Tuesday, December 13, 2016

photo dump from liberty island to solomons, md.

We finally have wifi!! I didn't realize how much we depend on it to communicate until we set off on this journey, but I will tell you, crappy wifi makes photo uploading a nightmare. So, as promised, a day late and a dollar short, here are photos (with captions, even!) from my last journey post from Liberty Island to Solomons, MD.


Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Atlantic City by night,

watercolor sunrise and one other boat. also, our first dip in the Atlantic on Interlude.

fishing boat in Cape May

buoy and (boat for scale) in Delaware Bay.

boat on a boat in Delaware Bay.

the size and type of boat passing us in the C & D Canal.

anchored in Annapolis,

narrow little streets in downtown Annapolis.

capitol building in Annapolis.

crab cakes in Solomons!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

the only thing that stays the same.

Change is good. Change is also stress. As we enter the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) we enter yet another different system and way of boating. With that comes the stress of knowing that we have to do things different now. 

Having started in Lake Michigan, this stress is not something new. The familiarity of the Great Lakes gave way to newness of the St. Claire River. Lake Erie is a creature unto itself even in terms of the Great Lakes. With its shallow waters come fish traps and quick wave patterns, shoals that are miles from shore. 

The Erie Canal brought with it locks and lift bridges. Completely protected waters with few exceptions. An interconnected system maintained by a single authority who would send out timely notices if you provided your contact information. 

The Hudson River was the return of commercial traffic. Tugs moving all variety of barges. There is also the introduction of tides and currents. The Hudson south of Troy serves as a tidal estuary. By Poughkeepsie the water is brackish; salt is in the air. 

New York harbor is a busy patch of water with a broad mix of commercial, recreational, and Ferry traffic. Throw all of the security zones into the mix, and the associated patrol boats, and you get a full pattern of activity. 

With a sailboat, the next step is an open ocean passage around southern New Jersey to Cape May. The icing on that cake is that with the distance, it makes the most sense to take the Atlantic on at night. 

Cape May itself is easily enough navigated as long as the mast fits under the bridges. But it is also the gateway to the Delaware Bay with its heavy commercial traffic and many shoals. The Chesapeake is not much different until the southern end where it opens up a bit. 

South of Norfolk, where we find ourselves now, is "the ditch", the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. 1090 statute miles (if anyone knows why they decided to measure the ICW in statute miles, I would love to know the answer) of mostly motoring from marker to marker, following the magenta line. Channel markings switch sides (red right returning is based on where is considered "returning" sometimes you're headed towards an inlet, sometimes away, so you need to use the binoculars to look for the tiny yellow triangles and squares). There are tides and currents, ocean swells at inlets, shallow expanses of water, and multiple controlling authorities. NOAA publishes chars. The Army Corp of Engineers is responsible for surveying and dredging. Multiple municipalities have taken it upon themselves to dredge as the Corp of Engineers is underfunded and can't keep up. This leads to a patchwork of available data with varying limits of reliability. 

Thinking back across these changes, a distinct pattern emerges. Stress. With each new section, fear of he unknown has crept up leading to late nights studying guidebooks and pouring over various Internet forums discussing the pros and cons of various cartography. 

Ann often reminds me that people less prepared than we are have done this trip with great success. While that does bring some peace of mind, the numerous sunken vessels scattered across any given chart remind me that not all vessels are successful. The rational mind knows that many of the wrecks were caused by negligence and extreme circumstances, but the emotional brain says that they could have just been unlucky.  Maybe they hit an unmarked obstruction. Storms change things all the time. There are obstructions on the charts from 1978, how accurate can they be? 

The reality is that the stress is what keeps us safe. All of sources of information provide some good knowledge and it is the combination of all of the information that pints the whole picture. When reviewing various sources, it is experience that helps to determine what source to Tristan's which to take with a gain of salt. 

