History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.
Log 1: Toronto to Annapolis
Leg 1: Toronto (NYC) to Oswego:
We left Toronto on Sept 30 at 11:06 am with Warren, Roger, Nick, Sam and Jessica waving us off. The weather was not the best
for starting our voyage with 20-25 knot winds from the west, waves 2-3 feet and building and a small craft warning in the
forecast. However, with all the delays we had already experienced, we were anxious to be on our way.
The departure, however, was not without its drama. Around 10:45, we were ready to go and with great pomp and circumstance,
befitting the importance of the moment, Andy put the key into the ignition, pressed the start button, and instead of the Yanmar
firing into action, we were met with silence… After the shock of the moment had died away (and the blue language faded) Andy
went into serious diagnostic mode. The embarrassing cause of the problem was soon found… he had neglected to attach the
positive cable to the starter battery! Hopefully, this was not an omen for the rest of the voyage!
When we exited the NYC gap, the lake was very choppy. In our haste to get started, Andy and I were wearing shorts and
fleeces. Needless to say we were cold within minutes and needed to change into our foul weather gear and don our life jackets.
Time now to set the sails! Having new (and never tested) reefing lines presented us with some hesitation so we launched the
head sail and settled down to talk through the process. By now we were out off Ashridges Bay going dead east with the wind
and waves on our stern. We decided, given the rocking and rolling, we would run the jack lines before setting the main sail. We
finally set the first reef and all was well! We were moving about 6 .5 knots and were very comfortable. Of course that only
lasted a few minutes as we then noticed a large thunder storm off our starboard quarter. Before leaving we had discussed going
to Wilson rather than trying to make Oswego in one leg. Good thing we decided to head for Oswego as Wilson was right in the
path of the storm. We watched as the storm ran a parallel course and developed water spouts! "Andy maybe we should just
head for Highland!" However, before long the storm passed us and again all was well. Late in the day as usual the wind died and
we had to motor. This is when we discovered that our Raymarine autohelm wasn't working…Ouch. Anyway, we settled into a
rotation of 2 hour shifts and made Oswego by 11:00 am. 24 hours not bad. But we were tired.
Entrance into the Oswego harbour had given us some moments of trepidation, as the waves at the easter end of the lake were
quite substantial, having had a couple of days of strong westerlies. The walls outside the harbour are, however, well spaced and
posed no problem. We later heard that they had claimed at least one victim, a fellow who had spent ten years building a Corbin
and then sank it after hitting the Oswego harbour wall.
When we arrived in Oswego there was already one other boat there, waiting for a mechanic to bring parts to solve their engine
problems. We set about unrigging the boat and assembling the mast support structure on which the mast would rest until we got
through the canal system. I say "structure", because it deserved such an architectural description. It was a work of art, by a
master engineer! This mast wasn't going anywhere! Before long it became apparent that we would not be able to take the mast
down that day as, again, the weather did not cooperate. Winds were now gusting up to 25 knots. Before long another boat
arrived (Bill and Joe, on a Tartan 34) and by morning yet two more boats had appeared. Deb, a yacht delivery Captain with lots
of great advice about handling the locks, on a Hunter Passage, and another couple sailing a Jeanneau 41 (without either dodger
or bimini... brrrr) . And we thought we were leaving so late we would be "on our own".
We had hopes we could leave with two of the boats, Deb and Bill's, but after visiting the fuel dock and having trouble filling our
fuel tank we decided we needed to fix the problem before even leaving Oswego. So, another night at the dock, and our second
problem to tackle. We finally managed, after taking the new fuel fill hose off and clearing the air vent, to get fuel into the tank,
ever so slowly, and I don't think the problem is really fixed. As we have been jokingly saying, Murphy, our ever present third
crew member, is still alive, well, and aboard. Murphy's rule number one: Keep your fuel feed hose as short as possible and as
vertical as possible. Where there's a bend there's an air bubble lurking!
Leg 2: Oswego to New York:
We finally left Oswego on Oct 3, a rainy day. Now you might think that we would have been disappointed about the rain but
every cloud has a silver lining. On day one of the trip down the Oswego Canal system, you not only encounter your first lock but
you also have to traverse Oneida Lake. This can be a challenge "they" tell us, as the lake is very shallow and has lots of power
boat traffic, which can result in large waves… no fun when your 54 foot mast is perched on top of even the best engineered
structure. In fact, we heard that some boats were rocked so badly that they lost their mast overboard. However, with it being a
rainy day, with no wind and few pleasure craft out, or should I say pleasure power boats, Oneida was a piece of cake! And of
course, we had "the work of art"! However, it would have been nice to have the Autohelm…22 miles on pretty much the same
course. Oh well. The first lock had been entered with great trepidation, despite advice from previous cruisers that it was nothing
to worry about. That "first time" for many aspects of this voyage gives us huge butterflies, which we than discard with great joy.
