the pouring rain that one of our lines to the mooring ball has chaffed and torn completely off, and the other is about to go. By some miracle, she had decided to patrol and come by and see how we were doing. We had been keeping a close eye on the swinging boats around us, but had not looked at the lines on the mooring ball, and we were minutes away from completely breaking loose, without knowing it and without our engines running. A real near disaster. We would have charged right into the moored boats behind us, and according to the dockmaster, taken out all the boats in the marina. Probably a slight exaggeration, but it would have been seriously ugly. My god.

The wind and the rain were pretty fierce, and the current was very strong. Even in this cove the waves were high. I immediately started the engines, and we began quickly thinking about what to do. We had some back and forth yelling with the dockmaster about whether to set our anchor, to go back to Boston and what other options did we have? We asked about tying up to the private yacht club dock, and she insisted that we could not go there because it was private. Ann yelled back that this is a serious potentially life or death situation, and the dockmaster said that we just couldn't do it.

Ann and I talked and decided that at this point, with our boat about to break free, and under these conditions, we were just going to head to that dock and tie up and fight with the yacht club people if we had to. Would they really kick us off the dock and send us into the rough seas? I'd rather deal with the problem of an upset yacht club manager than this storm.

I started up the engines, but immediately something did not feel right. The joystick control gave a warning that I only had partial power and control. What the hell does that mean, and why now of all times? The current brought us really fast towards the dock, which seemed small as we approached it. I did not have the power to fight it with the joystick, so I grabbed the main thrusters and the bow thruster and tried to slow our approach. As the bow would not come around, Ann suggested that I switch our orientation and go port side in. That was a great suggestion, as I would not have made it to the starboard side in time. Benny had to move the fenders to the other side with lightning speed, which he actually accomplished. He was amazing.

I actually don't know how I did it, but I managed to get the boat lined up nicely with the dock and to stop it just right. I don't think I could do it if I tried ten more times. The port side engine was reading zero load, and the starboard was working hard. Later, in my thinking about this, I decided that I probably had just not started the port side engine, which is why the joystick wasn't working. It was a very hectic time when I was starting them, and I must have just not turned the key hard enough.

Anyway, Benny jumped off with a stern line, and I managed to keep the boat close while we got a spring line and a bow line tied up. Sure enough the marina manager came rushing over and in a very forceful voice told us we could not tie up on his dock, and that this was private. I came off the boat and in as calm a voice as I could muster I said, "Look sir, I understand your position. I am just trying to keep my family safe right now. We can't go back out because of the storm, and we can't attach to the mooring because we came off of it. I am tied up here to catch my breath and figure out what to do."

He insisted that the dock could not hold our boat which was too heavy and had too much windage. He said that the tide was out, and when it came back in, the winds would be fierce, and that our boat would tear their whole dock out and all the boats with it. And that no matter what, we were not sleeping there. He became a bit more cooperative when he realized that we were trying to solve a problem together, and that I was not insisting on staying on his dock. I believed him that the dock would not hold us. The cleats looked very small, and the dock was floating, but connected to the shore with chains, and it was clearly designed for small boats to tie up. They did not even have 50 amp power connectors.

The marina manager called over to the next town over that had an inlet, to see if they could take us. They are 6 miles away, and I figured it would take us at least an hour to get there, and by then, there were probably 90 minutes of "daylight" left. It was pretty dark anyway due to the storm. Luckily, I guess, the other town said that they could not accommodate us. I don't know if it was because we are too big, because they are full, or because they didn't want to deal with us the way this place had to.

So, we had to find a solution. The dockmaster and another woman who joined her to help suggested that they could bring some new, thicker lines to tie us to the mooring ball. The plan was for us to drive about 80 feet past the mooring ball, drop our anchor, and drift back past the ball. Then, while anchored, we would tie the lines as safety lines to the mooring ball, and set them up in such a way that they would not chafe like the other ones did. All this during a storm.

