9 April 2001 (Update #3)...
We just arrived in West Virginia today, a few miles from their capitol in Charleston. In hindsight it's been something of a whirlwind trip, but at times we thought we'd never get this far. What a nice surprise to look at the map of the US this afternoon and see that we'll probably arrive in Annapolis late tomorrow (Tuesday, 10 April) and take delivery on Wednesday. Yee haw!!!
On Saturday (7 April) we received a nice surprise from Rick the Mouseherder (Rick Kennerly) who did the graphics for the boat name. He completed the installation of the name and took the time to put up a photo of the finished (installed) graphic on his site. [ Sorry... the link is busted now. ] Rick is getting ready to take his boat (XAPIC) to Puerto Rico for awhile and took the time to work us into his tight schedule.
After all my grumbling about the last minute changes of the delivery date changes and having to change the reservation for the truck, there turned out to be an unexpected benefit. The last change in the reservation caused the price of the rental to drop by about 30%. Turns out that the rate fluctuates constantly and you have to keep checking to see if you would be better off if you made a change. The $400 savings will cover about half the gas for this hog! Arrgggh! Truth be known, the GMC truck that Penske gave us has been great. The mileage is terrible, but it's comfortable and keeps up with the traffic with no problem at all. Once you leave California you travel at the same speed limit as passenger cars. So we've been able to do 65 or 70 most of the way here.
We managed to get out of San Francisco about 5:00 PM on Saturday, 31 March. We got as far as Los Banos and had to get some sleep. So much for a leisurely drive to the Bakersfield area the first day! The next day was the longest of the trip... we managed over 500 miles and stopped in Kingman, AZ Sunday night, then Gallup, NM Monday night. If anyone thinks rails are dead, they need to spend a night in Gallup, NM. Without exaggeration, I believe there were trains passing though every 20 minutes. And some were over 2 miles long! We took a few hours the next morning (2 April) to see Old Town in Albuquerque, NM (the only tourist thing the whole trip!) and had a wonderful lunch at the Church St. Cafe... sopapias to die for!!!!
After a night in Amarillo, TX, we went on to Edmund, OK (near Oklahoma City) where we had a great time with Dana and Anne Marie (Dana is the son of a childhood friend of Celia). What an incredible estate (I don't know what else to call it!). Absolutely beautiful.
After a couple nights enjoying the Chivers hospitality, we went on to Springfield, MO and spent a couple nights with Steve and Eileen Illum (Steve is Celia's brother) and 4 of their kids (Jon, Shara, Nate and Justin). I didn't get to meet the other 4... they're already out on their own. Steve toured us around all day including the old mill restoration project in Fair Hope, MO that he's involved in.
Among other things Steve took us by Outdoor World in Springfield... I've never seen anything like it!!! I'll guess there's well over 100,000 sq ft divided into 3 floors with more than 20 bass and ski boats on display, huge indoor fish tanks and waterfalls that display local fish, every imaginable piece of outdoor recreational equipment except climbing gear, a fishing museum, a theater in the basement where they have seminars. I suspect I only saw a fraction of what was there. AND they're building another multi-story building right beside it because things are too crowded. And right next door on the other side they have a catalog center were they do most of their business. Truly amazing!
Sunday night (8 April) saw us in IL near the IL/IN border. Monday was a big day because we hit 4 states: IL, IN, KY and on to Charleston, WV where we found a brand new motel with an easy way to connect to the internet (site update time!) and our first traffic jam in nearly 3,000 miles of driving. Yuk!
