Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Free Cat!

Pam and I had to drive north to move our personal belongings out of a building I sold in upstate New York.  We took a detour to Norwalk to drop Ruby off at Auntie Christine's.  She'll have torn cruciate ligament surgery today.  We'll drive back to Norwalk on Thursday where I'll drop Pam off, and then I'll drive back to Annapolis.   Ruby gets her bandages off in about a week and Pam will rent a car and drive back to Annapolis.  

Poor Ruby.  I think she tore this a long time ago, but Pit Bulls (and maybe all dogs) have an amazing ability to not show pain.  Maybe it's a primieval thing.   If an animal is injured, it is abandoned or eaten by the others.  We only noticed it because if she played too long or too hard, she'd limp. 

Poor Chevy.   He and Ruby have been inseparable for a year.  Chevy and Ruby genuinely love each other.

Today he's looking very sad, and worried, laying on the bed all alone here in the Holiday Inn.

All the animals get along.  The dogs even cuddle with Gertie.  They pretty much steer clear of Charlie, the three legged Siamese though.

BTW, we're looking for a home for Charlie.  He gets very seasick underway.   I feel really bad for him.

If anyone is interested, let me know.

I'll have a few boat projects to blog about when I get back to Annapolis.  I'll be installing tank level indicators in our water and waste tanks.  I'll also be replacing the deck fitting for the waste tank and repairing or removing a shut-off valve from the master stateroom head to the waste tank.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

HA! Got it.

It was the dawn of a new day.  I decided to tackle the AIS yet again.   I also decided to pour a cup of coffee since I was listing to starboard.

For my landlubber friends AIS is an acronym for Automatic Identification System, a radio that broadcasts the name, type of vessel, speed, and course over ground of my boat and receives data of boats around me. It is used primarily for collision avoidance. It is required for all large ships and all passenger vessels. A lower cost type B is now available for recreational boats, which is what Drift Away has.

If you remember from yesterday's blog, I was trying to figure out where to connect two tiny 22 gauge data wires from the AIS to a WAGO terminal block.  I stuck those data wires in every place I could think of, but still the AIS wouldn't display on the chartplotter. I finally cheated and connected the wires in the same holes in the terminal block as the chartplotter's (yeah, I know, but it's my boat), still NG.  Finally, I started messing around with settings on the AIS and under the network list, it said there wasn't a network.  Being a computer guy, I had an "aha" moment.   I pulled all the crap out from under the helm station, traced the Simnet cable from the AIS to the Simnet joiner laying on the floor and plugged it in. Viola.

Anyway, now I can see other vessels right on my 12" touchscreen.   This, combined with the radar overlay, clearly identifies other boats around me.  This is a great thing, especially in marginal conditions like fog, or night.  In the pic below, I touched the icon for Winning Drive, a yacht about a half a mile away in Spa Creek (BTW, Winning Drive is owned by the owner of the Baltimore Ravens.  Go Ravens!).

The chartplotter will even sound an alarm if we're on a collision course.  Very cool.

And as the sun set, I celebrated with a victory beer.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

WAGO Terminal Box

Sven, my buddy who installed my electronics, used a fancy dancy terminal block. I couldn't figure out how to get the AIS data cable wires inserted in the holes so the AIS data would display and overlay on the Simrad NSS12 chartplotter.  Finally, using a magnifying glass, I saw a logo on the side of it.  I couldn't make out what it was so I took a photo of it with the super macro setting.  I downloaded it onto my laptop and zoomed way in.

It says "WAGO 249".   A half hour of googling produced nothing that showed me how the thing worked.  At a party last night, someone remarked that you can learn to do just about anything on Youtube, so I did a search there and BINGO, there it was- Wago Terminal Demonstration.

It showed how to insert a wire into it by pushing a screwdriver in the square hole and then sticking the wire in the round hole.   I tinned the wires to make it easier, something I also learned on Youtube.

What I need to figure out now is where in the WAGO 249 to insert the orange and blue wire from the AIS data cable.  The yellow and green data cable wires aren't used.  I wonder why they're in there then?  Seems dumb.

