Monthly Archives: May 2010

>St Michaels MD and little things that are great aboard Pandora


St. Michaels Maryland on Memorial Day weekend. That’s where we have been for the last few days, enjoying the local color, the maritime museum and the views, both aboard and on shore. I have to say that this resort community on the Eastern Shore is a really wonderful place to visit, on season or off. Our last visit here was after Labor Day if I recall and aside from the hotter temperatures, its going to get up to the high 80s today, it’s a really wonderful place. After recalling all of our Memorial Day trips aboard over the years and the stunningly cold water of Long Island Sound, the nearly 80 degree water here, so early in the season, is quite a contrast.

With the summer sailing season just getting into swing up in New England, we’ve been sailing for over a month now. What a difference in mentality with the marinas switching to summer rates as of April 1st. In a short time Pandora will head up to Mystic CT for a month and then on to Maine for August.

I started a new business several month ago with a long time associate from my days at Dowden Health Media. Our business is focused on working with medical societies and university education departments with whom we will be developing educational programs for health care providers including physicians and others.

The reason that I mention this is that my partner Cathy and I are working hard and are committed to keeping the business “virtual” as long as we can. It’s been hard work but rewarding so far. When I say virtual, I mean that we want to be able to work where ever we are. In my case, that means working aboard Pandora some of the time.  

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work aboard and now I can, at least part of the time.   It’s hard to stay focused when you are surrounded by so many distractions. However, when the fear of new business failure lurking, staying focused is easier than you would think.  Actually, the hardest thing has been the heat but when we are away from the dock, working has been a fairly straight forward affair with conference calls and other activities.  

A big help has also been the installation of a cell phone booster that I had installed over the winter when Pandora’s mast was out for painting. The booster has already proven it’s worth as local cell coverage is spotty on the bay around Annapolis. For example, in the slip where we have been keeping Pandora, I am lucky to get one bar on my phone. However, slip the phone into the cradle and I have three bars. That’s the difference between clear and dropped calls. Something that’s critical when the calls are for business.

Anyway, enough about work. The local sights of St. Michaels are wonderful with shady tree lined streets with historic homes lining the quiet side streets. Here’s a few pictures of some homes that caught my eye.

These two homes are rental units only a few steps from the water.   Very scenic.

 Very few brick homes around here.  This one was moved from another location a few years ago.  Really quite unusual for the area.

We have admired this home during past visits. Notice the arts and crafts fans as well as the outdoor floor lamp.  Really a great place to sit and drink iced tea or perhaps an “adult beverage”.

A particularly nice Victorian with a view of the water.   So many homes kept in perfect condition. 

Oh yeah.  Last night we had a bunch of steamed crabs, Maryland style.  What a mess.  When I asked the guy at the fish market how many we should buy to be sure we had enough, his answer was.  “My grandfather used to say “you eat crabs until you are tired, not until you are full”.  That’s about right, as I got tired after an hour of picking and yet could have eaten more. 

I also want to mention a great tip that my friend and fellow SAGA owner Keith told me about getting water without going to a dock.  That’s a particularly important thing for us as we tend to run out of water faster than fuel and going to a busy fuel dock just to get water in the tanks makes us unpopular with some.  Kieth suggested that I get some collapsible jugs and just fill them when I am ashore. What a great idea. It takes just a few minutes to fill four of five gallon jugs and pouring them into the boat with  a large funnel is a snap.  I can’t believe that it took 30 years of sailing to learn this.  Not news to you?  It sure is for me.   Now water usage isn’t as much of an issue aboard Pandora.  Besides, going to a dock isn’t Brenda’s favorite things so getting water this way is one less “career limiting move” for me too. 

Tonight we head back up north to the Magothy river for a visit with some friends and the next day, back home and to reality.  However in about a week it will be time to head up to Mystic as our next home away from home.

>Coverage of Jessica Watson’s homecoming, a series of videos.

>Some terrific clips of the coverage of Jessica’s homecoming.  They are posted as a series.  Fun to look at.

I hope that you are able to take the time to watch this series of videos that takes you from Jessica miles outside of the harbor to her news conference.

The first one is a lead up to her arrival in the harbor. 

The next one is an interview of Jessica’s parents aboard the VIP boat waiting for her to arrive in the harbor.

Edition 3 overviews the voyage and route that she took.

This segment is an interview over the Sat Phone with Jess from local newscasters as she makes her way the last miles to Sydney.

This segment a bit of the story behind Jessica’s decision to sail around the world when she was 14 years old.

Enjoy a ring side seat as Jess nears the finish line after 23,000 miles of sailing.

Jessica crosses the line.

I posted this one the other day and while the quality is not that great as it was posted by someone that just videotaped it off of their TV. It’s the only segment that I was unable to find in the series that had been posted. It’s of her first steps ashore after coming up to the dock at the Opera House. A very emotional moment indeed as she greets her family after 7 months at sea, alone.

Jessica speaks to the thousands who came out to see her at the Sydney Opera House. And, she did so with remarkable style and poise.

