Together for the Holidays

     It's been a couple of years since we've all been together for the holidays, the last time being the Short Bus Tour to Mexico in '08, with my entire family, a total of 23 people.  This year it's just the 4 of us, a much easier group to feed and transport, although I do miss the gigantic family gatherings. So far we've managed to get in a walk on the beach in between meals.

    Christmas Day is also Amanda's birthday and this year she requested a Dutch Apple birthday pie as substitute for the traditional Birthday Cake. We ate and drank and sat and told stories and sang, a very good dinner on a chilly evening.

    The menu this year: Salmon seasoned and steamed from the grill; Scallops sauteed in an onion, garlic, and wine sauce; Garlic mashed potatoes; all followed with lots of wine, chocolate and of course the apple pie with ice cream. Walks required all around today.

    There has been a lot of talk of sailing but with a cold front blowing through today winds are cold and blasting from the NW at 20-25kts, gusts to 40. Looking at Tuesday...maybe a trip south for an overnighter, then back if the front continues to push through as forecast. No weather complaints allowed aboard though as friends and family continue to post about the large storms from the NE and huge snows from the Upper Midwest.

Merry X-Mass from aboard Celebration to all our family and friends!


Home Again, Part Deux

It's nice to think of St Pete as home, and we've actually lived here longer than anywhere else, so far, in our married lives, more than 5 years.  It's been really fun getting together with all the friends we made over the years here.  Last night Bob and Kitty , of Equinox fame, hosted a dinner at their new home (formerly La Casita Pepto Bismol and now La Casita Elegante) and invited a group of us over for delicious BBQ, salads and numerous desserts. Bob was even nice enough to taxi us there and back.  It was a lively evening, solving the worlds problems and talking sail trim, eating bread pudding and drinking wine. At some point, the wine obviously got the better of us and we ended up in the back yard playing on the zip line that Bob built for their very lucky grandsons. 
 I love this photo, Elise and Penny look like the neighborhood kids playing, and Elise standing there thinking "Auggg, no fair! It's my turn!"
This is Jeff, who lives in England, but has a boat named Jade at the North Dock.  He was here working and visiting his boat for a few days. He's a great guy, well informed and able to hold his own, and his wine, in our vocal crowd-another new friend! And he's a sailor.  A good night all around.


Home Again

It was an interesting trip from Vero Beach around to St Pete.  We had a variety of weather and sea conditions, from calm and cold to really crappy cold and rain and fighting a 20kt wind on the nose, with the accompanying  waves to slam into.  It was so rough that the anchor mount and two of the teak slats on the bow broke from the force of the water.  For one whole night it was: get up speed forward, to about 3kts, hit wall, bounce back, bounce way up, bounce down, have speed drop to 1.5kts, get back in seat, adjust hat, pick up speed, hit wall... Generally, I love overnight passages and the chance to enjoy the stars and sea, alone on my watches. On this trip, however, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about a nice warm RV.

We did have one wonderful highlight to the trip.  As we left Indian Key, we sailed off the mooring and the dolphins joined us by the dozens, jumping, flipping, zooming around, under and across the bow.  Hjlmr steered down the Hawk Channel while we both stood on the bow and watched. There were more than I'd ever seen at one time and most of the time I just stood there with the camera useless in my hand, just pointing and yelling "over there! oh,oh, oh, over there, more! Look! Look!" That, at least, was a great 'welcome back' to the Gulf of Mexico.
Almost close enough to touch.

They came by the dozens.

Mom and baby


Vero Beach, looking north, Celebration is almost in the middle of the photo, rafted with a 20' black Flicka.

We've finally ripped ourselves out of Velcro Beach and are making our way around The Keys.  Steve needed a couple of days to recover from the delivery trip, the lack of sleep, food, intelligence, took it's toll.  We took some long walks and stocked up on fresh fruit for our jaunt around the Horn of Florida. (I like to call it a 'Horn' because it's the only one I may ever round.) The Vero Beach mooring field was packed, we were 3 or 4 to a ball the whole time we were there.  It's interesting, you're expected to raft up at Vero.  If you're the first one on a ball, you just put your fenders off on the side you want boat #2 to raft to.  Then you both put fenders off on the outside and let boat #3 choose which side to go on. It's a novel way to meet new people, although with a boat on either side, privacy is non existent. We had many, many friends to catch up with and it was great fun to go to the Thursday Happy Hour and see who was there.

