Day 192, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 15

Day 192, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 15
Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Weather: Sunny and Cool, Winds SW 15-22, Temp in the Low 60’s F
Latitude: 39 57.454 N
Longitude: 072 42.334 W
Location: Second Day of Offshore Passage, More Than Half Way Home

Captain’s Log for Monday, May 14:
“Last night was rugged. Rough seas, winds in the mid 20’s, and lots of violent rolling. And it lasted until mid-morning when the seas finally started calming and the winds decreased to the mid-teens. As the winds backed we were able to sail a beam reach. Very nice! We are still motor-sailing as we intend to get to Woods Hole before dark tomorrow. Looks like worse weather for Thursday, so we are moving as fast as we can
The crew is holding up well and spirits are high. Lynda is becoming proficient in the galley and is taking her share of boat chores as well. Lee is happy just to be on the water. I don’t have much to share this evening as it has basically been a pleasant, boring day of sailing. Auto is doing all the steering, so we don’t have as much to do as when we were in the waterway. I think we are all getting anxious to get to Cape Cod. I know I am!”

Here on Cape Cod, life is moving along and getting back to normal. Jed is home, no one is sick (although Heather feels like she is getting another cold), and everyone went to work, school, or daycare today. Oma was home alone. The most exciting thing that happened to me today was that my phone fell out of my pocket and tried to flush itself down the toilet. I braved the plunge and saved it—not because I love the phone but because I didn’t want to clog up the septic system. After drying the phone, it was doing erratic things and finally went blank and started buzzing. I took out the battery and let things dry out and tonight the phone seems to be working. I’ve taken it apart again to let it dry more overnight and then I think I’ll be back in business.

Heather and Jed’s neighbors, Melissa and Brian Keefe, have two children—Mollie is four and Joey is three. The Goldstones and the Keefe’s have adjoining backyards and the children play together all the time. Brian has been working for days putting together a new two-story playhouse he brought from a friend in Maine. I mean this is a SERIOUS playhouse. This evening the Goldstone boys were invited over to play and they loved climbing to the second floor of the playhouse and waving down to us. I see many years of fun ahead.

130514 Day 192 Cape Cod, USA–Keefe's New Playhouse

Day 191, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 14

Day 191, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 14
Date: Monday, May 13, 2013
Weather: Sunny and Cool, Winds SW 8-30, Temp in the Upper 50’s F
Latitude: 39 49.498 N
Longitude: 074 55.175 W
Location: First Day of Offshore Passage, Passing North Around Cape May, NJ

Captain’s Log for Monday, May 13:
“The seas are on the quarter and typing is very tricky as we are rolling heavily. We started about 6:30 this morning and soon had strong current in our favor. That lasted for hours. We made good time under sunny skies. As the day progressed the winds built and we were able to sail. But they were erratic. We would be coasting along with 8 to 10 knots of wind and then get slammed with 20 or 25 knots. Once we even got 38 knots. Needless to say, we reefed the main, and soon thereafter, we rolled up the headsail. That is the way we have sailed the rest of the day and will continue that way tonight. To make our course toward home we must sail a beam reach which, with the seas, is not a comfortable ride. But all is well. Lynda is heating dinner – a new challenge for her in these conditions. Lee is on watch. The weather forecast didn’t quite predict this but the forecast does predict lower winds later tomorrow – and from a bit more favorable direction. Even with all this, all three of us managed to get a little shut-eye today so we are prepared for our watches tonight.”

I talked to Mark around 6 pm and he reiterated everything he says in the log. I’m really hoping the ride settles down. I really hate to see Lynda have her first ocean passage be a rough one. But Mother Nature has a mind of her own and when it comes to weather, you get what you get and you do the best you can with it. In any case, I hope to see them coming through the Eel Pond bridge late on Wednesday. I miss Windbird so much, and miss Mark even more. If I have my way, Windbird won’t be sailing without me again.

