Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Final Frenzy

At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 19th, we departed Middleport.  Two lift bridges and two locks and 25.6 miles later, we arrived in Tonawanda, the end of the Erie Canal.  The harbor was packed with partying power boats, but they all left by the evening.

At 7:15 Monday morning we moved the boat to Wardell's Marina, just past the last low bridge on the canal.  We waited until 10:30 for a French Canadian boat to unstep their mast, then we went to work.  Four hours later Passage's mast was up and tuned, and the sails were on, and we were fully rigged.  We then motored up the Niagara River, mostly making only 3.5 knots over the bottom.  We spent the night at Erie Yacht Basin.

Tuesday the 21st we left the dock at 5:30 a.m.  Our goal was to voyage all the way to Grand River, Ohio, our home port.  We enjoyed flat seas and a light easterly wind.  The forecast called for thunderstorms, so we checked the computer weather radar site every two hours.  Finally, storms appeared at the Ohio-Kentucky border moving northeast.  We realized we couldn't reach home, so we stopped at Ashtabula Yacht Club, arriving at 9:05 p.m.  We tied up the boat, took showers and settled in for the night when the storms arrived at 11:00 p.m.  As we watched lightning strike all around us and the rain come down in sheets, we were thankful to be safely tied to a dock.

On Wednesday the 22nd of June we caught the 7:30 lift bridge opening and headed for home.  We were able to sail for an hour, but the wind switched to the southwest.  We motored the rest of the way home, arriving at 12:45 p.m.  We were home at last.  We now are looking forward to sailing "Passage" on Lake Erie for the summer.

Our trip from the keys took 45 travel days and totalled 2059.8 nautical miles.  Because most of the voyage took place on the ICW and Erie Canal, we motored most of the time, burning $1263.79 in diesel fuel.  This is four times more than our first trip in 1999, when we spent only 336 dollars on fuel, even though that cruise included running out to Key West and up the west coast of Florida to Fort Myers Beach.

Sue and I will be posting less often through the summer.  We want to thank everyone who followed our blog and responded to it with emails or comments.   We hope you all have a great summer.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Erie Canal Cruising

Sunday, June 12th, we departed the party weary Castleton Boat Club at 7:00 a.m.  We motored against the current for three hours before arriving at the Troy Lock, and soon after that, the Erie Canal.  We passed the free docks of the Welcome Center in Waterford and entered the five stepped locks that begin the canal.  Each lock averages about 35 feet of lift, and all are very close together.  We reached and went through Lock 8, then tied up for the night on the nice wall west of the lock.

The eight locks kept our mileage low, as we arrived at 4:10 after traveling just 37 nautical miles.  We took showers with the sun shower, grilled a steak, and went to bed early, enjoying a very quiet night at this rural location.

Monday we traveled 48.7 miles including 9 more locks in 11 hours and fifteen minutes.  We stopped at Little Falls, where we ran into Gemini friends Terry and Lauren Spaulding.  They are traveling the Great Loop on their second boat, a 30 foot Albin named "Blue Highways."

We enjoyed happy hour on their boat and caught up with what we have done since we last saw each other in Ft. Myers in February.

Tuesday the 14th brought 61.2 gruelling miles and 5 locks in eleven and a half hours.  We left Little Falls at 6:25 a.m., reaching Sylvan Beach at 3:00 p.m.

We passed the Sylvan Beach lighthouse soon thereafter, and three hours later we were safely across Oneida Lake and tied up at the free floating dock in Brewerton.  M/V Blue Highways arrived a short time later.  We enjoyed happy hour again, this time aboard "Passage."

The 15th we logged our longest day, motoring 12 hours and 20 minutes with seven locks to reach Newark, New York by 7:10 p.m.  This was the last day of traveling the rivers which could flood in heavy rain.  The highlight of the day was passing the old aquaduct where the Erie Canal once crossed over the current route.

The Newark dock is free with power, water, restrooms and shower, and even a free washer and dryer.  We arrived too late to enjoy the town, and we planned on leaving early the next morning.

Thursday the 16th we departed Newark at 6:52 a.m. and arrived in the college town of Brockport by 3:30, a journey of 45.3 miles.

