What’s that noise?

There are many noises on a boat, and it’s important to be able to identify them. I’m still learning. Some come from the boat itself while others result from interactions between the boat and Mother Nature. I’m not sure I can do the sounds justice in words, but I’ll give it a try.

Boat noises

  • A light hum– the sound our electric motors make when we’re underway.
  • An abrupt and deep “thrum thrum”– the sound of the diesel generators starting up, fading to a steady hum once they fully engage. Then there’s the abrupt “thrum splutter” when they shut off.
  • Rapid machine gun fire in the distance– the sound of the fresh water pressure pump. The saltwater pressure pump makes a similar sound, just a bit louder.
  • A sucking/slurping noise- the sump pumps in the heads pumping water overboard from the sinks and showers. One night I heard ours go off when nobody was using the head. Hmmm. Dave investigated but found nothing and the sump well was dry. In the morning he investigated again and realized rain had trickled in from our open head porthole, run down the wall and into the shower drain thus triggering the sump pump. Mystery solved. Close your portholes when it rains, silly!
  • A soft whirring– the bilge pumps. Fortunately we haven’t heard those come on other than when Dave tests them to ensure they’re still functioning.
  • A whirring/buzzing sound followed by a whirring/buzzing/garbage disposal sound– the first is the head as salt water is pumped into the toilet, the second is the macerator grinding the contents and pumping them into the holding tank. (Gross, I know, but necessary.)
  • A deep whirring sound that becomes higher pitched after about 2-3 minutes- another macerator pump emptying our holding tanks overboard (only when we’re more than 3 miles offshore) until the tank is empty. You know they’re empty when the higher pitched sound starts.
  • A low hum that continues after the engines are shut off- the cooling fans in the engine room make. It’s like our Priuses when we shut them off and still hear the cooling fans.
  • A loud, constant whirring inside– the water maker, requiring us to close the door to the cabin in which it is located, otherwise conversation is difficult. Fortunately it makes about 30 gallons an hour, so we don’t have to run it for long to fill our tanks, and we try to do it on nice days when we can be outside rather than inside.
  • A faint beeping sound (usually heard at night when the winds have kicked up)- Ah yes, the anchor alarm. That is not a fun sound to hear, and we’ve unfortunately heard it several times this voyage. It sounds like our coffee pot telling us it’s done brewing, only the anchor alarm doesn’t stop until we tell it to. It seems I am the only one aboard who can hear this alarm. Fortunately it wakes me when I’m asleep. (Dave can’t hear it over his snoring.) You’d think such an important sound would have been programmed to be louder.  

Boat + Nature noises

  • Water hitting our hull makes a variety of noises, some of them downright scary, but harmless. They range from splashing, to a light slapping against the hulls, to thunderous booms that scare the hell out of me, especially when they wake me out of a dead sleep. If you’ve ever been to Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park, you now have a reference for this alarming sound.
  • The wind makes our American flag and our Seven Seas Cruising Association burgee flap. Depending on the speed of the winds, this can be a light “flap, flap, flap…tink, tink, tink”, or it can sound like someone is beating a rug with a broom handle.
  • The wind also runs over our cabin and under our roof, which makes it howl at varying frequencies, again depending on the speed of the wind. The fabric rain gutter we mounted under the roof over the gap between its halves also flaps making a “whoompf, whoompf” sound.

My favorite noises to date occurred around 4:00 and 4:30 am today. The earlier sound was a light, irregular drumming low on our hull. I got up and went outside to investigate and saw something slowing moving away from the hull. I went back in for my glasses (duh!) and saw two ducks swimming away. They may have been eating algae off our hull 🙂 . Only I’m not quite sure about that, because minutes later I heard my Dad get up and check the fishing lines he and Dave had left out overnight. There was a catfish on each one! So perhaps we were hearing them fight a bit and the rods were knocking in their holders. We’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is the source of the sound I heard at 4:30 am right over our heads- “patter, patter, patter, patter… pause…patter, patter, patter” (repeat a few times) . “Those are feet!” I exclaimed, and got up (again) to check. I found a pair of mallards pattering around on our bow. How cute! I left them alone, snapped a couple of pictures and went back to bed.

