2014-04 Abacos, Eleuthera, and North Exumas

April 8, 2014

Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos is a beautiful resort town. Clean and polished, the main means of transport is via golf cart. The island is small so there are very few cars. There are plenty of restaurants and shops and it is clearly geared for tourists.  We did most of our exploration by foot and enjoyed our stay. While out exploring in the tender we noticed a nice boat anchored in a small cove. We went closer for a look and soon met Joe and Susan who invited us aboard where we met Baci, their small cruising dog who was a delight. Their boat is a Grand Banks 49 and we got a tour, which we reciprocated aboard Shear Madness the following day.

Darin at the beach

Darin at the beach

Darin and Dick were soon to leave us as they had flights departing from Nassau. We had booked them on flights from Treasure Cay to Nassau and on March 22 departed to head to Treasure Cay. Upon arrival, the swell made for uncomfortable anchoring and we could not get into the local marina, as the depth at high tide is only 6 feet. So we went to plan B – head to Great Guana Cay to the east. Though a short trip of less than ten miles, this required exiting through Whale Cay Channel into the ocean, then back in through another pass as the waters inside are too shallow for us to navigate. Great Guana is a larger island than Green Turtle, but it is still a resort – very clean and nice with plenty to see and do. We explored on foot and by bike and tender. I searched for two geocaches and found one – at the famous “bobber tree”, a native tree decorated with numerous floats used to mark fishing locations. We visited the famous Nippers bar on a beautiful beach and had breakfast at a local restaurant where Bradley tried the chicken souse – a native kind of stew. It was yummy as were our bacon and egg sandwiches.  We had a chance to enjoy some snorkeling and spearfishing and Bradley nabbed his first fishes via spear – two nice snappers on a small reef. They made a wonderful dinner! In the Bahamas, you are only allowed to use a pole spear or Hawaiian sling, not a spear gun. Unlike a gun which shoots a spear, allowing it to travel a much greater distance, these more rudimentary devices require you to be much close to the intended target. Bradley is very good at stalking fish until he can get a good shot off.

The "Bobber Tree" on Great Guana Cay

The “Bobber Tree” on Great Guana Cay

On March 24th, the day of Dick and Darin’s departure we pulled anchor with a plan – head towards Treasure Cay towing the tender. When we got to the point where we would turn the big boat south to head towards Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco, Dick, Darin, and Gary would offload onto the tender and proceed to Treasure Cay where Dick and Darin would make their way to the airport and Gary would then catch up with us en route (the tender can go much faster than our 7-8 knot cruising speed). This plan worked well and soon Dick and Darin were off, Gary was back on board, and the tender was again happily being towed behind us.

As we approached Marsh Harbour, the weather forecast was not promising. Though not dangerous, we knew we were in for some strong winds over the coming days, so we needed a place where we would have good protection. That turned out to be Sugar Loaf Cay just outside Marsh Harbour.  On the way in, we spotted three other Nordhavns! First was a pretty yellow boat called South By West who we chatted with on the radio. Next was Tabula Rasa which was very exciting because we have been following each other’s blogs and have emailed back and forth but had never met. Finally was Let’s Dance, who was anchored just across the bay from us. Once we were safely anchored, we jumped in the tender to go meet Scott and Paula on Tabula Rasa. We had a great visit and it felt like we were getting together with old friends rather than just meeting. Philippe from South by West stopped by in his tender and we made plans to meet him later. More good friends were soon to come – George and Marci with their cruising Golden-doodle  Gulliver stopped in briefly to pick up guests so we caught up with them to visit and to finalize some plans for summer cruising in Canada and possibly Greenland. George also showed off his latest toy – a remote controlled helicopter drone which carries a GoPro camera and takes amazing aerial video!

Bradley's first speared fish of the season

Bradley’s first speared fish of the season

The winds continued to blow but I got out for a little paddle boarding. There was a stretch where I had to fight some strong winds and currents, but once inside a small lagoon, it was quite protected and just like being in a big swimming pool – except for the amazing fish and turtles I saw!  The day after we meet Philippe we heard him put out a call to the marina for some help.  As the winds clocked from west to north, his anchorage became uncomfortable, so they had decided to pull the anchor and move into marina. However in the process of pulling the anchor in, the boat became grounded on a large flat area.  Gary and Bradley decided to take our tender through a narrow pass to see if we could help.  Once we arrived, Bradley dove in the water to check out the situation.  The good news was it was not too bad and just to his port the water got deeper.  Simply by letting him know where the deeper water was, he was able to gently turn his rudder and put his boat in reverse.  With each wave that rolled S by W, he slowly freed himself and was safely away.  Even thought we really did not do much, to help, Philippe and his wife Claude invited us to South by West for a wonderful dinner a couple of days later. We really enjoyed getting to know them and in the “it’s a small world” spirit, it turns out they had known one of the previous owners of our boat and had been aboard her in the past.

Bradley, Claude, Philippe, and Kathy on North by West

Bradley, Philippe, Claude and Kathy on North by West

Marsh Harbour has stores and restaurants, but is not a resort town like Green Turtle or Great Guana. We made a run to the local grocery store – large and well stocked – for some fresh fruits and veggies and explored the town and surrounding areas by foot and bike. Before departing we invited Scott and Paula from Tabula Rasa and Bill from Let’s Dance over for drinks on Shear Madness, after which we went out for a wonderful dinner with Scott and Paula. We are honored that Scott included a review of us in his “tiki bar” reviews (which sounds even more fun to do than my book reviews!)

As the winds settled, we made plans to depart to begin our journey southward.  We did a short trip to Lynyrd Cay where we anchored to position ourselves for an early morning trip out of Little Harbour Cut.  After anchoring we went ashore at Little Harbour, home of Pete’s Pub and more importantly, coconut palms! We obtained several coconuts during our walk, which meant a new project for the boys! If you’ve never had a coconut fresh off a tree, it’s not all that easy to get into! A small arsenal of machete, hammer, screwdriver, a few words that can’t be repeated, and a little time resulted in some wonderful fresh coconut meat!

Gary Battles the One that Got Away

Gary Battles the One that Got Away

On March 31 we exited through Little Harbour Cut and headed towards the top of Eleuthera Island. Soon the fishing lines were out as we were heading for deep water and prime fishing territory. It took some time but we eventually hooked a fish – a large one as it turned out. Even slowing the boat to idle speed did not allow us to get the fish in, so we had to turn around and head back towards the fish, making gradual progress until the fish got slowly but surely closer to the boat. Soon we were ready to bring it on board – this was without a doubt the largest fish we have caught! But at the last minute a sickening Snap! And the line went slack as the fish swam away. Darn – we had just snapped 80-pound test line! Probably our own lack of expertise as we were trying to manhandle the fish on board. Oh well, it’s the one that got away!

After a beautiful passage we anchored just off Royal Island near Spanish Wells at the top of Eleuthera. Gary and I went ashore to Royal Island, I on my paddleboard and Gary on his surfboard. Once ashore we went for a nice walk through what seemed to be a vacant resort and a housing development that some time ago had been divided into lots but never built. There were dirt roads cut which made for easy hiking and some wonderful views. Bradley and I boarded the tender the next day to head into Spanish Wells, a nice town with several commercial fishing boats, a marina that is being rebuilt following hurricane damage many years ago, and some nice shops, marine stores, and restaurants. We noticed some heavy equipment clearing lots on Royal Island and I was up for another walk before departing, so I paddled ashore again on the morning of April 2, my birthday. I had been walking for a little while when a truck approached. The driver said he was responsible for maintenance on the island and that it was private and they didn’t really want people walking around the construction area. At first he said I could continue walking where I was going and began to drive away. Then he seemed to think better of that and returned, politely offering me a ride. I tried to convince him to just let me walk, but he gently offered again so I climbed in. He proceeded to give me a tour of the island, saying that new owners were trying to get the development going again. He took me to the resort area, which had some gorgeous buildings, a beautifully maintained pool, restaurant, and gym facility. Apparently the resort was operating until recently but is now closed until the next phase of development is done. It’s a beautiful place and hopefully will succeed this time. It was a very nice way to be escorted off the island! When I returned to the boat, I got to test my birthday present – a new boarding ladder for the tender! Bradley and Gary had spent the morning making if from parts Bradley had purchased a while ago. After some testing and adjustment, it works just fine! I will now be able to get back into the tender a lot more gracefully after swimming or snorkeling! After a wonderful day, Bradley and Gary prepared a fabulous dinner of lamb chops and baked potatoes accompanied by a magnificent sunset.