As Nick had told us, the first lock is the initiation, the second provides additional learning, and by the third you are experts! So
We spent our first night in the canal system at the free dock just west of Lock 20. All along the lock system there are these free
docks, like little parks along the side of the road were campers can stop overnight but in this case they're for boats. They are
provided by the NY Lock System with support from local businesses (like landscaping, compliments of Home Depot). These
docks come in very useful when you find yourself at a lock after the lock master has gone home... at exactly 5:00pm, even
though he could see us coming around the corner. At Lock 20, we came across 2 boats, Bob and Gail from Port Huron, Michigan
(on Liberty, a First 42) and John and Lise from Little Current (on Shadow Fax, a Dufour 38). John and Lise have their 2 boys (13
& 9) with then for the year and they are being home schooled. John says its only 2 hours work a day and the boys are having a
ball. We have been traveling with both these folks for most of our trip now. Great to have the company and they are really nice
folks. Bob is a racer, as you can guess with a First 42, and John runs a boat charter business in Little Current.
In celebration of our first day mastering the locks we broke out a bottle of Champagne and toasted our success. We were so
proud of ourselves. However, I must say the locks are almost a piece of cake. We have a few words of advice regarding the
locks and what you should have in the way of gear etc. but I will dedicate a page to that alone. Thanks very much to Nick and
skipper Deb for all the advice, as it was of GREAT help. We only managed to get one scratch on the boat and that was really
because of the wind at that particular lock, oh yes and me not moving one of the fenders back to its rightful place after our
docking the night before.
Our next day took us to the St Johnsville Municipal Marina, very rural, nice folks, and great facilities. By now we have realized
that not only the roads follow the river/canal but so do the trains, so we're getting accustomed to the noise and horns. Also
these towns are so small that finding any sign of an Internet Café is a pipe dream. We'll we will have to wait for the Big Smoke.
In general, we try to walk around town after we dock just to stretch our legs. In our walk around St Johnsville we came across a
Lawyers and Insurance Broker's office, in a nice old house. You'll never guess what their name was. Murphy! We regretted not
having the camera with us. Not a bad name for a Lawyer and an insurance broker.
Next stop Amsterdam, nice new public dock with a hardware store close by, which was great because I managed to put our
diesel heater chimney in the garbage pile...temporarily …and it ended up in the real garbage… and it was getting cold! We also
found a great little Italian Restaurant with not only superb food, but also a bakery with great bread and "burek", which was
great for lunch the next day. On to Waterford, which marks the end of the Erie Canal, where we caught up with Bob, Gail, John,
Lise and the boys, and Bill and Joe. Unfortunately for Bill, his friend Joe had caught pneumonia and had to go home. So Bill
decided he could not go on alone and was heading back to Buffalo. Hopefully, he will get to charter a boat in Florida this winter
and will get his sailing vacation anyway. All the best to Bill, the wine was great, thanks again and we hope to see you south!
Waterford is a great stop, the public dock is very nice and there is a great walk up to see the old canal locks. This is where you
meet the Hudson River and from the public dock you can also walk down to see the Hudson join the Canal system… another
milestone. From here it's on to Poughkeepskie.
We stayed in Hyde Park Marina, just before Poughkeepskie, for the night and got a great deal on the slip fee since we were on
the outside dock (a little rocky) with no power. This is Vanderbilt and Roosevelt country so the houses or should we say
Mansions are something to see. Turns out, the Culinary Institute is not far away and, had we known this earlier, we might have
indulged instead of cooking our own. Our neighbor that night was one of those 175 ft cruisers with 4 boat boys etc.
Unbelievable! Next stop Catskill, to raise the mast.
As we approached Catskill we were catching up to Liberty and Shadow Fax , whom we had not seen the night before, and just
before turning off the Hudson into Catskill, along comes a big tug boat going someplace in a big hurry. Big hurry = big wake.
