Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Month of Maine

Wow. Here we are in Bath, Maine and already leaving this afternoon for Boothbay Harbor. It's almost our sixth day into our glorious month of August in Maine. My last blog was shortly after we arrived in Salem and consisted of all the stats generated by our trip up from Florida. So here's a quick catchup!

We had a great two months, docked in our usual spot in the center of things in Salem, just a quick trip to Marblehead. We did a lot of catching up on doctors and dental appointments, and knowing that we'll not be doing the trip down to Florida this fall,  enjoying the feeling of settling in and beginning to test our land legs. So far, no luck finding a suitable house in a tight real estate market, but as I tell myself, one of these days, the right thing will come along. So until then, we're going to enjoy ourselves aboard Carry On in Maine. There are three families of ducks who will be missing us and our swim platform!

We've had a wonderful time catching up with old friends, enjoying our local individual activities. A favorite for both of us is the Marblehead Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. I have become a tomato addict, starting with the early season ones grown in the shelter of water filled plastic cages. And the golden beets are a visual treat, as well as a healthy and delicious addition to dinner! We're continuing our Saturday morning market tradition here in Maine, beginning with last weekend's dockside market in Bath, Maine.

On an early morning walk through Salem, I became intrigued with Ziggy's Donuts, which has been there for 48 years, a tiny place with a half dozen stools and a lot of Salem character. It didn't take much to convince Paul to take a walk with a promise of donuts along the way. Now I'm afraid I'm responsible for a another addiction, although I tell myself that even if it takes a donut to get him out for a walk, the walk is still a good thing! And yes, the cheeseburger and the hotdog in the pic are donuts. We've had a lot of fun with these goodies, baiting unsuspecting children and friends to eat a cheeseburger for breakfast.

Soon enough we'll be back in Salem, enjoying the local color again, but meanwhile__ here's to Maine!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

By the Numbers, Fort Lauderdale to Salem

Dep Ft Lauderdale   April 2
World Trade Center with New Spire and Crane

Arrive Salem           May 19

Nautical Miles     1679 nm

Statute Miles       1847 mi    

Engine Hours      247.7 total 

Mean Speed         6.8 knots

Fuel Est      1150 gal total *
                 =   .68 gal/ nm       
                 =  1.46 nm/ gal
                 =  4.64 gal/ hr 

Total Time        48 days
Lady Liberty on a Dreary Morning

Lay Days          22 days

Passage Days    26 days

Avg day     64.6 nm/ day
                   9.53 hrs/ day

* Inc generator use

Friday, May 10, 2013


It's been a long, and seemingly continually growing period of waiting since we left Annapolis__ after a delightful week there, for me at least, while Paul was away in Cincinnati__ we headed across and up the Chesapeake Bay to Tolchester Marine to have a few service items completed before we resumed our trip north.

As luck would have it, the beautiful weather we enjoyed in Annapolis, which would also have been great traveling conditions, turned into a stretch of rainy days. While rain seldom stops us, the sea conditions along the NJ coast were definitely show stoppers. We began looking for places to hang out for a few days, with a little more excitement than Tolchester provided, deciding on Delaware City, which put us further north on our path and would be a new place for us.

We spent a quiet Thursday and Friday in Delaware City, docked in the narrow canal that runs
diagonally through the small grid of streets that make up the town. I will say this about Delaware City: while there's not much there, I can hardly think of another place that seems to be trying so hard to stay alive. Crab shacks of various degrees of elegance are the main attraction. Whoever owns Wiso's has a sense of humor and a commitment to recycling!

Our original plan called for only two nights in Delaware City, but our three trusted weather forecasts all showed wave heights growing to 8 or 9 ft.  We usually think it's reasonable to travel when forecasts  are 3 ft or below, maybe a bit higher depending on the direction. This obviously called for more waiting, as we just didn't/ don't really feel like getting beat up again on this trip!

So despite the scenic attractions of Delaware City, we decided to continue our wait up the river in Philadelphia.

That was a week ago tomorrow, when we hope to leave and resume our trek, but Philadelphia was a very good idea. We've enjoyed the city from Penn's Landing, in the same small marina as Admiral Dewey's* flagship, USS Olympia, which Paul finds quite thrilling! Although the weather still doesn't look quite as favorable as we'd like, we're ready and anxious to go.

Next stop on land, Salem.