The chartplotter cable is the big black one that's almost vertical, and it's connected on the bottom row. I tried two empty holes on the bottom row and then two on the top but it's not working.   I sent an email off to Sven but he's probably busy with the holidays.  I don't want to call his cell phone and bug him on the weekend.  I'll bug him on Monday if I don't hear anything.

The AIS works.  If you go to http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/ and in the vessel name search box type in Drift Away, and there we are.

So while we wait for Sven, if you want some laughs, watch the WAGO video.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our AIS Is Up And Running. Kinda.

It's a long story, but the bottom line is that I needed to order a new data and power cable for our Simrad AIS transponder.  I hooked up the power cable yesterday.  I didn't hook up the data cable to the chartplotter because, well, I'm not sure how to do it.  I know it goes here in this junction box somewhere, but I think I need itty bitty connectors for the itty bitty wires, and an itty bitty crimper to do it.

The manual says the orange and blue wires are used, but that the green and yellow are not.  If they're not used, why are they there?   I sent an email to my buddy Sven who made these connections when we installed the electronics in September, but in the meantime, anyone know how to stick little wires into those little holes?

I fired up the AIS transponder and enter my MMSI number, boat name, and boat dimensions.  I went to a website that shows boats with AIS transponders.   We didn't show up at all for a couple of hours, but then there we were.   For some reason, we only show our MMSI number though, not our boat name.  Maybe it takes awhile.   Click on the link above and then navigate to Back Creek in Annapolis and look for 338124569.  That's us.

Thanksgiving was fabulous.  Because of the heavy traffic Pam and I would have to deal with to drive from Annapolis to upstate New York, we stayed put.  Although I missed Thanksgiving with family for the first time in my life, we had a fantastic dinner with friends here.   Life is good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Maritime Republic Of Eastport

I had posted earlier that Drift Away is now in Annapolis.   That is not quite correct.  We are in the Maritime Republic of Eastport, an independent micro-nation. 

The bridge over Spa Creek that connects Eastport and Annapolis was closed for repairs back in 1998, effectively cutting off the community of Eastport from Annapolis.  In a meeting on Superbowl Sunday,  and no doubt fueled by copious quantities of alcohol at Davis' Pub, it was decided to secede from not only Annapolis, but from the union.   They declared themselves the Maritime Republic of Eastport.

Eastport declared "war" on Annapolis.  In November of 1998, the first tug-of-war between Annapolitians and Eastport-aricans (they refer to themselves as such) was held.  The night before the big event, a group of Eastport-aricans raided the Annapolis city hall and replaced it's flag with that of the Maritime Republic of Eastport.

In reality, this group is more than just fun and games.   They also raise money for area charities through their events.   Their motto is "we like it this way".   I could live here.

On another note, Pam and I have a friend from Stamford who sold his powerboat and bought a sailboat this past spring.  He taught himself to sail over the summer.  He left Stamford in November, planning on eventually making it to St. Thomas.  His first stop was Chincoteague Island which is at the southern end of Maryland, a whopper of a trip, especially for a relatively new sailor.   He then sailed to Hog Island and then Norfolk.  

He was experiencing some trouble.  His alternator burned out, his autopilot broke, and he's got boat leaks galore.   He called Pam and I and sounded pretty dejected.  We convinced him to come to Annapolis to get fixed up and to spend Thanksgiving with friends.  He agreed and sailed non-stop, arriving yesterday in pea soup fog.  

Our two pit bulls, Ruby and Chevy, know Miro from Seaview House Marina in Stamford.  They were very excited to see him and were all over him, especially Chevy who likes to rough house with Miro.  And vice-versa.

Miro teases Chevy by keeping tug-of-war toys away.  In his Slovakian accent, "You can't have dis.  Miro's toy."

Chevy responds as pit bulls do and ripped his hand off.  Naw, not really.  They're just playing, and Chevy's fangs didn't go that far into Miro's hand.

And in the end, they're best buds.

