Monthly Archives: August 2020

Heading to New England. Where next?

As I write this Pandora and crew are anchored in Chesapeake City, a tiny harbor of refuge at the western end of the C&D canal.

The town is impossibly quaint, with a main street lined with colonial homes.  The view from Pandora this morning was a wonderful way to begin the day.  I have been here many times, stopping for at least one night when I am heading south or north.    Brenda and I passed this way together in 2012 on our first big voyage south together.  I wrote about that “historic” visit in this post.   That visit was particularly memorable as a large storm lashed the NE while we were here causing much flooding.  I expect to spend two days anchored here, waiting for favorable winds before we head down Delaware Bay and up toward Montauk and Long Island Sound.

The forecast suggests that we will pick up favorable winds, if light, for the run north as we turn the corner at the mouth of the Delaware late Friday or early Saturday morning.

Getting a good feel for the wind has been a challenge as each day’s forecast is very different than the last but now that we are very close to our departure, tomorrow, things are beginning to settle down.  Light winds, shifting from one direction to the other is standard for this time of year in spite of the generally prevailing direction of SW but we hope to at least have favorable, if light, winds.  I’ll be sure to have plenty of fuel aboard as I expect that we will be running the engine quite a bit.

The total run from our starting point near Annapolis is about 350 miles a distance that way-back-when, would have seemed like an epic voyage.  However, after years of 1,500 mile runs, this run seems more like a day sail.

As we headed north from Annapolis yesterday the winds were very calm and the bay, more like a lake.    The afternoon clouds began to look quite impressive but we never saw any rain.  Along the way we passed some really palatial homes with acres of perfectly manicured grass.   Some homes looked like they had been there for generations.  Some more like a sprawling and not so “micro mansion”.Of course, osprey nests on just about ever navigation mark.  As we approached our destination and the entrance to the canal, a lovely sun dipping toward the horizon in our wake.  The more obvious landmark in the town is this bridge that looms over the downtown area.  Of course, what post is complete without a view of Pandora.  We have the anchorage nearly to ourselves.  I have mentioned that both AC units aboard have been replaced the forward one in FL and the aft, a much more complex installation, by  me personally while the boat was in Annapolis.   I still have to install a unit that will smooth out the amp spike when the aft unit cycles so that I can use my small Honda generator to keep us cool when we are desperate and want to use the AC while at anchor.

That small generator is pretty noisy and will surely upset our neighbors so I am exploring some sort of sound enclosure that I can put over it.  I have been looking at some foam products that McMaster Carr, an industrial supplier, sells and will report back on what I come up with.  It’s not really reasonable to run the generator in a crowded harbor as it’s just too noisy but if I can muffle the sound with a proper enclosure, that will make it practical.  We’ll see.

I also had the aft AC unit wired to run, when we are under power, using my inverter driven off of our 200 amp high output alternator.   Yesterday was the first time I used it that way since the installer visited to hook things up.  It worked perfectly and what a treat to run both AC units while under power.  It was quite very cool down below and quite “yacht-like”, I have to say.    Decadent, actually.

Brenda and I had hoped to get our granddaughter Tori and son Rob out on Pandora for a few days while Pandora was in Annapolis but anxieties of the virus conspired against us so I finally just decided to bag it and head to New England.

I am looking forward to doing some local cruising if I can and now that Brenda’s book is at the publisher after a decade of work, perhaps she’ll agree to a “cruise”.

Hopefully the “fun” of the spring escape from the Caribbean will soon become a distant memory.  So far, not much luck on that front.

So, where will Pandora be going next?  Well, New England at least.  Heading south?   Now, that’s another story and I have no idea.

Fingers crossed but I fear that the state of the pandemic isn’t giving me hope that things will be under control any time soon.

Oh boy, I can hardly wait to be housebound all winter. Hope I’m not…

Ever hopeful.

What will cruising in the Caribbean be like this winter?

This is the question on everyone’s mind these days.  Well, at least those who cruise the Caribbean in the winter season.

“What will cruising look like and if I go, will I be able to get home in the spring?”

As port officer for the Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua, I am focused on what the arrival in Antigua will look like and perhaps more importantly, what will the rest of the season bring for cruisers wishing to visit other islands in the Leeward and Windward island chains.  Here’s the fleet last fall in English Harbor.  Hope to see this scene again soon. But, it’s complicated.  Last week the government of Antigua renewed a state of emergency which is to remain in place through the end of October.   For practical purposes, this allows them to put curfews on place and add additional restrictions as needed.