This leg of the trip began the section we love the most.  We passed through only 4 locks and under 3 lift bridges.  The canal is narrow with the tow path busy with people walking, jogging or biking.

Brockport has power and water at the wall, and a very nice visitor's center with showers, etc., all for 12 dollars a night.

Our visit was interrupted by rain, but we still managed to explore the town.  We even changed the engine oil and filter, as well as the primary fuel filter.

Friday we really switched into cruising mode since we needed to wait for Monday to step our mast at the end of the canal.  We left Brockport at 7:50, and 21.5 miles later arrived in Medina, N.Y.  We passed under seven lift bridges and NO locks.  Nice!  Medina offered free dockage with power, water and showers.  The tired old town also sported a fabulous model train museum.

This old RR terminal was packed with railroad memorabilia and a HUGE model train display.

The museum is not all about model railroads.  Outside they are restoring an old pair of E-8 diesel locomotives, which starting next year will pull a dinner train through the New York countryside.

Medina is a pretty tired town, but there was once wealth here.  A walk down Prospect Ave. reveals some lovely mansions of the past.

Friday night in Medina was antique car night by the waterside, complete with a DJ playing mostly 50's music.  Fortunately, the party broke up at eight p.m.

Saturday the 18th of June, we enjoyed breakfast in town before departing at 8:00 a.m.  4.5 miles later we arrived at the little village of Middleport.  The young bridge tender Jason came right down to the wall to show us the power, water, and restroom facilities.

All this is free, though we will leave a donation in the lock box to show our appreciation.  The laundromat is 150 feet from the boat, so Sue is doing laundry as I finish this blog.  We will enjoy an ice cream cone after lunch, and eat dinner at the locally well known Basket Factory Restaurant.  Tomorrow, we will finish our canal cruise.  Hopefully, the mast will go up Monday morning in Tonawanda; and we will be on Lake Erie Tuesday morning!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Northern Dash

We departed Norfolk on Tuesday, May 31st at 8:00 a.m.  Our departure was slowed by a navy warship which chose to sail at about the same time.

We motored 51.7 nautical miles on flat seas with the air temperature reaching 95 degrees, so we chose to spend the night at Dozier's Regatta Point Marina on Broad Creek in Deltaville.  The facilities here were very nice, and the air conditioning was appreciated.

Wednesday we traveled 55 miles to Solomon's Island. We enjoyed another day of record setting heat, so we plugged in at Calvert Marine.  Showers were a little rough here, but the a/c worked great.

Thursday, June 2nd we left Solomon's Island with a forecast of northwest winds of 15 knots gusting to 25.  The forecast was correct.  After two long tacks the wind clocked a little more west, and we sailed up the bay in boisterous conditions.  48 miles later our salt encrusted catamaran reached my Uncle Pete's dock on Back Creek.  Uncle Pete was waiting on the dock.

We enjoyed visiting with him and my cousin Sandi.  We ate at Pete's favorite buffet restaurant, and visited again the next day.  That evening we went to dinner at Galway Bay with Tom and Doris Johnson, who live near Annapolis.  We became close friends during the winter in Florida.

On Saturday, June 4th we motored out of Back Creek.

Every inch of the shoreline is docked boats.  Soon we were powering up the mirror flat Chesapeake on our way to Chesapeake City.  Since the anchorage and free dock were full, we stopped at Summit North Marina in Bear, Delaware.  After a 55.2 mile day we barely docked before the rain arrived. 

On Sunday, June 5th, we celebrated my 64th birthday by pounding down the Delaware Bay into southeast winds.  We enjoyed positive current for ninety minutes, reaching  speeds over the bottom of up to 9.2 knots!  However, the seas were ugly because the wind opposed the current.   After fighting current most of the day, the last two hours were with current and calming seas.  58.1 miles later we arrived at Utsch's Marina in Cape May.

Passage left the dock on the 6th at 6:50 a.m., and we motorsailed 67.1 nautical miles in eleven hours.  We anchored inside the Barnegat Inlet near Lady Jane, a 32 foot schooner sailed by John and Jane Wilson, whom we had met in Fort Myers.

