Monday, December 31, 2012

Saint Augustine Lights

“There is no life like the sea, where reality falls so short of romantic expectation”

Joseph Conrad, ‘Lord Jim’

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The St Augustine Lighthouse, this one built in the 1870s. The predecessor was a Spanish watchtower built in the 1500’s. It is the site of the oldest aid to navigation in North America.

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Even in daylight the structure works- definitely ‘visually conspicuous’.

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The Lightner Museum, across the street from the old Ponce de Hotel. If you look close enough you can see a ghost horse walking his carriage and ghost tourists past the building.

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The central plaza in St Augustine. This was the site of one of the pivotal civil rights marches led by Andrew Young in the 1960’s, leading to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Sit-in at the downtown Woolworth’s 1964- who knew Florida was such a political hot bed?

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Proof that Chris got her Christmas cards in the mail before mid-night on the 25th.

Happy New Year and good luck in ‘13!

Paul and Chris

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

HappyHolidays

The crew of Georgia hope you have a Happy Holiday season and the best of luck in ‘13.

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Chris and I didn’t go for mutual Xmas gifts this year, but Georgia got a nice new dress. This asymmetrical spinnaker was unwrapped today. We bought it from a guy who only used it to sail to church on Sundays. Turned out he wasn’t that religious and only ended up going to church twice.

We sure miss family and friends at this time of year.

Paul and Chris

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Zambia Picturelog

Chris has been working in Zambia evaluating Midwifery education there for the past few weeks. Here’s some work photos:

Chilengwe falls- beautiful Chilengwe falls- beautiful!

Kaputa- beautiful downtown Kaputa

Kaputa- beautiful downtown Kaputa

Kaputa hotel bathroom

Kaputa hotel bathroom!

Kaputa hotel- sign at entrance to our hotel

Kaputa hotel- sign at entrance to our hotel (my favorite, editors note)

Kasama training- community family planning counselors-  they start them young

Kasama training- community family planning counselors- they start them young

on the road to Kaputa- Slide out in the lovely red clay mud

On the road to Kaputa- Slide out in the lovely red clay mud

on the road to Kaputa- the bridge is washed out- we crossed it going, but coming back was another story

on the road to Kaputa- the bridge is washed out- we crossed it going, but coming back was another story (looks like a tough way to get to work)

on the road to Kaputa- the turn off to the Congo border- about 2kms away On the road to Kaputa- the turn off to the Congo border- about 2kms away

Project logo on box of family planning supplies- handpainted

Project logo on box of family planning supplies- handpainted

Roadside stop to buy a delicacy- dried catapillars- yummy

Roadside stop to buy a delicacy- dried caterpillars- yummy!!

Stop for some sightseeing- bridge to Chilengwe falls

Stop for some sightseeing- bridge to Chilengwe falls

the road to Kaputa- 240 kms of this

The road to Kaputa- 240 kms of this

Trying to leave Kaputa- can they move the minibus- No- so we take the long route home

Trying to leave Kaputa- can they move the minibus? No- so we take the long route home

Trying to leave Kaputa- the washed out bridge blocked by a stuck minibus full of passengers

Trying to leave Kaputa- the washed out bridge blocked by a stuck minibus full of passengers

 

Chris should be back in the St Augustine on Saturday with a little luck.

Paul

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

4am Adrenalin Rush–Yikes!

We made the trip from Morehead City,NC, to St Augustine,FL, in 3 nights and 2 days. Not as much sailing as we would’ve liked. Most of the sails were during the night time breezes and the boat handled nicely. The days were pretty still though and we relied on our 65 horses to keep us going.

We left Morehead City Yacht Basin at about 9am to head out to sea. Problem was that when we got to the 65 foot clearance fixed bridge that was just around the corner from the marina, the reader board said 63 feet. The reader boards are panels of wood with the bridge height numbers painted on then: 62,63,64,65,66… As the water level goes down, the higher number shows up.We need 64ft 3in to get under. We headed back to the marina and tied off on the long fuel dock to wait for a lower tide. Took a walk into the waterfront of Morehead City and then we  borrowed the marina’s courtesy car. We drove over the offending bridge and into the old sailing port of Beaufort. Lots of 1700’s seafaring houses and commerce buildings- pretty place.

We left again and this time the bridge had 66 feet clearance. We sailed out the Beaufort Inlet. It is a 5 mile sail out to the sea buoy.