We saw Liberty and Shadow Fax take the wake, and thought, oh no…well you know that marvel of engineering, it tilted forward
but luckily only a very little. Imagine we are only about 300 yards from the dock at Catskill. I think this time Murphy was just
spying on us, and wasn't really coming for a sail. Murphy's Law number two: There is no such thing as over engineered.
We spent 2 days at Riverside Marina in Catskill, getting the mast back up, a few projects done, and reorganizing things on the
boat. Once we got all the rigging and the sails up, we realized that the 125% Genoa (the big sail up front for those of our friends
who are not sailors) that we thought we had, was in fact the 160% (too big for what we need) and that we had left the 125% at
home! So how to get the 125 sent to us? Chris, Help! Not only that, but when we opened the 160 we discovered that there were
a few ant nests inside it, so there were ants everywhere. That's what you get for storing the sail in the shed. It took us about 30
minutes to wash off the ants (drown the little suckers!) and get the sail up to dry. Then we had the big challenge of trying to fold
such a large sail on the deck of the boat. We didn't want to get it anywhere near any surviving ants. For sure Murphy was doing
a little more than spying on us now.
Riverside Marina in Catskill is just great. Chris is a master with the crane and really knows what he is doing, as do all the folks
in this Marina. Mind you, stepping and unstopping over a hundred masts a season would make you an expert in a hurry! This is
a great facility, with very friendly folks. Be sure to fill your propane tank here as it is the easiest of all places (across the
street). We highly recommend this Marina.
We had a great dinner in town at the Italian Restaurant (the far end of the main street…worth the walk). Also we wished we had
walked into town during the day…nice antique shops etc. By the way "the Catskills" look a lot like Collingwood from a ski hill size
point of view. On to the Big Smoke!
We stopped in Tarrytown for the night, found a pay phone, and made a few calls about getting the 125% sail Fedexed to
Annapolis. Not much going on here, so on we go.
We spent the first night in New York City in the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club. The ony thing this club has going for it is the fact that
it has a spectacular view of New York City from the west side of the Hudson. It's right across from the Empire State Building.
Beautiful! It's a nice club but the noise (steel posts that the floating docks are attached to) and the rocking is unbelievable. Most
places in New York harbor are very rocky with all the ferries etc. However, it gets quieter after 12:00 but starts up again about
We had a great dinner out on Thanksgiving night to celebrate Andy's daughter, Klara's, 30th birthday. Klara and Elijah had a
chance to see the boat finally all done and to wish us an official bon voyage. Again Happy 30th Klara!
Well we couldn't stand the noise one more night so on to Liberty Harbor Marina, only a few miles further, for the next 2 nights.
Much better. We would have stayed at this marina in the first place except they had a boat show going on over the previous
weekend and there was no space.
Liberty Marina is very close to Hoboken, New York. Now, we have all heard of Hoboken…but I'll bet you don't know why…Chris
tells us, it's the birth place of Frank Sinatra and in fact, I believe that there is a Frank Sinatra song about it, in one of his
musicals. Anyway, what a great place. Beautiful old buildings, going very upscale these days. Nice shops, however, be careful of
the yuppie bakery…we paid $6:00 US for two loaves of bread, which weren't even very good. Gail said that's what you get for
no preservatives and on top of that they go bad faster! Also you would expect to find a good Deli, given the number of Italians
in New Jersey, but noooooo. Anyway, it is a nice place and I guess you need to know the lay of the land to get good food.
Leg 3: New York to Cape May: (New Jersey Coast)
We left New York along with Bob and Gail on Liberty. John and Lise had left the day before we arrived in Now York in order to
get to Atlantic City to visit with Lise's aunt. We were very happy to be doing the next leg with Liberty. Frankly this is the part
that had me (Marilyn) nervous …out in the open ocean for the first time…but again, it was no big deal. We had great weather
(wind on the beam) and the New Jersey coast is beautiful. Long white sandy beaches, mega beach houses …big bucks! Oh yes
and "they" say that the New York Harbor is very busy. Well, we didn't think so. In fact, Toronto harbor can be worse with all the
sail boats as well as the ferries. However, maybe on the weekend it's worse. Mind you, you do have to watch the ferries, they
move at a great clip.
First stop, Manasquan Inlet and thank heaven for it. It was getting rather windy and rough and I was not a happy camper.
Liberty radioed us to say they were going into Mansaquan so we followed them in. We thought we would have to anchor here,
but the folks at the Breille Yacht Club were kind enough to let us moor on their fuel dock so we were snug for the night. Very
nice club, lots of fishing trawlers. This is definitely fishing land, not many sailing vessels. On to Atlantic City.
