Thursday, 29 August 2013

Home again

We arrived home on May 30th and were welcomed by friends as we pulled in to the yacht club.  Several people have suggested we put on a slide show and information night to share our story and perhaps give others some inspiration to make a similar trip. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mast Raising and Lake Ontario

We left the Oswego canal Tuesday afternoon and headed to Fair Point Marina to meet Schyler Barnes to raise the mast.   This is a wonderful marina that feels like a yacht club.  The washrooms are clean and well kept, There is a small clubhouse with laundry facilities, kitchen and library/ games room.  As luck would have it Steve Pettingill from Hunter was there to rig a new Hunter 40 that just came in and Al got lots of pointers on how to tune the B&R rig on Quantum Joy.
What a joy to deal with a well run marina.  We will try to return for the Hunter Reunion this August if time permits.

Thursday  we head for Rochester and Friday or Saturday home likely depending on weather and winds.
Starting the lift

positioning the mast

Steve Pettingill,
  from Hunter happened to be at the marina commissioning a new 40 ft and helped me tune the B&R rigged mast on Quantum Joy.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

NY Canal System

We started the trip up the Erie Canal under rainy and very cold conditions until Monday when the sun finally came out warming it up considerably.  Our trip across lake Oneida was very pleasant this time as there was only a light chop on the water. 
Overnighting on the wall before Lock 19

Town dock in Pheonix
We entered the Oswego canal just before dinner and stopped at the free dock in Pheonix for the night. What a lovely spot!  This town has gone all out to welcome boaters.  There are tables and chairs on the dock, free wifi, hydro and water, pump outs are also available.  In the summer the museum is open and complimentary refreshments are served.  Local school children are encouraged to volunteer to help boaters by walking dogs, cleaning boats and helping out wherever possible.  The town also puts on all kinds of concerts and events in the park by the dock.  There are restaurants, a bakery and coffee shops within steps of the dock as well as a very clean laundromat with large capacity washers and dryers.
Some of the wildlife seen on the canal

Lock emptying - with a few leaks - from the pressure of 35 feet of water behind the doors

Today we hope to complete the last leg of the canal system and get the mast put backup.  We were held up at Minetto town dock for a few hours awaiting the opening of lock 6 which was undergoing maintenance work. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hudson River and mast stepping

Our journey up the Hudson River to Hop-o-Nose Marina in Catskill, NY was smooth with the current pushing us along at a good pace.  As we arrived at Hop-o-Nose marina we passed another sailboat on the way out of the dock, imagine our surprise, it was Pasquale on Hammertime II, who we met and sailed with last Fall on our way down the Erie Canal and on to Haverstraw where we weathered out the hurricane together.  We hope to catch up with him again on the canal.

The Hudson has the prettist lighthouses anywhere.

The mast was taken down this morning and we got on our way before noon.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

New York City

We are thankful we have AIS which show at least the commercial traffic. 
We arrived in New York on Sunday and dodged the freighters and ferries in the harbour but made it to the 79th Street Boat Basin. Who would guess you could anchor out down town New York.  Anchoring is a little scary as it is 30 feet deep and there is a 3 knot current that changes 180 deg every 6 hours which my Manson anchor had to reset at least 24 times during our stay.  I had out 140 feet of chain.
 It was cold and rainy but we ventured out, making the short walk to the subway and then on to Times Square where we met up with Dave's daughter Tia and her mom Laurie. We then toured Madame Tussaud's wax museum where we posed with some of the stars before heading out for dinner.

 Monday we walked a few blocks to the American Museum of Natural History where we spent most of the day exploring the exhibits before taking a walk in Central Park.

Times Square
New York subway

same size as the subway but underwater (Intrepid submarine)
We spent the morning and early afternoon Tuesday at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum while we waited for the tide to turn (so we could take advantage of the current). We said our goodbyes to David as we departed New York, it will seem strange not having him along side us on this final leg of our journey.

Al putting the ROCK in his place

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Chesapeake and Delaware

We have spent the last few days on the Chesapeake and Delaware.  We spent two days in Annapolis getting sails restitched and browsing through the many marine stores there.
Downtown Annapolis
We then motored/sailed up to the D&C Canal and over to the Delaware ending up at Cape May.  Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of sailing wind on this leg of the trip but the weather was mostly sunny and it warmed up the last couple of days.
We got quite a push from the current on the Chesapeake which brought our speed up considerably

Tug and power plant on the Delaware

Lighthouse on the Delaware
Last night we arrived in Atlantic City so we went ashore and had dinner and played the slots for a minute or two - and left, while our luck was still with us, over $50 richer.  Today we are making the long trip to New York City, under grey skies and light winds. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Dismal Swamp