We met a couple coming down from the C and D Canal in a 25 foot RF-246. They had traveled from Maine and after a couple of days in the Chesapeake, she was ready to throw in the towel. We were out on those days and while it was a bit uncomfortable, in a full displacement 36 foot sail boat we had a much different experience that day. 

So while the source of the stress is completely understood, that does little to reduce the feelings that it brings. A few more days of the ICW and we will be in the swing of things, ticking off the miles with nary a care. The tension will leave my back and shoulders. That is until we get to southern Florida and start looking at crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

liberty island to solomons, md.

Guess who is woefully behind? Yup. I'll pick up from NYC for now but I know we owe you a whole laundry list of posts just about the Erie Canal too. 

Where were we? Ah yes. We departed the anchorage south of the Statue of Liberty later than we intended. We needed to get diesel and the closest place was back toward manhattan and so we set out that direction. We topped off both the water and fuel tanks and then headed toward the mouth of New York harbor. It is the busiest waterway we have seen yet. Barges, fast ferries, fishing boats, pleasure boats, and freighters dotted the horizon around us. It was a tense time and thankfully Fozel slept through most of it. We rounded Sandy Hook, NJ around dusk and thus began our first overnight passage with Fozel. I laid down with him and snoozed a bit while Josh took the first watch and then stood a nice long stretch while Josh got some long overdue rest. During the night we watched the blinking lights of the cities, including Atlantic City. This was our first dip into the Atlantic Ocean aboard Interlude and it was under the best of conditions. The waves were smooth and the wind was light. All in all, a wonderful first night at sea. Fozel awoke at his normal time, and we carried on with our day as usual. We pulled into Cape May, NJ in the late afternoon and anchored during low tide, with just a few feet more than our draft below us (our draft is 6 feet and low tide was just over 8 feet of water). Josh struck out in the kayak while Lucas and I napped. Another boat we had encountered at Hop o' Nose also arrived, Herricanne, a Canadian boat hailing from Montreal. They dinghied over and we shared a glass of wine and some trip planning advice. They are bound for Martinique! 

Before the sun was up, josh and I crept out of bed to begin our route across the Cape May canal. There are a few tight bridges so we opted to go with the low tide and current through them. By breakfast time we were heading up Delaware Bay to the C & D canal. Since it was late afternoon by the time we reached the canal, we opted to pull into a tiny marina in Delaware city. We needed showers and some time on land. We stayed 2 nights. There we saw some familiar faces aboard Salty Paws, a tiny little power boat from Maine. They had stayed in the same marina as us in NYC and we had briefly chatted there. Molly and Bill are also Bahamas bound but I suspect we will eat their dust as the last time we heard from them they were already in Charleston. The following day we again tried to beat the sun. This time fog thwarted us. We stayed out later than anticipated that morning. We still had plenty of daylight and it was a nice passage. There was a plethora of commercial traffic but the channel is amply wide and we stayed out of their way with no problem. The C & D canal dumped us into the Elk River which is at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay. Annapolis, here we come. Josh did a little sleuthing and found a nice protected area on the east side of the Chesapeake called Worton Creek. There for 6 or so other boats moored there. Lucas and I went for a kayak ride as the sun went down and again ran into our pals Molly and Bill. Early the next morning, Friday, we motored to Annapolis and tried to get one of the Naval Academy buoys in Weems Creek but no luck. They are only used by the Academy sailing team if the threat of a hurricane is imminent. When we arrived I walked to get groceries and the boys played at a local school playground. The next morning, Josh met up with his former sailing coach for coffee. Later in the day we cleaned and played and then on Sunday, bright and early we departed. That afternoon we pulled into Calvert Marina in Solomon, MD. We took the courtesy car to pick up a few more grocery items (mostly snacks and treats that were way overpriced in Annapolis). And that night we took the dinghy across the river where the marina was to have some Maryland seafood. Josh had the crab cakes and I opted for the fried seafood platter. There were crab balls (basically crab cakes) that were deeelicious! We did a few loads of laundry and showered up, as it had been since Delaware City since our last washings. After leaving Solomon, Virginia was in our sights. 

