A Sunday Drive…

ImageA few days ago, my wife,  Janet,  noticed an advertisement for  a 1940’s  theme weekend at Eckley Miner’s Village, a museum that is dedicated to coal mining in north east Pennsylvania, not too far from where we live.  She was particularly interested in the fact that a Holocaust survivor,  Severin Fayerman,  would be speaking at the event..   http://www.eckleyminersvillagemuseum.com/

So we made plans to attend.   But, we also discovered that my brother,  Craig, would be performing in Coopersburg in the evening,  so we expanded the itinerary and made a day of it..     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnb_8ZDeXgY

Mr. Fayerman’s talk was very moving.   It was our first experience hearing an actual survivor  of Auschwitz discuss the details of his experiences inside a Nazi concentration camp.   I have had the good fortune, however, of  having friends in NH who experienced World War II from two different, yet  harrowing perspectives.   Titia Bozuwa  grew up in occupied Holland and wrote a captivating book about her life as a young girl at the time  http://www.amazon.com/In-The-Shadow-Of-Cathedral/dp/0975482513,  and her husband experienced the war as an inmate in a Japanese Concentration Camp.  http://www.amazon.com/Emperors-coming-behind-Barbed-Indonesia/dp/0975482548 

 Despite the trials that Severin, Titia and her husband Gijs experienced in their formative years,  each of them has lived full, productive, and exciting lives.   Most importantly, even after eighty or more years of life,  they are particularly gracious  and have energy to share with those who happen to be in their presence.   These are qualities  that I happen to admire most about them.  

In addition to the speaker,  there were WWII  encampments and  interpreters,  and one of the houses in the village was open, furnished just as it was  in the 1940’s.    Sometimes we tend to ignore the history in our own back yard – I would recommend a visit to Eckley by those both near and far! 

After spending some time at the museum,  we headed south towards Tamaqua, the town that I associate with my grandparents.   My Grandfather worked for the Reading Railroad, and his job required that he move from time to time.  But Tamaqua was home, and that is where we visited them when I was a child.    It just so happens that Janet’s grandparents and mine are buried at the same cemetery  located in Hometown, just north of Tamaqua.   We decided to stop just to see if we might find their graves,  but we did not have success.   We will have to do a little research before returning again at some point!

As we approached Tamaqua, I related to Janet the memory of driving out to the country with my grandparents for ice cream.   We went to Heisler’s dairy.  I stopped at a gas station in town and asked if they were still open..  they are..  and we got directions..   Image

Fortunately for us, they were not quite this busy, but the ice cream was just as good as I remember it,  and the purple martin houses and mini golf course  are still there..   It was well worth the  short detour into the country!

We then headed south again, towards the Lehigh Valley,  home of Mack Truck,  and Martin Guitars..  and my brother the rock star!      Most everyone that I know  who have children have questioned at one time or another how it is possible that children raised in the same household, by the same parents,  can turn out so differently..   That is certainly the case with my two brothers and me..  I am the youngest.. the one who happened to benefit from observing my older brothers and figuring out the easiest way to navigate through adolescence – easiest for both me and my parents  🙂     But we have all turned out to be nice guys, doing our own thing, in our own way..    Dan, the oldest,  now lives in Tennessee, Craig  lives in Coopersburg, not far from out hometown of Quakertown,  and, I currently live in Bear Creek Township, just outside of Wilkes Barre.    Craig is the rock star..  he  had a dream of making a living by playing his guitar from early childhood,  and he has done it.  I admire his talent and his determination..  and, even though I grew up listening to him play day in and day out.. ,  It is a lot of fun to see him on stage –  maybe more so now that we are a bit older and he has mellowed and branched out a bit..   In fact, we just listened to his latest CD last night on the way home,  and I swear that two of the tracks would be welcome on CMT.. although I am sure that he would argue that to the death 🙂

He and his friend Nyke  van Wyk  just got back from a tour in Ireland,  and they were performing at a benefit in Coopersburg..  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pzY0MgWiD8

  We happened to arrive just as they were preparing to play..   we surprised my  niece and chatted a bit with my sister-in-law and then found that my Uncle Dick  and Aunt Joanne were in the crowd.. It was nice to touch base with them having not  not seen or talked with them for probably 30 years..   

After the show my  sister-in-law asked us over to the house for tea..   this is like even better than getting a back stage pass!   of course, there was no back stage at this particular venue  🙂     We  enjoyed looking at her pics from the trip to Ireland  and chatting with them,  but then it was soon time to head home.  

We  are beginning to sense that the end of summer is just around the corner and that the demands of school are nearly  upon us, and that makes days like this even more special – time to enjoy each other’s company,  time to explore the area around us, time to revisit childhood memories,  and time to spend with friends and relatives.    It was a great day!

Perhaps it is best not to have a picture for this post….

