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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Watching Sandy

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.
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:
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

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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


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.
“Are  you a good witch, or a bad witch?”
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.
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.
A Skipjack working tourists on the Bay, after years of working oysters.
The waterman Marissa Paige still working the Bay for Chesapeake crab.
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.
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.
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.
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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Just Another Working Stiff

The blog entries have really slowed lately. Between putting in a bunch of long days on the Boat Show electric crew and then having to spend time at the staff No Mo Boat Show party and then the electric crew party. Its tough and time consuming. That’s the electric crew and friends at Bob’s house above. Bob is the electric crew boss. He’s been doing the Annapolis Boat Show for 33 years. Knows everybody and knows how to put the juice into the show. Nice guy too.
The whole electric crew is, how do you say, somewhat eclectic. Firstly it is divided between The kids and everyone else. Best as I can tell the dividing line is under or over 50. There’s a bunch of long timers who have been working the show at least 10 years. There’s John, really nice and mellow guy who happens to be an ex-SEAL. John’s wife Alida. She’s the token girl on the crew who does most of the work. And Bill, the ex Navy submarine Chief who likes to take the brute force approach to most dismantling projects. And Mike, who made me quit whining about being just whipped at around 3 in the afternoon when he’d be showing me up in strength and tenacity. Mike had a liver transplant in January. Then there’s Bob, the ex Annapolis cop. And Lin, who more than holds his own at 77 years young. These are 12 and 14 hour days of tough physical work. I’m pretty sure this group qualifies as eclectic.
The boat show is a pretty impressive construction and deconstruction project. A new marina goes in. The piles are driven. The work boats, appropriately named Yank, Shove, Pull and Push put the floats in place. The dock crew hooks up the water. The electric crew runs thousands of feet of under water high voltages cable. Heavy ass transformers are loaded by crane onto the floating docks. Tents go up. Lights go up. Then the whole thing collapses and comes back down.

Annapolis City Docks without the boat show marina
Plus the boat show
We did get away one weekend during the show. Chris’ old friend from Albuquerque, Suzanne, rented a house on the Little Choptank River for her 39th+ birthday. She had a bunch of friends and family from all around the states and England come and stay for the weekend. We brought Georgia over, anchored behind her house and got to share in the good food and Suzanne roast.
This is supposed to be a picture of everyone at the party house. Problem is that about half of them are standing on the other side of the camera trying to take a picture of everyone.
We had a nice sail back to Annapolis from the Little Choptank and got to try out our new to us, used, whisker pole. Worked sweet.
We rented a car yesterday so we could drive into DC today and visit with our friends Catherine and Sally. Catherine used to work with Chris at the UW in Seattle. She now works for JHPIEGO and they live in DC. Oh, and she travels to Africa a lot, like Chris.
It was nice visiting with Catherine and Sally – but the real treat was getting in some puppy time. Here are the doodles- Banjo and her new little sister, Piper.
Did I mention that it is fall here. Lots of great colors. According to the locals it is a late fall – but we’ll take it.
If all goes well, we will leave Annapolis in the morning. The plan is to head over to the eastern shore to St. Michaels. Then take 3 days or so to work back down to York River. We’ve got some big boat projects to get done there: install new electronics and a solent stay roller furler and sail, build a mainsail stackpack, and haul and paint the bottom… the list is still long.
Then we’ll be ready to make a decision about where we are going next. Each time we discuss it, it ends in the same undecided plan. Definitely South… with the geese.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Annapolis Boat Show Workers

His and her’s boat show staff hats. Mines the red one on the left. I got this as a rookie member of the electrical staff. Chris has the nice yella hat. She is working the gates – keeping those gate crashes at bay. The show has been pretty busy. A lot of vendors I’ve talked with say business and potential business is the best they’ve seen in 4 years. Chris is working the boat show days. I‘m on mainly before the show, between the the sail and power boat show and during the tear down after the show.
The work is tough. The show builds an entire marina. New pilings, docks and water and electric. The electric crew runs all the underwater power cable, sets up the panels for each slip and sets up all the power and lights for the dozens of tents. This all occurs over 3 1/2 days of setup. Mainly 12 to 14 hour days. Right now I’m nursing a bruised (or cracked) rib. I was carrying to long strings of lights and stepped over from a fixed dock to a floating barge. The barge had astroturf on it and was wet. The bridge was not in place yet. I slipped and went down hard on the edge of barge. Fortunately my lower rib grabbed on the edge of the barge and I stayed out of the water. Lost my wire tie cutter to the deep six. Ouch.
On Monday night after the sailboat show closes we will start disconnecting the dock power so the docks can be opened up, the sailboats moved out and the power boats brought in.
The good news is that it makes it so much easier to justify spending money at the show for boat toys. I think we’ve spent our boat show earnings 3 or 4 times by now.

We had a great visit with Denny and Becky off Kokomo. They are our friends from Mexico, El Salvador, Panama and the San Blas. They were up in DC to see their son who is just back from Afghanistan. They needed to spend a day at the boatshow to lighten their wallet. Tom and Carrie off Dragons Toy, also friends from El Salvador, anchored near us in Back Creek on their way back south after visiting Maine. There was too much conversation going on to remember to take out the camera, so I had to photoshop in a picture of our guests.