Thursday, December 11, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #13

Video Supplement to "Thanksgiving, St. Mary's Style!"

Thanksgiving, St. Mary's Style!

Celebrating Thanksgiving St. Marys Style! There is one word to describe our Thanksgiving celebration in St. Marys Georgia. HEARTWARMING! We were already feeling very thankful as we entered the St. Marys River on Sunday November 23rd, but this riverside community brought new meaning to giving thanks. We dropped the hook and couldn’t wait to dinghy in and get acclimated. All of our boat show friends (the ones I declared I didn’t need in Annapolis) declared that we did NOT want to miss Thanksgiving in St. Marys. We were anxious to find out what all the fuss was about. The first person we met was Ralph, who doubled as the Bait Store Attendant and Ambassador for the St. Marys Yacht Club. He gave us the low-down on everything and offered to give us a lift to the grocery store. I couldn’t find hot pepper jelly, the key ingredient to an appetizer I intended to make. Ralph said he would get me jelly if we didn’t mind going for a ride…and took us to his home! He had phoned ahead to his wife Sandy, who said she had a jar that she would give to us. That was our first of many examples of this entire community’s warmth and hospitality. You could almost feel a red carpet under your feet as you walked through town. Next we had to track down Sea Tramp, who Ralph said coordinated the whole cruisers event. En route, we ran into Ann Barr and Lynn Harden from the boat show, and told them we were anxious to meet the people from Sea Tramp. Ann smacks us and says “WE are Sea Tramp ya big dummies!” Oops, we missed a critical boat name association. Sorry Ann, most of the time we talked to you at the boat show we were either not awake yet or too exhausted to retain information! Great! We are buddies with the big wigs! Now I will be in the know about everything! Where do we go for the first party Ann? Happy Hour at Seagle’s! Count us in. What else do we need to know? Ann got her clipboard out and added our names to the cruiser attendance list along with what we were bringing to the pot luck Thanksgiving dinner. Next she added us to the shuttle schedule with Lynn (world’s coolest chauffeur) for a provisioning run. Anything else we need to know she will announce each morning at 9:00 a.m. on Channel 69. Morning announcements, just like back in school. This is so cool! The first happy hour was a small but jovial crowd of fellow cruisers. The legendary bartender Cindy Dean wasn’t working, everyone gave us a heads-up to treat her with great respect, we’ll see why at happy hour number two tomorrow night. Good news Monday morning. Jage and her friend Carmen from Simplicity are on West Dock, and Archie docked Janey right next to her. Sounds like this is shaping up to be the boat show party dock. Gary knew what to do right away to make his baby happy. Get Tessa a spot on West Dock quick! Boats continued filling the anchorage all day Monday. It was fun listening to the morning announcements and hearing familiar boat names checking in with Ann. She warmly welcomed everyone, then moved on to business at hand. Who needed a ride to the store, laundry, or to fill propane tanks? Who wanted to volunteer for transportation, set-up, serving Thanksgiving dinner, or clean-up? Volunteers flooded channel 69, everyone eager to help their fellow cruisers and contribute to the success of our Thanksgiving celebration. The Monday happy hour crowd doubled in size. Cindy Dean wasn’t scary at all. She was totally entertaining, slinging cocktails and insults all around the bar. We all shared appetizers and swapped cruising stories, mostly about the cold weather. The weather in St. Marys was absolutely gorgeous but still very chilly. Jage, Carmen, Archie, Gary and I walked together to West Dock to check out our new digs and plan our docking procedure for the next morning. Tides and current make or break a successful docking maneuver, so Captain determined that we would move Tessa Tuesday morning at dawn. Everything went smoothly with competent help from our crew on the dock. Archie worked the lines expertly but had to strain a bit. After getting her all tied up, he commented “Tessa’s a big girl!” We spent Tuesday bouncing from boat to boat, doing some boat chores, some visiting and some cooking. Gary and I had a big pot of Admiral Hanks Chili simmering on the stove to fight off the chill. Our gang agreed to come back to Tessa after Seagle’s happy hour for a bowl. Then we moved the paahty to Aaahchie’s boat so he could D.J. for us like he did in Annapolis. We had so much fun listening to him explain the lyrics and tell the stories of his Caribbean music. Dancing soon followed….or something slightly related to dancing. Archie moved with that beautiful St. Lucia rhythm, and with just the right amount of rum and wine, we all assumed we could to. During the party, Jage threw out the idea of hosting a Pain Killer party on our dock the following day. We’ll make ten gallons of the Pain Killer mix and everyone can bring their mug and rum. Sounded like a great idea at the time, but just to be safe, I checked in with Jage and Carmen early the next morning before it was too late to turn back. They had already contacted Ann and our invitation was on the roster for the morning announcements. We were committed! Tuesday we were on the schedule for a noon laundry run combined with lunch at Ann’s highly recommended restaurant, Dick’s Wings. Ann, Jage, Carmen, Archie and Leslie (Archie’s friend from Minnesota) joined us. Happy Hour followed again at 5:30, but we cut it short to head for Simplicity for the tasty pork roast Jage and Carmen had waiting. Wednesday you could sense the anticipation growing along with the size of the group. I’m not sure what our red hat gang (boat show employees) was more excited about….Thanksgiving, the Pain Killer party, or the long awaited arrival of Hayden that afternoon. The ladies prepared the Pain Killer mix while Archie prepared twenty pounds of Caribbean chicken. Right before 3:00, Archie got the tropical party music blasting from Janey, and within minutes friends were arriving with mugs in hand. The party was a hit! HOT-HOT-HOT was playing and Archie and I stood side by side at the dock basking in our success when he leaned over and whispered “See…we know how to throw a paahty!” Yes we do, my friend! That afternoon, our friends Captain Don Dunn and Lauren arrived from Put-In-Bay to cruise with us the last leg of our journey to Key Biscayne. It didn’t take long for them to fit right in once they both got a mug of Pain Killers. And then came Hayden! We had not forgotten that unforgettable smile and laugh, and it felt SO good to see him again. First things first, we checked the length of the bunk in Tessa’s salon and were relieved that he fit! Then on to Happy Hour where it was quite obvious that we weren’t the only ones happy to see Hayden. He received a rock star greeting as loud cheers erupted when he walked into Seagle’s bar. Except from Cindy Dean. The only comment she had was “YOU OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK SON?” To which Hayden replied confidently “YES!” and the bar was lined with shots of Tequila. The celebration continued back on Tessa and Janey with more laughs, music, and dancing. Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and sunny, just like every smile we encountered as we walked through town. Each person, young and old, cheerfully wished us a Happy Thanksgiving as we passed by. This is how Thanksgiving is supposed to feel! The first event was a gathering at Seagle’s for an oyster roast sponsored by the townspeople. The local men prepared the oysters and eager cruisers lined the oyster table to slurp. While this was going on, the ladies of St. Marys and a committee of cruisers laid out the Thanksgiving spread. The turkeys and hams were all generously prepared and shared by the locals. The cruisers supplied the sides and deserts. Many tables were lined with wonderful dishes, and Seagle’s looked and smelled like Grandma’s kitchen when the flood gates opened. A line soon formed halfway down the block, but everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the experience. Just like a traditional Thanksgiving, everyone was soon stuffed and moaning that they ate too much. Unlike a traditional Thanksgiving, we had no living room couches to flop on and no TV’s to watch football, so we improvised and went back to Janey to continue the party. Even sailors run out of steam (and rum) once in a while, and we called it a night earlier than usual. Friday we decided to save the $50 bucks and move Tessa out to the anchorage, but not until the festivities were planned. A local came down the docks inviting everyone to visit his buddy’s restaurant, transportation to and from provided in a limo. A real limo? Yes, a real stretch limo. OK, count us in! We’re not sure if they knew what they were getting in to, as the limo ended up running numerous trips of cruisers who take advantage of any free transportation offered! It was a perfect way to top off a perfect week of celebrating with friends. Looking back toward the town of St. Marys as Tessa carried us down the river Saturday morning, I realized that we were leaving with so much more than we came with. Boatloads of memories, great friends that were now family, and a renewed faith in the genuine goodness of people. The oh-so-appropriate lyrics from one of Archie’s songs kept running through my head. “Celebrate! Celebrate! Another Day of Livin!” Thank you St. Marys for showing all of us how to celebrate the joy of livin…St. Marys Style!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #12

Video Supplement to "Don't Look Back". The Milson's want to know what "You" are doing! Please leave comments and let them know.

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Don't Look Back"