Jessica’s news conference after her arrival.

Wrap up of the news conference.

That’s all for now. Now that she has made it back safely, it will be interesting to see what happens next for this remarkable young women.

>Guy’s weekend aboard Pandora in Annapolis

>My son Rob and I were joined by our good friends Joe and Luke for our “annual Guy’s Weekend”  in Annapolis aboard Pandora.  On Thursday evening we rendezvoused, arriving from NJ, CT, NYC and Pittsburgh to spend a few days together aboard Pandora and see some of the sights of the Chesapeake and Annapolis.   Unlike some past years when we have faced rain and challenging conditions, this weekend had really terrific weather.  On Thursday evening we had dinner aboard with the plan of heading out the following morning.  The weather patterns for the weekend called for moderate to strong SW winds on Friday followed by a shift overnight to fresh NW on Saturday.  With this in mind, we headed out on a reach to Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore, a much different, and decidedly slower pace than near Annapolis.  We dropped the hook around the corner from Rock Hall Harbor in Swan Creek.  

After we arrived, we headed for shore and rented bikes.  This marina just past the mooring field in “The Haven” was a very nice place to get ashore and for $5 each we headed out to explore Rock Hall.   This is a nice shot of the Club House at the marina.

As predicted by the weather service, which called for 50% chance of thunderstorms, we were treated to a fantastic light show from the passing cold front.  This shot of the growing thunderhead to the west was a clue as to what would happen next.  Later in the evening we were hit with some pretty impressive gusts, enough to knock everything that wasn’t secured onto the floor.  I would guess that the brief gusts were upwards of 40-50kts. It was impressive but brief lived.  It’s a good thing that we have a big anchor, a 65lb Bruce and lots of heavy chain.

With a strong NW wind the following morning we headed out to Annapolis.  Our trip was quite lively as the wind increased to a gusty 15-18kt breeze and hard on the wind we blasted along, sometimes as fast as 8.5kts, nearly 10kts with the ebbing current, our way toward Annapolis. 

Annapolis on a busy Saturday is quite a scene and this visit wasn’t any different.  A view up Main Street gives you a feel for how crowded it can be. 

The harbor and out into the bay has all sorts of craft but it’s always busy.  This boat is a sandbagger, one of two, Bull and Bear.  These two identical boats are owned and campaigned by a wealthy New York financier who fancies wooden boats.  He supports these boats, in partnership with The National Hall of Fame and Sailing Center, as they are trucked around for various events. I am told that moving these around is quite an operation.  They are wonderfully maintained and quite impressive.   The program is designed to help expose young people to sailing.  Bull and Bear have a very nice website where you can learn more about these wonderful boats. Perhaps you can even find a way to get aboard for a sail.  Not a bad idea.

We also decided to spend some time walking around the Naval Academy and I have to say that I was impressed with how wonderful the grounds look.  It reminded me of the Naval College in Greenwich England.  I expect that the founding fathers were trying to say something about the young United States by evoking the look of a similar institution.  And, to this day, your tax dollars are hard at work.  What a view of the harbor. 

And, what’s a view of the harbor without a shot of Pandora on her mooring?

 And a shot of the Academy 40 footers, that they race on the bay and further away.  These are not cushy yachts at all.  They are beefy and powerful in every way. 

The buildings on campus are quite amazing to see.  No denying that there is European influence here.

 Several views of the dome on the chapel where John Paul Jones is entombed.

One of the many wonderful old historic homes just outside of the Academy walls. There’s lots to see in Annapolis and no shortage of folks doing just that. 

>Jessica Watson home again, but no record.

>Jessica Watson returned home to Sydney Harbor on Saturday to a crowd of thousands after sailing alone and unassisted around the world in seven months.  An amazing achievement by any account and yet not a record according to the world sail speed record governing body.  It seems that in order to earn the record itself, she would have had to sail a minimum number of miles that would have taken her higher into the northern hemisphere than she did in actuality.   This link provides a video of the reasoning behind the ruling.  To me, and thousands of others who welcomed her back to Sydney, her achievement is, non the less, an amazing feat by any measure.

This video is a very touching view of her homecoming and first steps on land.   More to come I am sure in the coming days.

It’s going to be a difficult transition for many, including me, as we have to adjust to a “Jessica blog free world” now that she has returned home.   Oh well. 

What an amazing achievement.

>Jessica Watson to arrive home on the 15th.

>After seven months at sea Jessica Watson is scheduled to arrive back home on May 15th after having circumnavigated the globe on a small boat with no outside assistance.  This is a major feat for anyone and especially for someone so young.  Jessica is only 16 years old. There has been considerable controversy about someone so young making such a voyage.  I, for one, am really impressed with how she has handled herself and with her crew for making sure that she had a boat that was easy on her, as easy as ocean sailing can be.

Jess’s trip has been widely followed in Australia with regular television interviews and even a call from the Prime Minister on “Australia Day” a while back.  Because of a desire to bring her in to port at a predictable time, she has made a point of timing her arrival for May 15th, tomorrow.  

