Sunday, October 8, 2017

End of the 2017 Cruising Season

Blossom is all tucked away and prepped for her winter hibernation.

We went up to Baltimore last week to finish up a few tasks that we hadn’t had time to finish with our quick departure in September. It was beautiful in Maryland, with fall creeping around the corner, the temps dropping and leaves starting to hint at the colors to come.

We ended up finishing our work much more quickly than we’d expected and welcomed having some down time. This was especially true as we experienced yet another “boater’s small world surprise” and were able to meet up with old and new friends on our last night there. The back story: we had stopped by a fellow Nordy early this summer and said hello to Gary & Tina who were heading north for the summer. Other friends of ours, Tammy & Tom, recently left land life on the west coast and were cruising New England on their catamaran this summer. It seems the two were moored next to each other in Annapolis last week and got to chatting and realized they both knew us. A quick email “wish you were here” was replied with “oh my God, we are, for just 2 days!” And so we all went to a wonderful dinner together 😊 It was the best way to end our 2017 season!

While it still smarts a bit to be missing the gorgeous fall in the Chesapeake, we’re looking forward to digging in to continuing renovations on our home, spending our first fall in our new home town and to not traveling quite so much for a few months.

We wish everyone a fabulous fall and winter and look forward to returning to Blossom and the blog next April!

Boat Business: Final preparations included:
  • Pulling impellers from both generators and the wing engine. 2 of them had little life left so it was timely
  • Replaced all zincs
  • Cleaned out all the strainers
  • Washed down walls and ceiling with vinegar
  • Removed all batteries from all devices in the boat
  • Replaced Damp Rids
  • Put out ant and roach traps
  • Placed Sun Pacs (mildewcide) in all outdoor lockers
  • Turned off fresh water pumps and relieved pressure in all water lines

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Irma and a Change of Plans

Once again, I’m very behind on our blog. Well, our cruising season ending up taking a bit of a detour this year!  Here’s the scoop:

We returned the end of August from a (Fabulous!) vacation in Bordeaux, France. We stayed with friends aboard their boat and had the most amazing time...

 The water mirror in Bordeaux

 Boats in Bordeaux (that's the color of the water - solid silt!)

 Wine school and workshops...

 Yes, even cheese classes!

 Voyaging down the Garonne. Talk about current and silt!

 The French seaside village of Royan

A brief tour de Paris

As soon as we got back there was talk of Irma. We did a bit of sightseeing, like visiting the National Air and Space Museum in DC (which was amazing!!).

Blackbird and the Space Shuttle Discovery in the background, pretty darn cool

We decided, however, to stay in port as we watched her track and tried to make the best decisions as to what to do. It’s not an easy task when you don’t really know where it’s going to go until you’re about 3 days out. With a new home in St Pete, FL, a mother in SC and a boat on the Chesapeake, we were fearful that one or more would be a target of such a monster storm. We ended up renting a car and made sure my Mom was safe, returning to Blossom in case we needed to prepare her for high winds.

Then Irma moved west and we had a pretty miserable weekend as we waited to see what she would do to Florida. We crossed our fingers and I got little sleep but in the end, the storm spared our new city the worse of it as it passed the Tampa area as a Cat 1. My heart breaks for the folks who weren’t so lucky. News and video from the islands and southern parts of Florida and Puerto Rico are distressing to say the least.

As we were waiting to see what Irma would bring, we were also watching Jose, close on Irma’s heels with early models hinting a possible northern landfall. And thus, I reached the end of what little resiliency I have and we decided to pull the plug on our 2017 cruising season a bit early. I take full responsibility – the stress of having two homes and family spread over 1000+ miles, all potentially in harms way was too much. The idea was that if we could get Blossom out of the water and safe, we could better focus our energy. 

Blossom on her way to her hibernating home for the winter

I found a marina in Baltimore that could haul Blossom out and put her on the hard, in a storm-rated, heated shed. Initially they said we could stay until mid-Oct, when the winter boats would be coming in. Then they said that there was room and we could stay for the winter if we wanted. Anyone who’s hauled a boat knows it’s a harrowing experience so the thought of doing it once and letting her be was appealing. Though we’d played with the idea of bringing Blossom down to Florida this fall, the logistics were proving difficult because of our schedule and so we made the decision to end our season.  

We raced through 3 days of moving to Pleasure Cove Marina, hauling the boat and prepping her as best we could. Then we drove the 1000+ miles to St Pete.  We found our home in good shape and still with power and internet. We lost one sickly tree and had a messy yard - we were incredibly fortunate. I'm happy to be back in Florida for the rest of the season so we can board up if necessary and be properly prepared if the Gulf kicks up another storm this year.