Check back in a few days when I have decent wifi for photos in this post.

Friday, November 11, 2016

cooking and eating aboard.

Before we left Racine in September, I actually had the forethought to prepare some food. When we did our shakedown cruise at the beginning of August, I hadn't. I had ingredients for the most basic dishes but didn't take into account the whole "being-below-deck-and-being-tossed-around-while-cooking" thing into account. In a not very proud moment, I now admit that we subsisted on protein bars, granola bars, and fruit snacks for the entirety of our time underway (read: under sail or motoring). It was gross. When your sleep schedule dictates that you're awake for four hours and asleep for four hours, you have weird eating patterns too. I was eating 2 protein bars every 4 hours around the clock. They weren't the high calorie ones so really I was only eating 350ish calories every 4 hours. Nutritionally it could have been worse but still not stellar. Plus eating sweet around the clock was wearing. 

This go round I vowed I'd do better and I think Josh would agree that I have. Before we left I did one big last big grocery haul and prepped a bunch of items plus grabbed some staples to have for when we were in port and could cook. My goal was to make stuff we didn't mind eating cold, (as using the stove isn't ideal underway--at least while sailing) and found appetizing and at least semi nutritious. In addition to what I made, I also picked up some fresh fruit, cheese sticks, and carrots. I made: Thresher burgers (non Hamiltonians may know it as maid rites), pulled pork, dill pickle dip, sliced cheese and sausage, boiled eggs, and egg casserole. Mostly I was on the money. I bought pretzel thins for the dip, crackers for the cheese, and Hawaiian rolls for the meats. Plus we got fruit snacks and granola bars (you would think we would be sick of them, but no). 

For the entirety of our time on the Great Lakes, this is how it went. I would pop into a grocery store when we're in port and pick up ingredients to make another recipe so we weren't always eating the same thing. Last time I added a hot sausage dip and chicken salad. I would do all the cooking at the dock before we cast off and we would eat it all cold unless we were in port. 

I will say that our menu widened once again after we started on the Erie Canal were strictly motoring. I made chili, quesadillas, spaghetti, home made pizza, and some casseroles because the water was completely calm and I could actually cook underway. Three cheers for hot lunches and dinners!

Now it's a mixed bag and I suppose it will continue to be as much until we reach the Bahamas. With the transition back and forth from sailing and motoring as conditions warrant, we will be flexible. My goal is for us to always be satiated and for some sort of balance, especially for Fozel. We've been really lucky and I've been able to get plenty of fresh produce for him. He eats a fruit and a vegetable at every meal (except breakfast...I don't insist on the veggie then) and a glass of milk at least two of the three meals. When provisioning options are scarce or we are scraping the bottom of the cabinets, as we sometimes do (way more frequently than when we lived on land, I will say), we do eat canned veggies and fruit. Not my favorite options, but flexible we must be. I don't have a ton of cooking pans, and with only three small burners, a full stove is not realistic anyway. I cook food in shifts so it's not always piping hot, but it works. No one complains. I will say that my most valuable pan has turned out to be a little nonstick omelet pan. I use that thing for EVERYTHING. I make eggs, grilled cheese, and most importantly, to reheat leftovers. I'm telling you right now, I could not do it without this pan. Guys, how did people reheat leftovers before microwaves?? We never planned to take a microwave because 1) we don't have the space and 2) it pulls to much electricity, but now I think long and hard about what I cook in advance. What will and won't reheat well? You know what does't reheat easily? Meatloaf. At least not yet. I will do some noodling and get back to you guys but for now, meatloaf is going to have to be a cold leftover. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Sometimes it's hard to know when to hit pause. We've been at this for a month and a half straight (minus my short trip home) and it is wearing. We move every day or two, pulling up the anchor or untying from the dock. We get showers occasionally and do laundry, fill water and fuel tanks and provision at the grocery store even less frequently. It's a life on the move. We are up with the sun, pulling out of small anchorages where we rarely even set foot off the boat. Sometimes we have wifi and sometimes we are completely unplugged (which is sometimes a blessing and sometimes isolating). And when you are pretty much self sufficient, carrying most everything you could ever need, it's easy to want to keep pushing forward.  Cruising is part camping, part traveling circus, part road trip. And it requires patience and flexibility which can be hard to have some days when things just aren't going just right. 

