Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

Highbourne Cay, Exumas
24 42.6N 76 49.6W

Happy Christmas to our avid blog followers (anyone reading this on Christmas day is avid) we are eating lobster we caught on the reef, drinking cask wine and missing all our friends and rellies, always a strange time of year for us as we celebrate in exotic locations but far from our loved ones.

Have a wonderful Christmas and we hope to see lots of you all next year

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cruise Ships, Gucci & Junkanoo

Nassau, Bahamas
25 04.90'N 077 19.80'W

Sadly we had to leave the Berry Islands as the wind went E/SE for a while and because of our draft we couldn't find anywhere protected to anchor, so we waved goodbye to the tranquil calm of an unpopulated island and sailed down to Nassau. Twenty miles off we picked up our first sight of the Atlantis Resort, 2 huge hotels on Paradise Island which forms the northern part of the harbour at Nassau, as we got closer we began to see a never ending stream of cruise ships shuttling in and out of the entrance and realised that sadly we were back in "civilisation" again.

After our customary problem of not having enough water to anchor in we found a spot not in the shipping channel, not too close to shore and with a patch of sand to bury the anchor so we could sleep soundly during the forecast strong winds - only took 2 hours!

Nassau itself is interesting, the few blocks of downtown have old colonial buildings, all brightly painted in pastel shades, the huge cruise ship terminal and for the passengers endless shops selling Gucci, Prada, Breitling etc etc as well as a Burger King for the home sick yanks who have been eating ship food for 36 hours. Luckily it seems most of the passengers can't walk more than 100m, so once clear of the terminal the town is a lot more interesting, with colonial forts, hills to climb with views and the compulsory tour of the Atlantis Resort. It's a huge hotel, very well done actually with a stunning aquarium that fills the whole of one wall of the reception area, filled with sharks, tuna, manta rays and every other sort of marine life you could want - even better than the main pool at Sydney Aquarium but funded by gambling so free to see!

Last night we went to the Junior Junkanoo festival. Junkanoo is the Bahamian equivalent of Carnival, a night f dancing, singing and drums and a huge parade through the main streets. We will miss the main event so we went to the High School version. Amazing, it went on all night, when we left at midnight they had just got to the 11 year olds! Very courful, ll the kids parents in teh stands cheering them on and great dancing and music.

We have also waited out some strong winds and the very distant threat that Tropical Storm Olga would come north (doesn't it know hurricane season is over!) and explored the forts, did some odd jobs and shopping and met a great bunch of cruisers all doing the same thing. We hope to leave on Monday for the trip across the Bahama Bank to the Exumas - supposedly a paradise of sand, sea and coral.
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Paradise Found!

Devil Hoffman Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
25 36.74'N 077 43.97'W

We have found a real taste of paradise here, we are anchored up surrounded by 3 Cays with protection from winds of almost every direction, we have a choice of 3 beaches to explore and some great snorkeling on the fringing reef. Only complaints to date are the weather isn't quite perfect and there aren't very many lobster to catch!

So far we have snorkeled, windsurfed and yesterday speared our first lobster - apparently further south there are plenty to find so we may manage more than just the entree next time. It makes a nice change from all the travelling and preparation and the next 6 months looks pretty exciting as we work our way south into the Caribbean.

We reached a new level of insanity yesterday when we took Charlie for a walk on the beach, he hadn't been ashore for 6 months and we felt sorry for him so as there is a small island he can't escape from we took him ashore. He seemed to enjoy it, climbing the sand cliffs and chasing through the grass, but at the same time he was happiest when he found a cave to sleep in - we needed the spear gun to get him out!

We have some ordinary weather heading this way blowing from the only direction that the anchorage offers no protection so we may move on to Nassau tomorrow, and the bright lights of the big smoke!
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What A Difference A Week Makes!

Great Bahama Bank
25 47.47'N 078 17.63'W

We are currently sailing from Bimini across the banks to the Berry Islands, so another night sail, but this time in shorts and t-shirts, quite a change from a week or two ago when the thought of a night in the cockpit filled us with dread. It's warm, the stars are spectacular and it's almost enjoyable to be up at this time of night!

Sailing the Bank is a new experience, most of today we have been sailing in water only 5 metres deep, but so clear you can see every feature of the bottom, with a keel of nearly 2.5m under us it's a bit nerve wracking as there is very little "spare" water. Sadly even 5m is deep for the Bahamas it seems, so we are just going to have to get used to it!
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Friday, November 30, 2007

Life In The Bahamas

North Bimini, Bahamas
25 43.35'N 79 17.92'W

So after a 1000 miles of sailing this month, most of it on cold fronts with temperatures regularly below 10 degrees, 6 nights at sea and a lot of planning and preparation it was all brought home as to why we did it today.

