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Posts from the ‘Valinor Travels’ Category

Chesapeake Bay to Marco Island, FL

This is a brief account of the delivery of Gryphon, a Passport 40, from the Chesapeake Bay to Marco Island, FL – December 2014.

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Yes, December 2nd was a very late time to be leaving the Bay for points south. The owner of Gryphon was scrambling to complete repairs and modifications. Late or not, off we set in full foul weather gear. And it was cold …
IMG_20141212_055254174As we ran down the Bay, weather around Hatteras loomed as a critical issue. Approaching Hampton, the choice was clear; drop the hook at Hospital Point and go inside via the Virginia cut to Beaufort. My previous trips were thru the Dismal Swamp, but timing, draft and weather indicated otherwise for this one.
The run to Coinjock was uneventful, as were the bridge and lock clearances. The second day was long…flat water across the Albemarle and up the Alligator River.
IMG_20141212_171806070_HDRA stretch thru the canal, arriving to anchor in the dark just short of New Bern.


Next day provided a pleasant run down the Pungo and Neuse rivers. Another anchor night, and a wait to time our exit at Beaufort. The remainder or the trip was all outside leaving Beaufort 12/9, and accompanied mostly by a large persistent high that delivered calm, clear conditions. Fortunately the weather began to warm. Not the best for sailing, but made for pleasant motoring days under mostly flat water conditions. A head sail gave some occasional lift.

The first glitch came a few miles off Cape Canaveral around midnight. The working fuel tank (of two) ran dry. Engine stalled and no amount of priming was going to restart. Enter Tow boat US, and a trip into Jupiter inlet, and a visit from the diesel mechanic.
Same day service had us back on track. Next stop Key West, arriving at the KW Bight Marina early AM 12/18. It was a good day break, and a chance to visit with KW friends while we prepared to head north up the Gulf.
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..and another good lunch at Turtlekraals …
IMG_20141218_065717294We left Key West in sunny conditions with light winds..
IMG_20141218_161430910Forecast for the last run to Marco was for 5-10kts and flat water. What we got was 20-30kts, 2 – 4 ft short period waves all on the nose… was a long night!
We left Key West about 1600 and arrived off Marco about 0900 next morning 12/19. We worked our way in the circuitous channel to the Esplanade Marina – finding the bottom, not once but three times. Safe at last at the slip about 1000.
IMG_20141219_094850026_HDRThe final leg of the trip was an overnight drive from the Naples to the Hagerstown airport – about 15hrs. Home in time for the family Christmas …


Adventures of the delivery kind

Just as the sailing season began winding down, opportunities for boat deliveries turned up. The first was a short run, with owner on board, from Sandy Hook, NJ to Annapolis, MD – a simple 3 day run. What started as such, turned into something of an adventure.

With good weather forecast with favorable winds all the way, we departed Atlantic Highland yacht basin early morning, October 19th. The boat was a beautiful Gozzard 36 in great condition, and a very comfortable sailing boat.


The run out of the harbor was uneventful on flat water and light winds ……






Rounding Sandy Hook we had a distant view of the NYC skyline ….


Winds began to pick up and we got sails up for the expected skate down the Jersey coast to Cape May and the Delaware Bay.









As with so many good plans, conditions changed. Turning south we found head winds and moderate chop. We were forced to tack well off shore, and made several such tacks working our way down the coast. It was a moonless night with limited visibility, but clear and cold. In the middle of the night we picked up the lights of Atlantic City about the time the engine rpms fluctuated, dropped and died…….. With only one other boat in sight, it was easy to sail on, if slow, and progressively further off shore while we sorted out the engine issue. Turns out it was water in the fuel, and cleaning the racor filter got us back motor-sailing more directly toward our destination. The sun came up to another pleasant day, if still a bit choppy..








A few more hours and we turned into Cape May.