After a little engine trouble on a very choppy day on the Chesapeake yesterday, we have pulled into a marina in Reedville, Va. and here we will stay for the next week. The plan had been to leave today after waiting for some fuel filters to come in but it wasn't right. We are exhausted. It's time for a rest. We are in a rather remote area (but with quick wifi, hallelujah!) of northern Virginia in a quiet creek at a tiny marina. It should do nicely to unplug and regroup for a few days. There are a couple of projects that will be completed on the boat while we are here so it won't be totally relaxing but should provide us with some time to regroup, refocus and breathe before pressing on. We are anxious to see some friends further down south and are looking forward to being reunited. 

In the interim, I'll try to post some of the backlog of posts I've got going and tell you about some of the projects we've got going. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

by the numbers

Those of you who know me, know that I am a numbers guy.  It should come as no surprise that I have several spreadsheets going as we make this voyage.  Below is a small glimpse of what we are tracking.  This is part of a larger spreadsheet that details all of the voyaging we have been doing and providing running totals on hours, miles and days (email me if you're interested in an actual copy of the spreadsheet, I'm not sure about posting the whole thing on here).

The purpose of this sheet goes beyond me geeking out over all of the numbers.  It also helps me track the hours and days towards getting a Coast Guard license. The most common license is the National Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel of less than 100 GRT.  This is what was commonly referred to as a "six-pack" license.   It requires that the holder have 360 days of sea time with at least 90 of those within the last 3 years.  For those of us earning that time on our own boats, we are required to fill out Coast Guard Form 7195 which involves counting the days each month spent underway as well as the total number on the Great Lakes and shoreward and seaward of the "boundary line defined in 46 CFR Part 7".  

Anyone who can fill out this form without a spreadsheet like the one I am using is probably making some guesses.  Hopefully they aren't required to provide proof of the service they claim.  I will have a log book that backs up all of my claims.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

another day is done.

Today we came ashore in Delaware City, DE. We had been anchored out the past few days after our time in New York City so laundry, showers and solid ground were much appreciated!

But let me step back a bit and fill in the holes since my last post. One thing you apparently can't find in NYC is free wifi (at least not at the marina we stay in, there is actually very fast free wifi, it just doesn't stretch that far). 

After our soggy arrival in Waterford, NY, we took on one last lock, Federal Lock in Troy, NY which dropped us around 17 feet. This on clearly sees more commercial traffic. It didn't have any lines for us to grab and steady our boat along the wall as all the ones on the Erie Canal had so we had to wrangle lines and have a few moments of panic in the process. 

We spent the remainder of the day motoring down the Hudson River. The shores on either side were dressed in their fall best, crimsons and burnt orange interspersed with the remaining greens. Our destination was Hop-o-Nose to once again to become a sailboat! Along the way we encountered many larger vessels--barges and tour boats mostly. And, we also began contending with tides and currents. Nothing crazy but they moved us along at a brisk pace in some places and slowed our progress in others. Of course, it all depended on the time of day. 

