Electricity, Groceries, and a Gale

Although not surprising, after cruising up the East Coast and then lingering for a few days in The Great Salt Pond on Block Island, the tendrils of shore-bound life caught up to us and bid Mosey On up to Massachusetts and family there.  A grandson’s lacrosse tournament, Father’s Day, our son’s family move across town, and my birthday – all conspired to pull us ashore and leave Mosey On tied to her mooring in Scituate, MA for most of last week.  It was all good and rewarding as family get-togethers can be.  My grandson’s team won their tournament. Father’s Day with my son’s family is a tradition. The move went well, and I’m a year older…

But it was difficult to leave Mosey On unattended on a mooring for even a few days.  There are a few technical issues to ensure that her batteries do not run-down left unattended.  Apart from her engines, Mosey On depends on electricity.  Lots of it, stored in large 12 volt batteries.  We can leave her for several hours, even a day or two if the batteries are fully charged…but more than that, not so much.  Of course, we simply turn off the electronics, lighting, and fresh water pumps.  We do not turn-off the bilge pumps.  But the largest draw on our batteries comes from our two refrigerator/freezers.  They are a joy when it comes to provisioning Mosey On for a cruise…lots of space for dairy products, vegetables, and frozen meat.  On a mooring, however, with no one to run the engine or the generator they would run the batteries dead.  The solution was to take all of our refrigerated provisions OFF the boat and turn off the refrigeration.  Sooo…We arrived at the kids’ new home with two small duffels of clothes….and bags of groceries in need of a freezer.

We returned home to Mosey On Wednesday evening with our cold provisions and a granddaughter in tow.  She is the adventurous sort, so we sat down to plan a mini-cruise just for her.  Our plan took us from Scituate to the islands of Boston’s outer harbor with spectacular views of the city skyline as the sun set.

Boston from Peddock's Island

Boston from Peddock’s Island

The following day we would take a short hop across the Bay to Gloucester where we literally dropped in on their annual Feast of St. Peter – patron saint of fishermen.  That city was in full-on festival mode – the fishing boats dressed-up in pennants, banners in the street, a midway, and crews practicing for Saturday’s classic gig (boat) races.  We would like to have stayed, but the forecast called for a gale to sweep across Massachusetts Bay waters late Saturday night.  However intrepid the boat and crew, we don’t do gales…..so we motored back to Salem and snug shelter near the heart of the old town.

Moseyin’ On is all about taking some time to see or do new things.  So the whole crew took shore leave to spend the afternoon at Salem’s Peabody-Essex Museum.  Although we had visited many times while we lived in New England, we had never seen their prized exhibit of a complete Chinese family home: disassembled, brought here and reassembled brick by brick.  It is an extraordinary exhibit.  With no crowds and a curious granddaughter, we took the time to fully enjoy it.

Back on the boat after dinner ashore, a cutthroat game of “hearts” (beloved by the youngest crewmember), and one more check of Mosey On’s dock lines, we settled-in to await the storm.  It blew across our harbor at 3:30 AM [I know the exact time, your honor, because I looked at my watch!]  Lots of wind, buckets of rain……and only slightly diminished 12 hours later as I write this.  The storm may not blow out until later tomorrow….

So we’ll sit a spell……Moseyin’ On another day!

Destination …….Missing

Last evening, in beautiful weather, Mosey On & Crew completed our longest passage ever – Cape May, NJ to The Great Salt Pond on Block Island, RI.  It took us 34 hours, 60 gallons of Diesel, several pots of coffee, and at least 12 hours of lost sleep.  We had planned to leave Cape May on Sunday, but the weather window opened early on Saturday with beautifully benign (read somewhat calm) seas and promised to close again on Monday.  As we sit here snug on our anchor with gusty wind and rain squalls sweeping the anchorage, I can attest to the timeliness and accuracy of that forecast.

Sunset Off New York

Sunset Off New York

We learned several things from this passage.  It’s truly important to maintain a disciplined routine while on watch and make those regular log entries.  The chores keep the mind focused when the body would rather be asleep.  And a focused mind is critical to safely navigate around other vessels in the dark of night or fog.  As our route took us perpendicular to the main shipping lanes into and out of New York harbor, we also logged some practical experience with our two radars and an electronic collision avoidance system called AIS.  Commercial vessels are required to transmit their GPS position, speed, course and other data via a transponder just as commercial aircraft do.  A receiver on Mosey On can read this data and display it on our navigation computer screens.  Incentivized to avoid any close encounter, we spent hours exploring the features that clever software can provide from such data.  Not to get too arcane, but my personal favorite is the dynamic solution of “Closest Point of Approach”….or by how much will we miss each other?  (The hairy computations can be found at http://geomalgorithms.com/a07-_distance.html .)   On Mosey On, we just select a data display.  Do we hold our course, or turn to pass behind them?  At our stately 6 knots, scurrying across in front of large ships is not a sound choice.  Before we travel much further, we will be adding the AIS transmit feature to Mosey On.  It just might help some bleary-eyed sailor avoid running into us!