Shear Madness anchored at Royal Island

Shear Madness anchored at Royal Island

Our next destination was Ship Channel Cay at the north end of the Exumas. We had a perfect day for this 50-mile, seven hour trip. Once in deep water we hooked another fish. Gary brought it in so easily after the last one that I thought it must have got away. But indeed there was a very nice Spanish mackerel! The good weather continued as we anchored and soon were experiencing the most delightful snorkeling and spearfishing yet! We feasted on a fabulous 7-pound Nassau Grouper (well some of it is in the freezer) and Bradley also nabbed a fish we are having trouble positively identifying. So here is your challenge – please help us identify this fish (see photo). Everyone who correctly identifies it will be entered into a drawing for a Shear Madness shirt! Click here to submit your entry.

Mystery Fish - please identify!

Mystery Fish – please identify!

Speaking of fish identification, in our last post we included a photo of the fish we caught on our last trip. That has been identified as a Little Tunny or False Alabacore, which has sparked some discussion about whether it is a good fish to eat. Many people apparently scorn this fish, but we enjoy it. Our fish guide has this to say about it (see photo).

My book says the Little Tunny is good eating

My book says the Little Tunny is good eating

After two days of beautiful reefs, crystal clear water, and lots and lots of fish, we departed to head towards Cat Island. Once back into the deep waters of Exuma sound, we once again hooked a fish. This time it was an 8-pound mahi-mahi. Too bad we had already planned a chicken dinner! But it was good the next night. As the weather remained perfect, we decided to stop for the night at the south end of Eleuthera Island. We anchored by mid-afternoon, launched the tender and set out for some more reef exploration. We found several beautiful reefs, and a few big fish, but they were wary and Bradley couldn’t get close enough for a shot at any of them. Nevertheless it was a great day in the beautiful waters! From there, it was on to Cat Island, an uneventful trip even though the wind and waves picked up a bit. Soon we were safely anchored at Bennett’s Harbour, ready for our next adventures.

Click for new Book Reviews and a new Shenandoah flag photo (the flag was LOB – lost on board for a bit, but has re-appeared so is back to being photographed). Click any photo to enlarge (photos are lower quality this time due to limited bandwidth connection).

 

 

4 Comments

2014-03 Passage to the Abacos

March 20, 2014

Back on the water cruising after a 4 month maintenance cycle. (Written by Bradley while underway)

Sunset at sea

Sunset at sea

As the sun rises on Friday morning, 1 March we are currently 25 miles from the entrance to Charleston Harbor, SC after departing from Beaufort, NC. We are running three hours behind schedule, thanks to unscheduled weather conditions. While the trip started out as predicted, N to NW winds 10 to 15 (stern quarter) with flat seas, the wind then decided to back to the south and build into the 20’s. This brought on short steep seas on the bow and slowed progress into the mid 6 knot range. Around midnight the weather again returned to forecast, light 5 to 10 from N. Seas settled and our ride become very comfortable. However at 0500 the wind jumped up to 25 to 35 from the NE (45), which put it 20 degrees off our starboard quarter – right now holding very steady at 29 knots. We are now averaging 7.6 knots and expected to arrive at Noon.

Bradley works on sonar

Bradley works on sonar

Overall Shear Madness is doing well. We had to chase down some new sounds as things move about in cabinets, but we were able to quiet most items very quickly. We have one new sound, some type of harmonic that we cannot pin down and will have to do some research. I fear it may have something to do with the new paint on the props, but will need to research it more. Kathy claims she cannot hear it, because it is the same pitch as my voice – that explains a lot of things. We also are experiencing a very strange problem of some extreme vibration on the supply hose to the port PTO (hydraulic power take-off). In addition our Sonar has elected to act up, after we had worked on it in Beaufort and thought we resolved it.

Our new crewmember, Gary is enjoying himself, but the steep dark ride (New Moon) around midnight caught up with him for a little while. He seems to have recovered well and stood a good watch from 0400 to 0800, the first two hours on his own. Kathy joined him at 0600 to help convert the bridge from night lighting to day running status.

Invasion? Canadian and UK warships conducting exercises near Charleston

Invasion? Canadian and UK warships conducting exercises near Charleston

We encountered very little traffic on this trip, two US Navy ships and some allies conducting exercises, a couple of tugs – one claiming to be 161 meters long and one lonely sailboat in the 40 foot range (estimate – no AIS) in the middle of the night. At least he was on a beam reach running north at the time. He will not be happy this morning as I draft this with 35 knots on the nose.

At 11:00 we dropped the anchor in the Wando River and will spend the next 6 hours washing the boat, as she is completely covered in Salt. We will spend the balance of the weekend relaxing, catching up with some old friends we met here in the past and then on Monday plan to move to the Ashley Marina in Charleston to focus on the new issues that have developed. We need to have the boat ready to go by next weekend, as we have guests arriving for 3 weeks of cruising. We now have three items on our list to resolve; Hydraulic Pulsing /noise, Sonar Issues and Tender Steering. Shortly after arriving, Gary noted a dripping problem with the hydraulic steering on the tender. She had been well exercised while at anchor. Monday morning as we entered Ashley Marina, we decided it was perfect weather to fill up both the tender and the extra tender gasoline tank on deck. We could not get gas conveniently in Beaufort. Total gas taken on was around 150 gallons. Maneuvering SM into the “Gas” dock was quite a trick as there is lots of current in the Ashley River and we were told we were the largest boat to tie up at that dock. Once completed we quickly moved to our assigned dock as the wind was building on the port side and could pin us there.

Bradley gets fuel for the tender

Bradley gets fuel for the tender

Over the weekend we had beautiful weather, shorts, biking ,running etc and Monday morning was nice, but the weather was projected to deteriorate rapidly and be nasty for the week. Wow, did it, winds up to 30 Knots, pouring rain and 30 to 40 degrees until the following Saturday.

Immediately upon settling on to the dock, Kathy contacted our electronic experts in Beaufort and Florida. She reached out to Furuno who told us of an excellent certified shop there in Charleston – MacKay Marine. We also arranged a conference call with the Furuno sonar expert in Washington State and reached out to David Sidbury (former Nordhavn owner) for his expert opinion. As we were trying to diagnose the problems the symptoms worsened – not uncommon. Now the unit would not even turn on. First thought was a fuse, so we carefully checked the multiple fusing in the system and all were good. Working through the multiple recommendations from the experts, David had the right answer for getting power to the system – unhook the Fly Bridge Controller. After careful testing, we were able to confirm that the upstairs controller was causing the power on problem, because even when the unit was already on, plugging the controller back in caused the Sonar system to crash. However, the original problem, an intermittent Train or Tilt error upon coming up, still needed to be diagnosed. Working with the Mackay tech and Furuno expert, we were able to determine the system has a random problem  and the best approach would be to exercise the unit more and hope the problem does not reappear. Then next year when we have SM out of the water, we will open and fully service the equipment located in Sonar Tube, below the water line. So we have been exercising the unit for the past two weeks while at anchor. I expected a lonely whale to show up at any point, as we would sometimes be very loudly pinging.

At the same time we reached out to some local Yamaha experts in the Charleston area, to help us solve the tender steering problem. This was really frustrating because we had just had the tender motors steering hydraulics serviced in Beaufort for similar issues. When I reached them on the phone, the tech indicated he had not worked on the issues we identified – a loose elbow on the steering cylinder, yet I clearly remembered something different. Not much one can do.

Friends Liz and Brown with Claudia, Liesl, Calvin, and Brown's parents in Charleston

Friends Liz and Brown with Claudia, Liesl, Calvin, and Brown’s parents in Charleston

As to the third and largest potential problem, our hydraulics, we received advice from two sources. One, David Sidbury came on board to catch up and review our hydraulics. He was also bearing some wonderful gifts of spares he had found in his garage. David spotted one potential issue immediately – the hydraulic Sound suppressers should be checked for Nitrogen. After conferring with Ernie at ABT, it was decided that our next stop would be Thunderbolt Marina on Monday 10 March as they had skilled hydraulic experts that could potentially help us.

Kathy introduces Darin to geocaching

Kathy introduces Darin to geocaching

We spent the week in Charleston working on sonar, making final runs to both Costco and the local stores, and generally getting the boat in order for a crossing. We also enjoyed an outstanding dinner with the Sidburys at “The Peninsula” restaurant, caught an entertaining move in 3D – Pompeii – and met with friends Liz and Brown for a wonderful home cooked meal. They had just completed a 1 year Land Yacht tour of the US. They have three extremely delightful children who are home schooled and clearly well ahead for their age. We also re-connected with friends Rich and Kate and their son Toby who we had met on a previous visit to Charleston.

