Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River and Rock Hall.

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.”

An unholy body of water.

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?).

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Getting closer.
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Rikers Island

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We’ll just stay out of this guy’s way as he makes his way towards New York Harbor.

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.  

Continue reading “An unholy body of water.”

So what’s the plan for winter?

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.

Continue reading “So what’s the plan for winter?”

August by the numbers.

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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.

With that being said, here we go:

Continue reading “August by the numbers.”

Keeping it fresh.

One of our goals for this year’s travels is to visit places we haven’t yet seen.  We had a great time last year and while we want to return to some old favorites, we thought it would keep things fresh if we made a point of stopping in new harbors and towns.  Given that, we took a look at the chart and selected a few interesting spots to check out as we worked out way west along Long Island Sound.

Although we had hoped to visit Mattituck again, the weather wasn’t going to cooperate so we bypassed it and went straight to Port Jefferson for the night.  From there it was a quick hop to Northport, NY which was a new destination for us.  There wasn’t much wind until we turned into Huntington Bay (which is very large).  At that point we went from 1 knot of wind to 18 knots and had a nice sail up to Northport.

Continue reading “Keeping it fresh.”

Gardiners Bay: it’s a love/hate thing.

We’ve tried multiple times over the years to feel the love for Gardiners Bay in Long Island.  The first time we were there was to bring Pegu Club back to Groton after we bought her.  She had been kept in Dering Harbor in Shelter Island and we were looking forward to sailing her back.  What we ended up with was a hot, humid day with zero wind and the most obnoxious power boaters we had ever encountered.  The kind who go full speed on autopilot while hanging out down below without a lookout.  Those who were actually at the helm seemed to enjoy going as fast as they could while aiming right at us and then turning at the last minute to see how big a wake they could give us.  Jeff vowed he would never return to Gardiners Bay.

The next season we decided to give it another shot.  We had a sporty, close-hauled 40 nm sail from Block Island to Three Mile Harbor in Gardiners Bay (that was actually our longest sail until we left to go cruising).  Three Mile was a lovely spot with a very large anchorage, excellent holding, and clean, warm water to swim in.  We enjoyed it so much that we stayed there for several days before having to motor all of the way home on a hot, humid day with zero wind while being harassed by obnoxious power boaters.  Are you starting to see a pattern?

Continue reading “Gardiners Bay: it’s a love/hate thing.”

July by the numbers.

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We spent the first part of July on the hard before splashing Pegu Club and staying in a  transient slip at Shenny while we hung around for various medical appointments.  Our last appointment was on July 23rd and we wasted no time tossing the dock lines and heading out again on July 24th.

47% of this month’s spending was for medical appointments and related expenses (i.e. rental cars and fuel, hotel rooms, etc), along with haul out, storage, and annual boat maintenance costs.  We put two solid coats of bottom paint on Pegu Club so we are hoping that we can avoid hauling out next year.

Based on how expensive June and July were, Jeff jokes that we aren’t coming up here any more!  Honestly though, our expenses should crash for the foreseeable future – thank goodness!

Days under way since July 24th: 5

Nautical miles covered since July 24th:  26.31

Number of States: 2 (Connecticut and New York thanks to Fishers Island)

Nights at anchor: 16

Nights at a dock: 11

Nights on the hard: 4

Expenses:

Groceries/Non-food Groceries: $621.83

Diesel/Gasoline: $31.10

Medical: $842.40

Rental cars, hotel room, and related expenses for medical appointments: $603.35

Cell phone and internet (2 phones, iPad, iCloud storage, Garmin inReach subscription): $162.50

Laundry: $7.00

Amazon Prime: $12.99

Boat US Towing Membership: $131.77 (West Marine was running a sale, so now we are paid up until April, 2021).

Boat Expenses: $790.91 (haul out and four weeks storage for Pegu Club, gear oil, spark plugs, and zinc for the outboard, food hammocks, windlass parts, new flares to replace expired ones, new vent hose for Nature’s Head, extra flare gun for ditch bag, diesel additives, 2 water jerry jugs, bucket, bungee cords, gloves, paint brushes, tools)

Restaurants/Entertainment: $203.64

New York Times subscription: $20.20

Clothing: $123.32

Life Insurance Premium: $220.75

Subscriptions: $130.30

Random: $776.18 (fishing gear, galley items, Burley trailer, guidebooks, etc.)

Total: $4,678.24

2019 monthly average to date: $3,720.00

2018 monthly average (September – December): $4,465.95

Monthly average since starting to cruise: $3,991.09

Snippets of Southern New England

When I last left off we were debating whether we were going to head north for awhile or spend some time in Long Island before moving south.  Ultimately we decided to take the slow route though Long Island, but Mother Nature (also known as our desire not to motor everywhere) dictated that we first spend another 12 days in Fishers Island Sound.  

Criss-crossing the Sound, we spent some time in West Harbor before moving to Mystic.  Mystic personifies the growth in our confidence over the past year.  Before we went cruising we had talked about taking Pegu Club up the river into Mystic, but several things made us hesitate: the long motor up the river, having to time the openings for two bridges (the first of which doesn’t keep an opening schedule because it’s a busy Amtrak railroad bridge), and the fact that the charts indicated that the water above the Seaport was extremely shallow even though we had heard it had been dredged.

Continue reading “Snippets of Southern New England”

On the “road” again.

