Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Phys. Ed.

After a week spent with family, and an endless supply of yummy treats, we are getting back to some exercise. Today, Phys. Ed. consisted of one daughter using the chainsaw to cut fresh wood for the fire pit, and the other dancing endlessly out in the yard to tunes on her new MP3 player. For those who know my daughters, go ahead, take a guess who was doing which activity!

Friday, December 13, 2013

SCUBA, For Now

I intend to write more on this, but for now, here is a link to the website of our SCUBA instructors. It has been a great experience, Howard and Rhonda are a great team, who were able to give our family the attention we needed. Even better are the photos they were able to get of our dives. We're headed out "solo" today, and this will really be a test of how well we paid attention during all of our instruction. looking forward to it, though photos will be sparse, as we do not own the fabulous little camera that can work deeper than 15 ft. of water.

For now, though:  www.HandRscuba.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter-y Stuff

Roasting marshmallows by the Franklin stove. It cooled off this evening.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Little Catching Up

It has been a while since I have been able to move photos from he camera, but I have finally done it (well at least most of the photos).  So what follows is a brief summary of our time so far in northern Florida.

Spending time in Tallahassee with dear friends that we haven't seen in years. We took the fun up high, to the adventure course in the trees above the Tallahassee Museum.

Waiting for the Tallahassee Veteran's Day Parade. It was a lot different from the one in Albany, the first thing I noticed was the scent of gardenias as we approached the parade route. That, and lacking the need to layer for warmth were the two biggest differences I saw.

After the parade, the girls and I went to Wakulla Springs. Yes, Janele swam, in mid-November. We are the snowbirds that I used to gawk at when I was a kid!

Thia was determined to catch one of those tiny fish in her water bottle. She was successful, and I was successful in convincing her that we really could not care for a pet fish at this time.

We took the river tour too. We saw a lot of manatee, some gators, and birds galore. All the years I lived in Tallahassee, I had never taken this river boat tour. I am glad we did on this visit.

Of course, we couldn't end the day without getting an ice cream!

From Tallahassee, we headed toward the "cave diving capital of the world", in north-central Florida. The water in the Ichetucknee River is spring fed, and a constant 72 degrees, year round. It makes for comfortable tubing during much of the year, even in November!

Janele enjoyed the leisurely float from one end of the state park to another.

Our first dive, in a pool, outdoors, in November! it was great fun, but hard. This early holiday present is going to make us work!

Just getting the gear on is tough work and not done alone.
Fowler and Thia were in a grocery store one day, and Fowler told Thia to think of something she wanted to do. She went wandering around the store as he shopped. When she returned, she handed him a business card, for HandRScuba. Do you think this qualifies as Phys. Ed.?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What To Do?

This year has required we live very small. This translates to us carrying around with us as little an amount of “stuff” as we can. This is hard, especially around the holidays. It is so easy to walk through a shop, see something appealing, and buy it. Either for myself, or (more often) for one of the girls, because I just know they would really love it, at least for a moment. After so many years of working to use and have less “stuff”, I still find it hard. I have to stop myself, and ask, “How will I/they use this? Is it beneficial? Will it just sit around and get stepped on, or dusty? Will this be a momentary pleasure, or will it last?” Though I want the joy, it is important to decide if whatever it is will be used/treasured, or will be forgotten in a short time (we don’t have room for forgotten). As a result, we are more and more, attempting to give the gifts of experiences. This is also harder, because I find that more often than not, experiences are more expensive than that cute pair of earrings, or that kitchen gadget that looks like it may be useful (but more often than not, ends up contributing to that drawer that never fully opens without a good yank).
In that vein, this holiday season is even more challenging. Without a home base, we don’t have room for “stuff”, and adding to what we are carrying won’t help anyone. What to do? We still want to see the joy.
Answer number one has come a little early this year: we are going to take a SCUBA certification class, as a family! Merry Christmas, Fowler’s! We will take classes December, diving in the freshwater springs around north-central Florida! Yes, it will be chilly, but we will be wearing wetsuits that will help. Also, the springs stay a constant water temperature of about 72 degrees F, no matter the outside air temp. This is a bit chilly for me, but I am willing to tough it out, because I can’t wait to explore the underwater beauty around here. Then, while we are in south Florida, hopefully we will get to dive a couple more times, and really explore the area. I am totally psyched about this, and from what I can tell in their willingness to study, the girls are excited too. So, Merry Christmas, a bit early to the Fowler’s!
Saturday morning will be our first time in the water for this, and it will be in a pool, but we are all looking forward to the experience. Woo hoo! Now I just have to remember to charge the underwater camera!
Now I am wondering, what else can we do?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Definitely Warmer

Fowler and the girls took a ride down the Itchetucknee River this afternoon.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Drawing Is Hard!

