October 24, 2016

Conversation With A Boat

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

A. A. Milne - Winnie The Pooh

Leaving my boat in dry storage last week was a tough decision.  After 6 months of this cruising lifestyle you grow accustom to the daily adventures, new blessings, scenic wonders, and simply communing with all the environmental elements and characters along the way. It's hard to know just when to quit and take a little break for a while. Just because I was ready to do so does not mean my boat was ready for this drastic change.  I tried to console her.  It went something like this."

“Listen, hear me out please.  I know I left you high and dry in a podunk little town called Deltaville, Virginia.  This will all work out I promise.  But you gotta hear me out, girl.  Please.”  

“Yes, it’s true, I confess.  I listed you for sale on the internet last month.  It was sneaky I know, but it was during the time I was working the Annapolis boat show, and it seemed like a good thing at the time.  What came over me, I’m not sure.  I guess I was tempted by all those shiny, sexy sloops on display there.  I couldn’t help it. It was just a little fling, I’m telling you.  It meant nothing.  You see, I had these wild visions of a larger and shinier version of Glory Days with more space, more gadgets, more bells and whistles!  I couldn’t help it.  I caved. But you gotta hear me out, girl.” 

“Now I sit here in the Richmond International Airport hoping to catch a standby flight back to Atlanta while you are like a fish out of water, literally, 82 miles away.   You must be scared all alone out in that gravel parking lot tonight.   But like I said, hear me out, please.   And when you do, I think you will see my side of the situation a little better and why I do the things I do. I’m not a perfect person. I make lots of mistakes, and I have many areas I need to improve upon.” 

In some ways flying "standby" is similar to waiting for the wind to blow into your sails.  It takes patience.  You know the wind will eventually come, and you know you will eventually get there one way or the other, but you have to wait it out sometimes.   That's the case today as I sit for my 6th hour on standby in the Richmond airport waiting for the wind to fill my sails.  

Thankfully, we sailors don't get in a hurry very often and we just wait for the perfect situation to get us there in the perfect time.  I make that statement with tongue in cheek because just this morning I was working like mad man, NOT like the laid back sailor dude on island time that I claim to be. 

“You saw me. It was crazy!  I was rushing around feverishly trying to get you fully prepared, cleaned up, closed up, and properly winterized, only to leave you all alone on the shores of Chesapeake Bay for the bitter winter while I flee. Rest easy girl.  This is not boat prison.”

“This final day began at 4:30 a.m.  Knowing I had an 8:30 a.m. appointment to haul you out, I questioned whether I could actually get it all done in time. The “to-do” list for the past two days seemed impossible:  Remove the new jib sail.  Fold it. Stow it. Clean the dinghy. Deflate the dinghy. Stow the dinghy. Recycle the oil changed from the engine. Winterize the outboard. Put away the dodger. Winterize the diesel engine. Change the transmission fluid. Storm wrap the main sail. Make 4 trips to do laundry. Drain out the generator fuel. Storm wrap the bimini top. Clean the head. Snap on the hatch covers. Get rid of food and fluids. Secure the halyards. Storm wrap the helm cover.” 

“The list goes on and on…Fill out the service report, pay the marina, pack guitar things up, store anchors below, clean out the anchor locker, drain the water tanks, hose down the decks, stow all the dock lines, service all four batteries, clean the cabin sole, remove all potential freezing fluids from boat, secure a lock line to the boom, close all through hull valves, barricade all through hull openings from critters, close all sea cocks, wipe down all floors, detail the counters, leave the beer with Clint, contact Vince about a ride to the airport and on and on.” 

“And this list does not even include packing my bags for a flight home.  What to take, what to leave behind?  Did I bring all my electronics, cameras, cables and chargers?  What did I leave behind? Since when did things get so complicated?  Will my engine and fresh water systems survive the cold brutal winter in Virginia? Did I miss anything?  I worry more than you will ever know, girl.” 