“Don’t Look Back” Charleston South Carolina to St. Marys Georgia It’s just the two of us on Tessa again. It’s funny how much we enjoy each other’s company and cherish “alone time” yet tend to surround ourselves with friends and family at every opportunity. I know Mom is relieved when we have others on board during this journey. She can’t bear to think of us out here all alone! Each time we talk, she asks me “So, how are you…really?” as though she suspects I’m holding out on her and there’s some bad news to come. So, here’s how we are…really! It didn’t take long for us to realize how much work this is! I’m absolutely not complaining, just amazed at how little time there is to really relax. The boat shows aside, it’s been a lot of work , physically and emotionally. Even tied up to a nice safe dock still requires you to be on your toes. Breath a sigh of relief, assess Tessa’s condition, check the weather, then begin planning for the next day. Thankfully, I have the worlds coolest, calmest, and most collected Captain who navigates expertly and takes excellent care of Tessa and I. Try to imagine how much of an affect weather has on you when you literally live outside. The unseasonably cold weather really takes a toll on us, especially by the end of a long day in the elements. Which motivates us to plan yet another long day. Surely the further south we get, the warmer it will be, right? It hasn’t happened yet, but we keep hoping! The only time we are really warm is in bed. Which isn’t such a bad thing! We snuggle into our berth, wrap our arms around each other, and life is good. Our life together has always been good. We didn’t leave home because we had a dull or unhappy life. We were just ready to grab the brass ring and experience cruising. Because of how good life was at home, there’s lots to miss. I miss seeing Bob Wolford patrolling CRC with that spring in his step. I miss seeing “AT D LAKE” and knowing fun was in store with Brad and Chris. I miss catching up with Bob and Mary Jane each weekend. I miss harassing and being harassed by Bryan Diveto . I miss our younger friends Jaclyn and Lenny, and our oldest dearest friend Ken Turvey. I miss karaoke with the Wernings. And I can hardly bear to think about other people having fun with OUR Nick and Lynne James without us! And I miss the comfort of knowing in three hours I could be sitting at the kitchen table with Mom and Cindy and Alivia. But all in all, are we loving this? Absolutely! It’s just that being gone would have been a whole lot easier if we hadn’t left so much behind. Now on with the story………… Way back on the Alligator River when Jim was with us, we heard a woman from the boat “Don’t Look Back” advise on the radio that they were towing another boat. After listening to her communications during the day, and hearing so many other boats hailing them, I decided I wanted to party with those people! They were by far the most popular boat on Channel 16, and for some reason, she just sounded like someone I would want to know. Fast forward three weeks to City Marina in Charleston. We decided to walk the MegaDock before we departed to ogle the Mega Boats. Gary, look! There’s “Don’t Look Back”! We were disappointed that they weren’t on board, and turned back toward our slip. Darn, I really wanted to meet them. A couple walked towards us carrying provisions. I asked “You wouldn’t by chance be “Don’t Look Back” would you?” They replied with a curious “Yes” as in, who are these complete strangers approaching us on the dock?? While their ice cream began to melt, we quickly told them the story of my need to party with the popular people, which they thought was quite funny. We exchanged names and boat names and agreed to look for each other down the road, where surely our paths would cross again. Little did we know……. In Georgetown and Charleston, Gary, Chas and James had worked on the Mizzen Mast furler but were unsuccessful in repairing it. My assignment was to find a boat yard that could help. The guy I hooked up with in Thunderbolt asked for a model number, so Gary went topside to locate it on the furler secured to the deck. He came down below and cried MAKE ME A DRINK. I knew something was very wrong. He stated “The furler is GONE!” We silently stared at each other in disbelief. How could it be gone? He tried to put the pieces back together. The guys worked on it at the dock in Charleston, so the most likely explanation would be that it rolled off the deck while we were driving the kids back to Myrtle Beach. We just didn’t notice it missing for the past three days. Worst case scenario was that it rolled overboard while we were underway. Gary got on line and contacted the manufacturer, referred to a guy in England, only to be told that model was discontinued. However, there’s a place in Holland that could manufacture one. Wh….wh….whaaaaaaaat?? OK, take a deep breath, calm down, and think! I saw a diver at the docks at Charleston. We call a diver, ask him to search for it at the slip we were in. Then how do we get it here if he finds it? We have to backtrack three days on the ICW. Noooooooo! There’s got to be another way. How about UPS? Won’t work, the furler is 30 feet long. We’ll rent a car. Won’t fit in a car either. Wait a minute…..didn’t John and Bobby Jo from “Don’t Look Back” say they were staying in Charleston until Sunday? Maybe they could bring it south until we can hook up somewhere. Could this possibly work? They seemed like the nicest couple, but is this pushing the limits of a five minute friendship? We had to call the marina to get their phone number and nervously left them a voice message explaining the embarrassing situation we were in. They called back and without a moment’s hesitation agreed to help, as though lashing a 30 foot aluminum tube to the deck of their beautiful catamaran for people they just met was something they did on a regular basis. No big deal. Gary contacted the diver and described the exact location of where he thought it may have gone overboard. He agreed to dive the next day at low tide. Cross you fingers….. John and Bobby Jo went so far out of their way to help as to contact the diver themselves to explain our tentative delivery plan if he found the furler. They were there to watch him go below the surface! The next afternoon, I answer the phone to hear the diver exclaim excitedly “TELL GARY I FOUND IT! IT WAS EXACTLY WHERE HE SAID IT WOULD BE!” It was lodged in the bottom at a 45 degree angle, and almost poked him in the eye! Hooray!!!!!! Bobby Jo was as excited as the diver. She phoned to say all was well, the furler was secured to their deck, diver was paid, see ya in Vero Beach! Allison from Annapolis told us that cruising would restore our faith in humanity, and John & Bobby Jo take the prize in that regard. We have seen countless examples of this unexpected fellowship and camaraderie all the way down the east coast. Our travels have taken us over 1800 nautical miles, through ports and anchorages from Charleston, Beaufort, Port Royal Landing, Hilton Head, Savannah, Isle of Hope, St. Simons Island, Brunswick, Jekyll Island, and on to our Thanksgiving destination of St. Marys Georgia. We’ve had memorable, heartwarming experiences at just about every stop. There were the locals in Beaufort who cooked steaks for the cruisers at Port Royal Landing Marina while Gary brought down the house with “Chantilly Lace” during karaoke. There was the fogged in anchorage, with two other boats to follow the next morning along the ICW. Safety in numbers! There was the laundry fairy at Isle of Hope who took our full load out of the dryer and instead of a pile on the table, I came back to find neatly folded stacks. There was the peaceful, calm, still very cold anchorage where I attempted to cut Gary’s hair. I began to lose my patience listening to him say “Jaclyn doesn’t do it like that” and “Yeh, yeh, that’s how she does it” as I fumbled with my kitchen scissors. “Gary Milson, I am no Jaclyn Kromer, so just give it up and sit still.” There was the going-aground experience in the Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff, right smack dab next to the dredging boat. Other boats called to see if we needed help. No thanks, we’ll just wait for some water (it was low tide), and by the way, don’t say our boat name over the VHF thank you very much. There was our good fortune of having Audra as our bartender in Hilton Head. We had such a nice time chatting with her and she offered to take us on an island tour the next day (when she got off of one of her three jobs). We went to The Big Bamboo for lunch and did some sightseeing, but the best part was hearing about the island from a local and getting to know Audra better. Thanks Audra, and don’t work too hard! Also in Hilton Head, we met David Collins and Mary Lynn Finn at the annual Oyster Festival. Here’s how an oyster festival works in South Carolina. You stand in line (where Gary met David) and buy a bucket of roasted oysters. Then you stand at an oyster table and start shukkin. The oyster table consists of wooden horses with a big sheet of plywood tabletop, a big hole cut in the center with a trash can underneath, into which you throw your shells as you shuck. David invited us to join their table, and we hit it off so well that they invited us to the bar they were headed to next. We took a rain check since we had a half hour dinghy ride back to our anchorage at Palmetto Bay, but made plans to see each other the next night. We invited them out to Tessa for a sunset cocktail, which turned into many glasses of wine and lots of lively conversation and laughs. If we had stayed over another night we could have made it to their dinner party, but we needed to keep heading south in hopes of finding warm weather. There was the very impressive couple we shared the courtesy car with at Isle of Hope Marina. We had been feeling very abused by the weather and running low on energy, only to be put in our place by these two cruisers. He is 84 and she is 78, and they have done the ICW trip 27 times. How inspiring! So many experiences, so many memories, and so many to look forward to. Mom, rest assured that we are fine. Better than fine! We are living the dream. There are ups and downs, but we focus on the ups and appreciate every precious moment together on this incredible journey. If any of our boating friends are wondering whether they should go cruising, our advise would be to do it! And like John and Bobby Jo, DON’T LOOK BACK!