           As part of our homeschool curriculum, the girls have each chosen a subject to teach to the family. Thia has been teaching us Spanish, and Janele chose to teach art. Having taken Spanish in high school, I find Thia’s lessons easier, though they are interesting and she likes to add a bit of fun. Janele’s lessons are a different beast all together, for me.

Janele is a good instructor. She is careful to explain what she is teaching, having practiced the skills herself in her preparations, and offers a lot of positive reinforcement. This is good, because I find the practice downright frustrating. Janele is taking us through the basics of drawing, started right at the beginning with the different hand positions, and how pencil leads of varying softness produce different effects on the paper. I did not know any of this, and even trying to use the proper hand positions is frustrating. It turns out my fine motor control is great, I can add detail like a maniac, but the gross motor is another story, trying to make fluid, sweeping lines, using my whole arm is just not happening. My lines all end up wobbly and shaky, not at all in the shape I mean them to be. Also, shading? Ugh! I have a very hard time seeing the actual shape of the shadows, instead of what I think they are. Does that make any sense? Maybe not, if you have never tried to do this.  I am thinking this is like everything else I never tried to learn until I reached adulthood, VERY HARD!

An example: today’s lesson was to draw a bowl of fruit, below is what I did.


I am interested to know what fruit you think is in that bowl. It is not in color, so it may be difficult, but what do the shapes tell you? Also, ignore the fact that I seemed to be holding my paper at the angle appropriate for cursive writing, this must be a habit leftover from my grade-school days. “Old Dog” here.

I have made progress, and my teacher says I am doing pretty well. However, I have to remind myself not to compare my work with that of Thia, who has been doodling since she could hold a chunky crayon between her fingers, and Fowler, who has always enjoyed drawing and painting, even taken a few classes. In comparison, my work is woefully below standard. I have always preferred a different form of artistic expression. Is there a dance-floor in the house?

Anyway, I keep reminding myself that is okay, but this is very frustrating when I can’t put onto the paper what I see. It is a good reminder to me, though, of what it is like for each of the girls when we are going over their other subjects and they don’t understand the work. Stop, take a deep breath, maybe walk around a bit, we will get there.

If you are interested, here is the photo of what I was attempting to draw. Those are grapes, a couple of limequats, and a pomegranate, sitting on a flat table, not at 25 degree angle.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Living Small

While wandering around a local antiques store here in High Springs, FL, I was talking to Thia about what sorts of things we'd like to put in our home, after we settle. I was mentioning different rooms, and her comment went something like, "Wow, that's like 5 rooms."

I suppose all of this time we have been "living smaller" has had an effect on her perspective. Compared to what we've had in the past, and to that of many of our friends and family, 5 rooms do not make a very big living space.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tallahassee Fun

We started our day at the Tallahassee Veteran's Day Parade, and followed it with an afternoon at Wakulla Springs State Park. There, we got to see a lot of manatee, and alligators, and birds. Thia caught a tiny fish in her water bottle (let it go), and Janele swam in the springs. We topped it off with an ice cream!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Road Trip!

                In the early years after we moved to New York, I found a neighbor who shared my frustrations in the spring when the weather got “warmer”. I put that in quotes, because if I am still wearing fleece layers, I do not believe “warm” should in any way be used to describe the temperature. People seem to think 40°F, after a winter far below that, is perfect weather for the shorts and t-shirt that had shifted to the back of the drawer. They are wrong, every year, but they keep at it. This is the definition of optimism in upstate NY. It does not work for me. I need to bake in the sun.

                So my new friend and I were commiserating about the cold, and contemplating our children’s upcoming spring break. We didn’t have any plans at that point, and perhaps we had a few too many cups of coffee, but out of this conversation, arose a plan for our Spring Break Road Trip! And we were excited! We were going to get warm, whatever it took!