IMG_20141021_122604082Adventure two was just around the corner. Having had fuel issues, we decided it prudent to fill the tank, so headed into the marina. As we turned the corner in the channel and slowed engine speed to idle, the overheating alarm sounded – shut down and coasted up to the outer pilings to assess the problem. After exhausting our ideas and talking with the marina staff, we restarted and made a quick run into the marina fuel slip. An hour or so of further assessment, and consulting calls to my service tech gave us confidence to continue on with the caution to keep the rpms up to where the engine temp stayed in normal range. So on up Delaware Bay. Not much wind help, but incoming tided helped us along as the sun set on day two……


As night descended, we were making good progress and expected to arrive in Annapolis the next morning. It was an uneventful trip though the C&D canal despite a scolding from a tug captain who thought we were in his way as we entered the canal. While well lit, it is still a dark ride.


The dark calls for caution when passing on-coming traffic including the large Cargo ship Bess – sorry, no pix, we were busy. As we approached the west end of the canal, lightning lit up the sky, and soon the rain began. Exiting the canal put us in heavy rain and 15-20kt winds and chop. Visibility was down to maybe 100 yds. Following the chartplotter, we made it around to the Sassafras River and dropped anchor near what appeared to be a shore-based light. A spot light from there tagged us, and after assuring good holding, we went below for some much needed sleep.

The morning found us anchored about 150yds from a large motor yacht – guess we misjudged the shore line!

The run down the Bay was quite a ride. Winds were on the stern quarter blowing 15-25kts. Seas gradually built from 2-3ft waves to 5-7 feet, short period. Our speed over ground, motor sailing with genoa and stay sail was 7-11kts – the 11 came when surfing down the 7ft waves. Once under the Bay Bridge, conditions improved and we pulled into Jabin’s Yacht Yard right on schedule after a quick stop for Fuel and pump out.

Good company, a variety of sailing conditions and minor emergencies made for an interesting three days!

Change on the horizon

All the signs are here. There’s color in the trees – besides green. Large flocks of birds are wheeling with intent to move. Skeins of geese are lining south. Skies are beginning to take on that slate grey, and mornings are not as warm despite the sun whose angle is lessening. And, cruisers are gathering here in the Chesapeake to stage their annual trek southward. Local anchorages are filling up with home port names from as far away as Canada. The annual Seven Seas Cruising Association GAM is just behind, and the Annapolis Boat Show just ahead. For those preparing to head south in search of warmer climes it is a busy and exciting time. For those who are not, it’s time to prepare boats for the coming cold. Having tasted that southbound experience, it’s a sad time to watch others leave.

Since the great time at friends’ wedding (last post). Valinor competed in the Hospice Cup regatta. A very light wind day. Lots of boats in several classes – our Hospice class had nearly fifty. It was a great start and the first couple legs went well then the winds died and the tide changed which brought an opposing current. OK, so we didn’t finish in the time limit……..but we still had a good time, and for a great cause.



The next week was the SSCA GAM at Camp Letts on the Rhode River. The plan was to sail down early (to get a good anchoring spot, and enjoy the water time). The weather know what we intend to do, and takes great glee, I’m sure, in messing with our plans. Those two early days saw 20-30kts of wind and 3-4ft short chop on the Bay – even worse in the southern Bay. Fortunately all settled down by the Friday start of the GAM, and it was a nice sail for the 12nm or so down from my Eastport slip.


Evening in the anchorage was worth the trip in itself…..


The GAM saw record attendance with over 200 cruisers and about 4 dozen boats. Lots of good information was shared and the seminars were great. It was fun to visit with folks you may only see once a year here, but follow their blogs to share their travels and experiences around the world.



It is often great entertainment to watch fellow boaters in anchorages as they maneuver in and out. So it was that I watched three boats find the shoal in front of the Letts boat house – helped pull one off. Also hailed a large power boat that he had a line overboard – just as he came to a stop with the anchor rode wrapped on his prop….lent a hand there too to untangle.


It was a beautiful day and all outcomes were successful. Next morning, it was my turn to head out. Again, weather forced a change of plans. I intended to spend the week sailing wherever the wind pushed me — what wind? The Bay went calm, and the forecast was for that to last most of the week.









