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So it comes down to this, my final blog post about LIMERICK. Before I sign off, I feel compelled to send a special Thank You to several folks who were always there for us, every step of the way, as we planned for and then experienced our year aboard.

Jeff , Karen and the Kids

Before LIMERICK was even a twinkle in our eye, we had the good fortune of meeting Jeff and Karen Siegel of Active Captain fame.

I had been following their fun-to-read cruising blog (http://takingpaws.blogspot.com/) for several years, and I noted that they were stopping in Charleston for an extended stay aboard their boat. Charleston is only 4 hours from our home,  so I emailed Jeff and asked if we could visit to discuss the cruising lifestyle. Instead of being concerned that I was a crazed stalker, he agreed to a time and Cindy and I drove to see them in November of 2009. We bribed them with one of Cindy’s prized pound cakes, and they graciously welcomed us aboard for a wonderful afternoon, politely answering our many questions and giving us superb advice on a wide array of boating topics. We credit them with giving us that final push to really make things happen, and they were always there for us as we enjoyed our year-long adventure.

They are two of the nicest people we have ever met, and we feel privileged to count them as our friends. Thanks guys- you are the best!

John Gear of Kadey Krogen

After finding LIMERICK (then TRAVELIN’ MAN) on Yacht World, I contacted John Gear, the president of Kadey Krogen Yachts, as he was the listing broker.

John stayed with us every step of the way as we went through the purchase process, and was instrumental in getting us “off on the right foot”. The Krogen offices are located close by the marina where we kept LIMERICK for the first 2 months, and he always made himself available to us for even the most minor of questions. His “local knowledge” of the Stuart area was priceless as we provisioned and prepared to move LIMERICK north.

John, we couldn’t have done it without you, and we will always be grateful for your assistance. Thank You!

Nick and Sherri of SWEET TIME

After purchasing LIMERICK,  I contacted Nick to ask for specific advice about the Krogen 39, as he and Sherri were (and are) very experienced 39 owners and cruisers.

When I told him that we were berthed in Stuart, FL, he immediately offered to stop by the boat and do a walk-thru with me. And what a morning that was! We learned more about the boat in those two hours than we had in our entire month of ownership. He and Sherri were spitting out advice and information  faster than Cindy and I could write it down, and ALL of it was on the mark. And from that point on, whenever I had a question or needed help figuring something out, he was always there to guide me. Just click here and you will meet them and have a chance to read a wonderful cruising blog: http://www.kk3940.com/Cruising_on_Sweet_Time/Welcome.html 

Thank You, Nick and Sherri, for welcoming us into the Krogen family and for being so generous with your advice and wisdom. We will never forget you.

Donnie Mayton

Donnie was the original owner of LIMERICK, then named TRAVELIN’ MAN. We met him in St. Petersburg, FL, a couple of days before Christmas, 2009.

It was our first time seeing the boat, and he spent hours with us going over everything and answering our many questions. It was obvious from the condition of the boat that he was meticulous in his maintenance, however that was just the beginning. After signing a contract to purchase, he agreed to let me accompany him for a five-day sea trial from Tampa to Stuart!  We spent those days going over every system on the boat, and the education I received from him was priceless.

Thank You, Donnie, for being so kind to Cindy and me when we purchased TRAVELIN’ MAN. You set the gold standard for how a seller should treat a buyer. 

Chuck Grice

10 years ago, when Cindy and I were just starting to think about getting back into cruising, we made a visit to Virginia Yacht Brokers  in Chesapeake, VA, to take a look at a couple of boats for sale. That was the day we were lucky enough to meet Chuck Grice, the owner of the brokerage firm.

Chuck spent all the time we wanted, showing us lots of different boats, knowing all along that we were probably years away from a purchase. When it came time to sell LIMERICK, Chuck was there to handle everything in the most incredibly professional way. There are many brokerage choices when it comes to sell your boat, but I can’t imagine anyone coming close to the dedication and intelligence displayed by Chuck in selling LIMERICK. The proof was in the result- a closed sale in about 3 months.

Over the years, Chuck and I have become very close friends, and our frequent telephone conversations remain a highlight of my week. Chuck, Thank You for always reminding me that boating is supposed to be FUN, and for helping me keep a proper perspective on things, especially during trying times. 

My Brother, Tom, and His Family

I am not sure when it happened, but sometime over the years my “little” brother got smart, and marrying my sister-in-law, Dorian, was the smartest thing he ever did. These two, together with their son, William, are quite a team.