The marina grounds were very park like, covered with Live Oaks, which were themselves covered with moss and ferns.

From park like to cruise ships and air pollution.  Steve watched these 5 cruise ships enter port on his night watch off of Port Everglades. They look like birthday cakes at night, all lit up and twinkely. The air over the port was heavy and yellow.

Tonight we're on a mooring ball at Indian Key State Park.  The wind continues to blow and the temps are low.  We'll head north tomorrow and get to St Pete by Friday, ahead of the next Norther. We've reserved a space at Maximo Marina for the next month and we're really looking forward to seeing all our friends there and catching up with them. 

One final note to NOAA:  ahem, this here is My Yam Me, we don't do Ark-tic here, so could you quit sending it?


Boat Delivery 101

    Many of you know I went on a little “side-line” the past couple of weeks. Offered a chance to sail an older offshore Choey Lee 48 ketch from Moorhead City NC to St Thomas, and get paid to sail, I took it. The boat was a true joy to sail. She handled heavy weather beautifully, and a good thing as we had plenty. In all we experienced over four days of gale conditions with winds in the 35 – 45 knot range and seas over 20 (sometimes 30 feet) for most of it. The boat was designed by Bob Perry, had recently been re-rigged and with all new sails was well up to the task. Unfortunately no boat is perfect and she had her flaws, the first of which was the auto-helm so most of the trip was spent hand steering. Not an issue except that as an old off shore designed for a big crew, we were unable to adjust any sails from the helm…effectively making sailing a two crew job anytime the weather kicked up. Then the human factor kicked in.

    Regardless of the (loooooong) South Pacific sailing stories we were regaled with, one of the crew had difficulty handling the helm when the weather got tough, lobbied often for reducing sail (even when impossible as only the single smallest sail on board was flying [huh???]), steered us through an accidental jibe during an expected and observed approaching frontal passing, couldn’t/wouldn’t get adequate rest, and really didn’t seem to understand the concept of sailboat systems or operation. A distraction for the crew to say the least…perhaps so too for the Captain with whom she shared a bunk. For those sailors out there you know about running the engine to charge battery banks, and the importance of isolating those banks when charging is done. Say it isn’t so, but yes the batteries remained combined, selector on “Both” after charging. Discovering the mistake going into our second gale still 650 miles out of St Thomas it was too late…no engine for the rest of the trip. Oh…and no power, no fridge, no electric bilge pumps, stove, running water, auto-helm, chart plotter, navigation lights, VHF, etc. With just our personal head-lamps, one rechargeable GPS (with ½ power left), one hand-held VHF and an Iridium phone (1/2 power left), now it’s exciting! Interesting how you never really know how much a boat leaks until the electric bilge pumps don’t work and you must hand pump. In our case I estimate 5-8 gallons/hr. Eventually I found and stopped all the leaks allowing the last four days of sailing without pumping….and much better sleeping I might add. In short, we put into Puerto Rico hungry and needing showers for a jump start and a nights rest, then on to St Thomas. In total 15 days at sea, some great experience, a few “notables” for my own off shore checklist, realization that big swells are not a problem when the boat sails well, and mostly the confidence that we can do this….probably do it better and safer.


Thanksgiving Dinner for about 120

There were 8 of us at table #5, talking, laughing, enjoying the happy hour before the potluck buffet started. Having such a good time we almost didn't mind that our table number was drawn last to go through the buffet line.  Not too much turkey left after the first 110 people were through.  In fact the carcasses looked like they'd been left in the desert for a week, they were so barren.  But we had our choice of hams, squashes, dressing, cranberries galore, potatoes, gravy, dozens of salads, beans, veggies and fruit.  The good thing was, we turned right around and were first in the dessert line.  I had an awesome slice of key lime cheesecake.  It went well with my Capt'n and Coke with lime.  Great to see so many friendly faces, some of whom I hadn't realized were even in the area.  As always, so many people, so little time.