Now comes the exciting part. At about 4am we were motor sailing 32 miles offshore approaching Cape Fear. There was some moon, but the overcast skies made for a dark night. I was on watch, while Chris was sleeping in the starboard bunk. Crunch! The sound was like the old soda and beer cans, when they were thicker than todays paper thin ones, being stomped on on the sand. A metal crush muffled sound. I jumped up and pulled the throttle back to idle. Chris jumped up and reinserted her heart back into her chest. Having a medical background can be helpful in these situations. I looked behind me and there was 20-25ft cabin cruiser style fishing boat a few hundred feet off my stern. No lights! Just the gray looking outline of a white boat in the dark. It looked like a boat that was abandoned or just drifting. I turned the boat around to investigate. Then the green and red running lights turned on on the boat. I tried raising them on the radio, but no response. Eventually we came up close enough to yell to them, “Are you OK?” They said yes. We then yelled at them to pick up channel 16 on the radio. After a brief, somewhat strange conversation, he said he was fine, that we didn’t need to stand by.

Looking at our boat showed no damage. The best I can figure out is that we did a glancing blow with our 77lb Spade anchor on our bow. I had the Radar running at the time with a 2 mile guard zone. It is supposed to sound an alarm if anything enters the zone. This boats radar signature was just too small. Night watches became even more diligent from then on.

The rest of the trip down we played tag with the Gulfstream. The GS is a river of water that travels north along the East Coast. You get too close to it and the current pushes you way fast in the wrong direction (north). As we would get close to the GS the water temperature would go up to 79*. That’s swimming temperature and a hell of a lot warmer than the 50* water temperature we had in the Chesapeake just a few days ago. The current would also be 1 knot against us. Move in toward shore a few miles and the sea temperature would drop to 74* and the current would slow down or even sometimes reverse and start pushing us. We had dolphins playing with us when we were near the stream. Always a happy sight.

So we made it to St Augustine this morning after only hitting one boat (yikes). The plan is to stay on a mooring for 2 weeks while Chris is off to Zambia for a work project and I try to whittle down the never-ending boat project list.

Paul

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Test post

Checking e-mail posting connectivity.
We are in Morehead City tonight and plan on leaving in the morning to go outside into the Atlantic. The plan is to leave Beaufort Inlet and head offshore to about 5 miles clear of Cape Fear. Then point at St Augustine, Florida. It will probably be about a 3 day passage, with possible stop off points like Charleston or Jacksonville if we don't like how its going.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

South toward Morehead City

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We headed south out of Hampton to make our path through Norfolk. The area is inundated with Navy ships being worked on. We probably past 5 aircraft carriers in various states of disrepair. Getting through Norfolk requires passing through and under a string of bridges.The bridges have restricted opening times. We managed to show up at two different bridges 2 minutes late, just to have the bridge tender close the bridge on us and make us wait a full hour to get the next opening. Not sure these tenders like the pleasure crafters.

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Next up was the Great Bridge Locks. It’s a simple, low stress lock to get through. This is about as far as we got the first day – spent the night at the free long dock just past the Great Bridge.

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Next day we motored down past Coinjock and anchored just outside Broad Creek. We anchored outside the creek cause we couldn’t figure a way in with our 6.5ft draft. This is a picture of the sunrise at anchor.

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The sunrise picture may look pretty, but check out the ICE on the decks. The water temperature when we left the Chesapeake was 50*F.

After doing some research with the local SeaTow operators (AAA of the Sea), we figured out that we could not make it under the last bridge on the Alligator River. This is the normal pass south on the ICW. Problem is the bridge was designed to have a 65 foot clearance like the other bridges on the Atlantic ICW – turns out it was built to 64 feet. Georgia’s mast is 64ft 3in- measuring to the tip of the last piece of hard stuff up there. I could take off some parts and get us a 1/2 foot or better. The SeaTow captain said he worries a lot with anything over 63ft 6in under that bridge. There’s no real tide in that area, but the water depth changes based on the direction of the winds.

The alternative pass is to go along he east side of Roanoke Island, just inside the Hatteras Outer Banks. This passage has one true 65ft bridge. It also has a dredged channel that is charted as very shallow. I talked to the local SeaTow operator in the area and he said its all fine except between marks 36 and 30. Here he said “there was a chance we could get our 6.5ft draft through, but if we get stuck, call him”. We carefully analyzed our choices and picked one randomly. The Outer Banks won. The trip was fairly uneventful except for the two times we grounded, in the channel. These were both past the ‘dangerous’ area in the ‘deep’ channel, but across from the Oregon Inlet. At least it’s all sand.

icwIMG_1685 The Oregon Inlet Lighthouse from the inside. Looks like she is getting a dress fitted.