After that, all I heard were the typical sounds of morning as the sun rose over the calm waters of the Sassafras River- the quiet swish of water on the hull, early bass fishermen in their small boats, osprey hunting for breakfast, and other bird song in the distance.

The New Jersey Coast- Full of Firsts

It now actually feels like spring, bordering on summer, just as it should this time of year. The days are warm, the nights are staying in the low 60s, and we can leave the hatches open all day and night unless it rains. The water temps are also in the low 60s, keeping the cabins at a more consistent temperature so the walls aren’t damp with condensation every morning (less mildew). The screens are in place on all hatches, portholes, and the slider because with the warm days come the bugs. There’s usually a breeze on the water, so even when it’s been low 80s on land, it’s still comfortable on the boat.

We had a lovely couple of nights at anchor in Atlantic Highlands, NJ after we transited through NYC. It was a great anchorage only about a 5 minute dinghy ride to a public dock in a huge marina that bordered a very walkable town that even had a full-sized grocery store less than a mile from the marina. We were exhausted after the excitement of the NYC transit, but we still went ashore late afternoon to scope out things. My folks decided to go to the 5:15 Mass, so we killed a little time with margaritas, chips & salsa in a local bar, then Dave & I returned to Lady so he could take a nap (the rest of us had napped between NY Harbor and the marina). We went ashore to pick up my folks and ordered take out from a Thai place to eat aboard. The next day we bought groceries and showered and then relaxed aboard for the afternoon in preparation for the next leg of our journey, an overnight run from Atlantic Highlands down the Atlantic side of NJ all the way to Cape May at the other end. We started the trek around 9am Monday, but before leaving we fueled and watered at the marina. It was my first docking attempt, with Dave coaching me. The dock hand said I did well, most people slam into the dock. I had a good coach 🙂 . This overnight run held another first for me, my first solo watch. It was blissfully uneventful and the conditions were perfect. I came on shift to relieve my Dad at 2:00am just as we were approaching Atlantic City, so I got to enjoy the lights. There were large vessels a few miles off but on parallel courses to us, so I was able to leisurely play around with our AIS and radar, learning how to identify ships and their speeds and courses. Dave relieved me at 5:00am just as the sun was rising behind us.

We arrived at Cape May Harbor and anchored just east of the Coast Guard station around 10am. It was a warm, almost hot, sunny day. We dinghied over to a yacht club nearby to ask if we could tie up at their dock for a bit. There was nobody around to talk to, so I guess that meant we weren’t in anyone’s way 😉 . We knew there was a nature center of some sort nearby, so that was our target, just to stretch our legs. It was a little gem of a place, and free. It’s definitely meant for children, but we’re all just big kids, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for about an hour. They had tanks in their “aquatic lab” with local sea life. There was a local fauna “garden” to walk through. There was an osprey nest complete with an osprey who had just caught a fish! Their main building had a shop downstairs and an exploration room upstairs. It was small, and full, but well organized with activities for kids of all ages, all sorts of stuff to look at and touch. We made a few purchases and left a cash donation in support of their largely volunteer efforts to run the place.

On Wednesday morning we dinghied ashore to Utsch’s Marina, which kindly let us tie up there for the day.  We took an Uber over to Cape May Point State Park. This was another free adventure with another cool little nature center, a small museum, a beach, and nature trails. We availed ourselves of each of these, including a short 1/2 mile loop trail by a pond (too hot for a longer walk!). We opted not to pay $10 to climb up the 199 steps to the top of the light house; the free stuff was good enough for us. It was a lovely morning. We took an Uber back to the docks for lunch, then dinghied back to Lady before the predicted afternoon rain. We spent a couple of hours planning the next segment of our trip and had just poured ourselves some rum when the anchor drag alarm went off.

