Saturday, November 28, 2009

There is more to life than sailing... or the Artist in the Family has a show.

Gale warning have been up for the past few days, as autumn arrives for real, which means... raking leaves. It also is time to look around the yard to see what is wanting for attention.

A year ago we had to take a few large trees out. One of them ended up as a totem pole, courtesy of my father's talents. Though we share some small bit of Native American blood, it is not from a tribe that practiced this tradition. Still, it seemed worthwhile, and he worked a few family images into the project.

First we experimented and produced a fine guard for my daughter's backyard fort. Fun.

Then my Dad got involved and crafted this 25-foot totem. More fun. It turns out, after much research that the National Parks Department learned that high-copper paint would be the proper environmentally acceptable preservative for the base. They had it specially formulated. I gather they had never heard of bottom paint. Before the bottom paint they suggested soaking the base in a borax/glycol mixture, which we prepared by dissolving about 2-3 pounds of borax in 1 gallon of ethylene glycol (concentrate antifreeze would work) at about 200F (heated on the stove). Several coats soaked in over 2 days did a fine job; as of 5-1-2015 there is not trace of rot. The glycol mix, after drying for a week, did not reject the paint.

Ken Frye - Watercolorist

But there is a point to this rambling discussion. My Dad opened a gallery show in Vienna, Virginia today. He's been painting and selling water colors and prints, generally of ocean and architectural themes, since I was small. Cape May, New Jersey was a favorite location, became a summer home for us, and influenced in no small way my interest in sailing. If you have visited Cape May, are interested in maritime scenery, or simply appreciate art, give my Dad's blog a gander.

Tired of splicing? Substitue an 85% Strength Knot.

There are circumstances when a splice cannot be beat: chain to rope splice, spinnaker sheet to shackle or other snag-prone spot, or to the becket of a block where a knot would be too bulky. There are other times when a knot is a better choice: a dingy tackle that is easily tangled and frequently re-rove, a halyard that is prone to jamming in the head block, or a halyard that will be reversed or trimmed for wear. I like them on spinnaker halyards since they provide a big ball for me to hang on to (although I understand that on some rigs they can be snag prone at the mast head - it is all a mater of geometry). Many times a simple bowline will do the job; it is easily untied and compact. It is also a mere 45% strength knot and can come loose if tied loosely or with a too-short tail.

Standard figure-8
A common figure-8 is an 75% strength knot that is bulkier and more difficult to untie. It is, however, the gold-standard for mountaineers, and they stake their lives on its security and dependability. Even after a good hard fall it is not too difficult to untie, though saltwater and time do seem to make this more difficult.

Figure-8, Yosemite finish
The figure-8 can be improved upon; take the tail around the standing part again and feed it through the first turn. This increases the strength, makes it more secure against working loose, and makes it easier to untie. Three for one!

This has become my favorite mountaineering tie-in, and I have tested it through more than a few falls, as well as failure-testing it against both splices and standard figure-8s. It is less than line strength, but not by very much.

But what about chafe? A thimble won't work, but there is another solution, well proven on industrial lifting slings and used on my boat for 15 years: cover the wear area - the thimble location - with nylon or polyester tubular webbing. 1inch webbing for line up to 1/2-inch (12 mm) and 2-inch webbing for larger line; a 3-6-inch length will do. The webbing will move with the sharp spots and rope will only feel nylon sliding on nylon, it will protecting this critical area from sun, and eliminate all wear. I believe it out-performs a thimble in many applications and is certainly a safer choice for the beginning splicer, where the thimble many not be as securely positioned as needed and can shift. I have used tubular webbing "thimbles" on mooring lines and high-tec halyards, and the knot or thimble has never been the failure point.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Circumnavigating the Delmarva Peninsula — A Guide for the Shoal Draft Sailor: November 2009 Revisions

     With the passage of one of the strongest northeasters in many years, the changeable inlets of the Eastern Shore have done just what they naturally do in response to stress; they have changed. After a few conversations with some fisherman and one sailor heading south for the winter, I have a few revisions to offer:

     Additionally, I have revised and expanded some Delaware Bay information between the Cohansey River and Bidwell Creek on the Jersey side.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Purpose of Work

An American businessman was at the pier of a small South Pacific island village when a small proa with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small proa was a dorado and several large grouper. The American complimented the Islander on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Islander replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Islander said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a late afternoon nap with my wife, Helia, and then in the evening after dinner I stroll into the village where I sip rum and play guitar with my friends. I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, and soon you would open your own cannery. You would control the production, processing, and distribution. Of course, you would need to leave this small fishing village and move to Australia, then Los Angeles and eventually New York City, from where you could better run your expanding enterprise."

The South Seas fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?" to which the American replied, "15–20 years."

"But what then?"

The American laughed and said "that's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions, really? Then what?"

The American said, "Then you retire. Move to a small fishing village where you sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take a late afternoon nap with your wife, and then in the evening after dinner, stroll into the village to sip rum and play your guitar with your friends."

Borrowed. I have no idea where this came from; I have seen many versions on the net and edited this one to suit my sense of story telling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anchor and Bow Details

rev. 2-15-2010

Many complain that chain  beats up the deck. Place heavy duty non-skid from the roller to windlass.

I've seen all sorts of lashings holding anchors while underway. A simple pin through the chain works very well and is FAST to release. Mine is home-made from 3/16-inch aluminum, but I believe you can buy them. I would not call this a chain lock - it won't take the strain - but it works better with mixed chain/fiber rodes than available chain locks because it is out of the way when open and permits easy man-hauling when needed. With a fiber rode you snub the rode on a cleat, anyway.