We woke up this morning, walked to the beach for a swim in warm crystal clear water, walked on the beach for a while, lunch in the sun, snorkelling in the afternoon, a few drinks for sun down and then dinner of lobster from the local fisherman at $25 for half a dozen - and no we weren't dreaming all this!

We really enjoyed the USA east coast, but this is very much what we came cruising for, and is what we loved about the Australian coast - we have the added spice here of a different culture (that said have you ever been to Queensland!).

We will have another day here and then head off on yet another overnight sail, to the Berry Islands where we will hopefully be able to put down the anchor in an uninhabited spot and spend a week or two getting the hang of the Caribbean.
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

We Have Arrived In The Bahamas

Alice Town, Bimini, Bahamas
25 43.35'N 79 17.92'W

We're In The Bahamas!

We left Palm Beach at 5pm yesterday and sailed south down the Florida coast for about 50 miles, making great progress in about 15 knots from the East. We had to stay much closer in that we had thought as we were picking up a good 2 knots counter current from the Gulf Steam only a couple of miles off the coast.

That was about as good as it got, because then the wind went SE so we could no longer sail down the coast and we decided to head east and get across the stream while still 15-20 miles north of Bimini. A mistake in retrospect, we ended up motor sailing all night and well into today pushing a lot of current, or getting swept north away from Bimini, as the mood took us. Frustrating but that was all.

We arrived at Bimini very excited just after lunch and followed a new, well buoyed channel into the harbour, with about 5 metres of water under us which was reassuring. The anchorage area was a bit shallow so we promptly gave our keel its first taste of Bahamian sand. We anchored up for a while in the channel but the holding was dreadful so in the end we decided to tie up to a dock so we could sleep peacefully.

Clearing Customs was a breeze, I had to tear the immigration guy away from looking at a fishing net being emptied and then we conducted the whole process to a sound track of Jerry Springer from his TV so almost exactly as I expected. We are now cleared in and unlike the USA don't have to phone customs every time we move the boat somewhere new which will be a nice relief.

Once that was done, the only thing left to do was have a drink in the sun, with our Bahamian courtesy flag flying from the spreaders, and an early night.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Warm And The Bahamas Are Near!

West Palm Beach, Florida
26 45.53'N 080 02.60'W

We've done it, we had a cracking sail from Fernandina Beach to Palm Beach, 250 miles at 7 knots sailing the whole way, arriving here on Saturday night a couple of hours after it went dark, so we got to spend a night at anchor in bed rather than sailing which was the original plan.

Best of all, it's finally hot, temperatures in the high 20s, palm trees waving and 60 miles away lie the Bahamas our first Caribbean destination. We are finally south of the cold fronts, we will still get the winds but not the temperatures, so hopefully no more balaclavas. Linda has just finished the arduous and skillful task of making sides for the cockpit that join the bimini and dodger and give us full protection from the weather, we wish it had been higher on the to do list, as we won't need it anywhere near as much now!

We felt that a 60 mile sail for our first international voyage was a bit pathetic after years of focusing on leaving Australia, but after a thousand miles this month, 5 nights at sea and all in what is for us, freezing conditions (and in fairness on one occasion it literally was freezing) we are content that we have earned a cocktail in Bimini this weekend.

Hope to leave tomorrow night for the trip across the Gulf Stream to Bimini, so should be snorkeling by Friday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back In Florida

Fernandina Beach, Florida
30 40.50'N 081 28.10'W

We are now safely back in Florida, at the home of the Beard Competition (see earlier posts) Fernandina Beach. The sail down from Cape Lookout was uneventful, some good sailing, too much motoring and too many false dawns of warm weather.

We celebrated my birthday with our friends Roy & Doon from Bold Endeavour at Cape Lookout, complete with birthday cake, presents and alcohol. A warning to all visitors, Linda bought me a guitar for my birthday (inspired by Gareth and Fred's efforts) so be prepared for camp fire sing alongs to Three Blind Mice and Ode To Joy (slowly).

We sailed the 205m from Cape Lookout to Charleston leaving just before first light on day 1 hoping to arrive before dark on day 2 and therefore only having one night at sea given the low temperatures. It was balaclava helmets all round for the first day and great sailing in 20-25 knots from the NW. Roy & Doon left the same day, so we had some company for the trip south.

The wind died out around sunset so we had to motor all night and we woke the next morning to sunshine and warmth, I climbed from bed after a lovely 3 hours of warmth and started putting on thermals again and then realised it felt warm, went on deck and it was t-shirts and shorts weather! 24 hours earlier it was balaclavas and ski gloves! We motored on all day in glorious sunshine with pods of dolphins joining us regularly thinking we had finally cracked the weather and arrived in Charleston just before sunset as planned.