Wide awake, no tryptophan here.
This is just for my relatives in the really frozen north.  I took it as I was considering a second shower before leaving for dinner, as it is also very humid.

No word from Steve for a couple of days.  I'd heard from the Captains girlfriend that they were having engine problems and were going to put into Puerto Rico to make repairs.  Knowing as I do that Steve can take apart and put together a diesel engine in his sleep, I can't imagine what could possibly be wrong that they couldn't jerryrig a temp fix.  Any hew, I've always subscribed to the 'no news is good news' magazine and am confident that they are slowly making progress toward St Thomas.


Sunset over Vero, from the cockpit, with wine.
I took the bus to the shopping area yesterday, just to see what was there.  I really was just looking, I have a 'buy one: get rid of one' rule, and don't have anything I want to get rid of at the moment.  If you haven't taken public transportation lately, let me refresh your memory, it's highly entertaining.  People will say the most personal, intimate things on their cell phones while riding on a full bus.  The woman next to me was having a very loud discussion, obviously about sex, with her boyfriend, L'roy, and was upset that I was avidly listening (it was a very long ride).  She finally turned her back to me, no easy feat in a bus seat, and said to L'roy "The woman next to me is listening to my private conversation!"  There was laughter from the entire bus, even the driver.  And from several rows back came "Hon, we all gettin' turned on heah!" 
Last night was Happy Hour at the dock and tonight I'm going to a birthday party on Blackfoot.  The social life continues and will just get busier as more boats arrive in anticipation of the Thanksgiving party next week. 


Vero Beach

The view off the stern of Vero, with  Mr Mac rafted alongside.
  About a month ago, we were having dinner with our friends, Ken and Cynthia, in Oriental.  Ken mentioned that he was helping another friend deliver a boat from Beaufort, NC, to St Thomas in the USVI's.  They needed another crew. Steve and I had a head to head in the corner and Steve was in. It meant, though, that we had to get the boat south to Florida, so as not to be freezing our tushes trying to get out of NC at the end of November when he (Steve) returned.  We did 4 days on the ICW and then jumped offshore and came to Florida.  Found out the trip was delayed because of hurricane Tomas.  Came farther south.  Found out that Steve was bumped from the trip because they found local crew and wouldn't have to buy plane tickets.  We headed to the GAM in Melbourne, which was the original plan. Got to Melbourne.  Steve got a call from the captain, was he still interested?  The local crew had backed out.  So the next day he flew out and Sunday they left the coast, heading east across the gulf stream and then south on I65.  65 is the latitude that runs north and south through the Caribbean and so many boats go that way that it's referred to as an interstate.  In all, about a 10-12 day trip.
So that left me in Melbourne all by my lonesome.  Well, except for the 15 other boats in the anchorage who were also heading south.  I jumped in line behind Mr Mac and followed them here to Vero Beach.  It's the first time I've managed the boat on my own and I had very shaky hands for the whole 2 days we took to get here, trying to remember all the things that Steve does and all the things I usually do when we get under way, turn this on, turn that off.  I was very pleased with myself when I wrapped the mooring line around the cleat here in Vero and could take a deep breath for the first time since I found out that Steve was leaving.  It's actually not such a big thing, kind of like driving to school the first time after you get your license and you think that every one is watching you.

Adjima, being very concerned about my driving.
 So Adjima and I are going to enjoy Vero Beach, or Velcro Beach as it's called, for the next 10 days.  It's so nice and the grocery and shopping are so handy and there's a free bus, people come here and never leave.  Just about everyone we know will be going through here at some time or other and I hear they have a great Thanksgiving party. Steve should get back sometime Thanksgiving weekend.


More Touring and Of Course, Good Food

Steve on the drawbridge.