Sunrise Off Long Island

Sunrise Off Long Island

Which brings me around to the title of this post.  Colleen and I have long used ‘paper charts’ wherever we’ve gone. (We still carry AAA maps in the car.)   Their electronic derivatives are marvelous:  easy to use, easily updated, packed with useful information.  They are as accurate as the paper charts from which their graphical data is loaded.  Soooo….as part of our navigation planning for this passage, Colleen and I chose an ocean buoy that essentially marked an entrance off Montauk Point, Long Island to Block Island from the Atlantic.  Technically, it was a  ”Safe Water” buoy: red & white with a whistle…..no danger, just a “you are here” sort of reference.   And that’s what we were looking for to plot our course and measure against our progress (distance to go) on this passage.  We could measure that progress with the traditional navigator tools of parallel rules and dividers, etc.  Or…we could select it by touching its graphical representation on our electronic charts.  In this way we could see both our position and desired course and distance to this buoy off Block Island.  And so we set off.  For the next 33 hours, everything coincided: paper charts, derived positions, radar plots, and electronic charts.  But in that final hour, something was amiss.  For all our diligence, we could not see the buoy.  It was not where it was supposed to be.  It was…missing.    We had wanted to photograph it as a memento of this, our longest ocean passage. A let-down, not a disaster.  Like a base runner, we touched on the spot (Lat. /Long) where it should have been, then turned for the entrance to The Great Salt Pond.

Knowing where you are and where you are going is more valuable than the signposts along the way.

Moseyin’ On

Train Day in Norfolk

Remember a summer vacation when the car was all loaded, highway maps properly folded and scattered about the car, the eager anticipation to hit the open road and a new adventure?  But first, you had to get out of town:  the traffic congestion, missed traffic lights, and a slow moving freight train blocking a crossing.  Well, yesterday was Train Day in the Port of Norfolk.  Think how often you’ve seen a real train on a railroad bridge.  Though such bridges dot the landscape in older industrial cities, they’re often perpetually lifted open and/or seldom ever used.  Imagine our surprise then to encounter not one, but three railroad bridges across the Elizabeth River not only down, but with those slow freights doing their normal roll a few feet, stop, roll a few more.  No Hi-Balling here.  I am reminded by someone that this is a port after all…

View From Our Bridge

Mosey On had set off Wednesday AM from her overnight berth up the river that has carried the Port traffic through the heart of Norfolk, and we anticipated the broad reaches of the lower Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic beyond.  We had ‘miles to go before we sleep’…141 nautical miles to be exact.   But we were side-tracked by not one, but three railroad trains blocking Mosey On’s path to the sea.  It almost seems symbolic – this ‘waiting on bridges’.  Our efforts depend upon these obstacles to be removed from our path, and we are often powerless to do it ourselves or circumvent them in any reasonable way.  We rail at the inconvenience, the delay….but they serve a very real purpose, albeit for someone else.

In due time, both the trains and Mosey On rolled on.  We dropped anchor in Cape May, NJ 24 hours later and secured for some serious napping.

Moseyin’ On to Block Island on Sunday.

“On The Road Again”

With all due credit and our apologies to Willie Nelson, that’s the tune we’re humming aboard the good ship “Mosey On”!  On Tuesday, the 2nd, we finally slipped our lines and left our home port in River Dunes, North Carolina for our 2015 Summer Cruise.  If all goes well, we don’t expect to be back in North Carolina until late September.  Our plans have us proceeding up the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) to Norfolk, then out the mouth of the Chesapeake and north along the “Delmarva” (Delaware, Maryland, & Virginia) Atlantic shore to Cape May, NJ.  We’ll take a couple of days to rest and explore this town we enjoyed so much on a previous visit while we look for a “weather window” for our big offshore leap to Block Island (off the northern end of Long Island).  That will be the single longest offshore leg that Mosey’s crew has planned to date.  We will need some nice weather!  Once we reach the Salt Pond on Block I., we’ll be in New England and setting about visiting with family and friends there.  Then in late July, we’ll point the bow towards Nova Scotia and a long-anticipated exploration of her southern coast.

Two things to report thus far.  During yesterday’s transit of the Alligator & Pungo River canal (a numbingly straight and long ditch built by the Army Corps of Engineers that forms a sector of the ICW), we noticed that said ditch accomplishes what we’ve seen nowhere else: while the trees and brushy growth on the western side were completely smothered in Kudzu, those on the eastern bank were totally unaffected.  An invasive species from China stopped in its destructive tracks by The Ditch…sounds kinda’ like a science fiction story…

And while I’m on the science fiction theme…we were anchored last night in a cove off Albemarle Sound known as Broad Creek.  Shortly after dark (and our boating bedtime), I heard a high pitch “thrumming”.  The sort of sound you might hear from one of those remotely-piloted small drones.  Looking out the ports and windows, I could discern no other boats nearby, but the sound was clearly close.  We had turned-off the cabin lights, so I went to the salon door to go outside for a look.  HUGE MISTAKE!  Mosey On was the apparent rendezvous spot for a gigantic swarm of horny mayflies  [see http://freshwaterblog.net/2011/05/16/the-mayflys-lifecycle-a-fascinating-fleeting-story/  ], as they apparently like a place to rest when they’re quite spent!  You’ve seen pictures of bees swarming over the surface of some object?  That was Mosey On covered in Mayflies.  Yes, some joined the crew inside when I opened the door to listen…. While we’ve encountered Mayflies (sometimes called “midges” in North Carolina) on many occasions, we’ve not had the pleasure of stumbling into a true ‘cloud’ of them engulfing the boat.  Ah nature up close!

A good chance of rain

A good chance of rain

 

Enjoying our own lifecycle…and Moseyin’ On