I killed the engines and restarted them, and I was thrilled to see that this time everything looked good, and the load was even on both. So whatever problem I had before was gone, and I was much more confident in my ability to pull off our plan with full joystick and throttle control. We set out, and I could tell the marina manager was relieved to have us off his hands. Getting the anchor set was quite an adventure itself. Our anchor winch was loose, and the anchor did not hold well on the boat, but it set nicely in the mud. The two dockmaster women were yelling for me to go this way and that, and I started to worry about the depth. I got the anchor dropped and drifted back, but not towards the mooring ball. So, it took all the skill I had to get us over there, and by some miracle, Ann was able to get the mooring lines attached to our cleats. Benny was up there helping as well. I seriously do not understand how they pulled this off. We kept both lines on the starboard side to avoid the chaffing problem.

Finally, we were connected with a belt and suspenders. The anchor as the primary hold, and the two lines to the mooring ball as pretty good backup. For some reason, we found it a lot harder to relax, given our earlier experience, and we decided that we would keep watches throughout the night.

I called our boat mechanic who explained to me where to find a tool to tighten the anchor winch, and how to test it, and that worked like a charm. I also took some fender lines that I had and created an anchor safety that should provide some backup. When we get home, one of the things at the top of my list will be to get a better anchor safety system in place.

So, just as it seemed like things were under control, except for, of course, our water shortage, suddenly the heat turned off, and the generator died. I tried restarting it, and it would not stay on for more than 5 seconds. I called my mechanic, and he suggested I check the water strainer. It was full of debris, but I could not get it open. Ann and I brainstormed ideas for getting some leverage, but nothing worked. We alternated trying to open it. Finally, we gave up, and just as we were going up, out of the engine room, I decided to give it one more try with all my strength, and I got it! It was so filthy that I was sure this was the problem. We emptied it out, and I put the strainer back in and started up the generator - and it died 5 seconds later. Ugh.

I called the mechanic back, and he said to close the seacock, fill the strainer with water, start the engine, and quickly open the valve, and that this has worked in the past and might do the trick. I poured in some of our precious water, and tried what he said, but it did not work. The mechanic concluded that either we have a bad impeller, or that debris got into the water pump that feeds the strainer (seems like a bad design to have the pump in front of the strainer, but I guess it's above the water level so there may be no choice), and so the generator engine could not cool.

The consequence of having no generator is that we have to conserve a bit on our power usage, and we are without heating or cooling. We will charge all the batteries again in the morning when we run the main engines, so it's not really a problem, just an inconvenience. I also have a spare impeller on board, so if we find a mechanic at our next marina, hopefully he can fix this and the generator will work again. It's really the least of our problems.

So, now it's 11:15, and Ann and Benny are trying to sleep upstairs in the saloon where I am sitting nearby and recounting the last few hours. It was exhausting, but we don't want to all sleep at the same time. We are keeping an eye on the anchor and the mooring lines and the boats around us. Need to make sure we aren't dragging or moving. The storm picks up periodically, and that is a little scary. We're pretty concerned about the mooring ball hitting our starboard hull because we are close to it, but the wind and current are pushing us away from that direction, and at the moment, having that safety backing up the anchor is the most important thing for us.

Tomorrow, we will probably be pretty tired from lack of sleep, but we will have to use all our judgement and resourcefulness to get to a marina somewhere. We're no longer very concerned with timing, just with safety and getting some water. If the seas are too rough for travel, we will stay put, but I will call the dockmaster and figure out how to get some drinking water on the boat. Maybe use our dingy to get to shore if it's calm in here. Also, if our tanks run dry, we won't be able to flush the toilets, so we need to get to a marina in short order.

So, here we are. It's 58 degrees out. I believe we are secure with our anchor and the mooring backup. The weather tomorrow should be better. But, we will be smart and nimble and flexible, and we will figure out how to get through this. I'm sure of that.

It would be nice to enjoy all of the pleasures of boating and that's it, but that is not reality. We have to learn to be problem solvers, to be handy, and to keep our wits about us. Boating is fun and exciting, but it's also challenging, complicated and hard. As my friend Michael Rosman likes to say, "from bad decisions come good stories". If we had stayed in Boston today, it would have been so much simpler, but I would have had nothing to blog about. We went to some museum, and we had lunch and blah blah blah. Isn't this more fun???

Day 16: Boston to Newport, RI - route interrupted

Everything on this trip was going great and on schedule, until today.

