Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Voyage 2-4 Cut to the Chase 11/11/11 Steph (with Judy in italics)

Crossing the Stream

Trying to keep our narrative chronologically correct while busy each day with new adventures, incidents and chores has created a “blogjam.” Rather than delay posting until every interesting event and aspect of our trip is covered, without further ado, our rally from Hampton Virginia to Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas…..We will label all further posts with Voyage 1 or Voyage 2 to eliminate confusion.
The start was originally scheduled for Monday, November 7th, but a forty-eight hour delay was called due to weather issues. Additional delays pushed the start to Friday the eleventh. The delays create a kind of limbo, since we’ve done everything we could to feverishly prepare and now it was nothing to do but wait and do more sorting, stowing of gear and eating food that was planned for the voyage and having to replace that.  For folks with day jobs, like most of the rallyers and both of our crew members Tim Harris (who crewed with us last year) and Bill Wier, delay creates problems at work.

As the delays mounted Tim had to rethink his commitment, and we had to scramble for back-up if Tim couldn’t make it. I called the remaining people on the volunteer crew list and they had already made other plans at this late date. Fortunately, Tim pulled through as he did last year and we slipped our dock lines at 0800 for a 1000 start two miles west of Thimble Shoals Light. Since the start point off Old Point Comfort between the Hampton River and the tunnel / bridge was fixed, and the weather was not, we were treated to a downwind start with sixty other boats. The wind was 20 knots and we set a single reef in the main. The following swells were 2-3 feet and we were surfing.  We were well positioned for the start crossing the line as the third or fourth boat.  It was exhilarating to be at the front of the pack and see so many boats behind us.  Bentaña was in perfect stride.  We were told to stay out of the channel due to all the commercial and military traffic. 
About a half an hour in and we’re still flying.  Most of the pack is headed to the right, but we are headed to the left.  The first of our series of unfortunate incidents dawns on us.  Judy had selected a waypoint on our chart plotter from last year. Instead of the point we used last November, on the way down, the chart plotter had overwritten the point with one we used going north last spring. Since the Tunnel / Bridge causeway separated us from the fleet by at least a mile, we had some catch up to do, and catch up we did.
The mistaken route actually gave us a better wind angle, and we quickly caught up to the other boats while avoiding the plethora of tugs, tankers and other commercial vessels that were in the southernmost channel. We set the whisker pole to keep our beautiful new Genoa full, a task that usually requires lots of practice to do smoothly. It went very well, a testimony to the skills of our crew who had little chance to drill on Bentaña.
Out beyond Cape Henry, the seas became heavier, and the whisker pole which doesn’t have a downhaul kept reaching for the sky, spilling wind and becoming less efficient.  I grabbed some line and jury-rigged a downhaul in the middle of this telescoped spar, which I soon came to regret. The incredible wind forces which had us galloping across waves at eight knots and better were too much for my rig, and the pole bent in half and parted. This was a dangerous situation. Two aluminum shafts were flailing in the wind. The half attached to the mast posed a danger to anyone on the fore deck, and the other was dangling and dancing on the clew end of the foresail to possibly rip it to shreds or puncture the hull.
I quickly doused the pole-lift and unclipped the boat end of the pole from the ring on the mast. The clew end has a trigger line which runs all the way back to the mast.  With that, after a few jerks, the jaws opened and shook free of the clew ring. The broken end of the pole dropped into the water but was still tied to the pole lift halyard and was soon retrieved and secure on deck. An exciting few minutes followed by the knowledge that one of our downwind racing tools was no longer available.  Another lesson learned. Properly rigged, the downhaul, like the pole-lift would have been attached at the ends of the pole, creating a structural bridle instead of in the middle, inviting bending and breaking.
This second incident on day one led us to decide to shake out the reef in the main since the Genoa was less effective without a pole to keep it in the wind. Lo and behold, there is a tear in the sail near the foot, so we belay the shake out.  The tear is not a problem while reefed, but would be if it were raised into the wind.  It was small, and I felt that in a steady sea we could patch it under way without taking it down. That was to wait for the next day, as it was getting dark and we would have reefed anyway and we’d had plenty of excitement for one day. We are in the lead of our class of eight boats.