The following morning we were up early for the long sail to New York City, so we greeted the Sunrise at the Barnegat light.

We enjoyed a wonderful sail up the New Jersey Coast, passing Lady Jane two hours into the day.

Ten hours and 62.1 nautical miles later, we were securely anchored at Liberty Park behind the Statue of Liberty, where we enjoyed a peaceful night.

Wednesday, June 8th we faced the daunting task of fighting the current of the Hudson River and the wakes of the multitude of speeding ferries.  But first we said goodby to Lady Liberty.

We started north at 3.5 knots over the bottom, but conditions improved after we crossed under the George Washington Bridge.  After Tarrytown the current turned, and we rode the current at speeds up to 8.3 knots.  We motored 62.1 miles to dock at Marlboro Yacht Club after a long day in 95 degree heat.

Thursday, June 9th we were up at 5 a.m., and left the dock at 5:25 to catch the current north.  We enjoyed speeds of 8.1 early, and carried the current most of the way to Catskill Creek 38 miles later, arriving at 10:38 a.m.  We spent the day washing the decks and removing and storing the sails, but our work was interrupted by a good rain storm.

Friday, June 10th, we finished prepping the boat, and by noon the mast was down and secured in her cradle on the deck.  By 12:20 we left Riverview Marina, fighting a current all afternoon.  Our boat speed gradually improved from 4.5 to 5.4.  On the way we passed Isis, a Beneteau from Toronto with Josh and Sarah, who had unstepped their mast just before us.

Four and a half hours and 21.3 miles later, we stopped for the night at Castleton Boat Club, where we were greeted by Rob Davies of S/V Mandate.  Rob kindly lent us his car, so we made a grocery run to restock our empty refrigerator.  We then enjoyed happy hour with Rob and Sue, who encouraged us to stay for the party tomorrow.

Today is Saturday the 11th.  We are enjoying a rainy lay day.  Sue will catch up on laundry between the raindrops, and we will enjoy the party.  Tomorrow we will reach the Erie Canal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Voyage to Virgina

Passage sailed out of Ocracoke at six a.m. on Friday, May 27th.  Our hopes of sailing Pamlico Sound were dashed by weak winds on the stern, so we motored and motor sailed the 58.4 nautical miles to Manteo on Roanoke Island.  On the way we passed the Bodie Island lighthouse.

We spent two nights at the Manteo Waterfront Marina.  Manteo is a beautiful village steeped in history and maritime tradition.  One block from the marina is the Maritime Museum, which celebrates the boat building tradition of the island.

The museum includes this beautiful replica of a lighthouse that once lit the southern tip of Roanoke Island.  A long boardwalk along the harbor allows everyone to soak in the nautical life and tradition of the island.  Across the street from the marina sits the Blue Moon Cafe, home of the best hamburger Sue and I have every eaten.

Across the water from the marina, a working replica of a sixteenth century English sailing ship, the Queen Elizabeth II, sits moored at a fabulous museum celebrating the life of the Indians and the settlement of the area by the English. 

Two crew members in period costume explained the workings of the ship, always staying "in character" even when talking about unrelated things such as Sue's hat clip.
The tiller of the ship is in the second cabin down, and it is controlled by a vertical rod on the deck above.

The galley is modern and spacious.

Paths in the park let to various displays, such as the early English settlement.  There reenactors demonstrated the skills used to build a life in the wilderness.

The working blacksmith building was constructed of beams squared off by axes.

Other paths led to exhibits showing how the Indians constructed their longhouses.

A completed long house could be inspected inside and out.  We also saw a 50 minute movie about the first encounters between whites and Indians in this area.  We spent a full afternoon here, and could have come back again to spend more time at the impressive indoor museum that is also on the grounds.

We learned that even the marina manager's boat fit the historic atmosphere of Manteo.  He has a meticulously restored 1969 Columbia 21 daysailer.  She really was quite beautiful.

After our fabulous visit to Manteo, we were eager to get underway on Sunday, May 29th.  We left the dock at 6:40 and motorsailed 68.1 nautical miles in a little over 11 hours, arriving at Great Bridge, Virginia at 5:45 p.m.  They do have a great looking bridge in Great Bridge.