I made a motor run to north of the Bay bridge to a cove off the Magothy River where I found a quiet anchorage with only a couple other boats. After settling in, a light rain found us but left a beautiful rainbow as it cleared.

IMG_20140929_185408621So, all-in-all a good day and pleasant evening.


Next morning I made an early departure for home slip and began working on the boat ‘to do’ list in preparation for a club cruise in just a few days. More on that annual chili cruise next time……..


Hospice fun & filling the cup!

Now a Catalina 30 outfitted for cruising is not your typical race boat. That said, normally once a year, usually at the Hospice Cup, she gets a chance to stretch! This is the year.


Hospice3Heading for the start

One of 36 boats in the Hospice Class (i.e. we’re most of us non-racers), with a high handicap (PHRF 198) we got the early start in a pursuit style race. That is, the slow boats go out first and other faster boats likely pass us on the way to the finish line. The day began cloudy, but cleared and warmed turning it into a beautiful day to be on the water. Over eighty boats were participating the the Hospice races, and many others were out to watch or simply sail.

Hospice2The fleet behind us

On the down side, the predicted winds were right on – less than 10kts. In fact, mostly what we had were in the 4-6kt range. The start and the first legs across the Bay were on a reach and, while slow (4-5kts) we were at least moving in the right direction. Turning on the far mark set the fleet directly into the wind – the beginning of the end! After several upwind tacks we were approaching the turn for home when the winds died. We were then drifting in the wrong direction with the incoming tide — enough, and with a call to the race committee we reported us as DNF.


Disappointing as it was as a race, we had plenty of other DNF company, and the after party was terrific! Moreover, it was a great success for Hospice with over $30K in donations for that great cause.




A brief post-Summer look back

Sometime in July I passed the 100 days on the water mark, which included the 48 days it took to come back up the ICW from Key West. But still, a lot of good time in the Bay this Summer – and sailing season isn’t over just yet!

Stopped at Pirates Cove and a Singles on Sailboats gathering in April on the way home, then a cruise in May to the MD DNR camp in the Wye River.


Had a fun weekend with a grandson who’s learning the ropes pretty quick….


Then there was the sail with friends in the Annapolis Sailors’ Club to St Michaels, and a treat to see the rigging of the log canoes..



Lots of sailing in between, but just this past weekend it was great to combine a sail to the Choptank for a wedding of two good friends – and what a great two-day party!

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….including the roast pig!   That’s the one on the left…..the other one is Mike the super chef!


Still plenty more sailing before winter sets in — sadly, no trip south this year.  Stay tuned for the SSCA GAM, the SOS Chili cruise and other assorted adventures……..

Kids, Boats and keeping up…

Many, if not most, of us that sail and live significant parts of our lives on the water aren’t nearly as young as we think or feel. Reality bites, harder, each passing year despite our mental age. That should be more than enough motivation to encourage us to be training the next generation. Besides, spending time with grandkids, passing on the skills, and sharing with them our joy of sailing is just plain fun! So it is that I had another great weekend with Tyler – now 12 and fast becoming competent crew. It is always amazing to see how quickly kids learn, and how confident they become with new skills and experience.


With near perfect weather, we sailed out of Back Creek (Annapolis) quartering down wind and across the Bay to St Michaels. It was great to enjoy the day and time on the water, but also the ideal time to give Tyler opportunities to practice skills that will become increasingly important as he is given more responsibility for driving and navigating the boat. There were two goals: one, for him to be able to safely manage the boat and return to port in the case of an emergency; the other, to instill the sense of joy and wonder that comes with following the wind to new destinations in our water world. No better place than here in the Bay.

On this trip, he began his own sailing log. After preparing and provisioning Valinor for a three day cruise and reviewing the weather forecast, we left the slip on Back Creek at 0915. A short motor out of the creek, with a stop for fuel and pump out, sails up and trimmed put us on a broad reach heading down the Bay.