One of the hard things to deal with at sea is operating around the clock. We found that during the day there was no shortage of help in the cockpit or on deck, but at night we needed a watch system. We started out with three hours on and three hours off, alternating with a new person in the cockpit each hour and a half. The first one and a half hours was helm and the second one and a half hours were stand-by to aid the helm with sail trim or other assistance. So we always had two people in the cockpit at night.  With the help of Otto the Autopilot this was pretty easy.
Day Two (Saturday 11/12) the water temperature rose and we were approaching the Gulfstream. Bentaña was still in her glory and in fact we all were. We agreed that this was some of the finest sailing we had experienced.  Those who wished us fair winds and following sea were our angels, and the heavens blessed us. The gulfstream is one of those conveyors I referred to earlier. We were pointing southeast and going east, but that’s okay.  The object is to cross this north flowing current in the sea and get to the other side as quickly as possible. Pointing further south to keep us on a straight line to our goal would only extend our time in the stream carrying us further off course.   As often as I kept telling myself to believe the instruments, I found myself becoming crazy with worry when the chartplotter, the autopilot and the compass were all indicating different directions.  I spent 15 minutes frantically checking the chartplotter documentation and then Bill said, “No problem, it is just the set and drift of the Gulfstream.”  Duh (hitting forehead)!  Thanks, Bill!!!
While Otto and Aeolus kept us clipping along, we mended the mainsail using sticky-backed Dacron sail repair tape on both sides of the sail. The sun was shining and it was warmer than when we left port.  We were still in foul weather gear as we were getting some spindrift off the waves, but the seas were kind. Below decks was a different matter.  Constant heeling, pitching and rolling had tossed anything not tied down on to the cabin floor. Sleeping was a challenge and dressing was a farce. Eating didn’t seem to be a problem.  Luckily, we had prepared one dish meals in advance that just needed to be thawed and heated up.
It’s not easy to tell when you’re out of the stream.  There are eddies which spin off from the stream and create countercurrents and gyres of their own. It is in search of those potentially favorable currents that we devoted the next leg of our journey. As a sailboat makes five to seven knots more or less, a one knot boost from water moving our way is a big help.  By comparing our speedo (boatspeed) against our SOG (speed over ground) we can determine if we are with or against the current. By the end of day two we were at the edge of the stream and looking for a lift.
During our pre-rally seminars, much was made of the benefits of riding the eddies.  Charts were passed out and studied.  Unlike last year when we tracked the rhumb line (the most direct path,) and ignored any currents, this year we pursued them diligently. We didn’t find them where they were supposed to be and we became baffled by the countercurrents. Oh, well!  The winds had come more south, and we were able to reach with four sails set and we were still in the lead of our class.
As evening turned into night the winds shifted.  We were headed by the wind, that is, the bow was being pushed away from the wind more than usual.  Our heading became too far east and we tacked and were again headed, pointing too far to the west.  Bentaña, Bill and I in the cockpit were now baffled by the winds and currents (in every sense of the word). After several tacks we began to question all we knew about sailing. Usually if you are headed in one tack, you are lifted in the other tack. We knew that we should be able to tack near 90 degrees or better, but we were tacking 120 degrees and making no headway.  It almost seemed we were losing ground and headed the wrong way.
When in doubt see the Captain.  Judy was fast asleep, but had an instant perfect answer.  “Turn on the engine.” “Yes perfect” I thought, “That’s why she’s the Captain.” In this rally, we check in twice a day to get weather, position and condition reports. In order to get good transmitting on the single side band radio, we run the engine to charge the batteries otherwise idle. We also need to report on engine use (for propulsion) which is factored into our scoring.  Captain Judy, now on deck and viewing these unexplained and unexpected glitches mutters something about the “Bermuda Triangle.” A shudder runs through us all, but we quickly put it behind us and make a note not to mention the “BT” concept again. At sea it’s too easy to be superstitious. Day three and despite adverse winds and current, we are still in the lead. I’m off for a few hours sleep


