My Last Month abord New Boat!
I just got back to work offshore yesterday and that means that I have been separated from my new boat after a month of a good mixture of sailing, working and learning. Sorry turned into a short novel, but a lot has happened and I wanted to share my experiences with the only thing I missed about not having the internet while sailing for a month… all of you at Sailnet!
I got down to Edgewater, MD right before Memorial Day weekend and most of the weekend was spent with my parents and girlfriend cleaning out down below from the previous owner and getting to know the boat while tied up. We finally took her out for a sail on Sunday, destination White Hall Bay, just north of Annapolis to meet up with a friend on his dad's Bristol. Fueled up and here headed out for a picture perfect day. We motored out of the South River and sailed the rest of the way up the Chesapeake on mostly a reach and anchored her for the first time in White Hall Bay. Was on anchor for a little over an hour with about 10 other boats in the same area when some dark clouds started forming in the distance. They turned into lightening and in about 10 minutes or so a little squall was heading right our way. Two boats drug anchor and just missed our stern and my buddies bow and at that point we started dragging. Luckily the engine was already on with my dad at the wheel I got sick of trying to figure out the manual windlass so I just started pulling up the anchor by hand in the now pouring rain. We got out of there and luckily had a guide in the Bristol to lead us into Annapolis Harbor through crab traps, rain and lightning. Once in the harbor, the lightning cleared out and wind died back down, but was still raining a bit and all the moorings were taken. Its not what you know but who you know.... I was told to pull right into a slip at the Annapolis Yacht Club by my friend on the Bristol and didn’t ask any questions. The boat was definitely spoiled on her first 'port call' though to be docking at such a prime location!
Left first thing in the morning per my buddies suggestion and got back to Edgewater around noon for my first attempt of backing her in to the slip. It took a few tries and luckily one of our neighbors at the marina was there to take a line to help things along, but we got her in without hitting anything and a successful maiden voyage in the books.
A family friend, who just graduated from college and is going to be taking a year of "life and cruising experience" aka being a boat bum on board my boat came down on Monday night and we began a week of work on her while still in the water. Wednesday was too nice of an afternoon to sit at the dock, so we took her out with no real plan. Once we got on the Chesapeake we had a perfect reach to Annapolis so that is where we were headed. Sailed past all the Wednesday Night Racers and into Annapolis Harbor. As we were heading into the Harbor to pick up a mooring the entire fleet was starting to head in to the finish, so we got a great view of the action (and a crunching collision!) once we got on the mooring ball. After quite a few "last drinks" of the night at the Annapolis Yacht Club and elsewhere we got a dinghy ride back to the boat by a friend, caught a few hours sleep and were off and motoring back to the South River by 5am. She got hauled out and stored around 10 on Thursday the 31st and we took the weekend off.
My dad and I headed back down to Edgewater from Cape May on Monday the 4th to start prepping for painting the bottom and cleaning the topsides. While I wet sanded off the stains from the Lady Bug stickering (not fun at all, I might add) my dad compounded above the water line and put a coat of bottom paint below the water line.
On Tuesday we had reinforcements from my buddy and his dad. Between the four of us on Tuesday and two of us on Wednesday we did 2 coats of bottom paint, raised the water line an inch and put a red tape boot stripe water line on her, compounded the topsides with 2 different compounds, renamed her, and waxed the entire topsides.
The boat was supposed to go back in Wednesday afternoon, but due to scheduling problems, the marina ran out of water in their well to put us back in.... oh well, still enough time for setting sail for Cape May on Saturday morning the 9th....or was there???
We got her back in the water Thursday morning and had a mechanic come look at the engine mid morning. Most everything checked out well except for his report of water in our fuel tank/filter. He said we were lucky the engine hadn’t seized up and recommend we get a fuel pump out service over to filter the fuel and get the water out. While on the boat he changed out the secondary fuel filter and oil filter, but took the main fuel filter and said he was going to replace it with a Racor because it was an odd model in there. He said he could come back after the fuel gets filtered, which we were hoping was going to be able to get done the next morning. Finally got a call back from the fuel filter people an hour after the mechanic left, they said they had a cancellation and could be there at 8 am. So I very happily called the mechanic back to let him know he could come anytime after 10 the next morning.... he said he would have to check his appointment book when he got back to the office and would call me in the afternoon to let me know. No call by the afternoon, I left a message on his work and cell phones and was hoping for a call in the AM.
Friday: Original plans for the day: Fuel Up, get supplies for the weekend, pick up girlfriend from bus station, prepare for BBQ on boat for about 12 people, get good nights sleep.
Friday what really happened: The fuel pump out/filter guy showed up on time but without having his coffee and was pretty cranky while he set up his gear. He finally started to warm up to us and while his operation was underway and I was sowing in some battens into the mainsail I got a message from the mechanic that he is all booked and will come out Monday morning to install the new filter. Just about when I got this bad news the fuel filter guy is in my other ear telling me that there is hardly any water in the tank and he doesn’t know what the mechanic is talking about.... AGGGGGGGG. I have kept telling myself better safe than sorry.
The fuel filter guy leaves around 10 and my buddy and I are trying to figure out what to do. We at first figure that we could just leave on Monday and it won’t be the end of the world as long as we could find on other guy to go along with us. Then the idea comes to us that we could try to install the new filter. But we had no idea what kind we needed to buy, so I call the mechanics office and leave a message for him asking what filter he was planning on installing. After about half an hour his secretary called back and let me know the model number, which was the same one we had guessed at... brilliant! haha.