We’ll be returning to Blossom for a few days in early October to finish prepping her. In defense of mold, mildew and all things stinky means I need to give her a proper vinegar wash down and put our anti-mildew packets in all the lockers. Martin has some work he’d like to do while she’s above ground and can access strainers and the like. We’ll post a final blog entry once that’s been complete.

Stay safe everyone!

Boat Business:
  • Oil changes. Martin changed the oil on the main, wing, and both generators
  • Bathroom sinks. Though Martin had done much investigative work, our sinks were still draining way too slowly. This time, we disassembled the drain in the sink and oh, let’s not in to detail. Suffice it to say, the sinks are clear and draining easily now! Give that man a beer…
  • Windshield Wipers. Blossom needed new ones so Martin replaced them.
  • Lines, Balls and Fenders. Impending storms motivated us to purchase a few things… We now have another gi-normous 3ft ball, 2 large horizontal monsters and 4 exceedingly expensive 1 inch storm lines. I don’t want to “bring it on” but if we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, we’re better prepared.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Guests Aboard

A beautiful evening at anchor

Look at that shine!

[Once again, I’ve fallen far behind on our blog. This entry is from early August.]

We returned to Blossom the last week of July to find her looking spectacularly shiny and sparkly! We had hired a local detailing company who came very highly recommended to wax and detail Blossom. They were almost finished when we arrived – we flipped her around as soon as we got in so they could finish off the hull.  Wow – she’s pretty 😊 

We were only back for 12 days but packed a lot of fun into that time. Our friends John & Steve came up from the DC area on Saturday and we had a wonderful time enjoying happy hour on the flybridge and dinner at Sam’s Waterfront.  Sunday we played pickle ball and provisioned for the week ahead. We only recently realized the marina will provide a shuttle to where we need to go so we took advantage and did a “heavy provisioning run”. The boat was bursting with wine, beer, juice, laundry detergent…the essentials.

The following Monday we welcomed our guests, as my Aunt Lori and Jim arrived to spend the week with us. We had such a fantastic visit with them!  We enjoyed a day at the marina and took the opportunity to introduce them to our two favorite games straight away - Mollky and pickle ball... 

Lori, Martin and Me

Lori & Jim at happy hour on Blossom :)

An evening aboard (Martin is sporting his new flamingo shirt)

And then set off to St. Michael's for a few days of R&R...

Driving from the fly bridge

Ladies in Charge

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was warm and sunny except in the evenings when huge storms skirted us so we had dry views of distance lightening. We walked the town, pounded crabs with mallets, kayaked, toured in the dinghy, fished, and enjoyed the Wednesday night beer can sailing races from the flybridge.  

A picture is worth a thousand words so they say, so here you go... :) (Thank you Lori & Jim for the photos!)

On way to town

Me and Martin, being dorky tenticle twinsies :)

The ladies kayaking

On our way to the crabs

The restaurant provided instructions but there was a couple sitting next to us that provided additional and very helpful instructions :)

This is how it's done

Let the fun begin!

Jim learns the ropes

And away he goes!

We had an amazing time with them and boy, Blossom felt lonely when they left later that week!

It seemed impossible that time could go by so quickly but suddenly we found ourselves prepping for another trip back to Florida where work was in full swing.

 Gratuitous sunset photo

 Boat Business: 
  • Sparkly. We’re really pleased with the wax and detail work we got. Blossom is so sparkly!
  • AC and Dehumidifying. We came back to a warm boat this time. It seems that the 50 amp  breaker we’re using for AC had popped. We had closed all the blinds and had the window screens on so the boat was fine but it was too damp for my liking. Since she kept reasonably warm and not hot, we decided to set up the dehumidifier and fans when we leave again. That way, if the AC goes off, at least she’ll stay dry inside and there’s less to worry about with the big AC pump off.
  • Updated the Maretron screens to the latest software version. This included functionality that Martin had requested to Maretron last year, so he was very happy!
  • KVH Satellite Phone. Dead again! Twice in less than 4 years isn’t a very good track record. Their customer service has been stellar but I wish the reliability of the product was better. We need to get it up and running by this fall. Martin has arranged for a swap "in-place". The replacement unit has arrived and Martin will be installing it this weekend.
  • Martin changed out the charcoal in the gray tank vent filter.
  • Fly Bridge Fridge. We don’t normally have this fridge on unless we have guests aboard. We used it this week and it was fantastic to have drinks and ice up top!
  • Blossom’s Bottom. We hired a diver to clean the bottom and check our zincs. We had noticed that she was running a bit hot during our run up. The diver confirmed that we had algae growth on the keel cooler, but very few barnacles. He did pull a few big barnacles out of the thruster tubes. Probably missed at the last cleaning when they were small. She ran much cooler when we ran her up this week.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Eastern Shore