                The plan was simple: drive. We were ready to pile our four kids, sunscreen, snacks, etc. into my minivan, and drive south. If we had to go to Key West to get warm, were ready! We mapped a rough route, noting who we knew along the way (family in Long Island, and the Carolinas, friends in Georgia and Florida, all the way down the coast) that we could visit, to break up the driving, stretch our legs and rest our heads. We had notes, and left each other, ready to fill in our significant others, and start contacting our kin. We were going on a Road Trip for Spring Break!

                I think it took a couple of days, or perhaps for me it was just the look on Fowler’s face when I shared it with him, for me to realize the gaping flaw in this plan: time, or the lack of time. Spring Break is a week, and with all we had planned, it was very likely that we would get to a beach somewhere in South Florida with precisely enough time to dip our toes in the water, while basking for a minute in that warm sun, before piling back into the van, to make the long drive home. It was exciting to plan, but that would have been crazy. At some point, we came to our senses, and toughed it out until the weather warmed. Eventually, I shed the fleece layers, and we had summer in NY. Though we didn’t make that trip, Susan and I, with our four kids, have made a number of road trips in that van, and I will always remember that time of fevered planning with a smile.

Then yesterday, somewhere on I-85, driving through the Carolinas in our newly leased Subaru, loaded to the hilt (but not with snacks. This is a new car, no eating in the car…yet.)  I realized I am now on that trip. Only this time, I get to bask in the sun for a while, before we begin the trip back north again. But for now, as we drive, I am getting warmer.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Another Point of View

Way back when we decided to go cruising, we went to Boston for a weekend, and instead of staying in a traditional hotel or B&B, we stayed on someone's boat. I never knew you could do that, but I should have. Anywhere anyone lives, people have been known to rent. That was the first time I think I spent a night on anything that was smaller than a cruise ship (and even that was only once). I grew up on the coast around boats, but they were power boats, used on the weekends. It was nice.

We spent time walking the docks, looking at all of the boats around, there was every kind. One in particular was about 35 feet, a sailboat with a very friendly couple living aboard. They invited us onboard to chat. We talked about living aboard, and our newly hatched plans. We traded information, and have kept in touch some since then.

From that conversation, I was introduced to the National Women's Sailing Association, a group based in Marblehead, MA of women who are passionate about the sport, and cruising. For each of the last 4 years, I have attended their annual conference in Marblehead in June, and met some amazing people there: women who have raced sailboats, singlehanded across the Pacific Ocean; who have circumnavigated the globe; who race in their local yachting club; as well as those who live aboard. I have met women working in every facet of sailing: instruction, reporting, competing, and the all important installation, maintenance, and repairs of the countless systems onboard boats. These are women who love the sport of sailing, and want to share it with as many others as they can. They are a great resource, and have been some of the first people I call when figuring out what I need to do next.

In Marblehead last June, I ended up meeting Elaine Lembo, with Cruising World Magazine. She gets to report on all the big races, as well as what is going on in the world of cruisers. We talked for a while. I told her about our plans to set sail, and confided how frustratingly slow our preparations were going at the time. I had remembered some of the articles she had written. We stayed in touch, and agreed to meet up again at the Annapolis Boat show, this time we would be there on FORTUITOUS.

Elaine had said she might like to write something about what we were doing: how we had prepared, managing all of the transitions, adjusting to boating life, so when we met in Annapolis, and I told her how our plans had changed, she was clearly surprised, but she still wanted to write about us. She asked Thia and I about what we were doing, and what led us to where we are. The following link is her take on our story: Cruising World: A Dream On Hold?

I think she got there in the end.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Working for Her Supper

We're getting the boat ready for winter storage, and fixing up some of the woodwork. I think some of it hasn't been touched in 30 years. When Thia saw me heating and scraping, she asked if she could take a turn. Sure!

Turns out, after the first 10 minutes, the job loses its luster. She's hanging in there, though.