Our guests, Dick and Darin, moved onboard Friday night, and the weather turned lovely for Saturday and Sunday. Kathy and I were given tickets to one of the best functions of the weekend Charleston Wine and Food Festival. It was a pairing of Pinot wines, mostly reds, with some outstanding food. It was the best wine/food festival I have ever been to. We ate and drank so much that we strolled the hour walk back to the boat.

Given the weather and our desire to get to the Bahamas with our guests, we had made arrangements to be at Thunderbolt Marina (near Savannah) Monday morning when they opened. This required a Sunday evening departure at 18:00 and Monday morning run up the Bull River in the dark. We had one of those perfect passages. In fact it was so calm, we did not even need the Stabilizers and could not replicate the hydraulic pulsing we were going there to get fixed. (We had originally planned to run up the Savannah River and down the intracoastal to Thunderbolt, but we arrived at the outer marker too early for a bridge opening on that route, so we changed plans.)

Coming up the Bull River at Thunderbolt (near Savannah)

Coming up the Bull River at Thunderbolt (near Savannah)

With the advent of Daylight savings time on Saturday, we arrived at Thunderbolt Monday morning at 07:30, just as the sun peaked over the horizon. We had a very enjoyable and low blood pressure run up the Bull. Shortly after we arrived at the marina, Tony the hydraulic manager, came down for a planning meeting. Given our inability to replicate the problem on the way in, we decided to fill the Sound Suppressors and see what else turned up. I did learn that the suppressors should be checked and topped off with 900 PSI of Nitrogen at least every year. 12 hours into our passage to the Bahamas, I can say, the system is substantially quieter, and for the most part the pulsing has not returned. We experienced it once, changed the Hydraulic Alternator we were using for a while, and now have returned to the original one with no pulsing. I have a feeling it will take a long time to pin down the specific source of the pulsing, but with 4 different combinations of the 2 PTO’s – the 2 Alternators and power demand levels we should be able to work around any issues, once they develop.

Kathy finds a geocache in Thunderbolt

Kathy finds a geocache in Thunderbolt

While in Thunderbolt, we had some beautiful weather and 2 additional problems developed that needed to be addressed. One, I had noticed since Beaufort that the Port engine starting batteries (2 * 12 = 24Volts) were not sounding as strong as the Starboard. Well, as we were departing Charleston they gave out and I had to parallel the system to start the port. (We have multiple paths and different battery groups to start each main engine). First I thought it might have been the cold weather and lack of use the past 4 months, but after giving the entire system a complete check for loose connections and corrosion we tested each 12 Volt Battery and determined we had one reading 13. 6 volts at full charge, with the second one showed 11 Volts.

We thought that getting 2 Lifeline AGM batteries would be a breeze. However our initial responses were that it would take 1 to 2 weeks from every supplier in Savannah and Hilton Head, but Kathy kept working the internet and phones. By the time she was done on Monday we had ordered 2 new AGM’s from Batteries Plus in North Palm Beach, FL for delivery on Wed. with no extra shipping cost. They actually arrived on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after placing the order, and we installed them on Wed. We have elected to keep the 13.6 volt battery as a spare, in case one of our other 22 AGM decides to go bad.

The bad shower drain pipe

The bad shower drain pipe

After multiple trips to the local HomeDepot on my bike, we were able to create a solution to the second problem, a leaking shower in the master cabin. As is often the case, the parts initially installed are from China, are made locally and not available here in the US. In addition, given the placement of the Master Shower drain, we had very limited access and needed the exact same piece. Given we have three other showers, with better access, we removed the drain pipes from a guest cabin shower and installed it on the Master. We then installed our created solution on that shower. Testing the following day indicated we had success. The irony here is that once we arrive in the Bahamas, we tend to take showers on the stern, where the view is much better, and the clean up much easier.

After some beautiful days in Savannah, we had a final blast of cold weather the day before our departure, and through the first day of trip. A weather window had developed for an early morning departure Friday – 06:00. We had the perfect tide, one hour before high tide, with a strong ebb current to help us down the Bull River.

Other than the chill in the air, it was a perfect start to the passage. Calm winds and seas greeted us as we hit the ocean at 08:30. By 17:00 the wind decided to clock to the SE directly on our course. Luckily it did not build much past 15 and often was in the single digits, but stayed on the nose for our entire trip. Given that we were also diagonally crossing the Gulf Stream, where one hour we saw Speed Over Ground (SOG) of 4.5 knots, our average of 6.6 was not too bad. The passage was very comfortable, the weather warming into the 70s on Saturday and sea temperature peaking at 79F, before settling around 73 here in the Bahamas.

Bradley shows off a tuna

Bradley shows off a tuna

On Saturday, with the calm seas, we decided to put both fishing lines out and were rewarded with multiple double strikes. The first two occurred just a few hours after setting the lines. First one, then the second almost immediately. Dick brought one in and I brought the other. Somehow I lost mine, just as it came into sight, I think it swam toward the boat and I was not quick enough on the reel. Dick got his all the way to the boat, were it jumped off, just as I was trying to gaff it. In hindsight, this turned out to be a blessing, as late that day, just as we were preparing to bring the lines in for the day, we had a second double strike. Now that we had gotten the rust out of our system, we successfully landed two wonderful Tuna in the range of 25 to 35 pounds. We cleaned, steaked and vacuum froze most of it the fish, keeping only enough fresh for our arrival dinner. These were much larger fish than the morning strike.

St. Patty's Day in the Pilot house, anchored at Crab Cay

St. Patty’s Day in the Pilot house, anchored at Crab Cay

The rest of our trip to the Bahamas was uneventful. Given the forecast for building winds and a backing to the east, we decided to enter Sunday morning via Strangers Channel and cruise down to Spanish Cay in the protection of the outer reefs and islands. It was a great passage, arriving just off Spanish Cay around 12:30. After carefully studying the chart and our bad luck on the way out of Charleston, we decided to anchor outside and use the tender to check in. All went very smoothly, except the Marina decided to charge us a $50 fee to meet customs there. We were under the impression from their website, that there was no charge for meeting customs. Given that there was only one boat in the marina they probably needed a little revenue.

After clearing in and confirming the weather was supposed to build into the 20’s from the south, we moved over to Crab Cay to anchor with strong protection from the NE to the West. This proved a very wise move because the wind did in fact build up to 30 on Tuesday, before settling down.

We are now anchored at Green Turtle Cay where we are enjoying a re-immersion into the cruising lifestyle. We explored the island, did some snorkeling and paddle boarding and enjoyed Happy Hour in the flybridge while watching a delightful sunset.

The following videos are available by clicking the link:

Our passage from Thunderbolt, GA to Green Turtle Cay (5 minutes)

Hauling a Superyacht at Thunderbolt Marine (4 minutes)

Work done on Shear Madness at Moores Marine in Beaufort, NC (8 minutes)

Click any photo below to enlarge:

 

4 Comments

2014-02 Ready to Cruise again!

February 26, 2014

We are very excited that the boat is now back in the water and we are ready to go cruising again!  We spent Christmas back in Saxapahaw, NC visiting our dog Jordan while Meg (his adopted mom) enjoyed a holiday in Curacao. He remains happy and healthy and we loved the chance to spend some more time with him.

Visiting Jordan at Christmas

Visiting Jordan at Christmas

Upon our return to Beaufort, it was a mad rush to get all the projects completed before launching the boat back into the water on January 23. Launch day was quite chilly with freezing temps and frost in the morning. But the launch went smoothly and the engine techs were soon on board to oversee starting the engines following their major servicing. Fortunately all went well and we were able to head to the nearby Beaufort Town Dock where Shear Madness would stay for the next month.

Diesel techs starting engines after service

Diesel techs starting engines after service

Bradley and I set off for some land travel, with both of us intending to fly to Florida to visit family and friends. But the Polar Vortex had other ideas as it was set to dump an unusual amount of snow on NC. Bradley decided to stay with the boat while my flight was postponed by two days. I did finally reach Florida where I had a chance to visit Bradley’s mother and sister, attend a birthday party for our good friend Richard, and watch the Super Bowl with our friends Wolfgang and Christeen and adorable daughter Sophie.

