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Chesapeake VA

2017 October 16
by Lyn

You can tell from these pictures that the weather hasn’t been great. We’ve had high winds, overcast skies and rain on and off for days. We sat out a couple days of it in Onancock then caught a break in the weather and sailed down to Mill Creek by Hampton. The next day we motored past all the ships and tugs and barges. Way too much traffic! Our plan was to get through the Gilmerton Bridge and stop at Top Rack marina to wait out the impending cold front. Of course, the Gilmerton had other ideas. When we got there, 8 other boats were already waiting, some as long as 3 hours. Some type of electrical issue. All the bridge tender could say was “they are working on it.” At 2:00, the bridge went up and the crowds were released. 12 sailboats and 1 very large motor yacht all headed south at once. We lucked out and pulled straight into one of the 1st come, 1st served slips at Top Rack and settled in for the next round of rain and wind. Weird fall!

The Dismal Swamp is not open yet so we’re reluctantly set to go thru the VA cut as soon as conditions allow. Maybe in the spring we’ll be able to enjoy the Swamp again.

 

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There was some type of schooner event in Norfolk. Dozens of beautiful boats all over the docks.

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The Lady Maryland under full sail in 20 kts of wind.

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This one is for Zach – train cars waiting at the wharf for goods to be loaded onto ships for the next leg of their journey.

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A Trumpy, a timeless classic!

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Looks pretty precarious to us.

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All safely tucked away inside on the shelves.

 

But if not…

 

Onancock

2017 October 13
by Greg Long

Or simply Nancock to locals. The name may mean “foggy place” but this week it meant windy, rainy, drizzly place with good wifi and good places to eat. So we stayed a few days and avoided the bumpy Bay and enjoyed some eastern shore Virginia hospitality.

 

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Several small churches in town. We went to the Onancock Baptist Church for their Sunday worship service. Very friendly people, great music and an excellent message from Romans 12.

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With a name like Liars Bench, who could resist…

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The Onancock town wharf and Mallards.

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The town is an interesting mix of artsy shops and waterman’s docks. We met folks who grew up here and some transplanted from up north. One couple told us that people come here for the peace and quiet, but that some leave after about 18 months. Apparently it’s a little too quiet for them.

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Great friends came to visit for the day. We drove around and looked at properties for sale, stopped for groceries and had a great day together.

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Right pose, wrong clothes. It’s supposed to be warmer!

 

But if not…

 

 

Tangier Island

2017 October 9
by Greg Long

We finally made it! For years we’ve been talking about visiting Tangier Island. We’ve read the reviews, heard the stories and really wanted to experience it before time and erosion took away the opportunity. Most people seem to get to Tangier by ferry from Crisfield, Onancock or Reedville. But we wanted to go in our own boat. That desire was made a little more challenging by a couple of shallow spots in the channel and the swift current at the dock. That means high slack tide at mid-day is the optimum arrival time. Which we had this week.

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Tied up at Parks Marina.

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Milton Parks has been greeting boaters for most of his 86 years.

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And he’s still going strong on his scooter!

Walking around the island, taking in the sights and talking to the people was a trip back in time.

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Lunch/dinner (the quantity certainly counts for 2 meals) at the Chesapeake House was a not-to-be-missed treat. Besides the great food using the same recipes penned by Hilda Crockett 3 generations back, we learned a lot about the history of the island and the people. Eating family style in a restaurant is always a treat since you meet new and interesting people, like the pastor and his parishioner who flew in for the day.

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One of the locals we chatted with told us that a small island just to the north was the only thing protecting Tangier from eroding away into the Bay. In his words, “as soon as that island goes, we need to start packing.”

That will be a sad day, indeed. Go before that happens!

 

But if not…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exotic ports

2017 October 2
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by Greg Long

Ahh – that old saying – “the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic ports.”

