Sunday, 17 November 2013

All Go in Annapolis & Whiz Round Washington ….. Nov 2013

05 – 13 November 2013: Annapolis to Deltaville – 37 32N  76 20W

PB020038_thumbTime for a Mini Refit 

We used this unplanned stopover in Annapolis to update some of Balvenies ageing systems.   The refrigeration was a major - the compressor had recently started making banging noises, the copper piping which houses the gas was corroding; as with everything onboard Balvenie it was getting old (including us!).

Our friends on Cristata had recently installed a Dometic self contained unit that ran on 12, 24, 110 or 240volts and they were very happy with it so we looked at the options and decided we could make one fit into our existing area.  We ordered it from West Marine and skipper started tearing the old system out – condenser, compressor, piping, wiring – out it all came, what  mess!   A week later our new unit arrived so we borrowed Mike & Marguerites pickup and collected it. IMG_0365

Weighing about 15kilos it was big and bulky and getting it from the pickup down to the dock, into the dinghy, out of the dinghy onto the boat and inside was no mean feat.  Can you imagine our dismay when we plugged it in, turned it on and nothing happened!!  It would run on the emergency power setting but not on the regular controls. 

After several phone calls to Dometic and West Marine it was decided they would need to replace it.  The new one came super fast express and arrived the following day so it was back via dinghy, dock and pickup, this time we were smart enough to unpack the new unit in store and plug it in to check it was working.PB020039 

Our new fridge has been christened Frieda and she is taking up quite a lot of real estate on our saloon floor for now, but she will live there until we get to Trinidad later in the season when we will have the necessary cabinetry work done to fit her into the galley.   So far we are very happy with her performance, however when the air temperature inside the boat is colder than the temperature she is set at she doesn’t have to work very hard!!!

Whirlwind Tour of Washington

Sunday was clear, crisp and sunny, a perfect day for sightseeing.  Mike and Marguerite had offered the pickup (we were using it more than them!) and suggested we drove to the outskirts of Washington and catch the train downtown, an easy and quick way to access the city.

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We have both been to Washington before, albeit over 20 years ago, so this was really just a refresher and we had a great day out.  It was Veterans Memorial Weekend so all the War Memorials had reunions and commemorative services underway, it was an interesting time to visit.

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We ticked off the hotspots: peered through the bars at the White House, walked along Constitution Avenue, joined the Mall and climbed the stairs to see Abraham Lincolns statue, walked back along Reflection Pool, past the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument (currently shrouded in scaffolding following earthquake damage in 2011), detoured for coffee, lunch and museums then skirted Capitol Hill.

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Washington is overflowing with museums and many of them are free.  Of course there is only so much you can see in one day so we did a quick fly through past the Dinosaur exhibits at the National Museum of Natural History, then crossed the road to the National Air and Space Museum where we spent an informative and enjoyable couple of hours watching liftoffs and landings, stepping into space and going where no man has ever been before.

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Mark gazing into space whilst dreaming of being an astronaut

We stopped at the highly recommended cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian for an excellent bowl of Buffalo Chilli before venturing upstairs to view several of the exhibits in this interesting museum. Then we headed for Capitol Hill late in the day, the sun was dipping and the cold wind was whipping up the fallen leaves, it was a very autumnal scene.  Before darkness fell we headed for the Metro and wound our weary way home, it had been an excellent day out.

Where does this goPB100081

Back To Work

Mark continued upgrading some of the aging systems onboard Balvenie whilst I supervised.  When floorboards are up and lockers are emptied to gain access it is virtually impossible to do anything else onboard but keep out of the way!  Of course when its warm you can make yourself scarce outside but when cold, well you just make do. 007 Wineglass Bay

During this time very good ex cruising friends Lynn and Larry Lewis were passing through Annapolis and came to visit us.  Had I started this blog when we left New Zealand Lynn and Larry would have featured on many postings as we spent time with them in Fiji and Vanuatu and then cruised from Brisbane down to Tasmania and back with them during summer 2005. 

We learnt so much from them regarding our systems onboard and the maintenance of them, it was invaluable.   Lynn and Larry sold their yacht Zephyr in Brisbane and have lived back in Louisville, Kentucky since.   We spent a great day with them, they hadn’t changed at all and it was super to catch up after so many years.

PB060044Olive Re-joins the Workforce

We collected our Injector Pump from J & G Parks, it looked brand new and came with a fully comprehensive list of what had been replaced and refurbished.  They had done an extremely professional job and we were very hopeful we might now see an end to our engine woes.

We had booked Dick from Vosbury Marine to come and install it all.  With 40 years experience working on Volvos he instilled confidence in us immediately.  If anyone was going to get Olive back going again, he would – and he did.  She sparked into life and sounded better than she had for a long time.  It looked like we might just leave Saltworks Creek before it froze over after all!! 