* From Wikipedia, a little info on Admiral Dewey. He is famous for his victory at Manila Bay in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. For those of you with a Boston bent, during his long and illustrious career,  he also commanded the USS Constitution (1867-1870).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Difficult Passage

It's always tricky to find a good weather window for a trip that will last more than 24 hours and cover a lot of mileage, as when traveling off shore from Ft Lauderdale to the north Florida border. We, Paul mostly, had done his homework, using several marine weather websites, including NOAA, and a paid weather router. And so we finally decided to cast off from our dock in Ft Lauderdale on the monday after Easter-- uh, that would be April 1, otherwise known as, well, you guessed it already.

We knew it would be rough getting out to the Gulf Stream from Port Everglades and it was, but once in the stream, we were moving well and it was comfortable enough, and we were into a period which the forecasts all agreed would be seas of 1-2 ft. So we figured we had paid our dues and set our course for Port Canaveral. Needless to say, conditions were not as forecast and we were treated to disorganized and high waves, at short intervals. Nasty stuff, with heavy spray and much discomfort for the crew. All this was compounded by fuel transfer issues, which finally caused us to head for St Augustine with only one engine. We would spend some period of each day the rest of the week, as this problem cascaded from one thing to another. After a big cleanup and a fuel polishing in Charleston, we have put that issue to bed.

A day or two later, when travel became normal again, to keep things in perspective, Paul read out loud to me the following passage from Blackett's War by Stephen Budiansky, ppg 151-152, describing the hastily built corvettes, used as escort vessels by the British in WWII.

"A scant 200 ft long, they carried a single 4-inch gun on the bow and racks of depth charges in the open stern. The bridge was open to the elements, too, save for a small enclosed wheelhouse and another boxlike cabin holding the asdic set. The Royal Navy's theory was that fresh air kept the watch awake and on their toes and that an enclosed bridge hindered visibility. In fact, in any bad weather standing watch was 'sheer unmitigated hell,' said one young Canadian officer. The ships were originally planned for a complement of 29 officers and men but that was increased to 47 and then 67, with the result that 55 enlisted men shared two 20-by-14 foot compartments, two toilets, one urinal, and three wash basins. There was no forced ventilation system and the first fifty ships that were built had no insulation either, which caused the walls to sweat with heavy condensation, causing epidemics of pneumonia and TB among their crews. In rough weather water simply slammed down through the standing ventilator pipes, flooding the mess decks and wardroom and washing up a tide of spilled food, sodden clothes, and loose gear in chaotic piles.

"The food was abominable. The only passage from the small galley, at the rear of the superstructure, to the bridge and the forward crew quarters was across an open well deck which was frequently swept by heavy seas, which meant meals arrived cold, if they arrived at all. The galley's small refrigerator could hold only five days' worth of fresh meat and vegetables, after which the menu settled into an invariable and dreary procession of canned sausages, canned corned beef, canned stew, hard biscuits, and tea.

"To add insult to injury, the corvettes had all been given the names of flowers: HMS Gladiolus, HMS Periwinkle, HMS Buttercup... It almost seemed seemed like a bad joke."

Despite another uncomfortable overnight outrunning weather  as we traveled up the Chesapeake Bay, we feel pampered by contrast aboard Carry On, with all her comforts, plus the luxuries of fleece and Gortex, GPS and  AIS. We're safely on the dock in Annapolis for a few days, where our broker is seeing to our needs and we're enjoying a beautiful, if chilly spring  here in this lovely town.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Day Here

Strangler Fig
It's Easter Sunday, our last day here in Fort Lauderdale, where we've been for the last three and a half months, the longest time we've spent anywhere. It took us a while to settle in here, but we have, and very pleasantly. There will be much that we will miss, not the least of which is the glorious weather we've enjoyed almost all winter. We've become accustomed to the warm days, the touch of coolness in the mornings and evenings and the afternoon breezes. It's been a long time since I wore real shoes and something that worries me about my ability to readjust to winters in New England.

For my part, I will miss my four favorite "walks" in the neighborhood and along the ocean. I continue to be fascinated by the strangler figs, which like the one above, can grow to impressive size along the residential streets. I will miss the yoga studio where I've been going to classes for the last six weeks. It's been a great introduction to yoga, a challenge physically with immediate benefits in reducing my stress level. I'll miss the office secretary and the assistant dock master, always ready to help, find our mail and chat when things are slow. I'll miss the variety of mega yachts, whose bow and stern thrusters signal their comings and goings, and the other passing sights on the ICW, like the fuel barge that hangs in the waterway near our marina, waiting to service the big boats.
Neighborhood Gas Station

Paul has his own list, but on it would be MacDonald's Hardware, our breakfasts out around town, our favorite bakery on Las Olas and his surreptitious lunches at Skyline Chili, the Cincinnati chain which has two outposts in the Fort Lauderdale area. When he heads out to do errands around 11 am, I know now to expect a call, announcing he has too much more to do to get home for lunch. I don't ask questions anymore! Actually I did take the picture below, and I have been known to indulge in the very occasional smaller five-way of my own.