Needless to say, this usual slow moving sailor dude was moving more like a hyped-up wild man trying to get it all done in time before the deadline to the airport. If I was smart I would have allowed another full day to slowly do it all right and methodically.  But I’m not always that smart.

To top it off, it was an unusually hot day for late October and I was roasting from the weather and the pressure of wondering if I had forgotten anything or not. I was up till 11:00 the previous night changing the transmission fluid, replacing the Racor fuel filters, and flushing my cooling system with fresh new green antifreeze procured at the local Napa store.  Thank God the marina had a loaner car.

“Please Glory Days don’t give me grief about leaving you there just yet.  I’m working on 4 hours sleep just to get to where I am in a strange new airport with Georgia on my mind.  The previous 4 flights were full and I’m praying for a seat on the last flight out tonight. Patience grasshopper."

Once I completed my lengthy check list, I tossed my 3 bags and guitar into Vinnie's car, took a long deep breath and prepared to sit back and relax for the 90 minute drive to the airport. But I knew I must be loosing my mind because in my rush I realized I had forgot to put on a freaking shirt! Here I am half naked going to catch a plane. You can’t get on a jet plane with no shirt! You can’t even enter the airport! Hold everything!

So here I am back on the rickety ladder up to the deck, unlock the hatch, climb in, and grab the cleanest dirty 
T-shirt I could find in the pile. Finally fully dressed I drop dead in the passenger seat and say go Vinnie go. 

The fact of the matter is, I underestimated all the infinite little details required for closing up a vessel for long term winter storage.  I just hope I didn’t forget anything critical as a result of my half cocked get away.  WRONG! It suddenly hit me.

About 10 miles down the road to Richmond, I realized I had failed to have my toilet’s holding tank pumped out!  Crap! (literally!).  The solid waste holding tank is not something you want freezing into a shit-brick to split the side of your holding tank then ooze out into bilge with it’s fragrant thaw at the first sign of springtime.  

I called the marina and thankfully the folks at Deltaville Yachting Center were cool about it and said they would take care of the pump out, so not to worry. 

Can I finally relax now I asked myself? 
If I missed something it will just have to be. I left in such a rush I failed to say goodbye and properly tell my Glory Days just why and how this decision to leave her behind all came to be. “Like I said dear, hear me out, please.”

Leaving my Pearson 33 on the hard (dry storage) on this 21st day of October was sort of like saying goodbye to your first lover at some international airport, not sure when you'll ever meet again. 

If boats have hearts, and I’m quite sure they do, I'm betting she's sitting there thinking what the heck is going on Skipper?  She is saying, “I take you safely over 4000 miles through sun and shimmer, I never let you down. I provide you feelings and experiences to die for, and now you leave me in this dusty gravel parking lot so you can go home on the land just to make music and work on your precious writing projects?! Well you can just kiss my stern!” 

“What about ME?!  What am I supposed to do now?!  I might just sit here and rust if you are not careful Skipper.  How would you like THAT when you return? Rust never sleeps you know." 

"So you’re walking out on me today when you know good and well that I need a new bottom job and some fresh paint on my booty? It’s been two years since the last bottom job you know.  And don't forget, my elbow exhaust hose is toast, and what about that replacement rigging we talked about?”

“And that new radar system you promised me?  I'll tell you another thing Skipper, this mainsail is getting mighty flimsy and you'd better think seriously about getting us a new one before you take off on another of your ocean gallivants if you want me along.  And don't forget, we’ve been to the Bahamas, we’ve to the Keys, up and down the whole east coast of Florida twice! We’ve even been up the Chesapeake, and now you think you can just sashay up here next spring and take me on a brand new saga to New England? I don't think so! You've got a lot of nerve Buster!”

“You're breaking my heart but I'll take care of you, Skipper,  you know I will.  And I'll cut you some slack while you leave me here to "rest" as you say. Because luckily, I love you Skipper. And I do understand your need to see your loved ones, work on your arts and pay your respect to the mainland.  Mainland?! Heh, what a joke!"

