After cruising full-time for fourteen months now, I’m getting frustrated by the fact that I still get so nervous when conditions get “sporty.”
Since leaving Annapolis we’ve been trying to high-tail it south so we can stay warmer than we were last year. The last few weeks have shown me how much better we’ve become in some ways (like picking good anchorages for boisterous weather), and how far I still have to go with others (like embracing the sailing conditions that are created by said boisterous weather).
An example of getting better at picking good anchorages would be our stop in Mill Creek across from Reedville, VA to wait out a few days of near gale-force winds. We rode out some weather in Mill Creek last fall so we knew it would be a good hidey-hole. But this time we used our knowledge that we had gained from our friends Jay and Tanya on S/V Minx, combined with our experiences over the past fourteen months, to find a particularly well-protected spot.
With winds predicted to turn clockwise from south to north, we found an area with many tall trees blocking the wind from the south, west, and north, and tucked ourselves close to the land on the southwest side of the creek. There was barely a ripple on the water for the duration of the weather system and we were incredibly comfortable.
After leaving Rock Hall we went to the Magothy River and anchored behind Gibson Island in Eagle Cove. This was a lovely anchorage where we planned to spent a few days.
As we sailed down the Magothy we heard announcements over the VHF about an open water swim fundraiser that would be held the next day, but we thought it was going to be in a different area. Imagine our surprise when we were were awakened bright and early the next morning by the voice of a very upbeat race announcer over a loudspeaker.
Poking my head out into the companionway, I saw that we had unintentionally anchored in the middle of “Swim Across America”, a fundraiser for cancer research whose participants swim either one or three miles in the Magothy River. We ended up with front row seats!
After a few days bobbing in the peaceful anchorage, the winds were good for a sail and we were itching to move on. A small craft advisory was winding down so we sailed down the river and poked our nose out into the Bay. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we had jumped the gun. It was an easy decision to make a 180 and sail back into the river, dropping anchor for a few hours to let the winds and waves settle down a bit more before trying again.
The original plan was to go to St. Michaels, but as we sailed past Annapolis it was clear that the wind angle meant we were going to need to motor for a few hours if we wanted to make it before sundown. What followed was a half hour of indecision while we debated anchoring in this creek, then that creek. Finally we decided that we’d had enough of isolated anchorages for a while, and we turned around and headed to Annapolis. Continue reading “Annapolis – settling in.”→
We bought Little Bristol 6 1/2 years ago. We just bought dinghy number five. Five dinghies in six years? You are likely wondering just what the heck is our problem.
A dinghy is your automobile when you are boating, whether you boat full-time or on weekends. And, like automobiles, there are a wide variety of styles and sizes to choose from. Rigid dinghies, inflatable dinghies, rigid inflatable dinghies. The options are almost endless. But like all things boat, dinghies are always a compromise.
Our first dinghy was the cheapest inflatable we could find at Defender. It was o.k., but we made the mistake of storing it in the garage that first winter. We pulled it out right before launching in the spring only to discover that a small creature (or creatures) had gnawed a hole in it right at the seam. That led to our second dinghy. Continue reading “Dinghy No. 5”→
One of the challenges with cruising full-time has been finding a cost-effective way to have internet service. What we were looking for was something similar to what we would get at home – unlimited data with no throttling for a reasonable price. You’d think we were trying to find the holy grail. From what we’ve read it’s readily available in other countries, but the United States isn’t exactly consumer friendly when it comes to the cost of cell phone plans and data.
For the first six months that we lived on the boat we had a T-Mobile plan on our cell phones for $90/month (for 2 lines) with unlimited data, and an unlimited data plan on our iPad through AT&T for $30/month (which recently increased to $35/month). Using T-Mobile was o.k., but hotspot data was capped which was problematic because that was our laptop internet connection (the iPad plan didn’t include tethering).
When we went to the Bahamas we tried to use the T-Mobile data on our phones, but it was incredibly slow. No matter what we tried it felt almost as slow as dial-up from the old days.
Another excellent month for the budget! Can we make it three in a row next month? We’ll see.
In September we moved from Port Washington, NY to Annapolis, MD where we are settled in for a few weeks. The plan is to work the entrance gates at the boat shows before we start heading south in earnest.
We read that the anchorages in Annapolis get extremely crowded during the boat shows with employees and attendees, so we found a reasonably priced marina and decided to move into a slip for three weeks. It’s weird not being at anchor, but it certainly is convenient to be able to step off the dock and take a shower whenever we want! We also won’t have to worry about other boats dragging into us if the weather pipes up while we are working. Peace of mind = money well spent.
Grocery shopping can be a challenge without a car. It’s not a big deal if we’re only picking up a few things, but buying a large number of items can be a hassle since we have to carry it back. We get creative when we can. If we’re at a marina sometimes the local grocery store will have online ordering and delivery available, or there will be a a courtesy car. We’ve also been known to walk one way and take an Uber back. But none of those options are available in the Bahamas, and carrying cases of ginger ale and tonic water gets old really fast.
