Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday, 9/27/08

We are swinging gently at anchor in the North River, just short of the Albemarle Sound. We thought we'd make it across the Sound today, but timing bridges and the current worked against us. That's ok, there is a gentle breeze keeping us cool and bug free so we enjoyed drinks and snacks on the bow tonight. It was just about four years ago when we were new to The Rose that we 1st made this trip with Capt. Mark Chest from Baltimore to Alligator River Marina. Paul and Sue Graham, (Odyssey) were waiting there to coach us for the rest of the trip to Brunswick, GA.

Tomorrow we should be at Dowry Creek Marina a sentimental favorite which will be an overnight stop. We had our mail shipped there and we know it's arrived after making a phone call to Mary the owner. Since we only physically receive mail 1x month this will be a holiday of sorts. Based on our current location, we should be Melbourne, FL on October 10th.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

We have been docked at Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, VA for the past 4 nights waiting for a low pressure system to pass. This was a good decision, since we saw winds gusting at 30 kts and torrential rain. Tomorrow, (Saturday 9/27) we'll be back underway and headed for the Virginia Cut and then North Carolina.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September 21, 2008

Sometimes circumstances cause us to make decisions and dock at locations that we otherwise would never see or experience.

Hartge’s, (pronounced Harchies) Yacht Yard in Galesville, MD is one of those scenarios.

Located on a peninsula off the West River by way of the South River, the yard has been home to 4 generations of Hartge family members since its founding in 1878. The parents were German immigrants and piano builders who originally settled in Baltimore. Their offspring settled in Galesville, bought the land that now comprises the yacht yard and over time grew to become renowned for their boatbuilding and woodworking skills with sail boats. They currently work on everything that floats including steel and hi-tech carbon fiber.

T-B Plaque, Steel Hull Sailboat on the rails & a Hi-Tech Sailboat

How did we get here? Well while we were underway I noticed that one of our two alternators wasn’t working. That’s not an emergency since we have one on the other engine and we also have a spare for just such a situation. I called the yard early on Tuesday, 9/16 and inquired about having the alternator tended to. Sure, no problem I was told and so we planned to anchor right off the marina that night and go in on Wednesday at 7:30 when the yard opens for business. We had weighed anchor Wednesday morning and were moving when I called Luke the Service Manager. “I was expecting your call, you’re the blue hull trawler in the anchorage?” he says. We get directions since the yard is huge and appears from the anchorage to be a maze of slips, fairways and masts. By 7:45 we’re tied to a long side-to, part of the approach to the marine rail that is used for hauling boats.

The Rose viewed from shore.

Within minutes Spike, (Ace mechanic) is onboard and in the engine room doing an inspection to verify that my diagnosis is correct. He quickly removed the alternator and installed the spare, noticing that the original installation was done incorrectly resulting in undue strain being placed on the mount. We checked the starboard alternator and sure enough we had the same problem there. The malfunctioning alternator was sent out for a new bushing and rebuild while Spike went to work correcting the mounts. The bad news, well the rebuild shop was busy and wouldn’t have the alternator back for several days. I agreed to have it shipped ahead to a marina that we know will hold mail and supplies for our arrival.

Spike does a visual of the engine room occasionally stopping to put his hands on hoses, belts, clamps, etc. When I hear him stop humming I know he’s found something, especially when he says, “Oh Shit!”. He had spotted a broken motor mount and after closer inspection we decide that there are two on the outboard side of the port engine that need to be replaced. You might think I’d be upset with this, but the opposite is the case. Better here where I can get repairs done than in the middle of the Chesapeake or running in the Atlantic off the coast of Georgia. Parts are ordered and we specify overnight delivery so they will be here in the am. Looks like our stay is extended another day…..

Meanwhile the weather is doing as predicted, winds 20-25 kts with waves building to 3-4’. We’re riding easy, well protected here in the river and decide to take advantage of the situation to do some sightseeing. The marina has a courtesy vehicle but it was already in use when we asked to borrow it. Linda who is in the office offered the use of her personal car, but Luke gave us the keys to yet another yard vehicle. Connie & I find a West Marine where we exchange a broken, 4 year old pair of binoculars. We don’t have a receipt, but West Marine backs up whatever they sell! Of course we find time to get some more groceries, heaven forbid we should run short of food. Over the next day or two we are beginning to feel more at home here and are becoming familiar faces to the yard crew as they go from job to job with a toolbag and one of the 3-4 yard dogs following behind. One of the dogs is a Golden Retriever who runs around all day usually looking for someone to either scratch his ears or throw an ever present tennis ball.