 

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When we finally got out of all the narrow channels and into the open waters of Pamlico Sound we started to relax a bit. Of course the two ferries that cross this body of water decided to simultaneously point at us at the same time. I called up the east bound ferry (the lollipop on the right) on channel 13VHF and asked him if he was comfortable with our CPA (Closest Point of Approach). In a friendly southern accent he said “No, keep your course and speed and I’ll take your stern”. So did the other. Then we were back to empty waters. Tonight we are in a fairly open anchorage in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow, off to Oriental, NC.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks

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We rented a car and drove 6 hours down to Spartanburg, SC, to spend Thanksgiving with brother John and Lisa, their daughter Hazel and Lisa’s Mom. They recently moved into a new house on the golf course. Delila, the official house dog, took us for a walk along the golf cart track.

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The new house is just off one of the fairways – hence the draw full of golf balls recovered from yard.

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Their other daughter Rebecca decided to call in over Skype

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And offer a complete trial-by-fire for her boyfriend by introducing him to the parents over Skype. If nothing else, he was a good sport.

After we got back from our road trip to SC, we decided to get off the boat, throw out the list of stuff that still had to be done before we left Gloucester Point and go check out some of the Revolutionary War history in the area. It was one of those crystal clear, cold autumn days you get before winter sets in- perfect for some sight-seeing. We headed across the river to Yorktown. Took a quick look around and drove past the old houses and taverns. Then we headed off to Williamsburg, travelling along the York River on the Colonial Highway. This was the old original capital of Virginia, founded in 1632. Patrick Henry made a big stand here. But after Governor Thomas Jefferson decided to move the capital to Richmond, Williamsburg pretty quickly fell into disrepair. Slowly being rebuilt from the old foundations as a living piece of history. We enjoyed playing tourist on our last day, been wanting to do it all summer!

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The governor's palace. Filled with firearms for the local militia- think 2nd Amendment.

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Apparently no one told this guy they’d moved the capital.

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The smithy’s shop- making hinges to reconstruct local buildings

Speaking of giving thanks. The York River Yacht Haven (www.yryh.net) has been a really good place to hang for much of the summer and work on the boat. Decent prices, good chandlery, great space for canvas work, nice restaurant and really friendly staff. They welcome anchor-outs in Sarah Creek too.

We left York River this morning and had a glassy calm motor down the Chesapeake and past Hampton Roads into the Hampton River. We stopped at the Hampton Yacht Club expecting to get a reciprocal freebie slip for the night. Not to be – they don’t like us West Coast yachties. So we paid for a slip as they are right next door to North Sails where we had to pick up our recut solent jib. The Hampton North staff are very cruiser friendly and did a good job on the sail at a reasonable price, including some generous help with the construction of our new stack-pack for the mainsail. Check them out- North Sails Hampton -if you need sail work done.

Tomorrow we are off to head through the Great Neck Locks and down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on our way to Moorehead City, NC.

Paul

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We Hauled the Boat Yesterday – Twice!

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To finish up installing new instruments and electronics on Georgia we needed to do a quick haul to take out the old speed/temperature through-hull fitting and replace it with a new fitting that takes a transducer for speed/depth/temperature. Georgia’s bottom was really fairly ugly looking – kind of like a blooming algae garden topped off with small oysters. The anti-fouling bottom paint was only 5 months old. The stuff the previous owner (PO) put on is pretty useless – Aquaguard. When I talked to the Petit paint rep at the Annapolis boat show about what I should be using on the bottom, he referred to the Aquaguard as a low-cost starter paint. After a good pressure wash and some scraping Georgia didn’t have a smooth babies-butt, but she was able to strut her stuff with some pride.

I had the yard do the work on the through-hull (for the speed, depth, temperature gauges) because I didn’t have a drill big enough to drill the old one out (through that thick Outbound hull!) and I figured they would do the change while the boat hung in the Travel Lift slings, making the haul cheaper than if she had to be blocked and set on the ground. After we dropped her back in the water the winds were piping up to 18+kts. We wanted to go stern first into our slip, so Ralph, one of the yard guys, came along to help us back into slip. It was a less than glorious entry in the cross winds requiring some quick line handling by the trusty crew. We finally got her tied off and snugged in. I went down below to check the bilge for any leaks from the new through-hull. Sure enough – it was leaking away. So off we went for another haul and some rebedding. The second rebedding appears watertight – a good thing. Not leaking is one of the keys to cruising: Keep the water out, the mast pointing up, and the captain and crew onboard. The second time backing her into the slip was a little more graceful; practice makes perfect, or at least a little closer to perfect.

