Category Archives: Chesapeake and Delaware Bay

Last day in Nabb’s Creek

Nabb’s Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

I know…I know….where have I been? Not much exciting going on the last 3-4 days. Tricia has had her business meetings and I have been working on the boat and running to Walmart, West Marine, etc. while I have had access to a car (but trying to limit how much I take advantage of that). Tricia was finally able to announce her retirement and we had several nights of celebration with her co-workers. Thursday night got a little out of control and we polished off many bottles of Patron (too many). We had planned to go to Annapolis to the boat show Friday, but no one was able to function well enough to pull it off. We did go to the boat show Saturday and got a bunch of stuff we needed, including nautical charts for Florida and the Bahamas. Today we are doing laundry and prepping the boat for passage again. We want to leave early Monday (tomorrow) and try to make it to Solomons Island, a 60 mile run, but we have the tide working against us, as well as restricted bridge openings getting out of Stoney Creek. We are going to give it an early start and see how well we are doing, with secondary options of stopping at Galesville, MD or Deale, MD, if we are not going to make Solomons by dark. We are expecting high winds Tuesday and Wednesday, so we will hunker down in a protected marina wherever we stop.

Our friends Mike and Sue have been absolutely wonderful to us while we have been here, offering to share everything they have, from dockage, laundry, cars, food, drink, showers, bed….and we cannot thank them enough. We also love hanging out with them and we will miss them!

The next couple of weeks will be interesting. Typically, after the boat show, everyone who is going south leaves at the same time. It makes for some crowded anchorages and bridge openings, from what we hear, so stay tuned! I am sure we will have some crazy stuff to share.

We live on our boat and don’t have that anymore….

Nabb’s Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

The boat projects the last few days have gone the typical way of boat projects. First up was replacing the bilge pump. It sits in the bottom of the bilge beyond arms reach by about a foot and it is attached to a metal bracket that you have to unbolt and lift up to gain access to the pump. Problem is, someone before us installed a through hull just above the pump and in the middle of the bilge so you can’t pull it up to access it. The through hull is for the air conditioning/heating and we will have to pull the boat out of the water to remove the through hull allowing us to work on the pump…not too smart. It will add several hundred dollars to the replacement cost to have the boat hauled. I thought I could maneuver around the through hull, but after several hours of trying…I cannot.

Second project was to replace the wiring connector for the mast lights. When we had the mast lowered and later raised, the original connector fell victim to old age and corrosion during the process. I bought a new connector at Riverview Marina where we had the mast put back up but was just now getting around to the project. Problem is, the connector I bought will not accept wires that are as big as one side of the mast wiring. So off to West Marine using Mike’s car. They don’t have what I need, so project 3…replace the batteries in the boat.

The batteries are 3 1/2 years old and need to be replaced. This is not something you want to have to deal with without access to stores and a car. It takes 4 batteries and they weigh at least 90 pounds each. I was able to find suitable replacements without taking out a loan (lol), so I got them back to the house and drug them down to the boat, and brought the old ones back to the truck. By now I am exhausted, but it appears that the new batteries are working as they should be. Thank god you only have to do this every 3-4 years.

One out of 3 ain’t bad as boat projects go. Thanks again to Mike and Sue for the use of their car and being tied up to their dock.

While recuperating, I get a phone call from a company taking a survey. They want to talk to me about home communications systems and wonder what type of TVs and cable service we have. I tell the lady we live on our boat and we don’t have that anymore. She lets out a big belly laugh and promptly ends the call. It made me think about how different life has been afloat thus far. We do have flat screen TVs on the boat with digital antennas but we just don’t watch them. Except for these last 5 days in Nabb’s Creek, we get up just before dawn, check the oil, prep the boat for passage, make coffee and get moving. At the end of the day, we make dinner or go to a local restaurant, check the weather, check the tide schedule, plan the passage for the next day, and go to bed. Passage planning takes quite a bit of time. It is so dependent on the weather and tide, and you need to have a primary destination with bail out options if you don’t make the speed you expected, or if the anchorage or marina is full. It is so different than the way we used to live. I think about how much time we used to spend in front of a television and it seems so wasteful to me, almost totally detached from the natural world around us. It is a very interesting change.