Nice day, but no wind, so we motored all the way. This is when we really missed the Autohelm! Going 210 degrees for 7 hours!
We stayed at Gardiner's Basin, picked for the price, and as "they" say "you get what you pay for". No washrooms, no showers
but a nice location. Actually there are washrooms but they are public (part of the water front complex generally there for the
fisherman who fish from the wall…got the picture?) but they don't open until after 9:00 am …too late for us!
We arrived in Atlantic City at 4:00 and were out on the boardwalk by 6:00, had a nice walk, checked out the Casino's, lost $10
on the slots (our budget) in a very short amount of time, had dinner at Hooters, all in all a nice night. Interesting place, though
can't say I would return. Gail was much luckier than we were on the slots and won $500! Well done Gail!... and you'll never
guess who was a few slips behind us, John, Lise and the boys!
All three boats went on to Cape May, our last stop on the New Jersey coast before we head to the Chesapeake. We picked
Utsch's Marina for the night, mostly because of a combination of price and depth...remember this is fishing trawler land, anyway
it turned out that Liberty and Shadow Fax, were also headed there so we were finally all back together and had a nice visit
aboard Shadow Fax. Liberty and Shadow Fax were heading out the next day but we decided to stay an extra day so we could
visit Cape May. We had been told that there were some beautiful old Victorian houses in Cape May and not to miss them. Well,
great advice, they are beautiful. We also needed to do some shopping so we could spend some time in the Chesapeake at
anchor without the need for any shops. We were glad we spent the time, very nice town with nice people. There was a Victorian
Week celebration starting and one of the home owners invited us in for a tour, even though we weren't on the "official" tour.
Later Heather, a local Real Estate agent, hearing us ask the grocery checkout guy how to best get a cab, gave us a ride back to
the Marina with our groceries. Nice people!
Leg 4: Cape May to the Chesapeake:
We left Cape May at about 8:30, at low tide, and made our way up the channel to the Delaware Bay. Yesterday we had watched
Shadow Fax go under the bridge that you have to clear just at the entrance to the canal. Lots of discussion about whether they
would make it, or whether their antenna would have to bend. Our mast is 54 feet high, plus the tri-colour and antenna, while the
bridge has 56 feet of vertical clearance. John spent a little time trying to figure out if he (with his antenna) was taller than us. As
it turned out at, low tide, he had a least 2 feet spare, so we should be OK as well. Indeed, when it came to be our turn, we
made it under the bridge without any problems. We had another beautiful day with, however, not a breath of wind and the water
as flat as a pancake. Ah, another day of motoring without the Autohelm. It is Oct 20th, so we have been away for three weeks
and have sailed for, at best, 30 hours. Actually, it was probably fortuitous that we had conditions such as these as the Bay is
quite shallow and a certain combination of wind, tide and current can be challenging for a sailboat.
At around 5pm we entered the Chesapeake Delaware Canal and just as it turned dark we approached the Chesapeake City
anchorage. The guide-book said there was limited room on a wall plus a small bay in which we could drop the hook. Of course,
the limited room had already been taken up by earlier arrivals so we were faced with our first anchoring experience with the
new windlass and all-chain rode… in the dark. Circling around showed us where we might fit in without later swinging around and
hitting the boats already there, and we managed to get the anchor down without mishap, though it was difficult to communicate
over the engine noise without being able to see each other. We studied the charts that evening and decided not to push hard but
to stop for the night in the Sassafras River estuary, a little less than half-way to Annapolis.
Next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we pulled anchor and set off down the canal towards the northern end of Chesapeake
Bay. Within a short time the wind rose quite significantly and, of course, it was right on the nose. Soon we were battling both
wind and reasonably large waves. It was then that the "noise" appeared, seemingly from the prop shaft… clunking and rattling.
Definitely not healthy. With reduced revs, thankfully, it disappeared. We could not stop as there was nowhere to go to get off
the channel so we continued on hoping no further damage was being done. We turned into the Sassafras and got some
protection from the wind and waves. Increasing the revs, as a test, brought the ugly noise back, so we motored along, sedately,
at some 2000 rpm. There appeared to be a good anchorage in a bend of the river where it was joined by Turner Creek and we
decided to drop there. The chart showed a sand-bar across the mouth of the creek so we tucked in and set the anchor. By
nightfall a couple of other boats joined us, but stayed quite far out from the creek. With engine stopped, I pulled away the stairs
to see if I could identify the cause of the ugly noise and almost immediately nearly had a heart attack when I saw the key that
would normally be enabling the prop shaft and V-Drive coupling to rotate in unison, lying on the floorboards. Not only that, but
its edges where severely mashed up. The shaft was still in the coupling and appeared to be held by the two set-screws (or
rather set-bolts) but the keyway slot in each of them was also badly mangled.