The winds had picked up to around 30 kts, gusting to 40 kts while we were planning, but the rain hadn’t started yet. Even though we had spent a very secure night on anchor in this exact spot the previous night, it turned out the holding ground was not good for the anchor/wind combination this second night. So we paired and donned our headsets (much easier bow to helm communication) and Dave, Dad & I went up to reset. The current and wind were both strong and opposing each other, so Dave steered while Dad & I worked the anchor (a plow). We tried to reset the plow anchor (the main one on the windlass), but it didn’t set. Then we tried the fortress and it didn’t set. Then the really dark clouds were over us, the winds were sustained at 30-40 kts, there was thunder in the distance, and the rain started. So Dave had us put the fortress back over to pay out its own line which was still cleated to the bow, while we simultaneously dropped the plow again. Dad and I got back in seconds before the torrential rain started. We grabbed Dave’s foul weather gear for him to wriggle into so he could man the helm in case we dragged again. Fortunately both anchors set this time, and the storm passed in about 20 minutes. The winds died back down shortly after. Dave came in and dried off, we finished our rum (and had an extra finger), and resumed our evening. The next morning when we hauled both anchors they came up pretty clean- only tiny spots of mud, no grass. The guides and charts indicated good holding in mud in this anchorage, so we best we can figure is that the bottom has changed since the charts were published, or we were on the edge of the mud in less consolidated bottom that probably included sand and a little light mud. So having the plow and fortress out the second night was useful.  

While it was a stressful experience (and another first), I’m glad to have had it while my folks are still aboard (okay, and right next to a Coast Guard training station). If this had happened the first time with just me and Dave aboard, I’m not sure I would have been able to manage the fortress by myself without hurting my back, and I don’t have any experience maneuvering the boat in those types of conditions so Dave could have handled the anchors. Now Dave & I can plan how to deal with this situation in the future when it may be only the two of us on board.

You will be glad to know that we’ve had two lovely days and nights at anchor since, in a couple of rivers off the Delaware Bay. In fact, I’m writing this as I enjoy a beautiful, warm morning with a lovely breeze. And now I shall post this and read in the hammock for a bit before lunch.

Riding the rapids through NYC!

Transiting the East River from Long Island Sound to NY Harbor was like an excellent water park ride!

I am so glad we decided to take the Long Island Sound route rather than go the Atlantic side. I thoroughly enjoyed our time bouncing between the coasts of CT and Long Island, but I especially enjoyed our trip yesterday down the East River through NYC into New York Harbor. It was exhilarating! I described it to my sister as a 3-hour waterpark ride.

We had anchored on the west side of City Island the night before, and started our journey from there around 9:00 am so as to reach the start of the East River just after slack so we could ride the current through the river and harbor. We cruise at 5 kts and needed to make 32 nm that day, so going with the current was important to our getting to Sandy Hook, NJ the same day and before any of the predicted afternoon thunderstorms (which never actually materialized). The first part from Throgs Neck to Hell’s Gate was calm with only a few fast boats passing us and throwing up wakes. At Hell’s Gate we started picking up speed from the current; the top speed Dave noted was 10.4 kts! From Hell’s Gate to the harbor was the waterpark ride part of the transit. We had speeds of around 9 kts for a good part of it, squirrely currents, big wakes from numerous fast ferries and other speed boats, and 6-8 foot waves in some places! Dave commented that it was sort of like white water rafting. As the river narrowed inside the city we were close to the heartbeat of the town, watching it tick by, so close we could even see window washers up on the high rises waving to us. What a ride! Like any good water park ride, I even got drenched once. That’s what I get for sitting on the walkway between the tramps, but it was an awesome vantage point! Mom sat on the starboard bow seat the entire time and only got her ankles tickled by a couple of splashes- the safe seat. After my soaking I opted to sit back up on the bulkhead for the rest of the ride, except when I drove the boat for about 15 minutes under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. I can now say I’ve driven in New York City. 😉 Dad took a turn near the end of the river and navigated us through most of the harbor. Dave was all smiles having driven the majority of the way- happy as a clam in mud. 🙂

The harbor was still busy with tons of ferries, tour boats, and private boats, but we’d slowed to around 7 kts with no squirrely currents and much more room to maneuver. I took a bunch of pictures of the Statue of Liberty (a couple even came out well). Once the excitement was over, I was like a kid coming off an excellent roller coaster ride and said to Dave,  “That was cool! Let’s do it again!”