And Now We Wait For The Weather

So now it was time to fill the fridge to capacity and jam as many supplies as possible into the lockers, we might just get to the Caribbean this season after all.  We had missed the departure of the Salty Dawgs Rally,  which in hindsight was a very good thing as the boats that left on the scheduled date encountered atrocious conditions and many suffered damage.  We were pleased to still be up our creek.


So we filled our final days doing last minute provisioning, well you just never know when you will see a supermarket, liquor store, chandlery, Dollar Store or Walmart again.  Things had got so easy for us in Annapolis, Mike and Marguerite had been just wonderful hosts and their generosity in loaning us both their pickup and car had been outstanding.  We knew our way around like locals,  and zoomed around collecting all manner of items deemed necessary for the oncoming cruising season.PB130092PB130090

Heading South at Speed

With final farewells said and easing northerlies forecast we left our sheltered creek, headed down the Severn River and into Chesapeake Bay.  When we reached the bay we had winds gusting 35kts and the temperature was –1c, this didn’t seem like such a good idea but we had to get south. Under staysail only we flew off down the bay averaging 7kts and anchored just on dark (now 5.15pm) at the mouth of the Potomac River

Next morning the winds had increased (not in the forecast!!) and it was even colder. With 11 layers of clothes on I could hardly bend, skipper only had 7 layers on so was a little more mobile!  Conditions eased throughout the day and we pulled into the sheltered anchorage at Fishing Harbour, Deltaville late afternoon.  There was just one other hardy soul at anchor, and wouldn’t you know it – they were kiwis too!  It was Victoria with Karin and Jim onboard who we had met very briefly in Newport, time to catch up again.


Autumn Has Been Magic but How Much Colder Can We Take??

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Up an Annapolis Creek Without A Paddle ….. Nov 2013

25 Oct – 04 Nov:  Saltworks Creek, Annapolis – 39 00N  76 31W

PB100053So Much For Plans

After our unplanned stop for the night at Pooles Island to shelter from the strong winds we had a reasonably comfortable trip the 30 miles down to Annapolis.  We were stopping for the night to visit cruising friends Mike and Marguerite who we have known since the Mediterranean.  They finished their circumnavigation on Ithaca last year and have settled back into their beautiful riverfront home after 15 years away, Ithaca is moored on their dock in front of their house - perfect.

Mike was there to help us at the dock when we stopped to fuel up at the Town Marina and we arranged to meet later at their house for dinner and a catch up before taking advantage of the favourable winds and moving further south the following day.  

PB020036Olive our Volvo engine had different plans.  We motored away from the fuel dock and headed up the Severn River then turned in to Saltworks Creek where we were planning to tie to a mooring ball for the night.  As we entered the creek the engine died and there was a mad panic to try and steer towards the buoy, pick it up by its shackle (no line attached), attach our line to it and then secure it to the boat whilst not being able to stop or reverse, there could be no second chance!

Lets just say is was not one of our better manoeuvres and any onlookers would have wondered just what we were doing when we finally attached the buoy to the stern of the boat before slowly repositioning it back where it should be on the bow. 

Fixing Olive – Again!IMG_0361

Having a broken engine is really a low point in a cruisers life.  We were in a safe spot tied to a hurricane mooring, we had friends nearby to support us, but we had reached a real low.  We had just done our haul out, we thought everything was in top form and were ready to carry on south, join the Salty Dawgs Rally and head into another season exploring the warm waters and interesting islands of the Caribbean with fellow cruising boats.   

We had had the turbo rebuilt in Florida in May and at the same time had the injectors cleaned, the turbo had been the cause of our last engine failure but it was still spinning now –PA270021 this time it was something else.  Of course it was Friday afternoon so nothing would happen till at least Monday. 

We had a wonderful evening ashore with our friends, a trouble shared is a trouble halved the saying goes, and it is surely true.  They offered us the use of their house and car and just having them nearby made us feel much better.

Skipper donned his mechanics cap on Saturday and checked everything he could, but Olive was not co-operating, we were here to stay. 

Sunday was declared a day of rest and we borrowed M&M’s pickup truck and headed into Annapolis for the day to do some sightseeing.PA270018  The downtown tourist area is centred around the harbour, as with many of the places we visit.  In Annapolis a huge part of this area is dominated by the USA Naval Academy, the largest in the USA.  The streets were full of Naval Personnel out for a Sunday afternoon stroll all looking very dapper in their uniforms.