Dave and Jancie talking with paster Ben and Hans
As we continued to make our way north we finally experienced some great weather.  We set out from Oriental, NC and sailed most of the way to Elisabeth City where we spent two nights tied up to the free public dock.  Wednesday morning we were welcomed by Rev. Bob, a Pentecostal minister.  Rev. Bob drove us to the laundromat and then to Walmart for groceries.  We joined Bob and his wife Jan for dinner at an Italian restaurant before attending a service at his church. The service was much different than Dave, Al and I had ever experienced.  After the service we went for frozen yogurt and then stopped by the law firm where Jan worked to see her boss's extensive collection of mounted big game heads.  What a day!  
Lots of Turtles along the Dismal Swamp

Canal was originlly dug by hand in the mid 1700's

Yesterday we spent a lazy day motoring down the dismal swamp enjoying the sunshine.  We rafted up with Dave at lunchtime and awaited the opening of the first of two locks we will go through on the canal.  Tonight we are rafted up with two other boats just outside the second lock awaiting the 8:30 am opening.  Al and Dave visited the auto supply and grocery stores before we went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant all within a short walk of where we were docked.

Today we had another beautiful day as we completed the remaining miles on the Intercostal Waterway and are now headed up the Chesapeake on our way to Annapolis.  The above video is at a lock where Robert Peek (the Lockmaster) shows us his talent on the conch horn.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Back in the USA

The 460 mile (3 day) trip began under blue skies and moderate seas on Saturday. Sunday was another good sailing day and Monday started out well. We hoped to make it into the Cape Fear entrance late in the afternoon, before the storms hit.

Along the way a fan belt that Al replaced before we left the Bahamas broke and Al replaced it with a spare. A couple of hours later the replacement belt broke. We tried getting another from Dave who was sailing next to us, but the seas were too rough and we lost the one he tossed to us. Al found the old fan belt that, thankfully, he had not thrown out and put it on. We were hopeful that it would hold out until we got into the harbour.

Look close on left, that's us
The winds died out and the storm hit when we were about 60 miles from shore. We lost some time trying to run around the outside of the storm but eventually decided to punch through. Amazingly the storm clouds separated in front of us and we made our way along with storm clouds and lightening striking on all sides. We experienced some high winds and rain, but missed the worst of the storm.

Radar view of storm splitting for us so we can safely proceed to Cape Fear, NC

As we got closer to shore, Al tried to raise TowBoat US on the radio to see if we could get them to bring us out a replacement fan belt. There was no answer to his hail so he called the Coast Guard and had them relay a message. Within a couple of hours we had a replacement part delivered to the boat (at no charge). It was a huge relief to get the part as it was getting dark. We were then able to speed up a little and as the seas calmed we finally reached the first markers. The Coast Guard stayed in touch with us all the way in to make sure we were safe.

When we arrived we called Customs and they sent an officer out to clear us an hour later. We had a quick celebratory drink with Dave and Corinne after we cleared customs then fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows, exhausted after 3 days with only short naps between watches.

We spent two days in Southport before beginning our up the Intercoastal Waterway. So far we have each grounded out once (briefly) and Dave experienced some engine problems. The weather has been wet and cold and winds and current always seem to be against us. All of these factors are affecting our progress.
Janice getting her hair done in Wrightsville Beach, it has been a while.

We pulled into Oriental, NC early Sunday afternoon rather than continuing on slamming into wind and waves on the Pamlico Sound. Dave and Al went into town and picked up a few bargains at the marine consignment store.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Heading North

We spent the last few days in Marsh Harbour, Green Turtle Cay and Spanish Cay making repairs, exploring and socializing with Jeff, Dave and Corinne. We attended the 25th anniversary of the beer of the Bahamas, Kalik Beer, toured New Plymouth Settlement on Green Turtle Cay and did some beach combing on Goat Cay.
Rafting up with Mer Soleil and At Last in Marsh Harbour

Sailing to Spanish Cay

The weather for our last few days in the Bahamas has been fabulous and we have been taking advantage of every opportunity to enjoy it.

Tomorrow we are heading out on our long journey across the gulf stream. Our intent is to make it as far north as Moorhead City, NC before the weather turns. This is a 550 nm journey that we hope to complete in 60 hours. We will be sailing alongside "At Last".
Sundowners on Mer Soleil

Kalik 25 years party at Snappas  Marsh Harbour

Typical Loyalist house in New Plymouth Settlement

Celebrating at Snappas

At night, we will be taking 3 hour shifts at the helm. When I am on the helm Dave will be monitoring me from his boat so Al can sleep and Al will monitor Corinne when she is at helm on At Last so Dave can get some sleep. We have made the boats ready for the crossing and are ready for an early start tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

High and Dry in Marsh Harbour

On the travel lift in Marsh Harbour
We spent the weekend "on the hard" so Al could repair the rudder that was damaged when we ran aground last week.  We spent a hectic hour as we kept getting blown further onto the shoal.  After trying to pull ourselves off the shoal with the anchor, Dave and Al went out on the dinghies to try and pull the boat around. I was at the helm as the boat continued to slam onto the hard bottom with every wave.  We finally got the boat to deeper water and were able to sail back to our anchorage to assess the damage.