 

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We’ve visited friends and family.  We’ve taken care of some boat chores and routine maintenance.  We’ve had assorted medical appointments and received the go-ahead from Jeff’s cardiologist with a one-year follow-up (vs. the six month reprieve she gave us last time).  So it’s time to sail away again!  It’s been great to settle in for a bit and see everyone, but we’re excited to head out and continue exploring.  The “Where is Pegu Club” map has been cleared, and we’re ready to lay some fresh tracks down on it.

Where are we pointing our bow this year?  As you can imagine, this has been a topic of extensive conversations on Pegu Club over the past two months.  We really like the Bahamas and want to spend more time exploring the various islands, particularly those south of Georgetown.  We were so close to Cuba last time that we had talked about going there on this second go-around, but the recent policy change by the current administration has quashed that idea for the time being.  It’s probably better that I withhold my thoughts on that one.

What about continuing farther into the Caribbean?  We’ve tossed that one around. We spoke to some former Shenny members who have sailed the route we were thinking about, and are currently on the west coast of Mexico.  Island-hopping south is against the prevailing wind so we bought a copy of “The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South” by Bruce Van Sant.  He is the purported guru of minimizing your chances of getting a good ass-kicking by Mother Nature as you move south from island to island.  The whole idea is really intriguing and certainly doable.  But there are some drawbacks, and I would also like to spend time in Maine or Nova Scotia next summer.  That’s very unlikely to happen if we sail further into the Caribbean this winter.

In the near-term we initially thought we would point the boat north to explore a few areas of New England that we haven’t yet been to, then hop offshore to Cape May, NJ.  But then we talked about all of the spots on Long Island that we had to miss last season, and we really do like the trip down the East River.  Honestly, having the ability to go anywhere can lead to a touch of analysis paralysis.  So all we know for now is that we’re going to see where the wind blows for a bit.

We do have a few plans.  We definitely want to spend September exploring the Chesapeake.  We know we’d like to be in the Bahamas ideally by Christmas.  Other than that, it’s all up in the air.  It’s a far cry from the detailed schedule we had when we started out last September.

There’s a saying we’ve heard several times over the past year: “A cruiser’s plans are written in sand at low tide.”  At first I thought the saying came about because traveling by boat is so dependent on the vagaries of Mother Nature, and that’s true.

But it’s not just the weather that changes our plans.  It’s finding a great town that you just don’t want to leave.  It’s the perfect anchorage with the gorgeous beach that you have all to yourself.  It’s what happens when you ask, “Hey, what’s over there?” and decide to point the bow in that direction to find out.  So we’re going to keep it loose with some rough parameters in place.

Let’s see what happens!

June by the numbers.

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Below are the numbers for June, including what we spent.

I’ve frequently read that the first year of cruising tends to be the priciest – at least until big ticket items need to be replaced.  Ten months in (wow – time flies!), I now understand why that’s the case.  We had a few high cost upgrades that we decided would make cruising work better for us AFTER we started cruising (hello roller furling!), and we spent many more nights in a marina heading south down the ICW than we anticipated.

Going forward the only very high cost upgrade I can see us getting is a watermaker, and that will only be if we decide to travel farther afield.  Buying reverse osmosis water in the Bahamas turned out not to be a big deal at all, and only cost us $34 thanks in part to the free r/o water in Georgetown.  As for marinas, after three months in the Bahamas our confidence in anchoring in crappy weather and high winds skyrocketed which equates to fewer marina stops unless we simply want to.  All of this means that as we get better at cruising, our annual average is trending down overall as the months pass (with an occasional blip) – thank goodness.

This month we returned to Connecticut where we immediately hauled Pegu Club to take care of some routine maintenance.  Depending on how long the bottom paint lasts, we may be able to avoid hauling her out next summer.  We also spent two weeks traveling to visit friends and family in Western New York and the West Coast. The upgrades and the traveling are 50% of the month’s expenses.

Here we go:

Days under way: 4

Nautical miles covered: 126

Number of States: 3 (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut)

Nights at anchor: 5

Nights at a dock: 1 (Shenny wash down dock the night before we were hauled out)

Nights on the hard: 24

Expenses:

Groceries/Non-food Groceries: $386.09

Diesel/Gasoline: $65.20

Medical: $116.99

Cell phone and internet (2 phones, iPad, iCloud storage, Garmin inReach subscription): $192.74

Mail: $300 (one time annual payment for our mailbox at the UPS Store)

Amazon Prime: $12.99

Netflix: $13.12 (we have since decided to cancel this again because we aren’t using it enough to justify the cost)

Annual State registration for the boat and dinghy: $135

Boat Items: $2,361.68 (Engel fridge, Pelagic autopilot, club burgee, bottom paint for the boat and the dinghy, boot stripe paint, roller frame, paint brushes, rollers, Waterway guide, epoxy, hardener, epoxy pumps, shaft zinc, two shackles, replacement flag halyards, spare dinghy propeller, replacement Origo gasket, anchor ball)

Restaurants/Entertainment: $111.73

Uber: $30

New York Times subscription: $20.20

Clothing: $276.78

Travel-related expenses to visit friends and family: $853.90

Random: $78.57 (haircuts, galley items)

Total: $4,954.99

2019 monthly average to date: $3,560.30

2018 monthly average (September – December): $4,465.95

Monthly average since starting to cruise: $3,922.38