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Going back into the water in on a windy, cold and sunny Chesapeake day – the second time.

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The view from the lift

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The fall view of the Virginia country side next to the boat yard

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We’ve been working on a ton of other projects too. Here’s the first test fit for the new mainsail StackPack that Chris built. This should make handling the big main a lot a easier for the old, worn out crew.

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Here I am heading to the mast head, 64ft above the water, to take off the old wind instruments and install new ones. Always a fun job.

Looks like we’ve finally decided to take out the Jello pan and recast our plans. We’re going to stay in York River till after Thanksgiving. We’ve rented a car and will drive the 6 hours down to Spartanburg, SC and have Turkey-Day with my brother and sister-in-law, John and Lisa. Then we’ll head back to Virginia and take off on Monday. We need to head to Hampton (near Norfolk) and stop for the night behind the North Sails loft to pick up the working jib that they are converting from hanked-on to roller furling. Then we’ll take a few days and go down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Moorehead City, NC. This way we avoid going around Cape Hatteras in the late fall. From Moorehead we’ll head outside, and probably stop in at Charleston. Then outside again and head to Brunswick, GA or Jacksonville, FL. There we can catch up with our sister-in-law Mary. If time permits, we’ll then head to St Augustine to check it out. About this time Chris has another job in Zambia for about 10-days. Me, I’ll do some finish up jobs on the boat while she’s gone. Then probably down to Ft Lauderdale to say Hi to my Dad. Then out to the Bahamas for some snorkeling and cruising – no boat projects – except what breaks on the way. After that we  will most likely head south through the Windward passage west of Cuba down to Cartagena, Colombia, then back to the San Blas Islands in Panama. And finally a Canal transit back to the Pacific side.

I wrote all this down just so I could go back in a in a few months to see how unrealistic it was to plan that far head.

Paul 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Caribbean XMAS Rum Cake

Just saw this recipe on a cruisers board and thought it needed some better exposure

   Caribbean RUM Christmas Cake recipe: 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. salt , 1 cup brown sugar, Lemon juice, 4 large eggs, Nuts, 1......bottle Rum, 2 cups dried fruit.
   Sample a cup of Rum to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Rum again to be sure it is of the highest quality then Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make sure the Rum is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
    Pick the fruit up off the floor, wash it and put it in the bowl a piece at a time trying to count it. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver Sample the Rum to test for tonsisticity. Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the Rum. Now shit shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the Rum and wipe the counter with the cat.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Witch of November Come Early

Wet and wetter. The max winds we had at the dock here were in the 40 knots. Out in the more open areas at the mouth of the York River and the mouth of the Chesapeake the gust were pushing 60 kts. Today the winds are down, the air has turned cold and its time to start working on boat projects so we can scaddoodle south to somewhere warmer.

Paul

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching Sandy

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Its wet and wetter here. Max wind speed was 35kts last night. The tide/surge is a little higher this morning – a few more inches of water over the fixed docks. According to Passageweather, we should get our max conditions starting in about 6-8 hours and running through tomorrow morning.

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This is looking down the dock from our boat toward the marine store. You can see the bridge from the land to the floating dock sticking straight up in the air. It is being pushed up by the floating dock as the tide gets too high for it. We gracefully step around it in our foul weather gear to go ashore. The store got a few inches of water on the carpet this morning.

The area we are in is close by a ton of Navy ports, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth…. The Navy sends their ships out to sea to avoid getting them bashed up by the storm or stuck inshore by other ships that might end up blocking navigation. Here’s the less than subtle note to the ship commanders:

TO ALL SHIPS AND FLTUNITS PRESENT HAMPTON ROADS VA
SUBJ: SET SORTIE CONDITION ALPHA IN SOPA HAMPTON ROADS AREA//
OPER/HURRICANE SANDY//
REMARKS/
………CYCLONE SORTIE CONDITION ALPHA IS ORDERED FOR ALL FLEET UNITS CAPABLE OF SORTIE IN THE HAMPTON ROADS AREA. COMMENCE SORTIE NO LATER THAN 0630Q (1030Z) ON SATURDAY, 27 OCT 2012,……..

The Navy ships are sortieing their way a few hundred miles offshore and way away from the hurricane’s path. Must be nice to be able to do 30kts. Many of the draw bridges and locks are now in the closed position for the duration of the storm.