After a couple of days in Charleston enjoying the sun another cold front came through and we left on the winds accompanying it, and yet again it was freezing cold! We had some problems raising the anchor culminating in a major chain jam so we must have made a worryng sight for the big coast guard cutter we passed them on Charleston Harbour as I stood on the foredeck in an IRA style black balaclava brandishing a crowbar and a lump hammer! We had a great sail down to Florida, despite the record lows being set for Charleston and Savannah that night, sailing most of the way before the wind died late at night and yet again the motor was on.

So here we are, it's about 250m from here to Palm Beach and then about 90 miles from there to Port Lucaya in the Bahamas where we plan to clear customs, we are waiting on a weather window and some post but hope to leave tomorrow or Friday so next blog update will hopefully be from the Bahamas!
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Round Cape Hatteras

Cape Lookout, North Carolina
34 37.52'N 076 32.87'W

We made it! For five months whenever talking with other cruisers and conversation turned to plans for winter, our new found friends would say - Bahamas/Caribbean wonderful, and then take a concerned look at our mast and ask the question "will you have to go outside round Cape Hatteras?"

For most sailors in the USA the first leg of the long trip south from Chesapeake Bay to the Tropics is taken on the Intra Coastal Waterway a system of canals and rivers, and they pass the cold November nights securely anchored in a little town, maybe eating at a fireplace warmed restaurant, before snuggling down to a nights sleep under the doona 50 odd miles inland of the wind swept Cape Hatteras.

For the few sailing lepers like us with masts over the magic 65' we must spend 2 nights at sea in temperatures nearing freezing and sail round the charmingly known "Graveyard Of The Atlantic" or Cape Hatteras. The reputation of Hatteras comes from hundreds of years of ship wrecks on the sand shoals that extend 30 miles out to sea from it, the area is swept by major weather systems and has the added bonus of being the point of closest approach to the mainland of the Gulf Stream, a fast northerly flowing river of warm water (four knots in the middle) that heads from the Caribbean up the east coast before crossing the Atlantic to Europe - you may remember from school geography that's why Britain doesn't have the same climate as northern Canada.

The first problem is to find the right weather. Hurricanes run up this coast throughout summer and fall, we had one pass by last weekend, so you can't really head south until at least November, this is of course when those lovely North American winter storms start, snowfall begins and serious bone chilling cold gets going. So you can't leave until regular strong northern storms are here, and what sort of conditions don't you want to be sailing south round an exposed cape with a fast north setting current - why yes a northerly storm!

The second problem is psychological, in your head it will be like something out of the Perfect Storm so any excuse to delay it 24 hours for a better forecast is gleefully accepted. We had planned on motoring round in a calm, but that was never likely to happen so finally after sitting around for a week watching the temperature plummet and hearing news of the first snow falls, we bit the bullet and left in a 15 knot norther, which promptly became 20-25 knots and stayed there for the whole trip.

Now for the good news, thanks to the marvels of GPS and modern charts you can stay a lot nearer the Cape than you used to be able to which keeps you out of the worst of the current and so as long as the wind doesn't go NE you aren't battling big seas. Obviously you don't want anything to break while threading the needle or to lose concentration for 5 minutes. During our trip a 48' power boat cut it too fine and ran aground on the shoals where it filled with water and was destroyed - nice to hear on the VHF as you attempt the same passage.

Our trip was safe, but of course the wind being what it is just as we got to the 1 mile wide gap between the abandoned, semi destroyed, outer light house (got blown away allegedly) and the buoy marking the end of the sand banks we had to gybe the boat and you do all this at 4am on a moonless night during the one period when we had sustained 30 knot winds, so we have to put two reefs in as well! But never mind at 0430 on the 8th of November we were through and now had only 72 miles to the next Cape to worry about a NE shift before finally being clear of the Gulf Stream and back to normal sailing.

Because of the wind speed and the excellent speed that Matsu can make, we managed to make the whole 220 mile trip to the anchorage at Cape Lookout, with only one night at sea, averaging just under 7 knots for the passage. Only having one night at sea was a real bonus, as can see from the photo for this entry, sleeping bags were deemed clothing for the trip - I wore thermals, fleece trousers, track suit bottoms, 2 pairs of socks, ugg boots, long sleeve T, thin jumper, thick jumper, hat, gloves and full foul weather gear for all but the glorious 5 hours I got to spend under the doona during two off watch periods!

We arrived at sunset yesterday dropped the anchor in a fabulous spot surrounded by sand dunes (well worth a look on Google Earth) and after hot showers and a few beers got some well earned sleep, knowing one more relatively simple passage to Charleston and then we should have warm weather again! 550 miles to the Bahamas!
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Ready For The Off!