We arrived at Hop-o-Nose late in the day and pulled up to the dock. We made dinner, wandered around the boat yard so Fozel could stretch his legs and tucked in for the night. First thing the next morning, the guys at the yard used their ancient crane (which, rumor has it, helped in the building of the Erie Canal) to slowly raise the mast. Fozel and I wandered into town to kill time while Josh took care of reattaching stays, shrouds, and boom. After lunch Josh continue working while the babe and I rested. While we snoozed Josh went to help a catamaran we had met before going up the Niagara river, Komotion, put their mast back up at a place up the river. They traded war stories and planned to keep in contact as we all head south one by one. Josh and I put the sails back on late in the afternoon in preparation for a morning departure. We met a couple of fellow cruisers who were also there to be re-masted on a boat named Hericanne from Montreal. Josh and I met each half of the couple separately and traded info and stories before they got squared away with the crane and we got underway, waving goodbye as we went. 

The following day was more gorgeous foliage, currents trying to push us back up the Hudson, and more traffic. Josh has been doing 99% of the driving and I've been handling the boy and food prep and clean up. It works. We spend most of our time below deck so Josh has been seeing most of the interesting stuff. Plenty of barges, enormous homes perched on cliffs overlooking the brown waters and some wildlife. Late in the afternoon, we pulled up to a mooring field in Marlboro, NY associated with a nearby marina. They had already pulled docks for the season but said we could moor for free. Score! This was the first mooring we had done on Interlude and other the some fiberglass shards in the palms of our hands we did okay. Unfortunately our full keeled boat orients to the current and not the wind so we did some knocking into the mooring ball, which isn't dangerous, just noisy. 

Wednesday, we undertook the last leg to Manhattan. This go round we encountered West Point, a crumbling castle, slow moving barges, and several adorable towns. Josh spotted the Tappan Zee bridge in the distance and we knew New York was within reach. They're building the "New New York Bridge" right next to it and it's a sight to behold. Truly a marvel of engineering skill seeing it span across both sides to meet in the middle. 

A few hours later we scooped up a mooring ball at 79th street boat basin and dighied ashore. First stop was food. We shared a slice, Fozel's first and then got a bit more grub before letting the kiddo run through Central Park. I made the mistake of telling him it was a park so he was convinced there was a playground just around the next bend. Poor guy. We did find one on our way back to the marina so he got to climb up and go down the slide "two more times" several times. 

Thursday was a day for exploring. The weather was drizzly and gray and cold enough to bring your breath out in white misty puffs. Still, we persevered. We jumped a train down to one world trade, walked across the island to the Brooklyn bridge, wandered up into Chinatown for a $15 lunch (total!), scooped up a pumpkin steamed bun, ate some Big Gay Ice Cream, and ran thru the revolving door at Sephora in Times Square a hundred times (Fozel's choice). One of Josh's former co-workers lives on the very, very far north side of Manhattan and graciously came down to the upper west side to eat dinner with us. It was lovely! Of course both Josh and I look like wildlings (Josh especially--his beard and uncut hair, oy!) so we chose a low key ramen joint. 

Friday afternoon Josh's best friend joined us on the boat. We had moved into the the marina before he arrived and I'm sorry to say it wasn't much more comfortable than the moorings. There is so much traffic on that river that the wakes that toss you are nearly constant. The marina has floating docks because of the tide but with the wake that also means you feel like you're trying to jump from floating brick to floating brick (a la Mario brothers). 

Saturday we ended up doing lots of playground hopping starting in Central Park and walking through the the upper east side and then back down to midtown before hopping a train to the lower east side to check out the High Line! We were all exhausted by the end of the day. We sent Rod on his way early the next morning and Fozel and I went for a run while daddy fetched bagels. Fozel got a rainbow bagel and hasn't stopped talking about it since! Thus ended our time in New York City. We moved to an anchorage southwest of the Statue of Liberty in the late morning and enjoyed a calm quiet night there (after a windy hail filled storm blew threw around dinner time).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

notes from the road.