Party time at Fells Point

Nabb’s Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

It was a little chilly today but the sun was out. We mixed up a batch of Pain Killers, jumped in the power boat and went up the Patapsco River into Baltimore, landing at Fells Point. Fells Point is one of my favorite parts of Baltimore. It was an old warehouse district years ago and some genius fixed it up building row houses, bars and restaurants. It probably has more bars per square mile than Key West. Although we have been there many times, this was the first time via water.

On the way we passed this tall ship.

It looked cool with the Francis Scott Key bridge.

And we passed the Francis Scott Key buoy. It was at this spot that he was held captive in a British ship and watched the battle that inspired our national anthem.

View of Baltimore as we approach.

Fort McHenry. Approaching via water you could see that this place was an excellent spot to protect the port of Baltimore.

One of the many marinas in Fells Point. Baltimore harbor is packed with huge marinas. It was pretty confusing from the water, but we asked several boats we saw, got on the marine radio, and found a place to dock.

The broomstick was nowhere to be found…

Fells Point was having their annual Fun Fest. We hit a bar and listened to a blues band and then walked around.

We ended up watching this reggae band. They were really good.

Maybe not so much for this little girl.

And there was the usual people watching. Not sure what the deal was with these 2. They looked like they were wandering gypsies.

Then we found a Stoli tent that had orange crushes. They were expensive and not near as good as the other night in Nabb’s Creek.

After that we went to one of my favorite pizza places in the USA…BOP…brick oven pizza. Needless to say, I made an exception to the Paleo diet.

It was a cold ride back, but a really fun day!

I don’t know what to do with myself

Nabb’s Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

We didn’t get much rain, but the wind blew up to 30 knots overnight and most of the day today. We got the flooding as expected and the water rose to a foot over the dock. We did a good job of securing the boats so we had no drama…yay!

Today was the first day in probably 6 months that we were able to just chill out, watch football, and just do nothing. It was weird. I had a hard time just relaxing. Having secure wifi, I attended to administrative work on the computer. One of those things was to order a mail shipment. We use St Brendan’s Isle in Florida to collect our mail and ship it to us on request. We have only had one shipment so far, and they did a fine job. The people who started the company are ex-cruisers so they know what is important to their customers. I also figured out how to add a map to the blog site with markers of where we have been. Look at the top of the page and there is a new menu item. When you click to that page you will see a overview map and if you want to zoom and explore, click on the link. I am interested to see if people like it, so let me know.

Our friend Mike took this picture of us sailing in to the Patapsco River:
See the soot on the transom of the boat that I was talking about in the last post?

Below is a pic of the dock we are on from today:
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Notice that Mike’s sailboat is on the other side of us. You will remember from the last post that he and I moved it over after the diver cleaned the bottom. I didn’t post it yesterday, but we had a bit of a “Captain Ron” moment when we moved the boat. It is a typical boating situation. Mike hadn’t used that boat much this year, but just a couple of days ago he tested the engine and transmission and everything was good. We motor away from the dock, me at the bow and him at the helm. The boat moved really well and Mike was having fun tooling around Nabb’s Creek. He made the turn to take it into the slip on the other side of us and because of the wind he had to come in a little “hot” to keep control of the boat. When it came time to slow the boat down Mike says “ok…reverse….reverse…REVERSE….REVERSE”. No reverse! My first thought was to hook one of the pilings with the dock line I was holding but they were too far away and moving too fast. My next thought was: we are going to hit the wall in front of me and I am going to get catapulted over the bow rail and be killed! Fortunately, the bottom tapers up as you get closer to shore and boat slid to a nice easy stop in the mud, about 12 feet from the wall. Of course, Mike says, “of all the things have have gone wrong with that boat, it has never failed in reverse”. There is always a first time! With some help from Tricia aboard Island Bound, we warped the boat out of the mud and got her secured.

