Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The next morning...

My alarm went off at 6 a.m. and all I could think was, "Do I have to?" Before you could say, "Jack Robinson," Peter was up and had disconnected the heater.

"Noooo!" I thought. "Leave it in until the last possible second!"

Then I got over myself and got dressed. I looked like that kid in "A Christmas Story." Seriously. Underwear, long underwear, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, my foul-weather overalls, the matching foul-weather jacket, a hat, a scarf, hiking socks, tube socks, the furry snow boots I bought for Iceland, gloves and hand warmers. Whew. I just prayed I didn't have to pee. (Later I just had to do it and it took about 10 minutes. TMI? Maybe. But it's important to know these things when you plan your winter trip.)

Now where was I? We put all the stuff (my lamp, the bilge heater, the hangers for the fancy-pants D.C. clothes I had no need of on the trip...) into my car and were all set to throw lines when... cough... cough... the engine decided to give us trouble. So, OK, maybe it was cold. Maybe it was 29 degrees out. Cough... cough... rumble.

Thank goodness for Sam. Peter and Sam put my drinking water hose on top of the fuel line for the engine. I never would have realized THAT one. Then again, I wouldn't have put the hose there in the first place. Hmm. Point was, we figured it out.

Finally, we warmed the engine up and were ready to go!

To the fuel dock.

We got to the fuel dock before it opened (this will be a trend for the trip) and set to for 7 gallons of diesel. Anddd... maybe I had to make two passes at the dock to get close enough. It'd been a while. Over the summer I was a Misty-docking master, but not so much after a few months sitting at the dock. I ignored my mild embarrassment, however, and soldiered on.

We figured the best way to tackle the trip was in shifts. On the way to D.C. we just.... did whatever. I'd steer awhile, Mark would steer... This time we went with a regimented rotation. So I started out steering for an hour while one of the guys was below and one was topside with me (technically you should have a lookout topside with you if you have more than one person aboard -- and it's safer in my opinion.) Then the second hour, I went below and made oatmeal and hot drinks and rested. So two hours topside and one hour below wrapped in blankets (and napping).

We ended up going to Cobb Island the first night, and we didn't get in until full dark. Cobb Island is the first sailboat-able (?) anchorage between D.C. and the mouth of the Potomac. The Potomac is all kinds of shallow and it winds back and forth and there is almost no way to sail unless the wind is full behind you because you have to change course like every half hour.

So we get close to Cobb Island while I'm below, which is one of the few things I regret about this trip. I'd been doing the navigation and should have been up there for the trip into the anchorage.... but I wasn't. So we ran aground several times.

This isn't AS big a deal as you may think. The bottom was soft mud, as is most of the Chesapeake bottom, and, well, if you sail on the Chesapeake for long enough, you'll run aground a few times.

Add that to the fact that the entrance to the anchorage is about 10 feet wide, and there's some problems.

In addition, we discovered the next day that many markers that are shown on nautical charts as lighted are replaced with unlighted day markers in the winter. Whose bright idea was THAT?

After we finally got in and anchored, we ran the engine on idle with the cover off below for warmth for an hour or two and I fried up the ham, potatoes and green bean mixture and made tea. And then we went to bed. Like... immediately.

The next day was EASY. We got up and left the second it was light and were docked into Solomon's Island while it was still daylight. Perfect day. Except for the fact that not one of us ate lunch. The water was rough on the second day. It seriously would not have taken a lot of convincing for me to hurl.

On a normal (read: warm-weather) trip, you just hang out on deck when you feel sick. This trip I'd have rather been warm and sick, so I just took Dramamine and WILLED myself to sleep for my hours off. But by comparison it was a great day. And we got tons of sleep that night since we needed to buy fuel in Solomon's and trade Peter off for Andrew the next morning.

Ominously enough, however, we kept getting reports of a snowstorm that would be hitting day four. Dun, dun, dun....

To be continued...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The moment you've all been waiting for...

We made it to Baltimore! (Well, OK, we made it to Pasadena -- my plans to change marinas will have to wait until spring.)

The trip was a little on the intense side -- sorry I didn't post when I got back. It took me a few days to recover, we had a blizzard, I finished school, Christmas came... I'm tired just thinking of it all. Sigh.

Where was I?

Oh yes. Well, I finally got everything planned out. Two days before the trip, I had a little monkey wrench thrown into the works when one of my crewmembers had a family emergency. I jumped into high gear, calling everyone I know. I had two people say that if I absolutely was in dire straights, they'd come... but finally I had a stroke of brilliance when Peter (crew for days one and two) was looking through his phone. I called Andrew, a guy I've worked with in the past and an all-around great sailor and he was just asleep enough to sign on for one day. The Solomon's to Annapolis day. (If you've been following along with the bouncing ball, you may realize that I had originally planned to go Solomon's to Galesville. Annapolis is just a bit farther and do-able, so I traded to make the trip more palatable to Andrew and easier to finish a fourth day early).

My dad would accompany us from Annapolis to Pasadena on the fourth day. And on the fifth day I'd graduate. Remember that sentence. It'll be important later.

Now, back to preparations.

The day before, I ran around like a crazy woman trying to get everything done. We were to leave Wednesday at dawn and there was a lot to do.