Friday, November 21, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #11

Video Supplement to "Chas in Charge"

Chas in Charge

And then along came Chas to fill the void that Jim left. Well, not exactly. The queen is no longer being pampered. “I’m on leave till next Wednesday, so James, Anna, and I can cruise with you guys!” Hold on, I just provisioned for two and suddenly we’re a party of five? He didn’t take over the galley. “I’m hungry Woman!” “What’s for breakfast?” “Let’s just order a pizza.” “Lori, make me something dee-licious with a side of tasty!” He didn’t much help Gary with the navigating. “Wake me when we get to Georgetown.” And boat chores weren’t high on his list. “I’m on VACATION!” But it sure was great to have him and his friends on board! “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin…….” After hearing this nearly a thousand times in five days, I think I’ve figured out what his favorite saying really means. If his sentence begins with “I’M SAYIN” it means he’s about to state something that he believes is correct and true and will stand behind. If he begins with “I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin” it means he’s about to state something that may not be totally accurate, that he doesn’t want to be held accountable for, that he’s pretty sure is true but may not be, and may or may not contain a hidden slam or insult for which he wants to appear innocent of saying. Our time with Chas began in Southport when he came to visit the day Jim left, November 1st. We watched the Pirate Races, Chas and Gary did some work on Tessa‘s Mizzen Mast, then went into town to check out the restaurants. Had a dee-licous meal at Mr. P’s and soaked up some local knowledge from Amy, the friendly bartender. Thanks to our new friends at the Provision Company, on Sunday morning we moved Tessa from the expensive Southport Marina to a “complimentary” dock at the restaurant. Paul, the owner, is happy to allow customers to dock there, but went a big step beyond that and granted us free dockage for as long as we needed it. Their season was winding down and he knew we were waiting for parts for the crippled Mizzen mast. THANKS PAUL!! Sunday was family day. Gary’s nephews live in Fayetteville and Wilmington, close enough to drive down to Southport for a visit. Greg and Barbara brought their son Dillon, and Brian and Kendall brought son Peyton and daughter Mara. The adults caught up while the kids took turns playing Captain on Tessa. We enjoyed lunch and dinner at the Provision Company to show appreciation for our free dock. Monday morning Chas headed back to Fayetteville. Gary and I made arrangements to rent a car to drive to Fayetteville Tuesday, so that Gary could do some CamTimer programming for Ford. We were looking forward to a dinner party that night at David and Mary Lou Karafuto’s (from Vermillion) along with Walter and Brenda of “Brandaris”, another cruising couple from Port Stanley Ontario. David and Mary Lou were the ultimate hosts. David played chauffeur while Mary Lou prepared great appetizers and a wonderful meal. They live in St. James Plantation, a lovely area with beautiful homes. Their warm hospitality was just what we cruisers needed, as it had been cold and rainy all day and forecast to be the same for the next day. We had a great evening of lively conversation, laughter, and lots of good wine. Perfect! Tuesday we hurried off to Fayetteville and got down to business…after a mandatory lunch at Hooters with Chas and James. That evening, we cooked up the rest of those pretty shrimp, and Chas made a fantastic London Broil for Gary and I and his friend Anna. Wednesday Gary got into programming mode, I did laundry and babysat our Grand Dogs, Maggie and Bell, Chas’s Great Danes. Wednesday afternoon Chas requested that we prepare the Milson family recipe, Rolladen. Thursday Gary continued programming while I broke down and got a hair cut and color from someone other than Jaclyn. It was quite traumatic, so Gary claims he will wait for Jacklyn when we go home in December. He may have a ponytail by then! Thursday night we drove back to Southport and prepared to depart for Myrtle Beach, where Chas, James, and Anna were planning to meet us. We found the perfect spot, Barefoot Landing, to hook up with the kids. Located on the ICW, it combines shopping, dining, and entertainment, surrounding a lake where boardwalks connect the different areas. Definitely a tourist trap, but lots of wing joints for Chas and Gary and a good place to leave their car. Their car came in handy that night. I had been battling an uncomfortable bladder infection since Fayetteville, and that evening my lower back began to ache. From past experience (remembering the trip from PIB to Magruder Hospital one July 4 weekend) I knew a kidney infection was in my future. So instead of having wings with the kids, my poor Captain had to sit in the Emergency Room with me for four hours. I sure know how to put a damper on the party. Saturday we began the “party of five” cruise to first stop, Georgetown. The Waccamaw River is very scenic, with moss-draped cypresses lining the banks. The water is the color of tea, which leaves a nasty stain all along Tessa’s waterline. The good news is, every other boat on the ICW is stained, so there is no urgent need to get in the dinghy and scrub. We’ve seen various shades of this dark, dirty looking water since the Chesapeake, and are very much looking forward to shades of blue when we venture out to the ocean again. Historic Georgetown was an enjoyable stop. I did my marina research and took the only available slip at Harborwalk Marina, even though the guy said their showers were out of order. We can live with that, our first priority is always RESTROOMS. The guide book described the Harborwalk Promenade, which extends along most of the waterfront, as the place to be. The location was perfect, but Leonard wasn’t quite up front about the facilities for $1.75 per foot. They had just torn down the showers AND the restrooms, so we had our choice of ONE port-a-potty! Leonard immediately became defensive when I questioned him on it, replying that he wasn’t trying to “bait and switch” anybody. Who said anything about bait and switch, LEONARD???? I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin……… We enjoyed Harborwalk and grabbed a bite at one of the pubs. It was James’ birthday, so the kids continued to celebrate while us oldtimers went to bed. $175 bar tab later, the birthday celebration was concluded. Next port, Charleston South Carolina. We chose the City Marina for their complimentary shuttle service into downtown. After tying up at the slip, we were assaulted by this loud shrieking sound coming from the boat next to us that. Anna thought it sounded like a potbellied pig. I suspected a bird tangled up on something. A guy close by thought it was a “cat about to bite it”. Then the yuppie couple sipping wine in the cockpit nearby (who must have enjoyed our confusion) announced that it was a recording to keep flocks of defecating birds away. Initially, I was annoyed. Until Chas and I were bombarded as we walked through the parking lot with splat-splat sounds all around us. On second thought, crank up the screeching and keep those birds away! We loved the history and charm of Charleston. The colorful old south architecture is breathtaking. Charleston combines numerous high end shops, restaurants, rustic pubs, and the Market Place flea market. Anna and I noticed a slinky gown displayed in a fancy shop, and ducked in to inquire about the price. “It’s $1800.00, that does not include the broach, which is $300.00.” Maybe next time. Monday, our second day in Charleston, Gary and I warned the kids that we needed to anchor out and dinghy in, as the marina’s $2.00 per foot was straining our cruising kitty. James surprised us by generously taking care the dockage and we breathed an grateful sigh of relief. Let’s have some more fun! Off to Red’s Ice House for all-you-can eat crab legs. Anna surprised us again by buying our dinner as a thank-you for having her on board. Tuesday we sadly loaded up the kids in our rental car for the drive back to their car in Myrtle Beach. After five days, our party of five was feeling very good. It was so refreshing to experience cruising with these three impressive young adults… who seemed to enjoy hanging with us old folks, who eagerly participated in every aspect of the trip, and who were so appreciative of our hospitality. Everyone we know should feel very thankful, safe, and secure knowing that our “soldier boys” Chas and James are protecting all of us. James, stay safe in Iraq for the next year. Chas, keep making yourself proud. I’M SAYIN, you have made us so very proud, and we love you very much!