Ready for the cold front

Nabbs Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Posted by Bill

The weather is supposed to turn for a day as a cold front moves in. There is also a coastal flood warning along the east coast and the bay area. This is why we needed to get the boat here and I am glad we made it before the front.

It was nice not to have to get up and start moving for a change. Instead, while Tricia worked, I did some boat maintenance. First thing was to get the diesel exhaust stain off the transom (back of the boat). Our model of Island Packet boat is known to develop a “mustache” along the transom due to the way it slopes. It captures the exhaust which allows the mustache to develop. Having the dinghy hanging in the davits doesn’t help either. We usually have a minimal amount of mustache that I try to keep clean. After pushing the boat so hard, we had a major stain that just looked terrible. I was beginning to think that we had some sort of engine problem but I am chalking it up to the fact that the engine has never been run for more than 4 hours at a time up to this trip, and figured we were just burning out some crud (great technical analysis…I know). Contributing, we have 90 gallon fuel tank, and we usually only use 20 or so gallons a year. We religiously use stabilizer, but we have been doing this for 4 years and I think it was the same with the previous owner for some time. So we had fuel that didn’t make for the most efficient engine combustion. So I cleaned the transom and waxed it while standing in the dinghy, polished some stainless steel that was developing rust. We will have to see if the normal or bad mustache reappears.

I also cleaned out the dinghy…it was pretty dirty…and put the outboard engine on it. Mike had a diver showing up to clean the bottom of his sailboat and also clean the prop so he could move it over to the other side of us. We had the diver check our bottom and everything looked “really good”, so happy captain. We moved Mike’s boat over and started prepping for possible flood waters. It was forecast to potentially be 2 feet over normal which would put the dock underwater, so we moved in with Mike and Sue for the night.

Once the boats were prepped, we all jumped in the dinghy and motored across Nabbs Creek to a restaurant/bar that was on the water. It was always fun to do that in our home waters, but the number of places you could do that was so limited. The bay has so many places to go to by water. This was fun. We chowed on mussels, steamed shrimp, bacon wrapped shrimp (they were awesome…everything’s better with bacon!), crab cakes and sliders. We also drank “Orange Crushes” which did taste just like Orange Crush and had a delightful kick…lol. The food was great.

Let’s hope the flood doesn’t float the boats away!

Taking a break in the Chesapeake

Nabbs Creek, Chesapeake Bay
Position: 39 09.817N, 76 32.135W
Posted by Bill

We motor sailed from Havre de Grace, down the bay, into the Patapsco River, into Stony Creek and finally into Nabbs Creek. When we made the turn into the Patapsco, we had a good wind direction and decent winds out of the northeast, so we finally got to SAIL! With the engine off even! We have been pushing to get to this destination, driving hard each day, so we have not really sailed until now.

If you remember from earlier posts, we were driving hard for several reasons:
1) Tricia has some business meetings next week in Baltimore
2) We have had an incredible weather window and needed to get as far as we could while we had it
3) We got a late start (about a month late) and only had a few days of slack to play with

Looking back, it seems incredible that we made it a few days ahead of time and that we didn’t need to use our schedule slack. We are tied up behind some friends of ours that live on Nabbs Creek. They have a sailboat and powerboat and a really nice dock. They are former cruisers and live-aboards (lived on their boat) and they totally get how wonderful it is to have someone offer their dock, house, electricity, car, washing machine, and especially a nice hot shower and real bathroom! They are very low key and love to have a good time…we are such kindred spirits…and have become good friends. I am just so overwhelmed by their hospitality and giving nature. It is something that you usually only experience with family, which by the way, they have all been so wonderful in their offers for help, as well as helping with many things. As and example, my brother the other night told me that if we needed a place to stay, someone to run errands, help of any kind, just call. Now he lives a good 45 minutes from where we are docked and their life is crazy busy, but I know that all I would have to do is call and they would be there. That is absolutely amazing!

I have read how the cruising community supports themselves like this and we have started to experience it. Many people buy homes on the water when they are done cruising and do the same as our friends are doing for us. I just cannot express how really cool that is. If everyone in the world shared this level of generosity and also respected the people giving it (so as not to take advantage), how cool the world would be!