Today we marked our 1 month anniversary of being underway. We left Scotia this morning and arrived in Waterford, NY around 2:45 this afternoon. We traversed 6 locks, 5 of them in less than a two mile distance. The weather was miserable from the outset but we just needed to reach Waterford. It rained and blew and even flurried and sleeted on us. We were soaked, shivering and emotionally spent by the time it was all said and done. I'm still not warm after the hottest shower available (which was really only a few degrees above tepid). We also got a little off track and hit a rock. Hard. Hard enough to send things flying through the cabin and make the mast that is laying the length of the boat on the deck almost jump off its supports. In addition to that, Fozel is in the stage where he screams as if you're abusing him if you force him to do something that isn't his idea. He woke up screaming, screamed about having to be bathed, screamed about going to bed. Typical 2 year stuff, but disheartening nonetheless. Oh, and did I mention it's raining? The entire day. So all the tiny little leaks have been rearing their ugly heads are out in force. First in the cockpit where there is nary a dry spot to sit without risking a damp posterior and then below, where the portholes sweat and drop into the grab rails that send droplets onto your shoulders while you're eating at the settee or while you're reaching for something in a cabinet and an icy drop sneaks down the back of your shirt collar onto your exposed neck. So today, today was not a good day. So I'll have a drink and go to bed and know tomorrow I can try to make it better. I write this to show that life on a boat, this thing we're doing, ain't always paradise. It's real life and all the typical bs that goes with it plus a few added challenges. We chose this life knowing some days would suck but I'd still rather be here with my crew than anywhere else. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

unexpected delays

It's impossible to plan for every contingency. No matter how much you prepare, something can always happen that you did not expect and it is important to be flexible enough to be able to adjust when such things happen. In our case, a friend passed away unexpectedly back in Illinois. Ann needed to fly home to be with her friend in her time of grieving, so we decided that I would stay with the boat in New York and make sure not to keep it tied up anywhere longer than the allowed 48 hours. We were very fortunate in where we were when this tragedy struck. We just so happened to be stopped on Oneida Lake where a good friend, and former coworker, lives. Jon and Beth Norman were kind enough to offer us the use of their home and one of their cars. This has made all the difference in our ability to work out the logistics of getting Ann to and from the airport as well as letting me take care of some projects while Ann is gone. We will be forever in their debt. It is times like that this that make me reflect on two very important things. The first is that life is short and precious, the second is that there are good people and when you find them, hang on to them. The funeral that Ann is attending is for the husband of one of her friends from school. They went to school together from 1st grade through high school. Her husband was my age. They have two young children. Life can be taken away from you at any time, so make the most of every day. This just goes to reinforce our decision to take this trip now rather than waiting for someday, because there is no guarantee that someday will ever come. The Normans didn't think twice about inviting us into their home, feeding us, helping us find everything we needed in town. It is something we should all be willing to do for our friends. These are people who exemplify what it means to do unto others as you would have done unto you. They are the kinds of friends that everyone deserves to have.

he said...she said chronicles chapter 4

 Josh asked Ann if she wanted to shower or sleep first. He should have known how dumb that question was. She wanted something to eat! They quickly tidied up the boat and laid out what needed to be dried. 

Ann suggested Chinese food and there was a place a few blocks into town. A call revealed that they were closed for the weekend though, so they went with the alternate, local flair.

The Lighthouse restaurant provided abundant servings and they ate until they were almost sick. They were too full to enjoy the attached bowling alley, so they headed back to the dock to get cleaned up and take care of some laundry.

In town they walked past the local theater that was showing The remake of "Pete's Dragon". It had been a while since they'd had date night at the movies, so after doing laundry, getting cleaned up and still stuffed from the late lunch, they walked back up to the theater and paid their $6 each for their tickets. It was very relaxing.

That night they slept like the dead.

There were no alarms set and when Josh woke, he saw that Ann had been up reading for a while. She was trying not to disturb him, although a dump truck would have had a hard timing doing that.

They got ready to get underway once more. Ann made a quick run into town for a few groceries. With the help of the harbor master and a few friendly locals, they cast off again. The next mission was to take down Lake Huron.

