Where in the world?

Where in the world are Mindy and Reinhart now?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The circus comes to town

We spent several weeks docked at lovely Woodsback in Annapolis. It was nice to watch autumn set in. For me, nothing says autumn like the US boat shows. We were pretty busy with them this year, taking part in the two shows along with their setup, changeover, and take down. It continues to amaze me how the waterfront is transformed for the shows.

It truly is a circus atmosphere as the large tents are hoisted in the waterfront parks and parking lots. I’m sure the land crew resembles clowns as we zip around in gangs with forklifts and golf carts, descending on different areas and transforming them into hubs of marine gear shopping paradise. The water crew brings in the floating docks that connect all of the land areas and create the largest in-water shows. We met lots of folks with whom we worked in 2006-08. It was wonderful seeing them and spending time with them again, and we made lots of new friends as well. Hopefully, we’ll see them further south this winter and spring.

It gets pretty hectic during the shows and we don’t have time for much other than working, eating, and sleeping, so it was very nice to have a couple of visits from the DC contingent. Esther and Bob came over during the show to check out Rockhopper and take us to dinner. Cara came down during the sail show and we had a great time as she watched us work one of our more cushy assignments of line-handling for the classroom boats. She returned once we were finished working to take us up to DC and see Mt. Vernon for the first time. We had perfect weather and it was great to take a scenic drive again.

We spent a few extra days at the dock installing all of the gadgets we acquired during the shows, but we finally got around to leaving on Monday. We are currently anchored in quaint St. Michaels while Reinhart fixes our seized windlass. If you’ve ever heard anyone describe cruising as performing boat repairs in beautiful locations, that is pretty accurate. Still, it is nice to be on our way again.

Rockhopper Anchorages: 
37°57.985N 076°29.015W; Woodsback Marina, Eastport; 28Sep15-25Oct15
38°46.343N 076°13.827W; St. Michaels, MD, San Domingo Creek; 26Oct15

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The calm before the storm

The September Nor’easters just kept coming, so we stayed at our anchorage and enjoyed our time in Deltaville, and let the near gale winds and high choppy water rage out in the bay. A calm period between systems was finally forecasted, so we made a break for it and headed straight to Annapolis for an overnight sail. The winds were forecasted to be pretty light, so we weren’t expecting much, but we ended up having a dreamy sail. We kept up 4.5-6 knots of boat speed all night long under a full moon – what a treat! 

Thomas Point Light welcomes us to Annapolis
We came into our slip at the tiny Woodsback Marina on Tuesday morning. It was the same slip we had the first time we worked the show back in 2006. Woodsback isn’t a marina in a traditional sense.  It is a 10 slip dock behind a home in Eastport. It was originally the home of the Annapolis Sailing Center owned by Kathy and Jerry Woods, the founders of the Annapolis boat shows. Now, it is owned by our friend John, former Caliber owner and photographer/businessman/professor extraordinaire, who generously allowed us to tie up for the show.

Now our nor’easters have returned with oodles of rain and cool temps, so we are happy to be snug in this little cove off Back Creek. Those storms appear to be here for several days whether or not Joaquin shows up. We are keeping a close eye on the weather forecast though, for news of Joaquin and other tropical disturbances. We are spending a few days getting caught up with laundry/groceries/cleaning/maintenance before we are too busy with the boat shows – we start work on Sunday, Oct 4. 

Rockhopper Anchorages: 
37°32.722N 076°20.306W; Deltaville, VA, Jackson Creek south; 23-27Sep15
37°57.985N 076°29.015W; Woodsback Marina, Eastport; 28Sep15-present

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Enchanted Canal to the Bodacious Bay

We’ve been meaning to visit the Dismal Swamp for years. The name conjures images of fire spurts and R.O.U.Ss of Princess Bride lore. It turns out it is an enchanted canal full of mystery and whimsy. I’ve never experienced anything like it. The clear water was as black as I have ever seen, obsidian with a mirror like surface, and a luminous green blanket of duck weed.  Rather than dolphins, we were escorted through the canal by all manner of winged creatures, dragon flies and butterflies of all colors; I’m fairly sure most were fairies. 

Waiting to "lock through" the South Mills Lock
In reality, it is a beautiful canal and I’m so pleased we finally traversed it. The color of the water is actually more like scotch, and just like a lot of scotch, some of that color comes from peat. The water interacts with a sediment layer of peat, filtering and acidifying the water. That tannic acid is good for keeping a boat and a body clean, although neither of us braved jumping in or taking a drink. We transited the southern lock (raising us 8’) and tied up to the NC Welcome Center dock for Saturday night.  We visited the friendly staff at the welcome center and took a walk on the state park trail. We were absolutely thrilled to receive a visit from Paul and Joyce (“Time”) that evening, who saw us pass by their house earlier in the day. The next morning, we left at 8am for a long day of transiting one more lock (lowering us 10’), completing the canal and the ICW, and passing through Norfolk and into the Chesapeake Bay.