All in all we've had great weather as we chase the early spring toward the east coast. In fact, once we left Gallup, NM, most days have been in the 80s. Incredible weather. We're getting spoiled rotten and I love it! :-)
Last Update I said I'd mention something about what we're doing for navigation. Since I'm sure you've all been sitting on the edge of your seat just waiting for this next update so you can read about it, I'd better get busy! :-) We've chosen to use electronic navigation with paper charts for backup. The program we selected, called Visual Navigation Suite by Nobeltec in Oregon, is installed on both our laptop computers as are the electronic charts. The computer will have a GPS connected to it through a serial port and the software is designed to be able to read and plot the data the GPS provides. In addition, the software will also send update commands to our autopilot as it figures out course corrections. Things have come a long way since the last time I looked at this sort of thing and, while I'm still very suspicious of anything electronic on a sailboat, the technology is so attractive that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity for us to use it. This is real 'gee whiz' stuff!! But just in case, we decided we should have a backup GPS. So there will actually be 2 Garmin GPS' aboard.
Electronic charts come in 2 flavors these days, the more common being an image scanned from traditional paper charts. These scanned images are called 'raster' charts and offer a familiar appearance to the experienced navigator. Since the images look familiar, there's nothing significant to relearn... it's like looking at a photo image of a chart on your computer screen. The drawback is that the chart aren't visually 'smooth' at all zoom levels (the result of using a scanned image) and they use a lot of memory.
The alternate to the raster chart, and the type we've chosen to use, is called a 'vector' chart. Instead of using a graphic image scanned from the original paper chart, the vector chart is drawn from scratch on the computer using boundary, depth and object data that's stored in a table. No matter what zoom (magnification) level you use, the chart always looks smoothly drawn and is very readable. You can read about the different kinds of charts and the software at Nobeltec.
Looks like 2 more days and we'll be boat owners. It'll be a little hectic as we first give the boat a thorough cleaning to get rid on the fiberglass dust and then bring aboard over 1/2 ton of "stuff"! I'll send some more when we get a few before & after photos of the boat.
Take care all...
ps- hope all is well on the Western front... the news about Pacific Gas & Electric filing for bankruptcy sounds a little scarey!!
22 April 2001 (Update #4)... Well, all the 'blah-blah-blah' is over and we are finally aboard GOOSEBUMPS. Amazing! The builders did a wonderful job designing, assembling and detailing the boat. Ours is hull number 729. It looks great and we had to do very little in the way of clean-up to start putting things away.
We arrived in Annapolis (home of Performance Cruising Inc.) almost 2 weeks ago on Tuesday evening, 4/10. We made a quick drive-by to see where the factory was, but driving the big Penske truck and towing the car was a little more difficult than I wanted to deal with in 5:00 commute traffic. So we got a motel and returned to the factory Wednesday morning (11 April) in deteriorating weather. Yuk! A little rain did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm (sorry... the pun was just too easy to be ignored!), though, and Sue Smith, wife of the builder and the one we dealt with 90% of the time, sloshed down to the dock in the rain to show us the boat.
We had to wait until Thursday to unload the truck. We managed to get everything off the truck and the truck returned just before the rental shop closed. Not bad considering we (I!) got lost 3 times trying to find the place!
But getting things off the truck was minor compared to putting them away! Looking around the boat I can see lots of room. Unfortunately not all that room I see is storage space. Even though we carefully weighed everything to assure ourselves we hadn't exceeded the load capacity of the boat, not everything could find a home where weight was balanced properly. Slowly but surely, things have found homes in tiny spaces, hopefully not to be forgotten before we need them! But there are still several things that need a home further forward to help balance the boat. By the time we added fuel and filled both water tanks, the stern was sitting much lower in the water than it's supposed to. Looks like both the GOOSE... and her owners need to go on diets! This is a shot of SKYLARK, another new boat around our same hull number, leaving the PCI dock to head for her new home in Baltimore.