Most everyone enjoys getting invitations …   birthday parties, cookouts,  you name it,  it is nice to be included when a friend or relative is hosting a celebration.    Here is a line from the most recent invitation that I received… “Wanted to let you know in case you wanted to join us…though this may seem odd. We are going to be butchering the meat birds …”   Yes, you read that correctly.    And to boot, this was from my x-wife!   How many guys want to be anywhere near their x-wife when she happens to be holding a butchering knife?? 

The fact is, our son still lives with her in NH, and he and I have done numerous projects together around her house.   And, although we are no longer married,  we share mutual respect as well as two wonderful children who are now young adults.   

Neither of us grew up on a farm, and the closest thing I have done to butchering an animal is clean a fish on a very rare occasion.   But, I was game and I was able to combine the trip with visiting dear friends in NH as well as with working on a motorcycle with my son –  made yet some more progress towards re-assembling  a 1980 Kawasaki KZ250 that I took apart over 15 years ago.   After all that time, we found that we are only missing a few parts.. but that is a story for another day  🙂

Sunday, the 21st of July was the day of reckoning for the 24 or so surviving birds who actually lived a pretty good life  the past few months..   Thanks to a you tube video,  I got to study the process that we would be using before the big event, but nothing actually prepares one for the  experience of  catching a chicken,  placing it in the “cone of death”  and then snipping its throat and neck in one clean motion..    or of cutting up the bird while it is still warm,  or, at the insistence of one’s daughter, searching for and removing the liver, reserving it for a delicacy at a later date.  

Although I was new to all of this, I did my best to take the whole experience in stride, and I was pleased to hear from two other invited guests that they were surprised when they found out that it was my first time processing chickens..     Yes, my daughter invited some friends as well..   an odd theme for a party, perhaps, but they seemed to enjoy themselves, and with the additional hands, we were able to streamline the process after the first few birds were already in the freezer…

We enjoyed a cold chicken salad for dinner that evening, and I was haunted by only one chicken dream  that night.    My wife and I are selective vegetarians, meaning that we will entertain the idea of eating meat if we know where it comes from- an idea that we borrowed from my daughter a few years ago ( I continue to marvel at the fact that we are now at that point in life where we are being influenced by our kids).  In fact,  we may have had meat a half dozen or so  times the past three years, and most of that has come from my x-wife’s farm.    The more I read about how our meat, fowl, and fish are raised on factory farms, the less interest I have in eating any of them. 

I was was not headed directly home, and, therefore, did not have an opportunity to bring any of the chicken home, but  there are turkeys on the farm,  and Thanksgiving is not all that far off…. who knows what kind of party I will be invited to next! 


A new Adventure…


Last night my wife and I began to discuss local trails and which ones might be good candidates for today.  The weather prediction was for a beautiful day, with temps no higher than 80 degrees.   For those not familiar with the recent weather pattern in north east PA, this is an incredibly welcome change!

After discussing a few options, we resurrected an idea from the past… the Loyalsock Trail.    We thought that we might use this trail to begin backpacking trips, but that plan never materialized.   So, instead of a multi-day trip,  we decided to tackle the trail through a series of day hikes.    The LT has a length of just under 60 miles, and its western trail head is about 90 miles from home.   

The first section of the trail is  4.8 miles.   We parked at the end of this section and walked the  1.3 miles along the road  to the beginning of the trail.   This served as a welcome warm-up.  We signed in and immediately began to climb.  Image

And we continued to climb for the first mile or so, taking a break for  a handful of gorp or a special photo from time to time.   You can tell by the fresh smile on my wife’s face that this was taken near the beginning of the hike!

Near the top of the climb is a spot known as sock rock..Imagea great place to stop for a snack!   When we were about to resume our hike, we heard a ruckus in the woods just behind us.  We paused, and then turned to continue.  As soon as we did, we heard more noise and turned to see to fawn  cross our path about 20 yards behind us.   No sign of the mother, but there is no doubt that she was close at hand.


We soon reached a level part of the trail  and picked up the pace.  Stopping for lunch at a nice soft spot and then continuing on to an area where we caught glimpses of the valley below.  Image  Just at the 3 mile mark, we heard a crashing noise ahead of us.   Something large had escaped down the steep embankment to our right.  We could not see anything, but we heard a grunting noise.  Each time we proceeded ahead,  we could hear movement below us, followed by more grunting.   Our guess is that it was a bear, but we do not have any experience with them, so it is difficult to say with much certainty.

We began a descent which was steep at times.   We were both happy to have brought along  a hiking pole to assist with the climbs.    In time, the sound of a stream  signaled that we were near the end of the day’s journey.    During the entire time on the trail, we did not encounter another human being.   

The goal that we set for ourselves was to complete the trail by the end of this year.   That may be slightly ambitious simply because the trail is a long way from home.  We may try to spend a couple of weekends camping in the area so that we can knock off major chunks of the trail.    Regardless of how long it may take us to hike the entire trail, it is a worthwhile goal which will help us to focus our planning for outdoor experiences throughout the rest of the summer and early fall.   Wish us luck!   jt


Headed for home…

Day 5..