Day 190, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 13

Day 190, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 13
Date: Sunday, May 12, 2013
Weather: Sunny and a Bit Cooler, Winds SW 5-20, Temp in the Upper 60’s F
Latitude: 39 31.787 N
Longitude: 075 48.790 W
Location: Schaefer’s Marina, Chesapeake City, MD

Happy Mother’s Day to any mothers reading this log. And a special Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter and daughter-in-law, Heather and Jo respectively. They spend their lives nurturing their children, my five beautiful grandchildren, and I know that is no easy job. I was with Heather today and although I didn’t talk to Jo, I did talk to Justin and to Ziggy. They sent a beautiful and yummy edible fruit arrangement. Thank you, thank you. I didn’t get to see or talk to Coco as she was asleep when I was talking to Justin and Ziggy, but maybe we can do a Skype call later in the week when Granddad gets here. Heather, Jed, and I had a relaxed day, full of fun with Sam, Jonah, and Oliver. Jed fixed breakfast and dinner and both were delicious. So thank you, Jed. And Heather promises that we are going on a shopping spree together to treat ourselves. Neither of us is very good at taking time to shop for the things we need, so we’ll have to make sure we do it this time. At one point in the afternoon while Jed was putting Jonah down for a nap, Heather was putting Oliver down for a nap, and Sam was resting on the living room sofa, I snuck into the basement to do some cleaning where the old washing machine has been sitting. A new one will arrive this week, so I wanted to get this cleaning done. After a bit, I heard little footsteps coming downstairs. It was Sam and he wanted to know what he could do to help me. He said he hated to see me working so hard all by myself. He certainly knows how to melt a grandmother’s heart. And after I talked to Justin, I had a great conversation with Ziggy. That was another treat. I enjoyed sharing my edible fruit arrangement with Jonah—he LOVES fruit, especially chocolate covered strawberries. And Jolly Ollie entertained us throughout the day. He was wearing the overalls I embroidered for him for his first birthday and he looked so cute. Late in the afternoon, I took photos while Heather checked out her beehive. I so enjoyed seeing the queen and getting photos of the busy bees while watching Heather at work. She has become quite the bee expert. So it was a wonderful Mother’s Day for me.

130512 Day 190a Cape Cod, USA–Mother's Day
130512 Day 190b Cape Cod, USA–Bees

I talked to Mark a couple of times today. It looks like Windbird will leave Chesapeake City in the C & D Canal early tomorrow morning and head out to sea late in the afternoon headed for Woods Hole. If all goes well, Mark and crew will arrive late on Wednesday. They are hoping for fair winds and calm seas, and other than the fact that the wind will have a northerly component, the forecast looks good at this point. To Mark, Lynda, and Lee—Smooth Sailing! Bring yourselves and my beloved Windbird home to me safely.

Captain’s Log for Sunday, May 12:
“We got an early start to ride the tide up to Chesapeake City. We knew this would be a short run (only 21 miles), so we were in no rush. But we didn’t want to buck a negative current. The sky was clear and the breeze was behind us. We unfurled the Yankee, killed the engine, and sailed up the northern Chesapeake Bay and almost right to the dock at Chesapeake City. It was terrific after so many days of pushing hard and motoring all the way. We had speeds of up to 8 knots with wind and current. Exhilarating!

The rest of the day has been spent getting ready for the three day passage to Cape Cod. We put out jack lines, secured everything on deck, checked engine oil, readied the cabin, got safety gear ready, checked the weather and tides, decided on watch schedules, and went for a walk since we won’t have a chance to do much walking for a few days. After dinner Lee treated us to a delicious desert at the restaurant here at the Marina.

We will leave here early tomorrow, ride a positive current through the C&D Canal, and then sail down the Delaware Bay. By tomorrow evening we should be in the Atlantic and headed northeast. If weather cooperates, we should reach Woods Hole by Wednesday evening. It took us 17 days from Cape Cod to Little River, South Carolina, last fall and it looks like it is going to take us 17 days to return. I am anxious – to see the grandkids and to be with Judy again.”

Guest Log Written by Lynda Kaufman, Crew on Windbird:
“Well, what to say. I haven’t kept a log of any kind so I will go by memory. The first two days the wind was high, up to 38 mph, and the rain made buoys and marks hard to see. The wave period of 4 seconds caused us to dive into the face of one wave while coming down the backside of the one we were on. It was a lot like being in a very large kayak in white rapids that lasted 2 days. It might have been upsetting if I hadn’t ww kayaked for years. The waves settled down after the first two days but the rain continued for a total of 6 days. Then we had 3 days of sun or partial sun and not enough wind to really sail although we put the sails up occasionally. We stayed in some pretty anchorages, the first night out where we could see Leeway (the boat we just sold) in her new slip in Carolina Beach, NC.

Probably the two most exciting events have been the alternator cable mishap yesterday which smoked up the cabin and seeing the Island Packet that we are thinking of purchasing again. I have faith in Mark’s judgment and ability so I didn’t get too excited about the overheated cable and we were close enough to shore and houses that I could have swam LOL Our captain has been a patient teacher and his wife and usual first mate did lots of advance food prep so that has been relatively easy because of her work. It will be a learning experience to cook while heeling over at sea.