Pam fed Miro a great chicken dinner and I did my job of getting him well lubricated. I delivered him back to his boat, not expecting to see him until at least noon the next day at the earliest. I took the dogs for their potty walk at 8 AM today and there he was, awake and smiling broadly. Mission accomplished.

Today  we removed the alternator from his engine since he doesn't need it (he has a wind generator) and borrowed friend Chuck's car and hied ourselves to the local NAPA store to get a shorter fan belt. All he needs to turn is the water pump. We'll install the belt tomorrow. We also ordered a new pinion sprocket from eBay. Hopefully, that will be here Friday or Saturday and we can get that fixed and he's good to go.  Hey, every boat leaks, that can wait.

Miro is thinking about going back to Stamford to work and replenish his cruising kitty.  He says he'd really like to install a new engine and do some other expensive things on his boat, and he can find work easily in Stamford where he knows people.  Pam and I are trying to convince him that, like us, he can work on his boat just as easily down south, if not easier because the weather is better.  He's waffling a bit now.  I think Pam showing him sailing magazines with bikini clad women on white sandy beaches may have had an impact.  And I'm thinking that a talented guy like Miro (he does construction) can find work anywhere.  We'll see what happens.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  It will be Pam and I, now joined by Miro, at Kate and Chuck's for Thanksgiving.  Go Ravens!

Monday, November 21, 2011

So This Brunette Walks Into A Doctor's Office...

A brunette goes to the doctor and as she touches each part of
her body with her finger she says, "Doctor it hurts everywhere.
My leg hurts, my arm hurts, my neck hurts, and even my head hurts!"

The docters asks, "Did you dye your hair?

"Yes,I did," she replies with a frown.

The doctor asks, "Were you a Blonde?"

"Yes I was. Why do you ask?"

The doctor answers, "because your finger is broken!"

That's how I felt yesterday after spending most of Saturday removing our old refrigerator and installing a new one with my buddy Chuck. I don't know how he felt, but I hurt in places I didn't know I had places. I did walk the dogs with Pam, but my plans to paint the foredeck went right out the window. I still hurt today.

 I have this penchant for getting wounded doing jobs like these. They're called "boat bites".

And the worst of all, banging my noggin.

Bald guys are at a decided disadvantage.  You can see from the many scars that I hit my head a lot.  Hair acts as an early warning system when your skull is about to make contact with something and your duck reflex kicks in.   Hair also covers up any whacks, while bald guys have to  rely on hats.

There's a form of torture called "death by a thousand cuts".  I must be getting close.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who Glues In A Refrigerator?

Yesterday, Pam and I hied ourselves to Sears and bought a new refrigerator.   We briefly considered buying a marine unit that runs on both 12 volt and 110 volt, but balked because of its lofty $1,800 price tag.   We decided a small apartment sized unit would work fine for us, and at $379 is a bargain.

Faithful readers of this blog may recall that the old one was a household unit with cold plates installed (for my landlubber friends, cold plates are rectangular metal boxes that get very, very cold and will maintain the refrigerator while underway).  While that was pretty cool, it was not frost free and a pain in the neck to defrost.  While we were debating whether or not to replace it, the refrigerator decided for us when a hinge rusted through and the door fell off.

Sears scheduled a delivery today between 10 and 12 (great service!).  So around 8 AM we decided to remove our food and yank the old one out.

I made a temporary fix to the hinge, so I unfixed it and removed the door.  Look at the iceberg in the back.  It took up half the shelf.

Once we finished unloading it, I removed the trim panels on each side.

What the...??  It's surrounded by spray in foam on all sides!  This effectively glued the refrigerator to the boat.

We scrapped out all the foam we could, and I pried the refrigerator from every direction.  It wouldn't budge.   It was time to call out the heavy artillery-  my buddy Chuck with his Sawzall.

We cut foam, we cut copper tubing, we cut electrical wires (oops), and finally, we cut the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, Sears arrived with the new refrigerator.  Seeing our predicament, they left it on the aft deck and promised to come back tomorrow to take the old one away.   What great service!

