Sunday, October 29, 2006

In the Wake of Washington

After a rough passage to Baltimore, weather remained very windy and stormy on the Chesapeake Bay. It has taken us nearly a week to make it as far south as Norfolk, VA, although the winds have been generally behind us. As we sailed fast across the mouth of the Potomac we considered how many times George Washington and other luminaries (such as Teddy Kennedy) have sailed through the same waters.
We have been seeing Brown Pelicans while out on the water, the occasional eagle, and jelly fish are now common. Annie is able to take out the dingy by herself and has been collecting and identifying shells.
We tend to start early to make the most of the light, and around dawn on Thursday while departing the Great Wicomico River, a (possible Savannah) sparrow landed on the boat and took up a sheltered residence in the dorade (wind scoop). He stayed there for a half hour and wasn’t troubled by our use of lines and sails. We’ve had a few other hitchhikers onboard, but the sparrow knew just where to go to get out of the wind.
Thursday was our best day of sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, a clear, warm day,15 knots on our starboard quarter, and 1-2 foot waves most of the day.
We finally left the Chesapeake on Friday and stopped in Norfolk due to a passing weather system. The U.S. Navy base is the largest naval facility in the world. We liked what we saw of the town, and they are working on downtown development and putting up many attractive mermaid statues.
After lunch on Saturday we walked along the water front parks and toured the mothballed U.S.S. Wisconsin. The Wisconsin, which is nearly 900’ long and weighs over 57,000 tons, carries 16” guns which can send a 2,700 lb. shell 23 miles. The ship actually carried spotter sea planes which were launched by catapult from the after deck and flew up to spot where the ships shells were landing.
We attended mass at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception near downtown Norfolk. The church was predominately black, the music great, and the sign of peace went on for several minutes. The pastor was Kenyan and his accent was fairly thick. I believe the homily had to do with Stevie Wonder and someone Jesus healed (not Stevie).
Today on to the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) south.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upper Chesapeake and Baltimore 10/20 - 10/23

We spent our first night on the Chesapeake Bay in a protected anchorage, Ordinary Point, on the Susquehanna River. At dusk Sam gave Annie a lesson on starting the outboard engine and steering the dingy. We enjoyed a clear, mild, quiet evening in the cockpit fishing and sipping coffee.
A bit of a rough trip to Baltimore he next day. The weather forecast was for 15-20 knot winds out the south, gusts to 25 knots, waves 2-3 feet. As soon as we turned west, the wind began blowing out of the west and building in force. We motored into Baltimore into 30-40 knot winds with 6-9 foot waves. Not much fun.
Baltimore, however, was great fun. We tied up in the Inner Harbor just before the celebration of Flugtag (flying day?) began. On Saturday morning many tugboats paraded through the harbor blowing loud horns, firing cannons and spraying water 100 feet into the air. They were followed by many other colorful craft including antique steam-powered launches.
The main event of Flutag was a series of attempted flights on home-made aircraft by rolling them off a 30 foot ramp over the water of the Inner Harbor. To cut this short, none of the planes flew; they all crashed into the bay. But the crowd on tens of thousands who seemed to have been drinking quantities of Red Bull (and maybe beer), loved the whole show.
Our highlight of the day was the visit by Sarah, Judi, Anne, and Anne’s son, Jamal. After visiting at the dock Jamal generously treated us all to lunch at a nice bayside restaurant, the Rusty Scupper. The scallops were excellent; the Asian barbecued salmon was fantastic. We then toured the National Aquarium, spent more time drinking coffee and talking on the boat. Great days, unfortunately, pass too quickly.
We are so grateful to Sarah, Judi, Anne for driving to Baltimore for lunch.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cape May Canal, Delaware Bay, and the C & D Canal 10/18-10/19

Before we started this trip, I was most concerned (based on material read) about the trip along the New Jersey coast and the journey up the Delaware Bay. Well, this morning those are both behind us and we ae probably half way to The Bahamas.
We started at 8:30 Wednesday morning and motored nervously under the lowest fixed bridge on our trip (55 feet) and then proceeded through the Cape May Canal, entering the Delaware Bay. The Bay was foggy with rollers coming in off the Atlantic rolling the boat moderately. The conditions smoothed out, the fog burned off and we moved slowly north into the tidal current most of the day.
We arrived at the entrance of the Chesapeake and Delaware (C & D ) Canal just as the sun set and started against another, and very strong, tidal current. The C & D connects the Delaware Bay with the Chesapeake and allows boats and ships to avoid a long passage (200 miles) outside in the Atlantic.
We were heading for an anchorage 10 miles up the very clearly marked canal at Chesapeake City. We were almost there and I thought I could see a city ahead. I had just raised my binoculars when the “city” I was examining blew a loud horn. The “city” suddenly assumed the shape of an 800 foot freighter covered with white lights. I zigged farther to the side and we passed clearly.
I share this anecdote even though it will strengthen my brother, Eric’s belief in my basic incompetence. The lesson? Stay alert at night and if a city seems to be moving, give it a wide berth.
This morning Mary Ann and I are sitting in the cockpit in the Chesapeake City Anchorage watching the cormorants and herons fish.
I strikes me that some of you may not have an atlas with you as you read this, so I’m including a small map above) illustrating our last four days travel.