The afternoon went smooth and quiet, the heavy weather that had battered the lake while they were tucked in nice and snug in the harbor had died down and left some wonderful conditions.

Everything went smooth until at about 7:30, when a freighter decided to make its turn south directly through Interlude. Josh's quick reactions and the better late than never reactions of the freighter's crew avoided a major catastrophe. Although the laptop will never be the same and will need to be replaced soon.

That night was restless for both Ann and Josh. They were both on high alert for anyone else who might get too close. New protocols dictated contacting every passing ship to confirm they were aware of the little guys out on the water.

The air lightened overnight and motor-sailing was the name of the game. Morning brought a fresh breeze out of the East. They would need this wind to get them to the south end of Lake Huron before tonight when the big wind and waves were scheduled to arrive.

They could duck into Lexington, but if they did that, they would be stuck there until at least Saturday.

The goal was to aim for making the mouth of the St. Clair River Wednesday night to give them an early start to run the river on Thursday.

Navigating the mouth of a new river, at night, with light rain falling--now there's a bad idea. Proper preparation helped though. Josh had studied the charts and knew what to expect. He briefed Ann on what they would be doing. They monitored the commercial traffic through the Vessel Traffic System radio and the AIS and when they were clear, they made their run.

The St. Clair River is known for its strong current. It is the singular point where Lakes Michigan and Huron drain into Lake Erie. Over the course of about 90 miles, the water drops about 8 feet. The mouth of the St. Clair is the tightest section and therefore has the fastest currents. As Ann drove under the Blue Water Bridges, Josh noted 10.1 knots Speed Over Ground (SOG).

But for Ann's sharp lookout, they'd have missed the mouth of the Black River and their stop for the night, the Port Huron Yacht Club.


She still couldn't suppress the surprise she felt upon pulling into an almost deserted marina. To her the season of sailing had just begun and in a way it had. They had put interlude in so late and they would be carrying on for the foreseeable months ahead so she was sad to see the boats being pulled to wait for months before seeing the waters of the Great Lakes again.

Rogers city was a quaint town with all the charm you'd expect. The main drag was just a short walk from the little marina and hosted a grocery store, a few local restaurants, some banks, a tiny movie theater and plenty of historic buildings. They pulled into a slip, paid in the office and struck out on foot to get the lay of the land. Before they'd made it out of the marina parking lot, one of the marina workers stopped them to see if they were in need of a ride. He was a pleasant man who seemed happy to help. They declined, knowing the town was more than walkable and needing to stretch their legs anyway. The wind cut through their sweatshirts as they made their way past a laundromat, florist, and funeral home. Lunch, late as it was by that time, was the first order of business. They found themselves at The Lighthouse. The food was okay but plentiful, the table full with a variety of goodies to fill their bellies. Ann checked her email while Josh checked the weather.

Once they were amply stuffed, they walked to the store to pick up a few things and wandered a bit, peeking in a few store windows and stepping into the renowned local meat market to check the selection of famous smoked meats.

Ann pulled her hood up against the wind as they trudged back under a graying sky. They gathered the laundry and bathing supplies and walked toward the main building. The laundry was put on and showers were taken. The warmth of the water was a welcome reprieve. Ann had been dealing with a pulled muscle in her back since a few rough waves before Mackinaw had jolted her around the cabin below overnight. She'd been on her way up he companionway and had been jerked sideways into the galley and had bruised her cheek on the overhead cabinets and pulled something in the middle of her back. Ever since then, moving her neck a certain direction pulled in a not so nice way.

She finished her shower first and went to check on the laundry and began writing some narrative for the blog. She was hopelessly behind Josh's speedy accounts and knew she should post soon. While Josh came back, collected bathing things and went to take care of a few calls, she sat and waited for the laundry and wrote.