 We had the chance to tour the old fort here today. It's called the Castillo de San Marcos, was built in 1672 and is now a National Monument. It was built by the Spanish, remodeled by the British and then re-redone by the Spanish. It's in remarkably good shape considering it's age. They have a great staff of park service rangers and volunteers. It's made of a local material called coquina (ko-key-na) that's actually compressed beach: shells and sand.  It was quarried on the island across the river and let dry for a year to harden so it could be cut into bricks.  It's great for withstanding cannon ball fire because it doesn't shatter, it just absorbs the cannon  ball and it doesn't burn. Because it doesn't burn, it was used for most of the buildings in St Augustine.

The cannon firing reenactment.

The coquina doesn't fare so well with all the thousands of tourists who go through.  It's fairly soft and wears down like concrete.  There are signs all over asking people not to touch, sit on or stand on the walls.  Of course, there were people all over the walls. Did I mention that they're 35 feet off the ground and 300 years old and just a little crumbly?  They need to make us tourists sign a "I will not be stupid today" pledge before entering.
Close-up of the coquina walls.

The elusive seafood market.
  I mentioned yesterday that we had chowder simmering for dinner.  It's because we finally found the seafood market that all the locals use.  We've been here a week now, so consider ourselves to be locals.  It's very hard to find unless you're in the know, there is no signage, just a bit of activity around some small trucks, that when we got closer we saw were seafood delivery trucks.
So for our $12 we had chowder and tonight we had shrimp in a white wine reduction with garlic, onions, lemon juice and butter on pasta, with a light topping of fresh grated Parmesan.


The Ancient City

We've had a couple of days to do some serious sight seeing here in St Augustine.  They pretty much claim to have the oldest of everything in the US: Oldest House, Oldest School, Oldest Catholic Church, Oldest Tour guide Still Talking, etc.  They even call the city the Ancient City. The architecture is really beautiful, the Spanish influences remind me a lot of Albuquerque, lots of terra cotta color and very shady courtyards.  (Not to throw doubt on the Tshirt makers or anything, but I think Albuquerque may be an older city.) The cool thing here is the way the color of the ocean contrasts with the city buildings.  I've always said that Albuquerque would be the perfect city if it were only on the water.  We may be close to perfection here.
Looking up the center of the 219 steps.
We went and climbed the lighthouse yesterday, all 219 steps of it.  It was really windy and a little scary at the top.  The guide said they'd measured some 50 mph gusts. The view was wonderful and even though I had to hold on pretty tight to the camera, we got some nice shots.

The view from the top.
We're off in the morning, heading toward Melbourne to see friends.  Tonight, a shrimp chowder simmers on  top of the stove and bread bakes in the oven.  It should help take the chill off a cool night.


St. Augustine

 We spent 52 hours off shore and Boom! we're back in the sun and humidity.  It's great to be back in Florida with the blue/green water and palm trees along shore.  I didn't realize I'd missed it so much until we got back.  We had a great sail from South Carolina.  A great sail consists of having nothing break and no one getting sick.  (Adjima did get a bit motion sick on the way out the inlet when we left and did do a little barfing (fortunately, it was on Steve's side of the bed)).
The most interesting part of the sail were the jellyfish we saw almost all the way down the coast.  They are known as Cannonball Jelly (for Dr. Anne: stomolophus meleagris).  They apparently are considered quite a pest by the commercial fishermen because they're so prolific and tend to clog the nets and slow down sorting times.  I also read that they're one of the least venomous of the jellyfish.  I had to scoop one out with our cat-retriever net and take a closer look.  The one I caught was as big as a softball and quite firm. We sailed through these things for more than 100 miles, there were millions.

I took a tour of what is now Flagler College, the former Hotel Ponce de Leon.  It was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler ,of Standard Oil fame.  It was built as the most exclusive of them all resort destinations, back in the day when the women were whisked away from the check-in desk in the lobby so as not to see any financial transactions, thereby saving them from going blind. It was the first building in Florida to have electricity and the second building ever done by Thomas Edison.  It's an amazing structure, Tiffany glass and murals by G.W. Menard. A lot of the original fixtures are still in place: the carved pillars and African mosaic tile floor in the lobby and the gold leaf lion heads with light bulbs in their mouths, a huge art collection.  The attention to detail was wonderful.  It's now a girls dorm on the campus of Flagler College.