Got an early start out of surf city..    pulled and stowed anchor number 1…    warmed up the engine… retrieved  line from anchor 2 up to the chain  – this pulled me a bit closer to the channel and  away from the shallows  Smiley    then  pulled the anchor and left it on the deck  – returning to   the cockpit to steer a course away from the beach..     the wind had actually diminished  since  4 am..   so that was in my favor.    I followed the local channel  out to the ICW   and headed home..    I used the  auto tiller  for a while so that I could  stow the second anchor  and gear..   

The wind was light early, but  I was entering the  wide open part of the bay and almost felt guilty about not sailing..  so I set the jib to see how she would respond..   2.5 knts..   double the time to get home..   I   was definitely feeling like the horse who had caught a glimpse of the barn…..   got the engine going again and off I went..     

There were many more boats on the water compared with early in the week when I was the only one on the entire bay for the first two hours!   In fact,  as I neared Waretown, there must have been at least a 100 fishing boats bobbing all around..      I encountered a few sailboats..  many motoring like me..    The seaside heights bridge was ahead  and getting clearer by the minute..    after a few hours,  I was at the entrance to Toms River..  there were folks cutting all kinds of  corners  as far as the  bouys were concerned, but I was determined to stay in the channel and not  push it –   I had no desire to  hop into the water again! 

I made my way towards my slip,  hoping to  end the trip with a smooth landing.. almost!

nudged the  dock just a bit..   and of course,  my neighbor was watching  Smiley

final statistics..     110 nautical miles   ave   4.5 knts , spent lots of money Smiley
  learned a huge amount.. 
  got a chance to visit with bob and his family  and a wonderful meal at his daughter’s restaurant!
  finally  got a chance to experience traveling by boat after  soooo many years of dreaming about it
Only in retrospect did I realize how exhausted I was when I got back.    I literally nodded off while typing this account..  Being on a small boat on the water, in the heat  really drains a person of energy!

I learned that   I really should have been doing this when i was 30..     and I was constantly reminded that I  am not 30 anymore! 

I learned that  being on a boat alone, is particularly intense..   I thought a lot about the term self-reliant through the week,  and I like to think that I am self-reliant,  but in fact,  there is nothing like sharing thoughts with experienced folks..    or having a crew of young guys  come off of the beach to lend a hand when  the chips are down..     I think that I am much more inclined to  believe in a goal of  neighborly support  as opposed to  having to do everything myself.  (  this after building my house,  largely by myself!)  Smiley  

The question of how we will get the boat to Maine is one that will be tackled next year, or perhaps even later.   For now,  my new goal is to bring Adagio home at the end of the current season.   It will be so much easier to work on her there, and I have a list of projects to tackle after this trip.    Of course, not having a trailer  or a vehicle which would tow the boat presents some logistical issues, but I believe we can manage those.   And, before the boat does end up in Maine,  should we consider a trip on the Erie Canal without the mast???   Perhaps we should  🙂  

Thanks to all who read this series of posts.   The next boat adventure will be  Barnegat Bay Bash 2013,  a gathering of  com-pac sailors at Tice’s Shoals.    I am looking forward to spending some time with  some old friends and to making some new ones..    In the meantime,  I imagine that there will be some land based adventures to write about..  jt



thanks for reading..  this closes the recording of the first long distance adventure of Adagio   2013   jt

Surf City Here I come!

Day 4  Image
  No rush to get started today..   The plan is to meet Bob at his mooring in Surf City which is maybe 8-10 miles..     I visited  The  Chicken or the Egg for breakfast – ordered a short stack of  pancakes – could have done with   an extra short stack!   While I was at the restaurant, I  read an interesting article that a woman wrote about her family home  on 2nd ave in Beach Haven.   Three generations have enjoyed the house,  and the  story was so well written..   The sad part about the whole thing is that Sandy  moved the house  on its foundation,  and the author was told that they would need to jack the house 10 feet in order to rebuild.    The property is for sale..    When i left the restaurant, I realized that I was on the corner of  2nd ave, so I  searched for the house..    It really did not look like it was in dire shape, but looks can be deceiving, and I did not get to glimpse inside..   It made me ponder about  every house  on the block… and the life stories that that each could to share..

But,  back to the nautical part of the story..  Bob gave me good directions to his mooring area,  and he happened to be bringing his boat from the marina to the mooring field , so the timing was great.    I found the channel into Surf City  and tried to raise him on the radio..  he was not close enough yet, so I just puttered around for a bit and then figured that I might as well set the anchor..    I had rigged the anchor before leaving in the morning  – thought that i was ready to go..  but maybe not quite ready enough..     I nosed Adagio into the mooring field and watched as the depth quickly dropped from   15 to  6 to 4 to..    hmmmm  found a nice soft spot in the mud to sit and wait for bob  Smiley   Feeling  pretty relaxed..  I watched another sailboat come in and touch bottom..   but he had a centerboard, and after he had lowered the sail and stowed everything,  he just raised the board and continued in to his spot..  I think that this must be his normal routine!

