Wednesday, January 11, 2012

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

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