Annapolis, Maryland
38 58.22'N 76 29.9'W

Finally we are ready, we have wiped over 100 things off the to do lists and have bought and stowed all the food and spares we need for extended cruising - which as we are heading to the yachting capital of the world may be over kill!

We decided to buy up most of the grocery wholesalers stocks here, so we have bought 100s of rolls of toilet paper, a years supply of cask wine, filled the freezer with meat, cans of everything imaginable and miraculously it all went in the cupboards eventually - some of it we even wrote down so we may be able to find it in 4 months time.

The weather has finally turned bad, we watched the world cup final with Kate & Roger in blazing sunshine, but since then it has got cold and very wet, in fact it has barely stopped raining for a minute in the past 48 hours. We should get some relief early next week, so we plan to up anchor and scoot down Chesapeake Bay and around Cape Hatteras ASAP so we can start to get some warm weather again - they have started giving the season to date snow fall on the weather channel - time to go south!

Hopefully our next post will be from the high seas as we zoom southwards to the sun (or a pub in Charleston)
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Working Hard In The Heat

Annapolis, Maryland
38 56.09'N 076 30.54'W

Following the shock of the cold front, and all our fears about needing a heater for the brief spell of autumn before heading south we have had endless hot and sunny days! This past week in particular ha been ridiculous with temperatures in the 30's, we have even been back swimming again!

We have been working hard, new batteries and battery box, new bimini, servicing engines, sourcing spare parts, dealing with the beauracracy for international voyaging, buying charts and guides for new areas and hundreds of small maintenance chores for me, and sewing for Linda. Linda has made an amazing new boom bag for us, not easy in a sail loft, very hard in a cabin, the bag is nearly 20 feet long, so the logistics of moving the material around and sewing in zippers and batten pockets are quite a challenge - even more so when Charlie insists on sleeping on it all day!

On the break from work front we spent an excellent couple of days at the Annapolis Boat Show where we proved once and for all that we do have the best boat in the country by looking at all the others and picking holes in them, and then toured endless stands of useful gadgets and "stuff".

The Wilson's came for the weekend, coinciding perfectly with England crushing the Aussies in the RWC so a few lagers and G&T's were consumed to celebrate - the fact that we then had to have even more to celebrate the further demise of Southern Hemisphere rugby as NZ crashed out perhaps contributed to a more restrained day the day after!

A couple more weeks here and then we are off south, starting to get very excited about clear water and snorkelling.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back "Home"

Harness Creek, Annapolis, Maryland
38 56.1N 76 30.5W

We arrived back at Harness Creek in Annapolis today where we spent 6 weeks earlier in the year doing repairs, and we will be here for about 4 weeks this time while we get ready to head for the Caribbean, go to the Boat Show, and hopefully have some fun with day trips to Washington DC and up to Philadelphia for Kate Wilson's 40th Birthday.

The trip down the New Jersey coast was fun and uneventful. We experienced our first "cold front" of autumn, the wind went round to the north and then brought with it a great sailing breeze of about 15-20 knots, the only draw back being it smelt of Polar Bears and made us search for the warm clothes we had hidden away 6 months ago! In fact we had planned an overnight trip from Sandy Hook down to Delaware Bay and up to the canal, but as the afternoon wore on and the thermometer started to plunge we decided that a night at sea was not going to be too much fun.

A quick search of the charts and some radio time with the coast guard and we found an inlet we could get into and spent a lovely warm night under the doona at anchor in Barnegat Inlet while the temperature fell to 14 degrees celsius (I know many of you won't think that's cold, but throw in some wind and sit outside all night and tell me deep down you wouldn't be whingeing too!)

The next day we sailed down to Atlantic City, the day after that to the Delaware Bay entrance and then finally up the Delaware Bay and into the Chesapeake on day 3. By the time we were in the C&D canal we had gone from four layers of clothing and wooly hats that morning, to shorts and t-shirts as the effect of the cold front finally ended.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back Through New York City

Sandy Hook, New Jersey
40 25.1N 74 01.4W

We left Port Washington yesterday and had another stunning trip through New York City on the boat. The sun was out, and despite or perhaps because of an autumnal chill in the air the sky was blue and smog free. We had the tide the whole way down the East River and shot all the same photos as last time but from a slightly different angle, although this time we did see a fire boat at the Statue Of Liberty doing the full display for the tourists.

We actually sailed back down the bay under the Verazzano Narrows Bridge with a lovely breeze and are now anchored up at Sandy Hook again waiting for a cold front to pass through which should give us great sailing weather for the trip down the New Jersey coast.
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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Exploring New York City Again

Port Washington, New York
40 49.6N 73 42.9W

We had a great sail back down Long Island Sound from Newport, lots of sunshine and some breeze so we were able to sail not motor. We are now anchored in Port Washington again and doing day trips on the train into NYC for more sightseeing.