Which day is which I cannot truly remember, but awakened for my watch on day four (?) of our seven day passage to Green Turtle Cay, Captain Judy says, “We had the “dreaded clunk!” [indicating water block] while you slept.”  Back at Caribbean 1500 pre-departure seminars, Rick Palm and Miles Poor had warned us of water siphoning back into the cylinders from following seas. Despite following the advice to run the engine a couple of times a day, this gremlin had struck “Bentaña.”  Apparently the first clunk is a warning as the incompressible water stops the engine before it starts. Trying to start the engine a second time will break stuff leading to an expensive repair on shore.  We’re talking $20,000 for a new engine.
The good news was that we were given thorough instruction on how to remedy the problem on shore. The bad news was, after a previous ugly encounter I told wife Judy “I’m never going in that engine room again.  It’s a sailboat.” I protested in my best macho voice, “We don’t need no stinkin’ engine“. Well, the Captain prevailed, I followed orders and into the breach I went.
The first injector came out without much fuss. Losing the crowbar into the bilge after prying the first injector loose made it even more difficult. It eventually took 12 hours of sweat, brute persuasion and more than a few salty words to oust the other three. Some vital washers were lost to the “black hole” under the engine in the operation. After each evolution, we waited for the next semi-daily radio communication to review and prepare for the next step.  As our battery bank was diminishing without the engine and the light winds for the wind generator, our signal was too weak to reach Miles. Our questions and answers were relayed by Steve Black, the Net Controller, and originator of this event twenty some years ago, every hour for the first few hours.
While in the midst of resolving the engine issues we noticed that at some point, an old flag halyard had broken loose on the main mast and gotten jammed in our new wind generator stopping it cold and placing more reliance on the ol’ Perkins diesel to charge the batteries. Unfortunately we did have a limited amount of fuel aboard (and no engine at that point) and needed to conserve it as much as possible and use it only for charging the batteries and if the wind petered out or slowed, which it did for a couple of days. Double whammy! We were without engine and without wind generator power! Since we needed the wind generator to produce energy and save fuel, we heaved to and I, being the smallest aboard and a confirmed mast monkey, went up the mizzen to see if I could clear the halyard.  The seas were relatively calm with 3-4 foot swells but it was still “rockin’ and rollin’“25 feet up. After going up twice assessing the situation and not having 3 arms and hands with which to work on it and hang on at the same time, I decided not to risk fingers or other body parts to clear the line at sea.  Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and the solar panels did their job. 
After sucking over a gallon of water out of the engine, giving it a loving dose of WD-40, blowing sooty water everywhere and bolting everything back in place (minus a couple of washers);we crossed our fingers and started the engine. After a few turns, and a miasma of fumes and sparks on top of the engine from a high pressure hose leak (or missing washers?), we shut the engine down and waited for the next net to consult and make sure we would not blow the boat up or catch on fire.  After retightening all the connections and being assured on the net that we would be ok, we cranked her over and our mighty Perkins 4.108 came back to life to a round of applause from a tired and grateful crew. I think no one was more surprised or thrilled than I, an avowed anti-motorhead. I know that cruising and passagemaking test us and then require us to reach beyond our comfort zone and do what has to be done. When we arrived at Bluff House, our marina at Green Turtle Cay, one of the other rally captains came up to me and said, “I need to buy you guys a drink and hear about your voyage.  One of my crew members was listening when you reported your worries about the engine possibly catching fire and said, “There is this woman on Bentaña talking about possibly catching fire and she is so CALM!!”
 Thanks to “Doc” Miles who talked me through the operation over the single-side-band and Steve Black who relayed when needed; scrub nurse Judy who handed me tools and mopped my brow; and Bill and Tim, our stalwart crew who kept “Bentaña” moving on course on a voyage we will all long remember fondly.
The engine is now stilled and we are making good time through the water, so why is there a rumbling in the engine room? I open the door to where the blue heart of the boat (ol’ Mr. Perkins) lives and the prop shaft is free-wheeling to beat the band. Now this isn’t supposed to happen.  It’s noisy and creates unnecessary wear and tear on the shaft and engine, because the engine isn’t running, lubrication which would ordinarily take place doesn’t. Bearings become starved for oil. As Roseanna Roseannadanna famously said,”If it isn’t one thing then it’s another!”
Bentaña is fitted with a folding “Max-Prop” designed to feather and reduce drag when out of gear under sail. She also has a shaft-brake, hydraulically linked to the “Velvet-Drive” transmission.  When out of gear this is supposed to engage what is basically a disk brake, as it name says, stopping the shaft. I call for my leather wrangling gloves and a screw driver and ask the helm to slow the boat down. We slow and the disk is no longer turning like a buzz saw. I grab the shaft and stop it, searching for one of the discs cooling holes. I shoved the screw driver through the hole and let the shaft turn to where the tool fetches up against a bracket and locks the lock.  SUCCESS…I turn to the crew and say, “Make sure the screw driver is removed before you need to put the boat into gear.”  Well my advice was heard and heeded, but it turns out later when we needed propulsion, removing the screwdriver was not as easy as inserting it. The water pressure on the unfeathered prop pressed the screwdriver into a place where the blade and handle had no clearance fore and aft to remove it.  Back to the leather gloves, slow the boat and turn the shaft backwards and extract the screwdriver.  SUCCESS.. Note to self, “next time use a stubby screw driver.”