We listened to the VHF weather several times a day, and we knew we’d be coming into a small craft warning in the Chesapeake. We’d heard the predicted winds (NE 20-25) and waves (4-5’) and thought, “meh, we can do that”.

Aircraft carrier in port in Norfolk
Containership CMA CGM Melisande
When we came through Norfolk, it was looking like the trip would be pretty comfortable. We were entertained by Norfolk’s usual fare: giant container ships, battle ships, aircraft carriers, and the weekend pleasure craft, either lazing or zipping about. Once we passed into the Chesapeake Bay proper, the winds and waves hit us. What we underestimated was the wave “period” (the waves were very close together), making for an extremely rough ride. We beat into the wind and crashed headlong into those waves for hours, sometimes coming to a complete stop. We dropped anchor in a very protected anchorage on Chisman Creek at 7:45pm. The forecast was looking dismal for days, so we stayed tucked in our sleepy little spot for a while. 

The bad weather out on the bay continued and we finally got tired of relaxing on Chisman Creek, so we pulled up anchor and braved the same winds. Actually, the waves were at their most daunting when we were exiting the Poquoson River to get back in the Bay. After that, we took a pretty standard beating as we motored our way up to Deltaville, VA. We are currently anchored in Jackson Creek. We were thrilled to get the dinghy out and motor to a town dock (!) and take a walk (!) to a hardware store (!) and have lunch out (!) and drop by the library(!). Deltaville is a tiny town, but it has everything a cruiser likes to see, so we are thrilled to be here.

Our original plans were to make our way up to Solomons, MD sometime this weekend for a few days, and then to Annapolis mid-week. But the weather predictions get worse and worse, and we may end up waiting out the storm for a few extra days here in Deltaville, and just hop up to Annapolis in one 20 hour trip. By that time, maybe we can even sail!

RockHopper Anchorages: 
36°30.340N 076°21.320W; Dismal Swamp Canal, NC Welcome Center; 19Sep15
37°10.979N 076°24.817W; Seaford, VA, Chisman Creek; 20-22Sep15
37°32.722N 076°20.306W; Deltaville, VA, Jackson Creek south; 23-27Sep15

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rockhopper is on the move

When last we updated you, we were sweltering in Florida and growing tired of sitting in one place.  Since then we’ve been on the move north and cooling off. 

We left St. Pete and the Tampa Bay area and started heading south on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW). This section of the GIWW is pretty shallow, narrow, and full of drawbridges, so it was motoring most of the way with our dolphin escorts. We anchored the first night in a lovely residential spot south of Sarasota, and the next off a large wildlife preserve on Sanibel Island. It was nice watching the passing thunderstorms every evening, and we started to understand why Florida is considered the lightning capital of the US. 

We headed out into the Gulf just south of Sanibel and finally got to turn off the engine and become a sailboat. We even hoisted the spinnaker for the first time, although it has gotten a lot of use since that first day. This leg was a longer trip to dip our toes back into night sailing, so we continued through the stormy night to the Florida Keys. This time the thunderstorms were a little too close for comfort and it made for a stressful and sleepless first night back on watch, at least for Mindy. We anchored at Marathon Key the next day. It was a hot day but we got a little relief going for a swim off the boat in the 88° water. Reinhart realized we are acting as reverse RO (reverse osmosis) machines, drinking the RO water and producing salt water in the form of sweat. The heat was getting to be too much for us, so we got back on the move the next morning with a planned overnight trip to Miami.  

Once we got out into the gulf stream the conditions were so perfect and the forecast was favorable, so we decided to bypass Miami and start our big offshore passage to North Carolina. It was a pretty good trip overall with calm seas and excellent winds most of the time, and just a few of those pesky thunderstorms to make things lively. We had a stowaway, a little finch, who joined us very far out at sea for several hours. He even spent some time inside Rockhopper, checking out the cabins. Just as we were naming him and planning our future with him, he flew away. We stuck to our old 3 hours on & 3 hours off schedule we used in 2006/7.  We were happy with our instrumentation, particularly our Furuno Radar.  I had two productive radio conversations with large working vessels, which is two more than I’ve had in the past. The second to the last day brought stronger winds and wavier seas with sharp bratty 8’ waves that sprayed us in the cockpit.  Our nice new weather cloths were stowed away, so we’ll have them mounted or handy next time to keep us dry.  We loved all of our new canvas and had a nice shady and dry cockpit.   Still, it all gets monotonous after a while, so we were thrilled to pull into our old stomping ground of Cape Lookout after 664 nm and 107 hours.  We anchored just before midnight and went to SLEEP!