The Unforgiving North Atlantic 10/13- 10/14

The New Jersey Coast has not been horrible, but the weather forecasting has been. Light westerly breezes were forecast for both Friday and Saturday, but reality was strong winds from the south, on our nose. On Saturday we took some pounding with 5-7 foot seas and some scary offshore shoals near Little Egg Inlet. We also saw our first brown pelican which seems to us like a southern bird.
The next morning we attended a beautiful mass at St. Nicholas Church in Atlantic City near the Trump Taj Mahal casino complex. I skipped gambling (money is going fast enough as it is), but later on when out for a walk with Sam, Mary Ann put all the money she had, a quarter, in a slot machine, lost, and quit.
We anchored Sunday night and started for the last of our New Jersey stops, Cape May , twenty minutes before dawn. Sam was at the helm when the sun rose over a smooth sea and a perfectly blue sky. No wind, but we motored south in comfort; the boat steered herself, but I held he wheel for the sake of appearances.
The food continues to be good; in Cape May we enoyed some very fresh flounder, couscous, and broiled veggies.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hey! from Annie

Oh my goodness, New York was so fun. We went yesterday. We ate at this very cool restaurant, Benehanas. The table we sat at had a grill in the table and the chef cooked right there. I got filet mignon. Earlier that day Mom had her picture taken with the statue of liberty (their should be a photo), but I was buying a hoodie so I didn’t get mine taken.
Just today I caught a crab! We had a fish net and just scooped it up. I almost had a heart attack it was allot of fun.
-Annie D. (for Durbin and Depp)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wading through the Big Apple 10/11

We took the ferry over to Manhattan Island Wednesday morning about 10 AM and spent the early part of the day visiting Ground Zero, the Battery, Castle Clinton,St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockafeller Plaza and Central Park. At 3:30 it started raining and rained continually the rest of the day. We spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to stay dry and visiting the Museum of Natural History. The highlight of the day was dinner at Benehana’s with Jonah and Kim. We last saw Jonah, Mary Ann’s sister Kathy’s oldest son, when he was a teenager learning to drive Judi’s stick shift.; now he’s 33, a rabbi and an attorney. They are an attractive, charming couple expecting their first baby this winter. The meal was excellent and Jonah surprised us by insisting on picking up the check. I protested for seven or eight seconds, and Mary Ann suggested later that I gave in too quickly, that I should have argued for another ten seconds or so. It was nonetheless, an excellent meal and then Jonah went down with us to stand in the rain for ten minutes to flag down a taxi. We hope o see Jonah and Kim on the way back north next May.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Greetings, Peregrine!

Your blog is beautiful. The pictures are crisp and colorful. Please tell us more about your visit to NYC. Mike, was it as unpleasant as you imagined? Today, in Toledo, we enjoyed blustery winds and snow showers. I was glad to hear that you were enjoying "unseasonably warm weather and blue skies."

Read Soon,

Sailing into the Big Apple 10/10

The two days on the Hudson river fairly flew by, especially this afternoon when we had he outgoing tide with us. The boat speedometer read 7.0 knots through the water, but sine the current was 2.5 3 knots, we were really moving towards New York at 9.5-9.8 knots.
The mountains and the palisades (300-500 foot walls of columnar basalt) were spectacular. Around noon we passed West Point .
The water between Manhattan Island and New Jersey was extremely choppy due to the tide running against opposing winds and the incessant traffic of ferries and water taxies,; we we're arriving just at rush hour.
The weather, however, was unseasonably warm, skies blue, and for the first time on our trip we are running south!
We’ll stay here for a couple of days and then brave the North Atlantic along the New Jersey coast.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The First Week of Mary Ann's Excellent Adventure

Whew! We finally arrived in the Hudson River. I don’t mean to sound as if the first week was grueling, because it was not. I say that because the last day on the canal required some diligence as we navigated 9 locks (5 right at the very end taking 1.5 hours) and to make sure we turned right at Waterford, NY into the Hudson which was very wide and contained many very old bridges. The Erie Canal was simply beautiful. It was all I envisioned it to be. The trees were brilliant on the hillsides. I never took a trip to New England in the fall, but now I can say I went across the state of New York via the Erie Canal to see the lovely fall colors. The few times I walked into a nearby town, I felt like Sissy Spacek’s character in “Tuck Everlasting” because in our boat the pace is so much slower and I wasn’t exactly dressed to impress. The canal is ripe with fascinating American history. We read a great book as we traveled through the many towns and locks, 34 in all, allowing us to drop about 600 feet since leaving Tonawanda, NY.