Sophia shows off her Shear Madness shirt

Sophia shows off her Shear Madness shirt

From 80 degree FL, I headed to -11 degree Denver, where Bradley caught up with me. There we visited my stepson Mike, my niece Robin and new husband Eric and his daughter Anya, my other niece Vicky and hubby Mark and ultra-adorable great niece Sophia. We also caught up with good friends Alan and Kathleen and daughters Sydney and Florence. Bradley even proved to be a good Taboo player, a great game in which you are guaranteed to laugh a lot!

From there it was on to Northern Virginia where we experienced another major snowfall – 14” at our friends, the Shanks house in Bethesda. After visits with Margy, Bryant, and Tyler, friends Lloyd and Arlene, a board meeting and dentist for Kathy, and an eye doctor for Bradley, it was time to head back to the boat and begin plans for cruising!

Provisioning at Costco

Provisioning at Costco

Since we had done a pretty good job emptying the freezers and cupboards, it was time for a major re-provisioning. In anticipation of this, we rented a large SUV for the drive back to NC, planning to stop for the first of multiple Costco/Walmart visits. When we had filled four carts, we decided to stop and see how much room we had left in the SUV before buying anything else. The answer – NOT MUCH! So we called it a day and drove on, stopping at the Nahunta Pork Center to squeeze in some amazing fresh pork products.

Arriving back at the boat at sunset, we still had several hours of work to get the groceries on board and unpacked.  Provisioning a boat is a little more complex than just buying things and putting them in the fridge or pantry. Space is at a premium, so most everything that comes in boxes gets removed from its packaging before being stored. Meats are also unpacked with all the Styrofoam and plastic discarded and then it is repackaged into vacuum sealed bags for longer storage using less space and have much less refuse upon use.

Oyster roast - Steve with his mom and Bradley

Oyster roast – Steve with his mom and Bradley

Since food ends up stored in various places in the boat, we keep an inventory system so that we can easily find things when they are needed. All this takes quite a bit of time. Before departing, I would make another trip to Costco in Wilmington – where I would also visit my friend Nancy in Southport – and make several trips to Walmart for all those things you can’t get at Costco. (for all my Youtube fans, a video of this whole process is in the works).

We were very happy to attend an oyster roast at the home of our electrician and now good friend, Steve, where we had a chance to relax, gorge on oysters, and catch up with his family.

New deckhand Gary on right with parents and sister

New deckhand Gary on right with parents and sister

We are also very pleased to welcome Gary Sanders on board as our new deckhand. Gary is from NC, a graduate of UNC Wilmington, and has his Coast Guard OUPV (6-pack) license as well as some very good experience.  We had the pleasure of meeting his parents, when is mother insisted on visiting with us to see who was taking her little boy to far away places.  Mom brought Dad and his older sister for a tour of the Shear Madness and a great lunch, so we learned all kinds of interesting history about Gary!

We are planning to depart soon for Charleston, SC and from there to the Bahamas where we look forward to some WARM water and some fresh fish!

Photos of some of the work we did are included below. Click any photo to enlarge and please send us comments! We love to hear from you!

7 Comments

2013-12 Boat Maintenance and Other Travels

December 26, 2013

Since hauling the boat out of the water in early November, we have continued to spend time on land while working on many boat projects. Those boat projects will be summarized at the end of this post. 

Visting Jordan at Thanksgiving

Visting Jordan at Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving in Saxapahaw, NC (near Durham) visiting our dog Jordan and his “Aunt Meg”. You may recall that our good friend Meg adopted Jordan two years ago when we sold our house in Virginia. Jordan is nearly 15 now and still happy and healthy. He has a bad left shoulder and hip but he is still mobile and playful. The whole neighborhood loves Jordan and watches out for him. Our Thanksgiving visit was a lot of fun, with two turkeys, one with neighbors on Thanksgiving Day and one two days later that we cooked. We also celebrated Hanukkah along with Thanksgiving, a rare timing that won’t occur again for 79,000 years!

Colonel Theodore Rosenberg arrives for his "Final Assignment" at Arlington Cemetery

Colonel Theodore Rosenberg arrives for his “Final Assignment” at Arlington Cemetery

In December we traveled to Washington, DC for the interment of Bradley’s father, Theodore Rosenberg, at Arlington Cemetery. As a retired Army colonel, he received the full honors ceremony, complete with horse-drawn caisson, riderless horse, honor guard, band, and 21-gun salute. It was an awesome ceremony and he received the send-off he wanted and deserved. The event was well attended by family and friends and it was nice to have so many together in one place. Bradley gave a wonderful and touching eulogy and a 15 minute video tribute to Ted, created by his daughter Aldee, is available here. We had several family get-togethers, including a trip to the Kennedy Center to see Shear Madness (the play) in their newly refurbished Theater Lab. The show was even funnier than we remembered and one of the actors from our wedding performance in 1999 was still there (actually there again as he has not been there continuously, but off and on). This time he played the murderer while at our wedding he was one of the detectives.

The Rosenberg family and friends attend Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center

The Rosenberg family and friends attend Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center

While in DC, I also hosted a reunion for my old company, Landmark Systems. Although Landmark was acquired nearly 12 years ago, we had over 70 people attend and many more who wanted to attend but were not able to join us. For many of us, Landmark was the source of so many great memories and an experience that really shaped my life. Photos from that event are posted here.

We have returned to Sea Gate, the community where we are living while the boat is out of the water. Sea Gate also has a neighborhood dog, Jenny, who we met two years ago, She has come by several times to visit and continues to act at the “Mayor of Sea Gate”. She patrols the neighborhood, stopping in for visits and attending any neighborhood party or get-together. We attended a couple of Sea Gate parties where we caught up with many of our old friends. Cathy from Crystal Coast Interiors hosted an oyster and pig roast – a wonderful night of fabulous food and a chance to meet some new friends. Dave and Doreen hosted a party at their new house – when we left two years ago they had been starting to renovate an older home but eventually decided to tear it down and start over. The result is an amazing and beautiful home right on the Intracoastal Waterway. At their party we reconnected with most of the folks we got to know two years ago and had a great time catching up. And our friends Gary (who crewed on our last passage) and Patti stopped by for a visit in their Land Yacht on their way to Georgia.

Gary and Bradley with the Land Yacht

Gary and Bradley with the Land Yacht

Aside from the boat, our other major project has been converting from Windows laptops to Apple MacBooks. We ordered our new Macs and just before mine was due to arrive, the hard drive in my Dell crashed. What a pain! Fortunately I use an online backup service so all my data is safe, but the restore process is very slow. Why couldn’t it have waited just another week or two?? Oh well. As it turns out, ALMOST all my data was safe. The exception is video footage I took of the haul out and ongoing work which had not yet been backed up. So no new videos for now. Bradley and I are both taking classes at the Apple store to ensure we can make the most of our Macs. So far, we are muddling through, though I know we are not using them to their full potential! This blog is actually my first use of Mac Pages, which I am hoping will work well enough that I don’t have to install Office for Mac!

On another note, I am pleased to report that our blog has now been read on every continent. Here is a comment I received after our last post from our friend Simon, who lives in Tasmania but works for the Australian Antarctic Division:
“have just enjoyed reading your update whilst i sit at McMurdo Station Antarctica waiting for my flight back to Christchurch and then back over to Hobart”.
New book reviews are available here. Scroll down below first set of photos to see details and photos of the work we are doing on the boat. Click any photo to enlarge. We wish everyone the very best for the coming New Year and hope we will have a chance to re-connect with many friends and family in 2014!

 

Boat Projects

Unlike two years ago when we were doing repairs due to a lightning strike, this haul out is for routine maintenance. Among the projects on the list:

1. Engine service. Our engines now have 5000 hours so were due for servicing. This included valve adjustment, replacement of both fuel pumps and transmission coolers, and new Walker AirSep filter units with new replaceable oil filters. We also purchased a spare raw water pump. We sent oil from the main engines off to be tested and the results came back normal, showing no problems. 

Servicing the main engines

Servicing the main engines

2. Bottom paint. It has been 18 months since the last bottom paint. This paint held up well but it is ready for a new application. This involves a light sanding of the bottom and application of Sea Hawk Cukote Self-Polishing bottom paint (undercoat) and Cukote Biocide Plus for the top layer. Bottom paint is meant to prevent growth of organisms on the hull and needs to be re-applied periodically. In addition to the hull, protective paint is also applied to the propellers, thru-hulls, rudder shoe, and any other underwater metal surface. This time we are using Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier which has been recommended by several Nordhavn owners

Applying bottom paint

Applying bottom paint

3. It’s also time to replace the zincs on various places on the hull. Zinc anodes are placed in strategic locations to prevent the corrosion of other metals. To read more about how sacrificial anodes work, click here. We had some pretty good wear on several of our anodes – that means they are doing their job!
4. Rub rails. We have stainless steel rub rails on the outer side of our decks. These needed to be removed, polished front and back, and re-installed with new screws and sealant.