Bob arrived a bit later..   I volunteered to go in and retrieve his dingy because I was going to get wet anyhow..    turned out to be mucky..  with  lots of sharp , uncharted, objects   SUO’s..    I  found a couple.. but it was only when i got back to Bob’s boat that he pointed out the blood in the bilge of the dingy!  No wonder that foot was hurting!    It was a pretty good sized gash..    when I got back to Adagio  for the  salvage operation..   I put on my  sandals.   wonder why I did not think of that sooner!    I figured that this was all meant to be..  an opportunity to try kedging..   Using Bob’s dingy, I rowed the anchor out  and dropped it in the bay..  took up tension on the  line, using the winch…    and made very little progress..  but..  this was a good idea because the tide was on its way in, and  the wind would have kept blowing the boat ashore..  so the anchor held it from  getting in a worse predicament.    i jumped off the boat and  tried pushing on the bow..  it was was unresponsive to my efforts..  stuck after sitting there for more than an hour.. more so than the previous times..   I pushed on the stern..  very little success.     

Bob came up the the bright idea of  using the main halyard to  tip the boat over..  we tied a few extra lines to it.  walked away from the boat ( Bob was wet too at this point..   and heeled the boat over..   as Bob held it there, I went back to the boat and began  pushing..   there were little successes.. but it was going to be a challenge..  until,   a volunteer detachment of young guys from the beach,  led by  a kind-hearted soul who gathered them together,  came to our rescue.    In short time, the boat was free, the anchor was already set..  and life was good again.. 

 Sea Tow   0   Adagio  and crew   5      Smiley

Bob and I went ashore with the  intention of getting a pizza, but his wife, Linda , was there waiting for him..   She had another idea for dinner…   in the end,  we ended up taking Linda’s mother out for a 4th of July dinner,  at a nice place,  where Bob and Linda’s daughter is currently working..  how nice was that?   I am getting to know the whole family,  and all because of the internet and the nice folks who set up the CPYOA and our common  interest in Com-pac Yachts..   

One  little detail remained unanswered.   would I find a marina close by, or would I moor right where  I was..    we stopped by a marina in Surf City .   I asked it they had a transient mooring..  the response was ” for a boat?”    hmmmm..     with a hint of sarcasm, I said.. did you really ask that question?    But then they explained that the have boat slips as well as sport slips  and no , due to a town ordinance, I  was not allowed to stay overnight on my boat in Surf City..   what?Huh  oh well.   I guess that I am a law breaker now..  stayed on my boat in Surf City overnight at anchor..  but only after a wonderful meal,  and  great company..  and a final chat with Bob in the cockpit..   he asked if i wanted to set a second anchor.. the wind was blowing pretty strong, and we agreed that it would  calm down …   I told him that I thought I would be fine..  but he was not even on the beach before I started gathering the gear I would need to set the second anchor..     that was for peace of mind..  

The night sky was bright with  fireworks from multiple towns surrounding the bay, but I  was dead tired..   I crawled into my sleeping bag and slipped off to sleep before the fireworks were over..     

And what about the prediction that “the wind would die during the evening”… I woke up at  1:15 am..   wind still howling..   went out on deck to check things.. all was secure so I tried to go back to sleep..  up again at  4 am and then again at  6:15.   The sun was shining  and the wind had indeed died .. finally..   time to get moving..   last day of the trip.. 🙂


Leaving Atlantic City in my wake


And now for day 3….

Perhaps one of the most remarkable things that comes to mind is that  last night I had the best night’s sleep  ever  on board..    I wonder if that had anything to do with the exertion  invested pushing  the boat off of the sand three times!     As I reflect on yesterday’s   experiences,  the sand was really not that bad.. more on that later..

 I got off to a very slow start..    when I awoke, i could hear dripping on the top of the cabin..  there was a very heavy  dew..   the boat was wet  everywhere.. even under the  bimini..    and the fog was  somewhat thick..    no early start today!    Instead, I  headed into town.. stopped at a breakfast place that  I had checked out last night..  ended up sitting next to a fellow who used to live in Margate, but who now lives in Canada..   we struck up  a  nice conversation and covered a full list of topics..  I was in no rush because the fog seemed to be going nowhere..   and he was not in a big rush to get back home to noisy, energetic adolescents!!   

  By the time it seemed to be safe to navigate,  i made the decision to forgo  Ocean City and to turn back instead..  and now I am  typing this from Beach Haven where I am  safely tied up  in the same slip that I occupied two nights ago..   and that is about it..  well, maybe not quite Smiley

 I got off to a good start  and happened to time the bridges of Atlantic City  pretty well..   about a 12 min wait at the first one and then smooth sailing through the rest of them as I approached them..      As i was going through the first bridge,   i thought. .what would happen if i lost power right now..   of course, that did not happen..   but it did   60 seconds later..  no fooling..    i had filled up the gas can  and did not  squeeze the bulb..   I keep calling these experiences, but some of them are just  total goof ups!