Friday, October 18, 2013


 I always thought it the best thing to have the washer and dryer in my home, wherever it was. I felt like I had reached a point that it was important to be able to start a load of laundry at a moment’s notice, and that it was a convenience that I really just did not want to live without. I was nervous about the prospect of laundering while living on a boat, me and my family of 4. Turns out, it may be better to not have the washer and dryer at my immediate disposal. 
    When I had laundry in my home, it was a never-ending cycle. The laundry always need to be done. Every day, there was the consideration: do I do a load or two today, or let it be a little longer? Inevitably, when I let it go a little longer, there was more to do. With just one washer and one dryer at my disposal, there was only so much laundry I could do at once, and thus it would just drag on. I never did decide whether it was better to do a little each day, or let it pile up and spend an entire day loading, unloading, folding, loading, repeat, all the while, trying to either have fun or be productive during the waiting time (if ever I were to develop attention deficit tendencies, this could be a reason). Either way, it was always on my mind.
                Now: doing laundry every day is not an option. In fact, just doing one load at a time is a very inefficient use of time, so we generally make sure everything is dirty before we decide to wash anything. In preparation, we pull out all of the dirties, sort, and bag everything. Then we are ready to take the bags to the local laundromat, everyone carrying their part, including the detergent, etc. and the all-important quarters. Once there, we begin loading as many machines necessary (weekday mornings are great for this), get them going, and if the Laundromat is in a neat place (like here in Annapolis), one person stays with the laundry, and we disperse, perhaps to the bookshop down the street, to the coffee shop, a nearby museum, antique store, whatever is around. We return periodically to switch up the launderer, and in a couple of hours, all of our laundry is clean and dried, and folded, ready to be carried back to the dinghy, then to the boat, and put away.
Sure, it takes half the day to accomplish this, but there is a lot of exploring we can do at the same time, and once it is done, I know I am not doing it again for at least another week, I don’t even think about it. I have a small hand washer I can use on the boat, and hang things to dry, that is good for when we are in a pinch, and can bridge the gap from one laundry day to the next.
                When it is done, it is done, and I don’t even think about it for at least the next 4-5 days. That’s when I start considering where we are, and when we will next be in a place to do the laundry. I have found that having no laundry machines in my home, equals no constant thoughts about laundry. I like that! The hardest part about doing it this way, is all the carrying to and from, but with all four of us, we get it done with minimal pain, or complaining, and maybe the added bonus of an ice cream treat.
Sorted, and ready to go!