That’s probably the right thing to do as nobody really knows what will happen over the winter with tourists coming and going from the islands, perhaps bringing infections to islands with very limited resources for dealing with patients who fall to the virus.  Having said that, Antigua has been quite effective in controlling outbreaks and aside from an occasional “imported” case arriving by airline.  I understand that there have been no community outbreaks for some time now.   They have been particularly effective in keeping infections under control as anyone who test positive is put into mandatory quarantine in government controlled and monitored hotels, a sort of modern day leper colony.  That’s a good incentive to follow guidelines and stay safe.

That approach has been quite effective but would never work here in the US with our preoccupation with personal choice.   Quite simply, they have to be aggressive as they just don’t have the medical infrastructure to deal with a major outbreak.

And speaking of outbreaks, it’s scary to imagine what things will be like here in the US this fall when temperatures begin to drop.  Sheltering at home for even a few months last winter was an eternity and now we are facing months of restrictions in the northern states as outdoor activities are sharply restricted bu the cold.  Heck, it’s been bad enough in the south this summer where it’s warm.  Get a grip on our mask, you’re going to need it.

One of the issues that caused so much concern to cruisers, including us, last winter when the islands closed down so abruptly, was what to do with boats when skippers were unable to get crew to help run their boats home.    Many made a beeline for Grenada at the first sign of trouble only to find that island closed and flights canceled and Trinidad, long the go-to place for summer storage, is still closed with no clear plan as to when boats will be able to head there.

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association is working hard to figure out exactly how to manage things for this November’s rally to Antigua, when so much is still unclear.

What will the season bring and will we face the same problems that cruisers encountered last spring when suddenly when most islands closed and crew could not get to the islands to help bring boats home?

One issue that we all faced last spring was really not knowing about places to keep our boats for the summer season that were “safe” and how to purchase  insurance coverage to ensure our boats when they were left in the “zone” during the height of the season.

I was on the phone last week with several of my contacts in Antigua, including the Antigua Slipway, a small working yard in English Harbor.  The Slipway is working on a plan to address the issue of safe storage and insurance for those that opt not to make the run home to the US and need a safe place to leave their boat for the summer.

One thing that the Slipway has going for them is that they are located inside English Harbor, a natural “hurricane hole” with relatively high hills all around, a sort of protected bowl, perhaps the most protected harbor in the Caribbean.  The relative safety of English Harbor is one reason that the English Royal Navy used the harbor year round and I guess had pretty good luck keeping their ships safe there.I will say, from personal observation, the yard, as small as it is, looks pretty safe when compared to other yards in Antigua and the other islands, that are more exposed to the winds.

Events have always been a key part of the rally and one of the key issues that we will have to work around is the need to keep a proper “social distance” from one another and to find a way to celebrate our arrival without violating the 25 person gathering rule.  That may prove to be a bit of a challenge as so much of the experience is making friends and spending time together.  At least these events will be outside which seems to be a LOT safer than congregating indoors.   I long for the days of fun arrival events like our arrival dinner.   This shot, from last fall, looks responsible to me.How about a “responsible” tot of rum?  We’d have to stand a bit farther apart nowadays. Or, a dingy drift that’s safe?  I’ll want to be upwind from the group. A group shot?  Perhaps a smaller group, spaced out.  Not sure how to do that, actually. So, there you have it.  Plenty to think about and with a few more months left before many will make a final decision on where they want to be this winter.

Oh yeah, with all of this in mind, the Salty Dawg Sailing Association is organizing a series of twice weekly webinars focused on next season and getting you and your boat ready to make the run south.   For better or worse, your’s truly is deep into planning this series which will shortly be posted on their site at

To kick off the series of twice weekly events I will be sharing what we know about the coming season along with fun places to visit in the Leeward and Windward chains at 16:00 EST on August 27th, two weeks from today.

I’d better get cracking or I won’t be ready to talk about what to expect cruising the Caribbean this coming season.

All I know is that if given the choice of this…I’ll take this any day.  Or at least during happy hour…Of course, all of this will be just so much easier once there is a vaccine.

No wait, there already is one.  Just call Vladimir.

Sorry, the line is busy.  Donald is on the line with him.