After a mere three hours of cutting, prying, and tugging, it started to move.

One more cut with the Sawzall and more prying with the crowbar and it was out.  We walked it onto a small carpet and dragged it out the back door and onto the aft deck.

On to the new one!  The first thing we needed to do was to move the hinges to the left side.  Then we moved it inside and over to the galley.  It wouldn't fit.  It's too deep.  So I took the doors back off and we got it in place.  It wouldn't go in far enough, so back out it came and I removed the foam still on the back wall.  Then back in it went.   I leveled it and put the doors back on.

Pam came home and was dismayed at the demolition debris all over.  Chuck and I were beat, and we took her offer of her cleaning while we celebrated with a victory beer.   A while later Pam called me over to the galley.  The door doesn't open all the way and there was no way for her to move the shelves, so I took the doors off again so she could adjust them where she wanted them, and then put them back on.

The new refrigerator is a huge improvement in the looks of this old boat.  I intend to buy an inverter to run it while underway.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Great Service From Filter Boss!

I installed two Filter Boss systems on Drift Away when we were having all those fuel issues a few weeks ago.  This is a very cool and ingenious system.   If a filter starts to clog, a pressure sensor sends an alarm to the helm station and one can simply flip a switch and a hydraulic actuator changes from filter #1 to filter #2 in about one second and the engine keeps on a runnin'.  Well, when while draining water out of the bottom of one of the filters a couple of weeks ago, I broke off the wires to the actuator at a point where it couldn't be spliced.  I called Andy, the owner of KTI Systems, and he said no problem.  When we get to Annapolis,where we plan to spend a couple of weeks, just send him the actuator and he'll repair or replace it.   I also told him that the Filter Bosses seem to lose their prime when shut off.  He said that there is a built-in check valve that's supposed to stop that from happening and that he'd look into it.

The pic below is of the switches in the helm station, just to the right of my victory beer after I finished the install.  To switch filters, simply lift the red handle and flip the switch.

In the photo below, the actuator arm is the vertical black one with the little red and black wires coming out of the bottom.   They're in a vulnerable place.   I must have snagged the wires when opening the drain valve at the bottom.

I zip tied the wires on the other filter to the hydraulic lines behind it to keep them out of the way of the drain valve to prevent that from happening in the future.

Yesterday, I removed the actuator, boxed it up, and took it to the post office and shipped it out.  On the way back to the boat we stopped by our friends Kate and Chuck's to say hello.  Kate and Chuck very generously let us use their address for parts that we've ordered since we're on the move.  They weren't home, but there was a UPS delivery on their front porch.  It was addressed to us, from KTI Systems.  It was a new actuator and two new check valves.   Unbelievable.  Fifteen minute turn around time, all the way from Massachusetts.  ;-)

Customer service in the marine industry is notoriously bad, so it's only right to give kudos to a company that has good service.  In the case of KTI Systems, it's outstanding.  They had emailed me and asked when I expected to arrive in Annapolis.  I never expected them to send the new part out without me first sending them the old one, and Andy even remembered about the check valve issue.  It seems it might be a problem with the O-ring, no biggie.  I'll install the new actuator and the check valves today.

On a side note, it is now 35 degrees in Annapolis and the high is forecast to be 45.  Although the old reverse cycle A/C units are keeping the inside of the boat nice and toasty, we need to get south!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Do We Do On A Rainy Day?

We're sitting here in Mears Marina in Annapolis.  It's been raining for the past two days. So what do liveaboards do?  We don't work, so every day is a Saturday, and when it rains, it's a rainy Saturday.  Unlike living in a house, there's no grass to mow, hedges to trim, or rooms to paint.  I certainly have a lot of boat projects to work on but practically all of them involve being outdoors and painting something.

So our lazy day routine is to sleep late, eat breakfast, surf the internets, watch some TV (I'm getting hooked on Judge Judy), wash dishes, and write this blog.  I needed to do something more yesterday, and while standing in the helm station ordering parts for our Simrad electronics I noticed how nasty our helm station was.   For our loyal readers, you recall that this boat is 30 years old, and sat on the hard in Connecticut for almost 20 years.  The helm station controls were corroded.  So I got out the metal polish and spent a couple of hours (yes, you read that right) polishing the knobs and instruments and engine controls.