We had lunch as we transited New York Harbor, and looked at options for the night near Sandy Hook, opting to anchor in Atlantic Highlands Harbor (nice little town). We made it from City Island to anchor in about 5 hours.

The picture I included in this post was one Dave took during the last 45 minutes of the cruise across to NJ. We were spent from the thrill and adrenaline rush! Dave got his nap later in the afternoon.

(For more pictures, visit my facebook page or instagram feed linked at right.)

Mis-adventures

Every adventure has some misadventures. Fortunately, ours have been minimal. The swans have nothing to do with those; it was just a nice picture, and they did visit us in the location discussed below. Here’s a synopsis of a couple of misadventures.

Crossing Block Island Sound last Sunday from the south side of Fishers Island to Montauk was an adventure, and fortunately merely uncomfortable rather than a misadventure. The marine forecast predicted 2-3 (maybe it was 4) foot seas and 10-15 kt winds from the west. What we got were 4-7 foot waves and 20+ kt winds from the south, the direction we were heading. To say it was choppy would be an understatement. Let’s just say our bow seats got repeated salt water dips. About halfway across, we started seeing large logs floating on the choppy waves, so Dave & Dad had to play dodge the logs. Our anticipated 4 hour crossing took a little over 5 hours, but we arrived safe and sound. Then we called the Coast Guard…

Sometime last Saturday, Mom whacked her right ring finger on the sliding door. It swelled only a little, but didn’t hurt much after the initial shock. She did not remove her ring. See where this is going? In the wee hours of Sunday morning, she woke up with a very sore and much more swollen finger. Dad helped her ice it, gave her ibuprofen, and when it stopped hurting so much they went back to sleep. It did not look any better around 9:00 am. She could turn the ring, but barely. She said it didn’t bother her “much”, so we decided to leave Fisher’s Island (NY) and head for Lake Montauk as planned. During the trip she alternately iced it and soaked it in cold seawater, and took more ibuprofen. No change. Once we anchored in Montauk we decided the ring had to come off. Of course it was Sunday, so none of the urgent care places were open and the nearest hospital was a long drive. So we called the Coast Guard, who happened to have a station right at the mouth of the harbor. They arranged to meet us at the marina we were anchored near, and had the fire department call for a paramedic. We were met by 4 nice Coasties, a man from the fire department, and then a very funny young paramedic who immediately put my mom at ease and then removed the ring (which will be repaired upon her return home). Lo and behold, within 15 minutes of the ring coming off, the swelling went down. A huge thank you to the Montauk Coast Guard, fire department and paramedics!

A little after 3:00 am Monday morning, I awoke to the faint sound of an alarm going off. Dave checked and confirmed it was the anchor drag alarm and that we had dragged about 100 feet. Our dinghy, which was still up in her lift under our roof panel, was kissing one of the two pylon channel markers, the only thing near us in the entire lake, of course. So we geared up, hauled anchor, and were fortunately spared trying to re-anchor in the dark and high winds (25 kts with higher gusts) by noticing an empty mooring ball, which we picked up after deciding it would hold us. Back to bed. Next day we tried three times with two different anchors (a plough then a danforth) to stick in the “fair” holding ground reported for Lake Montauk. No dice. We picked up a more robust looking mooring that appeared to belong to the town. It was still their pre-season, and we were the only non-local boat in the anchorage. Nobody bothered us that night and we slept well. In the morning, the swans pictured above visited us for about half an hour. What a lovely family!

I am happy to report that future anchorings in subsequent locations have not resulted in the anchor drag alarm going off. I have gotten in some good anchoring practice.

All the ‘comforts’ of home?