Throughout the summer, Cindy and I enjoyed traveling with them aboard LIMERICK all over LI Sound- from Oyster Bay to Shelter Island and lots of places in between. It gave me immense pleasure to see my brother relax and “decompress” during his time aboard, and Dorian’s constant wise-cracking kept us all “in stitches”. William scammed me out of 50 bucks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He makes me a proud uncle in everything he does. What a treat.

Thanks, you knuckleheads, for hosting us this past summer as Cindy and I fulfilled our cruising dream. Family just doesn’t get any better!

My Mom

She can cuss like a sailor, so I figure that’s where I got my love of boating and the water!

From the moment we bought LIMERICK, she began planning to spend some time aboard. Physical limitations be damned, she was going to get on that boat and enjoy some cruising time with her family. And that’s exactly what she did, and it made my summer complete. The time she cruised with us over to Louie’s for lunch was without a doubt the finest weather day we had all year, if not the most pleasant day overall.

Mom, you taught me to just say “Aw, F*@# It” if things didn’t turn out as planned. It’s been a great gift, serving me well aboard LIMERICK, and in dealing with life in general. Thank You for always being there to laugh about life.

Cindy’s Mom

Often, when you work behind the scenes, you don’t get credit. Well, this is my time to correct that oversight.  Without Cindy’s mom, who we call Nana B, we would have been up the proverbial creek, and without the proverbial paddle.

While we were off gallivanting around, she made sure that all was safe and secure on the home front, including taking care of our two pups. During our daily calls to her, she was always making sure that we were having fun, reassuring us that she had everything under control back home. Each time we returned to Carolina over the course of the year, we were amazed at how organized she kept things.

Thank You, Mom, for dedicating yourself to helping Cindy and me have that time aboard LIMERICK. Although we never got the opportunity to have you join us for a cruise, please know that you were there with us every day.

And Finally, My Bride…

For the last 43 years, this incredible woman has been my partner and best friend, always supporting whatever crazy schemes I come up with (well, most of them). She never looks back, and she is forever ready for a new adventure at a moments notice. We were the quintessential team aboard LIMERICK, and the strength of our relationship allowed us to handle each and every “test” that came our way, with a certain calmness that comes from trusting the other to make good decisions. 

Thank You, Cindy, for sharing every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience with me. Just wait ’till you hear my next idea!

____________________________________________

When I posted my first blog here back in March of 2010, the very first comment I received was from my brother, Tom. This is what he wrote:

“You two on Limerick are the luckiest people around.”

It turns out he was absolutely right. Thank You from the bottom of our hearts to everyone  for helping us create such magical moments.

See you on the water.

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In no particular order, here are some of our favorite cruising experiences, places and related items:

Best Cruising Guide– Hands down winner here is Active Captain. Here’s a link to a previous post we made about this incredibly useful web site. https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/active-captain-our-favorite-cruising-tool/ If you are a boater, join this site (it’s free) and enjoy the fabulous benefits. There is no better resource for cruising information. Absolutely First Class!

Best Marina Experience– Whittaker Point Marina in Oriental, North Carolina. http://whittakerpointe.com  There is something to be said for being treated like a friend from the moment you meet someone, and that is exactly what we experienced here from the owners. Here is the link to our experience: https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/days-13-14-artillery-fire-and-a-wonderful-marina/ 

We also need to give an Honorable Mention here to the Charleston Maritime Center http://www.cmcevents.com  Charleston is an incredible place to visit, and this marina will put you right next to all the action.

Best Anchorage– We anchored out the vast majority of time, and there were several really memorable spots. My favorite was West Neck Harbor on Shelter Island, NY. The scenery is wonderful, there are two beaches, and there are fun places to visit by dinghy. https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/discovering-l-i-sound-%e2%80%9cout-east%e2%80%9d-part-2/

Cindy’s choice was Mill Creek near Solomons, MD, a lovely, quiet spot just far enough away from the more rambunctious area closer in to Solomons. We did spend our 37th wedding anniversary here, so I think that may have something to do with her choice 😉

Best Mooring– This one is easy- Northport Harbor. We visited here twice during the summer, and each time picked up a mooring from Seymour’s Boatyard. With parks, restaurants, a variety of shops, street fairs and a real “nautical” feel,  Northport is a great destination for boaters.  The excellent launch service, included with the price of the mooring, made it a terrific value. https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/family-aboard-part-2-brotherly-love/  Honorable Mention goes to the FREE town moorings in Port Washington (Manhasset Bay). The town is not quite as pedestrian friendly, and you have to pay for the launch if you don’t have a dinghy, but there are a TON of restaurants and other stores close by, and the harbormaster is a really good guy. And did I mention- it was FREE!?!