Blossom at anchor in Glebe Bay

I’m afraid I’ve fallen a bit behind in the blog! This is from our last visit on Blossom in mid-July.  We returned to Annapolis after spending the 4th of July weekend in Upstate, NY, where I grew up. We had a wonderful time with family and friends and squeezed so much in to our visit, it was wonderful!

We’re getting into the routine of coming and going from Blossom. Our first day back we pull out the bikes, ride to the grocery store to provision and then clean the decks. It’s amazing how dirty a boat gets just sitting there without daily swabbings…

The weather was cooperative so we headed out the next day with the intention of visiting two anchorages to the south of us. We rounded the corner below Annapolis and went to Glebe Bay off of London Towne. Capt. George had told us there were a couple restaurants in the area and that it was scenic and well protected and we found this was very true! After a short, 2-hour cruise, we set the anchor and put Petal in the water.

A gorgeous ride to dinner

That evening we went over to Liberty Marina and then walked to Yellowfin Steakhouse for a lovely dinner.

The weather forecast took a bit of a turn that evening and we ended up staying put for the next 24 hours, cozy on the boat as a series of rainstorms passed through. It was wonderful! The temperature dropped into the mid-70s and we were able to open the boat up (as rain allowed) as well as enjoy the cockpit with no bugs. There was no point going to our next destination if we were boat-bound so we relaxed into a “rainy Sunday” frame of mind. I was able to pour over some of our renovation plans and actually got a lot done.

My view as we weigh anchor ;p

We had decided to return to the marina for a day or two over the weekend so we pulled anchor and set out around noon on Friday. That morning we spent our time glued to the radio, listening to a boating drama unfurl just north of us. A small express cruiser came onto the radio with an alarm blaring in the background as he called for assistance. He didn’t know what the alarm was (Martin expected high bilge pump because of it's ferocity), only that the engines wouldn’t start and they were drifting towards the shallows and there was a tanker nearby. As details emerged it got more and more dire-sounding – children aboard, bilge light on... Then engines working but boat is now listing, eek! It took a couple of hours to resolve but ended with the Coast Guard escorting the limping boat back to their marina. The Coast Guard are so fabulous – I couldn’t imagine boating without them - guardians of the water. Thank you!!

We enjoyed a 24-hour visit back in our marina.  We spent a wonderful evening with another Nordy couple who are docked there, Tina and Braun. I’m so happy we were able to see them before they headed out for more adventures. I say it all the time, but the fellow boaters we meet are extraordinary and truly make the boating lifestyle the joy that it is!

Blossom anchored off Oxford (2 photos cause she's looking pretty)

The next day we got up and as it was only 75 and cloudy (the best!!). We managed to get a game of pickle ball in before heading out. It was a busy day on the bay and we had a 4-hour cruise to our destination - Oxford, MD. We had plotted a big anchor circle on our charts in the perfect location and were bummed to find a big 100-footer anchored smack-dab in our hopeful spot. (Great minds… and all that!) There was plenty of room, however, and we anchored a bit south of them.

We dropped Petal and headed into town for dinner. Oxford is one of the oldest towns in Maryland, established in 1683.

Robert Morris Inn


Dinner at the Robert Morris Inn was fantastic (I can’t get enough of the Chesapeake crab cakes) and then we splurged and had dessert at the Scottish Highland Creamery. This little shop is ranked “Top 5 in US” on Trip Advisor and Top 10 Frozen Dessert Retailers in US. After a half hour wait in line (reminiscent of our wait for ice cream at Leopold’s in Savannah), I had a scoop of Girl Scout Samoas ice cream. Yup, it Was all that!

Oldest Privately-Operated Ferry Service in the US, also established in 1683

Our second day on the Tred Avon River we decided to explore. We took off in the morning and headed into Town Creek to see what the main drag was like. From across the way we noticed a Nordy – (we know our own!) and decided to investigate. And so we met Alan & Debbie aboard their beautiful boat. We had a lovely talk with them and realized afterwards that we’d both been in the Solomon’s at the same time.