It’s interesting to think of the differences between storm types. Tornadoes are extremely intense and very narrow. They come barging through a neighborhood and might only wreck one side of a house. Tornadoes are caused by trailer parks. Tropical storms, aka Hurricanes and Typhoons, are much wider. They might be 250 to 800 miles wide. The maximum winds are much less than a tornado, but the duration is much longer – weeks. Hurricanes are started in unstable air in the tropics and fed with the energy from warm tropical waters. They can take out a large portion of a city and coastline, e.g. Katrina. Then there’s the Extra-tropical cyclone. These can be thousands of miles wide and are caused by the unfriendly meeting of a cold air front with a warm front. If conditions get too boring, both hurricanes and extra-tropical cyclones can spawn tornadoes to liven things up.

The Perfect Storm Poster

Hurricane Sandy is trying to merge into a large cold front to form an Extra-tropical storm. Much like the Perfect Storm of Gloucester fishermen fame, but this time primarily over very populated land. According to the news broadcasts this storm will remove most of the East Coast from the Union, leaving only red states in the middle along with a large part of California to balance them out.


View Larger Map

York River Yacht Haven

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy Watching

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Not a lot going on here. The max wind we had last night was 27kts. Today it has been wet, colder and light winds in the 10-15kt range. The tides are pretty high right now. You can see the water covering the fixed dock on the boats ahead of us this morning. They aren’t expecting more than another foot or two when the storm gets closer. Glad we are tied to a floating dock with pilings that still have another 7 or 8 feet showing.

latest goes east hurricane sector visible image

The weather guys are now expecting Sandy to make landfall north of us, closer to New York. Here’s a nice link to the continuous loop satellite imagery: http://www.goes.noaa.gov/HURRLOOPS/huirloop.html

That’s all for now – details at 11.

Paul

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Frankenstorm

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We left Annapolis Monday for a leisurely sail back down the Chesapeake to the York River in Virginia. The plan was to take 4 or 5 days and stop at some of the nooks and crannies of the Chesapeake. We got out of Annapolis late and only made it a few miles south to Galesville. It was good to have a short day as Chris had picked up some crud, aka the flu, with all her public exposure at the boat show and wasn’t feeling great. Next day we headed over to the Eastern Shore to Saint Michaels. This is a cute, old sailing port that is now fairly touristy. We were lucky to be hitting it in late fall. No people and the weather was a way unusual 75* and sunny.

The town was into full Halloween decorum, probably in honor of the coming Frankenstorm. Here’s a couple of pics of Chris cruising town.

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“Are  you a good witch, or a bad witch?”

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Lots of old and historic houses. This one had a couple of start dates based on which bricks you were looking at. Gives a whole new meaning to home remodeling.

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Many of the old homes are setup as B&B’s now. This one had a German saying on its fence, conveniently translated into English just below it. Protect this house from weather and wind and don’t let boring people in.

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A Skipjack working tourists on the Bay, after years of working oysters.

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The waterman Marissa Paige still working the Bay for Chesapeake crab.

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And the waterman Elfie headed out in the early morning to set crab pots.

After listening to the weather and seeing the exodus of boats getting out of town, we decided we needed to get down to the York River and get our storm preparations going. So much for a leisurely sail down the Chesapeake.

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As we were heading south under sail Chris and I were talking about it was cool that you see dolphins in the Chesapeake, but you only see them alone or in pairs. Never the big schools that we see out at sea. 3 minutes later a school of 20 or so dolphins came to play with our bow wake and make liars out of us.

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We made it to York River Yacht Haven last night and took the slip they saved for us. Georgia is now cris-crossed with almost a dozen dock lines. Here I am on our slip neighbors boat adding some chafe protection to a line we have from our boat to theirs. The name of the game is to keep everyone just off the floating docks.

We don’t expect hurricane force winds here. The bigger problem is that instead of the normally high wind and rain situation where you get maybe 8 hours of a good blow, they are expecting we will see gale force winds for 2 1/2 days. So the key is to make sure our dock lines do not chafe through.

We took off the head sails to reduce windage, wrapped the main with a long line, pulled the bimini that covers the cockpit, and removed the dorade vents. We are pretty ready. If we expected a direct hit, we’d probably head off to some where inland, but as we are on the edge of the likely storm path, we will stay on the boat.

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The bigger problem with Hurricane Sandy’s track is that it is about to merge with the large cold front you see going from the upper right to the lower left of this weather chart. That’s Sandy’s circles in the mid lower left. This is going to make ugly and cold conditions. Our kinda luck. The first tropical storm we get caught up in and it is friggin going to be cold!!!!

As long as we have an Internet connection we’ll post blog updates, i.e. Radio Free Seattle broadcasting from the historical York River. Currently the worst of the storm is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Paul