Monday, November 10, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #10

Video Supplement to "Forgive us Dr. Adkins, for We have Sinned!"

"Forgive us Dr. Adkins, for We have Sinned!"

Myassis Dragon Visit October 16 to November 2 Myassis Dragon is no longer just Jim and Missi’s boat name. It’s now a condition. The “JIM JORDAN COOKED FOR 18 DAYS AND NOW MYASSIS DRAGON AN EXTRA 10 POUNDS” syndrome. Seriously though, even if they hadn’t prepared grilled Thai coconut chicken, herb crusted rack of lamb topped cabernet reduction sauce with roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, pan seared duck breast finished with cherry pinot reduction sauce with roasted button mushrooms and sweet potato gnocchi, pepper crusted filet mignon seared in truffle butter with pasta aglio e olio and steamed green beans, Old Bay steamed shrimp and panko crusted fried oysters, hearts of romaine salad topped with fried goat cheese medallions, freshly caught blackened drum fish, freshly caught speckled trout tacos, apricot walnut stuffed pork loin, mesquite grilled pork loin, herbed roasted chicken, Crabby Eggs Benedict Maryland style (twice!), French Toast, Gran Marnier Crepes, Caramelized Apples, and a dozen variations of Jambalaya, we STILL would have loved having them on board! I regret letting so much time pass without an update, but we have been running fast and hard, and sitting at the computer has not been possible until today. So let’s backtrack to everything that has transpired since Annapolis. We had a lot of miles to catch up since we lost a week working the second show, and planned to run dawn to dusk days if possible. The weather quickly changed from cool, sunny, autumn to bitterly cold gusty winds for our departure to Solomans Island, Maryland on October 22. It was an arduous trip but some very challenging sailing, which we mostly enjoyed…up to a point. By the time we pulled into the beautiful Zahniser’s Yachting Center, the only amenity we prayed for was a hot tub. Forget restrooms and showers, just give us a boiling hot tub to thaw out in. No such luck. Missi and I warmed up down below while the guys went provisioning. They came back giddy with the goodies they found, and we had a great dinner accompanied by wonderful wine. The 23rd it was off to Reedville Virginia, another long cold day with strong gusty winds. I located a semi- deserted dock in the fishing port of Reedville, where we were welcomed to tie up and plug into power… which meant HEAT! Upon approach, the mizzen mast roller furler jammed and broke as Jim was trying to haul in the sail, which sent he and Gary scrambling about doing damage control. Meanwhile, Missi and I were holding our breath as we motored by the fish processing plants, praying that the smell wouldn’t follow us all the way through the channel to our dock. We were lucky! The only other concern was the arrival of a small beat up sailboat whose occupants included three questionable looking guys and four dogs. We shushed Gary when he wondered out loud what that boat must smell like down below, as Jim was preparing another fantastic meal and we didn’t want to lose our appetites. Jim said he thought he heard a familiar banjo tune playing through the night and didn’t sleep very well. Friday the 24th was yet another day of the same abusive weather, but ONE of us was having the best time! Tessa happily charged through the 4-6 foot Chesapeake Bay waves and maintained a consistent 7 to 8 knots speed, hitting 9 knots periodically. The guys were having a ball, while Missi and I struggled to maintain order down below. The first port tack, just as I said “I think we have most everything secured”, we were covered with an avalanche of everything starboard, which had Missi doubled over underneath the pile, screaming. Captain Gary yelled down that he hoped we were screaming in laughter and not pain, which we were. Give it up, we’ll put everything back together when we get to Hampton Virginia, Missi’s birthplace. On the way into the channel, we spotted dolphins playing beside Tessa, one almost jumping on board, which really topped off the long day. We needed to stay at a dock to recharge our weakening batteries (Tessa’s and ours!) so we pulled into the pricey BlueWater Yacht Club. We only had Missy with us until Sunday morning, so we had to maximize our last days together. Saturday morning we provisioned again and made the mistake of walking to the Food Lion…hungry. The walk back was a comic struggle, carrying dozens of bags of groceries and 12 packs of Diet Coke. After showers, we took the marina water taxi into quaint downtown Hampton and kicked off Missi’s going away party with a round of Martinis. Or was it two rounds? Who’s counting? After all, only one of us had to get up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to catch a cab to the airport! Missi was a real trouper and even insisted on a champagne toast to close out the night. Earlier, we ran into Bob and Connie from Meredith, who we first met in Chesapeake City, so they joined us for drinks and appetizers. It was a great evening with great friends and new friends and lots of laughter. Not many laughs Sunday morning. We were all so sorry to see Missi leave, as well as feeling her pain of getting up so early after the festivities of the night before. Waving goodbye in the dark as she walked toward the waiting cab, she still managed a beautiful smile for us. Since the three of us left behind were already up, we took off for our next stop, Great Bridge Bascule Bridge in Chesapeake Virginia. All these stops being based on the farthest we could travel from dawn to dusk. A free dock was written up in the Waterway Guide, first come first served, and it was a pleasant surprise to get to this spot early enough to have some time to relax before dark. Especially since it was finally WARM, and we broke out shorts and t-shirts. Except, no one is allowed to relax until their chores are done. I finally got a second coat of varnish on the starboard rails, Gary was working on battery problems, and Jim was supposed to catch dinner. After I caught him sleeping on the job, he got a new assignment. Take the leftover Watco and see if another coat on the teak decks will revive them. Which it did, thankfully. Three quarters of a can made it all the way down the fifty feet, port side, so our next goal was to find more Watco at each stop along the way. (Jim made it a point to beat us to the shelves and hide all the Watco, just in case he was expected to finish the job.) We found a sports bar which Jim labeled “Hooters With Tattoos” where we had some great fried oysters for an appetizer, then headed back to Tessa for dinner. Monday, we celebrated crossing into North Carolina by docking at the highly recommended Coinjock Marina. The trip from Norfolk to Coinjock reminded Gary and I a lot of the Erie Canal. Protected, mostly calm, and scenic. Protected being the key word, after the “dusting” we took all the way from Annapolis to Norfolk. Almost immediately after we tied off in Coinjock, another front moved in and blew high winds and rain all night. No spirits were dampened, however, as the boys were looking forward to Coinjock’s famous 32 ounce Prime Rib, which they both finished. They needed to stock up on energy for crossing the Albemarle Sound on Tuesday. We were warned by other dockers not to venture out in the predicted 25 knot winds, as the Alligator River Swing Bridge on the other side of the sound will not open in high winds. Let’s sleep on it and see how the morning looks. Tuesday dawned chilly but sunny and calm. We heard that the bridge was currently opening, so Captain and Crew decided to go for it. After all, we are Lake Erie sailors! How much worse could Albemarle Sound be, even in 25 knot winds?? Entering the sound, we were radioed by two boats that had turned around and returned to Coinjock due to the rough conditions. As it turned out, it was a “piece of torte” for Tessa. I even had the nerve to yell out “IS THAT ALL YA GOT ALBEMARLE SOUND??” , and got a stink eye from Jim since we were not quite through it all yet. We made it to the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal at dusk in time to search for the Waterway Guide’s recommended anchorage. which did not resemble anything protected from the buffeting winds. We had to pick our way through hundreds of crab pots. By the way, did I mention yet that WE HATE CRAB POTS!!!! (A LOT) They are the biggest nuisance of the entire trip, planted like land mines waiting to blow up around our prop. There is no rhyme or reason to their locations, many of them right smack dab in the middle of the channels. Each day, Jim and I intensely searched for them and shouted out locations in time for Gary to maneuver around. Tuesday night was quite the celebration after surviving the trying day and finally getting a good hook. I broke out the Martini shaker and the party began. Martinis never tasted so good! But the most wonderful part of the evening was dinner. Earlier in the afternoon, Jim announced he was going down below to stuff his chicken. (His words, not mine.) He created this mouth watering herb roasted chicken and combined it with roasted rosemary potatoes, both of which made the cabin smell heavenly. It tasted even better than it smelled. What a memorable meal and evening it was. Wednesday morning was also very memorable, in a painful sort of way. It was so cold that we saw our breath down below. And down below is where I stayed! Let the men tough it out in the 30 degree wind. They had to bring out the wash down pump to spray the gunk off the anchor as it came up, which made them even colder. This is one of the many, many times I was so thankful that Jim was on board. We had a nice sail past the popular port of Belhaven in order to make time to Beaufort North Carolina by Thursday night. This route took us along the Pungo River and the Pamlico River, both very scenic. We still had our foul whether gear, gloves, and hats on. It was COLD! The Waterway Guide referred to R.E. Mayo Co. as a commercial fishing dock with possibly room to tie up for the night. And the price was right, 60 cents a foot with electric. Upon approach, we saw huge fishing boats and very old, unstable looking, rickety docks. Gary and I fully expected Jim to go crashing through when he jumped on the dock to tie us off. Hold on Gary, back it up a bit, we smell FISH from the fish cleaning station. Jim claimed he never saw Gary reverse so fast. Bad luck for Jim, it was our turn to pay for dockage, and it was the best value of the trip. Not for the facilities, but the experience! We searched out the office located “right behind the guy cleaning fish” according to the lady who answered the phone. Here is where we met 90 year old Roy Watson, who warmed our bodies and hearts around his wood burning stove. What an interesting, proud man. While Gary listened to stories, Jim and I got down to business discussing shrimp and fresh fish with the sweet lady at the counter. Jim’s charm was not wasted on this one. She invited us to follow her to another shrimp freezer where she would pick us out “some pretty ones”. Then we went into the fish storage area so Jim could check out the fresh catch. She laughed behind my back because I had to hold my nose. Normally I enjoy the smell of fresh fish, but this was overwhelming. Jim was like a kid in a candy store and we headed back to the boat eager to steam up those “pretty ones”. Roy Watson reminded the guys to visit “the Governor’s Mansion”, aka the outhouse, which they did indeed visit on Thursday morning. I passed. Thursday was destination Beaufort North Carolina via the Neuse River/Bay River, past Oriental. Gary pooh-poohed Oriental being referred to as “The Sailing Capital of North Carolina” with only two marinas with enough depth to accommodate Tessa’s six foot draft. The farther we get, the more we realize that a six foot draft is definitely a docking obstacle. Not to mention a sand bar magnet that attracted us, entering the Beaufort channel. As our friend Mike Quirk from the boat show said, there are three kinds of boats on the ICW. Those that have gone aground, those that are about to go aground, and those that lie. WHAM we hit bottom, as though Tessa had pulled on the emergency brake. The dock hand admitted they have seen people thrown to the deck during the very common groundings. Gary skillfully maneuvered us off the sand bar and into the slip we went. We really enjoyed the town of Beaufort. It was off season and chillier than usual, but we could tell that town would rock during the summer. After wandering around, we hit an inviting pub for some good conversation, good beers, and buffalo shrimp. A local recommended the Blue Moon restaurant for dinner, which was a great suggestion. We are not sure if it was Jim’s animal magnetism or the fact that the female wait staff hadn’t seen anyone enjoy wine and food so much, but they sure seemed intrigued by him. We sat at the bar with Barbara, and shared two great wines and wonderful appetizers. Can’t head back to the boat without stopping for a shooter at the marina bar. And whose idea was it to open the Mexican Liqueur for a nightcap?? It seemed fun at the time…. Friday we borrowed the marina’s woody station wagon to provision and fill the propane tank. Not sure if it was the size of the vehicle or my rusty driving that made the ride exciting. At the grocery store, I proclaimed that I was going on a food strike when Jim left on Sunday. Food is no fun if Jim isn’t there to prepare it. Just throw some hot dogs in the cart for Gary and head back to Tessa. Our chart plotting determined that we should leave Beaufort by noon in order to travel “outside” (meaning the ocean vs. the ICW) through the night for an early morning arrival at Southport North Carolina, where Capt Don Dunn suggested we stop. It was too calm to sail, so we motor-sailed most of the twenty hour trip. Even though the weather was significantly calmer than what we previously experienced on the Atlantic, I was not yet comfortable being out in the ocean in the dark of night. After sunset, a spectacular view of the moon and a bright star (maybe Venus) was right above us. I decided to crash, but Gary and Jim were fine with night time cruising until the Auto Helm decided to go haywire a couple hours after dark. Manual steering for another 10 hours was not in Gary’s plan for an enjoyable evening. Originally the guys were going to do four hour watches, but neither of them felt comfortable deserting the other in the cockpit. They took a few turns dozing but for the most part were awake all the way to the Southport Marina at 8:00 Saturday morning. Once we got settled in to our dock and enjoyed nice hot showers, my worn out Captain jumped in the bunk for a well deserved rest. Jim got a second (or third or fourth) wind, so he and I walked into town seeking the similarities between Southport and Put-In-Bay. In other words ACTION. It is a great historic looking town, which did remind us a little of PIB, but where were all the people and bars?? We were looking in the wrong direction. Head for the waterfront, and there you will always find sailors…drinking. The outdoor Provision Company bar and restaurant hosts the Pirate Sailboat Race each year, and as luck would have it, the race was about to begin! Jim started exchanging racing tales with the committee boat guy, and in no time we knew everyone at the bar. David Karahuta heard us mention PIB and announced that he was from Vermillion. Then the small world gets even smaller. We mentioned Tessa, and he asked “Is it the same Tessa that hails from Shelby Township Michigan? I know that boat!” I nearly forgot that Shelby Township was our original hailing port for the first couple years we had Tessa, yet David remembered seeing us at the Bay. He became our ambassador of South Port, giving Jim and I a lift back to the marina, and inviting Gary and I to dinner Monday evening with he and his wife Mary Lou. Next comes the unwelcome departure of Jim. His was flying out of Charleston South Carolina on Sunday, so he rented a car to drive there Saturday afternoon. I wanted to fall to the ground and latch onto his legs to prevent him from leaving. Please don’t leave us Jim! Who will shop for us? Who will feed us? Who will make us laugh? Who will Watco Tessa’s decks? Who will help Gary with all the tough boat jobs so I can continue being the pampered queen? Life as we knew it for 18 unforgettable, fun filled days was over. It was worth every calorie!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #9