I, for one, will miss following her voyage and will surely have a bit of withdrawal when she stops posting.   Today’s post, Thursday, is a particularly good one and worth reading.  While I know that she has been well coached to always put her best foot forward, it surely comes through that she has had a life changing experience.  In some ways she has changed things for many who have followed her for this last seven months.

Brenda and I surely wish that we could be there to welcome her home.  It’s been fun to follow along.

A video of a discussion with Jessica, her Mother as well as port officials was posted today and it certainly provides evidence of how her trip has captured the imagination of Australia.  I can only imagine how excited she, and her mother, must be. 

Here’s to one tough, determined lady, Jessica Watson on Ella’s Pink Lady about to complete a successful circumnavigation of the globe…alone.

>Our first weekend of sailing in Annapolis for the season

>It’s amazing how quickly it became summer in Annapolis.  We spent the weekend on Pandora as our first real weekend aboard, beyond sleeping aboard while getting her ready for the water.

This last weekend we actually did some sailing, and with two other SAGA 43s.  Both couples, one we had met briefly prior to launch and the other that sailed down from Baltimore.  On Friday evening we made a very brief run from Sprig’s Pond, where Pandora is docked for the next few weeks, off across the Magothy River, north of Annapolis, and anchored behind a small island where we joined our new friends aboard St Somewhere.  Dave and Barbara, who retired last year, were just back from a trip south down the Inland Waterway and the Bahamas for the winter.

It was fun talking to them about their trip south for the winter and comparing notes on the details of their boat. It’s amazing how similar and yet different two identical boats can be.  As with most larger sailboats, SAGA 43s are built to order and are all semi-custom.

It seems that most folks don’t have photos of their boats sailing so I try to take shots of any boats we are with so I can share them.  Here’s a shot of St. Somewhere close hauled headed toward the Rhone River, south of Annapolis.  That’s about what Pandora looks like with only minor differences.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I am working to get Pandora in shape for offshore sailing and have been focused on heavy weather gear such as storm sails.  My current sail configuration is good to about 30kts (33mph) of wind and above that it’s very difficult, and dangerous to handle the boat.  With this in mind, I had a running forestay installed to hold a storm jib.  My largest forward sail, the genoa, is 600 square feet, a lot of sail. My inner staysail or jib, is about 400 square feet so I wanted to have a sail that could be set when it’s too windy for the outer larger sails, hence a storm jib of less than 200 square feet to be hanked on the inner, running stay.  A running stay is one that is designed to be attached and removed as needed so it won’t get in the way of the working sails.

In this case, the inner stay is attached to the deck about four feet behind my inner fixed stay.  Here’s  a shot of the stay in place.  Notice the lever setup that hooks it to the deck.  It’s pre-adjusted so that when it’s installed it’s at the correct tension.   As there is so much tension on s storm sail when the wind is up, this rig is backed up under the deck by a massive plate that is bolted to a firm bulkhead in the chain locker.   This way the stress of the sail is spread over a large area and is sure to hold.   Without the strong attachment point, the stay would rip the deck right off in a blow.  Not a good thing to have a gaping hole in the deck.  That would be bad, very bad.

 This is the same stay removed and stowed on the side of the mast, and out of the way.  It’s a pretty elegant solution, one that my rigger figured out.  Notice the curved stainless channel to the left.  It’s designed to ease the stay in a curve and get it out of the way.  Nice work.

A detail shot showing how the stay is attached to the port stay at the deck.  It’s a snap to move it from here forward, something that’s a necessity in storm conditions.  It’s got to be easy when the boat and deck are heaving all over the place in rough conditions.

Sometimes some of the most satisfying projects are the simplest.  This shot of the aft head shows a nifty addition that I made to the seat.  The problem is that when the boat is jumping around and you have to “use” the head and sit down, the seat tends to swing to one side with the motion of the boat, thus breaking the hinges. This neat edition of retainer blocks (the ones in the middle of each side) project down from the seat by  1 1/2″ and keep the seat stabilized so it doesn’t slide off and stress the hinges. I can’t take credit for this idea but did make the blocks out of Starboard, a hard plastic material.  Pretty slick if I say so myself.  Now, when was the last time you saw a picture of a toilet on a blog?  Often?  I didn’t think so.  It’s a first for me.  One certainly needs to know that their “throne” is secure, doesn’t one?

The Chesapeake is a world of contrast with the old mixed in with the new.  As we were headed back up to our slip on Sunday afternoon, I spotted this old wooden oyster buy boat chugging along.  A very pretty sight in the evening light. 

Just out of frame was a much different view, one of nearly a dozen massive ships waiting at anchor to be called into Baltimore to drop off or pick up a load.  It’s impressive to pass one of these behemoths at anchor so close.   We were indeed very, very close.

Finally, no blog post of a weekend trip is complete without a shot of the setting sun following a wonderful evening sail.

Back to reality and work.  We will be headed back down with some friends for a weekend Rendezvous with our friends in The Corinthians.   More then.