We’ve come to believe that Solomons doesn’t really like us. Three of the four times we’ve been here, we’ve had to work on our boat here. This time it’s the voltage regulator. Talking with Balmar technical support makes it 50-50 as to whether we had a component failure or if we killed it. Either way, a new voltage regulator is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning. If all goes well with installation and testing, we may try to sneak out of the harbor on Wed – probably before dawn so no one will notice and no more parts will die.

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But the other old saying about the difference between ordeal and adventure tells us that it’s all up to us how we deal with the realities of cruising. While here in Solomons waiting for parts, some great friends drove through. We enjoyed a meal and conversation then found a coffee shop known for excellent key lime pie and some enjoyable live Sunday afternoon music. We sat on the patio, watching both people and boats go by. We were also able to catch back up with some friends from Galesville who moved their boats down here. Then we met some new friends working on their new-to-them boat and pondering a transition to full time cruising. More great conversation.  Quite likely we’ll meet them again on the water. After all, the cruising community really is pretty small. Throw in a few nice walks, a couple of dinghy rides through the harbor and it’s been quite an enjoyable few days!

 

But if not…

38 and counting!

2017 September 29
by Greg Long

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Underway for our 38th Anniversary. Headed to Solomons then …

 

But if not…

Sailing the Chesapeake

2017 September 28
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by Lyn

Given all the hurricanes this year, we’re not entirely sure what the cruising season holds. We left this week from Galesville and decided to wander the Chesapeake Bay for a while. The past several years, we’ve waited until it turned cold and then hurried south to get back into the warm. Not this year.

 

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It’s still crab season on the Bay and the waterman are out in force with pots and floats demanding vigilance.

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This guy provides the San Domingo Creek wake up call at 5am each day. We anchored here Tue to wait out a couple of days of unsettled winds from the tail end of Hurricane Maria. Today is supposed to be 20 gusting 30 but we’re pretty snug up in the creek so we may not see that much.

Tomorrow we’ll turn south a bit and head for Reedville, VA.

 

But if not…

Dolphin show

2017 April 25
by Greg Long

We met some cruisers once and we were discussing preparations for offshore passages. They had completed a circumnavigation and so we were anxious to learn more. It turned out that we shared most of the same rules and philosophies about backlines, tethers, staying in the cockpit, etc. Then they mentioned the dolphin exception to the rules and we all laughed. Seeing dolphins never gets old! They related how they were in the middle of a long ocean passage when a pod of dolphins surfaced and started playing in the bow wave. In a matter of minutes, the entire family was on the bow, untethered, leaning over the lifelines watching the dolphins frolic. Rules? What rules?

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Our own dolphin show out at sea!

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They seem so expressive!

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Becca, we thought of you when we passed these horses. They pull large carriages giving tours of Beaufort.

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Nina and Pinta replicas. They travel around as a living history exhibit. But they only carry a crew of 1 paid captain and about 7 volunteers, none of whom know much about sailing. So they motor from port to port. Volunteers have to agree to a minimum of 3 weeks, but most stay for several months. We met some of the crew and were invited below to see how the volunteers live. Pretty different from Columbus’ day!

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On the deck of the Nina. Columbus sailed with a crew of 24, most living on deck. Belowdecks was taken up with livestock and cargo.

But if not…

Lunch anyone???

2017 April 23
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by Greg Long

There are generally two types of restaurants in the Bahamas. Touristy places that all seem to have the same menu, the same atmosphere and the same prices, and then locally focused places that cater to Bahamians. We seek out the local spots. We usually find them by asking several Bahamians where they would go out for lunch. If they tell us about a waterfront, touristy place we push harder until they tell us about some little take-away spot on the corner or down a side street somewhere. And those are the treasures. They tend to be slower with a more limited menu of local dishes. We’ve developed a real appreciation for Bahamian baked mac & cheese, peas & rice and the local culture that comes for free.

 

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Hidden Treasures, a take-away on the beach in Cat Island.

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Destiny was minding the shop while her mom was away in Nassau. Lunch was slow, we learned a lot about Cat Island, Destiny and her 2 year old daughter and thoroughly enjoyed the wait.