It looked to be an expensive repair… haul-out (probably the same weekend as you at the NYC!), plus new shaft and new
That was not the end of the bad news as, in the morning, we discovered the wind had shifted 90 degrees and had pushed us
onto the sand-bar. I tried motoring off, but quickly gave up, not wanting to cause terminal damage to the propshaft. Good job
we had purchased a Tow-Boat US membership, for US$99. We tried raising them on Ch 16, but got no answer. OK, let's try the
US Coast Guard. We ended up getting shunted between the Baltimore and Philadelphia stations as, for some mysterious reason,
Baltimore could not hear us, even though they were much closer. Fourty five minutes later the tow boat arrives… and inflatable
with two 150HP outboards and a pleasant young fellow who, according to Marilyn, looked like Tom Cruise. We attached a bridle
to the bow cleats, he cranked up the throttles, and nothing happened except for a lot of churned up water!
After a few minutes of this he went to Plan B which was to attach a bridle to the fore and aft cleats on the starboard side.
Turning up the throttles produced a disconcerting effect as Amida tipped over onto her side by some 30 degrees, but again,
didn't move. We appeared to be well and truly stuck. I was now envisioning that Tom C would radio to us to say he would have
to call a tug to assist, but he persevered and, with an interesting tactic of putting tension first on the bow side of the bridle then
the stern, then back to the bow, he effectively see-sawed Amida off the sand-bar. His offer to tow us into the main part of the
river was gratefully accepted and soon we were being dragged along at 9 knots! Guess where the wind was coming from
again…yup, the nose! We got him to tow us the full 5 or 6 miles back to the Bay channel which saved a good hour or two of
sailing. Then came the paperwork… and the invoice (which Two Boat US paid directly)… and the second near heart-attack within
24 hours. The total amount was $875…US… That $99 was certainly a good investment!
With wind now at our stern, we sailed down the Bay towards Annapolis with only a partially reefed genoa in the 15-20 knot wind,
and at a boatspeed of over 6 knots. We looked to the NW and saw ugly, ugly clouds heading towards us and then suddenly, they
were on top of us at 25-30 knots, pelting us with rain. Reefing in more of the genoa was hard work, but flattened us out to a
more reasonable angle and took the look of worry off Marilyn's face. As quickly as it came, the wind died down again, so we
shook out the reef and continued on. An hour later, another bank of clouds approached and this time we reefed early. I was on
the wheel by now and saw the wind speed climbing and climbing till it hit 40 knots, mercifully again for just a few minutes. The
waves by now were also pretty ugly and steering was not as easy as it had been in the confined shelter of the canals!
By 1900 we were approaching our chosen anchorage in Annapolis, this time with our FRS sets, with headphones, at the ready as
it was already quite dark. I highly recommend use of this relatively cheap technology as it takes away a lot of the
miscommunication and tension from anchoring. We retired below, breathed a sigh of relief that we had arrived safely, and
pulled out the Annapolis Port book that listed the marine yards and trades. By now we had quite an extensive list of problems
that needed to be fixed (my intent is to have a separate section on the web-site, called Murphy's Corner, where these will be
described in more detail)… radar, autohelm, diesel tank vent hose, holding tank vent hose, GPS, propshaft, ham radio, PC…
The next morning was spent on the phone (all roaming charges…ouch, ouch, ouch!), the first priority being the prop-shaft. One
"engine guy", Chris, had been recommended by a Valiant email list contributor and I managed to catch him by his phone. He is
also a Surveyor as well as an engine guy. No problem, he says, I can do the job, but not till Monday (today is Thursday). I ask
him what could have caused the key to wear away and drop out of the slot. A poor installation is his response which makes me
thoroughly PO'd as we'd spent a lot of $s putting in a new engine precisely to avoid what was happening. Turns out we also need
to find a yard to haul us out before he can work on the boat and that is a rather tougher nut to crack as they are all busy. I
eventually find one, Petrini's, that can haul Amida on Monday, but they have their own techies and won't allow visiting
contractors. Finding an "electronics guy" is much harder, even though there are many listed in the Ports book. I call several,
leave a message, and none call back. With some time on my hands, I decide to follow Marilyn's advice that the autohelm
problem is likely a loose wire caused when I was pulling new cables around the vicinity of the autohelm course computer. I do
this without much hope of success as all the cables I'd seen were either ring terminals or were solidly screwed in. My male
intuition instead pointed to a problem with the unit itself, confirmed by a call to Raymarine Tech Support who told me to look for
12v at the cable leading to the autohelm motor, the absence of which meant the unit was faulty and would need to be repaired
(no doubt at great cost). Of course, to get at the cable to do the voltage test, we needed to unload half of the stuff that filled the
quarter berth so I could even open up the hold that contained the unit, and remove the starter battery. After doing this, I shone
my flashlight into the space behind the barely accessible course computer and found, to my great surprise, two loose wires!