Figuring something out and working it through is very rewarding.  You are actually faced with no choice. But I’ve stopped patting myself on the back and begun cringing, “What’s next?  It’s not long before the next problem arises. Well, at the shaft brake, I’m face to face with the stuffing box, and “what’s next is obvious.”  The stuffing box is one place on the boat that water is allowed to enter the boat. It is the seal between the boats hull and the engine shaft. A small drip is tolerable, say one drop every 15 seconds when the shaft is turning. At this point, the shaft isn’t turning and a steady continuous stream is evident. This due no doubt to the freewheeling the shaft was doing in the previous paragraph. By their nature, stuffing boxes require occasional adjustment, being stuffed with sacrificial packing.  In olden days they used oakum, retired rigging rope soaked in grease. Bentaña uses flax braid and Teflon grease.
 It’s generally a simple process at the dock, made more difficult in a pitching seaway. There are two large sections of pipe around the shaft. They are each fitted with flats like a nut, requiring two two inch wrenches.  The aft pipe contains the packing, which with compression and wear needs adjusting. The other pipe threaded to it is the lock nut. So… hanging face down in the bilge, wedging myself between the engine room door and the bulkhead, I go to loosen the lock nut and advance the inner packing using the two wrenches. However, two of our bilge pump hoses lie against this connection and I am out of hands. I need to maintain my physical purchase in place while pushing the hoses out of the way and exerting pressure on the wrenches. This makes yoga look simple. No big deal, the job is done and on to the next.
We then noticed a small tear near the foot of the mizzen and patched it up right away.
Our rhumb line changed as the winds changed and we tacked back and forth looking for the best bang for our buck.  We discussed the pros and cons of tacking more often or having longer legs and tacking less often.  Since we were going in and out of eddies, we compromised and did both!!   The winds were light for about a day and a half, so we did more motoring than we wanted to.
Weather so far has been quite good.  With a day or so to go, the wind is finally piping up.  There were some squalls in the area and after we passed them we prepared for our last leg.  We had “only” a hundred miles to go and our last tack put us right on track to cross the finish line.  We were headed dead downwind and couldn’t use the genoa as we had no way to pole it out.  We set the main and hoisted the mizzen to sail wing on wing!  Amazing, but it worked!  We were galloping along at about 8 knots with following seas that we surfed from time to time.  It was lots of fun.  Unfortunately, the mainsail chafed on the rig and lost stitching at the top, so we had to drop it and could not patch it at that time.
More critically, at this point the sea swells are growing and becoming confused and incoherent, which is hard on the crew, the ship and Otto.  Otto slips his chain and we lose autohelm.  So now the most difficult leg of the trip and we are hand steering though big seas from multiple directions. 
Communication is sketchy, but word is that we are still in the pack.  The weather is expected to build and our ETA at the finish is near first light so if conditions are good, we can cross the finish and head for port. The conditions are not however favorable. The name Bahamas is a corruption of the Spanish “Baja Mar” or low or shallow sea.  Most of the Bahamas is a bank less than twenty feet deep.  The Ocean several miles off shore is thousands of feet deep.  This creates strong currents and wave action at the cuts that define the entry to the Sea of Abaco.  These strong currents often manifest as “rages” as they are called and make entry impossible for most vessels.  It was conditions like this last year which took the life of one of our fellow Caribbean1500 sailors and shipwrecked Rule 62. (See our blog entry from last year.)
With our main out of commission, we ended up motoring over the finish line and crossed it at 0817 EST (0917 AST) on November 18, just short of 7 days at sea.  See our video on YouTube at
We were in VHF communication (short range) with Troubadour and Transylvania and actually had glimpses of Troubadour as we crossed the finish line.  Troubadour had crossed the line in the dark and waited for daylight to assess the cut.  Transylvania had gone in earlier and reported it as “manageable.”  We got as close to the cut as we deemed prudent, but it looked too rough for us.  We could only get 1500 RPM’s and a maximum of 5 knots out of the engine.  With 7-12 foot swells and heavy winds we were concerned that we may not be able to turn back if we could not make the cut.  We didn’t want to chance hitting a reef.
Troubadour  followed suit and also reported the cut as “manageable,” but by the time we heard that, it was too late for us to get back there in daylight.  The forecast was for strong winds diminishing tomorrow.
Our SSB and VHF radios had lots of static and we were able to only communicate from time to time successfully.
There is a saying amongst pilots, “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are few old, bold pilots.”  Judy and I subscribe to the notion of the “Prudent Mariner,” choosing the more conservative approach when in doubt. This was one of those times. The options we had were to continue south to a more favorable cut sixty miles away; take a chance at a safe passage here, with compromised engine and sails, or lie off shore in deep water and wait for better weather.  Both Tim and Bill had planes to catch back to the “real world.” The delay would cost them real time and money, and it was a tough decision, but we headed back out to sea. This was no place for a crap shoot.