 After that, life was good..  picked up the tide this time.. wind behind me..  dry ride..   and then  arrived at the danger zone..   the first sign was the return of the green head flies!!   The second was a barge that was  laying pipe right next to the  ICW,  in fact,  in the ICW..   I was already nervous about making it past the point of yesterday’s groundings..    and here I had this  nusance to contend with..  and I did not do such a great job..   they had put temporary markers in    the channel,  and I saw them heading south .. but i missed them heading north..  and wouldn’t you know it..  thump thump thump….    gets me right in the stomach were I tend to experience much of my emotional discomfort!     So..  a single curse..  and then no hesitation..   ” over the side mate, ” i said.. but of course, i was the only one aboard.. so that meant me!  Anticipating the soft feel of a sandy bottom, i was temporary, queasy about  landing in mud..  up to my knees..  yuck..   no time to think what might be lurking down there..   time to push..   now, I don’t want to get cocky or anything, but I am getting pretty good at pushing boats off bars!    In no time, the boat was afloat.    and i hopped aboard..  and started the engine..  and rat tat tat tat..  oops.  knew that sound..  the prop was hitting the floating rudder again!     pushed the rudder aside and steered back into the channel..    replaced the plastic bolt..  and off we go towards the  real menace..  marker 128A.. the one that is not on my chart, which  gave me time to pause yesterday..  on that leg of the trip   i was on a beam reach  , under power, but the wind was pushing me to the side a fair amount..   I had a couple of nervous moments as I watched the depth sounder  report depths of  4.1   4     4    etc..    but I made it through unscathed..   

When i came around the bend  at  Beach Haven inlet, I could look directly out to sea..  seems like a pretty friendly inlet compared to some of the others that i have seen..   but  I had neither the time nor the inclination to  stick my nose out into the real ocean..   I was once more looking forward to a hot shower..   and I thought that the marina was  just around the corner..   just that fast, the fog rolled in, and it was all i could do to pick out the next mark..   and then the next..   and then steer in the general direction of where I think the next mark is  and look for it…  got lucky  ..   and made it back to the marina in time to secure my slip…   

The plan for the rest of the week..   take a short  leg tomorrow and then a short leg on Friday and meet up with my friend Bob.  Perhaps anchor in his cove over night..  and then head towards  Toms River  and my hope slip.   It will be nice to get home  Smiley  not that I am looking forward to the trip ending..  there may not be another quite like this one..  can’t afford it!   So, i am enjoying while i can..

things i learned:  

JT  4      Tow boat   0      the odds are   becoming increasingly in favor of the tow boat!

I am a captain..  really,,  all you need to do to become a captain is buy a boat and take it through a draw bridge..  all of the bridge attendees called me captain  Smiley

if i were to seriously consider  traveling down the  ICW,   it would be in a power boat..     A friend of mine sailed to the islands from   NH  a number of years ago..  i asked how much actual sailing he did on the  8 month trip , and he told me he sailed 5% of the time..   i was dismayed to hear that..   but  now I have a much better understanding..   yesterday and today were all about staying in the channel..  that imaginary road across the water, marked by posts planted  along the way..    not only would I have a power boat,  it would be one that  drew less than two feet..      Ideally, the ICW  is  safe at low tide  to a depth of 6 feet..  but  i am afraid that just is not so..   maybe Sandy had a lot to do with it..   not sure, but  there is a lot of discussion about the depth and  the changes from last year..    how can all of it  possibly be managed?   

The other option of course,  would be to have a sailboat large enough to sail outside… but that just is not going to happen  Smiley

 I have a huge amount of respect for solo sailors..   no one to bounce ideas off of.. no one to  handle the bow line..   no one to take over while you went below to use the  head..     no one to make a fresh cup of tea  to enjoy along the way..    this has been great, but  I am not sure that I am cut out to be a long term solo sailor..  no around the world trips for me!   

When i first learned to drive..   it was somewhat nerve wracking..  perhaps more so for my folks.. but  I got a handle on things. and  now there is very little thought to hopping in the car and taking off..   but I can’t imagine that I will ever feel quite as  easy going about heading out in the boat  ( and probably with good reason)   The fact is,  once you cast off.. there are so many variables that one has to continually process..   wind, tide, current,    and things can happen quickly, even at 6 miles per hour!   When the  rudder starts thumping along the bottom, there is very little time to plan a course of action..   

 I need to rig an anchor so that it is ready to go at a moments notice..   my anchors are safely stored below .. because I rarely use them and do not have the bowsprint with an anchor roller..   gotta change that next year..      if I were to lose power  I need to  be able to drop an anchor very quickly to  keep from drifting into danger..   

I guess that is about it for now..  just about time to head into town for dinner…   thanks for reading!   jt

Addendum :    after arriving home, I  searched the internet to read about the experience of others on the ICW  in New Jersey..   the sentiment seemed to be..   ” Avoid the inside route if at all possible!     Wait for favorable weather so that you can sail outside.. ”   I guess I am not the only one to have  a challenging experience  🙂


Day 2


 Day 2..  the quest for  Cape May..   It is a quest because..  there is a real possibility that I won’t make it..  but time will tell..    so now, for the rest of the story.. 