It was a week of firsts teaching Celia the ways of boat living. Things like how to use a marine toilet (the head) and how to take a shower on a boat (get wet, shut off the water, use the soap, rinse off all with 1.5 gal. water or less!). She did great: about 45 degrees inside the boat makes a person move right along. The next day she suggested we drive 40 minutes each way to take showers at Herrington Harbour South instead of the boat... she catches onto this cruising stuff fast! :-)
After a week of wrestling with storage and trying to live aboard at the same time (mutually exclusive conditions!), we finally got things stowed well enough that we could leave Annapolis for our temporary home in Herrington Harbour. We chose to leave Thursday with forecasts of cold dry air rather than leave Friday with warm wet weather (probable showers). Also superstition suggests that voyages should never begin on a Friday. We aren't superstitious, but... :-)
We had a wonderful sail down to Rose Haven where Herrington Harbour South is located. The wind was mostly on the nose, but we still managed to sail faster than I've ever gone in 10 knot winds and flat seas on Chesapeake Bay, averaging close to 6 kts through the water (10 kts = 12 mph). I called the builder while we were sailing south to let them know how pleased we were and had to step inside the cabin because the noise of the water rushing past the transoms was so loud I couldn't hear her voice! The boat is very balanced and you can even take your hands off the wheel to fiddle with sails, etc. without having the boat lurch wildly out of control. Even with wind gusts to about 17 kts when the boat speed surged well over 7 kts things were very much in control. Admittedly the flat seas helped a lot in making the boat manageable, but it was a very impressive first sail anyway. We passed famous Thomas Pt. light house built in the 1800s... the last screw-pile light house in service.
For those that care about such things, our boat is designed for pretty light sailing conditions. At about 17 kts wind speed (19 mph) you have to put in the first reef (reduce the sail area) by rolling up some of the jib onto the headstay... it's called a roller reefing jib. There are about 5 different sail reductions possible between the jib and the main sail until the wind speed reaches about 35 kts (about 39 mph). At that point you get rid of all sail and go find God! At sea there is an additional option like setting what's called a sea anchor (kind of a parachute designed for use in water that is used like an anchor to keep the bow pointed into the waves. In the confined space of the Chesapeake you could be blown onto a lee shore so seeking refuge in a creek or river before things get that bad is a better plan than deploying a sea anchor.
Our destination for that first sail was the tiny town of Rose Haven, out in the country and in an absolutely beautiful setting! Rose Haven is the home of Herrington Harbour South where we'll have GOOSEBUMPS until we leave for Florida and the Bahamas in October (check the photo of the entrance at Herrington Harbour South). Spring is just now arriving in southern Maryland and things are greening up everywhere. We couldn't ask for a more attractive setting to do boat chores and to get some sailing practice before we head south.
Getting connected to the internet is turning out to be a little more difficult than anticipated. They have no internet cafes in Annapolis and it would cost something over $400 to get the local telco to run a line to the boat. Our neighbor, Rick, has taken pity on we old retired codgers and has kindly offered the use of his telephone line to get & send our mail. What's more, turns out he has a similar camera (an Olympus) to the one I have so I was able to use his software for getting the images out of my camera and into the computer. It's thanks to Rick that I'm able to send along these photos.
Had a couple minor calamities since we took delivery. I managed to run out of water in one tank which caused the electric hot water heater to overheat the heating element that's used when we're hooked up to shore power (115 volt household power). Now we can heat water when the engine is running, but not at the dock. Need to get a replacement heating element, but as Celia has pointed out, the same thing can easily happen each time we run out of water. Hmmmm.
It wasn't a surprise to me that the water in the tanks tasted funny at first, but it was the strongest chemical taste I've run across in 30 odd years of messing about in boats. Double yuk! Even the Brita filter couldn't touch it. It's going to take many cycles of pumping water through these tanks to get rid of the terrible taste! It seems to be coming from the flexible tubing that carries water from the tank and pressure pump to the faucets. And the hot water line is the worst of the lot. I dread the thought of replacing it all with copper tubing, but it may get down to that!
Celia managed to create a new cake that I don't think I've ever seen before. Something of a variegated wedge cake I think. The cake pan got hung up on the back of the rack in the tiny oven and the batter ran to one side. That over heated the thin part and burned it to something about like coal. But we didn't let a little thing like that slow us down... scarfed up every last crumb and thought it was great! :-) Right now I can smell the bread that Celia just finished baking. If I'm not careful I'm going to ruin the keyboard on this computer from drooling... things are definitely looking up in the bakery department! Yee haw!!
