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The Write Byte's Log. Log 1999

The Ship's Log

April 8, 1999. 1710

Just returned from a spectacular sail to 20 and back. The new Depth finder has expanded The Write Byte's sailing ability, allowing us to do longer tacks into areas previously not trusted. Still don't trust Depth finder completely, as depth sometimes reads 4.5' as we sail merrily along, still not aground. (draft 5.5') Am sailing w/o accurate distance log. GPS in shop to replace battery. ED prior to shop, 2158. Distance log in Datamarine acting strange. Haven't figured out quirks. Yesterday Distance run started at 78.2, finished at 98.6 After run to Oxford and back, est. 20 mi run. Today, dist log started at 78.6, finished at 83.8 est. 7 mi run. Beautiful sailing days, both. On a day like to day, if a feller had a sailboat, he bloody well out to go sailing, don't you think?
Sunday May 5, 1999 - 0710 - ED 2525.6
The Write Byte is at anchor at the mouth of Hudson Creek on the Little Choptank River... This is Memorial Day Cruising Weekend for ESSA. We left dock Friday night a few minutes before 7 pm. and motored to LaTrappe Creek. Monarch, (Bell) Touché' (Dickey) and Onyx (Mooney) were already in the first cove. Jerzey Kidds (Akers) were up in the second cove. Sea Fever (Henry) wasn't far behind and Keith rafted up with Bob Dickey. We joined the group in the first cove after asking Ron and Grace if they wanted to join in.

Tim dropped me off from the dinghy to Bob's boat while he and Keith did a moonlight dinghy race. Keith took the race. Bob had his wife and son aboard plus Marian and John Hack. Marian and I had met via a BPW project (Business and Professional Women)

Keith joined us aboard and we supped together. He on his steaks and we on our burgers. A full night of conversation - we didn't bed down till after midnight. The moon was huge and bright and LaTrappe Creek was its usual natural best. (Yes, we saw one Heron)

Saturday Morning, Tim was already up and watched the sunrise. Spicer Bell up and watching it, too. Tim scrubbed the sides of the hull and was finished before I could rouse myself from the half sleep half awake state of my early morning existence. A fine breakfast in the pristine setting, then off we went by 7:30 am to catch the bit of wind rising.

It didn't last long. Had to motor much of the way to Hudson Creek. I was pretty useless - up and down napping, a bizarre intermittent fatigue, but strong. With Tim stuck out there doing most of the work, a bimini is increasingly needed. Part of my problem is, I'm dealing with the sun this trip. Trying hard not to burn - don't need any more scars like on my nose.

Up at Hudson, we were soon joined by Touché. Bob and his son Brian swam over in the late afternoon and it looked so good, I popped in for a dip. Grace Akers did, too and Ron, so I guess I was the rotten egg.

We were going to try getting everyone together on Bob's boat that night, but we were pretty pooped. Did dinner and didn't see anyone above board until much later. The moon again, was glorious and the afternoon cooled perfectly to a clear fresh evening. Hudson Creek is quite lovely. Quite a few boats here - maybe a dozen. At least 3 with puppies aboard - a dachshund, a sheltie (big, very collie esque) and what I'd guess from a distance, a yellow lab. They were talkative but not annoying - it felt like any other close neighborhood last night, with their barks. The geese honking and some neighbors, you know, some you didn't, and others just to exchange pleasantries "over the fence."

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This morning, Tim roused me at 0600. As he was prepping for breakfast, he spotted dolphins - 2 groups, at least 1/2 dozen or 8 each. Sometimes 5 at once would scallop edge over the water. One group was close enough to see quite clearly. I grabbed my camera hoping the last few shots of the roll came out.

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It was breathtaking! I'd never seen dolphins in the wild before. Tim had spotted one during a race before. But this was G-d and nature in full glory. Their beautiful dark gray forms sewing through a golden ribbon from the sun on the water. When you see something like that, you feel you have been privy to a wonder, honored with something few get to see, experience, feel in a lifetime. And I think it doesn't matter how often you've seen dolphins. Each sighting is a combination of the environment, the individual creatures, the timing, your own state at the moment - in other words, every time is the first time, every sighting is unique. In G-d's world, how could it be any different? All that's required of us humble human beings is to recognize it, experience it when it happens.

We're motoring out of Hudson Creek as I write this. Next Destination - Dun Cove. Tim is hoping to catch wind. - - hasn't been much real sailing this trip.