What timing - we woke to a pleasant morning in Cape Lookout, which quickly turned into near gale force winds with 24 hours of 25-35 knot winds.  It was so nice to be tucked away in the bight instead of out at sea, and it gave us a day to recover from our passage.  Our new wind turbine was in its element, and we made our RO water with wind power. Those winds were the passing of a cold pressure system, and the temps have been heavenly ever since!  The next day we headed north up the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Oriental, NC, one of our favorite places.  Oriental hasn’t changed much, but now there is a grocery store to run to (in the form of a Walmart Express…the horror, or the convenience, hard to decide).  We spent lots of time with friends D and Don (Southern Cross), who had generously arranged a dock for us, and Bev and Arne (Scandia) came down from New Bern to visit and reminisce about days at Grass America, Annapolis, and Georgetown. 

We left Oriental and continued our ICW trip north to the Chesapeake.  Once again, it is mostly a motorsail on the narrow canal with a few sailing opportunities as we cross over the sounds.  The sailing vessel Dreadnought kept us company on the way up and we anchored together on the Pungo River.  They sent a photo of us at anchor in the sunset and we were thrilled with one of the technological advances since our 2006/7 trip…smartphones!   

The next day we made it to Elizabeth City, NC, which means we have been convinced by D and Don to take the infamous Dismal Swamp route.  We are currently enjoying the lovely Elizabeth City hospitality (free docks, free wifi) before continuing our trip up that picturesque and historic, albeit shallow (6’), canal.

Rockhopper anchorages: 
27°14.759N 082°31.492W; Sarasota, FL “White Beach”; 03Sep15
26°28.124N 082°05.349W; Sanibel Island, FL “Ding Darling”; 04Sep15
24°41.599N 081°07.074W; Marathon Key, FL “Outer Boot Key; 06Sep15
34°37.392N 076°32.852W; Cape Lookout Bight, NC; 11-12Sep15
35°01.406N 076°41.934W; Oriental, NC “Oriental Harbor Marina”; 13-15Sep15
35°33.085N 076°28.178W; Pungo River, NC; 16Sep15
36°17.901N 076°13.102W; Elizabeth City, NC “Mariner’s Wharf”; 17-18Sep15

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

We are outta here!

Rockhopper, the last evening in St. Petersburg
Okay folks, everything is done, and we'll be on our way Thursday morning September 3.  Goodbye to all the helpful folks at Lippincott Marine Canvas, Caliber Brokers, Suncoast Specialties, Elite Marine, and Harborage Marina (N27° 45’33.1848”  W82° 38’12.3792”).

We'll be heading down the gulf coast of Florida and then making our way up the east coast.  Currently, we think that will mean a couple of overnight anchorages the first nights on our way down, and then we might just hightail it offshore up to the Chesapeake after we round Florida.  We've got 4 weeks to make it to Annapolis, so we have some leeway to change our minds and stop every night and keep it close to the coast or ICW the whole way, but we'll decide as we go.  I'm not sure how our connectivity will be as we are on the way up, but if you are interested in knowing if we are stopping overnight in GA/SC/NC/VA, just text us and we'll get back to you if we are close enough for a signal.  We'll try to grab internet while we can, but I think we might have more luck with cellular.

Here are a couple of photos of Rockhopper.  You might have a hard time seeing some of the work that has been completed in that low evening light, but let me assure you that is it is some gorgeous stainless and canvas work.  Here is a photo of the new interior as well.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

At least the delays are more fun when you live on a boat

Where to start? I guess with an apology for the long pause. But, really, you haven’t missed much. We moved onto Rockhopper in late July and have been in a St. Petersburg marina for almost 4 weeks now. 

Although many of you knew how disappointed we were with the delays that kept us from moving onto the boat in the spring, we are thankful about them at this point, because they gave us extra time to spend with Dad in his last days. We saw lots of our family and friends May-July, and we were grateful to have that time with everyone. It is never enough though, and we hope to get some good quality visits in later this year.

Tree of Death
The folks in Florida finished up with all of the work in late July, and we had Rockhopper transported her from the manufacturing facility to a nearby boat yard on July 28. Unfortunately, the poor girl was damaged in that short transit. The tree (pictured) and the really nice driver (not pictured) are ultimately to blame. We moved onto her the next day, and started going through the process of having the custom stainless structure rebuilt.