Yesterday, we had a very nice visit with Tamara at Camp Young Judaea in New Hampshire. She has a lot of friends and is extremely happy there. We took her out to lunch and the to buy some supplies. After a few hours meeting her friends and some of the other parents we headed back to the boat in Boston.
The whole family finally together again
The forecast for today called for lots of rain, but no thunderstorms. I checked the marine forecast last night, and it predicted 2-3 foot waves - nothing we couldn't handle easily on Sababa. Unfortunately, I did not check the waves forecast this morning. Bad move.

It would take us about 4.5 hours to get to our marina in Newport, RI. Elana left for the airport around 8:30 a.m. She was going to take a water taxi to the airport, but it was raining, so she took a Lyft and texted us when she got there. We will miss having her on the remainder of our trip home. I was a bit displeased with today's forecast because it meant I would have to drive from the lower inside helm while still dodging the crab pots that littered the route to the Cape Cod Canal. It's not as easy to spot the pots from below as it is from the flybridge. Little did I know the pots would be the least of my problems today.

Before we got under way, I decided that despite the rain, I wanted to fuel up. We probably had enough fuel for the whole trip, but "probably" is not the best practice for a boat trip. When we got to the fuel dock, it was raining pretty hard, and I was concerned about getting water in the fuel line, so I held an umbrella over Benny who opened the tanks and filled them with diesel. Up to now, I had been the one fueling, and Benny was not familiar with the burping of our tanks, which spit up diesel if you let the fuel flow too quickly. So, he learned the hard way. After about 35 gallons in the starboard tank, all of a sudden fuel shot up everywhere and hit him in the face and covered his body. Luckily it did not get him in the eyes or mouth. He was not a happy camper, but he did finish the job for a total of 150 gallons between the two tanks.

Despite the rain, which was increasing in intensity, Ann and I decided that we should pump out the heads. We had enough capacity to get to Newport, but it seemed silly to travel with almost full waste tanks if we were already at a fuel dock. While Benny and I dealt with the fuel, Ann opened the tanks, and then I brought over the hose from the dock, and we pumped out the good stuff. Pumping out proved to be the best decision we made all day, and arguably the only good one.

As we got out of Boston Harbor, we encountered several challenges. The waves were starting to get bigger. More pressing, my starboard side windshield wiper got stuck, and independent of that the windshield fogged up. As I was trying to get the defroster working, I noticed a huge ship coming towards us from the port side. I pretty much had no visibility at this point and was barely moving at a crawl, and in fact, the strong waves and current were pushing me backwards. We had all just dried off and changed from the fueling in the rain experience, and none of us wanted to go out and manually try to get the wiper working, but I resigned to doing it. Just then, it started moving again, and the defroster began working, so that was lucky. We got moving with all systems in order, went around the big ship, and I got us on a plane at 22 knots. Let me emphasize (especially since my parents are reading this) that we were never in any danger, and it was just a big stressful inconvenience.

As we got further into the sea, the waves became much bigger. We had a few huge jumps and hard landings, and everything on the boat started flying around. Lamps, wine glasses, iPads. And we heard crashing sounds from below. I slowed to about 8 knots, and we were able to handle the waves better, but they were still quite impactful. We later learned that the waves were 5-8 feet, meaning that was the average, and some waves were bigger. We could not go faster than 6 knots, and at that speed, I had trouble maneuvering around the crab pots that we were able to see. Benny was getting sick, and Ann started talking about turning around or finding refuge somewhere.

I was still determined to get to the Cape Cod Canal, because once there, I expected that things would calm down, and despite the big waves, I did not feel like the situation was unmanageable. However, some simple calculations indicated that at 6 knots, we would be in this for almost 6 hours before reaching the canal, and the waves were getting worse, not better. So, while trying to keep the boat straight and avoid pots and 8 foot waves, and while bouncing several feet in the air on occasion, I pulled out my iPhone and explored  the area around us on the map. In the meantime, Benny started throwing up, and I knew that Ann was questioning my judgement and the wisdom of being out today without her needing to say anything (that would come later).

