Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 12, 13, 14 & 15 with Admiral Hugs & Kisses

We've been back in New Hampshire lately.  Tess since about the 8th and due to work commitments.  Me since the evening of the 15th.  Mostly for purposes of recuperation and rehabilitation.

Does this mean anything?

Yes.  A visit to Baltimore by Admiral Hugs & Kisses.  Only allowed aboard ENDURANCE with tag team adult supervision, George Nostrand came to visit his old haunts in Baltimore and Annapolis.  This time, Paul Casey was recruited as co-Captain.  Paul is level-headed and a consummate Island Packet sailor (late of IP37 IMAGINE).  Paul took the Port Watch and I took to the Starboard Watch in order to keep the Admiral in the boat, the boat in the water, the barmaids safe (relatively) and our sanity in tact (barely).

After en route detours to Norfolk for Paul and Dulles for George (finally arriving by bus), due to a lightning strike to the BWI tower (windows blown out and, sadly, one fatality), Thursday was a late dinner and berthing.  Friday though, saw a 1000 departure for Annapolis and real sailing.  A great Northwesterly breeze took us all the way down the Bay once we turned South out of the Patapsco.

A great day of sailing!

With a mooring in Annapolis by 1600, the Water Taxi delivered us to Town for the necessary rounds of oysters and libations.  Middletown Tavern was followed by The Federal House and then the Back Bar at McGarveys.  

Loaded up with shellfish innards we headed back to the the boat where the Port Watch went below for some respite, while the Starboard Watch maintained the cockpit with the Admiral.  Luckily, a Dog Watch (allowing a short time before relief), and all crew were rested well before dinner (how the Admiral maintains this pace is amazing!).

Dinner at Maria's Sicilian Ristaurante had us all eating stuffed veal chops, drinking an odd assortment of wines, and ready to head back for the Admiral's Mast (or, in this case, his nightcap - or two - or ...).

But a good morning wind saw us off to Baltimore on Saturday.  The same Northwesterly - sometimes over 25 knots - could have been a struggle, but rather than taking the Rhumb Line, we crossed the Bay on a beat to Rock Hall on the Eastern Shore.  Once there, we had wind abeam toward the Patapsco.  Good to have real sailors aboard.

Well, one real sailor, at least.

Safely arriving in Baltimore, we were joined by Katie & Kyle for the Admiral's Birthday Dinner at the swanky and extraordinary Chighiale (where, to our relief, the sommelier picked the wines for us) across the street from the Charleston (two of the very best restaurants in all of Baltimore).

All Spiffed up for the Admiral's Birthday Dinner.

Tucked in by just after Midnight each evening.  A rather sedate visit with the Admiral (in comparison).  Great sailing and great fun.  A week plus later, as recovered as possible at this age, I am now ready to return to the boat.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - The Schoolmaster Lift

Busy day today.

Bill and Jane Exner are in town to see the Yankees.  Now, that would be big news to anyone who knew the Exners.  They are not known to like the Yankees.  But, here they are in Baltimore.  And, wonder of wonders.  In the deep recesses of their psyches they are struggling.  The Exner name is synonymous with the Red Sox.  They are not here to watch the Baltimore Orioles beat the Yankees.  They are here to support Jane’s brother-in-law John Schoolmaster who wants to watch the Yankees win one “for a change”.

It seems that John has been a life-long Yankees fan (you can’t pick your in-laws, can you?).  John has seen them play dozens of times.  Hundreds of times?  Too many times, for sure.  But John has never seen the Yankees win (a Red Sox dream come true?).  But sad for John.  So John is here in Baltimore, surrounded by family.  For one purpose.  And one purpose only.  To see the Yankees win.  A win against Baltimore will suffice.  The risk that the dreaded Yankees surpass Baltimore in the Wild Card Race to the Playoffs results in much teeth grinding by the Exners.  But, family is family.  For John, even the Exners will risk a Yankees win.  But one only please.

So yesterday, Monday, the Schoolmaster/Exner contingent have box seats at Camden Yards.  The Yankees lose.  The box is located next door to the Baltimore Ravens corporate box.  A jinxed selection of locations.   Sorry John.  Better luck next time?

Consolation prize.  With the Exners, John, his wife Mary Jo, daughter Beth and college friends Bubba and Tina come to Canton for a Baltimore Harbor Cruise aboard Endurance. 

John, as is obvious from the above, suffers from an affliction which those of us from New England would identify from the John Henry/Yawkey Way Book of Psychiatry as a misplaced love for the Yankees.  A terrible affliction and, luckily, the worst of John’s problems.  But, John is also wheelchair-bound of late.  A minor sailing inconvenience overcome by our stalwart crew’s training in Man Overboard Recovery systems. 


and over,...

and down,...

and in, ...

and done!