Still in Annapolis, Having Some Fun

Though our plans have drastically changed, what we are doing at the moment has not. We have found a broker, who has listed our boat, and we are figuring out what to do with the rest of our vacation. This is a harder concept than it seems to put into practice, because for the last five years, we have been working toward this dream of sailing to the Caribbean and having fun with our girls. Now we have changed our minds, and there is a world of opportunity out there. It is daunting to try and choose one path, but while we are here, figuring things out, we are going to have some fun.
I will backtrack here, as I haven’t written anything about our trip since Thia’s birthday, where we started running toward Annapolis, after that crazy, graham-crackery, waxy, rainbow bread.
Since we were so low on groceries, before we would head through the C&D Canal to the Chesapeake, we went north of the C&D, almost to Philadelphia. In fact, we anchored right at the end of one of the approach runways for the Philadelphia airport. It was loud, but at least the planes stopped flying after about midnight, and didn’t get started again until after 7 AM.
We stayed there three nights, and two days. One day was devoted to provisioning. Fowler stayed on the boat, to run the motor and charge the batteries. The girls and I took the dinghy to a dock, where we got a cab into town, and the grocery. We spent quite a while there, making sure we got everything we needed, and that we could pack it in such a way that we could get it all back to the boat. This took some thinking, and some arranging, and negotiating, regarding what was really necessary (we have discovered the beauty of powdered drink mixes vs. cans and bottles). I spent more on that grocery trip than I think I have ever spent in groceries for just our family, and it still fit into one cart. We were serious about not running out of food again!
We took the cab back to the dock, and that is where the fun began. I was not entirely sure we could get all three of us, and all the groceries in the dinghy at one time. I considered whether to leave one or both of the girls at the dock, while I took the first load of groceries to the boat, then go back for the rest. Fortunately, we all fit, but we sure sat low in the water on that trip. Bonus! We did find a key lime pie mix (in a box) at the grocery there, so that night, Thia had her belated (faux) key lime birthday pie, with candles, of course. As far as key lime pies go, it was not bad, but we will definitely do better when we find real key lime juice!
So that was day one, in Essington, PA. We needed to stay another day, as bad weather was coming, and we didn’t want to attempt the canal in that. Also, we discovered a charging issue that meant as soon as the weather passed, we wanted to get to Annapolis as soon as we could, for a fix.  Since I knew we would leave quickly the next morning, I wanted to go into Philadelphia. I had never been, and I decided I would be really annoyed if we had gotten so close without seeing the city! So the next day Fowler decided to stay on the boat and chase down the charging problem, and the girls and I went into Philly.
I was very impressed with Philadelphia’s public transit system. We were able to buy a family day pass, and we could go all over town on the busses and trains for one fee. I got an app on my phone that tracked everything, and it was a snap to figure out the route, and when we should be at which stop. We concentrated our time in the historical area, seeing Independence Hall, the Portrait Gallery, and spending a lot of time in the Ben Franklin Museum. Fun, and history!
We returned that night to the boat, and unfortunately the battery charging situation had not improved. So early the next morning we said goodbye to the airport runway, and made our way to the C&D Canal. For all the planning we did, checking for tides, currents, winds, etc. our journey into and through the canal was completely uneventful. We saw no shipping traffic, and the foul weather had passed, it was a beautiful day, and there was no problem with the navigation.
We emerged into the Chesapeake Bay, and headed to our first anchorage, in the Sassafrass River. Just as we left the channel, we had to navigate what seemed like a mine field of crab/lobster pots! We stumbled right in the middle of them, and had to take it v…..e…….r……y…… slowly, not wanting to run over any, and get them caught in our prop. There was no way I was jumping into the waters of the Chesapeake to cut our propeller free, and I would have felt kind of bad making Fowler do it.
Thanks to some two person navigation, with help from the kids as well, we made it through without catching one, and headed to the anchorage, right off a state park. It was a beautiful area, and would have been nice to spend more than one night there, but we had issues that needed attending, so pulled up the anchor the next morning, bound for Annapolis.
Another uneventful day of motoring (not even traps), and we arrived in Annapolis, anchoring right outside the city yacht basin, at Spa Creek. After getting settled, we were able to call around, and get references and leads on who might be able to help us with our electrical issues. We found a boatyard, and the next day, they came to the boat to see what was up. Andy spent close to 5 hours on our boat, chasing down leads, and eventually figured out that we had a bad selector switch on the sail drive. He would have to order us a new one, but could get it within a day or two. It was so nice to know what the problem was!
After that night, our diesel tanks were getting low, and we decided while we were at the fuel dock, we thought we’d check out a mooring ball for the night. When we went in, there was an empty ball right by the fuel dock, so we took it. We checked with the harbormaster, it turned out this was one of two mooring balls that could hold our size boat, and wasn’t being vacated for the boat show. Score! We decided we were going to be here through the boat shows, and possibly a bit longer, so it would be good to be close, and not worry about the crowded anchorage.
The next day Andy came back with the new switch, hooked it up, and we were set! It felt good to be able to charge to full capacity and have some amount of confidence in our abilities to power our systems. Woo hoo!
We were feeling good, making other fixes we would need, planning our visits to the boat shows, and even enjoying the luxury of air conditioning. Also, we connected with other Nauticat owners, in hopes of getting tips on repairs, additions, and just ways to use the space. The boating community is generous, and very helpful. We had people offering rides, and to come help us with the minor repairs we were making. Some even visited and gave us insights about preparations for the Caribbean. They were most generous. I really do love the boating community!
Fowler and Thia attended the power boat show, and left, having purchased a paddleboard that would prove to be great fun, even in yucky, cold, kind of rainy weather. We have had fun exploring this town, which has a lot of neat little shops and museums, and restaurants easily walkable from the dinghy dock. Unfortunately, what have moved out of the downtown area, are the everyday useful stores: there is no longer a grocery here, or a hardware or a marine supply store. As I understand it from conversations with locals, they have all been priced out of the area, and now it takes 2 bus rides (unfortunately, not like Philadelphia’s system) to get to any of these. That makes provisioning and getting parts more difficult, and for this city, where the US Naval Academy is based, for which boating is such a huge part of its economy, I am surprised it is not more easily navigated by those without a car, coming in off their boats.
Yet here we are, enjoying our time. Just yesterday we had a visit from friends who were on their way to Cape Henlopen. One of Thia’s good friends from Albany and her brother and mom came to visit us for the afternoon. Thia was beside herself with excitement, and had a wonderful time visiting with BJ. In all of the adventure and fun that we are attempting with this trip, missing our friends is always a presence in our minds. Phone calls, emails and texting help, but there is nothing so wonderful as seeing someone in person that you care about, and haven’t seen in so long.
As for our future plans, we’re still working on that. As we do, we’re going to try and have as much fun together as we can, and though it has been raining and yuck for the last three days, I know the sun will come out soon, and that will be fantastic!