Best “Tourist” Stop– We both really enjoyed spending time in Baltimore. We always felt safe, there are lots of fun and interesting tourist attractions, and the food in Little Italy is a treat. Here is a closer look: https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/inner-harbor-inner-peace/ 

Best Stretch of the ICW– There were many memorable sights, but for overall beauty the 25 mile section on the Waccamaw River is the winner. Wildlife galore, with osprey flying and nesting mere feet from the boat. Take a peek: https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/day-11-a-flood-of-memories/

Favorite Cruising Destination– Our overall destination after leaving Florida with Limerick was Long Island Sound. We made the Sound our home base for the season and took a number of cruises to places along its shores. Our favorite among all of these was our trip out east to Shelter Island. Great anchorages and big fun bicycling all over the island. Check it out: https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/discovering-l-i-sound-%e2%80%9cout-east%e2%80%9d-part-3/

Best Restaurant Experience– I am spoiled beyond words, in that Cindy is a remarkable chef and she loves to cook. Our meals aboard Limerick were always culinary delights. However, once in a while we would eat ashore, and our best meal was at Louie’s in Port Washington, NY.  http://www.louiesoysterbarandgrille.com/  The food was excellent and the table overlooked Manhasset Bay, but docking at the restaurant, then sharing a meal with my mom and my brother and his family put this experience over the top.

Best Piece of Gear Added to the Boat– It has to be the Rocna anchor. In all the time we anchored, we never once dragged an inch, and there were memorable times that we were in some very scary conditions. https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/the-summer-comes-to-a-close-time-to-head-south/ The anchor set easily, and at night I was able to sleep well. Highly, highly recommended.  Honorable Mention here goes to the LinkLITE Battery Monitor which allowed us to know our remaining battery capacity with just a glance. If you like to anchor out and rely on your battery system for power, this device, or one like it, is indispensible.

Most Dramatic Moment– While we did experience some very frightening moments including a thunderstorm with 60+ knot wind gusts and being chased by an enormous black cloud on LI Sound (see below),

the moment with the most drama and emotional impact was cruising under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge into NY Harbor. The weather was perfect, the harbor was relatively peaceful, and that day we were returning, after 15 years, to our childhood cruising grounds. This was a magical moment that set the stage for all the wonderful times we would have during our summer on LI Sound.

The weather for our final cruising day of 2010 was clear and cool, and as we prepared to depart the sun was starting to rise in the east.

It took us a couple of extra minutes to get the anchor aboard, as the bottom mud seemed to be holding a bit tighter than usual. Or perhaps we were just reluctant to leave, knowing this was our last day of cruising for the year. Whatever the reason, I took my time securing the Rocna to the pulpit as Cindy slowly piloted Limerick out the creek entrance.

Before setting a course directly to Norfolk, we first had to head northeast to avoid the shallow Poquoson Flats. We spent the first hour dodging seemingly endless strings of crab pot buoys until we could finally turn and begin heading south. We paralleled the York River Entrance Channel until we had Back River to our starboard side, and then made a run directly to the entrance of Norfolk harbor. We had a small following sea, and we made excellent time as Limerick was pushed along with the current.

Unexpected excitement

Around 11 in the morning I noticed a very large tanker behind us on our port side, heading south in the York Spit Channel. The vessel was moving fast, and seemed to be heading directly for us (although it was still miles away). However, that channel curved away from our path, and sure enough the ship soon began to turn to the southeast, increasing the distance between us. What I didn’t realize is that the tanker left something behind that in a few minutes would cause a bit of commotion in Limerick’s pilothouse.

At approximately 11:30, in relatively clam conditions, we were getting ready to begin eating the lovely lunch that Cindy had prepared. Suddenly, Limerick’s stern was lifted high out of the water and at the same time the boat heeled strongly to starboard, giving us an uncomfortably close-up view of the waves, now seemingly just a few feet from the pilothouse windows. Stuff was sliding everywhere, and a good portion of our lunch ended up on the floor.

Within seconds, Limerick was back to “level” and we started searching for the cause of the incident. Then, with a bit of embarrassment, I suddenly realized that the large bow wave of that huge tanker had continued to travel in our direction even after the ship had turned away from us. It overtook us on our port quarter and pushed Limerick up and over with ease. However, once again the superior design of the Krogen hull let the wave glide safely under the boat with no damage at all.

Through Norfolk to Great Bridge

Getting closer to Norfolk, we began to encounter a number of large cargo ships heading into the harbor. There was plenty of deep water all around us, so it was easy to stay out of the path of these “big boys”. In addition to these giants, there were also a good number of U.S. Navy ships, all docked. As we made our way south down the Elizabeth River  towards Portsmouth, we found ourselves in the company of a small parade of boats and yachts heading for the ICW. On our VHF radio, we kept hearing reports  from the Coast Guard about a lift bridge up ahead that was inoperable, and although we had visions of  being stuck, it turned out that the info being reported was  incorrect, and the bridge openings were on schedule. After making our way past several more bridges, we found ourselves approaching the Great Bridge Lock. We had to scoot over a bit to let a large tug and barge get by in the channel, but soon we were all secured and were being raised several feet.