During the day I wander around the yard and look into the numerous outbuildings and covered boat slips that are occupied by vessels in various stages of repair and restoration.

I cannot begin to describe the beauty and grace of the wooden boats both power and sail that occupy space here. There are a handful of yards left on the East Coast that are capable of this level of work and I had the good fortune to stop at one.

This could be a series of, "before and after" shots. The bottom shot is a Lord Nelson Tug.

We walk into town….such as it is. It appears to consist of a wine and cheese shop, two antique stores and three restaurant/bars. We help the local economy by buying several bottles of beverage along with a stained glass piece by a local artist that catches Connie’s eye.

It’s our 25th anniversary and we had visions of celebrating in the Little Italy section of Baltimore. We bypassed that destination after being quoted $2-$3 per foot for dockage around the Inner Harbor. Instead we have lunch at the Pirate’s Cove here in Galesville and Connie prepared a great dinner accompanied by a bottle of Chandon which we consumed. Now that was a celebration! Some time ago I had arranged for a salvaged 1715 Spanish Coin to be mounted as a pendant for her anniversary/birthday present. Finally I was able to watch her face when she opened the box. Hey, we live on the Treasure Coast of Florida so it’s fitting that she has a memento. Many thanks to our friends Don and Chunky for helping me pull this off!

In the background we are watching the weather persist and conditions are not improving. Rather than fret, we start thinking about taking advantage of the yard party planned for Saturday afternoon. While we wanted to be underway early Saturday morning, Spike says it is a great party with live music and besides he plays bass. Wells is the guy who runs the parts department and is the vocalist. After several invitations from other staffers, (“You ARE staying for the party aren’t you?”) we decide to stay one more night. The up side? Our rebuilt alternator comes back and is promptly deposited in the spare parts storage area saving us the expense of shipping. But in the end it all comes down to food and drink!

We walked to the front yard of the original homestead which fronts on the creek and it had been turned into party central, including amplifiers, lights and tables loaded with food. Within the hour we had about 140 people plus kids and dogs wandering around with draft beer, wine and soft drinks. Burgers, dogs, and chicken both fried and barbeque were just some of the selections. Most folks brought a dish to share, a boating tradition.

The music was excellent with, “Riverside Drive” playing a mix of down-home Blues and Rockabilly. Spike was cleaned up and hot on the bass! Remember Wells the singer who is also in charge of the parts department? He sounded like he was straight from Bourbobn Street and it turns out that it’s his wife who runs the local art gallery where we purchased the stained glass. A very small community to say the least.

T-B The water view from the homestead and the band.

Yours truly sampling the goodies.

During the evening we met several couples who either had boats in the marina or lived nearby. One couple, (John & Rhonda) are members of the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club, and spent winters at the Jib Room, (a place we know well!) in Marsh Harbour. They now live nearby on the waterfront and invited us to spend time at their dock the next time we’re in the area. They also have reservations for a house in Marathon this winter. We will definitely get together again.

T/B Spikester, Mean Lick and Wells!
We’re underway Sunday, (9/21) at 7:00 a.m. as planned, although the departure is a bit tricky since late Saturday a large sailboat had tied up perpendicular to and off our stern. I have to back down the fairway for a bit to avoid his bowsprit before making a 180 degree turn to reverse direction and make way back to the creek. All goes smoothly and we’re underway for an anchorage on Mill Creek off the Wicomico River, south of the Potomac in Virginia. Our niece Meagan is waiting for our arrival in Portsmouth, VA on Monday so we have reservations at Ocean Marine Yacht Center there.

We hope you get as much enjoyment from the pictures as we did from staying here.
Paul & Connie
M/V The Rose, GH37
Underway on the Chesapeake

Sunday, September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008

I neglected to mention in our earlier post that we had company when departing the marina on Thursday. Connie & I foolishly assumed that since we were scheduled to leave mid-week at 7:00 a.m. we’d follow our usual plan of operation; just the 2 of us handling lines, etc.

Not to be!

On Wednesday evening Ben from “No Regrets” came down to the marina from his home in Massachusetts and slept on his boat so he’d be able to help with lines. Plus Dave and Troy from the marina walked down to pitch in. Dave is a little camera shy, but we were able to capture the old salt. His sailboat is in a slip just a few yards away from ours. They are part of the Brewer crew who worked to make our summer stay very enjoyable.

Dave, Troy and Ben (L-R)
As we departed Narragansett Bay we were treated to a wave from our Aunt Marianne who drove down to the URI Bay Campus to see us off.

