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).