This was the first of what I imagine will be many times in the future that I was saved and shown the helpfulness and kindness of other cruisers. As I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing to install the new filter, I asked a cruiser named Owen who had been completely refitting his entire 43’ boat at the marina to look over my shoulder while I went to install the filter so that I didn’t screw anything up being my first time. He gladly agreed and immediately saw that the fittings going into the old filter were different than the ones needed to go into the new one. So he offered to go down to West Marine with me to get the necessary fittings (I am sure he could tell at this point I needed some help haha). Went to West, he charged the fittings to his account and we were heading back to the boat. He oversaw me getting the filter installed, instructed us to prime it when finished and then the engine should be ready to start up. Well we got it installed and primed, but the engine wouldn’t start. At this point, I was already late to pick up my chica, soaked in sweat and frustrated. On the way to my car, I let Owen know that we couldn’t get the engine to start and that my friend was still on the boat if he could swing back over at his convenience. Its about 4pm now, I am on my way to the bus station, family and friends are on the way to the boat and we cant get her to start with a hopeful departure time at 8am the next morning…I am officially starting to stress out. Just as I get back to the marina I get a call from my friend on the boat and he is holding it up to the engine purring away. What a relief! My mood changed right away, which my girlfriend was very glad about to say the least! I guess during the fuel flush there were air pockets that had built up that Owen was able to release and get her going. I was grateful to him to say the least and he and his wife joined us for dinner and drinks onboard that night. Friday didn’t go exactly as planned, but it left me with a bunch of memories and some new friends.
I was glad that they came, because they were the hit and main entertainment of the night. He being from Tanzania and her from Malaysia, they each had their share of sea stories on their cruising around the world. I am very much hoping to meet up with them in the Bahamas next winter!
Saturday the 9th Set Sail for Cape May & Moms B-Day: Crew of myself, my dad, friend & his dad and my girlfriend. Because we couldn’t fuel up on Friday we had to wait for the fuel dock to open at 9 to do that. That gave us time to bless the ‘Marabelle Ann’ with a prayer and christen her with champaign on the bow before we let go of the lines at the slip bound for Cape May. The champaign bottle was a clean break over the anchor minus a small cut on my hand.
Fueling up and pumping out the holding tank proved to be more of an ordeal than it should have been. To make a long story short my dad got hosed with diesel which required some clean up for the boat up top and for him to hop in the shower.
We were underway at 9:30 and able to set sail on the South River and reach out. It ended up being a long day on the Chesapeake beating against a 12-18 kt breeze with the current against us most of the day. At least the sun was shining and it was nice and warm. Just as we were heading for layline of the Bay Bridge and about to tack I look behind us and see a Coast Guard rigid inflatable with a machine gun mounted on the bow and blue lights on behind us and signaling that they wanted to come in. We tacked, they came alongside, my dad had a fit, I told him to quite down, two CG boys came onboard, I went below grabbed documentation, Navy ID, and license for the inspection. Once I handed them my Navy ID they began to sir me and things went smooth from there, with the only deficiency not having current flares. We got some good pictures of our first official boarding so it made for a memorable experience.
We had replanned our voyage so we could meet my mom and her friend for dinner at a marina along the way. I forget what small river it was off the top of my head, but it was south of the Sassafras and as we were approaching the narrow cut into the harbor we started bumping on luckily a muddy/sandy bottom. After 5-10 minutes of coaxing, we were able to get her off and back on our way. We then decided to head for the C&D Canal, get through and dock at Delaware City Marina, which was the original plan, for a few hours sleep and get underway for Cape May first thing in the morning. Around midnight the dads went below for some zzz’s. We got to the C&D around 1am met a few tug and barges (one barge didn’t have its port light on and it ended up being a lot closer than I originally thought, and am glad I was hugging the south side of the Canal) and got out and to the entrance to DE City Marina at 3ish. Well, upon trying to enter there at night and without local knowledge we again bumped just to the right of the lone green channel marker. Luckily again it was mud on the bottom so I backed off and looked at my half awake crew and said, “On the Way to Cape May” (it’s a local song in NJ). I told everyone to go down and get some sleep and I would take her till daybreak. My girlfriend was a little sick throughout the day so she was well rested and stayed up with me. It was a cool clear night on the DE Bay and we motored outside the greens all the way down. I headed below at day break, the dads came up along with the outgoing tide and we made it off of Cape May Canal by noon. Some spots got a little shallow in the Canal but we were able to squeeze under both bridges and through the railroad trestle.
We ended up docking at Two Mile Landing for a few days, staying on an overpriced mooring in considerable current there for a few more and then motoring up the ICW to Stone Harbor, NJ last weekend. For anyone that is going to do this, be VERY careful of your airdraft at the North Wildwood Fixed Bridge. It was supposed to be built at 55 feet, we were told it was actually 52 feet and our documented 48 ft air draft looked like we cleared by about 1-2 ft. Other than that, we were able to stay in the channel and keep enough water below the keel the whole time with a ¾ to high tide. I docked her for a day at my grandfathers dock, she looked massive on his front float, but he was a proud grandfather for a day with the biggest boat in the basin sitting in front of his dock. I then got her hauled back out of the water and stored at a local marina for free (again its not what you know but who you know) instead of paying 1 grand to keep her on a mooring for the month.
So now I am back at work, I have the crew doing some work on her and I am again anxiously looking forward to getting home and back to my baby haha. Tentative plans are to sail her from Cape May to NYC July 23, then on to Block Island, Newport, the Vineyard, Nantucket and up to Boston where she will most likely stay with my friends when I come back to work in mid August.
Thanks for listening and everyone’s help along the way.
New owner of a Lippincott 30!
Hailing from the West River, MD