Our last weeks in Annapolis, and sailing from there to here

Don’t worry, dear readers, we live! It’s been a hectic month or so, hence why we haven’t written a post in a while.

We were in Annapolis until the end of June, waiting to get all of our work done. You know about the rigging, and let me assure you, it is SWEET! We can now raise and lower our mainsail from the helm with the push of a button, bringing in the jib is no longer the massive effort it used to be, we have shiny new shrouds and lifelines. It cost a fortune but it was worth it!

We also got a lot of electrical work done, new batteries, a new autopilot, a new anemometer…some of this was planned, some not. We are quickly realizing that you’ll find broken things all the time on a boat. The good part is that Brian is becoming quite the marine electrician, so he took on some of the tasks we’d planned to outsource.

I want to take a moment to give our technicians a shout out, they did an exceptional job and we not only have trusted contractors in Annapolis but new friends as well. I’ve already mentioned Collin from CL Rigging, who did amazing work (and also shared a lot of laughs with us). Pete from Lunbar Marine was a perfectionist, explained what was happening at every turn, and patiently taught us (ok, Brian) a lot about all of the systems he touched.

Since we’d been stuck in Annapolis for far longer than we’d planned, we decided to do a straight shot from there to Nantucket. As Bruce was booked up, Collin pointed us toward his friend Rick to sail with us (as we still want an experienced captain along when we go offshore). Even better, our new friend Carlo was looking for some blue water experience, so he came along for the ride.

Our crew of four bade farewell to our new friends at SailAway and Coconut Joe’s on a Saturday morning and started up the Chesapeake. No wind so no sails, but with the current in our favor (and a clean bottom) we were easily doing 7 knots.

Sadly the current was no longer in our favor when we hit the C&D canal at sunset, and we slowed down to a paltry 3 knots. However this meant conditions were good for grilling up our steak dinner! Other than passing a massive freighter in the canal after dark, it was a pretty uneventful passage.

We hit the Delaware Bay around 11 PM, and that’s where the learning began. Trying to pick out markers and avoid freighters in the dark made for some interesting and slightly scary maneuvers!

The next morning I got up for my watch and found the sails up, at last! We were close to the mouth of the bay, and had to do some tacks to hold the wind. At the end of the morning we were finally out in the big bad ocean.

This blue water sail was thankfully less rough than the last. We had steady southwest winds around 15-20 kts and following seas around 4 feet, so while we did roll a bit, we were making good speed and weren’t quite as rolled around.

That’s not to say we had no mechanical issues – we did discover that the bilge pumps weren’t working, and Brian found out the hard way that if you hunch down over the bilge in rolly seas, you’ll get seasick. We luckily remembered that we have a shop vac, so that served to dry out the bilges to satisfactory levels.

The next 36 hours passed pretty uneventfully. I ended up taking the 3-6 AM shifts as I realized that would only leave me sailing in darkness for about an hour and a half. Rick left most of the shift work to Brian, Carlo and I, but was always at the ready when I saw lights that freaked me out (which was, admittedly, often). As we approached the Muskeget Channel between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket on Tuesday morning, we actually had to slow down so that we entered with a) the current in our favor and b) light to see by. We blasted through there at first light, as the rain approached, but with no problems.

As we headed along the north shore of Nantucket, we were so excited to almost be home. But then the fog rolled in, we fired up the AIS and radar, and carefully made our way towards the mouth of the harbor. Even though we knew it was coming, it was a little unnerving to see the fast ferry emerge out of nowhere, blasting away at 30 knots!

Thankfully the fog began to lift as we came into the harbor. We radioed the mooring guys, they bought us over to our home at S11, and with little more incident than a dropped boat hook when trying to attach the spiffy new bridle to the cleats, we had popped our arrival beers at 8:20 AM, about 70 hours after leaving Annapolis.

Brian and I learned a lot on the trip, and most importantly we’re feeling a lot more confident about sailing Summer out in the ocean. We won’t be attempting any long offshore passages on our own (mostly because it’s so tiring) but we feel pretty confident that we could handle a 24 hour run on our own without crew.

Which won’t be too much of a concern for a while, as we’re happily ensconced in our summer port! Now if we could just drag ourselves off the mooring for some day sails…

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