S/V Charlotte
Maine to Virginia Beach 2008

Maine to Virginia Beach Fall 2008

We sailed from Annapolis to Virginia Beach earlier in October with stops in Solomons, MD and Deltaville, VA.  We once again docked at Mason Gamage's home on Lake Wesely off of Rudee Inlet.  As always, we've use the "downtime" to do work and visit with Kirsten's family.  We've also visited the dentist and doctors to make sure we're ready for a winter away from U.S. medicine.  Our biggest boat project has been to replace our 220V Gurnert refrigerations system with a 24V DC Frigoboat system.  This two day project took about a week but we're happy to have it installed and running well.  Alden enjoyed Haloween in Pappy Wolff's neighborhood and once again we made a robot costume for him using cardboard boxes and discarded refrigeration parts.  At the neighborhood party, he won the costume contest!

Alden the Robot
Edit Picture
Making the Costume Edit Picture

Maine to Cape May

Newburyport at night

We’re now enjoying the Mid-Atlantic after making our way south.   With fall weather on our heels, we were able to take advantage of Northerly winds on many days to escape Maine and New England.  I’ll try to capture some of the more memorable highlights of our last month.

After leaving Acadia national park, we made our way southwest along the Maine coast with stops.  We managed to enjoy one last night at McClathery Island where I dug clams clams and purchased lobster for dinner with our friends Connie and John from “Mirabor”.  The following day, strong northerly winds provided a quick sail to Rockland via the Fox Island Thorofare.  From Rockland we stopped at Harmon Harbor on the Sheepscott River where we enjoyed the cross harbor rivalry of two neighbors.  It seems that Mr. Kelly on the west side of the harbor, and Mr. Darling on the east side compete to see who can give away their mooring to visiting sailboats.  During our last visit to this harbor, we stayed on Mr. Kelly’s mooring.  With his mooring occupied, we headed for anchor but were ushered by Mr. Darling to his mooring.   Once secured, Mr. Darling rowed over in his dinghy and delivered a bottle of Champagne and bag of cooked crab claws; amazing!  The crab claws made for a wonderful dinner and we’re still waiting to open the champagne.  For some reason Taft’s cruising guide gives this small harbor a bad rap and they don’t get too many visitors.   The next day we motored then sailed in southerly winds to Jewel Island where we explored the WWII towers and underground barracks.  With our fuel gage reading just below “1/4”, I decided to open the access plate and see just what this correlated to in gallons.  I was happy to find a clean, rust free fuel tank but, after measuring and calculating the sump volume, surprised to determine we had only twenty gallons of diesel remaining.  With light winds forecast, we decided to stop in Portland to purchase 75 gallons; enough to motor all the way to Rhode Island.  Motoring through Portland’s outlying islands, we were impressed by their beauty and proximity to this busy city.  What a cool place to live and work.

After motoring all day in light easterly winds, we stopped for the night at Isle of Shoals, a group of five islands lying ten miles southeast of Portsmouth, NH.  Another very cool spot that we’d passed by on our prior trips north and south.  The following morning we beat into freshening southerly winds to the Merrimac River and then motored our way up to Newburyport’s city docks for a three day visit my mother, Suzzane Cox.  Newburyport is a quintessential New England small city with a very picturesque downtown business district.  Alden enjoyed trips to the park, swimming in Grandma’s pool, Cider Hill farms, and renting Star Wars movies at Blockbuster.  We all enjoyed visiting with Suzanne and dinner with my sister Marg and her husband Chris Murphy, and also friends Bob and Karen Hurley.  As always it’s difficult to slip docklines after enjoyable stops and this meant a late start and arriving after dark in Gloucester for the night.  With strong northerly winds forecast the following day, we got underway and headed for the Cape Cod Canal.  Sure enough, winds built quickly to twenty knots.  “Charlotte” surged ahead with pole out genoa and full main.  With winds increasing and waves building, we furled in the mainsail (easily done with hydraulic in-mast furling), and rolled in some genoa.  Kirsten managed to set a speed record of 10.5 knots while surging done one wave in steady thirty knots of winds.  Entering the protection of the Cape Cod Canal four knots of fair current quickly ushered us to Buzzards Bay where we anchored in Mattapoisett harbor for the night.  September 20th brought twenty knot northeasterly winds, sunny skies and a fast sail to Newport harbor where we anchored off the Ida Lewis yacht club for three days.  Newport is a very buys harbor with amazing yachts, large and small coming and going, cruise ships visiting and all kinds of sailboat racing to watch.  On the 26th, we motored up Narragansett Bay to Warren River where we docked at Warren River Boatworks for three days.  Last year we had Paul Dennis work on “Charlotte” and he was kind enough to provide docks space while we visited with family and friends including: Gerry, Joan, and Patrick McGonagle; Lou Fuchs; and Arlene and Frank McGonagle.  Our frequent crew, Dan Rumplik, was put to work trying out storm staysail and trysail, and sewing leather on the spreader tips.  The best thing about Warren: Dunkin Donuts within walking distance of the dock.