It was time for a plan.  We discussed options. Bill talked about setting a Drogue or sea anchor, as the legendary Lin and Larry Pardey would do aboard Taleisin. So Tim and Bill set about rigging our small “lunch drogue,” having no massive storm drogue aboard.  They set out a spare halyard with the home made three foot sailcloth “parachute” off the bow.  Tim organized a bridle using our longest dock line. Bentaña continued to float off the wind, riding parallel to the swells and moving forward at a slower pace. We had done all we could do but wait, and keep watch.
And it’s not like we turned around and headed straight for deep water. The wind carried us mostly parallel with the off-shore reef line, grudgingly allowing us to creep slowly seaward. We decided that we should haul in the drogue and motor further out to sea and heave to. It was several hours before we had enough depth and distance off shore to heave to. (Heaving to is a method of slowing the boats motion by back winding the foresail, jibing the main and putting the rudder hard over.) It is a much kinder and gentler ride, the boat is more stable, but we were still making three knots in the wrong direction. Now it was mostly a time to wait out the weather and I sensed disappointment in the crew.  Also remember, dear reader, that we had no main to use, so we hove to with the mizzen and the genoa partially furled so that we would be balanced
The ride was gentler with less pounding through the waves and we were more tired, but sleeping was not easy. The boat had a strong heel (20 to 25 degrees) and no bunk was level. Bentaña rode up one steep swell and down the next (more precisely, the swells passed under us as we floated like a cork.) Gusts would heel us further and occasional rogue waves would peak higher above our deck. My concern grew as the possibility of a simultaneous gust and rogue wave might lay us on our side and put the rig in the water.  We took two hour single watches along with the flying fish that flew into the cockpit and it was thrilling (in a scary sense) to watch 15 foot swells with occasional breaking crests, especially when we were at the bottom of the wave troughs.
We all got up at 0200 and started to motor sail back towards the cut as we were 40 miles out to sea and wanted to be at the cut as soon as we could.  Our friend Bob Carter dislikes heaving to as he says, “I never like my sails laying on steel (the mast support cables.)” This night I saw the wisdom of that, as looking up, our mizzen was chafing on the back stay.  Soon after we noticed a dark spot near the top of the mizzen.  The stitching had let go, so we brought her down.  In a desperate situation we could have repaired the seams at sea, but it would be a shabby job. We would be ashore soon and we would let a sailmaker fix them.
The engine is laboring over a long term problem which may be bad fuel or throttle linkage.  In either case, the engine won’t turn over more than 1300 RPM, only about half its design rotation.  Luckily our new Genoa is pulling us along at boat speed, crashing through the waves and we don’t need the engine just yet.
Now the job was to get to shore with an underpowered engine, one useful sail, the fuel tank pointing to empty and communication hit or miss. Are we having fun yet???!!! Fortunately the weather had greatly improved. The sun was shining and we were both rested (I wouldn’t say that!) and excited about putting our feet on solid ground. Coming through the South Spanish Cay Cut proved anti-climactic. After motoring for an hour and a half we arrived at Green Turtle Cay , Johnny Powell, the Rally rep in here came out in a Boston Whaler to meet us and lead us in through the narrow winding channel into White Sound where we received a hero’s welcome at the dock at Bluff House Marina.  We pulled into our slip and had two gallons of fuel left in the tank.
That afternoon, Johnny brought us a debriefing sheet. One of the items read: “List any problems encountered during the passage.” I turned to Judy and Johnny and said, “We’re gonna need a lot more paper.”
One thing I want to say is a huge thank you to Troubador.  They were so concerned for us and kept the SSB on all night in case we needed to call for help.  It is amazing how nice and caring people are.  I know that everyone was worried about us but Troubador kept in touch. 
Here ends the beginning of our second voyage to the Bahamas.
P.S. Oh, did I mention how seawater was flooding the engine compartment around day three? Sort of a déjà vu all over again. Last year on this trip we took on water while heeling in a brisk seaway. It was washing in under the battery boxes and into the bilge.  I found a repeat of the problem during one of my regular inspections this trip.  The cause was the same, a removed piece of equipment whose throughhull had not been sealed. Last time it was a generator removed before we bought the boat.  This time it was an air conditioning compressor I had removed over the summer. I hadn’t realized it circulated sea water and I cut the discharge hose carelessly.  I quickly found the problem and fortunately the throughhull, fairly high up on the topsides rarely was under water, and more fortunately had a shut off valve. I closed the valve and pumped the bilge.  This mishap seemed so routine by this time, that I didn’t even mention it. After completing the narrative above, Judy reminded me I left it out.  The “adventures” were endless.
To view the “virtual” rally, see  and click on the BC tab (Bahamas Class.)  This is a very robust inter-active tracking program which allows you to replay the event in detail showing every tack. Using the time-line and speed controls at the bottom right you can observe boat speed and rank, wind direction, even night and day. You need to set the start time at 11/11 by dragging the time line. It takes a little practice. Enjoy.