Today was  a wonderful day for gaining experience..  and for  facing humility right in the eyes..   Being among friends, it is perfectly ok to  share the truth and the whole truth..   no need for any fiction!    ( i already spilled the beans about  the diesel) 

So, i am heading out of  Beach Haven..  skies looking a bit gloomy, but   I am prepared for rain anyhow, so who cares.   I  made my tea and  my sandwich before shoving off..    I am beginning to be able to pick out the  markers a little quicker..  that is reassuring..  in fact,   I was  beginning to feel  pretty accomplished..  and proud of myself..  cruising along at  5 knots..    thinking i was a real sailor..     

time for a small break..    on the ICW,  the plan is to keep the red triangles. to starboard and the green  squares to port when headed south..   somewhere I read that  an easy way to remember that is to keep the mountain ( triangle) between you and the mainland..   i love it..  makes so much sense..   I adopted that as my  guide..  and it has worked wonderfully..   keep the mountains where they belong.. toward the land..    but what if the channel makes and S turn..   hmm,  which it does from time to time..    well, i am reminded of a saying that was one of my dad’s favorites..   ” he who hesitates is lost ”     and guess what,   i hesitated..    the wind was blowing   at least 20..   the channel was very narrow..   and i ended up on the wrong side of red..   aground..     it happens to me all of the time..  just when i begin to feel a bit to sure of myself..  life slaps me down..  Smiley 

 i was motoring.. so i quickly raised the engine..  the plastic  bolt on the  rudder snapped.. no problem  . plenty of spares..     I am not sure if I said a bad word or not..  i might have  Sad    and then i  tried to figure my way out ..  thinking first of all.  i really should have renewed my Boat US membership  which ran out on the  30th of june..  i let it go  when i decided against the maine trip.  and bought insurance elsewhere..   ok..  first dumb move.. 

 I set the jib.. thinking the boat may heel enough  to get me off… no luck with that plan!     There were some fishermen about 100 yrds away..  really intent on fishing and totally oblivious to my predicament..  or, perhaps just reluctant to acknowledge my predicament..   at any rate.. I reluctantly sounded the horn 3 times..  twice.. before they looked my way..   They  came over but said that it was too shallow for them to do anything and offered to radio  the tow boat..  I thanked them and told them that i would place the call..   

I sat on the bow,, thinking..  when a nice couple on a C dory happened by and offered a tow..   The gentleman hooked up a swell looking tow rope with floats on it.. the intention was that the rope would float my way..   it did not work..  got caught in their prop.. and he had to lift the engine to untangle..    the next time i just jumped in the water to snag the line..   and i did.. but it got caught again and separated..   this time he had to drop his anchor to  keep in the channel while he untangled it..   while he was doing that..  i started to push the boat..  and it moved, little by little.  by the time he got back to me, the boat was nearly off..   he said that he did not want to try again.. and who could blame him!   but.  many thanks the the c dory folks  ( i think that the name was  C Pod)       A bit more pushing and the boat was off..  i had to scramble aboard,   and got the motor started..  only to have the prop hit the  foil rudder..   oh no!!!   i stopped the engine..  and by the time i was ready to go again.. I was aground again!  on the other side of the channel…    back in the water again..   and push.. this time.. not quite as difficult..   but getting back into the boat  is rather difficult without a ladder..   second dumb move..  passing on buying a fixed boarding ladder..

So now I am  ready to get out of there..  and i really am at a loss to explain this, but i ended up exactly in the first  spot that  I was aground..   i think this time I got a bit annoyed..   but I knew that i could handle it..  back in the water..   out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cruiser coming up and stopping..    I tried to wave it on, not wanting anyone else to have a problem..  but he stayed put..     a bit later , after some pushing,  I noticed a tow boat coming from the other direction..  hmmm,   do I bite the bullet?   he stops and says..  “you have one option ”   I think that he meant for me to hire him..   I told him thanks, but that I would work on it a while..     he then said.. no problem,  he would see if he could help the cruiser..  ahhh,   that was why the cruiser had stopped and was so successful at maintaining position in this wind!!    I kept tabs on them as I pushed and pulled..   the towboat really had to work to pull that cruiser off.   By the time he did.. I was nearly off. and  continued to work..  the tow boat  kept an eye on me for a bit..  but I got Adagio floated..  and climbed aboard again..  luckily  while the water was still relatively shallow..  it would have been really challenging if I had not  been standing waist deep when I pushed off..     