Feeling some urgency, but also surprisingly calm given the situation, I found a protected area called Cohasset Cove with a marked channel about 4 miles ahead. I discovered that it had a yacht club, so I assumed there would be somewhere for us to tie up. I was unable to reach them by phone. Getting to the cove was tricky, as there were rocks and shallow areas in the approach, but everything was marked on the navigation charts and with markers in the water, and I was confident that I could navigate through it, even in the bad conditions.
Not the route we planned, but the one we ended up taking
When we got to the cove, the water was a bit calmer, and I radioed to the yacht club. They told me that their dock was exclusive to the yacht club members, and there were no exceptions for transients. I told them that I was escaping a storm and really bad waves, and that I couldn't go back out there, and they told me to talk to the harbormaster. So, I spoke to the harbormaster on the radio, and she asked me to hold tight because she was having an issue with her boat.

Sitting tight in this marina proved to be impossible due to the tremendous wind and current from what was now a full fledged storm. Unhappy, but determined not to panic or let my spirits get down, I headed out of the cove. We decided that we would have to anchor just outside the channel and ride out the storm at anchor.

However, after we were just outside the channel, the harbormaster got on the radio and told me that she had one mooring ball in the harbor that was big enough to hold me, and that it had a sailboat on it, which she was going to move to another ball so that I could have it. Amazed at this good fortune, we stayed outside the channel, moving back and forth against the current and staying away from all the trouble spots. (Did I mention that I had to pee for the last 2 hours but did not dare leave my station??) Moving a sailboat off a mooring and onto another ball in these conditions was very impressive, and the willingness to do this to help a stranger with a pretentious 59' yacht was surprising to us.

They radioed us when the mooring was ready, and three of them were on a workboat waiting for us when we got back into the channel. At this point the storm was really upon us. Ann went up front with the boat hook, and it took me several tries to get her close enough to attach the mooring with the dockmaster's help, without hitting the ball, the dockmaster's boat or anything else. The whole scene was kind of crazy. We finally hooked up. I thanked them profusely, and could tell they were slightly annoyed by the whole situation. They asked me why I didn't go back to Boston when I noticed it was bad, and asked me if I didn't know how to look at weather forecasts. I felt a bit humiliated to be in this position. The harbormaster was very concerned because my anchor was rubbing hard against the mooring lines each time the boat would swing. I suggested dropping the anchor so it wouldn't be in the way, and she agreed to that. So, the anchor is down, but not doing anything, just sitting on the ground in the water below me out of the way of the mooring lines.

I asked the dockmaster if I could pay them for their help and what I owed for the use of the mooring ball until tomorrow, and they would not take any money! Before I was able to go back in for my wallet, they were gone and told us to tune into channel 10 if we needed anything. My faith in humanity is restored.

This all happened around 1:00 pm today. Now it's just about 5:00, and we've had time to reflect on our situation. It's really not that comfortable. Even here in the cove, the water is quite active, and we are swinging back and forth and constantly amazed that the mooring ball is holding, and that we haven't hit any of the other boats that are also swinging quite a bit out of rhythm with ours. I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep tonight without keeping watch on those other boats. So far, though, in 4 hours, everything has held, and no boats have hit. Also, things are supposed to calm down by 9 pm tonight. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Wish we had filled the water tanks before we left Boston. Elana and I showered this morning, and Benny had to shower to remove the diesel from all over his body. We are left with about 1/4 tanks, which is plenty for our regular needs, but no more showers until we find another marina. We're also down to 5 small bottles of water, so I will have beer this evening, and OJ for breakfast, and Ann will have iced tea, leaving the lemonade for Benny. We actually bought 24 bottles of fresh water in Boston, but managed to leave them in the shopping cart when we unloaded, a mistake that may haunt us if we're still stuck here tomorrow.

The storm continues, and it's 58 degrees out, so we have the heat on for the first time on Sababa. Thankfully, it works great, and we are nice and comfortable with the windows fogged up all around us. I keep having to clear them with my hand to keep an eye on the boats moored near ours, which still worry me with their swinging.