Ok, so enough of blabbing on. Sitting on the boat in Nabbs Creek is just fantastic. The bay is full of these little coves. It is just so beautiful and is fun to explore. We will be back next summer to spend lots of time here. In the mean time, while we are docked I have a list of projects to get done, both on the boat, and misc. things that have been neglected while we were pushing hard to get here.

Havre de Grace
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Sailing down the bay you could see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is down by Annapolis. I am sure I will have closer pics of this in the future.
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Our friend Mike came out on his power boat to greet us as we entered the Patapsco River.
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Coming in to the Patapsco River with the Francis Scott Key bridge in the background.
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Coming in to Stony Creek, we had to go through this narrow lift bridge.
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Here we are docked at Mike and Sue’s. They have a great set up! It is so cool to be docked here.
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The view of Nabbs Creek to the west.
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The view from the boat. They have a cool beach area where many parties are enjoyed!
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Sunset on Nabbs Creek.
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As cool as all of this has been, we think about our Ohio friends and our family every day, and are really missing everyone. Glad we can share via the blog but wish you were with us.

A really great day!

Havre de Grace, MD
Tidewater Marina
Position: 39 32.828N, 76 05.154W
Posted by Bill

Today we motored into and through the C&D canal, into the Chesapeake, and up to Havre de Grace, MD. I expected the canal to be very busy with lots of big ships but only saw 3:

This nicely painted red one.
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This tug pulling a bunch of crap.
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And this tug pulling a chain of crap all connected together. Wonder what the hell they are doing with all of that crap they are pulling behind them.
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We also reached a milestone…first time to have our boat in the Chesapeake Bay…something I have wanted to do since my brother moved here in the early 80s. I was psyched.

Along the way to Havre de Grace we saw the Turkey Point light:
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The channel to Havre de Grace was very narrow and the markers were of great distance of each other. It made for some challenging navigation, especially when we encountered a tug pushing twin barges side by side. But we made it. Tidewater is pretty nice. The restrooms and showers are nice and clean and the marina is very close to the stuff in downtown Havre de Grace.

Best of all (and the real reason we came here), my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew live here! We got to go out to dinner with them and really enjoyed a delightful evening! I was psyched. We don’t get to see them as much as we like to so this was a real treat.

All of this made for a fantastic day!

Cruising through the C&D canal.
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Coming out of the C&D and into the Chesapeake Bay.
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Picturesque northern Chesapeake Bay.
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As I was having dinner with my brother and we talked about boating, I was remembering the first boating experience we had together. We decided we could build a raft with scrap pieces of wood and logs, and we carried it about 1/2 mile up a hill to a neighborhood pond on our wagon. We launched it only to find it sinking within minutes. I guess we have come a bit of a way since then…lol.

Tomorrow we will travel to some friends of ours who have a dock behind their house. They offered to give us free dockage and we will wait out the coming storm, and Tricia can attend some business meetings.

Back north again…up the Delaware Bay

Reedy Island Anchorage
Delaware River
Position: 39 30.767N, 75 34.268W
Posted by Bill

Went up the Delaware Bay today. Traveled 61.5 nautical miles (for you land lubbers…a nautical mile is 1.151 statute miles) to a lovely anchorage just south of the C&D canal which takes you over to the Chesapeake Bay. We took advantage of a great weather window and a 2+ knot tidal current going up the bay. Anchored at Reedy Island around 4:20 PM.