I was joined by my brother Mike and Dan Rumplik for the trip to Pt. Judith.  Kirsten and Alden wisely chose to drive Mike’s car down to Wakefield instead of sail on this very rainy windy day.  And what a sail it was.  Easterly winds from twenty to thirty knots made for a fast beam reach down Narragansett Bay’s west passage.  Once clear of Jamestown Island’s Beavertail we surged into a violent sea.  With deeply reefed main and genoa, Mike certainly got a workout keeping Charlotte on course towards Pt. Judith.  As we cracked off around Pt. Judith and surfed down one wave, I saw the knotmeter peak at 10.8 knots.  With waves breaking on the east harbor of refuge entrance, we sailed around to the more protected southwest entrance then sailed up to Galilee before rolling in our sails.  I had one of the most humbling and challenging docking experiences of my life at Pt. Judith Marina.  A tight slip, strong cross winds, and unexpected current on our stern found us pinned to some pilings precariously woven onto the anchor platform of an adjacent sport fishing boat.  We deployed the dinghy and Dan ran a long line to an upcurrent dock.  Using the anchor windlass capstan we warped the bow around and managed to get Charlotte into the slip with amazingly minimal damage to the boat.  I walked away from the docking with a renewed respect for handling this heavy steel boat in tight situations.  Having capable crew aboard allowed me to salvage what could have been a disastrous situation: thanks Mike and Dan!  Luckily Hurricane Kyle passed well east of Rhode Island bringing only heavy rain while we visited with Mike’s family in Wakefield.

Our voyage from RI to Cape May will be remembered as the “Attack of the Flies.”  Before departing Pt. Judith, we stopped at Galilee fuel and took 225 gallons of diesel.  As best I can determine, our fuel capacity is about 300 gallons.  With 220nm ahead of us and a desire to reach Cape May habor before dark, we motored/motorsailed out to Montauk Pt. and set a direct course of 242 degrees magnetic in the autopilot and settled in.  Somewhere between Block Island and Montauk Pt. a swarm of flying bugs descended on Charlotte.  Thousands of small and large flies, moths, and other strange bugs made their home on deck and below.  There were simply too many to attempt removing them.  We would have to wait for them to die or fly away.  We all put on long pants and socks as we soon discovered that the flies like to bite.  Kirsten did an amazing job of not letting the flies totally wig her out; at least she was kept these feelings to herself.  I managed to hood one small bluefish from our trolling line which we released.  At 2200 north winds built to twelve knots and allowed us to beam reach at seven knots and shut off the engine.  Kirsten did a nice job of keeping sails trimmed while I got a few hours sleep with occaisional glances at the wind and boatspeed on the aft stateroom B&G sailing instrument.  We sailed until 0400 when the wind decreased and speed fell below five knots.  Once again, the engine was started and we motored along, making good progress.  Alden slept well and even managed to watch a movie down below as Charlotte rolled in a long eight foot swell on her beam.  He’s blessed with a good sea stomach.  With the sun rising at 0630, Kirsten took over the watch and I struck below for a few hours and managed to sleep until a fly tried to sneak into my right ear.  We spent the rest of the morning using the shop vac to suck up the ever weakening fly population.  Four hours later our nuisance visitors were sequestered to the shop vac canister.   With Atlantic City in sight, we closed on the Jersey coast while winds veered to the south southeast allowing us to sail the final two hours into Cape May harbor, successfully completing our first overnight passage without crew. 

Alden vacuuming flies

Playmobil firefighters deployed

Testing storm jib and trysail