Sometime  soon we need to get out to shop for a new refrigerator.  Our old Sanyo with the cold plates needs to go.  It's rusted and we don't like the cold plates, which accumulate considerable amounts of ice and is very messy to defrost.  We looked at marine units at the Annpolis boat show and weren't impressed.  They switch automatically between 12 volt and 110 volt, which is nice, but a small one runs  about $1,800 and it looked cheaply made.  We decided that a regular apartment sized frost free unit would be better and we can replace it five or six times for the price of the marine unit.  We spend a lot of time in marinas plugged in, and under way we'll run it off an inverter.   Maybe we'll shop for that today.  Maybe not.  Judge Judy might be on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Annapolis. Five Weeks Overdue. LOL!

I must be the world's biggest optimist.  We left Stamford, Connecticut in the middle of September.  The plan was to cruise up the Hudson to Castleton for our wedding in Saratoga Springs on October 1st and then beat feet to Annapolis, arriving the last couple of days of the sailboat show and in time for the powerboat show.  I made reservations at a marina for a week starting October 9th.  We got here November 15.  I won't rehash the story.  It's all in the blog.

We've set an arbitrary limit of winds no more than 15 MPH and waves no more than 3 feet for traveling in Drift Away.  Hereafter, it shall be called the 15-3 rule.  See, we really don't have a boat.   We have an apartment that moves on the water.  It would take a long time to get the boat properly prepared and everything secured for a trip in anything more than 15-3, and then equally long to get it set for living aboard once we arrived at our destination.

We almost didn't leave yesterday.  There were small craft advisories until noon.   I looked outside and this was what I saw.

Narey a ripple on Worton Creek.   I checked the sea buoy off Annapolis.  The winds were calm there also.   Throwing caution to the wind, I told Pam that we were going.  At 8 AM, we cast off.

The bay was glassy calm the entire 28 mile trip.   Not much to see or photograph, nor to report.

The Army Corps of Engineers were doing something here in the middle of the channel.  What, I do not know, but they weren't moving, just sitting there.

The Bay Bridge is in sight!

This bridge is very photographable.

We were about a mile from Annapolis and had Back Creek in sight.   I said to Pam "We finally made it to Annapolis!" to which she replied "We're not there yet!".   LOL!   I love my honey.  She's such a kidder.

Actually, the boat has been running great, and my Filter Boss/Racor fuel polishing system has been working perfectly.  The old Racors have a pickup tube about a half an inch off the bottom and pick up the heavy crud and water, and the Filter Bosses have pickup tubes about three inches off the bottom and have been as clean as a whistle.  I have to wonder why boats aren't set up like this from the factory.

We're now in Annapolis for at least the next couple of weeks.  Part of that time will be to return to upstate New York to clean out my old store of our personal items since the store has been sold.   For boat projects, we need to replace our refrigerator, install our new Electrosense tank measuring gizmos, possibly replace our depth sounder that went on the fritz yesterday, and a few other items. 

Our daily posts may be less frequent until we get underway again.  As a reminder to us that it's later than we think, the forecast is for snow mixed with rain on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yesterday was a beautiful day here on the Chesapeake Bay.  The only downside was the considerable wind blowing out in the bay, but we we're snug at Worton Creek Marina.   

This is a pretty desolate place with no town within walking distance, but there's still things to see and do.  First things first- walk the dogs.  

Covered docks means that we're getting south!

We took the dogs up the hill behind the marina where boats are stored so they could run off leash and burn up some energy.   While they were cavorting, I checked out the long term residents.  You can always tell the boats that have been abandoned by the dirt and grit covering them.  

Maybe this sailboat was abandoned because he lost his mast.  You can see the bend in it just aft of the stern.   Masts are expensive.

There's no question why this boat is here.