We also had a chance to peruse one of sailing's meccas here in Florida, the Sailor's Exchange.  Consignment and used gear marine stores are always fun for me, you just never know what you'll find! At SE there was a huge bin of any kind of nut or bolt or screw, complete with a paddle to move the piles around. I think there is literally one of every size there, all you need is the patience to find the one you're looking for.


Driving the Ditch

We call Adjima our 'Canal Cat' because she loves to come and sit in the cockpit when we're going through canals.  It's usually not too windy and not too bumpy and she can sit and watch the sights.  She's had lots of cockpit time in the last week as we make our way down the ICW south of Norfolk.  The IntraCoastal Waterway, is also known as 'the ditch' or 'going  inside' as opposed to going off shore or 'outside'. It's a series of rivers and canals or land cuts, all connected and usually just inside of the barrier islands along the coast. When the weather isn't good to go outside, like this past week, when we had strong winds from the south,  it's a busy place. Not too much sailing to be had, but lots to look at.  We're now in the middle of the mass exodus of cruising boats making their way to warmer climes and the canals and anchorages are full.  As usual, it's a very, very social group. It's fun to get out the binoculars as we come into an anchorage and see who we've met before and who's our next victim.
 Getting into the Virginia and North Carolina water system is interesting because the water is brown.  It's pretty clear, just brown from all the tannins in the water from the decaying plant materials.  It looks like root beer foam as the power boats go by.  It also gives boats that spend a lot of time here a very distinctive 'mustache' on the hull.
Don't go where the birds are standing.
The ICW is prone to shoaling, due to the many, many creeks and ocean entrances with all their currents and tides.  Some places more than others, as in the picture.  I like that they've even installed a parking meter so they can make money off the many boats that end up stranded here.


Back through Norfolk, one of my favorite places to sit and watch the traffic go by. Yes, Chris, I know you think it sucks, but I love all the different types of boats and the commercial aspect of it all. The loading and unloading of the big container ships is fascinating to me. I want to know how they know which conex to put on which ship and in what order. I realize there's a computer program for it all, but there are thousands of conexes and dozens of little worker bees trundling around moving them, loading more than one ship at a time.The ones getting off last have to go on first, but don't the heaviest ones have to go on the bottom? I know they fall off at sea, because we hear the warnings to look out for them on occasion, but how many are actually reported as 'lost'?

Container ships being loaded.

'Worker bees' hauling conex's to load on board.

L to R: Sandy, Steve, Allen, Judy, Laura, John and Bill
Last night we were tied to the free dock in Great Bridge, which is a bulkhead where boaters can stop for the night and get off the boat. There's a little park with tables and grills. There were 5 or 6 boats there last night. We did laundry up the street and managed to spend $100 at the grocery, but we resisted going to El Toro Loco for great Mexican food as we're saving ourselves for M&M's in Oriental. We did, as usual, though, manage to have a great meal.  One of our dock mates had caught a tuna offshore on the way into Norfolk and offered to share and it turned into a potluck.  We had tuna, grilled chicken, Caesar salad, potato salad, green beans, cheesy potatoes, fresh apple pie and eclairs and maybe a little wine. No one in the picture is standing next to their spouse, but the different boats involved were Luna Sea, Second Wind and Discovery II.

Buzz Kill. Just when we thought we'd solved that age old problem of, "I need
a shower but I also need to do laundry".


Cliff, in the dinghy.

Our weekend couldn't have started out much better. We had dinner with our old neighbor from Albuquerque, Cliff Spohn. He was in Solomon's Island visiting his parents and we managed to sneak him away for dinner and then again for a Saturday visit to the boat. So good to visit and catch up on the news of all our kids and mutual friends. Some day we'll get Cliff and his wife, Sandy, to actually come sailing with us.

Roberta, Lynn, Steve and John, at the Tiki Bar
We also met up with John and Roberta from Freedom, and along with Jason and Laura and
Laura's brother, Erik and his friend, Kennon, we managed a few margaritas at the Tiki Bar. I somehow got no pictures of the whole group! I guess I might have had to put down my glass or something improbable like that. Once again, sooo goood to catch up with everyone. I'm looking forward to learning use Jason's lasso to catch lobster in the Bahamas this winter. Since I never attained my goal of gettting sick of eating lobster over the summer, I will continue with my objective as we go south.