Near Philadelphia, our first attempt at rigging for water collection. Needs Improvement.

This is how we keep track of our water use.

Happy 13th birthday, Thia, with key lime pie! It was faux, but it was still yummy.

In front of Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

In the Ben Franklin Museum, Philadelphia.

Attempting to catch fish in the Sassafrass River. It was quite windy, and they weren't biting.

Thia and Fowler having fun in the evening. He is really good at making her laugh!

Working hard, giving the hull a good scrub down!

Now it is cold, so we bake!

It is wonderful when friends can visit.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Today was another day of errands via mass transit here in Annapolis: Goodwill; Bacon's Marine Supply; several places in a ginormous mall that didn't have a bookstore; American Glass; Sears; Home Depot; Target; there might be a few more. We got most everything we needed, but there was a lot of hoofing it as well, and again, we are all pooped. Looking forward to staying on the boat and having a school day tomorrow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Finally, The Sun!

After the last three days of dreary wind, cold, and rain, the girls wanted to take full advantage of the emerging sunshine. We have designated today for Phys. Ed.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Change of Plans, Surprised?

There are many other titles I thought of for this, but I will keep those to myself. The meat of the matter, is that we have changed our plans drastically. Again. This time, we are selling the boat and moving back to land, somewhere.

The purpose of this trip has always been to change the way we live, and focus more of our energy on our family, and less on working, and keeping up what we have. Keep that in mind.

For more than 5 years we planned, researched, and prepared in every way we know how, and some we learned about, to make this dream a reality: to buy a boat and spend a year with our girls, sailing to the Caribbean and back, learning everything we can along the way. Actually, first it was the Mediterranean, but along the way we had to adjust our sights to the Caribbean. Not a bad consolation.

Keeping in mind the goal of The Plan, we have decided put FORTUITOUS up for sale, and move onto land, finishing our year the best we can, hopefully someplace warmer, educating and exploring as a family.

Why?  FORTUITOUS was not the right boat after all.

In short, we spent all our time and money fixing up the boat.

We have done our best to involve the girls in the boat upgrades, but they have happened so fast, it is hard to involve them while just trying to keep our heads above water, so to speak. The boat may be ready, but we are out of resources.

I can only imagine how it sounds, but whatever. Since we made the decision to move off the boat, there is a weight lifted that I was not aware was on my (and Fowler’s) shoulders. Of course there are disappointments, but we are by no means walking away from this empty handed. For myself, I have learned a great deal about myself, Fowler, Thia and Janele, and how we work together and communicate, not to mention we all know WAY more about diesel engines, winches, and old boats than we ever thought we could.

So, onward…

Saturday, October 5, 2013


After a few days of chasing down "fixable" problems with not a lot of success, today we tackled the problem of the air conditioning, now that we can generate power. I am not sure how many years it had been since the filter had been cleaned, but it is clean now, and I must say, it feels fantastic!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Running Toward Another Birthday

Atlantic City was nice, but the anchorage was not too protected, and there was some stormy weather approaching, so we had to get a move on. We lifted anchor early one morning, and headed south, toward Cape May, New Jersey. I figured we would have a couple of days there, resting and seeing the sights. In anticipation, I had asked if anyone had ideas of things to do in Cape May. I got a lot of responses, apparently a lot of people from Albany like to visit Cape May. Unfortunately, we did exactly none of them. We didn’t go to the zoo, or the great beaches around. We didn’t even get to the grocery store in town.