In the meantime, Newport marina, where we were supposed to stay tonight says they will not refund us because of their 72 hour cancelation policy. We're not sure we will even go to Newport anymore. I'd like to make up the day, and perhaps we can do some longer runs to stay on schedule. That said, the forecast for tomorrow is not perfect. The seas are showing 3-5 foot waves. That's a lot more manageable than 5-8. Forecasts like that change by the hour, and we'll see what it is tomorrow morning. The forecast for tomorrow actually improved while I was writing this blog post. We will not go if it's not safe. Not sure we'll enjoy 2 full days sitting on this mooring in a cove in Cohasset, MA, but at least we pumped out our head tanks!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day 14: Falmouth to Boston

We left Kingsman Yacht Center at 8:30 a.m. at high tide. The water level was more than 2 feet higher than when we arrived, which was very helpful here because of the narrow, shallow channel. It was about a 20 minute no-wake ride, as peaceful as can be, but a little chilly up top.
Leaving Falmouth behind

When we got to the Cape Cod Canal, our cut-through to Boston, it was just 70 degrees, and moving at 23 knots felt cold, so I put on a sweatshirt and was still a little uncomfortable. We had a 65 nautical mile trip ahead of us.
Our trip from Falmouth to Boston, through the Cape Code Canal
The canal is seven miles long, and stunningly beautiful. There were a few picturesque bridges along the way.
Sababa's wake with a cool bridge behind us in the Cape Cod Canal
We were traveling at our cruising speed when a coast guard boat in the canal radioed me and asked me to switch to channel 13, which apparently you are supposed to monitor here. He asked me if he was pronouncing my boat's name correctly, and I could tell he had a sense of humor. He then admonished me that the speed limit in the canal is 10. Since I was doing 23, I quickly slowed down, and we took the rest of the canal at a leisurely pace. Ann went up front and sat on our bow benches, which we hadn't used yet on this trip.
Ann loved the ride from up front in the canal at a calm 10 knots
After the canal, we entered open ocean, which on that day was as calm as the canal. No waves at all. Flat. As I revved up to planing speed, aiming for 23 knots, the air felt colder than before, but I had to stay up top because for the entire 90 minutes that we were out in the open, the water was littered with little buoys marking some kind of trap. In Maryland they are crab pots. I don't know if here they are for crabs or lobsters outside Boston. The water was over 80 feet deep at times, and yet we could hardly go 250 feet without seeing a series of pots. It is much easier to spot them from up top, so I stayed up despite the chilly temperature, and I had to pay attention and dodge the pots the whole time. I was not able to use auto pilot or auto tracking the rest of the way.

These annoying pots filled the entire route to Boston
As we approached Boston Harbor, the city skyline came into view, and everyone joined me up top for the magnificent landscape. We passed one of my favorites, a tall ship that was coming out of Boston.
Amazing tall ship leaving Boston Harbor
 As we turned towards our home for the next two days, Constitution Marina, the buildings all came into view. After two weeks of travel we reached our furthest point of the trip. Very exciting!
We finally arrive in Boston
I was surprised and disappointed to learn that Constitution Marina (so named because it hosts the USS Constitution) did not sell fuel, so we will have to make a stop on our return on Monday to fuel and pump out. I backed down the alley at the marina and tied up along a long T-head dock.
Tied up in downtown Boston
Benny did a great job washing down the boat from all the salt water that splashed when we were at sea. Next, I want to teach him how to run the entire boat so that next season I can relax while he takes over.
The kids were very helpful
Once we were settled into our slip, it was time to explore Boston. We visited Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and Quincey Market, where we saw a wonderkid musician performing, and the kids and Ann had some bubble tea.
The market area is always hopping
We explored the waterfront area, and Benny and I took a long stroll among the fancy mega yachts in the harbor, while the ladies shopped for sunglasses (Elana's shades broke when one of us landed on them in the dinghy while getting back in after swimming). Then, we met up again and had dinner at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant that came highly recommended called Clover Food Lab, which even I enjoyed. Next, we walked through Boston Commons where a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Romeo and Juliette was scheduled. Although the performance was an hour away, the lawn was already packed. We decided that time was short for us here and skipped the show to continue walking. We found a really nice public garden with a lake and beautiful flowers and a statue of George Washington.
In the public gardens in Boston
From there, we walked along Newbury street, with its fancy cars, movie stars (well we didn't see any, but that rhymes, and I assume they were there), and sidewalk cafes. When we reached Copley Square,  we had walked enough (over 20k steps!), and we took an Uber back to the boat. By then it was already 8:30 pm. My friend Matt Berntsen and his girlfriend Becky who live here in Boston visited us on the boat, and we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new house they are moving into on Tuesday, as well as getting together with friends on a trip like this.