video
Tessa Update Part 9 , October 22,.…Finally! As we pulled up anchor at dawn this morning departing Annapolis, part of me was anxious to wave goodbye, part of me was already missing our wonderful new friends, and part of me was wondering what the h#*! were we thinkin doing shots of tequila like a bunch of 21 year olds at Armadillos last night! That pretty much sums up the ambivalent feelings of the last 19 days. We arrived at Back Creek in Annapolis on Friday afternoon, October 3, as the biggest NEWBIES ever. Tessa is so used to being the queen of PIB, and we suspected she was feeling as intimidated as Gary and I were when we searched for an area to drop anchor. Gary commented “This is going to take some getting used to” as I clicked my boat shoes together chanting “There’s no place like home”. We were completely overwhelmed with the chaos of Back Creek. When I heard we were anchoring in a creek, I envisioned a serene tree lined area with comfy little secluded coves. Isn’t that what a creek is??? NOT!! There were so many masts it appeared as though we were in a nightmare of pick-up-sticks. Oh did we wish for our familiar, safe, H ball at Put-In-Bay. OK, pick a spot and hope for the best. Saturday morning we met with Marci, the contact for show employment. As we are filling out the employment forms, I’m silently mouthing to Gary “OCTOBER 21st??? We can’t do that!?” And he is mouthing back “We’re already committed!” We certainly didn’t want to back-peddle, since our friends D & Don gave us a good recommendation, but we also knew we were committed to Jim and Missy from Myassis Dragon, who were planning to vacation with us from October 16 through November 2. In the blink of an eye, we are now both Sail and Power Boat Show indentured employees. We spent the rest of Saturday leisurely exploring Annapolis and drinking Painkillers at Pusser’s, although it was quite an eye-opening experience when we paid a tab that equaled our combined first day’s pay, which we hadn‘t yet earned. Now everything is in perspective. ***COMMERCIAL BREAK*** BOATERS!!! SAVE BIG $$$ ON MARINE SUPPLIES AND ELECTRONICS!!! http://www.frugalcaptain.com/ Call Captain Gary for a quote. 734-645-5361 Now back to our program... Gary was on duty before me on Sunday. He was very excited as he dinghyed away that morning, but we were both surprised at how much we did NOT want to be apart after being together 24/7 since September 1st. I used the time wisely by polishing stainless, sanding, and varnishing. HUGE MISTAKE. I had no clue my fingers would be raw, just in time to start erecting over 200 show tents the following day. What is wrong with this picture? I am the TALENT, not the LABOR CREW! Or at least I was, in my other life! And so it goes, a routine of 10 to 12 hour days, from dawn to dusk, doing the jobs that others did… before I used to show up in time to perch on a chair and chat with customers. Gary was on Floor Crew, I was on Tent Crew and, along with our co-workers, we built the Annapolis Boat Shows from bottom to top. After the first day, I literally begged Gary to get us out of this!!! I cried all the way back to Tessa in the dinghy. Gary insisted that we would enjoy the camaraderie and new friendships. I insisted that we had enough friends and we didn’t need any more f#*!#n* friends. Please don’t make me get up in the middle of the night 17 times, crawl into the damp dinghy, and use tools that I never ever wanted to know about. But, thanks to Gary’s optimism, we persevered. The most amazing part of it all was that everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves. WHY WOULD THESE PEOPLE VOLUNTARILY DO THIS YEAR AFTER YEAR?? Now, in hindsight, it all becomes clear. The camaraderie and new friendships are priceless. We learned so much from so many experienced cruisers and we met some of the most amazing people. The first morning I made a b-line to Starbucks and there began my friendship with Alice. You can’t meet Alice and not immediately begin laughing, even at 6:00 a.m. The best way to describe her is “a piece of work”. And I mean that in the most complimentary way. Her smile and laugh are so contagious that you start to wonder how one person could be so happy, especially while painfully erecting or folding tents. Her optimism and energy made the grueling work tolerable. Almost even fun at times! She drives a golf cart like a bumper car, and we laughed till we cried when she backed into something right in front of Ed, the OWNER of the shows. Our tent team consisted of our leader, Nancy, her main man Harry, Archie from St. Lucia, Irene the amazing single hander of seven years, Mark & Joan, Alice, and last but certainly not least, 23 year old Hayden. It’s hard to describe Hayden. You almost need to EXPERIENCE Hayden! He has the most infectious laugh and absolutely incredible smile. Gary said he looks like a Viking, but no Viking ever giggled like Hayden. Even though I was convinced that I didn’t need any more friends, this group changed all that. Alice, Archie, Irene, Hayden and I quickly learned that we had a common interest. HAPPY HOUR! We sought out the cheapest beers and free food to stretch our cruising kittys. And we laughed and laughed and laughed some more. Where we found the energy to have so much fun is a mystery to me, as most days Gary and I were so exhausted we could barely climb up out of the dinghy onto Tessa. Our routine was simple. Sleep, work, have a cocktail, a bite to eat, and sleep some more. Some nights we would dingy over to see Allison at the Annapolis Landing Marina to shower and do laundry. Conveniently located across Back Creek was Davis’s Pub. There was just enough time between cycles to dinghy over for a beer and a crab cake. Perfect! About five days into the show, Gary got the dreaded call from the Harbor Master. Tessa’s anchor had dragged! We hightailed it to Back Creek, fearing Tessa was bouncing off all the surrounding boats, only to find her safely tied to an end dock by anchor neighbors Mike and Judy McKendy from Sea Sharp (ay?). Thanks to the quick reactions of them and some other caring anchor neighbors, the only damage we sustained was clipping off our grill by the bow pulpit of another boat. Off it went into the nasty water. Judy saw it fall, directed us to the spot, and sure enough we felt it with the boat pole. Gary was determined to dive for it, since Jim and Missy had generously donated it for the trip. We knew Jim was planning on grilling up some great dishes during their vacation with us. On the first dive, he got a hold of it, but came up with just the cover. It was too cumbersome to get a hold of while holding his breath under water. Gary said Jim would make a sport of retrieving it, and decided to wait for his assistance. In the time it took for Tessa to drag, two boats pulled into our vacated space, so we decided to try anchoring in Spa Creek South Anchorage where there is more space and deeper water. The muck that comes up with the anchor makes a nasty mess, so Gary ordered a wash down pump along with our new Fortress anchor. We do not like dragging a lot. Jim and Missy arrived on October 16. We celebrated by heading to the Ram’s Head for appetizers and then McGarvey’s for their famous mussels and clams. Jim and Missy quickly fit in with our band of merry tent crew and we had a great time. One very special night we were invited to Archie’s boat for cocktails. He bought Janey, named after his mother, at the Annapolis Sailboat Show two years ago. She’s a beautiful Tartan 34. We had begun to use the water taxi once Jim and Missy arrived, as the dinghy was a bit too small for four of us. We had the taxi pick Hayden up on the way. The two bottles of wine we brought along ran out way before we were ready to go, so Archie rooted around under his sink and came up with a “crusty” jug of Chablis, which tasted good once we determined there was nothing unusual floating in it! Archie was a perfect host and D.J., spinning all kinds of island tunes and narrating the lyrics for us. Once Missy looked at the time and alerted us it was going on 10:00, we scurried back to Tessa and set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. Our turn to relieve Security the next morning. By this time we have transitioned from the Sailboat Show to the Powerboat Show. During both, Gary and I worked the front lines taking tickets and putting on an endless number of wrist bands. Marci and Jay were very accommodating to couples, keeping us on the same work schedules and lunch breaks, so there were some nice chances to lunch with Jim and Missy. Most evenings we enjoyed wonderful dinners on board Tessa, since Chef Jim volunteered to cook for us. Monday was the dreaded teardown day. Somehow Pete, Archie, Irene and I drew the short straws and got stuck in the “Boneyard”. This is where countless fork lifts deliver pallets filled with the tent hardware, side walls, and tops to be disassembled and folded. The goal is to stay ahead of the pallets to keep everything from forming chaotic piles. Toward the end of the long painful day, Marci commented that she loved making order out of chaos and had done it for EIGHT YEARS. I couldn’t help myself, the question just slipped out. Had she ever considered seeking therapy?? She laughed, kind of. And she thanked me at the end of the day, so I don’t think she was too insulted. Tuesday, our final night in Annapolis, we had a fantastic going away party that started at the Ram’s Head with free oysters on the half shell, Old Bay Shrimp and $2.50 great microbrews. Then off to Armadillos to hear Jim’s favorite band “JarFlys”. Before the first note of the first song, Alice was on the dance floor, and soon the rest of us followed. Shots of tequila turns everyone into a fine dancer. Even though there was a lot of alcohol involved, the hugs and kisses and tears at the end of the night were for real. Alice said she felt like she was losing her family. Don’t you worry Alice, we’ll be together again. And we will NEVER forget you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #8

buffering in Annapolis...

Friday, October 3, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #7

Video supplement to "The Realities of Cruising".

"The Realities of Cruising"

Thursday Afternoon October 2 After reading Update 6, if you started thinking of overused clichés like “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade” or “Every cloud has a silver lining”, there actually are a few downsides to cruising. Here is a cruising reality check: 1. Trying to stop leaks is a losing battle. No matter what you do, WATER WINS! 2. SALTWATER SUCKS! Just swirl the rim of a glass around any surface top-side, add tequila and you got yourself a margarita with salt. It coats everything and ,oh by the way, it totally destroyed my Watco Teak Finish on the teak decks. So much for that $100 investment and four days worth of work. 3. If you leave anything open or out of place, you will most definitely step in it or trip over it. Which leads to the discovery that band aids don’t last on a boat. The paper package sticks to the band-aid, which doesn’t stick to anything after you finally get it open. 4. If you stay down below while underway long enough, you will eventually get that “OH DEAR GOD PLEASE DON’T LET ME GET SEASICK” feeling. Time for a gingersnap break. (Thanks Phil!) 5. If it rains, everything feels damp, even pages in books. Never knew towels could smell THAT bad. 6. Ice will drain the cruising kitty in a hurry. We should have listened to Walt and Vicky and bought the d#*! icemaker. I thought it would take up too much room. In hindsight, I will gladly sleep with it in our bunk if we can find one. Will Gary think he’s getting the cold shoulder?? 7. Going from 4000 Verizon minutes to 900 is a difficult adjustment. How could I burn through 900 minutes in the first two weeks of the month?? If you are talking to Gary, this is why you will hear me screaming in the background “TELL THEM TO READ THE BLOG AND HANG UP!” 8. Things frequently break or are in need of repair. Then comes the thrashing around in tool boxes and slamming of drawers and closets and the anticipated question “Darling did you see that little thingamajig that was sitting right here?” To which I reply “Sitting where since when?” To which he replies “Right here, since right before we left Port Clinton.” To which I reply “I threw that away yesterday.” And so it continues. 9. Pump Outs Rule. Everyone knows that feeling of impending urgency when you have to go to the bathroom? I kid you not, that’s how you subconsciously start to feel when the holding tank is nearing full. And there is no better feeling of relief than after a good pump out. Tessa feels lighter and relaxed. So do we. 10. So far, 50 feet of boat is still big enough for two. Or is Tessa a GulfStar 40? I’m not sure now. Pretty sure she’s 50.. but maybe not……… Back to being positive and upbeat! We entered the C&D Canal (short for Chesapeake and Delaware) Tuesday morning and I began an internet search for affordable dockage. We knew the anchor windlass motor would arrive somewhere at best on Thursday and were cringing at spending three more days at a dock. Called Mike and Debby for advice since Mike’s house is in Wilmington Delaware. He suggested Chesapeake City. The dock master at Chesapeake Inn & Marina said they didn’t have enough water for Tessa but suggested tying up to the free City Municipal Dock if there was room. Gary was sure I made a mistake hearing him. A free dock? Can’t be right. But just in case, Captain decided to blow the doors off the other boats we were cruising behind and kicked it up a couple of knots. Good call Captain Gary!! We glided up to the city cock and gleefully read the sign. DOCKAGE $0. 24 HOUR MAXIMUM. Gary went up to City Hall to check in and pay the $10.00 for electricity. He charmed Doris like he does all the girls, and came back reporting that Doris said of course we could stay longer if we were having a “boat emergency.” Life is good. We now have dockage money burning a hole in our pocket, so off we go the The Tap Room, which was highly recommended by Mike & Debby for crabs n beer. We tried the old bay shrimp and it was great. Saving crabs for Wednesday night. We took a walk around Chesapeake City and found it to be a very charming little town. Back to Tessa for boat chores, then to the Chesapeake Inn for the best spicy mussel appetizer we’ve ever had. That was good enough for dinner along with a few beers. Wednesday morning was bright and sunny and we felt like we were on vacation. No high seas looming ahead, just minimal boat chores, so let’s relax a bit. The Bohemia Café was a great spot for coffee, tea, and restrooms, not in that order. We split the Belgian Waffle and both agreed it did not stand a chance against Ken Turvey’s waffles. No comparison! At the café, we chatted briefly with our French Canadian dock mates from “Raksha“, home port Lake Champlain.. They introduced themselves as Pierre and Francoise. I suspected they may have just been humoring us Americans with common French names we could grasp. (We emailed today and those really ARE their names. ) And what a wonderful couple they are. Since it was warm and calm, Gary suggested I jump in the dinghy and scrub the grungy stained water line. So much for minimal boat chores. But it so needed to be done, and I was very successful with this new magic potion we bought at LBI. Tessa is sparkly again. Wednesday night, we invited Pierre and Francoise to join us to crack crabs at The Tap Room. It was their first experience, but they turned out to be pros at it. We had a great time together. Too bad they didn’t have any left-overs for a crab salad lunch today. This morning we received some good news. Our cruising friends D & Don Wogaman had put in a good word for us at the Annapolis Boat Show. They worked it quite a few times to pad their cruising kitty. When we first spoke, Marci said she had a full staff with a waiting list of helpers. Today she had some cancellations and asked how soon we could be there, so tomorrow we high-tail it to Annapolis. But tonight, we share those wonderful mussels again, this time with Pierre and Francoise. We will celebrate the arrival and successful installation of the new windlass motor, and the fact that Gary only bled from his head once for a short period of time. Hi-Ho Hi-Ho it’s off to work we go…….