As Cindy and I pushed off the lock wall and began to make our way the final half mile to our destination at Atlantic Yacht Basin (AYB), little did we know that this was to be one of the last cruises we would ever take aboard our incredible boat, Limerick. 

Postscript

 I should have written this post soon after we settled Limerick into her winter berth at AYB in October of 2010, as the memories of that day were fresher in my mind. But, as often happens, I became immersed (submerged?) in the activity of daily life ashore, and I kept procrastinating. 

I wish that I could tell you that Cindy and I are once again enjoying our time cruising Limerick up and down the east coast, but this story ends in a different way. Last November, important family obligations led Cindy and I to the conclusion that we should no longer keep Limerick, and we put her up for sale. We listed her with the incredibly capable and professional Chuck Grice of Virginia Yacht Brokers at AYB, and she sold in less than 3 months. The pre-purchase survey was conducted in mid-February during a snow storm, and we closed at the end of that month.

She is now known as THE EDGE, and is part of a wonderful family that cruises her gently on the bays and rivers of the Carolinas.

Stay tuned for a couple of more posts that will wrap up our adventure aboard Limerick.

As much as we loved Baby Owl Cove,  after three nights at anchor we were ready to get moving again. Our next destination was Mill Creek, near the entrance of the Great Wicomico River, on the eastern shore of the Bay. We had spent a night at this anchorage on our way north in the spring, and we knew that it had good holding and protection from all directions. The weather was expected to get nasty again, and we wanted to be sure we had a safe spot to ride out the blow. A tropical storm was headed our way with a forecast of heavy downpours and wind gusts expected to exceed 50 knots.

Uh oh, we have to go past the mouth of the Potomac River

Those of you who have followed this blog might remember the “interesting” day we had in the Chesapeake Bay when we passed the Potomac River earlier in the year. (https://limerick3942.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/you-have-to-take-the-bad-with-the-good/ ) This time, after 6 hours of running, we finally passed Point Lookout to our west and began to enter the area where the Potomac River empties into the Chesapeake Bay. We had dreaded this part of the trip, but the wind was from a northerly quadrant and the tide was running south, so the seas were relatively benign. Certainly not flat clam, but nothing like our adventure from last June.  By the time we were abeam of Smith Point on the southern end of the mouth of the river, the wind had picked up considerably and conditions were getting worse. We both glanced at each other with that “here we go again” look, but knowing we only had 10 more miles to go made things a bit easier. About and hour and a half later we started to set the anchor in Mill Creek.

Whoa!! Grab that chain!!

After doing something successfully over and over, we all tend to get a little complacent. Such was the case with putting down the anchor on this overcast afternoon. Cindy and I have developed a very good system for calmly and safely deploying the anchor, and together we decided on just the “right” spot. Cindy took control of the boat and I released the anchor and began to pay out the anchor chain. Once we had the anchor “set” (firmly dug into the muddy bottom), I started letting out more and more chain as I wanted to be prepared for the coming storm. Funny thing though….we don’t have un unlimited amount of chain. Just as I was beginning to think that I had let out enough chain, the end of the chain was flying toward the end of the bow pulpit!  I yelled an expletive as the chain disappeared into the water, but then realized that the fine folks at Krogen had been watching over me. Lo and behold, attached to the end of the chain was a heavy nylon line, which was in turn securely fastened to a spot in the chain locker.

In the heat of the moment I had forgotten all about that beautiful safety line, but right now it had saved me a lot of money and no small amount of embarrassment. Whew!

Catchin’ water

The tropical storm was barreling north and was on us full force by 10pm. Throughout the night the wind kept increasing and by morning we had a constant 30-35 knots of wind and torrential rain. Fortunately, no other boats had anchored close by, so we had plenty of room to swing. The Rocna anchor held fast, and we spent the day relaxing, reading and tending to boat chores. During one of the downpours, we used a couple of buckets to catch rainwater in case we needed extra freshwater for washing and “flushing”. We had not filled our water tanks since leaving Cape May 5 days earlier, and we wanted to have a little extra water on hand, just in case we began to run low.

(Please note that the captain is outside collecting the water, at great personal risk to life and limb, while the admiral is taking the picture from the comfort of the dry, climate-controlled salon).