We arrived to find an already crowded anchorage. It is well protected, and it was apparent we were not the only ones thinking this would be a good place to wait out the approaching high winds and small craft advisory. We found a spot, near a boat from Montreal that had left Atlantic City the day before we did. After getting the anchor down and set, it looked like it was holding, but we were cautious, so didn’t leave the boat that evening. If we needed to reset it, FORTUITOUS requires both of us.

The winds started picking up. Our anchor held, mostly, all of the boats swinging in unison with the tide shifts and increasing winds. The next day, we seemed to be a bit too close to one of our neighbors. Being extra cautious, we lifted the anchor, I drove us in a big circle, and reset it. Everyone was out on their bow to watch, it was a bit unnerving. The winds were pretty high, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking the dinghy in to provision, we had enough food for a few more days.

That night was awful, when the tide went slack, and the winds were high, every boat in the anchorage swung in a different direction. We were so closely packed in, that there was danger of boats swinging into each other. We spent quite a while in the cockpit, watching, with a long pole, ready to push another boat away when needed, which was more than once. So we checked the tide times, and set our alarms, two more times that night the tide would change, going slack and leaving us to swing wherever the wind caught us. Fowler and I each took a turn, and we made it through the night. By morning, the wind had subsided, but we knew we did not want to spend another night there, so close to all those other boats. Also, it was cold!

We headed into the South Jersey Marina there to fuel up, fill the water tanks, and get whatever food we could at the WaWa convenience mart (which was not much, think gas station with food, but this was just a mart, no gas). We wanted to head out as soon as we could, because it was a full day to get to the next stop, Augustine Beach, Delaware, just south of the C&D Canal. A trip to the grocery was not in our cards though, so we made due.

Heading south from Cape May, the plan was to go around the tip of the Cape, into the Delaware Bay, and north, toward the Canal. We had a bit of trouble there at the end of the Cape, nothing we couldn’t handle, but the nerves were up, and we made a decision that rushing to the Canal maybe wasn’t the best idea. Fowler found an anchorage at Cape Henlopen, on the south side of the entrance to the Delaware Bay, so we headed that direction. We got there around 3 PM, and after getting settled, and sure that the anchor was good, the girls and I dinghied into shore, looking to get to a grocery store.
We had no luck finding a way to a grocery, but we did stop at a Dairy Queen on the way back to the dinghy on the beach, where we played in the sand, watching the sun go down as the tide came up to meet the dinghy, so we could shove off back toward the boat. Not a bad evening, and the next day was Thia’s birthday, for which she asked a key lime pie, and a day at the beach. Beach, check! Key lime pie…not so much. It is nice she is flexible.
The next morning, we lifted anchor again (do you see a pattern here?), there was a storm predicted, and though this anchorage was nice, it was not someplace we wanted to be in heavy winds and rain, if we could help it. So north we headed, to Augustine Beach, Delaware. It was an uneventful day of motoring (we haven’t had opportunity to sail much, and that is a pain), the anchorage was a bit tricky to get into because of a low rock wall that is sometimes submerged, depending on the tides. It was nerve wracking going in, but we had no trouble, and set our anchor. This place was in the middle of nowhere! There were two other boats in the anchorage that night, but when you looked to land, there were a few houses, and that was all. Looking at the Google Maps on my phone confirmed, groceries were unlikely here. This was becoming a problem, because we were getting really low, and it was Thia’s birthday. The key lime pie would have to wait.
Instead of the pie, or even cake, we made bread, with the last of the flour we had. In fact, we didn’t have quite enough, so we improvised, by adding crushed graham crackers. Yum! The bread didn’t rise much, but it cooked wonderfully, and was delicious. Thia wanted her candles, so we put them in the loaf of graham cracker bread, and the wax promptly melted off the wicks, immediately! Oops, should have let it cool first.

So we all sang Happy Birthday as Thia turned 13, and had rainbow colored, waxy, graham cracker bread with melting butter and cinnamon sugar. It was a fun and delicious, even without the pie.
No groceries, but Dairy Queen in hand is not a bad way to wait for the tide to come in.

Janele wanted to be buried in the sand at Cape Henlopen. Thia obliged, making her a mermaid.
Pre-birthday beach fun with the girls, at Cape Henlopen.

Happy Birthday, on the run. What better way to celebrate than throwing a line out the back, waiting for the fish to catch it? They didn't, but we did see some dolphin.