5. Bow plate. Similar to the rub rails, the stainless steel bow plate had some water leakage behind it, causing some staining. It had to be removed, polished, and re-installed.

Removing bow plate

Removing bow plate

6. Auxiliary battery charger. Our primary battery charging system consists of three Mastervolt 100 amp chargers. We have a separate, auxiliary charger which is supposed to put out 80 amps, but was actually only providing 40 amps. We replaced it with a brand new Mastervolt 100 amp charger. Now when we are off shore power and run the generator to charge the batteries, we will be able to produce 400 amps rather than 340. That will result in faster battery charge time and less time running the generator.

7. Tender. We have several projects on our tender. First, we decided to remove the radar system as it is old and we rarely use it. The eliminates weight and height on the aluminum arch. The arch itself was removed and (blasted) to remove the previous paint, which had some bubbling. We are going to leave it in its natural aluminum state. While working on the tender, we also discovered that the floor where our new leaning bar was mounted had a rotten spot in the core. It had to be cut, reinforced, and replaced. The leaning bar is now extremely solid -previously it had been a little shaky. We have also replaced the steering wheel lock which had broken and are investigating a possible leak in the hydraulic steering system as well as a problem with the port engine hydraulic lifter not staying up when set.

Steve checks the bonding system

Steve checks the bonding system

8. Electrical Bonding System – we have tested the electrical bonding system by checking connections at each through hull fitting to ensure it is properly connected to the bonding system. This is important because unless the metal surfaces are properly bonded, the zincs will not offer protection, putting the metal piece at risk of failure. We found several loose wires at grounding bars. We replaced the grounding bars with terminal strips.

9.  Life Raft Servicing – on our way to DC we dropped one of our Switlik liferafts off in Norfolk to be serviced. We watched as the raft was unpacked and inflated. We reviewed all the contents of the raft and were pleased to learn that it even contains a portable watermaker! We always make it a point to be present when the liferaft is inflated – we like to be sure we know what it looks like and how it works. The service facility will perform some tests and replace any expired contents or components. We have provided an upgraded flashlight and some of our favorite sunscreen to be added to the contents.

10. Captain’s Chairs. We are upgrading one of the Stidd chairs in the pilot house to a high-back and replacing the cushions on both chairs with an ultra-leather finish in a lighter color. This is done through Stidd, who will send replacement cushions and a new back for the upgraded chair.

11. Other Interior projects. Crystal Coast Interiors is doing several projects. They have made a new cover for our kayak, one which should hold up much better than the off-the-shelf type we had before. They are also making all new cushions for the tender, modifying and re-covering the sofa in the salon, and making mattress covers and new sheets for the guest and master cabins.

3 Comments

2013 – 11 Land Adventures and heading south

November 7, 2013

After arriving in Solomons it was time for some land travel so Bradley headed off to Florida while I headed west to attend my niece Robin’s wedding in Sidney, Nebraska.

Niece Robin with new nephew Eric and new great-step-niece Anya

Niece Robin with new nephew Eric and new great-step-niece Anya

Our family festivities kicked off with a 70th birthday celebration for my oldest brother John, who made the trip from Oklahoma with his friend Jane. My brother Bob, father of the bride, and his wife Sarah came from Texas and my sister Joan and husband George came from Florida. The only missing sibling was brother Bill and wife Rose who had spent several months visiting the US from their home in Guam but did not know about the wedding in time to alter their plans to return home. After a fun birthday lunch, we relaxed for a bit before heading to the rehearsal dinner and my first chance to meet my soon-to-be nephew Eric. He and I have been playing Words With Friends but it was great to finally meet him in person! I also got to spend some time with niece Vicky (Robin’s sister), her husband Mark, and my adorable great-niece Sophia, who was soon to celebrate her first birthday. The wedding was a wonderful affair – beautiful, emotional, touching – everything a wedding should be! The reception was great fun and offered more time to catch up with family and meet new friends.

With my sister Joan

With my sister Joan

Joan and George like to visit the highest point in every state they visit, so the next day we set off for Panorama Point, the highest spot in Nebraska and the site of a geocache – both my sister and I like to find geocaches. It involved driving 30 miles on dirt roads, with vast farmlands and occasional elk and antelope sightings. There were even some dark spots that we thought might be bison. Oh, and lots of tumbleweeds! We reached the highest point, marked by a small monument, took some photos, and somehow took a wrong turn on the way back, leading to a bit of concern as there were many dirt roads that all looked alike! But soon we found our way out and continued on to Cheyenne, WY where we stopped for lunch and a bit more geocaching.

Tunnel to hiking trails discovered while geocaching

Tunnel to hiking trails discovered while geocaching

Then I headed off to Highlands Ranch, CO to visit my stepson Mike while Joan and George headed to the airport. Mike and I watched the Redskins-Cowboys game – not the outcome we wanted but we had a nice time catching up. I headed out for some hiking/geocaching the next day and found a great new spot – reached via a tunnel under a major road and some railroad tracks. This is the main reason I like geocaching – it takes me to places I otherwise would never find! I also picked up a travel bug – no, not a virus, but a trackable geocache item. In this case, it’s a little toy puppy that wants to travel the world.

After a very enjoyable trip I returned to Solomons, MD. Our friends Stacy and Vicky from Virginia came out for a visit to the boat and a wonderful lunch in Solomons. They are long time Chesapeake Bay boaters who are thinking of longer term cruising somewhere down the road. We hope they’ll join us to get a taste of the cruising life sometime soon!

Kathy with Stacy and Vicky in Solomons

Kathy with Stacy and Vicky in Solomons

Next, it was another road trip – this time by car. Our first stop was Northern Virginia where we visited good friends Lloyd and Arlene, then back to our old neighborhood where we visited Bud and Rita and took their dog Kaluha for a long walk. Bud is a car collector and had a beautiful new addition, a 1931 Ford to go with his 1929 and 1930. We also visited former neighbor Rosemarie, then headed back to our old house on Sweetwood Lane and visited with new owner Dan who showed us all the things they’ve done to the house. Most recently they have installed a geothermal HVAC system.

Bradley with cousin Carlyn

Bradley with cousin Carlyn

Next it was on to New York for a gathering of Rosenberg cousins. We stayed with Bradley’s first cousin Carlyn and enjoyed meeting her beautiful toy poodles. We enjoyed a night out at the movies where we saw Captain Philips – we highly recommend it! Second cousin Allan joined us for a night of magic at the wonderfully entertaining show Nothing to Hide at the Signature Theater. We also went with Carlyn to the Intrepid aircraft carrier and museum where we spent a wonderful afternoon. We met Robin, another second cousin, for lunch in Nyack, and attended a luncheon with yet more second cousins and aunts in the city, hosted by second cousin Mark who we had last seen in Nova Scotia when he visited the boat!

Steve D'Antonio with Bradley

Steve D’Antonio with Bradley

After our land adventures, we were ready to return to the water. We readied the boat and departed from Solomons on October 28, bound for Deltaville, VA about 60 miles away. There we met with Steve D’Antonio, a friend and renowned marine consultant who has helped us with some of our electrical issues on the boat. Steve came aboard to inspect and discuss our battery charging and power management systems and provided a lot of good advice and answered all our questions. We also met up with our friend Gary who was excited to join us for the passage down to Beaufort, NC. (Tyler, who had crewed with us for six months, returned to his home in Alabama once we reached Solomons). As soon as Steve departed, we pulled anchor and set off for the nonstop trip around Cape Hatteras.

Gary enjoys the flybridge with calm seas

Gary enjoys the flybridge with calm seas

Once again, Captain Bradley had timed the weather perfectly. Our passage was extremely pleasant, with light winds of less than 10 knots most of the time and very calm seas. We spent time in the flybridge with delightfully pleasant temperatures and enjoyed fabulous stars at night. Gary had spent several years traveling in a land-yacht (motor coach), so had a great understanding of the boat systems and enjoyed the experience of an offshore passage. It seemed like we reached Cape Lookout in no time and soon were safely anchored. The weather was predicted to get a bit nastier, so we headed in to Beaufort the next morning, Oct 31 and soon were secure at a dock waiting for the high winds and rain to pass.