Look Mom, No Violations

On the way from Annapolis to Solomons Island yesterday, we had our very first safety inspection by the Coast Guard. They had boarded the sailboat about a mile behind us and we knew we could be next, so we were sitting, all nice and secure in our PFD's, when they pulled alongside Celebration. They were extremely nice (and SO YOUNG! How come they all look to be 20? It can't be my advancing age, can it?) and polite and efficient and chatty. It was a painless process thanks to our super organised Boat Book, containing all pertinent documents, and Steve's uber up to date flares and fire extinguishers.
We're anchored in Mill Creek just across from Solomons and had the chance to catch up with our friends from Blue Blaze, Jason and Laura and John from Freedom. It was a lively evening, made all the nicer because it was unexpected.
Today as we had our morning coffee, we got to watch a pair of eagles fishing and being harassed by the crows.


Heading South

Or, more likely, the title should be, Meandering South. In our usual fashion, we've stayed a long time in one place. Annapolis is one of those places that's very easy for a sailor to get comfortable in. There are lots of other sailors, good shopping for new and used gear and waterfront bars where sailors can talk (think heated debate here) about all that gear.
The annual Annapolis Boat Show took place this past weekend. It's the largest in-water boat show in the world and it's quite a spectacle. We met some cruisers who are part of the work crew every year and learned a lot about the workings of the set up and take down involved in such a big show. There are about a mile of floating docks assembled off site and towed in and then the vendors start bringing in the boats and setting up in the tents.
This year the weather was perfect and the crowds were big. We went on Friday looking for a few specific things and spent a whole day getting information and taking pictures of new ideas. We went back today to do our volunteer hours at the SSCA booth and look at water heaters, which we need as of yesterday. Ours isn't entirely kaput but it's the original 33 year old one and it's leaking rusty water into the bilge. Steve discovered this when he was at the bottom of the sail locker, doing something entirely different, we call this the Domino Effect. (I actually want to rename the boat 'Domino Effect', because we literally can't make coffee without moving something else first. Our daughter, Hannah, watched us putting away the groceries once, and after we had to ask her to move for the 3rd of 4th time and she was now perched on the back corner of the settee, remarked "you live in a puzzle".) Anyway, a great time was had at the boat show, we ran into friends on every other corner and spent a lot of time talking and catching up, my favorite part.

So now, it's getting chilly in the evenings and the leaves on the bank are turning red and yellow. The Canada Geese are going through in big incredibly noisy flocks and it's time to follow them to where it's warm.


Albuquerque: Family, Friends, Cars, and yes Balloons!!

    The SSCA Gam over with a week before the sailboat show, I took a trip to Albuquerque to spend a week with our daughter Hannah. After two days of knuckle-busting car repair (two motor mounts, idle air valve, adjust valves, timing, new spark plugs, couple light bulbs, etc) and evenings filled with cooking, a little wine and a lot of catching up we finally set out to see Albuquerque. First a trip to Tricklock Theater Company for a Friday night social and my chance to meet all her great friends and fellow company members, then a test drive of the car to the top of Sandia Crest and a photo opportunity looking down at the city below. Next a visit to our long time friends and old neighbors Cliff and Sandy Spohn to catch up once again.

   Tough to beat seeing and catching up with family and friends, but Cliff threw one at us we couldn't pass up. It's Balloon Fiesta week in Albuquerque and I didn't even know it before the trip.  Cliff, Sandy and family crew for one of the out of town balloonists and asked if we wanted to help out. After a 0400 alarm and a quickly downed cup of coffee, we headed off to the Spohns and the Balloon field. Today was a competition day so pilots had to choose their own take-off point from off field and fly the wind back accurately. 

    Well one thing leads to another, the briefings over, launch point selected, wind checked, balloon out, filling, burners heating...take-off time. "Who are my passengers?" Becky the pilot yells. "Hannah, get in!" comes a shout from Cliff. "I need one more" Becky says "Steve get in" Next thing we knew we were airborne floating toward the field watching the competition. Here are a few photos from another wonderful, completely unexpected experience.