Enough of this stuff. Got to get this on it's way before Rick changes his mind about letting us use his phone line! Let me know if the photos are too small. It's something of an experiment in getting images that aren't very large and still give you some idea what we're seeing at this end. But 2" x 3" may be too little.
Hope all is well on the other coast!
10 May 2001 (Update #5)... It seems like I just sent off an Update, but I realize now that it's been awhile. It's taken all of the time between to install a significant addition to the electrical system on Goosebumps. A little explanation is probably in order...
As delivered, Goosebumps has 2 electrical systems: one powered by 12 volt batteries (just as a car would be) that is used when the boat is away from the dock; the other system is standard 115 volt 60 Hz power supplied through a separate cable from the shore (called 'shore power' or 'dockside power'). The batteries work fine for most of our needs and the marine industry offers a lot of accessories that operate on 12 volts. Then when we're at a dock, we can connect to 115 volt shore power like we have at home using a heavy extension cord. This allows us to use pretty much anything that you can use at home so long as it isn't so heavy it sinks the boat!
But there are a few things that use 115 volt power that you use in your home that you might also like to use when not connected to dockside power. Like maybe a coffee grinder. Yeah, we brought a hand powered coffee grinder with us, but the truth is that I view that as an emergency item for the life boat and nothing short of barbaric for daily use! As far as I know they don't make a coffee grinder that runs on 12 volts, so we have to have 115 volts to operate it.
Since we don't have a generator on the boat that does what PG&E does, what we have to do is add what's called an inverter. The inverter is an electronic device that draws power from the battery (12 volts) and "inverts" it into the same 115 volts used on land. It's not an exact replacement (they call it "modified sine wave"), but it's close enough that we can run this laptop, a coffee grinder, a small vacuum cleaner or a drill just fine.
There are a number of manufacturers that offer inverters. We chose the 1,500 watt version of the Freedom Marine Combi inverter from Heart Interface up in Washington state. The appeal of this unit over others is that it does double duty. The Freedom inverter not only provides 115 volts when we're away from the dock, it also recharges our 12 volt batteries when we're connected to 115 volt shore power. Pretty cool.
Of course, 'there is no free lunch'. The thing weighs over 50 pounds and if I'd realized how many times I was going to install and remove the thing before I was done I might have bought the one that weighed 20 pounds and cost 3 times as much!
In addition to installing the inverter/charger, we also removed the 3 small Group 24 12 volt batteries that the builder supplied and replaced them with 2 much larger batteries. With the extra loads we'll have while we're cruising, we felt we needed the extra power capacity. The intent is to only use 1/2 the capacity of each battery before recharging in order to extend battery life as much as possible. Also, we chose a battery size large enough that with 2 such batteries we can go at least 2 days before we have to recharge the batteries.
Since the only way we are able to recharge our batteries is to run the engine (just like a car, we use the engine alternator to do the battery charging), we've set the stage for adding a lot of otherwise unnecessary run time on the diesel engine. Not a good idea considering what these engines cost. Plus they're noisy and the diesel exhaust stinks. So our next project will very probably be to install 2 solar panels to help with the charging task. I'm sure most of you know what these things are, but for the sake of completeness, solar panels are electronic devices which convert light energy from the sun to electrical energy. If you choose a panel with a voltage slightly higher than a battery, the sun can be used to put power back into the batteries during daylight hours. Most boats out cruising these days have 2 or more panels and the consensus is that they dramatically reduce the amount of engine run time necessary to keep batteries charged.