And so I reply to her, “You’ve made a good point, girl. I know fully well that I have yet to post all the cool photos and stories of us cruising the Chesapeake Bay together.  And believe me, it’s been a summer to remember. I assure you the Chesapeake photos are coming to the blog soon, and you won't be disappointed. Back off please.  Everyone will see how good you look, where you took me and the travels we shared!"  Good times are never forgotten."


"We really saw some good times this year I know. Over 1200 miles from May to October will never be taken lightly girl.  Thanks for hearing me out.  Like I said, this is not boat prison.  You have a great waterfront view here of the Broad Creek.  Try to relax… and maybe forgive me?”  

“Okay Skipper, now that you've explained yourself, I really do understand. I was just sad and hurt to see you go. Seriously, don’t worry about me, I'll just wait here in the rain and cold next to these other abandoned lovers like Indian Summer, Serendipity, Nemo, Karpata, Eagle II, Miss Molly, Wind Dancer, Tranquility, and Someday Came."  
“You go on Skipper and have your fun and I'll be right here where you left me when you get back and are ready for some more loving."  

"But you know something? You could of at least kissed me goodbye and maybe scraped a few barnacles off my bottom before you left me here all winter!  I’ll miss you too. We'll do some real sail raisin' when you get back.”

October 1, 2016

Chesapeake Bay Believer - Part 1 of 5

"Chesapeake Bay is like a beautiful woman.  There's no humiliation from which she cannot recover."
- James Michener, Chesapeake 

Where does one start when trying to describe the scale, magnitude and stately vibe of the Chesapeake Bay?  

Sailing solo again, I had an epiphany this month that just won't let go. 

After clearing Norfolk, VA, it didn't take long for me to "get it" and begin to understand.  I now know why the Chesapeake is such a magical destination and a desired home port for so many fellow cruisers I've had the pleasure to meet over the past 3 years on the water.

Saying there is just "nothing like it" falls so short of explaining it all.  The Bay embodies all the natural beauty, maritime history, and American nostalgia of our great country. 

It's the largest bay in the U.S. and has so many diverse little towns, rivers, and hidden anchorages that it would take years to explore her properly.  I suppose this is why she is home to so many sailboats that reside here full time year after year.  I have just started to scratch the surface of this fairyland. 

In an attempt to capture the flavor of the ICW, I created this new music  video from a recent song I wrote called Life On The Waterway.  It's a small spark of what goes on here in this unique maritime environment.  Enjoy!

 (Click the bold link to view.)


Departing Norfolk on August 9, 2016 marked the beginning of entrance into the southern Chesapeake. Battleships flanked me on both sides as I passed by Hampton and into the Bay heading north.

Taking the tour of the U.S. Wisconsin proved to be an enjoyable and educational peek into our naval history.  I suppose this mother of a battleship is a killing machine in some people's eyes.  Or is she a protector of freedom?  Either way, she is an impressive testament to the power and engineering of her day.

This is the New Point Comfort Lighthouse located at the entrance to Mobjack Bay where I anchored the night on my way to Deltaville.
Wolf Trap Lighthouse
As I headed north in the bay I was enchanted with a series of old abandoned lighthouses scattered as navigation aids from days gone by.  Although these historic structures still stand, the human aspect has been replaced with automated technology.  

There are 71 lighthouses sprinkled throughout the Chesapeake Bay.  They are the home to decades of history where men lived in them and were on duty 24/7 keeping the light on for mariners. 

Now they stand as historic icons that still add charm and application for navigation in the bay but just without the human touch of keeping old fashion kerosene lights fueled. 

I marveled at how each lighthouse had its own architectural charm.  No two were alike. For your info, the little structure jutting off from the right side of this lighthouse above is the outhouse.

In Mobjack Bay I anchored in front of this antebellum home once owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  I tried to imagine John sitting on the front porch or at his waterwheel barn writing a new song.  The location seemed to have good energy and was very remote, so I seized the opportunity to anchor for a night to pay homage to the man and hero who died so senselessly. 