Gulfstream eddies

About 10 minutes after the start

Bill and Steph repairing a rip in the main

Shorts at last!

Tim enjoying the sun

Happy Bill!

Judy up the mast at sea

Sunrise?  Sunset??

One of our flying fishy visitors

Are we there yet?

Near the finish.  Note the waves to the right

The salon

Land ho!  Entering White Sound, Green Turtle Cay.

Voyage 2- 2 - Cape May, NJ to Hampton, VA (October 8 – 28) Judy

We had a lovely motor sail when Steph awoke and arrived at Cape May Inlet on a favorable tide to enter with the current and go through the Cape May Canal over to Delaware Bay.  The winds were light and variable so we motored through the afternoon and evening and decided to  put in at Chesapeake City, MD on the C & D Canal for the night.  We dropped the hook and had a restful night.  Mary spent the morning in Chesapeake City lounging in the sun in the cockpit.
We were here on a Sunday and when we hauled anchor and went out onto the canal, it was quite rough with all the powerboat traffic.  It was a gorgeous, warm and sunny day and lots of people were taking advantage of it.  We finally made it out onto the Chesapeake and looked for wind.  We hoisted the main for a bit, but it was like being in a pinball machine having to avoid all the debris in the water from Hurricane Irene and all the fish trap buoys.  The wind was also light and variable, so we ended up motoring most of the way to Annapolis. 
We picked up a mooring in Spa Creek, just after the bridge, not knowing that we were breaking the rules.  Unfortunately, the two port employees who came to collect our mooring fees were being kind to us, but they got caught and had to pay the extra mooring fee.  Apparently, boats over 35 feet can’t moor where we were and they only charged as a smaller vessel although we told them our actual size.  We were contacted by the harbormaster and said we would pay what was due them, but he said he was going to make the collectors pay out of their own pockets…..maybe to teach them a lesson? Luckily, we were leaving soon and we had no more hassles there.
While in Annapolis we attended the last day of the huge sailboat show on Monday and it was fabulous! We ran into some acquaintances we had met last year from PYI (the Max prop people) and got some more freebies.  We also finally met Cam and Leighia Murray from Trans Marine Pro who were to install our wind generator and WiFi system later in the month.  We only knew them from the internet although we had e-mailed back and forth for a month. As we departed the show via dingy, the motor was acting up and we had to row back to the boat.  Luckily it was not very far.
On Tuesday we hung around and I went to West Marine to pick up some things we needed.  I called WM to see how to get there and was told, “Oh, just go in front of the hotel by the show and get on the brown route bus (or something to that effect) and it will bring you right here.”  Well, the route had changed and it took about two hours to go the 3 miles to WM.  L  I did a lot of shopping and was helped out a lot by an associate who also has a Gulfstar and spends the winter in the Bahamas mostly in Hope Town. J  He ended up giving me a ride back to the bridge and I took the water taxi home to the boat.
The next morning we departed our mooring and went through the lift bridge.  We had planned to get fuel and water at the marina on the other side of the bridge, but there was HUGE sloop rigged sailboat taking up the entire dock.  She was Pangea from Brazil.  We called the marina to see if we would soon be able to get to the dock and we were told that that vessel would be there all day taking on fuel and loading water.  We ended up having to go into Back Creek to get fuel and water.  It seemed to be taking a long time to fill the water tanks and all of a sudden the bilge alarm went off.  Somewhere we had a leak!  We ended up bringing the hose inside and filling the tanks through the inspection ports and emptied the bilge after we left the dock.  We could not find any leaks on our first inspection, so when we got to our next port, we tightened all the hose clamps and now fill our tanks with a hose through the inspection ports.
That next port was Oxford, MD where we had anchored last year, but had not gone ashore.  Our little Mary was not feeling well and not eating much and had been vomiting.  We called Dr. Atkins, our vet in Valley Cottage and she suggested a number of things including Cerenia, an anti-nausea medication that Mary had had before her chemo treatments.  She told us that if we could find a vet there who would dispense the medicine without seeing Mary (laws vary from state to state) she would fax them a prescription and I could go get it.  Steph said, “Dr. Atkins ROCKS!!  She is AMAZING!”  I agreed.  Luckily we had internet and I found a vet who would dispense the medication.  The next issue was finding a way to get to the vet that was about 15 miles away…. Well, Steph was in at the boatyard getting our outboard repaired and lo and behold found a guy named Earl who had to go into Eaton anyway and he would be happy to take me, but I would have to take the ferry back to Oxford.  It worked out fine and I was back in a couple of hours.  We medicated Mary and it seemed to help.  She ate a little bit and kept it down and she drank some water.  She was still dehydrated, so I continued giving her sub cu fluids.  I also had a return call form Dr. Bailey, Mary’s oncologist and he also suggested Cerenia and fluids, but we already had it under control. 
We planned to leave Oxford the next day and actually got out into the Choptank River, but the wind was about 20 knots out of the west and we were beating right into it and not making much headway.  We decided to return to Oxford.  We could not get the anchor set where it would not drag, so we finally went into the dock at Oxford Boatyard and tied up at the dock.  It gave me the opportunity to do laundry and dry all the stuff that had gotten wet in our water heater debacle and we had showers also.
The next day was much more conducive to getting out onto the Chesapeake and had a wonderful sail until sundown when we dropped sail and started up the iron jib to motor over to Solomon’s Island.  We found a place to anchor in one of the creeks there, went to sleep and got up the next morning to yet another lovely day for sailing.  We sailed as far as Deltaville and arrived after dark.  Deltaville is a small fishing/sailing town at the end of a peninsula that sticks out into the Chesapeake.  It can be entered either on the north side or the south side. 