Our "sky" for a couple hours.


Our pilot Becky and copilot Cindy,

   Thank you Cliff, Sandy, Becky,Cindy and everyone else for the great surprise and morning at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta



We've been in Annapolis for a couple of days now, walking our feet off. There are a lot of good places to go here: chandleries, a marine consignment store named Bacon Sales, a really good Sunday brunch at Buddys (unlimited bacon and good people watching, it doesn't get any better), a really great Goodwill with a really great book corner, so 16 new paperbacks on my shelf and best of all, lots of old and new friends in the harbor and here in the creek to socialise with.
We're waiting for an alternator to be tuned up, it should be finished around noon, (so one more walk across town) and then we're off to the Rhode River for the Gam weekend. There should be some good seminars this year and, as always, too many people I want to catch up with and not enough time to do it. I love coming home in the evening with my face sore from smiling and laughing. It's such an exhausting schedule.
I thought I'd share some photos of a hitch-hiker we had a little while ago. We've had bats, butterflies and lots of birds, but this was our first Giant Silk Moth. And it really is giant: hook-your-thumbs-together-and-put-your-hands-flat giant. It had big dark 'eyes' on each wing, called a distraction pattern, to scare off the birds and squirrels.
The body was cigar shaped and very furry and the long antenna gave it a kind of Groucho Marks look.
The moths only live about two weeks, long enough to mate and lay eggs. They are lacking mouth parts, so never eat at all. Poor thing, can you imagine a life without bacon?


Block Island to Chesapeake Bay

Warm enough water for a swim, Finally!! We left Block Island Monday with some nice southerlies. Beautiful sail west along Long Island waiting for a front to push through then wind from the west. Well the front came, but the west winds did not so our second day/night was mixed sailing/motoring... mostly motoring.

For fellow cruisers you should find this photo interesting, yes it is THREE tankers going side-by-side up Delaware Bay. Two upbound and one outbound. The Coast Pilot recommends everyone in the bay monitor channel 13 (commercial net) for traffic awareness. We do, and heard this one developing as the tanker last in a line of 4 had an earlier report time, so you pass right? Oh crap, there is another tanker outbound, so we'll just go outside of the channel. ("Don't need no stinking channel" or "channels are for beginners, we're professionals here") OK maybe, but it sure as heck surprised a few little boats in the path.

We are now anchored at Still Pond, after the 2 1/2 day passage from Block Island. Not our longest, but first time doing extensive inland miles (up Delaware Bay, thru the C&D canal, 20nm down Chesapeake) after a 2 night off-shore passage. Nice to be here resting for a couple days watching the deer and eagles on shore. I'll sign off with a photo of one of our salt encrusted hatches after being offshore.


The Boston skyline as we went by to Quincy.

We left Gloucester and had a great beam reach sail along the Massachusetts coast to Quincy, pronounced "Quinzee". Our friend Anne, of Chris and Anne on Mr Mac, grew up in Quincy and they were in the area visiting her family. We rafted up alongside them and had a mini reunion. They've been busy promoting their new books and doing conventions and it's very exciting to hear how well they're doing. We also got an autographed copy of Chris's newest release, Scimitar Sun. I had to hide it from myself, (you know, the old out of sight, out of mind, thing) to save for a future cold, rainy day. We also got to meet and have dinner with Anne's mom, Margie and brother, Greg.

Sunrise at Block Island this morning.
We left Quincy and had another great sailing day down the bay and through the Cape Cod Canal, and yesterday had yet another great sailing day into Block Island, RI. It might seem strange to keep harping about the good sailing, but getting good wind to go the direction you want to go for 3 days in a row is pretty freaking great. But after 2 days of 60 miles or more we were ready for a break and are sitting at anchor today. I know 60 miles isn't that far, if you're in a CAR, but 60 miles is a loooong way at 5-6 kts an hour. We went ashore and had a good walk, and some great wings and the only other thing on my list to do today is to watch the Men's Final of the US Open and maybe bake some browines.