We will start our final leg in the morning. Night sailing and 24/7 sailing is a new experience for me. We will see how I feel about it by Thursday when we sail into Woods Hole.”

Day 189, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 12

Day 189, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 12
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013
Weather: Overcast and Warm, Winds SW 5-20, Temp Lower 80’s F
Latitude: 39 19.932 N
Longitude: 076 08,485 W
Location: Anchored in Still Pond Near Worton, MD

As you will read below, there was a bit of excitement on Windbird today, but all is well. If things go as planned, Windbird could pull into Woods Hole on Wednesday afternoon. So hope with us that the weather doesn’t change for the worse.

Before you move on to read about the ‘exciting’ day on Windbird, I’ll tell you a bit about our day here on the Cape. I have to back up a bit and explain that yesterday Jonah brought home a stuffed fish named ‘Swimmy’ to spend the weekend. The class of four and five year-olds at Woods Hole Day Care Cooperative is called the Swimmies (versus the Lambies who are younger) and this stuffed fish is the mascot. Each weekend a different child brings Swimmy home and returns on Monday with photos and a story of the weekend activities. So we are including Swimmy in everything we do. Sam also brought home a special thing from his kindergarten class yesterday. They have been watching Painted Lady Butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and there was one that had just emerged at the end of the school day yesterday and one more chrysalis that was yet to hatch. So Sam was deemed the one to bring the butterfly habitat home to care for the butterflies for the weekend. This morning at breakfast, while eating pancakes, Sam noticed that the yet unhatched chrysalis was changing. A butterfly was emerging. What magic! We all watched with amazement. The rest of the day was business as usual. Heather, Jed, and Ollie went to look at new washing machines and I played at home with Sam and Jonah. In the afternoon, Heather and I took Sam and Jonah and went to the Farmer’s Market and to Mahoney’s Garden Center to purchase a few plants. And then we ended the day with a taco dinner.

130511 Day 189 Cape Cod, USA–Swimmy and Butterflies

And now for the Captain’s Log for Saturday, May 11:
“Some days are more interesting than others. Today we awoke to 15 to 20 knot winds pushing us hard against the bulkhead. I wasn’t sure we were going to get off. But tomorrow is supposed to be worse. As we were contemplating this, another sailboat came in and looked like they were headed for the space behind us on the bulkhead. Lee and I went out to catch their lines. They pulled up parallel to the bulkhead, but about 20 feet off. The wind did the rest. They blew up against the pilings and Lee and I caught their lines and made them fast. Then we helped them put some big fenders between their boat and two of the pilings. We had just reinforced our two fenders with two more as the wind was strong enough to smash the first ones we put up last night. So with both boats safe, we gave some more thought to ways to get off the dock. And then the wind died to 9 to 10 knots. Instantly, we all sprang into action starting the engine and releasing the dock lines. We got away fine and were off to Chesapeake City. But about an hour out, Lynda smelled rubber overheating. I quickly found that the alternator cables were the culprit. The new batteries are larger capacity than we have had and when low (50% of capacity) they consume an enormous amount of amperage. Our alternator is rated for 220 amps but actually probably can only do about 160 amps of output. In the past, our batteries have never called for more than about 110 amps, but these new, higher capacity batteries were capable of taking much more. We were putting about 140 to 150 amps into them and that much power created more resistance in our double-ought cables. The cables closest to the alternator started to overheat. We took it slow and watched them carefully. Soon the batteries were getting charged a bit and, therefore, demanded less amperage. With less demand, the wires gradually cooled.
In the meantime we were fighting a strong negative current so we decided to pull into a quiet anchorage about 4 hours short of our goal. Once anchored, Lee and I set to work to do some re-wiring in an attempt to mitigate the problem with the overheating cables. We made a few changes that should help, but the problem won’t be fixed until we replace a couple cables with larger ones. While working on the wiring I was putting a lot of pressure on a wrench to loosen a bolt. My hand slipped and the wrench shorted out a battery. It only lasted a second but was enough to burn out a small wire which glowed and smoked as its insulating cover melted. Smoke on a boat is always frightening, but even Lynda remained calm only asking what we were up to. We cleaned up the mess and finished the wiring and checked all the circuits and everything was working fine. We had done as much as we could so put everything away. We were both hot and sweaty and Lynda insisted we take showers before enjoying a drink. Enough excitement for one day!

130511 Day 189 Passage to Cape Cod–Day 11, Still Pond, MD

Tomorrow is Chesapeake City and getting ready for the three day/two night passage to Cape Cod. We plan to depart from Chesapeake City on Monday morning if weather predictions don’t get worse.”