The following day I was sailing north, just minding my own business, when suddenly this craft passed me like a bat out of hell. She was racing across the surface of the water like something crazy.  I was spellbound by this crazy craft. 

Spray was flying everywhere like dust in a storm. I later found out this is an amphibious craft called a hovercraft. She is part of the U.S. Naval fleet used for making land assaults and was on a training exercise.  I was impressed to say the least.   

As I approached Deltaville, I was hampered by an infection in my thumb that just wouldn't heal.

The infection continued to spread and before long it was next to impossible to use my swollen hand without great pain. That makes it difficult to tie knots or reel in lines for sail adjustments.  

 A week before, a sharp little wire had jabbed into my thumb. At the time I didn't give it much thought. Infection soon crept in and before long just touching my thumb was incredibly painful. 

Pretty gross, huh?  But it did get better after the antibiotics kicked in as seen in 2nd photo... oooey gooey. Sorry for that.


To make matters worse I took a fall off the companionway steps and slammed the infected thumb into a doorway.  A litany of choice colorful words (that I'll not share here) bellowed from my lips! 

Thankfully when I arrived in Deltaville I met up with old friend Mike Vess who drove me to the local clinic.  I received a welcome dose of antibiotics and healing began in a matter of days. Mike lives aboard his boat, Ginny Lee.

Kids learn to sail and compete at an early age along the bay.  "Wild Thing!"
Regattas are a common site in these waters where ever you go. 

Pelicans take flight and never cease to amaze me.

The marina a Deltaville had a nice pool to enjoy on this hot August afternoon.  I had the whole place to myself.  After two nights in Deltaville, I moved further north another 40 miles to one of my favorite coastal towns, Solomons, Maryland where I would linger for a month.

The Patuxent River flows by Solomon's and is seen below.   They have a unique waterfront walkway that faces to the western sunset each day. 

Here lovers walk hand in hand and sneak kisses along the way.  Ice cream cones are in the hands of many.  Also in the hands of many others were cell phones...hordes of people along the walkway stared into their phone screens playing a new game I hear called Pokeymon or something like that.

 Evidently this particular area was crawling with invisible Pokeymons waiting to be captured. Personally I don't get it or care to. The game was out of control here and it seemed to me folks were missing out on the sunset in lieu of phone staring. 

Sometimes I do crazy things when I pass through another new town.  I tend to reach out to new folks I meet and ask a lot a questions.  This was the case when I discovered this solid oak coffee table at an antique store going out of business.  For some reason, I was taken by it, and the proprietor kept dropping the price.  

When he dropped the price to $20 I decided to buy it and pay for the shipping to send it back to Georgia!

It was a gorgeous table.  And when Wayne here offered to take me up to the local hardware store to have her shipped, well I was in too deep to turn back.  

I have found that people are friendly wherever you go, and usually enjoy helping out a new stranger in town like me. We couldn't find a box large enough so we bought two rolls of gorilla tape and wrapped the living shit out it until it was shippable.  Thanks Wayne for all your help and for the ride back to my boat!  

A peaceful anchorage indeed up the creek in Solomons.

Solomon's, Maryland is a cool little town with thousands of sailboats and great people.  I savored 3 more nights here before leaving my boat for the month and flying back to Atlanta to tend to some business and family affairs.

Glory Days was in good hands at Zanisers Marina, one of the best full service marine centers I've stayed at so far.  I also had them re-splice my anchor line here for good measure.

Here are some parting shots taken around Solomons in late August 2016.  In one month I would return with my sweetie, Sherry, to continue on to St. Michaels, Oxford, and Annapolis for the world's largest on the water sailboat show.

Time out.

 The sunsets on the Patuxent River never get old. 
But I do. 

 Solomons is a very quiet small town, but with a total boating community consciousness.
Children learn early here.
 Friendly folks are everywhere.

 And passionate boaters are commonplace.

Settle in and enjoy.
So long for now!

The next entry will be with my first mate, Sherry as we make our way up to St. Michaels, Oxford, and Annapolis

Take me high Lord.  So grateful.