With John and guests aboard, we motor-sailed through the Inner Harbor in order to give the tourists a chance to take our picture.  Then out the Patapsco River, past Ft. McHenry (“our flag was still there”), and under the Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Chesapeake.  After much tacking to and fro from Ft. Carroll toward White Rocks, we headed home.  A great sailing day.  Much relief from the oppressive city temperatures.  And hopefully, a solace to John’s prior night’s loss.

Anna Bluhm's Girls at Sea!

Bill & Jane (hoping the Orioles are resting in this heat)

Bubba as Cheshire Cat

Girls on the Bow

Girls on the Deck

Bill "coming about"

The Schoolmasters

Group Photo

Oh.  One more thing.  Those damn Yankees?  Beat the Orioles 7 to 5 that night.  

The night the Yankees did it (for John, at least).

And John was there.  I guess if you are going to have a good day, you might as well make it a great day.  Congratulations, John!

Damn Yankees!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Who ever expected life in Baltimore is full of so many “ups and downs”?  I mean literally, Ups and Downs…as in, Katie ran the Rocky Gap Iron Girl 2013 Triathalon this weekend, and we went from the flat but gentle, long rolling hills of the Charm City to the mountains along the AT between West Virginia, Pennsylvania and the far western reaches of Maryland.  What a beautiful area of deep forests, sharp, striated peaks and crystal clear lakes. 

The race started at 7:00 am…the heavy morning mists were still clinging to the lowest levels of the trees, spectators all clad in sweatshirts and fleece with coffee cups and cameras.  The tri-athletes were in swimgear, barefeet and lycra color-coded swim caps identifying them by starting group.  Arms were painted with their entrant identification number, the women’s ages written in bold black marker on the back of their right calf!!! OMG!  All shapes, sizes, ages and outfits were present and accounted for, replete with delight in the anticipated shared experience and a little healthy competition!  Katie passed, (or was passed by?) a 72 year old lady in her first event ever…a little cheer from one to the other, and the race continued.  Despite hills, the start of the new school year and its demands taking a little time away from training hours, Katie made GREAT time.  Her friends, Katie Long, Hollie Young, Meagan and Poloma all finished strong and were a delight to meet and cheer on.  As this was a Women’s Only event, Kyle had to be satisfied to be best friend and camera man….next one, he’s back in the game!

Our other big event over the weekend was a delightful lunch with son Charlie at BWI airport!  Charlie and Tabby flew in separately to Pittsburgh for a friend’s wedding over the weekend, and Charlie had an hour and 15 minute layover at lunchtime.  With a lot of luck and the good-ol’ SouthWest Airline Luv, we were able to finagle an escort  pass through the security gate to meet him on his concourse for a fully civilized lunch date.  Woo Hoo!!


Before the Race...

Morning mist...


Heading in for the swim...

Out of the water...

Starting the bike race...

End of the bike race...

A hug after the run,... and


Monday, September 9, 2013

Baltimore Chores

September 6, 2013

Being at a dock - a real novelty since our life aboard has been mostly moorings and at anchor for quite some time - has led to more and more chores. But plenty of resources to get them done.

After our bow to stern interior and exterior cleaning, the heavy lifting was mostly done. Wednesday we had a nice drive over to Maryland's Eastern Shore to meet up with Ken & Sarah from s/v SKEEDADLE to pick up our car and kayak. 

With Ken & Sarah in Rockland, Maine for Car & Kayak drop-off 

Being a bit early, we crossed the Choptank River over to Cambridge to check out the Cambridge Lighthouse and Town Marina. Both very nice. The Marina seemed to have new floating docks around the perimeter and plenty of available space. Our last Chesapeake cruise did not get us too far up any of the many rivers here but clearly there are some great places to see.

The Eastern Shore itself was gorgeous on a beautiful September day. All fields and corn and soybeans. And marshes and streams.

We had a wonderful lunch with Ken & Sarah on their deck overlooking Trapp Creek on the Tred Avon River in Oxford (even more beautiful and sailor friendly than Cambridge, we're told). Another gorgeous Eastern Shore spot with an available mooring for us (until SKEEDADLE returns from Maine at least). We have added it to our itinerary as we head South from here.

More of a slog back to Baltimore in two cars since we ended up in commuter traffic. Definitely not used to that. Though we often lost sight of each other, we did manage to hook up to pass a phone charger between us just as my phone/GPS/lifeline ran out of power. This allowed us to drop Katie's car off to her at AFYA (so she could get home from the school's Family Night). We then headed to Hickory Avenue to unload the kayak in her basement.

Luckily, Kyle was there. Otherwise Tess or I would be writing this from the hospital. Or prison. Or the funeral home.

This is a nineteen foot tandem kayak. It easily weighs 100 plus pounds. Katie lives in a 1800s era town home. Three units. She's the middle. Think southern style shotgun house. Very narrow. No side yards. No back yard access from the street.