We were looking forward to rafting with another Annapolis Sailing Club boat, ‘Pneumatos 2’, with a family of three similar aged kids. They got a later start out of South River, and we had anchor down just next to the Chesapeake Maritime Museum before they arrived. That gave time for Tyler to take the dink and explore the small cove – as well as fish.


Kudos to the kind fisherman/crabber that gave Tyler a helping hand. After some unsuccessful fishing, I saw a fisherman across the way and suggested Tyler row over to ask what he was using for bait. Off he went and came back after a lengthy conversation, with some donated soft shell crab – a very kind gesture from a stranger to a kid!


Later, a we made a brief tour of the museum and got a bite at the Crab & Claw making for a pleasant day.Impressed by the oil light that tops the Light house .. IMG_20140725_170845427










Pneumatos 2 arrived, rafted up and the kids began to get acquainted – took maybe 5 mins?

Here’s a view of the anchorage from atop the Light house….Pneumatos 2 (front right) with Valinor mostly hidden behind…


After a quiet night, we headed for the Rhode River.

What a difference a few hours can make on the Bay. We made an early morning departure and found mostly light wind on the nose or none – managed only some motor sailing. Our friends headed out later and had a nice, brisk sail across the Bay. Meanwhile, Tyler got his first lesson in operating the outboard…… a fast learner.


And… the tubes I got for a planned river float turned out to be useful on a hot day…


It was another pleasant evening with good company, and dinner on the grill. The forecast was a bit problematic, and a quick look at radar about 4am had me up putting the sail cover on and closing hatches. A light shower passed through early morning, then cleared. We said goodbye to our friends and sailed down the Rhode River in good wind – then headed north to home when winds died as we rounded Thomas Point – such is sailing on the Bay in the summer!

Last look at Pneumatos as we headed out …IMG_20140727_101229817

In another week it’s back again across the Bay. This time past St Michaels to Shaw Bay with more ASC sailors!

Almost forgot the log canoes.…we got a close up look at the St Michaels museum and then as one was towed past our raft, and again as we sailed out the river the next morning. Still hoping to get a ride before the racing season is over!


Summer doldrums

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The doldrums is a colloquial expression derived from historical maritime usage, in which it refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm… …….. The doldrums are also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks. The term appears to have arisen in the 18th century – when cross-Equator sailing voyages became more common.

Colloquially, the “doldrums” are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness or stagnation.[1]


More to the point, at least here in the Chesapeake, it means light to non-existent winds, hot and humid. The variable winds and weather of Spring are gone, and finding fresh winds for sailing is a bit more challenging. Weekend club cruises become fewer, and day sails dodge the pop up thunderstorms. That said, any time on the water is good ……

And, a warm summer evening in the cockpit, anchored in a quiet and mostly empty lagoon, with your favorite beverage is hard to beat.

A Work in Progress

A pleasant evening on Bodkin Creek

A pleasant evening on Bodkin Creek








Calms continue even in September. The last Hospice Cup race began and ended with boats drifting about aimlessly, and most crew in the water swimming to beat the heat. I’m hoping for a better day this year.

With Sailstice behind us,  beginning with the July 4th celebrations and cruise, I’m looking forward to as much summer sailing as I can find.











It’s already been a busy year beginning with the return from the Florida Keys in March/April. I’m well on my way to meeting the Spinsheet Century Challenge – 100 days on the water – with only about 10 days to go. Lots more club cruises on the calendar, as well as opportunities to grab for a day or so when the winds blow.

For all my sailing friends, here’s hoping you find time and wind to enjoy!

Life after…

It was a long stretch spanning 6 months and about 4500 miles. South to Key West and home via the AICW was a great adventure. One gets accustomed to extended time managing the boat, and the daily routines. Adjusting to life off-boat has been a bit of a surprise. Now it’s periodic, short sails and the different patterns that come with being mostly anchored ashore. Not better or worse, just different.