One thing to be very afraid of is a boat fire.  It looks like this one was electrical since most of the damage is by the helm and forward.  There were several burned boats here.

Back at the boat, Chevy was fascinated by something across the bay.   A check with the binoculars showed a flock of Canada Geese with many of them taking a bath.  The way a goose takes a bath is to duck its head underwater and then throw its head up in the air to get water rolling down its back, and then flapping its wings furiously.

Pam and I were basking in the warm sunshine on the aft deck.   A huge wasp landed on Ruby's back and then fell onto the deck.  Before I could do anything, Ruby stepped on it and it stung her.  She didn't know what happened but knew it hurt and she ran.   Pam got her back and put her on the sofa and checked out her paw which she was nursing.

What can you do for a wasp sting? 

While we were there, we saw one of the coolest things I've seen around a marina. 

It's just a little float with a padded vee in the stern to fit a boat's bow, an outboard motor, and a steering wheel on top to turn it with.

 I just love ingenuity and thinking outside of the box.

There are small craft advisories until noon today, but we're leaving for Annapolis anyway.  The wind direction is out of the northwest, a good direction for the Chesapeake.   We only have about 30 miles to go, a four or five hour trip.  Piece of cake.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Small Town That Moves

We left Summit North Marina on the C&D Canal yesterday.  I've often said that we don't have a boat, we have an apartment that floats.  As liveaboards, we have a lot of shi.... uh... stuff that can fly around unless we secure it, and securing it takes a lot of time, so we pick our days so we don't have to.  We've set an arbitrary limit of winds no more than 15 knots and waves no more than 3 feet, which I think is reasonable.  The forecast for yesterday was 10 to 15 out of the south and waves 1 to 2 feet.  The wind direction was wrong.  Anything out of the north or south can create a nasty chop but the forecast was within our tolerances.  Besides, it was time to move on.

We got a late start, 10 AM.  I knew we wouldn't make the 60 mile trip to Annapolis and we'd need to tuck in someplace.   The Chesapeake is all about boating and marinas wouldn't be a problem.   Coming out of the C&D the winds were 5 to 10 and the waves were less than a foot. 

I thought this was interesting- an overhead natural gas pipeline on the C&D.

Sometimes I feel like a real hick- "Lookey thar Ma, a over haid pipe line!".  LOL!

And I thought this was interesting.

Anyone who has boated for any length of time knows how ignorant or inconsiderate boaters can be.  They drive their boats at exactly the wrong speed at exactly the wrong time and toss huge wakes everywhere they go.  But does this huge sea going tug really need to be concerned?

As we left the protection of the canal and entered the top of the Chesapeake, though, it piped up to 10 and shortly thereafter to 15. Still, 2 foot waves were no problem for us.  As the channel turned more and more south, the wind picked up even more, eventually to 20 MPH or so with steep curling 3 foot waves right on the bow.  Drift Away has Naiad stabilizers so we can take waves from the side but on they do no good when it's snotty on the nose.  We started to bounce pretty good and took spray over the bow which hit the helm station windows.  My hourly filter checks were now every fifteen or twenty minutes.   A little water was collecting in the Racors but nothing too serious.

I checked our marina guides for a place to tuck in.  The Sassafras River was behind us and I was loathe to head backwards, so I decided we should ride it out and head for Worton Creek Marina an hour and change ahead of us.  Pam stashed the easily flyable stuff in the main saloon and the boat was doing fine.  Even the critters seemed to be getting used to getting beat up and were snoozing.   A tug towing a barge passed us and we got behind him for a time because he was flattening out the waves for us.

You can see from this photo above that Drift Away was heeling to starboard because of the wind, which at this point was coming at us at about 11 o'clock.

As we headed left into the bay where Worton Creek is we were sheltered a bit from the southly wind and waves and things smoothed down.   It was pretty shallow getting to Worton Creek Marina, 5 or 6 feet in spots, but we got in fine.   For you Google Earth enthusiats, we're at 39* 16' 33.51" N, 76*10'06.13"W.