The highlight of this trip to NYC was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on a glorious sunny day, with great views of Manhattan and the Statue Of Liberty as well as a close up look at how they built this huge bridge 130 odd years ago. We also visited Ground Zero and the displays in the church next door showing the rescuers at work and rest during the days after the attack. As the 6th anniversary approaches it is still a staggering thing to see and the big hole in the ground would be a constant reminder for millions who walk past there each day.

We finish each day in NYC exhausted with sore feet, and just about make it back to the boat before falling asleep, it seems impossible to manage two consecutive days there which as we are fitter than normal seems ridiculous.
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Friday, August 31, 2007

Time To Head South

Newport, Rhode Island
41 28.8N 71 19.4W

Well tomorrow we will set sail for the Caribbean, technically this will consist of retracing our steps down the east coast and then heading to the Bahamas, but we leave tomorrow bound south for the first time in a while so why not make it sound grand!

Since the last entry we have been to Block Island which sits in the Atlantic and in summer is a resort paradise, but I imagine in winter is a bit cold and windy! We cycled right round the island admiring the views and at night tried to sleep but the sheer number of boats anchored in the harbour made that hard, as all night they were dragging and crashing into each other, thankfully no one hit us, but I did see one huge smash at 3am, almost worth being awake for!

From there we sailed to Newport, we left in clear blue skies, and then about an hour out, we were down to 50m visibility and in a huge bank of fog. It was the first time we had experienced this, and thankfully we have a radar on Matsu as it made life much less stressful. We had a couple of huge boats come up behind us blowing fog horns, and the lack of viz makes you disorientated and fear the worst, so it was a great relief to be able to go below and see on the radar that in fact they were a couple of miles away and missing us. Similarly when we arrived in Newport harbour, radar and electronic charts make life very easy - glad I didn't just have a compass and a chart.

Newport was excellent, we toured the Van Der Bilt mansion which is as near to a European Palace as you can get in the USA. Absolutely enormous and every room so ornate and imposing. Half the rooms were built in France in a factory and then shipped in pieces to Newport for assembly in the mansion. For those of you doing renovations at the moment think about the fact that they built the entire 70 room mansion in 2 years - and I bet the fireplace in your study isn't from an Italian palace and shipped in especially! But I suppose limitless wealth helps to get things done.

We now have a plan of sorts, we will head back to New York for a week or so, then a quick trip back to Annapolis where we will do the final preparation for the Caribbean, and then as soon as hurricane season is over dash back to Florida and then work our way through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the West Indies. It all seems quite close now as we hope to be in the Bahamas by the end of November.

Of course like all good plans it will change tomorrow!
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Long Island Sound & Visitors

Sag Harbour, New York
41 00.4N 72 16.9W

All well here, we have had a great couple of weeks cruising up Long Island Sound. We finally had some wind so have been able to sail, Paule and Louis have been to stay, we have been into NYC a couple of times to explore, and have annoyingly had to spend far too much time fixing diesel engines, as the generator - our supply of electricity, hot water and cold beer, has been playing up. Fingers crossed that is now fixed and we hope to sail off to Block Island and then to Newport, RI in the next week or so.

Long Island is an interesting place, the wealth on display is incredible, super yachts, massive mansions, Mercedes everywhere and small country towns with a Tiffany's, YSL etc etc on the main street. We had a great day out exploring the Hamptons, home to Steven Spielberg and many others, stunning picture postcard towns, clean, wooden houses and if you want water front expect to pay US$15- 25m even in times of down turn like now! If that's too much you can rent one for the summer for around US$250k. (www.corcoran.com if you want to perve)

The weather is an interesting blend at present, either hot, sunny and gorgeous or grey, raining and genuinely cold, we really want to get to Newport but then it will definitely be time to turn southwards. The greyer the day the more inclined we are to read Caribbean crusing guides and plan the winter trip!

We have just uploaded a whole new gallery of photos too.
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Thursday, August 2, 2007

We Woke Up In A City That Never Sleeps!

Port Washington, New York
40 49.6N 73 42.9W

WOW! What a day. We left Sandy Hook early this morning and sailed/motored up to New York City. The first major landmark was the Verazzano Narrows Bridge, huge, spectacular and as soon as you go under it you can see the towers of Manhattan off in the distance.

As we progressed up the harbour through the commercial traffic the Statue Of Liberty started to come into view and then almost suddenly we were right there, astonishingly in the era of terrorism you can still sail right up to it, we were in company with another boat so spent quite a while motoring around in front of it for one of the great the photo opportunities of the world. It was very strange to be here, somewhere so familiar and have sailed there rather than flown.