I like small living spaces. I grew up in a 3/4 cape, then lived in a dorm for 4 years, then a series of small apartments, and then bought a one-floor ranch-style house. Moving onto a 44-foot catamaran seemed reasonable; she is quite roomy, for two anyway. But boy, does this boat get small on a cold and rainy day with four aboard stuck inside this tiny salon! Unfortunately for us, that’s been about 70% of our weather these past three and a half weeks. Large portions of this trip have not been what I would deem ‘comfortable’.

So I ask myself, what makes me ‘comfortable’? A hot drink and a place to curl up with a book or movie makes me ‘comfortable’ on a cold or rainy day. I find sunny days with temps above 65oF to be comfortable, but I don’t like it too hot or too humid. Being dry is comfortable. Being able to have a regular exercise routine makes my body hurt less, which makes it easier to be physically comfortable. On an mental/emotional level, time with family and friends alternating with time alone is important for my comfort. Having enough joy to offset the challenges provides me with a sense of balance in life, and therefore a type of comfort. Planning gives me a sense of order and control which give me comfort.

Now how do I attain this sense of comfort onboard now rather than holding out for the elusive ‘comfort’ once we reach warmer climes? I am finding this challenging.

Weather impacts my mood, which impacts my comfort level. I can’t do anything about the weather. All I can do is keep myself as physically comfortable as possible by wearing the right clothes and gear, drinking hot beverages and using the space heater when it’s cold, being outside when I can. I am a bit more acclimated to the current temperatures, which is helpful because I don’t feel as cold as often. I have to accept the fact that I and the boat are going to be damp frequently, at this time of year due to condensation, in warmer climes it will be due to humidity. We just open her up when we can to air her out and regularly clean the forming mildew. I pretty much have to suck it up when it comes to weather.

Balancing together time with alone time is important for my mental/emotional comfort and I have been struggling with this, especially because the weather has prevented us from spreading out on the boat. One method I’ve adopted is to just get out of bed once I realize I’m not going to fall back asleep. Instead, I get up and do something alone, like working on my blog this morning. The 30-45 minutes of alone time helps center me. As it gets warm enough, I’ll carve out time each day to do yoga up in the bow, even if I have to put on an extra layer I wouldn’t need at home. I can say that I’m not bored, and there has been much joy on the trip- joy in the company I’m with, joy in the activities we’ve engaged in in the places we’ve explored. Balance between joy and challenges- ✓.

I like to plan things out, and I like for the plans to work out as, well, planned. While planning is extremely important when living aboard, trying to have a plan is like beating one’s head against a wall. Planning for safety is necessary, and we do this all the time. We plan around marine weather forecasts in order to travel from place to place safely. We plan safely navigable routes. We plan to have enough food, water and fuel aboard for times when we can’t get to them ashore. We planned home-like ‘comforts’ before moving aboard. I made quilts for each cabin. We made sure we would have reading material and movies for entertainment. We provisioned foods we enjoy eating, and brought aboard kitchen aids and gadgets that make cooking enjoyable. We ensured we could easily keep in touch with family and friends back home. For warmer climes, we have what we need to dive and snorkel. Still, the deeply rooted ‘planner’ in me finds it stressful to not have a more detailed plan, like knowing exactly where we will be going and when and exactly what we will be doing and exactly what we will have for supper. (Okay, yes, at home I plan out the week’s supper’s before shopping for groceries. You can stop laughing now). Stress does not lead to my being comfortable. The rational part of my brain acknowledges that trying to generate these types of plans on board is pretty silly, but it hasn’t yet convinced the other parts of my brain of this.

What I really need to work on is becoming comfortable ‘going with the flow’. I’m going to start practicing now. We’re going to dub our way down Long Island sound, stopping where we can when we can, and I’m going to be okay with that…I hope.

For now, everyone is up and in the salon. The sun is sort of out, it’s not too cold, and the bow is dry. I’m going to go do some yoga- alone.

 

What to do with a sunny day?