All my lady friends are probably wondering how I’ve been feeding my family. How does Potato Frittata sound with glazed carrots made with all fresh ingredients? Or chicken stew and corn bread made with fresh ingredients except the canned Brinkman’s chicken and Green Giant canned peas? Thanks to Roberta we enjoyed bow-tie pasta and marinara sauce. Breakfasts have included cream of wheat, eggs and pancakes and homemade granola so far. Sam really loves pancakes. Lunches have been egg salad, tuna melts, soups and lunch meat.

Today we walked up the hill right behind the marina to attend mass at Sacred Heart Church, Fr. Thomas Krupa presiding. They had a wonderful choir. I’ve made a promise to introduce ourselves to every priest and say a family rosary for him and his intentions.

We are spending our second night at Castelton Boat Club. Last night we heard coyotes howling, just like on TV! Now I know we have coyotes in NWOhio but I have never heard coyotes howl except on trips out west. Who would have suspected 110 miles north of NYC we would hear their eerie cries? Our mast went up this afternoon along with most of the rigging. It is good to see our Peregrine as I first got to know her this summer, although I was getting used to walking on deck around the supine mast supported by wooden cradles. The sunset tonight was lovely.

I have thought of my mom so often this past week. When I went to buy a postcard at Niagara Falls, she was the first person I went to pick a card out for. She would have loved to hear all about our adventure. And I have thought of all of you, too. All my colleagues at Hospice of Northwest Ohio: I think of you daily. Julian- I saw a restaurant called “Julian’s”. Sandy- I saw a woman who looked just like you! All my Regnum Christi sisters: I have been keeping up with my new prayer commitments (well, mostly). Barb- thank you for the book, “My Daily Catholic Bible”.

I hope to write again in a week...Mary Ann

A Foggy Friday Morning on the Canal 10/6

Sam and I were up early and motoring slowly through the fog, temperature 38 degrees. We spent the day moving downhill toward the sea. We traveled on the canalized Mohawk River, so that instead of a straight ditch, we enjoyed a gently curving river with, what Ohioans would call, low, forested mountains rising up from the shore.
We passed through one of the deepest locks in the world today, 41 feet. Bird sightings included: many greater black-backed gulls, hooded mergansers, egrets, and osprey.

Lake Oneida to Ilion, NY 10/5

We left Brewerton, NY shortly after dawn motoring east across Lake Oneida. A perfectly clear sky, air temperature of 43 degrees, and a northerly breeze necessitated wearing most of my clothes at the helm. We locked up twice to gain some altitude over this part of the Appalachians, but it’s all downhill from here. We passed a tour boat which took up about 75% of the canal width, but we don’t need much space. We sited more eagles, osprey, and greater black-backed gulls on Lake Oneida.
Annie is keeping up with her home schooling; Friday she takes tests in algebra, spelling and over the skeletal system.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Greetings from Annie

Hey, whoever you are, this is Annie. I'm 13 and living in a boat until June. Last Saturday, my dad and brother took off, but I decided to stay with my sister for a week before I leave. I'm having lots of fun playing with my niece and nephew. I have to be home schooled and it stinks but what am I gunna do? The cool thing is that I'm going to the Bahamas. I can't wait to meet up with my dad in Buffalo along with my Mom. Then we will sail along the coast until we get to the Bahamas. I'm so excited. I wish I was in Toledo, though, with my friends, but whatever. I'll get back to you when I'm on the boat.
- Annie

Mary Ann, Sarah and Annie Arrive 9/30 -10/1

Sam and I spent Saturday cleaning and lashing down the mast, bimini and big sailbags on deck. Then we pumped out (the holding tank) and found a dock on the canal next to a park.

Mary Ann, Sarah, and Annie got to the boat at about 6:30 PM and we enjoyed dinner on the boat and catching up. I hadn’t seen Mary Ann or Annie for about 10 days.
After morning mass, we breakfasted at the Towpath Cafe (French toast great, sourdough pancakes made with very sour dough). We then visited Niagara Falls (10 miles away), an amazing spectacle, before taking off this afternoon for Lockport, NY. We’ll all miss Sarah very much.
On the Erie Canal we are enjoying a beautiful, cool, fall day. Much of the canal is undeveloped with aspen trees growing naturally along the banks and aster blooming beneath.
Everybody wants to steer the boat right now; I hope that will still be true in a month. We’ll be traveling through some Erie Canal locks later.