This is
Pt. Judith Light as we departed RI.

Long Island Sound is an attractive cruising area. Our first day underway, (Thursday) was no exception to that with bright sun and calm water. The first night we anchored in Westbrook Harbor which sits behind a large breakwater and is usually well protected. Normally when at anchor we settle in and the boat quiets down once the sun sets. Thursday was an exception as we were rocking and rolling while at anchor. As a result neither of us slept well because of all the activity. I had the anchor snubber down but the nylon lines were groaning and we were. “hunting” most of the night. The conditions during the day Friday did not improve. It was bumpy and rocky, with wind and rain off and on, less than ideal. We decided to change course and make for the Long Island shore which we hoped would shelter us from the wind. We lost a little time but conditions were acceptable for the rest of the day.

We turned into Manhasset Bay at 4:30 and the anchor was set at 4:45 p.m. Both of us were eyeballing the clock trying to estimate how quickly we could shower, eat and fall into bed. It’s amazing what a cup of hot soup with dinner and a shower will do when you’ve had a damp-rainy day underway.

The next leg of the trip is the interesting section. We prefer to run outside in the ocean along the New Jersey coast rather than navigate the New Jersey ICW for reasons you’ve read about earlier on this blog. It has been our practice to go through the night, a passage of 25-30 hours (+/-) from Manhasset to Summit North Marina on the C&D Canal. The canal connects the Delaware Bay to the Chesapeake Bay……hence the name C&D.

There are several factors that have to be considered for this part of the trip. Headed south we have to time the current and tide on the East River in NY City. That stretch is called Hell Gate for good reasons. Then we have to consider the ocean conditions along the NJ coast. The forecast is for the wind to initially be out of the Northwest, then Southwest which are both favorable and no more than 5-10kts. Waves are predicted 1-2’. So if NOAA is correct we should be ok. The final twist is; can we catch the flood tide up the Delaware Bay? That’s a long trip of 50 miles even with favorable conditions and there’s no place to hide if conditions deteriorate. We’d much prefer to have that push from the current. It looks like we’re ok, and the one concession we make is that rather than navigate the shortcut through the Cape May Canal at night we’ll go 3 miles further and take the safe route around Cape May itself. In any event, the Navigator has plotted not only plan A, but also B and C. As an alternative, we can tuck in at Manasquan, Barnegat, or Atlantic City inlets in the event conditions deteriorate as we head south. That’s not likely given the forecast but we feel better knowing there are options. Plans are to turn the corner at Cape May early Sunday morning putting us in place for the current up the bay and then into the C&D Canal early afternoon that same day. Saturday evening it was overcast early, but the moon broke through so we had good visibility, a 7 kt wind on the bow and the swells were gentle. I did engine room checks routinely and the diesels were purring. We swapped helm duties during the night, so both of us had napped but it’s a restless sleep as we awaken with any noise from the VHF radio or a beep from the radar.

Connie plotted the trip perfectly! This is not a seat-of-the-pants calculation. Nobeltec is our computerized electronic charting system and runs through the GPS and Autopilot to a pilothouse laptop computer. Like all tools it’s only as good as the operator! Over 4 years we have gradually learned to make good use of it’s capability. As we approached Cape May the current carried us and our speed over ground increased to 8 ½ kts. Considering that we’re a 7 kt boat; that’s flying! We made Cape May at 4:30 a.m. after having near perfect conditions during the night. We continued at that speed for the next 7 hours and enjoyed the warmth and visibility the sun provided. Finally, the sun comes up and the finish line is in sight. We take turns showering and the galley gets a cleaning after a night of snacking. Yes, it all comes down to food. There was a steady supply of fruit, cereal, sandwiches and popcorn from the galley to the pilothouse to help keep the energy level up and our eyes open.
On Saturday Connie had made the arrangements for our dockage via cell phone to explain that we were making an overnight run and requested a side-to transient berth on Sunday and assistance with dock lines. We were assured that there was a note to that effect and they’d be waiting for us. On Sunday just outside the marina we called on the radio to receive our specific assignment. As promised we had a T-head but when we came down the fairway and approached the berth there wasn’t a dockhand to be seen anywhere. We slid The Rose gently alongside and Connie stepped off, secured the stern line and quickly cleated a forward spring to hold her in place. In no time at all, we had all lines, (4) secure and the power connected. Twenty seven plus hours after departure from Manhasset Bay in Port Washington, LI we are docked in Delaware.