Seems that her intuition, in this case, was right on the nose. Strangely, these two wires had spade terminal ends, so were easily
dislodged. Putting them back was not easy as the installers had been stingy with wire lengths and I had to insert them into their
slots at the rear of the unit blindly, but this was accomplished without too much swearing. The static test, i.e. see if changing the
control course would lead to the wheel being moved, proved successful, so I declared victory! OK, Marilyn, so what's wrong with
the radar? The answer was remarkably similar… the wires we reconnected after stepping the mast in Catskill are the problem
and we should remove them and reattach them afresh. I don't think so, is my response, but we'll do that tomorrow anyway and
if she's right, again, I will have to work on my feminine side!
At midday we decide to blow up the dinghy, no no I mean inflate the dinghy, and head into Annapolis. This is the dinghy that we
purchased almost 18 months ago and have yet to even unpack! This goes well, the engine doesn't fall into the water as we
move it from the stern rail to the dinghy transom, and it even starts on the first pull! This means that we both are entitled to
promotions. Marilyn is now the Dinghy Captain, which makes me the Admiral of the Fleet.
The weather is beautiful, sunny and quite warm (heard it snowed in Toronto, true? :-))) ), after a freezingly cold night. We
motor the mile or so to the dingy dock, which is right in the middle of Annapolis harbour, make use of the Visiting Sailor
Showers as it's been three days since our last one, and take a walk around the quite beautiful town. We find an internet café
and check out our email, make more phone calls regarding repairs and discover we can get hauled tomorrow at Petrini's. Then
we stop off for a couple of dozen oysters and a beverage at a local pub…that's more like the cruising life I had expected!
You have to watch these kinds of pleasures, as they turn out to be expensive. The Expenses spreadsheet shows us as being
over budget due, primarily, to the many marinas we stayed in during the trip down. US$1.50, or $2, per ft times 37 ft of boat
length does a pretty fast kachung, kachung! But the cost has been coming down these last few days as we've been at anchor.
We are actually eating better on the boat than we had back in Toronto when working as there haven't been many evenings of
junk food which a late return from the office often meant. Instead, we've had veal, salmon, steaks, pork tenderloin, spaghetti,
chicken stir fry, fajitas… and not much exercise. We'll be blimps by the time we get to water warm enough in which to swim and
lose some calories.
All in all we are having a wonderful time but I am frustrated by how many things have developed faults despite my efforts to
head this off by replacing old with new before we left, even though I was warned this would happen, but I'm getting used to it. It
would be nice if I could fix more of them myself but my skills, and tools, are still limited. For instance, I don't think I could tackle
replacing the prop shaft… and, unless Marilyn is right about the radar problem being a bad reconnection, it means there is a
short circuit "somewhere" in the big fat cable that goes from the display by the nav station and up through the mast to the
antenna. How the @#$* will I be able to find out where it is????? How will I fix it? Does it mean that the new Raymarine radar,
which was always expected, will have to be purchased earlier rather than later? Installation with the stick "up" will not be easy…
Anyway, only wimps need radar!