By the time Matt and Becky left, it was after 10:30, and I was too tired to write my blog, so I'm writing this Sunday morning, before we head out to visit Tamara at Camp Young Judea.

On the way to the boat, we saw a good omen. In Brooklyn, we are picking up Liam and Ben Geva to bring them to Baltimore, and this license plate pulls up in front of our Uber car.
License plate Liam1. It is a sign!
If there was any doubt about the Omen they were soon put to rest. As we were sitting with our friends on the flybridge drinking champagne, this water taxi pulls up behind our boat and drops someone off!
Did this boat really just show up the day before we visit Tamara???
Case closed. We are heading up to camp after we pick up our Enterprise rental car.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Day 13: Nantucket to Falmouth

Yesterday, we spent a full day on Nantucket. Getting to shore involved using our dinghy, and tying to a very busy dinghy dock, usually two boats deep, and having to walk on other people's boats.
Our dinghy MD 8790 CS bunched in with all the rest.
The town is lively in the evenings with lots of bars and restaurants. There are no chain stores allowed in Nantucket, so even the car dealership (yes there is exactly one) is family owned. We spent a good deal of time walking around the various streets around town. We saw this woman on her balcony painting a gorgeous scene.
A nice place to paint
Starting at 1:00 pm, we took a 3 hour nature and history tour of the island. Our 4x4 van stopped before we entered the beach area and let out air from the tires, down to 15 PSI. We then drove on the sand of the beach for quite some time. There, we got out and walked towards a lighthouse. On the way, we saw seals in the water, and a couple of unfortunate looking seals who seemed to be stranded on the beach. We were told that regulations require not approaching within 150 feet of the seal. We followed the rule, but some other bozos got right in its face taking pictures.
This guy did not seem happy to be here
On the side of the road, outside the beach area, there was a lone air pump that our guide used to inflate the tires back to 40 PSI.

After the tour, we came back to Sababa, and I grilled veggie burgers for the vegans, and then a real hamburger for myself! It felt nice to eat our own home made food for once, since every other dinner on this trip was in a restaurant. For the most part, we eat breakfast and lunch on the boat and dinner out, although if we're in a town for the day, we might eat lunch out too. Most days, though, we are under way on the boat at lunchtime.
Grilling the lone meat burger once the veggie ones are done
After dinner, we took the dinghy back to shore and walked around taking in the sites of the town. Here are a couple of pictures that sum up the views in Nantucket.
By ordinance, all the houses have the same siding
The definition of peaceful - dusk on Nantucket
It took 11 days, but I finally discovered something I don't like about this boat. The last 2 nights, on the mooring ball, we did not have shore power, so we used the generator. It is a fantastic machine and produces more amps than even our 50 amp shore power connection. But, as it turns out, the generator is on the other side of the wall of the master stateroom, just inches from our heads when we sleep. Luckily, it was cool enough that we did not need the air conditioning at night, so I turned off the generator before bed and ran the boat's fancy blue lights off the house batteries. By my calculations, we burned 40 gallons of diesel running our generator for the two days on the mooring, excluding 8 hours each night while we were sleeping. All the fuel came from the port side tank. At first I was puzzled when I noticed this morning that the starboard tank had substantially more fuel than the port one, and then I realized that the generator had been drawing from the port side fuel tank since Wednesday.