i was spooked for a bit…  forget the  mountain thing.. just keep the red triangles on the starboard side when headed south!     To add insult to injury,  no sooner did I get settled and headed in the correct direction when  I  was ambushed by  green head flies..   hundreds of them..     by the time I got through that area, the  cockpit deck was littered with the dead bodies of  umpteen  flies..  
Atlantic city with its temples to financial fortune ( or ruin)  was in sight…   no interest in stopping there..    But this is where I would encounter drawbridges for the first time on this trip.  With limited experience ( my first and only drawbridge experience was last summer)  I checked the chart and tried to develop a mental image of the next few miles which included 5 bridges.   The bridge personnel were helpful and it turned out to be a pleasure to contact each one of them.    Having focused my attention on getting through Atlantic City, it was only after the last bridge that I realized   it was getting late..  I lost at least two hours with the  grounding fiasco, and  I was bucking both wind and tide for a good part of the trip..  so my actual speed much of the day was in the 3-4 knot range..    looking at the chart.. it seemed like Margate might be a good prospect.     It was after 5 when I got there..  stopped at a fuel dock that had all kinds of signs saying open for business..  but they weren’t   I tied up anyway and went ashore ,  asked a kid at the hot dog stand associated with the docks if I could stay there..   he called the manager.. the manager said no..   dejected,  tired,  and just a bit achy, I returned to the boat.. and headed out..  as I made my way down the channel..   i  spotted a sign that advertised  transient docks  Smiley .    I called and got a recording..  given another number.. called that number  and got  Luciano..   he would be happy to  give me a dock at 3 dollars a foot..   I needed a hot shower..  done deal..

  I tied up and  took care of the boat first..  washed it down..    took care of some maintenance   issues..    and then I headed to the shower..  spent quite a long time in there..  loved it..   then walked around town..    I think I liked beach haven more..  actually, i am sure that I did!  so , the big question.. would I make it to  cape may?   it is not looking all that promising…  I  think that it is 35 miles from here..  and I just don’t see the need to push it..   much rather take my time going back and stopping by to visit my friend Bob, a fellow  compac 23 sailor in Surf City!  Perhaps  I will make it to  Ocean City..   take it easy..  get a slip early tomorrow and then head back north  on Thursday..   

things i learned..    ( is anyone still reading this?  Smiley

 1  red triangle to  starboard  when headed south.. keep it simple
  2  you can beat  the towboat from time to time, but if you sail in Barnegat Bay  and the ICW in Jersey,  he will very likely  win in the end!
 3.   it really does not matter if it is raining when you are waist deep in water, trying to push your boat off of a bar!
4.   gotta line up a transient dock before  5 pm..  after that, everyone is home eating dinner and  not the least bit interested in the  $60  you are willing to fork over for a slip and a hot shower..
5  think long and hard before putting a Good Samaritan in  a predicament that is just as bad , if not worse than your own!



An Evening View of Toms River


It has been quite a while since my last post regarding sailing, and I was hoping that, at this point in the summer, I would be well on my way along a course set from NJ to Maine.  But, two weeks ago I had to come to terms with the reality that  I got a very late start, and, when I was finally prepared, the weather report was anything but favorable for me to venture out into the Atlantic for the first time in a 23 foot sailboat.   The voice on the radio repeated ” winds south at 20 knots, waves 4 to 7 feet”  for each of the following five days”    I had been advised to wait for  seas of 2-3 feet by the previous owner..  and I took his words seriously.

I needed a new plan, so I looked at the local charts and decided to set out in the opposite direction..  south along the ICW  to Cape May,  a distance of 90 statute miles.   I planned on doing 30 miles a day and completing the round trip in  6 days.   At 6 miles per hour, it seemed completely reasonable..

Day 1    The early morning light was dulled by a grey mist which would continue to be the case throughout much of the day.   Preparations for the trip included  a walk to the bathroom at the marina and a quick breakfast.   I made a cup of tea to enjoy on the way down the river as well as a sandwich and a thermos of tea for later in the day.   The motor had been running for a few minutes and was warmed up and ready to go.   I cast off the lines and backed out of the slip and then proceeded down the fairway, past the fuel dock where they sell both  gasoline and diesel,  and into Toms river.    It was a quiet departure.  Hardly anyone was stirring at the marina, the water was calm.   I was motoring at  5 knts, anticipating  reaching Barnegat Bay  in 20-25 minutes.   Soon, I passed by the spot where the engine had failed two days prior.

Along with numerous repairs stemming from Hurricane Sandy,   I had installed a new outboard engine which replaced the one ruined in the storm.   Following the break-in  instructions, I first ran the engine at low rpm’s for two hours.  It was after this that  I filled the second tank and switched the fuel line to test out the new tank.   A minute or two after leaving the fuel dock,  I twisted the throttle, expecting to feel a smooth surge in speed  accompanied by a higher pitch, indicating increased rpm’s.  Instead,  the engine seemed to choke on itself, and soon died.    I was heartbroken.   My first thought was  ” how can i possibly expect to sail through New York Harbor with an engine that is unreliable?”   I checked everything that came to mind..  the kill switch,  the tank vent..  the pressure in the bulb..   all seemed to be in order, and yet, the engine would not start.    I checked the wind  and prepared a plan for sailing back to the marina.   Under jib alone, I turned the boat towards the fuel dock  but had to bide my time while two large cruisers filled their massive tanks.   Finally, it was my turn.  the dock was clear, the wind was light,   and I made my way in, making an ideal landing which no one happened to witness.    The mechanic at the marina looked over the situation, tried to start the engine a few times and then declared that the only option was to take it to the nearest Tohatsu dealer.