Once the clean clothes were stowed, they debated on how to spend the evening. It had been raining off and on all afternoon and the wifi was spotty at best. They were both sick of reading so they decided to see a movie in town. For $6 apiece, they collected their 3D glasses from the theater attendant, bought some soda and popcorn and found their way to their seats. It was a cool little place. One screen and stage (it was also the local stage theater), plush seating and a very 1950s deco vibe, greeted them as they sat.

The theater darkened and they watched. After "Pete's Dragon" was over, they followed an unfamiliar route back to the marina, enjoying the interesting scenery.

They slept late the next day. Ann awoke first and got dressed. They needed a few things from the store so she walked up to purchase them from the Save-a-lot in town. They had hearty bowls of cereal before heading out again for the next port.

It was pretty calm, with some nice wind to carry them south. The sails were hoisted and off they went.

The passage was mostly uneventful. The 4 hour shifts made the time pass quickly. There was a brief run in with a Canadian freighter that left both Ann and Josh a little shaken, but mostly no worse for the wear. After the incident, Josh insisted they contact each large vessel they saw on the AIS if they would have a close point of approach. It was Ann's first time to hail anyone over the vhf and truthfully, she didn't want to do it. She knew the procedure but was nervous about making a mistake. So, she did what she always did when there was some potential thing to be done that she wanted to avoid--she prayed no ship would cross their path. Ha! It didn't work. Within the first hour, as morning crept over the water, 2 freighters crossed her path. She waited as long as she thought she could, until each was 3 miles away, more than visible on the horizon before summoning her courage. Both times were fine and the second gentleman she spoke to was more than friendly in his response to her. He called her ma'am and told her to have a good day before signing off. It was a success! A few more calls and she was confident in her radio hailing abilities.

Before long it was 10 am and time to sleep. The sleep came easily and then the shift change again shortly after that it seemed. They carried on down to Port Huron, the last port before the St Clair River. As they were making their approach, the wind was howling and the rain began, beating all sides of the cockpit enclosure, trying to breach the canvas to soak them. Both Ann and Josh were above deck as they came closer to the end of their sailing day. Josh had dropped the main sail as the wind had been building through the afternoon and they were motor sailing with just the jib. The shipping channel had ship after ship funneling from Lake Huron down to the river and beyond, making for a stressful trek in the dark for Interlude. The visibility was crap and the rain was holding them captive, dripping here and there. They sailed along the western edge of the channel, staying just clear of the buoys and the large vessels. Eventually, after an hour of watching diligently for each red and green marker, and pulling in the jib (a task made more difficult by Ann's easily distracted brain and a wind that was unrelenting) the river opened up before them, revealing the US/Canadian border and a bridge arching between the two. By now the sky and water were black, lit by the city of Port Huron. The navigational aids were difficult to make out against the various flashing and non-flashing lights of the cityscape. They were, as usual, in unfamiliar territory. This was the beginning of their first River (beyond seeing the mouth of the Root River in Racine) and this baby had some current. As they picked their way south beyond the bridge, they looked for the opening of the Black River, where they'd find their berth for the night. Watching on the chartplotter, it appeared to be a quarter mile away yet. But Josh had spoken to the Port Huron Yacht Club where they'd stay and knew the markings to look for, mainly an open railroad bridge. "Here! Turn here!" He exclaimed. "But it's still a quarter mile down," Ann replied. Still, she's obeyed as he recounted his conversation. It was a good thing she did too. The river current, now nearing 4.5 knots was carrying them briskly down the river. Since she turned early, it carried them right up to the mouth in perfect timing to avoid having to traverse back north. The yacht club was mostly quiet when they made their approach. Once they tied to the pilings Ann began tidying below deck while Josh went to pay. This marina was still full. Mostly racing sail boats with just 2 small power boats, it was a snug marina. The channels to get into the slips were barely wider than Interlude. They were thankful to be tied to an outside wall and not having had to squeeze in. The commodore and his wife popped by to say a quick hello. It was already 11 by then so they downed a quick dinner and then collapsed into sleep.