Today, we woke up early as usual, and I was glad to see that the previous night's forecast of a beautiful sunny day was correct. Getting off a mooring ball is so easy. We just take the mooring lines off the bow cleats, toss them in the water, and we're done - on our way. No lines or fenders to secure; no dock to depart. So easy. I charted our trip to Kingsman Yacht Club, just North of Falmouth at about 50 nautical miles, a quick and easy run. We left Nantucket Harbor at 7:45 a.m., and set course for Nantucket Sound.
Our route today from Nantucket to just North of Falmouth

I ran Sababa at a comfortable 22 knots, with a strong wind from 10 O'Clock. I was alone up top on the flybridge most of the way while the kids slept and Ann had breakfast and read her book in the saloon below.
Last look at Nantucket Harbor
On this early morning, with no boat in sight and land barely visible in any direction, I felt about as happy as I can remember. This really has been the trip of a lifetime, and I can't believe that a week from today, we will be back in Baltimore (weather permitting). I really don't want it to end. In particular, I was thinking about the fact that in our normal lives with our typical routines, I am lucky if I get to spend 15 minutes with Elana or Benny. They are either holed up in their rooms doing homework, out with friends, or otherwise occupied. For almost two weeks now, I have had the chance to really spend quality time with them. We eat our meals together, explore new areas, ride paddleboards and the dinghy, and live in very close quarters 24 hours/day. It is the kind of quality time that I haven't had in years with my kids, and which I sorely missed from the days of our sailboat trips on the Chesapeake years ago, when I would drag the family out for a week of sailing that resembled camping, but on the water. Our circumstances have changed, and this trip is much more luxurious and comfortable, but at the core it is still the same forced togetherness, an immersion in each other's lives that does not occur in the real world. It is priceless. I will surely miss these days dearly when Elana goes off to college and Benny gets back into his school routine in the Fall.

As we approached our destination, I slowed to no wake speed in a channel so as not to overturn the other boats. Ann showed up next to me, and we marveled at how peaceful it was at the slower pace. The channel to our destination was extremely narrow and somewhat complex, and I worried about the depth a couple of times, but we made it, and once we pulled in, we fueled up, pumped out (Elana did the pump out, as well as chemical toilet treatment after), and found our slip. There, Benny and I immediately hosed down the boat, which hadn't been washed in 3 days, and we filled our thirsty and just about empty water tanks. Tie up was easy on the outside of a long floating dock, and all systems were back to normal.
Getting to the marina was tricky, but it was a very easy tie up.
I hadn't done any maintenance since we left home, and it was time for me to check on a few things. I went down below in the engine room and checked the oil on the main engines. Perfect levels, although the oil looked a bit dirty, but I'll wait to have it changed until we're back home. The oil was fresh when we left and that's more than enough to last this trip. The oil level in the generator, however, was low, so I added some. Next, I closed the A/C strainer seacock, pulled out the metal filter, washed it on the dock, and put it all back together so it was good to go. Now, Sababa is completely ready for the trip up to Boston tomorrow.

After a quick lunch on the boat, we set out to explore on the dinghy. I let Benny do all the driving, as he was extremely helpful in washing Sababa and prepping the dinghy. I've been teaching both kids more and more of the chores and responsibilities of boating, and it has made life much easier. I'm hoping they'll remember it fondly and that it will be useful to them if they decide to be boaters when they grow up. Not too sure about Elana, but I think Benny is hooked.

We dingied over to a mile long beach island across the way, and when we got close to shore, Ann jumped out and pulled us in. We beached the dinghy and hung out on the sand for a while, skipping rocks and collecting some shells. We then dingied some more, until we found a great spot to swim. There was an unused mooring ball, so we tied the dinghy up for a short while there hoping nobody would mind, and three of us jumped in and swam while Ann stayed on the boat and took pictures.
The water was great, and we enjoyed a nice swim

After we returned, we mounted the dinghy back on Sababa, and Benny strapped her in the way I had shown him. He also washed down the dingy, applied the tilt lock, closed the gas vent, flushed out the motor, put away the life jackets, and earned another chance to drive the dinghy at our next destination! After we showered, we decided to do another homemade meal, and Ann cooked pasta, which we ate up top.

A recurring theme on this trip is that Elana wanted a picture of the sunset. However, every place we went either faced East or the weather was bad, and on Day 13, she still had not managed to photograph a sunset. That changed tonight! Kingsman Yacht Center advertises their amazing sunsets, and they even post the time outside their restaurant. We had a front row view from Sababa, and it could not have been more beautiful.
Elana finally got her sunset
Tomorrow, we head to Boston, our furthest destination and our last two-night stay. The weather looks great, although the forecast for our return on Monday is iffy, but we'll deal with that later. Very excited to see Tamara during visiting day at camp the day after tomorrow.