Sunny days have been rare, and we were looking forward to a sunny day at Cuttyhunk Island after a three-day streak of overcast showery days at Martha’s Vineyard. We got our sunny day, and it started out well enough. We were able to enjoy breakfast out in the cockpit (wearing our fleece, of course), the sun was warm and the wind was just a breeze. We planned to go ashore to explore the town and walk the beaches. Perhaps we tempted fate by having a “plan,” because that’s not quite how the day turned out.

Shortly after breakfast, Dave discovered that the freezer was not at temperature; it was too warm. He and Dad spent the better part of the day trying to trouble shoot it, first themselves, then with some tech support they were eventually able to reach after several redirected phone calls. They finally decided we needed to replace something expensive and for which we did not have a spare on board. A couple more tech support calls later, it was decided we needed to replace the controller (thankfully not the compressor, or worse, the whole system). After a little online research, we decided to delay our Block Island stop and head to Newport the next day to pick up the part that was fortunately in stock one town over. In the meantime, they turned our fridge into a freezer. It tends to freeze stuff in some spots at its normal setting, so Dave just turned it down more. We moved the fridge stuff into the freezer with our bags of ice to serve as a cooler.

And while the boys were taking care of the freezer…

While making the bed in the morning, around the time Dave noticed the freezer issue, I discovered a water stain all along the outer edge of the fitted sheet that had wicked water up from under the mattresses. Further exploration of the cabin revealed that two weeks of condensation had left its mark. So while the boys worked on trouble shooting the freezer, Mom & I stripped my bed, attempted to wash the water stain out of the new quilt I made, then hung that, the mattress pad and the fleece blanket outside to dry in the now considerable (20-25 knot) wind and sunshine. Dave & Dad hauled the 3” memory foam mattress topper onto the cockpit table to air out, and I lugged the mattresses onto the tramp to dry in the sun and bake the mildew on the bottom dead. I also discovered that the two large wicker baskets I bought for the shelf in our cabin were wet and starting to mildew on the sides and bottom where they were in contact with the boat and thus the condensation, and that their fabric liners were also damp. So I emptied those, hung the liners outside and put the baskets in the tramp to also bake in the sun. Turns out one of them is dyed wicker, and it stained purple the shelf it had been on. I’ll live with that. Then I wiped down the walls, and we opened all the portholes and hatches in the boat to dry her out a little.

We did break for lunch around 1pm and went ashore for a couple of hours to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and to talk with a few very friendly locals. They told us there are only about 20 people who stay on Cuttyhunk through the winter! They’re busy now getting ready for the summer season that starts around Memorial day, when the island population swells to about 400 and their harbor sees about 4000 boats over the three months.

When we got back from our excursion, I reassembled our cabin and put on the spare set of sheets (fresh sheets!). Then we relaxed with a good dinner and a funny movie. We were too fried to play games.

Vacation or Lifestyle?

We’ve been at this for 10 days now, and I’m wondering at what point it will start to feel like a lifestyle rather than a vacation. Our primary reason for choosing to do this was to explore other countries and cultures, which is what many of my favorite (adult life) vacations have been about anyway, so it doesn’t really feel any different yet.

During our month-long shakedown cruise last July, we dealt with procuring groceries while aboard, keeping the boat clean, and doing laundry. I even did some consulting work last summer and I will be publishing a monthly newsletter for our boating club throughout this year and into 2020, and Dave still participates in conference calls for the STEM Guitar program. We’ve certainly had to do repairs (it is a boat, after all). We research and plan routes to our destinations, decide if we’ll anchor, moor or dock (and keep check on our finances). It is always an adventure, which is what we wanted, even though we’re still in the USA. Maybe this is what the lifestyle will always feel like, just with varying challenges based on location. I suppose we’ll see.

At any rate, we have been exploring. We have through August to get to Chesapeake, VA, so we are not lacking in exploration time!