We were running out of a lot of provisions but some nice folks in a  Lagoon 380 catamaran next to us took Pam to the grocery store.   They just returned from a one year cruise with their kids and pit bull.  We're learning that the boating community takes care of it's own.   As our friend Chuck said (Chuck and Kate spent eight years cruising in their sailboat), people traveling in boats are like a small town that moves.

We spent a relaxing evening watching football and enjoying the sunset.

The Bills (New York's only football team) lost, the Giants lost, and the Ravens lost (being in Annapolis soon, we have to learn to root for the Ravens).   But just look at that sunset. 

It's really well protected here. We've decided to stay today because today's forecast is the same as yesterday, 15 knot winds out of the south.  Tomorrow we head for Annapolis.  We'll have a lazy day today.  Ummm.... it seems we have a lot of those.   I'm writing this blog and Pam is washing the spray off the boat's windows.   It's almost lunch o'clock, and then we'll walk the dogs, and then it will be beer thirty.  Life is good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The fear of exploration

It's not often that I write, but at dinner tonight, I realized something. I'm not the norm. Let me explain, I was married for 20 years and did the whole wife and mom thing.... but I was always yearning for "somethng". I was the stay at home mom, take the kids to sports and even ran for local office, but I knew in my heart I had this wanderlust. When life took a turn and I found my courage to pursue my life's dreams, I took Nikes motto, "just do it".  As Dave and I meander down the eastern coast, embarking on a venture of a lifetime for both of us, it seems surreal.

We ate dinner tonight at Aqua Sol, a wonderful restaurant on the grounds of North Summit Marine where we are currently sitting, and as I listened to the conversation around me, we were surrounded by conversation of those wishing they were on those boats leaving the marina for points south. I said to the couple next to us at the bar, "you have to just do it" and with wistfulness in his eyes he came up with several excuses why he can't. At this point, I can't come up with a single reason why I wouldn't be living aboard and exploring this wonderful world. I can't see myself living on solid ground in the near future. There are blogs Dave follows and some have sold their boats, I can't see that in my future. It makes me sad to imagine my life not on this boat and exploring beaches unknown.


The Vultures Are Circling

In yesterday's blog I mentioned the vultures that abound here at Summit North Marina on the C&D Canal.  They're everywhere.  I decided to take my camera along for our afternoon dog walk yesterday.  Here are a few pics.

The one on the left is a Turkey Vulture.  The two on the right are either Black Vultures or immature Turkey Vultures.  Ugly birds.

They may be ugly, but they're beautiful in flight.

I also got a glimpse of a Heron.

The dogs love our walks, and this dirt road is a perfect place to let them run off leash.  If you look hard, you can see Chevy off in the distance.

And run they do.   Usually Ruby will pick up a stick and taunt Chevy with it and the chase is on.

We saw a few girls coming on horseback and put the dogs back on their leashes.  The dogs were both afraid and fascinated when the horses passed.  Ruby stood between me and them, her hackles raised and growling and barking.  That is until they came close, at which point she hid behind me growling and barking.

The walk over, we headed down the docks and back to Drift Away.  The vultures were circling overhead.  Must be I look like I have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

The forecast for today isn't the best, 15 to 20 out of the southwest and waves 3 feet.  After all we've been through along the Jersey shore, 3 foot waves would be a piece of cake, but I think we'll wait until Sunday to leave when the forecast is for 10 to 15 and 2 foot waves.

Meanwhile, another problem has come up.   We lost half the 120 volt outlets on the boat under shore power.  They work with the generator so I'm sitting here paying for a dock while running the generator, which powers the pump for the reverse cycle A/C (which gives us heat for my landlubber friends).  Today I'll get out my multimeter and check the pedestal to see if it's us or them.

On another note, it is now 35 degrees at 4 AM.  We had thought about staying in Annapolis through the holidays, but should we beat feet south?  We have plenty of heat on this boat especially if we fire up the diesel space heater in the main saloon, but isn't the whole point of cruising south to be where it's warm and there's palm trees on sandy beaches?