All the time spent on the electrical project has kept us at the dock since we arrived here in Herrington Harbour in mid April. Admittedly the weather has been crappy with only a couple warm days, but we really expected to have done at least a little sailing by now. We're supposed to have a couple good days coming up, so it looks like we ought to be able to get out either Thursday or Friday and see if we still understand how to sail this thing! Our neighbor Rick has been bugging us on a regular basis... "you ever going to sail that thing?!". Unlike most people living on their boat while they have a regular job, Rick uses his boat for more than just a home. Sounds like he has his boat out about every weekend during the season.
We have been introduced first hand to the problem of living on a boat very close to shore: mosquitoes. Once the sun starts going down, we have to get everything closed up or screened or we get eaten alive! So while we sit here in the evening watching a little TV or reading, we have to also keep 'mosquito watch'. The brand new curtains were the first casualty of the mosquito wars. They look like they're splattered with our blood. Yuk! I'll need a transfusion by this time next month.
One of the things we Californians find very noticeable is the dominant presence of churches in the area. We were introduced to the 'bible belt' when we arrived in Missouri and have been traveling though it ever since. The number of Christian churches, each very attractive and every one a postcard candidate, boggles the mind of someone that's accustomed to a broad mix of religions and unconventional architecture. What's more, at least here in Maryland, the churches all seem to have an attendant cemetery. We haven't tried to keep track of it, but it's my impression that there are probably more churches and cemeteries here in this rural area than there are grocery stores and gas stations. Very proper, very attractive, a little stoic and seemingly right out of a beautiful New England calendar photo. And exactly what I learned a church should look like from seeing Currier & Ives as a kid.
With that as background, let me tell you about our road trip last Saturday to Solomon's Island, a very popular resort area on the Patuxent River about 40 miles south of us. Since we'll be sailing down there pretty soon, driving there first seemed like a chance to see some more of Maryland and get a preview of what the Solomon's Is. area looks like before we arrive by boat. What we saw was delightful and we look forward to taking Goosebumps there: a maritime museum, shops, restaurants, fun waterfront. And like the rest of this rural Maryland area, Solomon's Is. has its requisite number of churches. But with the rather stuffy ambiance of the earlier examples I'd seen, I wasn't prepared for the small church on the edge of town with the friendly sign that read: "God bless ya'll real good!"
It's nice to have our mail arriving again! As at least some of you know, our address these days is a mail forwarding service in Florida. We had them hold our mail while we were traveling across the country until we could find an address where they could forward it. Turns out not all post offices are interested in handling general delivery mail any more, but on our second attempt the postal clerk took pity on us, had us fill out a simple little request form and now we have a place that our forwarder can send our mail. I hadn't thought a simple thing like forwarding mail once each week to general delivery would be a big deal, but then I'm not sorting mail for a few thousand addresses every day.
Here's a link that I'd intended to include earlier and think I didn't. This site is done by Charlie and Rolf Hartmann who also have a Gemini, named LAZY DAZE). They did a pretty extensive cruise from Annapolis down to the Caribbean, then they shipped their boat to Europe and spent several months cruising the French canals. Interesting stuff. Not sure how much of their site is still up now that they've returned to a regular work routine (they live in Europe), but if it's still up, it should be worth a look: http://www.lazydazegazette.com/ (at the moment there's really no way to keep track of what's on the web that's related to what we're doing... it's a bummer not being connected!)
Hope every one of you are doing well. Next time we ought to have some stuff about sailing instead of just work chores!
7 June 2001 (Update #6)... It's been so long since I sent out an update you've probably thought I'd forgotten about you. No such luck! :-) We've been doing a few odds and ends including a trip to Maine. So here goes...
Son Brad has at long last graduated from law school at the University of Maine in Portland. 3 years... yikes! We of course were there for the big occasion which included a lobster feed. Brad's mom Dawna and her husband Paco have a gorgeous home in Harpswell overlooking Casco Bay. They even managed to order up some great weather for the event! Here's a photo of Brad the Grad with a happy mom and grandma and girlfriend Stephanie. Sadly this is about the only photo I was able to use. The shots inside were horrible!