We had hoped to tie up at the free wall on the other side of the draw bridge, but it was full.  We spent the night at the Atlantic Yacht Basin, and were rewarded with another glimpse of history.

This impressive old Trumpy yacht was being refitted in the yard.  Recognize her?

The name on the smokestack says it all.  I was really excited.  After all, US Presidents from Herbert Hoover through Ronald Reagan had conducted official business on this presidential yacht.  The 104 foot 1925 Trumpy still resides in Washington, DC, though now she is available to charter for what, I am sure, is slightly more than a modest fee.

Today is Memorial Day, Monday May 30th.  We traveled only 10.7 miles today.  Limited openings by bridges and the Great Bridge lock lengthened our journey to 2.5 hours.  We arrived at Waterside Marina in Norfolk, where we were able to pick up our mail.  We will begin our voyage up the Chesapeake Bay tomorrow, but first we will eat at Joe's.

That is, unless we decide to try one of the other restaurants right here at the marina.  We are enjoying a little bit of a heat wave, as the high for the next three days is to be about 91.  Hope that you are enjoying good weather too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On to North Carolina

On Saturday, May 21, we departed Osprey Marina and traveled 9 hours and 45 sometimes grueling minutes to Deep Point Marina on the Cape Fear River in Southport, North Carolina.  This 58.2 nautical mile day was tough because the weekend warriors were out in their center console fishing boats demonstrating just how rude yahoos can be.  Docking next to the ferry to Bald Island was a pleasure in comparison.

We decided not to travel on Sunday, so we simply rode the current 9 nautical miles to the Carolina State Park Marina, which was recently reopened with all new docks.  Dockage was only 30 bucks, and Sue was able to replenish the fridge by walking to the Food Lion.  We enjoyed a peaceful Sunday, as we were the only boat in the whole marina, which was staffed until 10:00 p.m.  Amazing!

On Monday, May 23rd, we departed Carolina Beach, aided by a strong southerly breeze.  We negotiated a number of poorly timed restricted lift bridges to reach Dudley's Marina in Swansboro, 59.4 nautical miles later.  Dudley's is a rough marina, but was only 75 cents per foot. 

The next morning we left at 7:50 a.m. for Oriental.  We motorsailed quite a bit, but when we arrived in Oriental Harbor the free dock was full.  So we moved another 6 miles down the Neuse River and anchored in Broad Creek.  This anchorage set us up perfectly for our sail to Ocracoke.

On Wednesday, May 25th , we hauled anchor by 6:45 a.m., and 30 minutes later we were on the Neuse River under sail!  We had a great breeze until we approached Pamlico Sound.  However, after 75 minutes of sailing our speed had dropped from 6.5 knots to 3.9 knots.  So we ended up motoring the rest of the was to Silver Lake in Ocracoke Island, a distance of 34.1 nautical miles.  We found a nice dock at the National Park docks for 22.88 a night, so we were set with air conditioning in the Carolina heat.

Almost immediately upon arrival, we were made honorary members of SCOO, which meant we could attend their 4:30 happy hour.  What is SCOO?  It is the Sailing Club of Oriental.  They are a great bunch of people, and we enjoyed visiting with them through two happy hours.

Thursday was our lay day, so we did the tourist thing, which was an easy thing to do since Ocracoke is really not much more than a tourist trap.  We walked quite a bit in the morning, visiting the British Cemetery.

In addition to the graves of four British sailors who died when a German U-Boat torpedoed their warship off of Ocracoke during WW II, there are graves dating back to 1806.

After our walking tour, we enjoyed a lunch at the Anchorage Marina Grill.  We tried the grilled Spanish Mackerel sandwiches, since the fish were fresh caught.  Mackerel is pretty good, but not on a par with mahi-mahi or grouper.

After lunch we dropped 10 bucks on a golf cart to broaden our tour of the island.

Of course we had to motor out to the Ocracoke lighthouse.

An hour on the golf cart was all we needed to see most of the island. 

After happy hour with SCOO, we are preparing for our next leg, which is to Manteo on historic Roanoke Island.  Hopefully, the winds will hold, and we can sail more on Pamlico Sound tomorrow.