Since my last post we have spent time in Scituate harbor and had two friends aboard, one for an overnight. We got boarded by the Coast Guard just as we were coming up on the Sandwich Harbor in the canal. It was a routine safety check. We were pretty much the only boat out there, and it looked like they were doing some training. We passed with only a warning about our horn which apparently decided to stop working sometime this past week. So now we have another thing to fix, but did purchase an air horn in Sandwich as a backup; so we’re legal now. We spent and afternoon at the Heritage Museum in Sandwich and one night at the dock in the harbor. We had a half tranquil and half adventurous ride to Oak Bluffs harbor at Martha’s Vineyard. We saw only two patrol boats in the canal, no commercial or recreational traffic there at all. All was smooth until Woods Hole where the current was screaming against us. It appeared to be about 5 kts as we were making only 2 kts headway under full power. After Woods Hole, the predicted 2-foot seas were choppy, built to 4-5 feet and we had a 2 kt current against us. The payoff? It’s off season here, so we’re not being charged for the town mooring we are on for 4 nights. Score! We’ve dubbed around Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Vineyard Haven doing the tourist thing. Tomorrow looks like we’ll be stuck aboard in the rain, but we’re about due for down time anyway, with a day of movies. A very friendly nearby hotel is even letting us boost their WiFi, so we watched game 4 of the Bruins vs. Blue Jackets on Thursday and are abot to watch game 5 tonight.

But now it’s time for dinner- homemade pizza!

 

The Adventure Begins

It was a decently warm April afternoon when we boarded Indigo Lady Wednesday. Our cousins, Bob, Jo, and Adrianna came down to hang with us for a bit and wish us a bon voyage, which was very sweet! That evening, we four intrepid travelers (me, Dave and my folks) had a delicious filet mignon dinner aboard, courtesy of “chef Dave.” We woke Thursday morning to gorgeous sunshine, clear skies, and relative warmth (at least in the sun) for a late April day. Bob came back with our full propane tank from home, because one of our two on board went empty while Dave was cooking dinner. Thanks for the save, Bob! We topped off our fuel when the marina opened, and then started our journey. First stop- Gloucester, MA.

It was a reasonable trip down, but got chillier and windier around Cape Ann, so the boys had to add layers to keep warm. Mom & I hunkered down in the salon in our layers and eventually fell asleep. Around 4pm we picked up a rugged town mooring just off a park with a small beach, about a mile from town.

That was the sunshine and roses part. But this is an adventure, and adventures are unpredictable. Plus, this is April in the northeast and it ain’t boating season, folks. So here’s our current reality.

Here in the harbor, air and water temps are in the mid 40s, and the winds have been southeast at 10-15 kts with gusts up to 30kts. Overnight the winds shifted southwest and are still gusting close to 30 knots. Yesterday there were off and on rain showers. Today is actually partly sunny, which is cheery, but my goodness is it windy! The forecast for the next several days, however, looks like mid to upper 40s with a chance of rain each day. Oh goody. We should be able to travel tomorrow, probably to Scituate, but we’ll likely be stuck there a couple of days. At least in Scituate we will be able to get ashore and to town much easier than here. Of course, this is all subject to change, depending on whether or not the marine forecast changes.

I’m still getting used to the new sounds, so I haven’t slept well. Fortunately, I can nap during the day. Nobody slept through last night. It wasn’t the winds gusting around 35 kts that woke us; it was the waves they generated slamming into our bridge deck that woke us repeatedly. Boy is that loud! [Translation: bridge deck = underside of the boat between our hulls, right under our beds.] Thankfully we avoided the thunderstorms, lightning and hail my friends & family in NH and southwest ME got yesterday evening!

The rain and bone-chilling wind kept us inside most of yesterday, but we did go ashore for a bit between rain showers to walk around the park. That was enjoyable and invigorating! Just what we needed on a gray day. It was also damp inside and out, with condensation coating every wall and window inside. This morning there was less condensation, and we cracked open all the hatches and portholes to clear out the rest. It worked! Then it got more blustery, so we closed them up again. The sun and space heater are making the inside warm, but despite the sun, it’s still quite cold outside in the wind. We’ve been battling the chill & damp with a little space heater in the salon (60oF never felt so warm!), and eating hot, yummy food. I’ve also been drinking tea nonstop. I wear my wool hat to bed at night to retain my heat (45o water = 45o cabins, although our bodies warm them a few degrees). It reminds me of winter cabin trips with the Outing Club when I was at UNH.