Monday night, my mom and I went shopping. First stop? REI. Despite the fact I lived in the Pennsylvania mountains for four years, I never acquired a great deal of outerwear. Perhaps because I like to be warm inside. I got new gloves, a big package of those handwarmer packets, a hat and two sets of long underwear. My parents were kind enough to make this gear my graduation present. My dad, apparently, had wanted to buy me a bilge pump. The need for warmth, however, was slightly more pressing than the need for a bilge pump.

Then to Wegmans, where I purchased $100 worth of food for three people, three meals a day, for four days. Not bad, considering.

Our meal plan was to have oatmeal and tea, coffee or hot cocoa for breakfast with blueberry muffins (which became our mid-morning snack). For lunch we had peanut butter and homemade jam with potato salad and more hot drinks. Snacks were cookies, trail mix, clementines, apples... and anything else leftover anyone wanted. For dinners, I tried to think of things hot and satisfying. For the first night I pre-cooked green beans, potato chunks and free-range ham (Peter eats only free-range meat) with homemade applesauce, cornbread muffins and, you guessed it, more hot drinks. Dinner on day two was free-range beef stew with cornbread muffins and salad. Dinner day three was supposed to be meatballs (which I baked in advance) and spaghetti with homemade sauce and salad on the side. That meal never got eaten.

I made just about everything the day before we left and packaged it into containers to be heated aboard the boat. The last thing I figured on wanting to do after a day of shivering was cook a whole big meal. So I made ahead. That took the majority of the day before, along with washing clothes, packing clothes, packing books and making lists upon lists of things to take and do. Peter, Sam and I would head down the night before so we could leave first-thing Wednesday morning for the long trip ahead.

Every time I take a voyage like this one, I get the pre-trip jitters. Forgetting something on a boat is nothing like losing luggage. You can't buy whatever you need when you get there. For the first two days I didn't set foot off the boat. Day three I stepped off to get diesel and didn't get off again until we were tied to the dock. If you forget it, you do without it. With the added factor of the cold, I had the jitters worse than ever before. Luckily Sam, one of my intrepid crewmates, had a class until 11 p.m. (he's about to be a diesel mechanic) so I wasn't pressured to leave early. As soon as Sam called me to say he was home from class and would shower and be ready when I got there to pick him up, I realized something -- I had forgotten to shower. The prospect of four days without a bath daunting, I took a five-minute shower and was out the door to the already-loaded car. I picked up Sam and then Peter and drove to D.C.

We stowed everything and, finally, at 2 a.m. we set alarms for 6:20 a.m. and settled in to spend one last night in front of the heater.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trip planning...

Well, it's almost time for me to ship out to Baltimore. I've been living in Washington, D.C., on Misty Rose since August. The trip back to Baltimore is going to be a four day trip, stopping at different places overnight. We're planning to leave next Wednesday, and I'm deep in preparations for the trip.

When we took the boat to Baltimore, my friends Sam, Mark, Christine and I, it was August. Mostly we hung out in our swimming suits and got sunburns, swimming at night, grilling off the back of the boat for dinner. One day Mark, Sam and I ate half of a watermelon on deck (Christine wasn't there that day). It was really, really nice, despite some too-exciting-for-me-thank-you storms.

This time, we'll be heading out mid-December. Somehow I don't think swimming suits and watermelons will fit into the picture.

Last time I planned the majority of the trip while I was on vacation in Las Vegas with some girlfriends, which just added to the stress, especially since I was having trouble coordinating crew and I was having even more difficulty plotting our course.

This time should be smoother navigation-wise at least. I'm planning simply to reverse our August trip. We'll start in D.C. on Wednesday at the break of dawn (yeah, so not kidding). Hopefully I'll be able to find someone to go with me Monday or Tuesday to help me fuel up before the trip. Night one will be spent in the first anchorage acceptable for sailboats, Cobb Island. The next day we'll head to Solomons Island, followed by Galesville and, finally, Baltimore.

Since it will be so cold, and since it is, as of now, supposed to SNOW on Wednesday, I still need to go buy gloves since I lost mine in Iceland and some other miscellaneous items... like a hat... I'm also obsessively checking the 10-day forecast every few hours.

I still need to coordinate cars since not everyone will be coming for the entire trip, but this is also looking simpler than the last time. I guess what worries me most of all is the cold. I hate being cold. Like, really really hate being cold.

I think with three people aboard (though I'm HOPING for a fourth) there need to be two people on deck and one off. Hopefully it'll be nice and toasty warm below with the engine running. I've got tons of blankets and will be bringing a second Fuggie (faux snuggie) and my big down comforter so I can leave one with the v-berth and one with me (or whoever wants it).

Annnnnd... I also need to figure out what we're going to eat and bake what I need to bake and make ahead what I can. So that needs to be done too.

And I'm having people to the boat Saturday and I don't want anyone on it without a deep-cleaning, which I started tonight.... soooo.... I better get cracking. Sigh.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The refrigerator has landed.... (!)

Well, faithful readers, the day we've all be waiting for has come. The refrigerator has landed! My dad texted me yesterday to say that a box had been delivered... and then again when a second box arrived. Inside? The guts of a refrigeration system! Yay!

Pictures when I go home this weekend and get a peek in the box, but I'm too excited not to share. Visions of butter, milk and not carrying ice are dancing through my head with wild abandon. Stay tuned to find out all about it!