Resulting damage
The owner of Caliber Yacht has been incredibly helpful with all of the arrangements, and the transit company is picking up the bill. The new structure was completed about 2 weeks after the original damage, and we moved back over to a boatyard to have the welding done.   Our latest bad news is that the elaborate canvas bimini, connector, and enclosure that was made for the boat in early July will not work with the new structure. They are currently rebuilding the bimini and will see if the rest of the canvas will work from there.

We thought we might have some time to get out on the town and visit beautiful St. Petersburg, but we are staying busy with boat projects, and the suffocating heat zaps any extracurricular energy right out of us. We are so thankful to Simon and Kristi for lending us their portable AC unit; without it, we aren’t sure we’d be able to stand the heat. With the unit, we can get our berth down to about 80 degrees at night, which doesn’t sound too bad until you remember that I slept with the window open in Antarctica every once in a while.

We spent almost a whole week just putting stuff away. Trying to get everything we brought down in the cargo van to fit in a logical place took days longer than we imagined. For the most part, everything has found its place.  There are a few items we are disappointed haven’t found a home on Rockhopper (like our precious iMac); those things will be making their way back to our remaining storage unit in Charlotte.

Rockhopper on 8/15/15 in the midst of repairs
Reinhart has been commissioning the boat systems, although many had to wait until the new structure was built. He has worked on antennas, instruments, wiring, lighting, network, entertainment, the RO unit (reverse osmosis system or fresh water maker), and the fancy-pants hydronic heating system. He is in the process of putting up the wind turbine and solar panels today. I’ve spent a lot of time “detailing” the interior of the boat. Every nook and cranny (and fan blade and light bulb) was grimy and filthy from sitting unused since last summer, not to mention the wood work and insulation that added a lot of dust to the area. Oh, and we finally finished those curtains we’ve been making on two continents for the last 8 months. 

We were hoping to be out of here by September 1, but maybe we should just aim for sometime that week. It is getting pretty late, so now our only plan is to get up to Annapolis by late September so we can get to work with the US Boat Shows in October.       

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A first glimpse of Rockhopper

Progress continues at what feels like a slow pace as we are living it.  I think once we look back at this time it will look like a whirlwind.

We closed the door on the Pod on May 26 and closed on the house that day as well.  Luckily, we could stay in town a few more days to finish up some business and visit with friends.  Thanks to Kelly and Seana for letting us stay in Wash Park, and the Huffmans for the spare room in RiNo.  It was fun to be metropolitan for a few days! 

On our way to North Carolina we swung by Florida for a day to check on the progress of the boat.  Rockhopper is currently at the manufacturer’s facility having work done.  Clearly, she didn’t make it into the water by June 1, but we are hoping we’ll be ready for the big splash in July.  Once she is in the water, we’ll have a couple of weeks of work and preparations until we can get underway and start making our way north.   

Rockhopper at the Caliber Yacht Facility in Clearwater, FL
We’ll be dropping in on the folks in Florida next week to see how things are progressing.  Until then, we are staying with family (thanks Lori and Chuck!), spending a lot of time with Dad, and trying to see our NC friends as much as possible while we are here and homeless. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Out with the microturbines and in with the Micro Wind Turbine

Poor Reinhart.  

He received his wifi antenna and repeater weeks ago, and now his D400 wind turbine showed up and we've still got a few weeks before he can install this stuff and start playing with it.

It is kind of like receiving your gifts at Thanksgiving, but you can't play with them until Christmas.  

We are closing on the house next week and we'll be leaving Colorado on May 30.  We are going to swing by Florida to visit Rockhopper on "our way" to NC.  

If you are interested in the new toys, here are the links.  We've got Eclectic Energy's D400 wind turbine, and RadioLabs' high powered omni wifi repeater kit.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

We don't have a nice photo yet...

We've had a few folks ask for a photo of RockHopper; however, we don't really have any photos of her yet, since we've only spent a few days with her since we've owned her.  However, our former boat, Maia is very similar, so here is a picture of her to hold you until we get to Florida and start posting photos ad nauseam.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rockhopper, a new blog and a new boat

We've been horrible keeping up with the Sail Maia blog, so we are going to start anew with a more appropriate blog name.  If we are disappointing you on this address, just go on over there and see what sorts of things we used to post about in 2006-2012.

As for preparations, the house in Denver is under contract and Rockhopper is being updated in Florida.  We are tying up things with Lockheed Martin and the US Antarctic Program, and will be liberated as of May 1.  It seems like we are doing the same things we were doing 9 years ago!  It is about time to get sailing again.

Hopefully, we'll really do something with this blog, but if not, you can check out our old blog or our photos picasa photo page