Another Version of Today . . . Guest Log Written by Lee Kaufman
Another boring day on the water . . . Well except when another sailing vessel came into Rock Hall and docked against the same bulkhead we were tied to. Mark and I caught lines and helped them get fenders out. They were on the way back from Florida. They stopped at Rock Hall to meet a broker to look at a trawler. When sailors can no longer sail they get a trawler and then a motor home, so they say.

We were penned against the bulkhead by south winds coming straight into the harbor. The wind eventually abated from 20 mph to 10 or so and we (Mark) decided it was our best chance to go. We grabbed all our dock lines and Lynda and I pushed the bow away from the dock. Mark motored us away in great fashion.

After an hour or so of motoring, Lynda, the beagle, said she smelled something like hot car breaks. Mark investigated and found that the new 4D batteries were able to accept charge much faster than the old group 31 batteries. This meant that we needed larger wires to carry the load. As the batteries accepted charge the charge rate slowed and the wires cooled and weren’t a problem for the rest of the day.

We headed for Chesapeake City in the CD Canal but the current was against us so we decided to stop at a well protected anchorage at Still Creek. We pulled in and anchored in 19 feet of water in a most beautiful place. Being here is worth all the rest of the trip.

After a celebratory beer, we undertook to remedy the wiring problem. Wiring on a boat that someone else has owned is always an adventure. To get to the batteries required completely undoing the master birth. While we were working on the wiring we accidentally crossed a hot terminal with a ground that caused massive smoke and melted the insulation from one of the wires. We still don’t know what the wire was for. We reinforced one of the wires and hope that will take care of the problem until a permanent fix can be accomplished at Woods Hole.

We are in an absolutely beautiful anchorage.

Tomorrow we will head on to Chesapeake City and Monday out for three days and two nights to Cape Cod. The adventure continues.

Day 188, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 11

Day 188, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 11
Date: Friday, May 10, 2013
Weather: Sunny and Warm, Winds SW 5-10, Temp Lower 80’s F
Latitude: 39 08.086 N
Longitude: 076 14.777 W
Location: At the Public Free Dock in Rock Hall, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Captain’s Log for Friday, May 10:
“First thing after breakfast Lee and I hauled the six group 31 AGM batteries (maybe 65 pounds each) up through the hatch over our bed. The battery compartment is under the bed, so we used the main halyard on a winch to lift them one at a time. It was slow, hard work getting each battery onto the bulkhead we are docked at. We spent the rest of the morning waiting for the delivery of the new 4D AGM batteries—bigger and we hope better. A couple calls to urge a little more urgency (we had a noon appointment to look at the boat Lynda and Lee are interested in) and they were finally delivered. And the most amazing thing. The young delivery man picked up each battery, one at a time, and carried them down from the bulkhead we are docked against onto Windbird, then ducked under the dodger, stepped down into the cockpit, around the wheel, down the companionway steps, down the hall to the aft cabin, and then up and over the cabinetry and down into the space under our bed where the batteries will stay. He did all this without once setting them down. And they weigh 133 pounds each!!! We all just stood with mouths agape watching. And he wasn’t a hefty built young man. Ah, youth!

Batteries in, Lee and I started the process of hooking them up. Then noon came and the yacht broker arrived so we quit to look at the boat. She was beautiful, but Lee and Lynda have made no decision on whether or not they are going to buy her. After that we had a quick lunch and went back to work wiring the batteries. We completed that job–no problem. Then we switched gears and worked on the very slowly draining sink in the galley. This has been a perennial problem so I wanted to see if we could really clear out the drain hoses this time. We had tried a bit yesterday and I poked the handle of the plunger right through the plunger bulb. So today I borrowed one from the little store next to the bulkhead where we are docked. And we plunged and we plunged. Finally only clear water came up (well, as clear as the water in this basin gets). We’ll have to see how long it lasts this time.

This evening I decided it was time to cook a favorite of mine – a thick soup of sausage, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and onions. We’ll have enough for at least one more meal. After a bit of discussing the weather and our options for the next few days, I decided to walk to the store. Lynda was told it was two miles away and I was ready for some exercise. Lee decided to accompany me. When we got close to town we heard music (good stuff from the 50’s) and saw that a street was blocked off. It turned out to be an antique car show – with a few souped up dragsters included. We walked the street examining all the cars. It seemed the whole town was out. We ran into the broker who showed us the boat earlier. Couples were walking kids, folks stopped for ice cream cones . . . a lot like life in the 50’s. Rock Hall seems to be a great little community with a strong orientation to the boating life.”