Alan & Debbie's gorgeous Nordy

All along the way we saw eagles, osprey and gorgeous mansions decorating the shore. I have to admit, I’m on the lookout for “E9”.  I followed this eaglet’s start from his birth in January to his fledging in the spring in Fort Myers, FL. They said many young eagles from FL head to the Chesapeake to begin their adulthood. I enjoy the fantasy that E9 has flown above hunting for fish or carrion as we’ve passed by 😊

Views at anchor off Cambridge

We loved our time anchored off Oxford. The anchorage worked well for us though I can see other boats not enjoying the weekends there. It’s a conga line of power boats buzzing by with their wakes. With our heavy weight and a flopper line out we managed just fine though.

Blossom anchored outside of Cambridge, MD

Monday morning we were up early with the crabbers who were heading out to work. We pulled in the flopper and headed south to Cambridge, MD. There was little info on anchoring here but either side of the inlet looked like it would work on the charts, especially as the wind was coming from the SW and that’s the only direction the anchorage affords some protection from. We were a bit shocked that Cambridge looked so big! Many of the towns we’ve seen have been tiny, making Cambridge seem more of an urban area. It’s still a small town with a population of just over 12,000. There was a fair amount of (water) traffic going in and out of town and we were glad to be there on a Monday. I imagine it would have been just as "wakey" as Oxford had been on a weekend.

Cambridge by boat

We tendered in and tied up at the public dock/wall. It seems to be mostly a working town with lots of crab boats filling the harbor. After walking through town we had a drink and early dinner at Snappers. 

The next day we went out to explore in Petal again. We stopped by the Hyatt Marina/Resort just down the river to check it out. We can just fit in there with our 6’8” draft and it looks like a nice place to go if you want a vacation – 3 swimming pools (one covered), water toys, golf, bars and a restaurant.

Then we headed up river. The Choptank is a huge river that goes miles and miles to the east. We ran on plane for hours and covered over 35 miles. It’s amazing how wild and unpopulated the eastern shore is. We saw dozens of osprey (many with babies in their nests), swallows and miles and miles of green. Interspersed throughout the green were huge mansions/estates along the shoreline.

The wind picked up substantially on our way back to Blossom and we found ourselves in very lumpy conditions. We’ve now a coined a term for such dinghy rides – "Three B" ride. Pardon the language, it stands for Boob, Ball n’ Back Busting Ride. (It ended up with a 4th "B" the next day when we both had trouble getting out bed.)  It was a bit uncomfortable for both of us ;/

My chariot awaits me

Cambridge at sunset

Zombie apocalypse by paddle boards?

That evening we were having a glass of wine on the fly bridge when we noticed little dots slowly approaching from town. Binoculars showed a line of people creeping towards us on paddle boards. We both immediately thought "zombies". I think we're both a bit twisted or maybe we were just out of sorts from our ThreeB experience earlier that day.  In the end they veered off and ultimately proved to be an innocent group of tourists enjoying a sunset paddle.

We returned to our marina next to pick up my Mom who came by for a few days :) We cruised over to St Michael's to show her our new favorite place in the Bay.

Mom on the fly bridge

Gorgeous views, anchored outside St Michael’s

We had a wonderful time anchored off St. Michael's. The anchorage was crazy busy when we arrived (on a Saturday).  It’s such a wonderful town and this time we enjoyed an amazing Afternoon Tea at the Inn at Perry Cabin.  Alan & Debbie were anchored there as well and we got to say hi to them again!

Enjoying a ride to town in Petal

Blossom at St Michael's

There were many more boats anchored here this time

Blossom as seen from the grounds at the Inn

Evening clouds building back at the marina

And so we wrapped up a great few weeks on the boat. Then it was time to head back to our land home where work is really coming along on our yard and garage/apartment.

Boat Business: It was a slow time for working on the boat.

  • Petal. Running along the Choptank River gave a good indication of our range on Petal. We weren’t sure how far we’d be going so we packed our spare 5-gallon gas jug. We ran about 35 miles on plane in lumpy seas and used just a bit over half a tank of gas. Not bad!
  • Flopper Stoppers. Putting out 1 flopper was adequate for even the rolly anchorages we were in. We prefer 1 flopper if we can get away with it because deploying the starboard flopper creates a walking hazard along the starboard walkway. One of us has an amazing ability to smack [his] head on things so using the port side only saves a bit of pain 😊
  • Master Bath Window. This window just happens to be at chest height – not terribly convenient if you’re showering in a marina… We’ve covered it with a more opaque, decorative window film but after 3 years it was looking ragged. Martin replaced it and it’s back to looking pretty.