The Pleasure of Skyline Chili
Now we're pretty much ready to leave tomorrow morning for an overnight off shore trip up to Port Canaveral, further if conditions are good and the crew feeling rested enough. We expect to be in Charleston in a week or so, and we'll spend a week there before continuing our journey north.

As Carry On is not sold yet, and we're very happy and comfortable living aboard, we'll continue to do so while we spend the summer in Salem again looking for a place to live on land__  the best of all worlds solution for us right now.

Remember you can watch our progress on the SPOT link at the top of the page, right hand side.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Locals

We're still here in Fort Lauderdale, enjoying the gorgeous weather while we keep the boat spic and span for potential showings. Today we're enjoying a rainy day, really our first since we arrived here before Christmas, with cups of tea and hot chocolate, a nice alternative to our usual iced drinks. While we were watching the coverage of the recent blizzard in the Northeast, we were feeling a bit nostalgic for a good old fashioned snow day. Mostly, though, we wonder if we'll be able to adapt again to a New England winter!
Morning Shower, Iguana Style

We've settled in here at our marina, which is mostly very quiet, despite its proximity to a large aquatic complex, where swim teams work out from the wee hours of the morning until 8 pm. There are a couple of other live aboards down the dock from us, and then there is the real wild life.

A few years ago, the South Florida iguana population was decimated by severe cold. I remember arriving here shortly after that episode and hearing people tell stories about frozen iquanas falling out of trees and crashing through windshields. The population was slow to recover due to drought conditions, but it's pretty clear to me that they're back! Some days they seem to pop up everywhere__in the parking lot, in the middle of the road, on top of a tile roof, or sunning by a residential swimming pool. They are urban creatures. I'm not a big fan of reptiles in general, but checked them out in my National Aububon Society Field Guide to Florida anyway. Here's what it says, "5'.... "Can run upright on hindlegs. Looks frightening but is a docile vegetarian." I caught this small fellow enjoying the runoff of a drain one sunny morning, actually looking kind of cute.

Green Heron Intent on Fishing
I happened to look out the portlight in our stateroom late one afternoon as I was about to jump in the shower. I saw a furry looking clump on the dock line and couldn't figure out what it was, so I got dressed again, grabbed my camera and captured this charming bird. He ever so slowly crept up the dock line, slowly moved himself to a perch on the cleat and sat on the boat without moving for a couple of hours. We haven't seem him again on our lines, but he fishes on the rocks frequently when the tide is low. His attention to his fishing is complete, and it seems he can sit without moving for minutes at a time.

What's the Fuss?
And then there's my favorite local critter, who was very patient with the attendees at the Trawler Fest boat show a couple of weeks ago. Happily for Bubba, our broker is a cat person, who never fails to give him a little ear scratch and a few kind words. Life is good!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Southern Christmas

It's still a little strange to me that Christmas here comes with 80 degree temps, shorts and tee shirts, and possibly a run up the river in the dinghy tomorrow. In a perverse way, I miss the snow and the cold this time of year. But only a little. It's easier to adopt what my niece's husband (and frequent boat visitor) calls the Florida attitude. 

To me that means paint the toenails, put on my flip flops, walk on the beach and try to remember to wear a sun hat! Another big part of the Florida scene are the boat parades all along the waterways at Christmas time. I've always wanted to see one, but we never seemed to be in the right place at the right time. 

This year we saw two-- the first quite by accident in Fort Pierce where these photos were taken and the second here in Fort Lauderdale was a bit more planned. We were fortunate to have the company of our niece and two of her friends join us for the last day of our southern trek, from North Palm Beach to our marina here in FTL. They were lots of fun and are old hands at parades, Mardi Gras or otherwise, and were smart and considerate enough to buy folding canvas chairs and stake out a place on the dock for us. We watched the parade in comfort, with a glass of wine perched in the arms of our chairs.

Since the parade last Saturday, we've begun to settle in here, as we expect to be here for a few months. A kind friend has loaned us a car, which we've been enjoying. We had given up on rentals, which are barely available here during the holidays and ridiculously expensive.

Paul has been working hard to get both of our computers back up and running properly, and I think mine is finally healthy, not to mention a great deal faster! 

Now we're ready to kick back and enjoy the holidays-- the red velvet cupcakes just came out of the oven, next I'll start the sauce for the pasta. We'll put on one of our Christmas CD's, pour a glass of wine and put aside our projects. 

And to all our you, we send our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2013!