We entered on the south so it would be a shorter trip to the York River the next day.  The channel into Deltaville is narrow (about 60 feet wide) with 1-2 feet deep water on both sides.  It is also shaped like a narrow V at the bottom of which you need to make a sharp turn to avoid hitting the shore.
As we approached the channel entrance, we saw some lights that were very confusing.  There appeared to be a white steaming light and a red nav light, but next to the red nav light was another white light.  Hmmmm.. So we got on the radio and hailed this boat that was coming out.  The confusing white light was caused by the fact that the back had fallen off the green starboard light and had not been repaired.  This vessel had no chartplotter and old charts and kept running aground each time they attempted to enter.  The channel just had day marks (unlighted marker buoys) and they could not see them in the dark until it was too late.  We told them to stay close behind and we would guide them in.  At the base of the V they were not quite close enough and ran aground again.  There was not room for us to turn around to pull them out, so we went all the way in and turned around to go back and help.  By that time they had gotten unstuck and returned to the beginning of the channel where we met them for another shot at it.  We told them to stay REAL close this time and I kept telling them our speed.  Well, this time WE ran aground and I heard them say, “S_ _t!” as they barely avoided running into our solar panels. We quickly got off the mud and got back in the channel and finally both boats made it into the harbor safely. We anchored and they went into the marina where they had reservations.
The next morning when we left, it was amazing to see how simple it is in the daylight, because you can see the channel very clearly.
We sailed and motor sailed the next day and arrived at York River Yacht Haven at dusk.  Cam and Lee and family were there on Tranquility, their 60 foot steel sloop and Elizabeth and Ed were there on Skylark.  We anchored for the night and in the morning Cam came over to review what was going to be done and how best to do it. He gave us the lowdown on the Yacht Haven and all the good things he told us were true.   When we went in to the dock the next day to pump out, I asked the owner where there was a good vet and right away he said, “Yorktown Animal Hospital!”  Cam had told us there was a car we could borrow there and when I said I need to take our kitty to the vet, they asked when and would make sure the car was available for us.
Luckily that morning we had a visit from Bill Wier, one of our new crew members, who we were meeting face to face for the first time.  We picked him up at the dock and he came out for a boat tour and visit.  We were meeting with the understanding that any of us could nix the match if we were uncomfortable with each other.  After a nice chat, Steph and I welcomed Bill aboard as a crew member and he accepted.  He also had the day free and drove us to the vet.  He is an animal person and knew exactly how we were feeling about Mary.
We had gotten Mary a carrier (her first one ever except for a cardboard one to go to her oncologist) and we put her in it for the dingy trip to shore.  She took it all in stride and kept popping her head out of the top to see what was happening.
Mary sat up on my lap and looked around with great interest on our way to the first vet visit that afternoon and we were welcomed like old friends.  YAH has a very caring and compassionate staff.  Dr. Rita Gariboldi fit us into her schedule when she knew that transportation was a problem.  By this point we were feeding Mary via eyedropper and she was getting her liquids via sub cutaneous fluids.  We tried a variety of tasty foods, including tuna juice, kitten food and other yummy things (even ferret treat!)  Mary would take a brief lick and that would be it unless we held her and force fed her with the eyedropper.  Dr. G gave me lots of suggestions, most of which we were already doing and she consulted with both Dr. Atkins and Dr. Bailey to see how she could best help Mary.  It became an every other day event to take Miss Mary to see Dr. G.  She was going downhill rapidly and it made us very sad.
When the wind died down, we rafted up with Tranquility.   Our boat looks pretty big sitting by herself, but the 41 feet next to a 60 footer looked pretty tiny!
Cam had told us that the folks at York River Yacht Haven were friendly to live aboards, and even those who anchored off their docks.  They know that it’s good business to get some of our trade even if not all. Although we rafted up with Tranquility on the river, we did contract their boatyard to take down our mizzen to simplify the refit of the wind generator. We also had their welder design and construct the new wind generator tower.  It is a thing of beauty.  None the less, we were surprised when the owner invited us to the Saturday and Sunday free buffet breakfast and also to their annual season ending Oyster Fest.
We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary on October 24 at a party given in our honor by our wonderful friends on Tranquility and Skylark.  By this time we were rafted up with Tranquility so it was easier to get the work done on the boat.  And they just brought the party to us!  It was great!  We had ribs and homemade bread and lots of other goodies.  What fun!!  Thanks, dear friends!
It was decided that Cam would do as much of the interior work as possible before we took the mizzen down to install the wind generator and the WiFi antenna.  He did a tremendous amount of work in the engine room, installing, rewiring, upgrading wiring and installing two additional AGM batteries which I (Judy) had to drive to Deltaville to get at West Marine. 