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The local rib and chicken takeaway. Every morning a couple guys fire up the grills and start cooking ribs. By mid-afternoon, it’s all gone. The trick is in the timing: getting there late enough for the ribs to be hot for dinner, but early enough they don’t sell out.

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One rib dinner, plenty for dinner for 2! Ribs, two sides (both mac & cheese) and a roll.

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Pineapples has their own dinghy dock across from the settlement on Green Turtle. We met another cruising couple in town, dinghied over to Pineapples and spent the afternoon getting acquainted. A pretty typical cruising encounter.

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Pineapples was unusual in that they have a pool. A few places do and they tend to be the ones with a lot of night life. Our first experience with Pineapples was during our first season when we went there for a rake and scrape. A Bahamian musical experience not to be missed!

 

But if not…

Water water everywhere

2017 April 22
Comments Off on Water water everywhere
by Greg Long

and this year we had lots to drink!! After last season, we decided to add a water maker to the equipment list. Two seasons of jugging water to the boat and skimping on how much water we used convinced us to take the plunge (get it?). Every time we turn on the water maker we are amazed. Saltwater gets pulled into the boat, through a couple filters and a fancy pump into a couple of very long tubes, and comes out the other end as pure, sweet, drinkable water. So far, 465 gallons of sweet reverse osmosis water to be exact. That’s how much water we made during the 2+ months we were in the Bahamas.  In other words, 93 jugs of water if we were hauling it from on shore, handing it up onto the boat and siphoning it into the tanks. Or, by yet another measure, 3,720 pounds of water that we didn’t have to lug around! Any way you measure it, it was a great decision!

So, in honor of our newfound appreciation for the sublime joys of water, here are a few water pictures from our season.

 

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Pulling the anchor in predawn light.

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Rigging the fishing lines.

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We had so many great sailing days this year.

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Forest fires in the Abacos.

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Forest fires at sunset.

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A ferry crossing the sound at sunset with the forest fires in the back ground.  These fires burn until rain puts them out, so they burned for several weeks.

But if not…

 

Little San Salvador Island

2017 April 21
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by Greg Long

There are a couple ways to see the Bahamas by boat. One is to sail from island to island, meeting locals, exploring amazing sites, with no particular time pressures other than those dictated by wind and whim.

The other way is to join with 2,500 of your best friends on a floating city, anchor alongside a private island owned by the cruise ship company and be ferried into a resort beach setting complete with beach bar, air conditioned straw market and beach umbrellas set up next to lounge chairs.

As we sailed past Little San Salvador island, owned by the Holland Cruise Lines, we had a chance to chat on the radio with one of the officers of the cruise ship hovering (too windy to anchor) just off the island. He was very friendly and informative about how their one stop in the Bahamas was conducted. Even told us about how they ferry in all the island staff from nearby Eleuthera each morning before the ship arrives at 8 am and then take them all home at 5 pm after the ship sails off for it’s next port of call. Each day they set up a one stop, faux Bahamian settlement! Amazing!

The officers life was actually more interesting. The ship is out of Holland, moved across to Port Everglades for a season, then was headed down to the Panama Canal to go through to the Pacific Northwest and then up to Alaska for their cruise season. Then from there back to the Med, down to the Bahamas/Florida and around and around they go. We had a very friendly bit of back and forth when I pushed him about living a pretty plush life and he responded with how he was actually doing it for work while we were sailing along from beach to beach enjoying ourselves with no schedule. Touché! At our speed of 7 kts, we had quite a bit of time to chat. When two whalers would meet in mid-ocean they would pull alongside and “speak” each other. That was called a gam. No idea where the word came from, but I guess we had a gam with the cruise ship. Just 2 boats passing in the day!

 

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You can see the cruise ship long before the island itself comes into view!

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The thing is huge! And it has computer controlled stabilizers and thrusters allowing it to hover in one spot with very little rocking. All the comforts!

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The little resort settlement put together for the cruise passengers to sample Bahamian life.

But if not…