Sunset at Cape Lookout

Sunset at Cape Lookout


We had a chance to catch up with some old friends for dinner. Billy and Linda, owners of the Nordhavn Southern Comfort in Beaufort, joined us for dinner along with our good friend George from Sweet Hope. We had a wonderful evening at The Cedars Inn in Beaufort – highly recommended if you are in the area. We also met a new friend, Jacob, a Nordhavn fan who has been following our blog. He lives in Beaufort and stopped by for a visit.

On Monday, Nov 4, Shear Madness was lifted out of the water and moved to Moores Marine where she was secured on blocks and will stay for the next couple months. During that time, she will have her engines serviced (5000 hour service), bottom painted, and various other small maintenance tasks. We are happy that we will be back in “our” house at Sea Gate, just down the street from the yard. This is the same house we rented back in 2011 while we were undergoing repairs from the lightning strike. It will be our base of operation for the next month or two while we work on the boat and do a few more land trips. For now, we are back in Virginia for a few days, picking up our car which we will drive back to NC. We have visited our friends Karen and Mark in Solomons and are now spending time with Bradley’s daughter Margy, son-in-law Bryant, grandson Tyler, and dog Rocco. Click any photo to enlarge. Book reviews will be coming with the next update!

 


7 Comments

2013-10 Return to the Chesapeake Bay

October 14, 2013

We arrived in Provincetown, MA in darkness, carefully monitoring our chart and using our previous track to anchor at the same location we had stayed on our way north in July.

Nice sunset and calm conditions on the passage

Nice sunset and calm conditions on the passage

After setting the anchor and making sure all was secure, we retired for the night, planning to depart for the Cape Cod Canal in the morning. When morning dawned, we began to raise the anchor but soon discovered that some kind of line was snagged on the anchor chain. With our telescoping boat hook in hand, Bradley was able to free the line, but without knowing exactly what or where it was, we did not want to risk using bow thrusters or going forward as there was the possibility of catching whatever it was on a thruster or main engine prop. So we carefully backed away before turning and heading on our course. Only then did we see that the anchorage was peppered with lobster pots! This had not been the case back in July when we were last here and as we had entered in the dark we had not seen them the night before. Lobster pots are traps that sit on the bottom and allow lobsters to enter but not exit. Fishermen drop the traps from their boats and attach them to a line and a float that rises to the surface to mark their location. Later the fishermen will return to check the traps and retrieve any lobsters inside (crabs are also caught this way).

Passing Kristina's brother in the Cape Cod Canal

Passing Kristina’s brother in the Cape Cod Canal

These pots pose a risk to boaters as the lines can become tangled in your propellers, causing big problems! The only way to navigate around these pots it to see them. Our main engine props are equipped with “cutters”, designed to automatically cut any lines that get wrapped around our props, but it is never desirable to use them! As we navigated out of the anchorage dodging pots, we wondered if we had run over any during our entrance – most likely we did! But all was well and we emerged with a clean anchor chain and freely spinning props.

It was a short run to the Cape Cod Canal which we passed through uneventfully. This canal has traffic control, so you are supposed to call and check in via radio, but there are no locks to pass through and on this day there were no large vessels passing through. We did pass one cruising boat that called us on the radio to say hello – it turned out to be the brother of Kristina from Summer Star! After passing through the canal, we continued on into the Sakonnet River. Bradley and I were flying out from Providence to attend a memorial service for Bradley’s dad in FL so we planned to leave the boat at the Nordhavn dock in Portsmouth. As we had a few days before our flights, we decided to anchor out for a couple of nights. We chose a nice looking area just south of Sandy Point and, soon were secure for the night.

Bradley and Kathy with Nancy and Kathy who rowed out to meet us

Bradley and Kathy with Nancy and Kathy who rowed out to meet us


In the morning I found an email that had come from someone on shore. She had seen us anchored right in front of her house, had googled us, and sent an email welcoming us. I replied and ended up inviting her out to visit us. She had a friend with a rowboat and soon Kathy and Nancy were rowing out to see us. We had a delightful visit with them which Kathy describes beautifully on her blog.

From there we headed on to Portsmouth and contacted our friends Dennis and Linda. Dennis is a big Red Sox fan and as they were on the verge of clinching their division championship I suggested we go to a game at Fenway Park, a place I have always wanted to go. Dennis said we’d never be able to get tickets, but a quick check of Stub Hub showed plenty of seats available at reasonable cost, so off we went! It was a great experience. Fenway was of course fabulous. We saw the Red Sox pitcher go 7 1/3 innings without giving up a hit before surrendering a home run, one of three we saw clear the Green Monster. The Sox won and the home crowd was happy.

Kathy and Dennis outside Fenway Park

Kathy and Dennis outside Fenway Park

We spent several days at the Nordhavn dock in Portsmouth and two guys from the factory in Taiwain were visiting to inspect another boat that was there. They came aboard Shear Madness and remembered her from when she was being built. They enjoyed the chance to see how well she has held up and we were able to show them many of the things we love about the boat as well as sme of the things that have been difficult to access for maintanence. It’s great to see the guys from the factory getting out to see boats on the water and talking with owners. That sort of feedback is critical to making continuous improvements in the design and build process. As usual, Ben, Dave, and Jen from Nordhavn were very helpful and made us feel very welcome. Also at the dock was Fotini, a brand new 68 foot Nordavn who we had met in Florida. It was good to reconnect with Andre, her captain, and Faith who along with husband Peter built and own her. We enjoyed watching some America’s Cup races together – what an incredible series. And though we were not initially fans of the super fast race boats, by the end we were marveling over what had been accomplished from an engineering perspective.  

Our trip to FL was good – the memorial service was very well done – a great combination of humor and touching tributes with many people in attendance. It was followed by a Celebration of Life reception where we all remembered Ted. His final tribute will take place on December 11 when he is interred at Arlington Cemetery with a full military ceremony.

Bradley talks to Taiwainese boat builders aboard Shear Madness

Bradley talks to Taiwainese boat builders aboard Shear Madness


Upon returning to the boat, it was time to head south to the Chesapeake Bay. The weather looked good so we departed on Thursday 26 Sept for the ~375 mile trip. We arrived at the mouth of the Bay at 7 am on
Sat. September 28 and were feeling good, so we continued on to Deltaville, VA where we anchored in Fishing Bay. It was just about one year ago that we rode out Hurricane Sandy in almost the exact location where we were now anchored. Once again, the evening brought an email from a local resident who could see us from her house. We had no opportunity for a visit this time, but may meet when we pass by again in a few weeks.

Next it was on to Solomons, MD and we raised anchor and were soon underway. Upon entering the main waterway, we saw an AIS target appear on our radar and chart (AIS is a transmitter carried onboard larger boats that transmits identifying information and provides data on speed, closest point of approach, etc). When a target first appears, it shows up with an identification number only, with the ships name appearing only when you get a bit closer. As I watched the target I saw the name appear – it was Sweet Hope, the Nordhavn that guided us down the ICW after our lightning strike in 2011 and who we last saw in Halifax! We were going to pass very close to each other and had a chance for a nice radio conversation.

Dinner with Barry and Amy at Jerry's Place

Dinner with Barry and Amy at Jerry’s Place


We arrived at Solomons Yachting Center and docked without any problems. We’ve had a chance to catch up with some friends who live here. We joined Amy and Barry for a wonderful dinner at Jerry’s Place, a great local restaurant with outstanding seafood and had a great dinner onboard with my old elementary/middle school friend Karen and her husband Mark. We also met up with Joe and Dawn, sailing friends who are at nearby Calvert Marina. We went out for Chinese food and also attended a local wine festival at Sotterly Plantation. There were over 20 wineries offering tastings and we had a great time sampling some of the up and coming MD wines. We returned to the boat to watch the Denver-Dallas football game as Dawn is from Texas and is a big Cowboys fan. It was quite a game, with 99 points scored and a last second field goal to win the game for Denver.

Kathy with Joe and Dawn at the Riverfest wine festival

Kathy with Joe and Dawn at the Riverfest wine festival


We found a local bridge club in nearby Lusby, MD and have played there a couple of times, meeting some nice people. We have also visited Calvert Cliffs State Park where we enjoyed a nice hike and I ran in the Calvert Medical Center 5K run/walk for breast cancer, placing 9th in my age group out of 97. Sounds impressive, but most of those 97 were walkers, not runners; nevertheless, it was a fun morning.


Now we are off on some more land travel – I to Colorado and Nebraska for my niece Robin’s wedding and Bradley to Florida to attend to some family issues. We will return in a few days and stay at Solomons through the end of October. Anyone in the area who is interested in visiting while we are here, please let me know! There is a 9-minute video of our passage availble by clicking here. Click on any photo to enlarge.

