SEPTEMBER---TIME TO HEAD TO ANNAPOLIS
Wow, it is already September! Left Portsmouth, NH on September 1 with good northeast winds hoping for a great sailing day. Typically, it is calm in the morning and the winds build by afternoon. In this case, winds were 15 knots early in the morning so we expected the winds to continue to increase..... anticipating a great sail. Original destination was either Gloucester or Beverly with plans to go to Marblehead for the Labor Day Weekend. However, making great time under sail so the new plan was to head to Scituate. Had to start motor sailing around noon (the higher winds never materialized). Saw a huge fin in the water very close to the boat. At one point in time, I actually thought it was a Great White! It was a whale that continued to come up close to the boat (we maintained our course). Could see its eye as we passed by. I thought it looked like an orca. Later I looked up "whales in New England" on the internet and sure enough, Orcas are there!.
Stayed for the Labor Day Weekend. The winds were blowing around 15 to 20 knots out of the southeast so moving south in Cape Cod did not sound like much fun (the Cape is very open so we would be motoring into some big waves). Also, the models for Hurricane Ernesto indicated the storm could pass as far west as Rochester, NY or further east over the Cape. By the time Ernesto made it north, it was only a tropical depression passing over central NY so it brought some wind to Cape Cod but mostly rain, rain and more rain.
Labor Day (Monday) brought beautiful clear skies and winds from the northeast. Had a great sail from Scituate to the Cape Cod Canal where we had to take our sails down to motor through the canal. Timed our arrival to catch the maximum current......moved through the canal at 10 knots. The sea temperature on the east end of the canal was 58 degrees compared to 65 degrees on the west end! By the time we passed through the canal, the winds moved to the south As we entered Buzzards Bay the wind was on our nose and the water was very choppy. Motored to Cuttyhunk where we anchored on the inside for the night.
The following day left Cuttyhunk with northwest winds at 10 knots. Again, the general rule is that winds in this area increase in the afternoon and once again the winds continued to decreased until it was dead calm with flat seas. Both of us appreciated the fact that we only saw an occasional lobster pot! Motored to Block Island which is very neat.. Arrived early enough to go to shore and walk around. I can see why this place is so popular for cruisers.
Hoped to get a good weather window so we could make an 28 to 32 hour run from Block Island to Cape May, NJ. Decided to use Chris Parker's weather service this year. We became a sponsoring vessel which means we can request the weather forecast for our sailing route. The weather forecast was for light winds from the northeast.....not enough wind to sail but enough wind to motor sail. According to Chris, we could wait for 5 days when a front would pass with stronger northeast winds or go knowing that we would have to motor. Decided to go. As we left Block Island, I tried to set the autopilot with no response. Carl started to investigate the problem while I continued to steer towards Cape May. Used the cellphone to call for technical support. The technician thought we had lost the calibration so we "completed four large circles" in the water while underway without any luck. Another decision to make.....turn back or continue? The decision was to continue on our way knowing we would be manually steering all the way. Oh yeah, not too long ago sailors traveled without autosteering using the stars and sun as navigational aids so why couldn't I manually steer by a compass?? Instituted 3 hour shifts that worked quite well. By nightfall we realized our compass light wasn't working. We had a flashlight attached to a headband (something like a miner's light) that we suspended over the compass. The time passed quickly because there was so much to do during your watch......stay on course, steer and look for other shipping traffic.
Arrived in Cape May 28 hours later where we took it easy for the rest of the day. The following day, Carl worked on diagnosing the autopilot and talking to the technician. I walked around Cape May.....mostly window shopping and watching people. We had a late lunch/early dinner at a great seafood market.
Left Cape May around 4:30 AM to catch the current for our journey up the Delaware Bay. Another day of motorsailing and of course we were still manually steering which is easier on the Bay because there are navigational marks to see and steer towards. Dropped anchor in Chesapeake City. Chesapeake City was hopping.......lots of go fast boats participating in a Poker Run. It was a very noisy evening.
From Chesapeake City we headed for the Sassafras River where we tied to a mooring at Well Bottom Cove. This is were we left the boat in June while we returned to Kalamazoo. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon so all the neighbors in the association were out and about. Karen and Dave came by in their dinghy to greet us and invite us to dinner. Ben and Carol arrived in their sailboat, NARWAHL, at their mooring about 10 minutes after we tied up. Ben had pulled his NARWAHL out of the water to put a new engine in last July.......just finished the job and was taking NARWAHL out for its first run on the new engine. Connie and Joe came by in the new kyaks to say hello.
Stayed at the mooring at Well Bottom Cover for 5 days. Joe Moran once again let us use his pickup truck for errands. Time to do laundry and re-provision the boat for the journey south. Attended a few Happy Hours at Karen and Dave's place. The highlight of this stay was our last evening.....Karen, Dave, Joe, Ben, Carl and I bought a half bushel of steamed crabs (Carol and Connie were out of town). Dave covered the dining room table with cardboard and then newspapers. What a feast! Carl and I now know how to clean and eat Maryland Blue Crabs!
The following picture is from our Crab Feast (Dave, Joe, Ben, Karen and Marilyn
The next stop in September was our old favorite---Weems Creek in Annapolis. The trip from the Sassafras River was pretty nice.......great winds for sailing and by now getting used to manually steering the entire trip The only downside of this leg was it was overcast and rained a few times. Lots of traffic on the Bay.....met four Navy Training Ships from the Academy plus several tugs with barges. Picked up a Naval Academy mooring and settled in for the rest of the month.
The autopilot's electronic "brain" was shipped back to RayMarine for repair. We stay busy in Annapolis. I walk downtown several times a week where I write a few postcards, look around the shops and walk back to the Creek. Shopped for summer clothes....finding some good buys. Carl took on a big project....replaced the cables for the transmission and steering. I stopped at the Naval Academy to observe the noon formation and see John Paul Jones' crypt.....things I missed when I visited the Academy twice before. Wednesday mornings we attended the Cruisers' Breakfast at Ruth and Chick's Delly. Cruisers start to arrive around 8:00 AM and by 8:15 the restaurant is packed. At 8:30 AM., the owner leads the entire restaurant crowd in the "Pledge of Allegiance."
The following picture is from the Cruisers' Breakfast at Ruth and Chick's Dell
The following pictures are form the Naval Academy. Two pictures are from the noon formation (midshipmen gather in their groups and march in together to eat lunch).
We organized a dinghy raft-up with Jon and Jill on SIRIUS. Cruisers jump in their dinghy with their own drinks and an appetizer to share and then tie off one boat. We had 25 dinghies rafted up to DISCOVERY for our party. It was really a lot of fun. Several of the cruisers we met when cruising in the Bahamas or in Maine attended the raft-up....but more of the attendees we had never met. It was a lot of fun.
The following three pictures are from the Dinghy Raft-up!
Submitted by Marilyn Whoreson
October 4, 2006