Saturday, 17 October 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE. 16th October 2015


As we motor sailed south down Chesapeake Bay we were accompanied by a fleet of yachts also seeking the elusive warmer weather. We have been in Chesapeake Bay since mid September, and on arrival, the temperatures were around 32+C but during the past six weeks they have plummeted to around 4 C and water temp has gone from 30 C to 18 C.  This time last year we were still camping in Maine. Winter has arrived earlier this year and we've sold our trusty Cadillac so we can't make a quick exit to warmer climes, like we did in 2014. Today Taipan is stolidly steering south but it will be a while till we warm up.

Chesapeake Bay. Well the first thing that struck us was the dirty water. There are many rivers emptying into the bay carrying with them tons of sediment, so the water is brown and cloudy, staining the hull and dingy. The Spectra Watermaker managed approximately 100 Gallons between filter changes so we were on tight water rations. 

David, Kris, Rhonda and John
The second thing we soon discovered was how super friendly the locals are. Our base was Galesville on the West River just 2 hours sail south of Annapolis. We had the Cadillac ashore for land adventures and pretty soon our social calendar was jam packed. Several meals at Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club with friends new and old were followed with dinners at Pirates Cove and Thursday's, all just a very short dingy ride away and all to be recommended. Our new best friend Tom Rodgers took care of our car so that it didn't get towed away by the local authorities. Beautiful John and Rhonda Griffith adopted us as fellow Australians and we partook of their generosity on several occasions. The worst thing about cruising is leaving new friends behind. The best thing is having the opportunity to meet them in the first place.

The third thing about Chesapeake Bay is the Annapolis Boat Show. Its one of the largest boat shows in the world and has a very impressive line up of everything you can think of to do with boats. The Sailboat Show ran for 5 days and just 3 days later The Powerboat Show opens for another 4 days. 

On Thursday, VIP day, we attended the Sail Boat Show. Now we probably shouldn't have done so, given that 14 years of cruising lifestyle doesn't contribute anything to the coffers! However what it does do is convince you that anything is possible and stuff for the boat is " necessary" no matter what the bank account looks like. We managed to keep all our hands in our pockets for just 5 minutes. The first booth we came across was Cruising Solutions and was selling Marriage Saver Headsets. We have been planning on a set of these since meeting Estrellita in 2012 when Bill and Amy were communicating effortlessly between the deck and mast head. We bought a pair.  They are already proving indispensable. When we are anchoring or pulling the anchor, we don't have to yell and get frustrated by the inability to hear each other.  This can rapidly escalate into a near divorce often enough!!  David, then, on the same booth, spotted a Snow Bird cabin heater that heats using the engine coolant, much the same as a car heater. It will only work if the engine is running, but is better than nothing and it was a good price. The heater on our wish list is a Webasto Diesal heater but that has gone to the back burner, pardon the pun, because funds from the sale of the trusty Cadillac were insignificant enough to extinguish that plan!
The new machine!.

Carefully concealing our hands in our pockets again we ventured on. We managed to pass all the fuel cleaning systems, water-makers and anchors, although we came close at the Spade Anchor display. All was going well until we got to the Sailrite display.  To be fair, this was several hours later. Three generations of the owner and founders family lay in wait, all charming and skilled seducers. We fought off the desire / need until after lunch and then folded. Defeated, we returned to tell Zack, the charming grandson, that he had a sale!  In 1976 when I was heavily into horses, I gave a sewing machine company in Perth $400 deposit for a Sailrite machine. The Perth company disappeared along with my money so now, finally, I have a Sailrite. You realize of course though, that this machine will be put to work fixing stuff! No trifling with nonsense, creative, fun projects here! This is strictly work! 
Well the rest of the day progressed without further damage and we came home loaded with free samples and brochures for all the stuff we would have liked to buy. The credit card has gone into shock! Just as well we didn't look at any of the numerous new boats on display! 

After recovering from shock ourselves, we spent a couple of days redesigning the stowage to fit our purchases, and provisioning the boat, then closed Taipan down and drove to Madison in Virginia for a weekend with cousin Judith an her husband Bob. Fabulous weekend as usual, fine food, fun company and beautiful, if chilly, weather. Fall is definitely here. The leaves are rapidly turning and there's a chill in the air.
View over Monticello Vegetable Gardens.

We did a tour of Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, on Sunday. What a beautiful place. He was very into gardens and agriculture and the Trust  managing this National Heritage site, runs a comprehensive nursery dedicated to preserving all the old plant varieties. Interestingly, several specimens of one of my favourite trees, probably the first tree I knew the name of, was growing well on the mountain. They call it Chinaberry but we know it as Cape Lilac. It is also known for its excellent timber.  The slave tour was also fascinating and both the garden and slave tours were extremely informative and well presented. 

There were also plenty of projects to keep us busy while we were in Galesville. We learned to do wire to rope splice, thanks to Google, and replaced a headsail halyard. We also put eye splices in the new 15mm headsail sheets. The repaired FURUNO Radar was installed, and the new replacement Victron 2000w 220v inverter was installed along with a 1000w 110v Xantrex inverter primarily for the IMac. Four New Trojan L16 P 6v each and weighing in at 55kg each, replaced our 5 year old Trojan T105s.

Our Wire to Rope Splice in action.
There was a week during which we were awaiting news hourly, about Hurricane Joachim. At one point he looked like developing into the largest hurricane to ever hit the East Coast all the way from Carolinas to Nova Scota. With the possible evacuation of over 75 million people!!

It was apparently the biggest nightmare for forecasters in many many years, with only 36 hours warning going out to Bahamas, where they sustained serious damage on the southern islands. There was a complicated set of systems to the north of it making predictability very difficult. If it had not gone south for as long as it did.... a very unusual path.... it would have been picked up by another low off the Carolina coast and gone north along the entire coast.. A big high north of it prevented it  from going inland and dissipating.  They were predicting 95kn for the Bay ! We had made preparations and gone onto a heavy duty mooring at Hartge Yacht Harbour, further up river. The Chesapeake Bay weather was in the influence of a nasty trough bring very strong and freezing cold, NE wind to 35kn sustained making preparations very unpleasant.

Eventually, as always, we had to say our farewells to our friends at Galesville and then we sailed north to Annapolis to say hello and goodbye to some Kiwi friends we met in the Bahamas last winter. We felt somewhat vindicated, when we learned that they too had succumbed to the pitch from coercive team at Sailrite and had also purchased a machine among many other things! 
Another of the many interesting lighthouses on the way south.

On Wednesday 15th we commenced this passage south, stopping at Solomons on the first night. The second day we sailed under cloud in cold conditions until late afternoon when the front finally overtook us and we emerged into the much anticipated sunshine for the remainder of the trip into Deltaville. Virginia. 
Anchored off Fort Monroe.

This afternoon we arrived in Newport and will await a weather window to continue south and around Cape Hatteras.