I arrived back at the marina after doing errands and was supposed to be picked up by Steph.  He did not answer the radio, so I called him on his cell.  After a bit he answered and said, “We have a big problem and you are going to be VERY unhappy.  I was replacing the leaky transmission line and it burst and there is transmission fluid all over EVERYTHING including me!”  I got back to the boat with the help of friends and Steph was right.  The transmission fluid had bathed the engine room, including the ceiling, and there was pink transmission fluid inside the electrical panel that was uncovered; five uncovered battery boxes being rewired;  in the passageway; on the carpet in the aft cabin; and inside the aft cabin hanging locker which has louvered doors; and on the clothing inside the locker.  The engine had been on when the fitting parted from the new hose which was under pressure, so it sprayed all over.  What a mess…………………. Yuck!  I asked Steph to call the insurance company to tell them of our plight and tell them there may be a claim.  We were concerned that the new electronics that had been installed in the engine room would be adversely affected.  We thought about cleaning it up ourselves, but I knew that it would be really difficult and that it would most likely be me doing it, or at least mopping up at the end.  We decided to have the marina crew do it, so the next day, Cam barged us in to the work dock and clean it, they did!  Unfortunately, they used Brake Degreaser which stinks to high heaven and I am sure we all lost some brain cells there.
Steph declared then and there (again), “This is a SAIL boat.  We don’t need no frinkin’ engine!!!! I am never going into that engine room again!”  (Little did HE know…..heh, heh)
I went to make a phone call the next day and couldn’t find my phone anywhere.  It obviously had fallen into the drink somewhere between when I called Steph from the dock and when I got back to Bentaña.  Losing the phone was bad enough, but the worst part was that I didn’t have my contacts backed up online, so all those hundreds of names, numbers and email addresses disappeared.
It was a very stressful time.  The boat projects were ongoing and we were spending as much time as possible with Mary.  Every day was something new….items that needed tracking down and picking up, finding transportation and finding the store where they were.  Feeding Mary was a project in itself.  Food needed to be prepared in liquid form so it could pass through the syringe that we put into the back of Mary’s mouth.  It was chilly in the boat and we warmed the food to help warm her.  I finally kept a set of “feeding Mary clothes” and towels because food got all over as she would spit most of it out.  It was kind of like feeding a baby, but a lot messier.  It also took two of us, one to hold and feed her and one to hold her front legs.
Our darling Mary the Sailing Kitty was getting weaker and weaker and it was a struggle to feed her and hydrate her.  She had lost a lot of weight and seemed to be pretty uncomfortable.  On the morning of October 28 we called our friend Cathy who is an animal communicator.  She connected with Mary who was already transitioning and decided she did not want to pass over aboard because it would upset us, but that she wanted to go to the vet and go to sleep there with us holding her.  She also wanted to be cremated and be with us on the boat, preferably in a cute urn in the cockpit where she could see out and guide us safely to wherever we were going. We called the vet and made arrangements to take her that afternoon.  (I’m sitting here two and a half months later writing this and it still makes me cry...)  Dr. Gariboldi and her staff were wonderful and very compassionate.  Mary sat with us and let us stroke her and we told her how much we love her and that she would be in kitty heaven with her brothers Squatch and Norton and that she would not have any pain anymore.  She went peacefully.  She was such a trooper, brave and smart and she held on and was a great crew member ‘til the end.  [Actually, she is still a great crew member, as her ashes live in a small treasure chest that we found for her and she is in the cockpit (where she can see out) when we are underway! ]  As we left, we stressed again the importance of having Mary’s ashes back as quickly as possible so that she would be with us when we left to go offshore.  Our scheduled departure date was November 7.
It was a super stressful day, because of Mary and because we had to complete everything for the boat and leave the next morning to arrive at Hampton Public Piers the afternoon of the 29th.  We really appreciate everyone’s efforts to get us off on time.  Our dear friends on Tranquility and Skylark comforted us that evening and it was sad to leave them the next day.
We had met so many other nice, helpful people in the York River area….the folks at York River Yacht Haven, the folks at Yorktown Animal Hospital, Joann Hall the Manager at the Gloucester Point  West Marine, and  Steve from S/V Tiki Time who drove me to Deltaville the second time for more supplies. Thanks, Everyone! 
The forecast for the 29th was squalls and 20 knot winds in the morning with rising winds in the afternoon.  It was quite cold.  We departed as early as possible and headed out to the Chesapeake.  The wind was howling and we were moving right along with a single reefed main and the genoa partially furled.  We were zipping along at 7 to 8 knots and freezing our body parts off! Our ETA in Hampton was 4 pm.  We were right on track to arrive on time, until we entered Hampton Roads.  The 30 knot wind was right on our nose and the tide was going out.  We had had a continual battle with the engine not seeming to have enough power.  At one point we were only making 1.5 knots over ground with the engine at “full” power.
Well, our dear friend Kate the Dock Master was waiting for us and showed us where our slip was.  It was in a tricky spot, but I slid right in as if I did it every day!  Kate invited us to a cruisers’ wine tasting party at La Bodega that started at 7 pm. We decided that we needed to relax, so we decided to go.   As we began to shed layers, I removed my gloves from my very cold hands and discovered that my fingertips were bright red and numb.  As they warmed up they got very sore.  They have now finally finished peeling after 7 complete times!  Frost biting anyone??
Mary enjoying the sun in Chesapeake City, MD

Hurricane Irene debris

The power boat show after the sailboat show in Annapolis

Preparing to lower the mizzen mast

Danny preparing oysters

Oh, shucks!

Oysters... raw, fried, roasted and hush puppies

Elizabeth and Ed from "S/V Skylark"

The Murrays from S/Y Tranquility

S/Y Tranquility and S/V Bentaña

Maya practicing for Cirque Du Soleil

Fynn and the flying trapeeze

Come to bed, Mommy!  We're waiting for you!

Pink transmission fluid was EVERYWHERE!

Transmission fluid dripping from the ceiling

...and dribbling out of the electrical panel

Mary in a shaft of sunlight, the day before she went to Heaven

Cam and Steph putting the wind generator together