Rudder repair in progress
Luckily Al and Dave were able to patch the rudder up, at least temporarily, a better job will need to be done this Fall when the rudder can be removed and dried out a little better.

Dave also had his boat hauled in order to fix the bottom paint that was peeling.

Interesting coral formations

Being in the boatyard didn't stop us from enjoying the Sundowner ritual.  We met another boater, Jeff, who was having work done to his catamaran, Mer Soleil.

Our boat was put back in the water yesterday and today we went for a dive on Johnny's Reef with Jeff.

Some of the fish we saw on our dive today
Dave is still on the hard and awaiting the return of Corinne who flies in tonight.  He hopes to have the work completed by Friday so we can sail back to the States together sometime next week.

The weather looks pretty good for the next few days so we will continue to look for opportunities to get in a few more dives before we head back home.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Abacos part two

We weathered out some stormy weather and moved anchorages a couple of times over the past few days. We found a great grocery store in Marsh Harbour where we stocked up and Al and I took the bikes ashore for some much needed exercise.

Nippers Beach Bar, Great Guana Cay, Abacos
The islands here are more populated than those further south and there are more private vacation properties, small hotels and tourist services. Sunday we sailed over to Guana Cay for the pig roast at Nippers beach bar.

Monday we snorkelled on the barrier reef where Dave speared a fish. The Reef stretches for 300 miles up the coast of the Abacos Islands making it the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world.

Hope Town, Abacos from the top of the lighthouse

Walking Hope Town

Tuesday we toured the lighthouse and museum in Hope Town and today we visited the sailmakers loft at Man-O-War Cay.
Check out the boom on "the Rage" (insane)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Arrival in the Abacos

We left Harbour Town under light winds and clear skies on Sunday and arrived at Little Harbour in the Abacos by late afternoon. Monday we went for a walk around the settlement where we admired bronze sculptures by the late Randolf Johnston and stopped for a beer at Pete's Pub and Gallery.

Randolf Johnston sculpture

Later we moved to an anchorage near Sandy Cay. We enjoyed a great snorkel on Tuesday morning at Sandy Cay Reef where we saw large stands of Elkhorn Coral.
Elkhork Coral at Sandy Cay Reef

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

What an adventure!

Thank you so much to Janice and Al for inviting me to be part of this amazing opportunity. You have been wonderful hosts and have looked after me making me feel incredibly welcomed. Every day has been different and thrilling in its own way; from wave jumping with the dingy, exploring small island
towns, beach combing unpopulated soft sandy beaches, quietly paddling a still bay to snorkeling a beautiful reef. It has been a vacation filled with firsts; spotting a jumping stingray, speeding along with frolicking dolphins, navigating Devil's Backbone, steering the boat to taking my first ocean dive. I also want to thank Nancy and Dave - it has been a pleasure to meet you both.
Beach combing on Man Island

I wish Janice, Al and Dave a safe, happy and fun voyage home. Take care of yourselves and rest assured I don't regret any of the bruises - I wear them with pride knowing that I had the opportunity to be part of this once in a lifetime adventure.

Monday, 25 March 2013

North Eleuthera coral reefs

Al Has no problem spearing Lion Fish.  (poisonous)
We motored up to the north end of Eleuthera Saturday and anchored out just east of the Current Island cut. Dave from At Last and his guest Nancy joined us shortly after and we went out snorkelling. We found a huge coral head to explore. The water was colder than we are used to.

Exploring Current settlement on north Eleuthera

When we returned to the boat we stopped by Hullaballoo to invite Bill and Pat to join us for a walk around the settlement. After our walk everyone came back to our boat for a sundowner. Everyone had a great time sharing stories as we enjoyed our PiƱa Coladas.

Celebrating St Patrick's Day
Sunday morning Dave stopped by to give Al a hand with the auto pilot which stopped working a week ago. Al and I went for a drift dive in the afternoon then Dave and Nancy joined us for dinner and a movie.

We went to Spanish Wells to do laundry and stock up before my friend Janet joined us. The homes there are colourful and gardens well tended. Lobster fishing is the main industry in Spanish Wells and 70% of all lobstering for the Bahamas is accomplished here.

When Janet joined us we anchored out for a couple of days at Royal Island and did some snorkelling on Egg Reef. Dave and Nancy were there as well and after another attempt the auto pilot is back in working order.

Today we ventured through the devils backbone to Harbour Island. This is a narrow path through the coral reefs to the northeast side of Eleuthera. The guidebooks suggest hiring a pilot to take your boat through but we didn't have any trouble using the Garmin charts and with Nancy and I looking out for danger from the bow.

Beach Combing and found a message in a bottle
After anchoring we took a hike on Man Island and found a message in a bottle that someone had thrown off a cruise ship in Turks and Caicos.