The Diagnosis Begins

On our morning SSB Radio Cruisers Net we chatted about our situation and Canadian friends Janine and Terry on Cristata were nearby in another creek and offered to come and help. We have known them since we all crossed the Indian Ocean in 2007, wintered in Turkey with them and have kept in touch via emails and our Cruisers Nets since.  They have been cruising for over 20 years and have amassed a huge amount of knowledge, skills and tools - they came to help us.  

PB020037Over the following days, many hours were spent on Olive - valve settings were readjusted, compression was checked and was good in all 4 cylinders, all electrical and fuel feeds rechecked, injectors were removed and tips inspected and the diagnosis was that it had to be the injectors and injector pump. 

Terry explained we could have new tips put on our existing injectors, something we had never been offered by the “experts” and he also recommended having the injector pump reconditioned along with the governor which is inside the pump. 

We were at a point of considering the possibility of replacing the entire engine which would be a mammoth time consuming and very expensive task.PA270019   But the thought was that with good compression, rings and valves our engine still had good bones and so we decided to give it one last chance.  We contacted Vosbury Marine, the local Volvo dealer who recommended J & G Parks for reconditioning the injectors and pump.  We borrowed the pickup again and drove it to them for the rebuild, saving time and money where-ever we could.

Terry and Janine had been such a help but it was a waiting game now, so they continued south – in search of warmer weather.   With overnight temperatures nudging freezing and some days not much warmer, we were very glad we had bought our little portable gas heater in Maine, it was doing a great job of making life on the water just bearable.


The Leaves Changed Daily – Autumn was Turning to Winter

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Kaleidoscope of Colours in the Chesapeake ….. Oct 2013

16 – 24 October 2013:  Havre de Grace to Pooles Island, Maryland – 39 17N 76 15W

PA180060Haul Out Time

After we entered Chesapeake Bay from the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal we turned right and headed north to the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the small town of Havre de Grace.  We had the small marina and yard there recommended to us as an affordable and professional place to haul, and Balvenies bottom was ready for a tickle up.
Now Tidewater Marina doesn’t have much water and we knew that depth might be an issue so we timed the high tides just after full moon to give ourselves the best chance of going in and getting out without burrowing through the muddy bottom. PA180062 With just over an 8 foot draft Balvenie would be the deepest draft boat they had ever hauled and no one was actually sure if they would have enough scope to lift us high enough out of the water to clear the land!!
With  6 extremely professional staff on hand waiting to guide us into the very snug haul out pen, we immediately felt we were in good hands and that if it was possible to get us out, they would make it happen.  It was quite entertaining for us to watch their faces as the lifting began, our keel just kept on coming, up out of the water: you could see they thought it would never end!
PA220003 Life On The Hard Again

All went well and we spent the next three days cleaning and painting Balvenies bottom, getting her sparkly clean and slick for our upcoming season in the Caribbean.  We also had use of the marina courtesy car so took the opportunity to fill gas bottles,  provision with heavy grocery items and replace our house battery bank, all so much easier to do while on shore, with car and without a dinghy ride. 

We splashed again on high tide but with less water and floated back out to the mooring field – almost without incident.  We detoured to the fuel dock to fill up with fuel and water but glided to a halt on a muddy shallow – new antifoul only one day old and our first grounding!! oh well, welcome to the shallow Chesapeake.

Off to Explore Inland

We took the time to drive to neighbouring Pennsylvania.  We went through the nearby Susquehanna State Park, the autumn colours were ablaze, never before have we seen trees in so many colours.  We have always heard of the famous colours of fall in New England and we had seen the beginning of the colours changing further north but now we were seeing the colours at there absolute prime, they were outstanding. 

Passing Through the Amish Community
Horse and Buggy, main form of transport and the roads have a wide carriage lane

PA220016We carried on further inland, through rolling countryside into the heart of the Amish region.  This area was first settled in the early 1700s by native Swiss.  Persecuted in their homeland for their religious beliefs several groups emigrated to the USA and a pocket settled in this area of Pennsylvania.  Widely known as the “Plain People” they have farmed this area now for generations, almost ignoring the modern world around them.  Most do not use electricity or motor driven vehicles, theirs is a simple but labour intensive life.

Moving down Chesapeake Bay

With winds forecast out of the west/northwest for a few days it wasn’t an ideal window for us to start heading southwest but the weather really was cooling down.  We were staying snug inside the boat with our little portable gas heater but the lure of warmer weather and the departure of the upcoming Salty Dawgs Rally from Virginia looming we dropped our mooring line and headed down the bay.

We were hard on the wind, our new headsail performing well with a double reefed main, but when the wind just refused to move from a westerly, started gusting over 30knots and the odd wave came over and into the cockpit we decided to call it a day and took shelter at nearby Pooles Island for the night.

Tomorrows Another Day