The tides on the East River are pretty fierce, so we unfortunately had a to tear ourselves away, we motored on past Ellis Island and up to The Battery for more photographs and then right off the ferry terminal, 100 metres from Battery Park, our engine died! There we were no power, no wind, lots of ferries and commercial boats and four knots of current washing us towards the rocks! First job was to throw the anchor over which thankfully dug in and stopped us, next thing was to think how much money it would cost to get towed to a marina in NYC and pay for the repair bills. Nothing motivates like the back pocket so it was time for swearing and spanners.

Luckily I soon worked out that some idiot had turned off the port fuel tank valve in Atlantic City and not turned it on again (once I find out who sneaked onto the boat and did that he will be in dreadful trouble!) and so we had simply run out of fuel. I turned the tank back on, bled the fuel system, and a much sweatier, smellier but greatly relieved person emerged on deck to give Linda the good news. Meanwhile she had been sitting on deck watching ferries flash past 3 feet away swearing at the bloody idiots anchored in NYC, and waiting for the arrival of a SWAT team to take down the terrorists! We had radioed on Ch16 about ten times that we were immobilised, had called Coast Guard and Water Police but on one of the busiest harbours in the world not one response!

We lifted the anchor, which thankfully wasn't attached to any dead bodies and then returned to relaxed cruising as we motored under the Brooklyn Bridge, past the UN, the Empire State, Roosevelt Island etc etc and through the infamous Hell Gates and out into Long Island Sound. As an aside there is a ludicrous anti terrorism law saying you can't get within 150 yards of the UN building in a boat or they will intercept you and can use "lethal" force but you can drive underneath it in a truck on the public freeway! Thus the delegates are saved from yachties throwing stones at them (I am guessing a rocket launcher has a range over 150 yards) but are still subject to the threat of a truck bomb!

We are now in Port Washington, the town they filmed Meet The Parents in, and will stay here a few days while we explore New York City on foot and pick up the next set of visitors.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We Can See New York!

Sandy Hook, New York
40 28.1N 74 00.8W

We left Cape May and went to Atlantic City, mainly to break the journey to New York as we still have no wind and the sound of the motor gets a bit much after a while. Hmmmm Atlantic City, "Vegas by the Sea" or "Southend by the Cultural Desert"?

The Trump Marina Casino was undoubtedly the best view of a way of life I wish I had remained ignorant of - thousands of badly dressed little old people, half of them on electric scooters or pushing Zimmer frames pouring cash into noisy pokie machines or queueing for the buffet. The fashions are truly horrific and half the people appear to be dressed like homeless people ie in whatever they could find, who would think to match business shoes and black socks with football shorts and singlet for a night at the high rollers table? In fairness some had made an effort - high waisted salmon pink pants with matching burgundy polo shirt with salmon pink trimming, topped off with running shoes, or how about an Eva Longoria style velvet track suit tight in all the right places to show off that hip replacement Hal paid for last fall (pun intended).

The Board Walk was slightly better, but I won't be including it in my new book "A Hundred Million Things To See Before You Die"

Last night we upped anchor and set sail (motor) for New York, we had a great trip under a full moon and even managed to sail for a few hours, caught a nice fish and arrived at Sandy Hook at 7am, as we rounded it, there was the Verazzano Narrows Bridge and off in the smog Manhattan. We will leave tomorrow morning for the trip to Manhattan and up the East River, and once at an internet connection post some photos to all the last few posts and the gallery.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Our First Canal Transit

Cape May, New Jersey
38 57.1N 74 52.9W

A long day today, we left at 7am and motored through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, it's 20 miles long and about 200 metres wide but luckily we only had to pass one large ship, this was particularly good luck as once we got into the canal we had 3 knots of current with us making turning round not an option and it promptly became foggy!

After the canal transit we swapped the scenic joys of Chesapeake Bay for the New Jersey shore of Delaware Bay, power stations and swamps, more Lowry than Constable this time.

Delaware Bay is annoying, it has strong currents, and is shallow everywhere other than the shipping lane and that is surprise surprise full of ships bound for Philadelphia. Then when you arrive at Cape May you have to go about 5 miles out to sea to avoid sand banks and then back again before you can anchor. We finally dropped anchor as it was going dark at 9pm in an ugly channel with strong currents and a Coast Guard training centre who woke the recruits at dawn to the sound of bugles, and ran round chanting US Military style!
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

We Actually Left

Top End Of Chesapeake Bay
39 29.9N 75 55.4W

After 36 nights anchored in Annapolis we finally left. We had joked that something would break and we would be stuck after all our farewells, and sure enough as the anchor hit the bow roller Linda shouted out that she had no steering! We immediately dropped the anchor again and went to investigate, luckily it was a simple one, while shoving stuff in the lazarette to leave we had knocked the bypass valve on the hydraulic steering open, so the fix was simple and we were able to leave as planned.