Monday May 31, 1999 - 1415 - ED 2560.2
We're back at home dock. Sweltering outside. Unusual, not your typical cool rainy Memorial Day. We left Hudson Creek yesterday around 7:30 am. Once again, the wind died and we had a frustrating bake. On to Dun Cove with the Iron Spinnaker. (It was so dead out there, even our spinnaker held nothing.) We motored and I had the thrill of a couple of hours at the helm, going into the narrow channel at Dun's. We arrived there about 2:30. Good thing for us. Gotcha (George and Pat Terwilliger) and Monarch (Spicer and Barb Bell) By nightfall, in excess of 40 boats were packed in. What a pleasant afternoon and evening with those two couples. Spicer and George (in our dinghy) had a bit of fun, Tim went out later. We all kibitzed aboard Gotcha. And I got both a nap and a long leisurely swim. (with float cushion to ease the work.) Must've been in that water an hour. - superb.

Tim fixed us Ribeyes for dinner, a light breeze was up and off he went for a dinghy sail. the evening end with more chat with our rafting partners. (Gotcha, Monarch was anchored a bit off) and some boat decided to let off a few fireworks. We were delighted, like little children and other boats sounded horns and hoots.

We slept in till 7ish this morning and breakfasted with our raft mates. They had some of our bacon and Keilbasa and we some of their coffee cake. 8:00 or 8:30 and we took off and had a nice but again, short lived sail. Rather than fight it, Tim fired up the engine and we were home around 1:00.

Bruce popped over for lunch. (A break from his Cetol toils) and George popped over for more of that kibitzing thing.

So, the boat's tidied up, just the food pack up and swabbing to do. Except for the lack of wind and the opposite quantity of biting bugs, it was a lovely time. And no weather to fight, great company, wonderful food, pristine surroundings and... DOLPHINS... made this a truly lovely long weekend.

September 3, 1999 1123
Departed Cambridge 0745. Now approaching Red 2, mouth of Choptank. Winds 10-18 NNW. Currently on a run with just jib. Rolling too much and wind switching. Dropped main after 4 uncontrolled jibes. Bryan Twigg at the helm. David Long also crewing. Enroute to Solomon's Island, then on to Deal Island.
September 4, 1999, 1000
Departed Solomon's Island 0900. Currently making 7.8 kts g.s. crs 123, rhumbline bearing 132. 10.1 nm WNW of Hooper's Island light. Beautiful evening last night. Cooked breakfast for crew and Sansted. Sky overcast. Occasional light mist. Winds NNE at 15 kts. We be flying!!!

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September 15, 1999 - 1800 - ED 3469.9
Once again, I neglected to keep a good log. We finished Labor Day weekend in Grand Style! Stedman took the Captain's Cup, beat us by 1:08 corrected, despite us finishing the 12.5 mile race in 1:40, thanks to Hurricane Dennis hovering off the coast of NC providing NE winds at 22-25 kts. Monday, we took the 40th annual Skipjack Race, finishing the 12.8 mile course in 1:40, too. This time we won by over 8:00 min corrected.

Lovely sail home, Tuesday under light wind conditions. Good bye Dennis.

Today, I came to the boat to prepare for Floyd. Once a cat 5 hurricane, it's down to a mere cat 2. Current prognosis has it making landfall in NC this evening hitting us as a tropical storm some time tomorrow night. 60-88 kt winds expected. I've prepared for that. What I can't do much to prepare for is the 6-8' tidal surge expected. If I loosen the lines, she'll bounce off the pilings, acquiring damage. If the lines are too tight, she can break loose, acquiring damage. Much concern. I think if the storm maintains strength, I will take her to my hurricane hole. Very torn.

December 14, 1999
As you can see, I have skipped log keeping for a while, again. Floyd hit with the expected 60-80 kt winds. But, NW winds blew the tide surge out of the bay. High tied was only marginally high. It didn't even come over the docks, which has happened from a Nor' Easter before.

I am now living aboard in Annapolis. Keith Henry helped me sail up, December 4th. We went from Cambridge Creek to Spa Creek in 6 hrs., 10 minutes. After a windless motor sail out the Choptank, the wind piped up to 15 WNW. We flew up the bay, not tacking until right in front of the towers in Annapolis. A jog over to line up with the Severn and we sailed right to the Naval Academy. Dropped the sails and motored to Ego Alley where our slip is. Saturday, the 11th, Terry came up to view the boat Parade with me. It was spectacular. We were moored right next to one of the turns. What a treat! Eddie Shorter gave us a 4 lb slab of Rock fish. We had Rock fish, garlic bread, sautéed onions and mushrooms and salad. What a meal! Good weekend.