The first question from the dealer was “where did you get the engine?”   I anticipated the question, and timidly replied that I had bought it on line..  I had to eat crow for 2 minutes while he yanked my chain about buying on line and bringing it to him to remedy the problem.  But it was mostly good natured , and he ended the conversation by inviting me to bring it down right away.

We arrived at his shop half an hour later..  He was impressed that “at least you laid the engine on the correct side “…  he was working on another small outboard but made room for mine in the test tank..  he had determined that the first engine would not start because of water in the gas..  and soon after,  he determined that mine would not start because it was trying to burn diesel!   Ahhh..  in an instant I replayed the scene from earlier in the morning, getting out of the boat , placing the tank on the ground and watching the girl from the marina pump the gas..  or what I thought was gas..  in fact, she gave me 3 gallons of quality diesel fuel..  the engine ran while there was still gas in the carb, but it did not take long for the diesel to make its way through the line and into the bowl.. no wonder the engine choked!

“What is this world coming to”, he asked no one in particular..  ” I have one guy trying to run his engine on water and another guy trying to use diesel.. ”   We laughed..  but it cost me $120 to get the engine running and I bought an extra prop from him to assuage my guilt about buying on line!   What he really did, however, was to restore my faith in the engine, and that was worth a great deal more..

I was the only one on the river at this early hour of 7 am.   The mouth of the river marked the true departure for this trip.  What I had intended was to head north to the top of the bay,  then on through the Point Pleasant Canal and out the Manasquan Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean  for the 22 mile trip to Sandy Hook.   But, instead, I would be turning south, directly into the the predicted 20 knot wind.  The previous owner had tried to prepare me for what it would be like going to windward for any length of time,  but  I was not too overly concerned..    A minute after making the turn, I was drenched..   I cut the engine and went below..  donned my  foul weather gear top and put my bating suit on..    After securing the hatch and drop board, I forged ahead,   the only boat on the bay for the next two hours..   at times struggling to pick out the next day mark through the mist and droplets on my glasses..  For a period of time, I took my glasses off and found that I could manage quite well for the long distances that were involved, but had to put them on again as I checked the chart for some indication about where the next mark might be. After a few hours of being showered by the spray every 10 – 15 seconds, the sandwich and hot tea that I had prepared earlier were a godsend. I slowed the engine and enjoyed them and then pressed onward.

It was an adventure, for sure..  My expectation was that both the wind and the water would calm down at the south end of the bay where it was considerably narrower.   Thankfully, this seemed to be the case.    The hours passed more quickly than I imagined they would under such conditions.    Later in the day,  a few boats ventured out, but  I was largely alone for most of the trip.   Although I had charts covering the area between Toms River and Cape May, my intended destination,  I did not have a cruising guide for these waters..  This put me at a bit of a disadvantage, having never been this far south on the bay, but I was fortunate to find a marina at Beach Haven that had a transient slip available.   A long hot shower never felt better.   After checking the lines on the boat a second time, I headed into town to explore.   I had never been to Beach Haven, but found it to be a pleasant spot, with good restaurants and a nice tea room where I was able to enjoy a hot cup of Earl Grey along with an over-sized chocolate chip cookie.   It felt awfully good to settle into my bunk that night, and sleep came quickly.   Distance travelled-  28.5 miles, almost on schedule!  Tomorrow’s destination..  Ocean City.

Conversation with a teenager

I have fond memories of the kitchen in the home of my first mother-in-law.   She was quite the cook, and I am honored to have some of her recipes in my file box.  One of my favorites is her banana bread.  Perhaps a bit oily, but doesn’t that just add to the taste?

Well, my step daughter ( age 16 just around the corner)  is on a healthy eating kick..  to her credit, for sure.  I admire the work that she does in the kitchen as well as the fact that she is keen on establishing a healthy diet at this point in her life.    She made banana bread early this week.   I am not sure where she got the recipe, but it certainly was not from my file box!   No oil,  whole wheat flour.. and who knows what else went into the mixing bowl. 

I tried a bite and noticed that it was a bit on the dry side ( no problem, still good with tea) ,  and  there was a hint of  banana,  and it was quite obvious that she had used whole wheat flour..   not bad, really, just different.

“K”,  I said,  “the banana bread tastes different”.  “No it doesn’t”   she responded.   ” Well,  it is kind of different”  I said.  ” tastes the same to me”  was her retort..    How does one proceed?   ” It isn’t bad”, I said “just different from what i am used to.”    her response ” you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to”     “Actually, I was just trying to start a conversation”  I said..   no response.. ” I guess that isn’t going to happen right now”. ..  no response..   

end of conversation..  

later in the evening.. we sat on the front porch with our tea and a piece of dry banana bread..  ” it is kind of different”  i said..  ” no it isn’t”     🙂