Surprise surprise for Chesapeake Bay - no wind, so we motored the whole way up the Bay for 50 miles to the entrance to the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. On the way we passed under the famous Bay Bridges, and sweltered in phenomenal heat, the thermometer under the dodger hitting 50 degrees in early afternoon!

Despite the heat and the motoring it was still great to be on our way again.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Annapolis We See When We Don't Work

Harness Creek, Annapolis, Maryland
38 56.1N 76 30.5W

We have now been in Annapolis since the 20th of June, all the time in the same anchorage. As well as the boat work mentioned last entry and hundreds of smaller tasks, we have had a chance to explore a bit and had a couple of visitors.

The particular anchorage we have been staying in is a paradise during the week, we are usually the only boat, however every weekend 50-100 stink boats with as many people as you can legally fit on turn up, anchor so close that when they jump in for a swim you get wet on our boat, and inflate every type of pool toy known to man. Luckily everyone also goes home for the night so by 9pm peace has returned and the Jerry Springer style whooping has stopped!

We had originally planned on spending July 4th in New York, but it ended up being Annapolis instead. We went into town and after a couple of pints of Guinness watched the Independence Day Parade. We were greeted with a small town America procession of Yankee Doodle costumes, Corvettes, Fire Trucks, dogs and local dignitaries - high point for us as bean counters was Senator Oxley of Sarbanes- Oxley fame! The band concert was canceled because of the rain, but we did get to watch the fireworks from the deck of our boat and although we have become rather accustomed to an Opera House being in front of fire works, they were still good.

Once the work finished we had visitors, Roger Wilson arrived for the weekend to avoid installing cable TV, phone lines, internet etc etc in the new house in Philadelphia (I have since heard they have RWC coverage on cable so we will be there most of September/October). Then we had a visit from Linda's parents for 10 days, all went well, Gabby has a boat phobia so it was a great effort to be on board that long. While they were here we made shameless use of their car to do provisioning runs, pick up spare parts etc etc as well as a day trip into Washington DC. Washington was excellent, we will go back again in the autumn to do it more justice. This trip we took in the Capitol Building and the White House where we saluted George W in the appropriate manner for a man of his standing.

We didn't have time to see the Smithsonian Museums but they will be much better suited to cold October days we think.

We have mixed feelings about moving on as you do when cruising, everyone has been so friendly and kind to us here, offers of car rides to anywhere, meals at home etc etc flow endlessly. We have had free access to a dinghy dock at a kayak rental office, lifts from the Chandlery staff and probably best indicator of all of the spirit of the place was a parting gift of home grown cucumbers and tomatoes from the local Policeman who has been keeping a look out for us while we were here.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back To Work

Harness Creek, Annapolis, Maryland
38 56.1N 76 30.5W

Well how prescient I was saying we would stay here a while and do some chores! We are still here!

We decided it was a great place to repair the genoa track that had lifted while sailing north, after nearly 3 weeks of solid work it is fixed. We realised early on that it was a much bigger repair than anticipated, as we had to remove a fair amount of teak trim from the outside of the hull to get to the problem. This was all very scary, so we made some initial enquiries for a professional job, the quotes came back in the $5000-$10,000 mark so we we had little choice but to do it ourselves. We got good advice from Andy via the phone in Hong Kong and we are now prouder and richer, but looking forward to a holiday (poor us I hear you say!)

More updates soon on what we have been doing since we arrived here.
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Chesapeake Bay

Harness Creek, Annapolis, Maryland
38 56.1N 76 30.5W

It's now nearly 3 weeks since we left Norfolk. We have cruised slowly north along Chesapeake Bay and for the first time have had the chance to be away from towns and have cruised the rural areas of Virginia and Maryland. It's a beautiful part of the world, the countryside is quite English, very green after Australia, and covered in woodland, fields of cows and beautiful expensive looking water front weekend retreats.

The weather has been very hot and still, so a lot of motoring, the only time the wind appears is during the frequent thunderstorms. We tend to get one every 3 days, and one huge one a week. This means that one minute you are anchored in a beautiful creek sipping a beer the next you have 50-60 knots of wind and dragging boats everywhere. So far we have stayed put each time, but a couple of weeks ago we had a big 53' boat miss us by only a few feet as it careered past dragging the anchor at 1am. Means we get the passage style feel of being woken up in the night even though we are day sailing.