Season Post Script, April 3, 2000.
Every time I come in contact with these logs, I am embarrassed at how pathetic they are. Part of the goal has been to be diligent about log keeping to build good habits for when we go cruising full time. The truth is, in practice our lives are still much too rushed and when I get to the boat, I'm in a hurry to do a project or relieved to be sailing and get caught up in the adventure and am not taking time to document what are literally the best times of my life. Not long ago, a group of us "wharf rats" were sitting under the "Breeze Tree" as it is called. (Known as such, because even when it's deathly still elsewhere, there always seems to be a breeze under that tree. However, I doubt many of the wharf rats have picked up on the irony that there always seems to be someone shooting the breeze under the tree, too...) For some reason, the subject worked around to "The good old days." After listening to the jabber for a while, I interrupted rather stridently and said, "Excuse me, but look around you. Here we are, we all own beautiful cruising sailboats. We all went sailing today. We just finished a great meal. Our health is good. Life is good. I submit that THESE are the bloody good old days." It was agreed, immediately.

1999 was not a good year for sailing weather. The summer was hotter than normal, with less wind than normal. Despite a grueling work load, I still escaped to the boat regularly. Mostly alone, because Terry's sister was in town, Terry was pregnant and not interested in sailing last year. As it turned out, there wasn't much sailing to be done, anyway. So, because I couldn't NOT go to the boat, we purchased an air conditioner for use at the dock. With over 3,700 miles currently on the GyPSy, I wonder how many more there would have been if the summer had been conducive to sailing. I'm hoping against hope that we have a good enough April and May that I can hit the 4,000 nm point before we have owned the boat three full years, the 29th of May. It is doable, because last April was a good month, as was May, during which time I put on over 500 miles, sailing 20 days in April, alone.

The project list in 1999 brought us significantly closer to being ready for offshore work. In February, we replaced all running rigging, going in on a combined purchase with Bruce Franz to buy over 1,500 feet of line in various sizes. That purchase also included our sailing dinghy and an assortment of supplies for other projects. Also in February, Brian Souder installed the Salon Hatch for us, making a huge improvement in the quality of life aboard.

A myriad of smaller projects over the summer culminated in three major steps just before the new year. First was the purchase of Charting software, then new sails and finally installation of a true gimbaled marine LP stove for use while I was living aboard in Annapolis. These purchases brought our expenditures on the boat in excess of $12,000 for the third year in a row. The prognosis for next year doesn't look much better because all the remaining projects are all big ticket items.

wind vane, $3,500-4,000.
Life Raft, $2,500-$3,000
SSB/Ham radio, I haven't even priced, yet.
EPIRB, $1,000.
Solar Power System, $2,000.

The good news is that the boat is ready. It's a damn fine boat that I love more every time I sail her. If you are new to sailing and intimidated by these figures, don't be. A friend of mine has owned his boat for 15 yrs and just last summer stuck his first money into it, having to do a valve job on the engine, and he also refurbished his sails. Not bad, for fifteen years of wonderful service from his boat. The truth is that we have been on an aggressive campaign to get the boat ready for offshore work, which is a whole 'nother ballgame than coastal cruising. I'm also not a "dumpster diver" per se. I do shop for bargains hard, but tend to buy new, expensive, well made equipment. My life will depend on it, so I don't cut corners.

An example is the stove. It cost nearly $2,000 to install the stove, and this with hard bargaining to get a $1,400 stove for $800. A friend managed to find a used one he could modify to fit his boat. His installation will end up costing him less than $500, including the price of the stove. If I had more time to wait for those opportunities, my costs would be significantly less. I don't have the time, because I am pushing hard, working long hours to reduce my debt, while I get the boat ready. Every free moment is spent either on a project or sailing. If I took the time to wait for those bargains and do serious dumpster diving, that would significantly cut into my sailing time, and I'm not willing to pay that price. Ultimately, I pay the price in dollars, so I can get my sailing time in. The 3,700 miles on our GyPSy log attest to the fact that I've been somewhat successful at keeping the boat sailing while getting it ready. To me, it's a small price to pay for the best times of my life.

The good news is that when all is said and done, we will have a world class 40 foot yacht for less than $100,000 total investment. This is significantly less than the $250-500,000 cost of a new 40 foot yacht, then the cost of fitting out for offshore work on top of that, too yet. Designed under the CCA rules, our boat has significantly less living space than many new yachts. She's a damn sight prettier though, and she's normally got the prettiest lines of any in the anchorage. That combined with her speed, grace and strength goes a long ways towards making life worth living... I wouldn't trade her for any boat out there, except if they threw in enough money to let me buy another just like her.

Our plans for 2000 include circumnavigating the DelMarVa peninsula as a climax for our season in late October / early November. This will get us offshore for the first time, and in our fourth year, right on target. Next year then, hopefully off to New England for three weeks during the summer and perhaps Bermuda or the Bahamas the following year.

God Willing and the creek don't rise, we'll make it yet...

Unskilled and Unaware

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