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #6

Video supplement to, "Cape May...be another delay" entry.

CAPE MAY...be another delay?

Tuesday September 30 “It was meant to be.” If we hadn’t gotten weathered in at LBI, we would have missed out on two more great evenings with Patti and Phil. We wouldn’t have gotten to know the Beach Haven Yacht Club Marina family so well, who surprised us with a much appreciated dockage discount for our extended stay. We welcomed spending more time with “SailBoat Linda” and her lovely daughters Coral and Pearl. I tried to absorb as much of Linda’s confidence and calming influence as possible. She has made the trip south 25 times and had lots of valuable information and stories to share. Now I have her phone number saved and can instantly phone a friend! She is really a gem, just like the beautiful beach glass jewelry she crafts. Gary got to talk more captain to captain with Towboat U.S. Captain Rick. We chatted a lot more with our buddy DockMaster Ernie as he assisted with fun Tessa chores like pump outs. Gary corrected radio functions, got the radar up and running, and installed a new depth sounder. After knowing Ernie for less than two weeks, I knew I would miss him as he waved goodbye to us from the dock early Saturday morning. If we hadn’t experienced the long harrowing night from New York to Long Beach Island, the 10 to 12 foot swells this past Saturday may have been scary. The “fear bar” has definitely been raised, and we actually enjoyed the nine hour trip to Cape May. Entering Cape May Harbor anchorage, we heard Tessa being hailed on the VHF. It was Solweig II, our Canadian dock partners on the Hudson at Hyde Park with good ole Captain Joe! Who would have guessed that we’d end up in the same anchorage after the delays south. Turns out they experienced their own delays. We had a great time sharing stories over a nice hot meal on Solweig prepared by Wayne and Lyndal. If we hadn’t been delayed, the stop in Cape May wouldn’t have coincided with my Cuzzin Chuckie‘s vacation. Sunday morning we dinghied into the recommended Utsch’s Marina to check out dock locations, since we knew Chuckie and family wouldn’t be able to dinghy out to an anchorage to see Tessa. Utsch’s is a top notch marina with excellent facilities. They even give you a welcome bag of soaps, biscotti, and a really nice bottle of private labeled wine. How good is that? We spent a memorable day with Chuckie, Linda, and Cara on Sunday. After meeting Tessa for the first time, they treated us to a fantastic lunch at their favorite watering hole, followed by a sightseeing trip of Cape May. Cara wasn’t having any fun at all!! I had to hold her hand as we walked to keep both her feet on the ground, she was so excited. That afternoon, I leaned on Cuzzin Chuckie, the Waitkus Family Fishing Expert, to help me choose a used rod and reel at his favorite tackle shop. The guy running the shop took a major shot at us sail boaters, said he can spot us right away because we want one rod, one reel, and one lure to catch every kind of fish in any body of water. SO what’s wrong with being FRUGAL? (Notice the FRUGAL CAPTAIN plug here.) He tried to steer us to a more expensive rig, but there was one certain rod that kept calling to us. I pulled it from the rack with Chuckie’s approval, dubbing it “an old work horse.” He helped me rig it up, so now BIG CHUCK is part of the Tessa crew. Chuckie saw us off early Monday morning as we headed out to the Atlantic toward the Delaware Bay. On our way out of Utsch’s slip, a sailboat neighbor asked if we knew the “short cut” around Cape May by hugging the beach, and invited us to follow them. Gary commented on the shorter route “ This will be fortuitous…. I hope.” Surely they draw as much as we do, since they’re about the same size, right? We stuck to Amazon like glue and slammed through the waves right behind them until they came on the radio and announced “we only draw four and a half feet and will be cutting across from here.” No thanks Amazon, we’ll go it alone from here following the shipping channel up the Delaware Bay. Do not let the word BAY fool you! It is a huge body of water with no sight of land across the majority of it, kicking up big choppy ocean-like waves for the first 10 miles (couple of hours) up the bay. Gary screamed from the cockpit and I ran above just in time to see a huge ,easy ten feet across, Manta Ray break the surface and do a flip for the third time right next to Tessa. What a cool sight (and where‘s the camera?)! Once the Bay began to narrow, the waves subsided a bit and I was able to throw BIG CHUCK out to catch dinner. I reeled in quickly when I saw the dipsy diver pop to the surface, to find my one and only lure chomped off at the steel leader! Darn! Looks like all we’re having for dinner are porterhouse steaks and sautéed mushrooms (with Myassis Dragon reduction sauce). Gary solicited advice from the closest TowBoat U.S. Captain Kevin out of Indian River, DE, who was really helpful but wanted us to go all the way to Delaware City to dock. This would have us arriving in the dark, something we agreed to avoid. So instead we took Sailboat Linda’s advise and headed for the anchorage in front of the Salem Power Plant at the entrance to the Delaware River. Just before dark, after picking our way through the crab pots, Gary signaled for me to drop the anchor. Except I had no power when I pushed the foot controls. Gary scrambled below and rigged up another battery, but still nothing. Last resort, pull the 3/8 inch chain from the locker by hand (his, not mine!) and drop the 65 pound CQR Plow and about 100 feet of chain manually. While I fixed dinner, Gary systematically checked the system and discovered the worst. The Ideal Windlass motor was shot. He got on line and sent an SOS to Ideal, and we went to bed hoping nothing kicked up in the night to which we would have to try to reposition Tessa. That would be a disaster. Captain Gary was up most of the night while I slept soundly knowing he would protect us from harm. So now I am up at dawn, well rested , writing my update and wondering what is in store for us as we find a safe harbor to have a new motor delivered. No worries, it can’t be all that bad. Whatever happens is just meant to be!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #5

Video supplement to the September 25th entry.

Thursday September 25 Our routine at Long Beach Island since last Sunday: Wake up to howling wind with Tessa surging and heeling at the dock as though we are underway in choppy seas. Determine the cause of unidentified bumps and thumps. Adjust dock lines and move bumpers. Log on to NWS forecast for a weather update. Read out loud to each other and groan with frustration. Check Northeast Buoy Reports. Groan some more. Head up to the showers and dump another $4.00 into the laundry facilities. Every other day, walk to Uncle Will’s Diner for their famous 222. Two eggs, two meats, and two pancakes for $2.22. PERFECT for sailors on a cruising budget. Pay Marlene at the office $100 clams for another day of dockage. Get harassed by Rick the TowBoat U.S. Captain about getting our butts handed to us if we venture out. Get harassed by jovial Ernie the Dockmaster about getting to see him another couple of days. Start Tessa projects. Walk to the local Tru-Value hardware store and Morrison’s Marine to spend money on parts and accessories. Take a break from projects at noon for a beach walk. Struggle to make headway in the ripping winds and abort beach walk. Walk around Beach Haven and try not to spend any money. Abort that also and return to Tessa. Work on projects until it is finally 5:00 and time for Happy Hour at Tucker’s. Meet up with our new friends and savor a cheap draft beer and a couple $5.00 appetizers for dinner. Enjoy the comraderie and hear stories from the locals. Head back to Tessa and drift off to sleep to howling wind with Tessa STILL surging and heeling at the dock as though we are underway in choppy seas. We’ve been traveling these choppy seas for four days and haven’t made a lick of headway to Cape May New Jersey, our next destination!! Truthfully, we’ve made memories to treasure here at LBI with family and some new friends. Due to the weather delays we have also gotten “bonus time” with Cuzzins Patti and Phil, who own the beach house that our family has had the pleasure of vacationing in for many summers. Phil heads to their home in Philadelphia each Monday and returns on Thursday afternoon, so we will have the pleasure of dining together again at the Black Whale tonight. Patti gets around town on what I have dubbed her ROBO-BIKE, so we’ve visited with her each afternoon. Another bonus by being delayed…Patti’s brother cuzzin Chuckie and family, INCLUDING CARA, are vacationing at Cape May next week. Assuming the updated forecast is correct, we will arrive there Saturday or Sunday and get to spend some unexpected quality time with them. Until then, we are staying positive and enjoying the journey without spending too much time worrying about the final destination, which is sounding more and more like Key Biscayne. Captain Gary called his buddy Peter from the Great White Party Excursion Catamaran that he captained last year. Peter was so pleased to hear from him, as he had lost Gary’s cell phone number and resorted to sending a letter to reach him regarding their need for him to return. They want their favorite Captain back! According to Peter, they have a mooring ball with Tessa’s name on it, so long as it’s still available in December. Starting to sound like a plan! But there is lots in store for Tessa between now and then. Our friends Jim and Missy from Myassis Dragon will jump on board in Baltimore and cruise with us for two weeks. Boardwalk Captain Don Dunn may hook up with us at Cape Fear. Chas will join us in North Carolina and cruise for as long as he has leave from Fort Bragg. We plan to hook up with our great friends Dave and Lynnette Werning in early December in Florida, and then Dick and Molly from Molly B when they personally deliver Gary’s Jeep, which Molly is driving from Port Clinton to Fort Meyers. Our crazy friends Jaclyn and Lenny Kromer have promised to visit along the way, what better reason for Jacklyn to take her very first plane ride??? David and Sandy already have their Florida vacation plans between Christmas and New Years. Mom, Cindy, and Alivia are itching to get to Florida during the cold winter months. And what, everyone asks, about Nick and Lynne James? How can the Milsons survive without them? Hopefully we won’t have to for long. Can’t think of a better place than Tessa for a big 40th Birthday Party for Li’l Buddy come October 31st. Thank you all for your concern about our safety during this weather delay. Trust me, we are not going anywhere unless the conditions are favorable and safe. IF you can trust the forecasts. The only time they have been correct since September 2 has been this past Monday through today, when the forecast was terrible. When was the last time the forecast was correct for four days in a row?????????? Love to all!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #4

Video supplement to New York, New York entry. Not sure why YouTube makes Lori's voice so faint.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New York, New York