Our final night at anchor

After a couple of rainy and windy nights in Mill Creek, we awoke to a sunny, breezy day. The NOAA weather report was calling for 3-4 waves on the Bay, with the wind from the north. We really prefer not to travel in waves this size, but we would have a following sea, which we like, so we decided to head south to Chisman Creek, about 48 miles away.

We encountered the worst conditions of the day just after leaving the anchorage. We were headed northeast, and the sun was blinding, hiding the multitude of pot buoys. Also, the seas were directly on our bow, making things rocky and miserable for about a half hour. But as we turned to starboard to head south, Limerick’s motion settled and we enjoyed a pleasant cruise. We passed the Rappahanock River, the famous Wolf Trap Light (see below), Mobjack Bay and the York River during the day, and by 2 pm we had the Poquoson Flats to our port side.

Forty-five minutes later we were entering Chisman Creek. It was a bittersweet moment, as we knew that this was going to be our last night at anchor for the rest of the year. We had the anchor down quickly, Cindy made an incredible dinner, and we spent the remainder of the evening reminiscing about all the beautiful anchorages we had visited over the past 6 months. More about that in a future “Best Of” blog!

Next time- home to Great Bridge.

That afternoon, after our fun visit to the beach at Cape May, we made plans for the rest of our trip. This would be our last night at a marina until we reached our destination in Great Bridge, VA, and we wanted to be sure that we were prepared to stay “on the hook” for an extended period of time.  We took on several hundred gallons of diesel fuel and did some last minute checking to insure that LIMERICK was good to go.

Gee, it’s kind of warm in here

At two’clock in the morning I woke up feeling a bit uncomfortable. It was stuffy and warm inside the stateroom, and it should have been nice and cool. Being connected to shorepower, we were using the air conditioning and had set it to 70 degrees. But we were way over that. I got up in a sleepy stupor and looked at the control panel for the AC. I woke up fast as I realized that it was blinking an error message. Damn. OK, let’s try to figure this out.

As I was making my way to the engine room (where the AC unit is located) it occured to me that perhaps we had a blockage in the seawater hose which cools the AC unit, and the unit had shut down as it was programmed to do when that occurs. Sure enough, when I checked the seawater strainer it was clogged with mud. Not just any mud, mind you. This was the mud from hell. This stuff was the sticky, oozy, get-everywhere kind of mud. This was Woodstock-quality mud (sorry, showing my age here). We didn’t have the camera handy, but here is a picture of what I probably looked like after cleaning up the mess:

Back to the Sassafras River

Waking a couple of short hours later, we got ready to leave, checking the weather report one last time. We were heading up the Delaware Bay, and that’s one body of water that you need to respect. The wave height predictions were a bit high (3-4 ft.) for the early morning, but they would be coming from behind us, so it seemed doable. We departed at first light and made our way past the ferry docks and out into the bay.

The waves were exactly as predicted, and as soon as we turned a bit north, they were approaching from our stern,  just the way we like it. The water calmed considerably as the morning wore on, and we had a nice run up to the Chesapeake-Delaware Canal.

As we neared the canal, we realized that we were going to be reaching the canal entrance at the same time as a very large tug & barge. We got on the radio and told the tug captain that we would gladly stand off and let him lead the way. He was very polite and thankful, and we followed him through the 14-mile long canal to the Chesapeake Bay. We had a fair tide and made good time, reaching the exit in about an hour and a half.

A short time later we were making a turn to port and entering the Sassafras River. We had anchored here on our way north last spring, but this time the overnight wind was expected to be a little stronger, so we wanted to go further upstream to find better protection. We checked Active Captain and found several potential anchorages. Down went the anchor, and we called it a day.

A change in plans-  Baby Owl Cove

The next morning we woke to news that the weather was going to start deteriorating in about 24 hours. We still had good cruising weather for today, but tomorrow would be “iffy” at best. We had originally planned to head to a nice anchorage on the Rhode River on the western shore of the bay, but several hours into the cruise we decided that we wanted to visit a new place. Years ago, when I had first started exploring Active Captain, I had come across a place called Bay Owl Cove. Not only was the name great, but it was one of the first “5-Star” anchorages I had discovered on that web site. It always stuck with me, and when I suggested it to Cindy she was up for it. So, off to the eastern shore we headed. And we are so glad that we did.

 It took us a while to get there, as it is a good distance off the bay. A turn to port into the Choptank River, then another turn north up to Broad Creek, then another turn port  into Leadenham Creek, and then finally into Baby Owl. I was a bit worried that the cove would be filled with boats, as it is considered a good spot to ride out bad weather, but when we arrived there was only one other boat in the cove. We picked a spot far away from the anchored sailboat and set the Rocna in 12 feet of water. We had good protection from all directions, and we settled in for what would turn out to be a 3-night stay.