Birthday evening family fun. Janele, Thia and Fowler, with what was a great moon in the background. All week we were treated to amazing views of the harvest moon rising each evening.

I didn't even get to light the candles in the bread, they melted so fast! Happy thirteenth birthday, Thia!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Birthday and Some Eighties Fun

Atlantic Highlands to Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic Highlands, NJ, was a great anchorage for us. We celebrated Janele’s birthday, we happened upon a flea market right in the parking lot of the marina, where the girls had fun picking out birthday presents for each other. Janele even got herself a birthday dress at a vintage clothing stall. She had a blast shopping (she must get that from her aunts).

We spent almost a week there, after coming down the Hudson, and spending a couple days near the Statue of Liberty. It was going to be a long day to our next stop in Atlantic City, so we were waiting for a weather window where we could take advantage of the winds, and get there while it was still light out.

So we lifted the anchor early September 13, and headed south for Atlantic City. We motored much of the way, but also got to put out the sails and give them a trial run. This was the first time we had been able to use them since bringing FORTUITOUS to Albany from RI in June. It was quite an effort, and I am sure there were some expletives muttered, or maybe shouted, as the in-mast furling got all hung up, and it took forever to get the main out, but out they came, mainsail, mizzen and genoa.

Man, those sails are big! It is no small task to set them out, or bring them back in. It is all hands on deck, and it really takes effort and all of us working as a team to make that happen.  We bought this boat thinking Fowler and I could handle it just the two of us, but now I am not sure. To get those sails out, one person has to be at the helm, keeping the boat on the right course, and then you need at least two others: to work the main furler (unrolling the sail from the mast) and another to help the sail out, pulling on the other end, as it unfurls. Then it is very helpful for another to be tailing the winch (pulling on the rope, to be sure that the winch is pulling it, not just slipping around). So that is the four of us, a true team effort!

Atlantic City was a weird place to anchor, but we had fun while there. We stayed a couple of nights, visiting the Golden Nugget, the girls both said it reminded them of the cruise ship we were on in July. Yep, that was about right, all flashy neon and sparkles. Not at all what we have been living in the last few weeks on FORTUITOUS. As we walked in the first time, Janele’s words were, “well, this is grand”. That pretty much summed it up.

We didn’t gamble, but I did have to go into the casino to get quarters for the laundry machines. We were treated to the sounds of live entertainment each evening, from our anchorage. One night we decided to go ashore to see a band, Weird Science, which was total ‘80’s revival. Never mind that no one in the band was even a thought in the eighties, they were pretty good. It was a fun night, and it took a while, but Janele finally joined me dancing by the stage (Thia preferred to watch in ‘tween embarrassment from our table). Janele was enamored by the lead singer (who was often in one Madonna getup or another, no cone-bras though). During their break, she made sure to go and say hi to “Madonna”, and after the show, she was elated when the singer gave her the flower bouquet she used in her “Like a Virgin” number. That’s my girl.

We also made sure to visit the Aquarium there. It is not a big, exotic place, like the casinos on the other side of the inlet, but it was fun to visit. We got to pet sting rays and sharks, and look at lots of animals from all different environments. Then of course, we visited the shops along the boardwalk. Thia found a really cool 3D kind of print by a local artist. She is decorating her stateroom in all manner of beach and nautical themes.

A couple of nights in Atlantic City was plenty for us, it was a less than calm anchorage, and we were ready to move on, to Cape May, NJ, home of the US Coast Guard. Also, we were going to need to find a grocery store soon. There really are none near all the casinos in Atlantic City. Go figure!
Janele trying on clothes at the vintage stall in Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Sails out!
He is one of the Weird Science band members. he rocked a pair of neon, animal print leggings!


Thia petting stingrays at the Atlantic City Aquarium


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A few pix

Some photos of the journey so far:

Launching FORTUITOUS, again, at Scarano Boat Builders in Albany

View of the castle falling into the water on the Hudson River

From Liberty State Park, Manhattan skyline

Took the dinghy to a beach in Atlantic Highlands
Boat School includes a morning check of all the systems and weather/tide/window information.

11! How did that happen?!?

"Madonna" gave Janele her bouquet after their show

Outside the Atlantic City Aquarium, in the middle of  a sundial.

Sails out!

Always safety first on FORTUITOUS, right, Thia?