C&D Canal headed west
Getting back to my favorite subject; tonight we have pork chops ready for dinner along with a bottle of Sangiovese wine. There is always time for a glass of wine!
Summit North is actually located in a state park and is very picturesque. The office and support facilities are a steep climb up the bank, but I welcomed the exercise after being aboard for that extended stretch. We’ll probably spend an extra night here because of a front passing through the Chesapeake. That’s ok though; The Rose needs to have the salt rinsed off from the run down the Jersey coast and after three days underway we’re ready for a day off. We’re looking forward to departing on Tuesday for a leisurely cruise along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, making time to visit Cambridge and Rock Hall, MD. That area is light years away from the urban, hustle-bustle we usually encounter. Baltimore is another favorite stop that we haven’t made in a couple of years and Little Italy is just a short walk from the Inner Harbor.

So many destinations, so little time!

Paul & Connie
M/V The Rose, GH37
Summit North Marina
Bear, Delaware

Thursday, September 11, 2008

After an enjoyable and memorable 3 months we are once again underway. The Rose and her crew are headed south in search of warmer water and temperatures. Our departure had been delayed while we waited for the residuals from Hannah to leave the area. At this point it appears that Ike will only graze, (we hope) the Keys and then head into the Gulf.

As we appraoched the end of boating season, Greenwich Bay North was the setting for the dock party to end all parties with food and drink supplied by the tenants of Dock 13. I would guess that there were 40-50 in attendance and the festivities continued until 11:00 p.m

The weeks in between our arrival on Memorial Day and Labor Day were chock full of family and friends.This is Evelyn the youngest of our 4 grandchildren. She insisted that Grandma wear a crown also!

This year our three eldest grandchildren, (Joshua, Sofia & Victor) slept aboard on a couple of occasions and they also had a chance to do some fishing here in the marina.
We spent time with all of our children and family, while the summer weather cooperated with the best Rhode Island has to offer.

As you can see, we had a good time and we eat whatever we catch!

We were delighted that our cruising friends Ty and Suzanne whom we met on the Potomac River made time during a road trip to detour to The Rose so that we could share the fine Italian cooking at Lucce here in Warwick.

In August we attended the 33rd Annual Murgo family reunion along with 121 descendants of my grandparents. One set of grandparents, 8 brothers and sisters, 4 generations present and 33 consecutive years. Quite an accomplishment!

On a sad note, we lost our cousin Donna this summer after a fierce 8 month battle with Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. For the last few years while travelling up and down the coast we made our way to the Brewer Yard in Stamford, CT and would spend a couple of days visiting with Donna & Tom who live nearby in Old Greenwich, CT. Despite a hectic and demanding schedule of working and raising a family they always made time to wine and dine with us. Her hospitality, wit and smile will be missed and our sympathy and prayers go out to her husband Tom, sons Dom & Vic and their families.

As always, we have enjoyed socializing with our dock buddies here in Greenwich Bay. Many of our neighbors have cruising dreams and are simply waiting for the right time and circumstances. The snapshot to the right is Gail from, "No Regrets". She likes Rum.....a lot!

This year our plans are to spend about a month making our way south along the Atlantic seaboard from Rhode Island to Florida. We expect to do some sightseeing while on the Chesapeake, likely the Eastern Shore where we really enjoy anchoring and exploring small fishing villages. Baltimore is another favorite stop so if the weather cooperates it will also be on our itinerary. As always we are travelling with one eye focused on our weather system, watching for storms. The good news is that we have a number of, “hurricane holes” identified; places where we can tuck in and wait for storms to pass.
We bought a, “Hookah” rig this summer that will allow me to dive and check the bottom of the boat, zincs and the props should the need arise. This is an 110v system, a small compressor that operates without oil. It maintains sufficient air pressure to supply one diver to relatively shallow depths. There have been times when we picked up line from an unmarked crab pot or other debris in our props. Rather than pull into a marina for a quick haul or a diver, I’ll be able to slip into the water and look for myself. I used it this year to check the running gear and zincs prior to leaving. Special thanks to Tim and Lisa our divers who helped me order and assemble this unit.

We plan to spend the winter in Marathon, FL at the same marina we enjoyed last year. Plans beyond that are still in the formative stage but they have our deposit and have guaranteed the same slip.
If you have a question about a route or destination we selected, (or any other issue) feel free to fire off an e-mail and we’ll do our best to answer it. We nearly always have an internet connection with our Verizon Air Card running in the pilothouse.

Paul & Connie
M/V The Rose, GH37
Anchored at Westbrook, CT

Labels: , ,