Finally, after two days and nights of hard rain and strong winds, the sun broke through the clouds and we spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the area by dinghy. Our first stop was to deliver a batch of brownies that Cindy had made for the couple on the other boat in the anchorage. They had been there with us during the stormy weather, and we had occassionally checked on each other via radio. After a pleasant visit with our new friends we took our time visiting Caulk Cove, Long Cove and Grace Creek.  We could easily understand why this area had received a 5-Star rating as the scenery was beautiful, it was very quiet, and the anchor held tightly. That evening we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

After being slowed by the weather for a couple of days, we were anxious to get moving. The weather for the next day was forecast to be sunny with lighter winds, so we went to bed that night ready to get up early and head for our next destination- Mill Creek near the mouth of the Great Wicomico River on the western shore of the bay.

Next time- another beautiful, safe spot to ride out some serious weather conditions.

 During the rest of the summer, Cindy and I enjoyed numerous cruises to destinations scattered throughout L.I. Sound. We visited Northport again, this time with our nephew, William, aboard and we had an absolute blast having him all to ourselves for an overnight jaunt. We again hung on a mooring from Seymours and made good use of their launch. William spent a good amount of time on the flybridge, eating, relaxing, listening to his iPod and helping me navigate. But mostly eating.

Port Washington in Manhasset Bay turned out to be a favorite destination of ours. The free town moorings are plentiful and easy to pick up, the town has a dingy dock, and the harbor master is very nice guy. Also, we spent time at the Calf Islands, a short jump across the Sound from our slip in Sea Cliff, as both a lunch spot one day and an overnight anchorage another time. Our reviews of  these places and the other places we visited are all listed in Active Captain.

We finished up our “leisure-type” cruising at the end of August with a second trip out east to Shelter Island. This time we had my brother, sister-in-law and nephew aboard. It was an incredible four days of fun and relaxation as we visited some of the same places that Cindy and I had enjoyed earlier in the season. Here’s my brother’s happy family getting ready for a few days of “roughing it”.

While on this cruise, Cindy and I again visited the beach at West Neck Harbor and took one of our favorite pictures of LIMERICK. It really captures what we loved most about our cruising this summer.

After this cruise, Cindy and I headed back to Carolina for a couple of weeks to take care of things on the home front. We returned to NY mid-September and got the boat ready for the trip south to VA for the winter.

A sad goodbye and an “eventful” night

It was really tough to leave our slip in Glen Cove that last time, realizing that our summer fun had come to a close. Our departure was timed to coincide with a good weather window to travel down the NJ coast the following day and the first night we planned to anchor at Atlantic Highlands near Sandy Hook, NJ, which is just south of NY harbor. We enjoyed a nice ride down the East River, past the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. When we arrived at the anchorage, it was filled with boats of all description, all waiting for the same weather window to travel south the next day in the Atlantic Ocean off the NJ coast. Not finding any room in this spot, we selected another anchorage close by called Horseshoe Cove.

Through the afternoon we listened to the radio forecast, as the weather was deteriorating a bit and we could tell that we may be in for a thunderstorm or two. We let out more anchor chain for safety and made sure that everything was secured properly on the boat. The forecast called for rain beginning around 9:30 pm, but at 8:30 all hell broke loose! Within a matter of 30 seconds we were experiencing steady 40 knot winds with gusts over 60 knots (near 70 mph!), and blinding rain. The wind was pushing water into our cove and creating waves of 4-5 ft., and the sky was ablaze with huge streaks of lightning, creating a surreal visual spectacle. I immediately started the engine (to ensure that, if needed, it would be ready), and we donned our life jackets. We watched the RADAR closely, keeping an eye on our position at all times. In all my years of boating I have never seen anything quite like it.

About three-quarters of an hour later the winds started to abate and the rain slackened enough for us to be able to see the bow from the pilothouse windows. The lightning continued to streak all around us until midnight as the storms moved away to the Northeast. During and after the storms we heard lots of chatter on the VHF radio about other boats dragging and bumping in various area anchorages. Throughout it all we never moved an inch, as the Rocna anchor did its job and held us securely. (When we first bought the boat, the very first item we invested in was a much larger, higher quality anchor (the Rocna). On this night, it paid for itself 100 times over.)

Atlantic City antics

The next morning we left the anchorage at 5am as we had an eleven hour day planned and wanted to arrive at the anchorage in Atlantic City during daylight hours. We had a pleasant cruise down the coast and arrived at the Atlantic City inlet around 3:30pm. We had been here before and we knew that the channel to the anchorage was very narrow, and in spots, very shallow. So after passing the inlet we approached the channel slowly. The boat was being pushed sideways by the fast flowing current, but we made it safely through the channel entrance. We did notice that there were a number of swimmers in the water very close to the side of the channel, so we were using extra caution to make certain we didn’t get too close to them.