7 Comments

2013-09 Return from Nova Scotia

Sept 16, 2013

This entry is primarily written by Bradley, whose words are in Red, with comments by Kathy in Blue

This Blog is in Tribute to my father, Col Theodore R. Rosenberg (Ret), who passed away on 12 Sept. 2013, in the arms of his loving daughter.

Ted with daughter Aldee and son Bradley

Ted with daughter Aldee and son Bradley

Thank you dad for creating within me the courage, confidence and interest to cruise the world’s oceans. You taught me through example to take risks, try new things and most importantly pursue my dreams. I cannot imagine a better father-in-law. Your attitude towards life and those around you were indeed “Magnificent” and I am so pleased to have had you in my life for so many years.

My father’s passing was not unexpected, as he has been bravely fighting a rare form of cancer for the past several years. I had just spent 8 days with him in Florida prior to returning to Shear Madness. Our immediate objective was to find a weather window for the crossing from Nova Scotia to Provincetown, RI. Complicating our planning was Hurricane turned Tropical Storm – Gabrielle. We were getting towards the end of the season and comfortable weather crossing windows become very limited. With the prevailing weather coming from the Northeastern U.S. you have to patiently position the boat and wait for the winds to settle down and hopefully move to the NW or even N. The length of the crossing is around 275 miles depending on your actual departure location, or approximately 36 hours.

Our route from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod

Our route from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod

Upon my return to Shear Madness on 9 Sept., I immediately began studying the weather closely. I use four sites, with the NOAA and Passage Weather being my favorite. Passage Weather has been very good to us this year, helping make all of our passages very comfortable. I also find Windfinder quite useful, especially for detailed wind information on our current locations and coastal based stations. It provides the micro view along the coast where as Passage Weather is more a macro picture.

By Wed, it became clear that a crossing window was going to develop sometime the following weekend or early next week. So the question then became where to position ourselves to wait. We decided to head as far West in Nova Scotia with a good port for protection from the prevailing southerlies that often blow. While there are some ports further west, Shelburne is really the last very strong protection and,with Gabrielle coming, we wanted some place we had confidence in and were familiar with. We woke Thursday morning to find extremely settled weather and decided to take advantage to make the first jump west. Given the actual weather, and the expectation that we might have to spend several days waiting at our next port for the weather window to arrive, we elected to tow our tender rather than put it up. We do not often tow it in the ocean proper, but given we were coastal hopping and there were several bailout options on the way, we decided to get moving.

One of many Nova Scotia lighthouses

One of many Nova Scotia lighthouses


The trip started off well, but as we came out from around the First and Second Peninsula we had been sitting behind in Princes Inlet, there were building wind and seas. That first afternoon we decided to stop in the Bell Channel at LaHave Island and anchor. The plan was to let the winds settle back down that night, get up early, load the tender on deck in the morning calm and make a run for Shelburne the next day before the effects of Gabrielle reached us.

What is the expression; the best laid plans of mice and men. Actually the first part went well. Winds started settling late that afternoon and by late evening, the water was almost flat. We had a very comfortable sleep. We woke early, loaded the tender as planned, just before it started to pour, but of course by then some swell had started to creep in to the anchorage, so the Tender had to be loaded without being cleaned. It had been in the water over 3 weeks – that will be a job as soon as we arrive (note – loading the tender means lifting it on our crane. With a swell, it can become a 2000 pound pendulum, meaning a bit of adrenalin can be involved. But we got it up and secured without incident). Once underway we had a great passage with light but building winds and seas accompanied by pouring rain. By noon, it was clear Gabrielle was arriving a little earlier than we had hoped, right on time based on the forecast. We realized that if we pushed to Shelburne we would arrive late and maybe a little beat up. Wind had rapidly built into high 20′s to low 30′s directly on our Port beam and the sea state was building very quickly with 10 foot rollers starting to appear. Deciding discretion is the better part of valor, we elected to pull in to Port Mouton (our bail out port) and anchor for the day around 13:00. Shelburne was at least 4 to 5 hours away and we did not want to arrive late and then depart early the next morning. Beside it was Tyler’s Birthday and Kathy planned on baking him some homemade biscuits and a special Brownie desert. Both were enjoyed by all. I was completely amazed at how good the protection was at Port Mouton, as we had an extremely comfortable night. I figured the wind must have died down and we could have continued. Ha.

The fish farm obscured by fog

The fish farm obscured by fog


After spending some time studying the weather, it became clear that if we could slip out early Saturday morning past the effects of Gabrielle, not get slowed down by the easterly current that runs near Sable Island, and if the weather settled as predicted, Saturday and Sunday would be the perfect time to make the crossing. We were looking at a high moving in slowly and bringing with it very light and variable winds from everywhere but east. There was a chance that on Saturday evening we might experience wind around 15 from the NW, but it was predicted to move past our position quickly, and we could end up with an almost flat passage. After the experience of our fellow cruisers crossing back to the states in recent weeks, we were very cautious. One had even hired a renowned weather router, and still ended up getting hammered on the second half of the trip.

When we rose early on Sat to continue, we learned that the wind had not died down until much later Friday evening, because as soon as we came out form our protection, there were 8 to 12 foot swells rolling in. As the storm approached on Friday the Barometer dropped from 1008 to 997 in a matter of hours and did not rise to 1011 until Saturday afternoon (and by Sunday it was 1016) quite a change. We woke on Saturday to a heavy fog with visibility less than 100 meters. While leaving the anchorage we had our second close call with a floating fish farm – these are not marked on the charts and did not appear to be there the evening before, but we know it had to have been, it was just obscured by the heavy fog. We normally make a habit of following our track back out of an anchorage, especially when visibility is limited. This morning was no different, it was just that we were 100 or so meters to the right of our inbound track. We were moving extremely slowly, saw the fish farm in time and were able to comfortably miss it. Of course this did not happen on Friday the 13th in 2013, but on Sat. the 14th. We thought that was quite an interesting irony, as we also had a close encounter with a fish farm the very first night we arrived in Shelburne NS.

Tyler celebrates his birthday

Tyler celebrates his birthday


Once out, we had an interesting morning. Complete and total fog, with visibility limited to 1 to 2 waves in front of us. Some of the taller ones, looked like we were about to run into a mountain, as they came rolling out of the fog towards us. We were able to get a good gauge on their height, as some were taller than our bow, and we know it is approximately 13 feet above the water. As we headed south, the seas slowly settled and finally late that afternoon, the fog cleared and it turned into a beautiful night. Sea Temp is up from 48 this morning to 60, air temp has remained constant at 55, rather than falling at night and the seas are almost flat as I draft this blog on the 18:00 to 22:00 watch. We have a little traffic tonight with a few crossings and one 10 meter fishing boat that has been paralleling us for 6 hours, just a mile or two to starboard. Late in my watch, our “friend” decided to cross our bow with less than ¼ mile clearance and refused to answer any radio calls I put to him to coordinate his passing. It was an unusual experience, because during the entire season in Nova Scotia, we have found all the boaters to be very friendly. He crossed safely and was soon out of sight. Later that night, Kathy had no boats within 32 miles, except one vessel that was on a near collision course and she had to alter course to avoid.

Beautiful sky on our crossing

Beautiful sky on our crossing

So far the weather is acting exactly as predicated. Hopefully it will remain calm for the next 24 hours until we arrive at Provincetown. I just had some dolphins come by for a visit. At night you hear them breathing before seeing them. With almost a half-moon tonight, you can clearly see them swimming along next to us and playing in both our bow and side wakes. They are such creatures of beauty and grace.

Good Morning, today the sun is up, Temp is 60 and winds are wonderful. While they picked up to around 10 knots from the NW early this morning, they have settled nicely as has the ocean. We are seeing consistent wind speeds of less than 5 knots, from the S, W and North as the high settles in. Sea state is down to 1 foot rollers from the NW.

We are expecting to make Proviencetown RI, this evening around 20:30. Tomorrow we will have to time our departure so that we arrive at the Eastern end of the Cape Cod Canal at the right tide state. Once through the Canal we plan to head back to the Nordhavn Office in Portsmouth, RI for dockage, and fly to Florida to attend to issues.

In closing, I would like to say thank you to all of our new friends in Nova Scotia. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed by strangers as long lost friends. We had a wonderful time, and very much look forward to returning next year. May your winter be short and warm.