Today we are taking advantage of the sun and wind to dry some towels and rags out on the lifelines. I hope I used enough clothespins! Dave also rigged some lines inside between our ceiling handholds for things we’d rather not have accidentally blow overboard. We may try to go ashore a bit after lunch, but at the moment the boys are trying to trouble shoot a faulty float switch in one of the shower box sump pumps. It’s always something.

Remember you can follow our adventures here, and/or on Facebook, twitter and instagram. Follow buttons are at the top right. I will blog at least once a week, but will post pictures and quick updates to the others more frequently. Choose your preferred method(s) and thanks for following!

Loading Lady

This is getting real, folks.

Lady has been cleaned, the cabins made up, the clutter put away, and we just loaded all the non-perishable food items and paper goods onto her, along with a lot of stuff we bought for our floating “house.” The fridge and freezer are at temperature and early this week we will be moving the freezer items aboard, and eventually the refrigerator items the day before we actually set out. I continue to be amazed, every time we load her, at how much storage space she has!

We’re doing a bunch of last minute shopping both locally and online (thank goodness for Amazon Prime!). We’re eating down our own refrigerator and pantry, and starting to prepare the house for its temporary vacancy.

I’m finishing up those sunshades. Dave is finishing up several boat projects. He got the WiFi booster working, but the single sideband is still being problematic. Through ongoing online consultation with an expert, the current hypothesis is that there is too much “noise” in the marina, so we have to put solving the SSB issue on hold until we are in open water away from said “noise.” We will replace our leaking galley sink faucet once the new one arrives. Normally Dave would  just fix the leak, but replacements for the failed rubber seals are no longer available. Besides, our new faucet has a sprayer option that will be handy.

Believe it or not, my biggest challenge has been packing clothes. Despite Lady’s generous storage space, precious little of that is for clothing, and we sort of need two very different wardrobes, one of which we’ll only need until we get to Virginia waters. I think we’ve settled on bringing what we are sure will keep us warm, plus our Caribbean attire, and we will store whatever we don’t immediately need in vacuum storage bags. Ultimately, the cold-weather clothing will come back with us to New England (to stay). Once we’re actually in the Caribbean, we will mostly need only summer clothes with one or two “warmer” pieces for the occasional cool night (mostly north of the Caribbean in FL and Bahamas).

Dave tells me we’re at 13 cart loads of stuff being shuttled onto Lady (those wheeled carts marina’s provide). I wonder what the final tally will be. 

A Clean(er) Boat

Yesterday brought the first truly warm day this spring, even down on the water at Indigo Lady’s winter slip, and the breeze was light and from land (ergo, warm!). So we started the process of cleaning her. About 4 hours and a hundred Chlorox (non-chlorine) wipes later, all four cabins and heads, including all cabinets and lockers, were cleaned of mold & mildew. We also installed the rain gutter I made and marked it for final tweaks. Dave installed the windshield he made. We celebrated with rum & coke in the comfort of our cockpit in the late afternoon sun (sigh of pleasure). More pictures on Facebook

The salon and galley are currently strewn with equipment Dave is still using to troubleshoot the uncooperative single sideband and WiFi booster, so we can’t clean those areas yet, but soon. And we can at least start the process of getting stuff on board. In fact, Dave just took off with a first load of bed cushions and spare parts.

I will spend a significant chunk of time this week buying provisions and staging them for getting them aboard. I will also be doing some advanced food prep for freezing (a luxury we won’t have once actually living aboard). Dave will hopefully solve the SSB and WiFi booster issues and meet the guy who is supposed to recalibrate the temperature sensors on our engines (we’ve been after the company for a year to get this done!).

It’s gonna be a busy week!