Friday September 19 Mission Accomplished! Yesterday we celebrated Mom’s 81st birthday together at Long Beach Island New Jersey. It has been an emotional rollercoaster since we sailed by the Statue of Liberty and I found myself postponing the update while trying to get back on an even keel. I now truly understand the meaning of that saying! Not sure about the guys, but I was overwhelmed with emotion as we entered the New York Harbor last Sunday afternoon. I’ve never felt such a feeling of accomplishment, and was so proud of my Captain, Tessa, and her crew. We raised celebratory signal flags that said “PROUD TO BE AMERICAN” and “HELLO FROM PIB OH”. It got very quiet on board as we passed Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty came into view ahead in the haze. Everyone seemed to be lost in their own thoughts. Then you could almost hear symbols crashing and the Star Spangled Banner playing as she came into view! It was SPECTACULAR!! Helmsman Tom Carroll navigated through the crazy boat traffic like a trained professional, but I got major a stink eye when I asked if we could turn around and go by her again. After all the anticipation, it happened so fast and was over too soon, but ahead loomed the Atlantic Ocean and the last leg of the voyage for our crew. Time to get back to business. Without forecast or warning, it seems the hurricane force winds that were pounding everyone at home in Ohio reached us out in the Atlantic. The predicted 10-15 knot winds with gusts to 20 knots, instead blew a constant 30 knots with gusts to 40, waves 6 to 8 feet with an occasional 10 footer. Tessa was challenged beyond any expectation. Every single item down below, including anybody that dared venture below, was tossed around with such force that I feared even bones could be broken. Oh, and did I mention the course planned to Long Beach Island was expected to take us from 4:00 p.m. Sunday until just after dawn Monday morning? Fourteen hours of this?? Not possible. No way. A few years ago, Tessa was knocked down during an unexpected storm reporting 60 mph winds while Westside Steve, Suzie, Nick and Lynne were on board. It could easily have been a life threatening situation. Westside Steve dedicated a song to Gary on his birthday this year. During the intro, he said “I always told people it was Captain Gary that saved our lives that day. I wonder if it was just The Tessa that did it. She said “You just hang onto the wheel, Son, and I’ll get you through this.” Little did Steve know that Captain Gary would take comfort in those words on this long arduous night. And Tessa came through for us all, just as Steve predicted. I’m not sure how each crew member felt about this experience through the night. We didn’t really have much chance to rehash it. Honestly, I never thought we were in danger of dying. I just couldn’t fathom being beat up like that for 14 hours, which turned into about 20 once we reached the Little Egg Harbor Inlet. I tried the red wine/sleep-aid trick, but a wave hit and the entire glass spilled on our bunk. After that I just prayed for sleep to make the time go by. I had it easy! Our brave crew had the tough job of navigating through the night. When I peeked up through the cockpit at dawn Monday morning, George gave me a great big smile, like he was actually enjoying himself. What troopers these guys were. Since Gary worked for Rescue Marine Tow Boat U.S. this summer, he decided to contact the local Tow Boat Captain for advise on getting to safe harbor at LBI. What a pleasant surprise to have a Boat U.S. escort by Captain Rick through the tricky channel, which no one else thought we could get through. Low tide and a few Tessa problems caused us to anchor for the night about a mile prior to the Beach Haven Yacht Club. Gary and I went for a dinghy ride to scope things out and snapped some beautiful sunset and moon shots before mosquitoes attacked. While we were gone, Tom Carroll and George began making their departure arrangements on Amtrak out of Atlantic City Tuesday morning. Tom Kelleher wanted to hook up with an old Army buddy, so he postponed his departure until Wednesday. Tessa sure seems empty without our crew, but it was certainly time for them to return to their women and their lives. We can’t thank the guys enough for all of their help and valued friendships these last two weeks. What a journey we shared! Now Gary and I are regrouping and organizing ourselves for the next leg of the voyage to Cape May New Jersey. The winds have blown mean and steady since we arrived at LBI and the forecast doesn’t show it calming down until first part of next week. Keep your fingers crossed for us. We paid for this dock until Tuesday and aren’t anxious to shell out any more dough here at LBI! Let’s get this party started down the East coast!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #3

Video Supplement to the "Takin' Care of Business" entry.

Takin' Care of Business

Wednesday September 10 We are on the home stretch to finish the canal and begin the new journey down the Hudson River. We got under way early but experienced some delays at the first few canals, which left us all looking over our shoulders expecting Yasumi to come around the bend. Captain Gary instructed his helmsman Tom Carroll to kick it up a notch so that we could make Lock 6 before 3:30. They call locks 6 through 2 the “Flight of Five” and once you enter lock 6, you must be able to clear them all before 5:00 p.m. We breathed a collective sigh of relief as we entered lock 6. I think I spoke for everyone when I said “I am SO OVER the Erie Canal!” Nick James picked the appropriate song for Video Update 2, it truly has been a lovely cruise, all the way through today which was absolutely gorgeous. But we are all very anxious to take care of business, and make it to the Statue of Liberty by Sunday. We arrived at Castleton Boat Club on the Hudson in time to tie up to a dock and have a Chicken Taco party before crashing early. Tomorrow is the big day when the masts are to be stepped and everyone is anxious. Thursday September 11 Mother Nature is really on our side. It is a sunny, beautiful, and most importantly calm day for stepping masts. The crew got busy in a hurry and the Mizzen was ready to go up in no time. Once it was upright, things got unnerving when it began to list sideways, and the two Toms became big time mast huggers. Everyone stayed calm and the Main went up next without a hitch. Guess who motored by ?? First Scott Free, and then……..Yasumi with masts still down!! I snapped a picture and Nick James will have to zoom in and see if Captain Tightass is visible. (The spell check changed it to Captain Tights on the last update.) We motored across the river and tied off on a mooring ball for the big Mast Stepping Celebration that I promised the crew “IF nothing got broke“. We splurged on Martinis, appetizers, Porterhouse steaks with sautéed portabella mushrooms, and a bottle of Clos Du Bois cabernet sauvignon. It was a fun, peaceful evening. Friday September 12 Howling wind woke Captain Gary at 4:00 a.m. Castleton warned us to keep an eye on the weather, since their mooring balls were not rated to secure a boat of our size in heavy wind. Gary decided to throw off the lines and take off, except the mooring ball was not visible! With the shifting current and wind, it was fouled underneath Tessa. After about an hour, it reappeared and we were able to depart. The weather continued to be miserable all day with rain, 30 knot winds on our bow, and strong current working against us the first half of the day. Late afternoon the crew was beat, so we picked the first marina that could accommodate Tessa. Captain Joe of Hyde Park Marina sounded friendly enough in a New York sort of way on the phone, until he told me his rate was ONLY $2.00 a foot. The big billboard advertised a restaurant, and red flags went off when he told us it burnt down in 2006. No problem, Captain Joe will drive us to a nearby restaurant, were we ready to go right away? Not without a few cocktails Captain Joe!! Never mind, Cookie will make Pasta with Italian Sausage. We watched a movie and stayed up later than ever, until 9:00! Saturday September 13 This morning is damp but very calm, so the crew got down to business taking Gary up both masts. It was a challenging three hour project ending with an Eggs Benedict reward. Then on down the Hudson toward the Statue of Liberty. Tom Carroll has been our helmsman every day, with George at his side as Watch Commander. This relieves Captain Gary to work on boat projects with the assistance of Sparky. It became more and more scenic as we progressed south. Lots of landmarks including West Point, which was really majestic looking. I began calling marinas for dockage overnight, and now the going rate is $3.00 per foot. We connected with a nice guy from Hook Mountain Yacht Club who invited us to anchor for free. The anchorage is absolutely gorgeous with the Tappan Zee Bridge in the foreground. The Toms and I explored a very cool town called Nyack. I spotted a fun looking spot called the Black Bear Saloon where the friendly bartender even bought our second round of beers. We ordered hot wings to go and added them to our BBQ chicken and pork for a protein fest. I don’t think George has injested more than 10 carbs in two weeks. I fully expect Jo to swoon when she sees him. The rest of us would also be doing well diet-wise except for Marlene’s XL jug of Crack. (Combination of M&Ms with other evil sweet and salty stuff. We call it crack because it is so addicting. I regret asking her to make it for the crew since I have eaten most of it! Tomorrow the big day we’ve been anticipating. The Statue of Liberty!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #2

Video supplement to the "Adventure Continues" part 2 blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Adventure Continues Part 2

