Greetings again from Adventures Await! True to the name of our boat, we continue with adventures! But experiencing adventures, seeing new places, meeting new people, doing things we’ve never done before: that’s what this is all about. Even though at times it would nice to have it be boring, but we didn’t set off to see boring. We set off to see adventure!
Speaking of adventure, I am finishing this on Thursday evening, Sept. 13, at about the same time Hurricane Florence is slamming into the East Coast. We absolutely never wanted to be in or near a hurricane on our boat, but who really does? Our friends Marj and Wayne had been through a number of them on their sailboat a bunch of years ago, and I remember thinking I never, ever wanted to do that. Well…! (Disclaimer: Marj and Wayne were actually on their boat at anchor in the middle of a hurricane for one of them – we are probably a couple of hundred miles away from being in the middle of one! There is a definite difference!)
We have been at the Georgetown Yacht Basin Marina in Georgetown, Maryland, since last Friday to wait out Florence. I will fill in more details below, but we are so very grateful we are where we are and for how protected we are being so far up the Sassafras River and away from the ocean. We thought earlier this week we would have much worse winds and rain, but with the path of the hurricane changing and heading more south as it did it certainly helped us for where we are. I am going outside periodically to check the water level on the docks, but it all seems to be pretty good so far.
In last week’s update I shared that I didn’t know if we’d make it all the way last Thursday, Sept. 6, up the Delaware Bay to the C&D Canal and to the Anchorage Basin by Chesapeake City because we left later in the morning and went way out around the shoals off Cape May. Well, we didn’t. We ended up anchoring, along with Bella Cay and Ungava – the two boats we’ve been traveling with, behind Reedy Island on the Delaware River almost to the mouth of the Canal. It was a great spot to anchor, although to get behind the island there was a narrow opening of about 40 feet between the shallows with a strong current. We had to gun it to make it through, and even then the boat was turned sideways quite a bit in order to “crab walk” through – but we all made it!
There was definitely a current in the anchorage area, basically being on the side of the Delaware River, but the anchor dug in well for the night. In the morning, Friday, Sept. 7, we waited to leave until 10:15 am in order to wait for the current to change direction in the Canal and be behind us instead of bucking it all morning. We only had about 16 miles to go so it would be a relatively easy day. As we left, Bella Cay radioed they were stuck on a crab pot line. Apparently a fisherman came in the middle of the night and put down a crab pot right next to their boat and they sucked it up into their prop. As they have a Shark Cutter gizmo on their shaft they were able to free themselves and away we went. What they learned later, however, was they had accumulated a lot of line and a crab pot bobber on their propeller that became noticeable once they slowed down to get fuel. They actually ended up getting their boat pulled out of the water and were able to get all the line and bobber off and were again on their way.
That evening we all anchored in the Anchorage Basin just south of Chesapeake City on the C&D Canal and had a wonderful evening. We ended up staying there only one night as we weren’t as sure about how well our anchor was set, and because of concerns of what we were hearing about hurricane Florence. We anchored next to a 35’ sailboat named Lady K Sailing, with Tim and Candace onboard, who told us about Georgetown Yacht Basin at the end of the Sassafras River which was only about 24 miles away and was where they were headed the next day to ride out the hurricane.
Riding out a potential hurricane in a protected slip sounded like a great idea to us, so we also left the next day, Saturday, Sept. 8, and headed south to Georgetown Yacht Basin. It rained the entire way and the winds began to pick up a bit, but with our dodger and plastic side curtains we stayed dry and comfortable. Lady K Sailing pulled into a slip next to us shortly after our arrival and we were set. Unfortunately they don’t have a bimini so they had a very wet ride!
Some people, maybe even most sailors, would say it’s best to ride out a hurricane at anchor or on a mooring ball as you don’t have to worry about docks and other boats in the marina. And that is probably a true statement. But at this point we had no idea how bad it was going to be and how hard we would get hit at our marina, and with this being our first hurricane we wanted to be a lot more accessible to land to be able to get away as quickly as possible rather than being out at anchor in horrible winds and rain while worrying if the anchor is holding. Each has its own worries, and we opted to be in a slip.
Through Monday or so there was just not a clear consensus of where the hurricane was going to go, so we ended up taking our headsail off the boat and began identifying things we needed to secure in case we got high winds. We even found out we could put our dinghy and motor in their shed for protection instead of deflating it and somehow wrestling it below decks. We also got our name on the list to have the boat hauled out if need be. The staff here said the water could get as high as a foot above the docks and they may have to shut the power off if it got too high as well.
But by Tuesday it was looking more clear as to where Florence was headed and our anxiety level started coming down. We still spent the day wondering, worrying and talking with others, but as Florence would probably hit in the Carolinas and stay south it was looking better for us – not obviously for those in its path, however.
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday taking walks, using the marina courtesy van to get provisions and getting things done on the boat. Luc, on Ungava, even helped me fix the connection to our VHF and AIS Splitter so now it works much better. We found a weird way to fix it, but now I have so much more confidence in it instead of having to also use our handheld VHF. And we have a strange thing happening with our in-house water pump so I took that apart and even got a new adapter for our galley faucet. It didn’t fix it, but I eliminated some things it could be and feel better about it.
Lastly, you may remember way back when about the water leak into our bilge. I installed shut-offs to our stern shower and fixed a slow leak around our primary water filter and they helped a lot. But we still get water in the bilge when underway – not a lot, but enough to wonder about. I called Beneteau and they identified where water could be leaking at our swim platform and getting between the hull and deck seam. I sealed one of them up so we will see if that helps when we get underway again. They also said this could be contributing to the small amount of water coming in around the fiberglass shaft tube we have been experiencing. We’ll see if this fix helps!
So as I write this on Thursday evening, Sept. 13, while Florence is pounding the East Coast, all continues to be pretty calm here. The winds are maybe up to 10 knots out of the NE, but we have had little rain and no surge to speak of. High tide is around midnight so I will see how the water levels are then. I think tomorrow will bring more wind and possibly some surge, but certainly nothing like the East Coast is getting. Things could change a lot more dramatically, but we are hoping and thinking it won’t.
We are thinking maybe we will leave and head south on the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, but it will depend on any after effects we may get from Florence. After going inland it may head north a bit and we will probably get heavier winds and certainly rain into next week, so we will look for anchorages where we will be protected from where the wind is coming from at the time. Our goal is to reach Annapolis, Maryland, by Wednesday, Sept. 26, and since it is only about 42 miles from here we should have no problems doing that! We look forward to finding some smaller cities to explore and maybe even visit places like Baltimore. We’ll see!
Thanks to all who have been thinking about us and praying for us. Our prayers go out to the many people who are being affected by this huge monster storm.