Early season sails with Annapolis Sailing Club, Singles on Sailboats and Chesapeake Catalina Yacht Club are offering good times on the water. I stopped short of home on the trip back to meet up with SOS folks at Pirates Cove for their first season sail; took time out to work the Annapolis Boat Show for Passport Yacht; and managed a few day sails before hauling out to sand and paint the bottom mid-May. That was done just in time to be ready for the annual SOS cruise to the DNR camp on the Wye River. The next week I enjoyed a weekend sail with my bride. We had beautiful weather and a nice anchorage in the Rhode River. The end of May offered a short, but fun cruise and on-shore party with other ASC skippers and crew.

Just a few pictures …

Passport 470Annapolis Spring Boat Show







Wye River at the DNR CampIMG_20140517_173654883_HDR

Ridout Creek with ASC and a nice evening by the fire…

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June will bring an extended sail with CCYC, and more great times on the water with sailing friends. Looking forward to exploring new places around the Chesapeake Bay, and making more friends along the way.

Getting to the bottom of things…

They say ‘there’s nothing better than messing around with boats’. I agree, but up to a point. Every couple years, if your boat stays in the water, the growth on the bottom has noticeably slowed you down. It’s time to ‘do the bottom’.



Doing the bottom entails having the boat hauled out and blocked at a marina $, sanding down through the old bottom paint (whatever hasn’t worn off) $$, and repainting with a growth inhibiting paint $$$ – usually two coats $$$$. Not only does each step have a price tag, but the cost to your body is not trivial if you choose to do the work yourself. Mostly two days of sanding – upside down – with a sander built for the local weights room.










Then a few more hours, separated by long drying times over two days, to apply the new bottom paint. When all’s done, she looks almost like new again…… with black over what’s left of the red. Just need to strip off the tape…

..and she looks like new…








IMG_20140516_092352719_HDRThen back in the water!


“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong

does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

aaaIt often seems to me that Tolkien had sailors of some age in mind when he wrote this passage. Those of us who wander with little purpose other than enjoying the time on the water and the places we visit certainly see ‘gold’ in the passing scenery, and remain as young as we feel.
The trick is to focus on the journey, not on the destination – a hard lesson to learn and to hold onto once discovered. In thinking back over my recent journey from home in Annapolis to Key West and return, my only regret is that I frequently lost sight of that lesson. Fortunately I love taking pictures and can re-live many places and events that I hurried past a bit too fast.

There follows, some of my favorite scenes and pix that remind me of special experiences.

Leaving the Bay and clearing Gilmerton Bridge near AICW mile’0′

Gilmerton Bridge

Approaching the first lock to enter the Dismal Swamp along with other assorted boats..

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.. and rafting together at the visitors center.

DS visitor ctr

The inevitable grounding – unstuck with the help of a friendly power boater and family …

picked the wrong side of the channel !


Just one of many beautiful sunsets..


..and sunrises..


Pelicans everywhere were constant companions ..


Some long stretches of easy travel on flat water ..


And the bridges – way too many to share. Cleared 30 in two days with a little help from friendly bridge tenders.


Did I mention beautiful sunsets?


Often had company of porpoises – got to be quick to get pictures..


Lovely evenings, sometimes followed by not so lovely mornings…

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The southbound trip across the Albemarle Sound was beautifully calm — less so on the return (thus no pix)


A fun gathering of fellow cruisers in St Mary’s .. chance meetings with friends.


Then finally the southern destination – here at the end of I-95.


.. and Christmas in Key West.


Wonderful live music everywhere — Jazz in the Gardens, and a band of 5 talented brothers..


Made some new friends ..


Enjoyed great food..


Even got to go fishing as guest of a friend from New York – my first off-shore fishing..thanks Joe!


And dinner with my generouse hosts in Key West – Karl & Terri (left), along with CCYC friends from home – Dan a& Martha were passing through on their way to Ft Meyers.


Lots of early morning starts – a pleasant time of day..


.. and did I mention sunsets?


.. in the end, perhaps the hardest lesson of all to learn..