Here's what we have to do. Drive behind Katie's house to the alley upon which her rear neighbor's house fronts (houses on the alley have no street fronts). Unload the kayak off the car into the alley. We have a two wheel dolly for under the kayak so we can just roll it in, right? Wrong.

Katie's back yard access gate (every yard is surrounded by six foot stockade fencing) is in the exact middle of her rear neighbor's house. This means we have to roll the kayak along a two foot wide house and stockade fence sided sidewalk (of sorts) to the back of the  neighbor's house. Then make a ninety degree turn to the right into the two foot wide space between the rear of the neighbor's house and the stockade fence running along the back of the property Katie's house is a part of. Then a ninety degree left (within this two foot space) into Katie's yard.

The dolly proved useless. We decided to stand the kayak on end and carry it "like a ladder". That means the proper roofer's way to carry a ladder. But it's not a ladder. It's pointed on one end, wide in the middle, and pointed again on the other end. And gear inside seems to be shifting. And we can't lean it against the stockade fence (Baltimore brittle) or the neighbor' s house (easily destroyed gutters).  So...

One of us pins the front end to the ground. The other lifts  the stern and starts walking under it. Then as the stander has both arms flayed out to provide some stability, the low man quickly moves the pivot point inches at a time until the corner is made. Not a pretty sight. No witnesses (Tess was moving the car out of the alley).

Finally, in the back yard. Now, the easy part. Just slide the 19 foot kayak straight through the basement foot into the 16 foot space prepared for it (Katie- I will come back to fix the dent left in your basement wall). Clearly, this is not going to work. The house is not long enough or wide enough to accommodate this kayak. It is now held prisoner in the back yard. Safe and secure unless a couple of eight foot tall burglars decide to pace it over several fences to reach a sidewalk or alley.

We will have to come up with easier storage options.

Katie & Kyle in the 19' Kayak in Harpswell, Maine

All of which made today seem easy. Replaced the Macerator (the dirtiest, stinkiest job in boatdom). Replumbed and rewired the raw water pump.  Rewired the aft head toilet. Nothing to it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Home, Sweet Baltimore!

Hey, Hon!  Feeling Crabby?  Welcome to Bawlmore!!!!

We arrived breathless and thrilled on Saturday evening, August 31.  Baltimore in August…What were we thinking?!?!  Hot, humid, Grand Prix in high gear filling the Inner Harbor with guests and mayhem, and folks from far and near celebrating the holiday weekend.  It was a thrill to come into our ‘home away from home’ port with the boat performing like a champ and the sense that we’d re-gained our lost mariner ways.  After a quick shower and change we met Katie and Kyle for a welcome back dinner and early to bed. 

Sunday, 100 degrees and only 98% humidity was Tony’s perfect day to wash and hand rub every inch of the deck and dinghy.  There is no point in even considering asking him to take a break mid-day or mid-way…he was Ahab’s crew, with Ahab solidly in his head.  My day was full but at a “Bawlmore pace”…laundry, floors bow to stern, bits here and there, and of course, the end of the Bananas.  Why wouldn’t I make a pie when it’s 100 outside?  Me thinks we’ve lost our marbles.

New Banana Storage System

Our Saturday sail in was great fun.  We left the quiet anchorage with a perfect wind to tack back and forth across the Elk River in quiet, un-motored delight.  (Not having been off the boat in days, I admit I even enjoyed working those lines and sheets!)  

Turkey Point, Top of the Chesapeake

As we approached the Bay, the traffic and wind stepped up and we dropped the head sail to motor with 18 knots on the nose…and then 25 knots on the nose…and then Holy Shit Batman where did that wind come from?!?  Tony was (insert “gasp”) Hand Steering!  Clearly, we’ve got some conditions!  For about the last two hours of the Bay we were working but knew we were almost done.  We turned into the approach to the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the wind dropped like a rock – 20, 15, 8…. And suddenly, it was HOT!  Welcome to Baltimore, Hon….

Outgoing Baltimore Harbor Traffic

Outgoing Baltimore Harbor Weather

So, we’re settled in, doing office and boat chores; having hot showers whenever we want them and lights on willy-nilly throughout the cabin.  It feels palatial and decadent after a summer on the mooring.  We miss the evening swim off the back to cool us off …that longing is counter-balanced by the ability to stay in the cockpit all night long with not a mosquito to be found.  We miss lobster and chowder…until we think of crabcakes and pubs galore within a moment’s walk.  We miss our friends…well, that’s not balanced out by anything, is it? 

Fort McHenry, Entrance to Baltimore's Inner Harbor

We will see Katie and Kyle often and in the glorious freedom of “regular time”.  We hope Alison comes down from NYC every minute she can steal away.  Charlie comes down for a weekend in September while Tabby is in Boston.  We are eager to see some dear friends here soon.  Life, it’s a good thing!