The C&D canal and the Delaware Bay are some of the busiest waterways for shipping traffic in the world. We saw lots of ships. These big boys were hundreds of feet in length and were tankers and cargo ships. One even was transporting boats! Here are some pics:
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And then there are lighthouses marking the numerous shoals along the bay:
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And here is our anchorage for the night:
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Cape May is really a cross roads of many people doing what we are doing. We talked to several people that were traveling in sailboats or trawlers and heading for warmer weather for the winter. We are finding that living on the boat is pretty agreeable. We both sleep better now than ever before, probably because we are exhausted every day….lol. The boat is actually very comfortable. It is just harder and takes longer to do everything because you need to find something that is stored somewhere and it takes more time to dig it out and put it away. We found that the refrigerator holds more than the one we had at our lake house, and the freezer that we have holds as much as we had at the lake house. You do have to watch how much power and water you consume, and need to be a conservationist to make it last. This is not a bad thing. Living this way you begin to realize how much wasted energy and water are used in normal daily life on land. On board, it stares you in the face every day…how much electricity you consume, how much water you consume, how much trash is generated, how much human waste you generate. People in general should have to think more about these things than they really have to. Someone else just deals with it for you in normal land based life. This will come back to bite us in the ass someday as a human population.

Friends, relatives, kids and grandkids…have we mentioned how much we miss you all?

Several people have asked about doing a map of where we have been. Every day I post a position at the top of the blog. You can key these coordinates into Google Maps and see where it is. We have been pushing hard to get to Baltimore by a deadline, but when we get there I will have more time to find the best way to show a location map. It is on the list….

Tomorrow we plan to be in Havre de Grace and see if we can hook up with my brother and his family. The day after we will be in Baltimore for almost a week. Then to the boat show in Annapolis and south thereafter!

A rough but successful passage in the Atlantic

Cape May, NJ
Position:38 57.1N, 74 54.3W
Utsch’s Marina
Posted by Bill

Crazy day yesterday and today. We had a 20 hour +/- passage in the Atlantic Ocean around New Jersey staring us in the face, so we checked the weather one last time and set out around 11 AM from Sandy Hook. This would allow a passage of 20 hours at 6.5 knots of speed and extra time before dark if we don’t get to make the normal cruising speed. The weather forecast was for light winds 5-10 knots out of the SE, switching to SW late morning. The ocean started out flat as a pancake at NY Harbor. About half way there we got an east swell and SW winds 12-16 knots…winds not that bad for our boat. But…SW winds against an east swell does not make a comfortable passage when you are traveling SW. The wind works against the swell and drums up a steep and wicked sea state, and then we were beating into the wind. The boat was smashing in to the waves and spray was going all over the boat for the entire passage. It was miserable. I hoisted some sails to get the motion of the boat to come under control and I tacked back and forth on angles instead of in a straight line. We left Sandy Hook at 11 AM and came into Cape May at 9:20 AM. Neither of us slept and I hand steered most of the way to control the motion of the boat. It was not a fun passage. Good thing is…the boat can take that beating…it is a strong, stable boat. We however, are wasted.

So, after getting the boat picked up and washed, we went about Cape May exploring. It is a very cool place and the oldest seaside resort area in the country. We found the oldest tavern in Cape May (a bar…I know you are all surprised) and made new friends with several regulars. We walked across the parking lot of our marina and picked up fresh lobster, shrimp and scallops, and brought them back to the boat…that didn’t suck! That is one of the things I have been waiting for being on the east coast. Happy eating (and of course drinking). I love fresh seafood!!!

Tomorrow we try to catch the tide early in the morning to take us up Delaware Bay. Then the next day we will use the C&D canal to get into the Chesapeake Bay….one of my milestones!!! Looks like the weather will cooperate, but then again, so was the forecast for last night!

Pics for today:

Unbelievable sunrise on the ocean today!!!
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The Utsch marina in Cape May.
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This place is very nice and the people were very hospitable. Highly recommended.
The town is very easy to explore on foot or by bike. There is a West Marine store in walking distance and a liquor store that will deliver…very high on the list of important stuff.

The Cape May Canal to the Delaware Bay.
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Cape May area photos.
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Our newest bestest (is that a word??!) bar, and the oldest bar in Cape May
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Our awesome seafood dinner. Been waiting for this for a long time!!!!
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Kudos again to my wife. We had a rough passage going across the Erie Canal in the middle of the night, but this was a new low…it was really rough. Tricia was a trouper. Not many wives would put up this lifestyle. She is a good catch. Our exploration of Cape May was a reward for a tough passage. It is a cool place.