Suddenly, Cindy remarks, “I think those women are topless”. Now, that being the very last sentence I expected to hear Cindy say at that time and place, I asked her to repeat herself.

‘I think those women are topless”, she repeated.

“What women?”, I asked.

“The ones swimming right in front of us”.

Sure enough, adding to the already high anxiety approach to the anchorage, there were now three young ladies in the water “sans-suits”. (Sensing that these women could possibly become involved in future criminal activity, I spent several moments carefully taking in the scene so as to be able to give the police a very accurate description. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  As we closely passed them, we discovered that they were bottomless, too.

Cindy then says, “Hey, keep your eyes on the channel!”

I said, “What channel?”

Here we are, in a situation requiring my full attention, and there are naked women literally several feet from the boat, yelling to get my attention. (Not sure why they were yelling, as they already had my attention.) Anyway, I managed to keep water under Limerick’s keel and we made our way into the anchorage. By the time I had the anchor down, the lovely welcoming committee had departed. I am sure of this as I spent quite a bit of time looking for them with the binoculars.

Beautiful Cape May

The next morning we awoke to thick fog, totally obscuring the channel exit. We could have used our RADAR and our depthsounder to slowly make our way out of the anchorage, but we had a relatively short run to Cape May that day, so we decided to just wait for some of the fog to lift. An hour later we made our way out the narrow channel, into the Absecon River and out the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Heading south, the fog returned and we paid close attention to our RADAR screen, and also watched and listened carefully for other boats. We enjoyed a nice trip and were entertained as we watched the water boil all around us for miles on end as enormous schools of fish played out the never-ending drama of predators and prey.

By early afternoon we were safely tied to the pier at Miss Chris Marina in Cape May. Docking was a bit challenging, as there was another boat already tied to the opposite pier, but we took our time, “thought thin” and squeezed our way to our spot. 

After attaching to the shoreside electric panel and double-checking our lines, we got on our bicycles and made our way towards the beach. And what a beach it was!

Cindy and I are beach-hounds, and Cape May beach was beautiful. The beach is very deep and wide, with room for many hundreds of people. The sand was clean, the waves were high and the wind was delightfully cooling. Additionally, this is one of the few beaches we have ever come across that has public rest rooms and outdoor showers. The beach was spotless, and everyone was enjoying themselves immensely. What a great find. We will definitely be back.

Next time- a beautiful anchorage and a  tropical storm. Stay tuned!

We’ve all heard the expression, “different stokes for different folks”, and it certainly applies to boating. Every boat owner we know has favorite things to do with their boat. Some like to water ski…some like to run 80 MPH…some like to cross oceans…and some even like to just sit at the dock. For Cindy and me, there is nothing better than having family with us as we slowly cruise aboard LIMERICK.

So many choices; so where should we go?

Long Island Sound is packed with great places to explore. Over the summer when Cindy and I were cruising alone, we usually had at least a couple of weeks at a time to reach a destination and then return to our ‘home port’ marina. “Leisurely” was our motto. However, having guests on board meant that we needed to plan around their land-based schedules. In the case of my brother, Tom, time is a precious commodity, and we needed to make every minute count. So, with that in mind, for our first long-weekend cruise with Tom and his wife, Dorian, we decided to head east to Northport and then to The Thimbles on the Connecticut side of the Sound.

First, some background

I love my brother dearly. Now, I know that some people say that the only reason I do is because I feel sorry for him. I mean, after all, take a look at one of his baby pictures… 

But that was a long time ago, and despite his rather unusual appearance, he has become a very successful businessman and, more importantly, I admire him as a father and a husband. He is witty, calm, non-confrontational, and is just plain smart. I want to be just like him when I grow up (but with better hair).

His lovely wife, Dorian, is one of the funniest people I know. Not just “ha ha” funny either- I’m talking laugh-outloud, knee-slapping funny. Also, she is a talented musician and artist. All-in-all just a joy to be around.

The two of them have cruised both sail and power boats all around L.I. Sound for many years, and are both accomplished mariners.

So, heading out of Hempstead Harbor, the cast of characters was set- myself, Cindy, Tom and Dorian. Having never had guests on board for more than a few hours we were hoping for the best. And that’s exactly what we found.

Northport

At the end of a beautiful 40 mile cruise we found ourselves in Northport Harbor. After checking Active Captain, we had made a reservation for a mooring from Seymour’s Boatyard. The harbor was absolutely filled with boats, all on moorings, and there was no place to anchor, so we were glad we had planned ahead. We selected a mooring directly in front of the Northport Yacht Club where, many decades ago, my mom would shoot off the ceremonial canon at dusk.