Against the Wind, we’re older now but still runnin’ . . . 9/28-29

Thursday was a pretty nice day except for the wind in our face, the cold weather, and the continual rain. After motorsailing for nine hours right into it, we bid farewell to Lake Erie and greeted Buffalo, N.Y.
I can’t tell you much about Buffalo; we didn’t stay long, but the people were friendly and the neighborhood we docked in seems to be far into decay. Demolishing crumbling buildings must be a big issue and that neighborhood was largely deserted, by humans at least. Sam and I went out for a walk after dinner and we surprised a herd of 12-15 white tail deer. They stampeded away from us bu when a truck left the marina, they stampeded back toward us.
On Friday we made it down the Black Rock Canal, stopped car traffic on two bridges when the bridge operators let us through; I’m sure the motorists were happy to wait for a passing sailboat. We’re so darn picturesque! Then we passed through our first lock. I’m extremely grateful the taxpayers are supporting all these bridges and locks or we’d never get to the Bahamas.
About 4:00 PM the mast came down (in a controlled way). Marina owner, Mr. Wardell ran the crane; Sam and I did all the work, then we paid him $250 for running his crane (which smoked all the time and stalled frequently). Nevertheless we sleep on the Erie Canal tonight and Mary Ann and Annie join us tomorrow for the real start of the trip.

Another Day Another State -- Barcelona, NY 9/27

Fast sailing again with a strong SSW breeze pushing us up the coast another 30 miles. Skies were blue, but the somewhat uncomfortable winds blew 15-20 knots all day, gusting to 30 knots therefore we stopped a bit early.
Barcelona is a lovely little port set between empty beaches backed by 40 foot sandstone and shale cliffs continuing as far as the eye can see. Streams form tiny waterfalls on the rock and trickle into the big lake.
Early start tomorow; we may see Buffalo and bid farewell to Lake Erie!

Motoring to Presque Isle, PA 9/26

Tuesday contrasted greatly from our Monday experience (thank heaven). The day dawned cool and cloudless with almost no breeze, so we motor-sailed most of the day. The Lake was almost flat and the ride smooth, so we made another 60 miles to Presque Isle (Erie, PA). Due calm conditions we hardly had to touch the wheel and filled the time with a Patrick O’Brian novel, cleaning and boat chores.
Presque Isle contains an enormous bay surrounded by a state park and the longest beach I can remember seeing.

Motoring to Presque Isle, PA 9/26

Tuesday contrasted greatly from our Monday experience (thank heaven). The day dawned cool and cloudless with almost no breeze, so we motor-sailed most of the day. The Lake was almost flat and the ride smooth, so we made another 60 miles to Presque Isle (Erie, PA). Due calm conditions we hardly had to touch the wheel and filled the time with a Patrick O’Brian novel, cleaning and boat chores.
Presque Isle contains an enormous bay surrounded by a state park and the longest beach I can remember seeing.

Fast Sailing to Fairport Harbor 9/25

We raised anchor before 7:00 A.M. with hope of better conditions and all omens were positive. A more moderate breeze was blowing, waves 2-3 feet, as we left Kelleys Island sailing toward the rising sun.
We continued sailing toward the sun past Huron, Vermillion, and Rocky River. We saluted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland at about 3:00 P.M. , and conditions soon after began to change. The winds freshened to 20-25 knots out of the west, and before reaching Fairport Harbor the larger waves had built to 7-9 feet. We took them directly on our stern, so Peregrine didn’t rock and roll too much, but as we have rarely seen such conditions before, the last few hours resulted in much exhilaration and a few moments of terror. We screamed into the entrance of Fairport Harbor at 7 knots, flying only a scrap of jib sail with one wave after another crashing on the windward breakwall; we were damp and relieved at the moment and aching in the morning. We had sailed more than 80 miles in 13 hours the most ever for us.

Depature and Put-in-Bay 9/23-9/24

Sarah, Judi and cousin Anne all came down to the marina (with some fresh doughnuts) to see us off. This was most appreciated.

Sam and I left Bolles Harbor, MI in the very damp foggy morning and sailed east on a gentle breeze to Put-in-Bay where we joined the Jolly Roger Sailing Club Bash to the Bay. Although we are former members of Jolly Roger, Bill Owens and the others club members there welcomed us very cordially.
After mass Sunday morning, we left with high hopes and strong SW winds, unfortunately too strong. The winds built to moderate gale force, about 30 knots with 5-8 foot seas, so we took shelter on the lee side of Kelley’s Island where we anchored.
The forecast calls for continued 25-35 knot winds and 6-9 foot waves, so we’ll say where we are for the night and continue tomorrow. The forecast is for 10-15 knot winds from the west, so it could be almost anything.