130510 Day 188 Passage to Cape Cod–Day 10, Rock Hall, MD

Here on Cape Cod, we are having beautiful spring weather. I hung out with Ollie again today while Heather and Jed went to work. They both came home in the early afternoon and after school we all went to see the baby lambs at Peterson Farm. This is one of the oldest farms on Cape Cod and was purchased by the town of Falmouth in 1998 to keep the land from being developed. A local veterinarian keeps her sheep there along with a lone llama named Scamp and a few goats. The town wants the sheep there to keep the grass cut and it is a wonderful place to take children in the spring. We walked through the fields surrounding the fenced pastures and enjoyed the magic of springtime in New England. Then we came home and had Florida grown corn-on-the-cob (delicious) and grilled pork chops. We ate on the deck and Sam set the table with the best linens and silverware. He was so cute wanting our first outdoor dinner of the season to be so fancy. Then we walked down the street to Smitty’s to have ice cream. It was a beautiful day.

130510 Day 188 Cape Cod, USA–Peterson Farm and Swimmy's Visit

I just talked to Mark and he is really conflicted about what to do. The weather continues to give him fits. They will leave the Chesapeake tomorrow and spend tomorrow night in Chesapeake City in the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal. From there they could head on out into the Atlantic. But the winds are supposed to be from the NW, NNW, and sometimes N in the next few days. Mark would prefer to have S winds, but when they come later in the week, the winds will be stronger and the seas bigger. So the decision will be to go with light to moderate winds on the front quarter or much stronger winds on the aft. I wish him luck with his decision. It is never easy.

Day 187, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 10

Day 187, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 10
Date: Thursday, May 9, 2013
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day, Winds SW 5-10, Temp Upper 70’s F
Latitude: 39 08.086 N
Longitude: 076 14.777 W
Location: At the Public Free Dock in Rock Hall, Eastern Shore of Maryland

Captain’s Log for Thursday, May 9:
“Today was a long, slow motor up the Chesapeake Bay. But there were some breaks in the boredom. About an hour after raising anchor at Solomon’s the high water alarm went off. I ran the electric bilge pump and then saw that the packing gland was leaking more water than usual. It should drip every few seconds just to cool the cutlass bearing. Ours was more than dripping so I got out my wrenches and tightened it up. End of problem. A little later we decided to put out a fishing line. After all, there were dozens of fishing boats all around us, so there must be fish. While getting the fishing line out I remembered that I needed to clean the water maker filter by dragging it behind the boat. So I did that. And the thought ran through my mind that maybe we could catch a big fish on the filter?!! Sometime later – no fish yet – I hauled in the filter, installed it, and started the water maker. Lee and I had rebuilt it about a month ago and I was anxious to try it out. It worked like a charm. It seemed like more output than we are used to, but after about forty minutes of running it was producing potable water. I filled two jugs to use later for battery water and to pickle the water maker membranes when we lay it up for a while. Still later we unfurled the Yankee to get a boost from the 12 knot winds. It helped a little, but we had to keep motor-sailing to make it in the Rock Hall before dark. Still, it felt good to run with a sail up for a while.

As we approached Rock Hall we admitted defeat on the fishing attempt and reeled in the line. Rock Hall is a cute little community and we walked the docks for a bit and then stopped at a crab house for some ribs. Yes, ribs at a crab house doesn’t make much sense, but they smelled so good and they ended up tasting even better. We are now back on Windbird getting ready for tomorrow. New batteries should come late tomorrow morning and I have to get the old ones out before then. Once installed we will go take another look at the boat Lynda and Lee are interested in. If done in time, we will leave here and head to Chesapeake City. Or we might wait until Saturday to head there and wait for a weather window to make the last leg of our journey to Cape Cod. I am ready!”

I just talked to Mark and he fears that winds from N and W forecast for Monday and Tuesday, might delay the off-shore passage. They will continue watching the weather and make decisions accordingly. Back on Cape Cod, things are going well. Jed got home from his conference in Portugal late this afternoon and I just got a call from Heather saying the three-hour symposium on the Fukushima nuclear disaster that she was moderating this evening went great. Sam and Jonah both went to school today and Heather went to work, so Ollie and I spent the day together. His ear infection and cold are much better, but he’s still not a hundred per cent, so we kept him home instead of sending him to the day care. Sam is also much better, so the hope would be that we could enjoy a sick-free weekend. But just like the weather, that could change at any moment, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

130509 Day 187 Passage to Cape Cod 8–Day 10, Rock Hall, MD