Included in the price of the rental mooring was an unlimited use of the launch service to shore, and we made use of it soon after arriving. The town of Northport is a wonderful cruising destination, with a large city park adjacent to Seymour’s, and the main street of the town just beyond that. The park and streets were filled with folks having a good time, and we made our way through town enjoying our time ashore.

As it was well into the 90’s that day, we made a bee-line for the Northport Sweet Shop and ordered home-made ice cream and Italian ices while sitting at the counter. It felt like we had stepped back into the 1950s.

Returning to LIMERICK, Cindy and I began to prepare for dinner.  Now, readers of this blog know that Cindy is a remarkable cook, and has served many memorable meals aboard. But on this night, new culinary heights were achieved. For the first time since owning LIMERICK we fired up the grill on the aft deck and prepared hamburgers and Italian sausages. While my brother sat slack-jawed, sipping a cool drink and resting his weary bones (after all, he had “endured” a four-hour boat ride, two launch rides and a grueling 20 minutes sitting in an air-conditioned shop eating ice cream), I worked my fingers to the bone, channeling all my experience of working at Burger King 35 years ago.

Now, who sleeps where?

Cindy and I had decided that, as our guests, Tom and Dorian should sleep in the stateroom. Also, I knew that my brother would want to sleep in, so having him tucked out of  the way up in the bow would be perfect for our early morning departure. Cindy took the pull-out settee in the salon, and I settled into the pilothouse pull-out. (We soon realized that the taller person should sleep in the salon, and Cindy and I exchanged places).  I had been a bit concerned about having four people sleeping on a one-stateroom boat, but it turned out fine. The two settees were very comfortable, and in the morning we didn’t have to interrupt our guests as we prepared the boat to depart.

The Thimble Islands

Before leaving the mooring field we were treated to one of natures spectacles, as thousands and thousands of small fish were hunted by schools of larger fish all around our boat. For the better part of an hour the water was “boiling” as the little guys tried to escape the big boys. With only 8 feet of water depth, the bigger fish were surely not going hungry.

After breakfast, Dorian helped Cindy and I slip our mooring and navigate out of the harbor.  The sun was shining, the light breeze was behind us, and the water was calm. The trip across the Sound was relaxing and uneventful, with the exception of carefully dodging the huge ferries operating out of Port Jefferson. By early afternoon we were approaching The Thimble Islands, our destination for the night. There are a plenty of places to anchor around the various islands, depending on weather conditions, and we chose a spot between Money and West Crib in 8′ of water. There were a number of private moorings around, so we had to take care in choosing a spot that left us enough swinging room for the tide change.

We put the dinghy in the water and my brother spent some time taking dozens of pictures of the beautiful scenery. It really was like being back in Maine. The islands were rock (granite) and the houses were designed to take advantage of the topography. Some islands were uninhabited, several tiny islands had homes that seemed to cover virtually all of the available land, and other islands had large houses set among beautiful landscapes. Here is one that had a private bridge to a neighboring island and a gorgeous Concordia yawl moored at the front door. Remarkably beautiful.

 

With the same berthing arrangements as the previous night, Cindy and our guests all enjoyed a restful sleep. I was up several times to check our position, as my dreams were filled with visions of those rocky islands pulling LIMERICK closer and closer. We didn’t move an inch all night, but I still was on high alert.

Easy decision

 In the morning we made the decision to skip the final night of the cruise, as the weather was changing and the new forecast called for thunderstorms on the Sound in the late afternoon. The original plan was to spend our final night in Stamford, CT, but that would have to wait for another time. With my brother still “sawing logs” in the master stateroom, Dorian, Cindy and I raised the anchor and set a course back to Sea Cliff. The weather was surprisingly good, with relatively calm seas and little wind. We made good time, taking advantage of a fair current, and found ourselves back at our dock just before 2 o’clock. Thirty minutes after our arrival, the storms moved in and it absolutely poured rain. Our timing could not have been better.

Beyond expectations

For many years I had been looking forward to spending some quality time cruising with my brother. Our lives have taken us down different career paths, and we live 700 miles apart, but the bond between us seems to grow stronger with the passage of time. Some of my fondest memories are centered around being with him and his family, and I always look forward to our time together. Having him aboard, and seeing him relax and enjoy himself, was a wonderful treat for me.

When we bought LIMERICK I was filled with expectations of the fun we would have and the adventures we would experience. I really didn’t count on the boat being a way for me to feel even closer to my brother.

But, it did. And I am.