19 Comments

2013-09 Princes Inlet Part II

September 11, 2013

My last post was published prematurely (accidentally hit Publish instead of Save Draft), so I’ll begin where I left off and add the missing photos! We anchored in Mader’s Cove on August 26th where I set off to meet our new friends. First I met Susan and Paul, who own and operate the Edgewater B&B, a lovely place right on the water in Mader’s Cove. Next was Bob and Valerie, who live nearby.

Valerie, Bradley, Kathy, and Bob aboard Shear Madness

Valerie, Bradley, Kathy, and Bob aboard Shear Madness

Both these couples had provided specific instructions for finding their homes in their emails to me. I simply knocked on the door and said “Hi, I’m Kathy from Shear Madness” and it was like we were old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years rather than strangers who had never met. I invited Bob and Valerie to come out to the boat. “Oh, we’d love to”, Bob replied, “but we have a neighborhood party tonight”. About 2 seconds later he said “you’ll just have to come with us”! And thus we attended a Mader’s Cove neighbors party at the home of Hal, a hearty octogenarian who was full of stories. Here we met Bob and Betty, who shared an interest in bridge and soon a bridge game was arranged at their home.

Bradley needed to return to FL for another visit with his father, so we decided to move the boat around the corner to nearby Princes Inlet where we would be protected from any bad weather. Soon we were snug and secure, near the Lunenburg Yacht Club, which is located on Herman’s Island, five miles from Lunenburg.

Ron, Kathy, Nora, Nancy (yes they are twins!), Don and Kaylee

Ron, Kathy, Nora, Nancy (yes they are twins!), Don and Kaylee

It’s a friendly and welcoming club and a good base of operations. We also went ashore on the mainland in a neighborhood called Sunnybrook, tying up at what looked like a small community dock. It proved to be a private dock, however, and soon the owner, Graham, appeared – to tell us we were welcome to tie our tender there whenever we wanted. He then proceeded to ask if we needed a ride anywhere or if there was anything else he could do for us.

We were in the process of arranging Bradley’s trip back to Florida and trying to figure out how to get him to the airport in Halifax, a trip of about 60 miles from our location. Susan and Paul kindly offered to let us use their car so I could take Bradley to the airport. Soon he was off and I was back on the boat. Along came Ron and Nora in their small boat to introduce themselves and invite me and Tyler to dinner. Ron related how he had met another Nordhavn earlier in the year and had watched him cruise around the anchorage looking for a spot to anchor. When Ron asked him what criteria he had used to select a spot, the fellow said he had been looking for somewhere he could pick up a wifi signal! I related how our onboard system could see several wifi networks, but that they were all secured. We were not able to receive the Yacht Club’s unsecured connection from our anchor spot. So we had to rely on our limited and expensive Bell Alliant sim card for email access. Well, Nora soon came to the rescue. The next day she contacted neighbors near our anchorage and soon provided a password so we could connect and enjoy unlimited internet access – just in time for two days of pouring rain where we were mostly stuck onboard.

Wilfred's House - he built it in 1951 and it is surrounded by beautiful flowers

Wilfred’s House – he built it in 1951 and it is surrounded by beautiful flowers


Princes Inlet offers plenty of options for exploring. There are lots of small islands, accessible by kayak, plenty of territory to explore by tender, a beautiful hiking/biking trail that goes to nearby Lunenburg, and lots of great walking. I decided to take a couple trips into Lunenburg and visited the Fisheries Museum, which was great. It also turned out that I arrived just in time to see the re-launch of the Bluenose II, the replica of the famous schooner which has been undergoing a 2 year refit. The museum tour included the chance to go onboard a couple boats, including the Theresa E. Connor, an old fishing schooner. Here I met George, who was there to answer questions. We got to talking and it turns out he is good friends with Rob and Tish from Kittiwake, who were our cruising companions for several weeks.

On Friday evening I went ashore to the Yacht Club and stumbled upon a cocktail party for the Nonsuch rendezvous, a group of about 15 sailboats who were together for a weekend of fun and racing. They invited me to their party and later to their dinner and it was a great chance to meet some new friends and learn about the Nonsuch boats. I exchanged boat tours with Jane and Jamie on Dexterity and must say I was impressed with the layout and space on their 30-foot boat. I also met Roy and Barbara, another couple who had emailed me in Mader’s Cove and who came by for a visit, bringing a huge container of blueberries picked from their backyard.

 

Nonsuch racing

Nonsuch racing

We enjoyed having Bob and Valerie and Ron and Nora over for dinner and I played some more bridge and did some local geocaching. Susan and Paul again loaned me their car so I could pick Bradley up at the airport on his return and we are now beginning to plan our trip back to the U.S. I’ve updated my book reviews and all previously posted videos are available on my youtube channel. I’m very pleased that there are no major technical issues to report, but I did promise some photos of our Spectra soft shackle for our snubber line and these are included at the end of the photo gallery. Finally, for those so inclined, please keep Wilfred’s wife (who I reported in my last post had suffered a fall) and Bradley’s father Ted “Mr. Magnificent” in your thoughts and prayers.

3 Comments

2013-09 Princes Inlet

Sept. 8, 2013

I’m going to start this post by relating my last 24 hours. Yesterday morning looked like an ideal time for a bike ride, so I loaded our bike onto the tender and went ashore, tying the tender up to a dock owned by a local fellow who had said we could use it anytime we wanted. I offloaded the bike and proceed up the hill to the road. As I was adjusting the seat, a car came by and stopped. The woman inside said “Hi, I’m Claire. You must be Kathy. My husband said to tell you that if you need a car, take that one over there. The keys are in it”. On further discussion I learned that Claire and David are the parents of Alan and Ann Marie, who have allowed us to use their wifi for internet connection as their house is close to the point where we are anchored. David saw me bringing the bike ashore and thought perhaps I planned to ride it to the grocery store and maybe it would be easier if I had a car. I explained that I was just going out for some exercise and sightseeing. Claire pointed out her house and I saw David waxing his car in the driveway. I stopped to say hello and 20 minutes later, finally set out on my bike ride.

My ride took me along Second Peninsula Road and is probably one of the most scenic bike rides I have ever done. I am normally not comfortable riding on roads, but this one had little traffic and seemed tailor made for biking. It did, however, have some real hills! My first stop was at a beautiful cemetery where I searched for and found a geocache. Then I continued my ride for another five miles or so, finally reaching the point of the peninsula. The last house was a beautiful white house on a hill with amazing flowers along the front. There was an older man tending to the flowers and I said hello as I went past. I soon reached the end of the road and turned around, this time stopping to comment on the amazing flowers. “Well”, he said, “the really good flowers are around back. Ride on back there and see”. So I did. What a magnificent place this was. Perfectly manicured lawn – and not a small one! Flowers everywhere, house in perfect repair. I returned to chat with the man, whose name is Wilfred, and soon learned that he and his wife grow almost all the flowers, mostly annuals, in their house and hothouse. They take care of all the landscape themselves. When I asked if he was from the area, he said he had “lived here for 91 years, except for 3 years during The War”. One of ten children, he had built the house in 1951. On a sadder note, he mentioned that his wife had taken a fall earlier in the year and was now in a rehab hospital in Halifax. I could have stayed and talked to this man all day, but wanted to get back to watch some sailboat racing.

As I wound my way back along the road, I marveled at the scenery and tried to take it all in. I stopped again to chat with David and we arranged to get together soon for drinks. I hurried back to the boat, offloaded the bike and grabbed my camera to go watch the Nonsuch races (more on that later). Following the races, I came back to the boat, downloaded the photos I had taken and made a couple CD’s ot them, showered, then headed to the Yacht Club for drinks with the Nonsuch owners, many of whom I had met yesterday. They invited me to join them for dinner and I barely made it back to the boat before dark.

So that was today – and lest you think it unusual, it seems to be quite the norm here in Nova Scotia. When we last reported in, we were in Halifax. We departed Halifax and headed south to Chester, a lovely town in a beautiful bay. We enjoyed exploring the town but I was looking forward to returning to Mahone Bay to meet our “friends” there. We had stopped briefly in Mahone Bay on our way north, anchoring for a couple nights in Mader’s Cove. As we were departing Mahone Bay, I received several emails from people who had seen the boat, googled our website, and sent emails offering dinners, rides to town, or anything else we might need. Though we had not had the chance to meet any of these people on our first trip, I had started a nice email dialogue and we had looked forward to getting together on our return. Soon we were anchored back in Mader’s Cove and we began a great chapter of our cruising adventures.

10 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,114 other followers