We have had visitors from New York, met Tim's "cousin in law" who is also sailing here, and hopefully have a couple more visitors over the next few weeks, so are managing not to get bored of each other just yet ;-)

We arrived in Annapolis on Wednesday, and spent a great day yesterday exploring the area. There are thousands of boats here, but not Fort Lauderdale style ones, just normal sailing and power boats. The town itself is beautiful, winding streets, 18th century houses and lot's of nice looking restaurants that we must try, not having been to one for 3 weeks. It's an easy walk from the anchorage to the supermarket, bottle shop and West Marine so we may stay here a week or so and do some boat chores in between the tours and eating.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Safely Arrived In Chesapeake Bay

Norfolk, Virginia
36 50.7N 76 18.0W

The rest of the trip from Charleston, was equally as uneventful, we managed to sail the last 24 hours which was a nice change from the noise of the motor. The big highlight was to finally land our first Mahi Mahi, have never hooked one in Australia and they fight well above their weight so after losing about 3 on the way here it was very satisfying to let this one run and finally bring it on board after a 20 minute wrestle. (Photo in previous entry)

We arrived tired but happy after completing our longest ever passage successfully (450 nauticl miles in 72 hours), we found we slept much better than on any previous passages, so were if anything less tired than after a single night at sea.

We have made our way down the river to Norfolk and plan to stay here a week or so as our boxes will finally arrive from Australia after their 6 month holiday. That will mean Linda, me, Charlie the cat, the boat and all our belongings will actually all be in the same place for the first time in 6 months.

Once we have our stuff and now we are north of Cape Hatteras we have absolutely no goals or deadlines which is strange. So we will just slowly make our way up Chesapeake Bay exploring the various waterways and then if the mood takes us head up to New York and New England.
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Monday, May 28, 2007

Round The Carolina Capes

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
35 03.7N 75 18.4W

After 48 hours at sea we have just rounded Cape Hatteras, still a small matter of 135m to go before we are safely in Chesapeake Bay but the conditions at the moment are about perfect, we have a nice SW wind and are sailing at 5-6kts with 1-2kts of current from the Gulf Stream helping us along. The other milestone is we are just about to complete our 1,000th mile on Matsu, we did 5,000 cruising on Blue Lady so still a lot of sailing to do to catch up.

We have had to motor quite a lot, only sailing for about 15 out of those 48 hours, but the sun is out the sea pretty calm and we have caught two tuna, and now a Mahi Mahi so we have stocked the freezer up to enjoy it over the coming weeks.
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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Grand Ol South

Charleston, South Carolina
32 46.6N 79 57.2W

We have just completed our first week in Charleston, we have been waiting for a weather window to move north, but also enjoying a great city, very grand and very beautiful.

We arrived last Thursday after motoring all the way from Brunswick. It took us 26 hours and was quite an eye opener to the world of cruising for our visitors. Great weather forecast, but the wind never appeared, sufficiently bad that we ended up with no sails up at all as they were completely pointless. At least we now know the engine works well!

We hired a car for a day trip to Savannah, Gareth and I worked there for the summer in 1988 and I was really excited to go back and see it again. For those who haven't been it is the quintissential southern city, and well worth watching Midnight In The Garden Of Good and Evil just to see it. We strolled the streets and squares, had a beer in a pub we used to go to 20 years ago, and even found the restaurant Gareth and I used to work in. Sadly it has changed hands a few times, but still brought back memories of drunken fun times.

Our visitors drove back to Canada and since then we have walked the streets of Charleston, another stunning place, lot's of interesting alleys and streets and we have hit a period with two festivals on.

As well as enjoying Charleston there are a bunch of boats here waiting for weather windows to either head north or back across the Atlantic, so we have been doing the standard cruising thing of repairing each others boats and drinking in the evenings. We plan to leave tomorrow for the 450 mile trip to Chesapeake Bay, it's our longest passage yet by far, at least 3 nights at sea and we have to round the infamous Cape Hatteras so all very exciting.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

In A Marina!!

Brunswick, Georgia
31 08.9N 81 30.0W

We arrived here yesterday after a day sail up from St Mary's, we planned on anchoring and moving on, but the harbour is not great for that so we ended up going in to Brunswick Landing Marina for the night.

As you can see from the photo Josette was very excited to hit dry land at last! Charlie was equally pleased after 31 days at anchor he ran off to explore the marina and roll in the grass.

Since the last update we have been to Cumberland Island again with the guests, just as good second time round, more ruins, saw an alligator which made me happy I hadn't been for a swim, and on a less ecological note a nuclear sub.

We leave tomorrow for an overnight sail to Charleston, SC and to show Jo and Chris what life aboard is like we will force them to stand watch with us all night, so hello to the world of 3 hours sleep.
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