But, here I sit, typing away at the keyboard with Chopin playing on the radio. I found and installed a splitter that enables me to
use the VHF mast-head antenna as the antenna for the AM/FM radio, which enables me to find many more local FM stations,
quite a few of which are operated by Christian enterprises. Two of my favorite stations are National Public Radio (like PBS and,
of course, in the middle of their fund-raising campaign!) and the Classical Network, which is on right now. Those, the BBC via
the short-wave radio, and our CDs are on pretty much 100% of the time… except for our "treats" of watching Friends (first three
seasons) and the Godfather Trilogy on DVD. A last thought before I sign off, and it relates to how "unfriendly" computers still
are. The first time we loaded a DVD, Windows XP came up with a rather cryptic message saying it wasn't going to play the DVD
and suggested we should change the colour mix and/or the screen resolution! Despite having worked for IBM for 58 years
between us, this message was not all that helpful, but I had been a Manager and Marilyn in Marketing. She, however, has a
degree in Computer Science so my managerial skills came in useful as I delegated the task of fixing this problem to her… and
fix it she did. It turns out that changing the colour mix and/or resolution did not make any difference. There are, however, three
different DVD player programs on this machine. Two don't work (or rather we can't get them to work), while the third does ...
go figure!!!! But I'm not really complaining, this and everything else, is part of the adventure… and there's nothing else I'd
rather be doing right now. We've learned new skills, faced challenges, overcome fears, and met interesting people… So for
those of you who are planning this same adventure….don't be daunted…it is all worth it. We laugh and have fun each and every
day… and, after all, it is much, much, much better than being in the office!
Sunday, Oct 26
Yesterday was a very, very interesting day. We hauled the anchor after discovering that we were in a prohibited anchorage,
reserved for the Navy, motored past a sunken sailboat, a casualty of Isabel, and headed for the Spa Creek Bridge which opens
every half hour. The gap was quite narrow so we waited to let the sailboats on the other side come through. Then, just as we
approached ourselves, an ambulance with siren wailing approached, and the bridge dropped to let it through. Kind fellow, the
bridge master, he was, because as soon as the ambulance crossed, he opened up the bridge again rather than make us wait
another thirty minutes. We found Petrini's just up the river and motored into the Yard, which was quiet and deserted. No one
answered our cell phone call, so we tied up and walked around, looking for John Petrini who, as it turned out, had been in his
office. He said he'd haul us right away, remove the prop shaft, so it could be sent away to make a replacement and he'd stick in
an old propshaft, just to keep the water out, and re-launch us. "Right way" eventually meant much of the day as he would get
distracted by something else and disappear for some time! He examined the mangled end, took a look at the cutlass bearing,
declared it was toast, removed it and pressed in a replacement. Progress! The Spur prop shaft line cutter was also toast as one
of the rotating blades had plain disappeared. His opinion of the installation was pretty succinct… bullshit workmanship! The shaft
alignment was not done correctly which led to uneven wear on the cutlass bearing and vibration, which we somehow had not
noticed, maybe because it happened at the higher revs we used when water conditions were worse, so the boat was pitching
and rolling and the engine noise masked others. So, both he and the Surveyor agree on the root cause. I will go along with their
analysis, call Charles on Monday and fill his ear with smoke!
John is an interesting fellow. He told us he used to be in show business, was involved in the recording of several hits, his entire
family is involved one way or another in the arts, and his grandmother's sister was Clark Gable's mother. We were close to
fame! When I commented that, despite this artsy background, he ended up as a mechanic, his response was, "hell, I'm no
mechanic, I just use common sense!", which caused me some consternation! I don't think he'll ever get Certified in a Profession
:-))). His operation is pretty much a one man show, as no one wants to stay working for him, but he has a heart of gold and is
very knowledgeable, at least according to one of the live aboards, Jack, to whom Marilyn got talking during the many waiting
periods. This ended up very beneficial for us, as Jack offered to let us drive his second car, an old Lincoln, to do some chores
around town. This is the beauty of cruising, the people you meet are so generous. They understand your predicaments, likely
having experienced many themselves.
Chris, the engine guy I referenced earlier, called to say he'd drop by on Sunday. This is good as, apparently, he is a magician
at aligning engines and prop shafts. I also want to bend his ear about the air vent problem with the fuel tank we appear to have,
and how to optimize the routing of the vent hoses, which is, I think, the issue.
It appears that we're going to be in Annapolis for a few days, but there are plenty of worse places to be! Later today, we'll head
into town to visit the Naval Academy and their museum as it is cloudy and looks like it might rain… then maybe a treat for the
evening, a movie! In between, we might even get to the Internet Café and load up this log, for which I'm sure you are waiting
with baited breath… well, maybe a few of you are… OK, maybe our family members are… OK, OK, I'll read it myself once it's in
the public domain!