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 saut√©ed 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 fianc√© 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!!

The Adventure Begins

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!!