Cruisers we met in Port Washington last year showed us an inexpensive travel cart that they bought at Staples, so we found one when we were in Delaware City. It was o.k., but the wheels were small and the handle was low, making it not very ergonomically-friendly for 6’4″ Jeff. Then our friends on M/V Eventide showed us their Burley Travoy when we were hanging out with them one afternoon last November in Carolina Beach. We immediately recognized that this was the perfect cruiser’s cart.
The Travoy is actually a bike trailer. It’s only 9.8 pounds but has a 60 pound load capacity. You can set it up and break it down in literally seconds, and it measures 21″ x 18″ x 8″ when it’s folded so it can fit easily in Pegu Club’s quarter berth (also know as our garage). It has 12″ wheels and quickly hitches onto a bike, but can just as easily be pulled by hand.
The cost kept us from buying one for quite some time, but then one evening in the Bahamas we told our friends from S/V Lone Star about it and they looked it up online. They loved it and when they returned to the states they found one on E-Bay. Then they texted us a week later and told us they had bought a second one on E-Bay, and did we still want one? A Travoy for about 1/2 the cost of a new one? Heck yeah!
We’ve now used it several times and it is fantastic. The larger wheels easily roll over uneven surfaces and curbs. It holds plenty of groceries (or sodas), and for really large provisioning runs we can also carry some bags. We even use it when we’re going to the laundromat. The difference between the Travoy and our Staples cart (which has since been left on the give-away table at a marina) is like night and day. With its light weight, its easy set-up and break down, its large wheels, and its compact size when its not being used, it truly is the perfect cruiser’s cart.
While waiting for Dorian to settle on a track we had several days to decide where the next stop would be. We had approximately three weeks before we needed to be in Annapolis, so we thought we would head south down the Eastern Shore for awhile before crossing over to the Western Shore and working our way back north. Looking through our Waterway Guide, we quickly decided on a visit to the Mount Harmon Plantation, followed by Rock Hall.
Dorian passed giving us nothing but some clouds and moderate winds, so the next day we pointed our bow towards the Sassafras River. It was a gorgeous day as we tacked our way out of the Bohemia River and several miles down the Chesapeake before the wind died. Firing up Big Red, we motored up the Sassafras before dropping the anchor in a nice spot near Mount Harmon. Continue reading “Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.”→
It was another fun ride down the East River from Port Washington.High winds the day before had stirred up the water but it wasn’t noticeable until after we went under the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge.Then it was VERY sloppy for a few hours with the wind on our nose and against the current until we were inside the tip of Sandy Hook.45 minutes later we were anchored in our regular spot behind the Atlantic Highlands break wall (I think three visits makes it a regular spot, don’t you?).
Now I will readily admit that I was NOT looking forward to going down the Jersey coast.Even though we had a windless, uneventful trip from Cape May to Atlantic Highlands a few months ago, this was going to be the same direction as our trip from hell last fall, and it was absolutely messing with my mind.My nerves were NOT helped when I saw the waves near the hook as we went inside towards Atlantic Highlands.
When we first heard that Dorian had struck the Bahamas we were on our passage down the Jersey coast. My Uncle Ken messaged me, but we didn’t have great internet service at the time so we weren’t fully aware of the magnitude of what was happening. We were shocked, and I was in tears, when we saw the pictures the next day. Even though we had only spent about six weeks in the Abacos last winter, we were enchanted by its beauty and friendly residents.
We’ve been talking over the past few months about wanting to get a bit more connected with a community by staying in one spot for a while – in the states and in the Bahamas – and we had decided to spend at least a few weeks on a mooring in Hope Town this winter. As of now it looks like that plan will have to be put on hold.
But what about the rest of the Bahamas? Most people watching the news probably think that “the Bahamas” are devastated. We would have thought the same thing before going there last winter, but we knew that Dorian spared the vast majority of the islands. Nevertheless, we debated whether we should go to the Bahamas at all this winter. To me it sort of felt like vacationing in San Diego if Los Angeles was lying in ruins from a cataclysmic earthquake. Jeff pointed out that our tourism dollars are now more important than ever (even if they do represent a tiny drop in the bucket), and as the days have passed various Bahamian organizations have been delivering that same message.
Wow! It’s been one year of cruising full-time! Time flies.
We spent August in Fishers Island Sound and Long Island Sound as we began to work our way south again for the winter, with Pegu Club anchored in Port Washington, NY at the end of the month. As predicted last month, our expenses were much more reasonable and I do believe that we’ve finally managed to get them well-dialed in. We’ll want to buy radar and an AIS transponder if we decide to go further afield than between Southern New England and the Bahamas, but nothing has been definitively decided yet on that front.