The Adventure Continues Part 2 SATUDAY SEPTEMBER 6 OK…maybe it was a little too much information. Unbeknownst to me, the guys had decided to significantly downplay the events of Thursday evening, which led to a few questioning comments from the ladies. They should have told me it was a “need to know” basis and the ladies DIDN’T need to know about the conditions that night! It was a warm sunny morning in Medina New York. Departing, we observed that the canal actually crosses over a river, which was an interesting sight. After clearing six lift bridges, we were advised that the Park Avenue bridge in Brockport was being repaired, so we tied off and went exploring Brockport. It is a busy little college town with a great main street lined with shops, pubs, and restaurants. I had to rush Tom Kelleher (Historian) through the Saturday Peddler’s Market to be sure he didn’t drag some “real deals” back to the boat. I did approve a purchase of some wonderful peaches by Tom Carroll (Helmsman), and we were so glad because they were the sweetest peaches any of us had ever tasted. “JIMMY Z’s TEXAS HOTS” was screaming Captain Gary’s name, so we stopped there for lunch. You can order a red hot or a white hot, but the heat actually comes from hot sauce, not the hot dog or brat. It’s a New York thing which earned Captain’s approval. Gary never met a hot dog he didn’t like! After three more lift bridges, we went through locks 33 and 32 and made it to the west side of lock 30 at 6:15. During September, the locks close at 5:00 p.m., which cuts two hours out of your travel day. To maximize travel, the goal is to tie up west of the last dock you can get to before dark, for a 7:00 am departure the next morning. Fairport is another great village to stroll through, but we didn’t dine there as Gary’s famous “Chuck Burgers” were thawed out and ready to grill. After a twelve hour day, everyone was ready to crawl into their bunks as soon as their stomachs were full! SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 7 This day our goal was to clear seven locks and make it to the west side of lock 24 in Baldwinsville, which resulted in another 12 hour travel day. It was the first damp, dreary, drizzly day but it didn’t dampen our spirits much. Captain Gary and crew worked on the mounting for our new Gamin 24HD radar system, which will scan forty eight nautical miles once the masts are back up. Toward the end of the day I asked George how he was doing, to which he replied “Same Old, Same Old”. Admittedly, we have gotten pretty darn good at this lock thing, but we don’t want to get cocky about it until the last gate closes at lock 2. (There is no lock 1) Up until today, we had the canal to ourselves and getting in and out of the locks was quick and easy. Today we were shadowed by another sail boat, Yasumi, that although they were not able to maintain the same speed as Tessa from lock to lock, caught up with us at each lock. The lockmasters all communicate and we figured that they intended for us to wait in each lock until Yasumi arrived , since they knew she was following us. This translated into an irritating delay. Thankfully we had Admiral Hank’s Chili to look forward to and it was the perfect meal to warm us after a long damp day. MONDAY SEPTEMBER 8 “ISN’T THIS GREAT?!“ Captain Gary couldn’t help but quote a Captain Ron line as we departed Baldwinsville. It was an absolutely beautiful morning! The sun was shining and it was so calm the water looked like a mirror reflecting every image. You’d be surprised how you grow to appreciate lack of wind when you got no sails! We followed the Garmin chart around a small island and cheered as a bald eagle soared right by Tessa. The scenery was amazing. At Donny Dunn’s request, we made a stop at Brewerton at Ess-Kay Yard to pick up a t-shirt for him. They were out of shirts, so instead we took advantage of their pump out station, restrooms, showers, and replenished ice. It was a sunny, relaxing four hour cruise across Oneida Lake. In the next lock, we came upon a 75 foot cruiser from the Cayman Islands named “Scott Free”. As we focused on keeping Tessa away from the slimy wall with our boat poles, we watched in amazement as the Captain of Scott Free maneuvered the boat away from the wall with only the thrusters, while one of the deck hands sprayed the wall with a high pressure hose on the way down the lock…just in case one of their bumpers did touch! This evening, Scott Free and Tessa both arrived to the west of lock 20 and tied up along the municipal wall, eventually followed by Yasumi. There was no village close by, just a picnic area with restrooms and a nice park. I looked around with dread as the mosquitoes swarmed, and ran below to close hatches and the companionway door. Mosquitoes have ruined many a wonderful trip for me, and these chased everyone down below except for Tom Carroll. While we were holed up, Tom chatted with the attractive young woman who George had pegged as the Captain of Yasumi after observing their lock performances. (Actually, every Tessa crew member was observing her performance except for me. Hmmmmm.) George was right. She and her fiancé own Yasumi, and she was taking another couple and her future in-laws down the canal. I asked Tom Kelleher to poke his head out the companionway and ask Tom Carroll to grill our pork loin. We had a nice time talking and reminiscing over dinner. TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 9 We awoke to thunder, lightning, and light rain at 6:00 am. We were anxious to get underway to gain some ground on Yasumi or it would be another day of playing catch up. Yesterday I telephoned Castleton Marina on the Hudson River, where we will step the masts, to inform them of our ETA Wednesday evening. At this point we are the only ones on their schedule, but it’s first-come-first-served. Now we had two reasons to distance ourselves from “Captain Tights” , which I had fondly named her. Any woman reading this knows why she wore her rain gear overalls peeled down below her….oh never mind. As soon as it becomes competitive, it also becomes stressful. We approached lock 19 feeling triumphant that Yasumi was no where in sight, to be told by the lockmaster that we had a 10 minute wait. Which turned into a 20 minute wait, which allowed Yasumi to catch up! Gary growled “This Lockmaster, I don’t like him a lot!” He wasn’t trying to be funny. It was the longest wait before, during, and after the lock that we had experienced so far. It’s time to bust ass outta here. Except…..just when we lost them, ahead through the rain and mist looms a barge and a tug blocking our way! They radioed it would be 10 minutes, which became 20, and again here comes Yasumi! Her appeal was fading fast. The good news is, after we took off like a scalded cat at lock 20, they were unable to catch us and we are now successfully tied off a municipal wall half way between lock 13 and 12. Tomorrow morning we hightail it to lock 12 and hopefully exit the canal into Hudson River late tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned for more…….

Sunday, September 7, 2008

TESSA UPDATE #1

Dear Friends, “Cookie” here to update everyone on our progress. Sorry it took so long, we have been going almost non-stop since we departed from PIB. TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 2. The departure was very memorable. After our bon voyage waffle breakfast at Ken Turvey’s, we were greeted at the Boardwalk by Dave and Lynnette, WestSide Steve and Suzie, Sue and Pinky, Jim from Myassis Dragon, Robin and Matt from North Bass, Marlene and Chas. Marv Booker presented us with a bottle of Opus One autographed with a bon voyage note. He said to enjoy it for a special occasion and I have decided that will be when we put the masts back up. You will understand why this event deserves an Opus One toast after reading the rest of the story! Nick James along with Myassis Dragon and WestSide organized some surprises for our departure. First, Jim presented us with a huge blow-up “H” ball to take wherever we go. He also delivered a to-go bag for Cookie, of white truffle butters, fresh basil, reduction sauce, dragon wings, and home grown tomatoes and peppers. WHAT A TREAT! As we were pulling away from H ball, West Side’s (tribute to Gary) version of Son-of-a-Son-of-a-Sailor was blaring from the new Boardwalk sound system. Next we heard Bob Gatewood’s Friends of the Bay and Gotta Go, while everyone was waving and taking pictures. Myassis Dragon with Chas on board escorted us out of the harbor. Gary was disappointed because we didn’t see Donnie Dunn at the boardwalk as promised.. We certainly didn’t expect he and Lauren to come racing up in his go-fast boat as we were just outside of Gibralter. They jumped on board and we towed the boat behind us for a few miles just beyond Kellys Island. Don had many experiences to share about going through the Erie Canal out to the ocean,. He really got the crew pumped up with anticipation. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided not to cooperate and we had just a slight breeze on our nose all the way to Erie PA. We motored through the night with the guys on watches. Captain Gary and Tom Kelleher were 9:00 pm to 1:00 am, Watch Commander George Hipp and Tom Carroll were on 1:00 am to 5:00 am, then Gary and Tom were back on. I was granted reprieve since I am the chef and galley wench, but when Gary came into our stateroom to put jeans on at 3:00 am, I couldn’t resist joining them to star gaze. It was AWESOME. Gary and Tom saw three shooting stars. The entire crew agreed that even though we had to motor all the way, it was a wonderful experience. Everyone enjoyed our first dinner of Chipotle Tortilla Crusted Tilapia accompanied by cilantro lime black beans. WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 3. Talk about a wonderful experience, Lund Boat Works hit a home run. We pulled into their slip in Erie PA at 1:00 pm Wednesday afternoon. We were warmly greeted by the smiling faces of Dave Green the manager and his crew of Dave and Nino. They inspired confidence from the start, and we needed a big dose of confidence to see the masts come down! It was almost 100 degrees and no breeze (thanks again Mother Nature) for the four hours everyone worked together to get the main down and secured in the cradle that Gary engineered and Tom Kelleher built. Tom Carroll said the magic words “let’s go get a drink” and he and Tom Kelleher and I went next door to RumRunners for a break. Later at quitting time I started slinging cocktails and a great party ensued until dark. The Lund crew and many of their friends and neighbors joined in. I felt like “Brandy” servin whiskey and wine to the sailors!! New friend Mike took Tom Carroll for provisions and a sightseeing ride. The rest of us were entertained mostly by Nino, you will be able to see his personality in the pictures. He is a single sailor who is hoping I can come up with a single friend for him. Since we had snacks and Myassis Dragon wings, I didn’t prepare dinner. Nino offered to pick up anything else we needed or take us anywhere we needed to go. They went above and beyond being hospitable. THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 4. The crew arrived at 8:00 am to take the Mizzen down and finish up with Nino completely swabbing down topsides sparkly clean. Dave said “we walk on the boat, we clean it up.” My friend Eran lives in Erie, I called her to say hello not expecting to see her with such short notice. She said “I’ll be there in 30 minutes!” so we had a great visit over lunch. After lots of handshakes and hugs, we departed at 3:30 pm and stopped to fill up with diesel before heading non-stop across Lake Erie to our next stop, the Erie Canal. Nino told me we were the nicest group of people they had come through there. I’d like to think he was sincere and not just buttering me up to find him a woman! We truly did have a wonderful experience with them, great people. The BITCH formally known as Mother Nature kicked Tessa’s butt all the way across the Lake Erie. Winds were NE 15-25 knots on our nose. The crew adjusted the straps holding the mast cradle in place numerous times, and Captain Gary ended up using every other available line on board as back up. We all watched uneasily as we crested each wave, hoping not to see anything flex. Once Gary was confident we were secure, our shift went to bed. Wind direction was supposed to change to 15-25 knots SE after midnight. George and Tom said it changed at 9 minutes after. Then all hell broke lose. Gary, Tom and I woke to crazy pitching and rolling, each wave slamming Tessa’s beam causing a big shudder. Winds picked up to 30-40 knots, 4-6 foot waves. I watched from the cockpit as Tom Kelleher became a human pin ball below, bouncing around trying to secure everything as it flew across the cabin. Even though I truly do have the utmost confidence in my Captain and Crew, it was the most frightened I have been in my life. It didn’t seem possible that the tremendous forces of wind and waves would not cause the cradle holding thousands of pounds of masts and booms to eventually give in. Everyone had proper lifesaving gear on. I figured if one life preserver was good, two would be better, right? Since I was the only one really scared, I sensed that I should remove myself from the cockpit and let the crew handle the situation. After a “Nightime Sleep Aid” with a red wine chaser, I was able to fall asleep surrounded by my doubled up life preservers. Thankfully all my fears went unfounded, and Tessa and her crew pulled us through unscathed. FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 5. Arrived at the Niagra River at 7:00 am. Crew seemed to be unaffected by the events of the night, everyone was cheerful and upbeat. (I was a little groggy from my sleepy time concoction, but happy to be alive!) We went through the Black Rock Lock (our first ever) successfully when it opened at 8, and the rest of the day was a great adventure. We entered the Erie Canal (waving at Wardel who couldn’t figure how our masts were down) and made it through the Medina Lock right before closing time at 5:00 pm. It was a great little Erie Canal town with everything travelers could need. Tom Kelleher took Gary and I to the local American Legion where we were warmly greeted and offered a free round of Blue Moon beers. They also gave Tom a gift to take back to his legion. Tom Carroll went out for a fish dinner. George was sound asleep in his bunk when we returned to prepare our dinner of Grilled Duck Breast with a blackberry, blueberry Grand Marnier sauce, compliments of Myassis Dragon. SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 6. I was advised by George that he NEVER wanted to sleep through a meal again! We departed Medina at 7:30 am. and will travel all day today through as many locks and we can get through until 5:00 pm. Hope this isn’t TMI, but I know you have all been very excited about our big adventure. We are having the time of our lives. The crew gets along beautifully, everyone contributing and working together as a great team. We’ve fallen into a nice pattern where things just seem to get done without much effort or planning. Special THANKS to the ladies who have sacrificed their men for the trip. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by these great guys. Especially my wonderful Captain!! Love to all!!