I have to tell a story on myself. I've been telling people for years that my son has long hair and made sure that Celia had seen a photo of Brad so she'd recognize him. We rang the doorbell and some guy with hair about 1/4" long greets us and acts like we're long lost buddies. I hadn't a clue I was looking at Brad. Arrgggh! How embarrassing that I didn't recognize my own son with a haircut!! The truth is that I haven't seen him with hair that short since he was about 6 weeks old... almost 30 years ago. So how do I recover from this one?!
While in Maine we stayed at a B&B in Cundy's Harbor called the Captain's Watch. Cool place. We lucked out because there had been a cancellation. Bowdoin College was having there graduation the same weekend and there was no room anywhere. Turns out that Donna and Ken are long time sailors too, so we had a great time taking boats.
On the way back from Maine we stopped at Mystic, CN and visited the Mystic Seaport Museum. We really enjoyed the stop and marveled at the old ships on display the. Vessels like the Joseph Conrad and the Chas. W. Morgan are disappearing and getting the opportunity to go aboard before they're gone really shouldn't be missed.
Weather both before and after our trip north has been mostly crappy. Generally cold but dry. Then the flood gates opened up! The folks at the North Beach, MD post office told us that the farmers hadn't been able to plant because it was so dry (unlike California, farmers don't irrigate around here), but I think that's not an excuse anymore! For days it came down like a cow peein' on a flat rock! One of the locals said she had 2.5" then 2.0" on consecutive days. It's been raining off and on ever since.
We'd been holding off trying to sail because of all the forecasts for rain, but we finally concluded that what we were waiting for was perfect conditions, not just good enough. So we tossed out the old attitude about weather and started getting some time on the water. We've managed to get in a few good days of sailing as a result. We still aren't venturing too far from home 'till the Coast Guard documentation arrives, but at least we're making it hard for the barnacles to hang on!
The really big news is that Celia badgered Verizon, South Maryland Cable and the staff at Herrington Harbour South for so long that they collectively managed to get a phone line installed at our berth. What's more, I get a faster connection than I had in SF. Go figure!
Since she was on a roll, Celia decided it was time to do something about the horrible Sprint cell phone coverage in our area. She called AT&T Wireless' 800 number and was assured that there was no office in Annapolis... closest one was in Washington, DC. Off we went to the big city (we're really country folk these days!). The gal at the AT&T office asked why we drove all the way to DC to get a phone. We explained that there wasn't an office in Annapolis and she said "Starting when? That's the office where I normally work!!"
So after we picked out the phone, off we go to the boondocks to let it charge up so we can test it. Bet you can guess what happened next: defective phone! So Celia calls the now famous 800 number and talks things over with the tech and is told "Take the phone back for an exchange. But you have to take it back to the same store where you bought it." Now you KNOW what's coming, right? The guy at the Washington, DC store does the exchange and then says "You're from Rose Haven? I know where that is. Why didn't you just go to the store in Annapolis? It's a LOT closer and you can get service at ANY of our stores!" Double Arrgggh!!
Lots of driving, but it was worth it to finally get Celia a phone that works. But driving in Washington is quite an experience for a country bumpkin. Nothing like a town laid out by a bureaucrat. You'd think that a town that's a nation's capitol would have a little more creativity for naming streets than A, B, C... and 1st, 2nd,... And then on top of it, they reused the letters on the North and South sides of town and reused the numbers on the East and West sides of town. I said to Celia on the drive back that even North Beach (where we get our mail) with a population of maybe 1,000 has more imagination than that. Then I noticed that the North Beach post office is on A Street. Hmmmm. Guess one of the city planners for Washington, DC got his early training in North Beach, Maryland!
An internet acquaintance in Australia wanted to see a picture of the captain so I thought I'd include this shot of me studying the cruising guides for the Chesapeake and the Bahamas. So here you go Marita. I think you can see this is some pretty heavy reading and takes a great deal of study! But then what else are yuh gonna do on a rainy day? :-)
'Till next time...
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