In my case, I always use a bridle and the rode is not loaded. With a catamaran the rode would suffer serious abuse and chafe due to exiting the the bow roller at a 40-60 degree angle. To protect the bridle I use 2-inch tubular climbing webbing ( where it crosses the bow chock.

In the picture we have stopped for a swim in fine weather. In serious weather or when we leave the boat for a time, the rode would be cleated-off, as a back-up.

Corner Tramp Lacing Reinforcement on PDQ 32

I've noticed that many of these boats have a problem with the bolt rope being strained in the corner, bringing a premature death to the trampoline. There is not enough lacing support and this is a high-impact area, due to sailors stepping down off the cabin roof. A few extra laces are just the ticket: simply add 3 small stainless straps (1" x 1/8" x 2" 316 SS) with a 1/4-inch hole drilled in each end. Round the holes well to avoid chafe.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Marine Winterizing, Antifreeze, and Engine Coolant Primer

rev 3-2-2010
rev. 12-16-2015
rev. 9-20-2016

Protecting marine water systems from ice damage is the simplest of aims, but the terms and product claims are confusing. A little education goes a long way. Yup, you can blow the system out with air or drain it; that is not the topic I am speaking to today.

For the potable water systems on a boat there is only one reasonable alternative: propylene glycol (PG), the active ingredient in virtually all marine and RV antifreeze products. Identified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” it has very low toxicity to people and mammals and no identified long-term health effects at modest doses. It can be used in toothpaste and foods; over 1 pint/170 pounds is required to be fatal. Ethylene glycol (EG), commonly used in automotive engine coolant, is toxic to people and mammals when ingested; less than ½ cup per 170 pounds is expected to be fatal. Neither is carcinogenic or causes any adverse health effects at incidental exposure levels. Both glycols have a sweet taste. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are a convenient source of information, widely available on the internet.
Marine toxicity is a different matter; both ethylene glycol and propylene glycol are low in toxicity, and there is no established difference between for fish, crabs, or marine grass. Toxic effects require 4-20% of either glycol—levels which cannot be approached with small spills because of immediate dilution.  Biodegradability is also equal; both are as easily degraded as food wastes. Claims that propylene glycol is more biodegradable or friendly to the marine environment are offered without relevant basis or back-up; we have searched high and low—the research says they are the same. See and MSDS information.Thus, for engine and head antifreeze, there is no strong reason to prefer PG over EG. EG MSDS PG MSDS

Glycerin has been suggested as a natural glycol substitute: don’t do it. It is a poor antifreeze agent, is more difficult to rinse off, does not dry, and gets very thick in cold weather. Glycerine is also more toxic than generally understood; better than ethylene glycol, but twice that of propylene glycol. Drugstore glycerine bottles now carry a warning against excessive use on baby's skin. Not all "natural" products are safe.
  • Ethylene glycol, rat oral, 4,700 mg/kg
  • Glycerine, rat, oral, 12,600 mg/kg
  • Proplyene glycol, rat oral, 25,000 mg/kg 

Unavoidably, some glycol will find its way back into the water after launching. Try to minimize this loss; both are pollutants and both lower dissolved oxygen levels when they degrade. 

Why does this matter?

            Not all materials like polypropylene glycol. The rubber parts (neoprene) in water pumps (impellers) and heads (joker valves and o-rings) are stiffened by PG. Even worse, some plastics, notably polyamide (nylon) strainers can craze and fail. The strainer below was ruined in just two seasons. Because it is in the fresh water system where I must use PG for safety, I now simply leave it out for the winter, but I cringe at the materials I don't know about. However, it is this sort of materials compatibility issues that has completely blocked PG from OEM engine coolants. You can buy them in the aftermarket, sold under the false claim that they are better for the environment. However, they are not good for the car and using them is a risk.

Burst Point
A fuzzy term without ASTM or other industry accepted standard test. It is generally recognized as the temperature where the entire mixture has become solid, though expansion may begin before this. Strong and tough materials (steel pipe) resist the strain of expanding ice better than weak and brittle materials (cast iron and PVC), and yet manufacturers of RV antifreeze seem to be “optimistic” when compared to major glycol producers’ data.
The freeze point has an ASTM recognized definition and test method; it is the temperature where the first ice crystals form. Automobiles and any system that is to be operated in cold temperatures must be protected to the freeze point to insure reliable pumping with no ice crystal present. 
As for those materials that claim -100F or -200F burst point material, there is no science to support it; all EG and PG mixtures freeze solid before -65F is reached. This is lying, plain and simple; notice that DOW does not make such silly claims. Educated industrial buyers know better.
Another word of caution for those that would use the minimum amount; when antifreeze is subjected to freeze/thaw cycling, the ice crystals float, and the glycol rich solution sinks. There will be some separation, and the burst point at the top of a complex pipe system can be much greater that the predicted value. This is common in large, complex piping systems.
Fermentation is a concern if less than 25% (that -50F burst point stuff) is used. With just a few bacteria or yeast and a little warm weather before launching, weak glycol can turn into a repulsive mixture, reminiscent of a half bottle of Thunderbird found under the seat of a used car. Sailors complain about the taste the glycol leaves behind--most often it is the fermentation products they are tasting, not the glycol. Fermented glycol also becomes very acidic and corrosive, with a pH of <5 .="" 25="" air="" alcohol="" an="" and="" as="" been="" brandy="" by="" commercial-scale="" conditioning="" dow="" extensively="" fermentation="" has="" if="" important="" in="" inhibited.="" is="" it="" like="" others="" over="" p="" problem="" studied="" systems.="" this="" used="">

The glycol content of a product is best measured with a refractometer calibrated for the glycol used. Most can test EG, PG, and battery acid—very handy—and are available for about $50. No mechanic should be without one. Glycol content is also listed on manufacturer supplied MSDS sheets, though it is conspicuously absent from packaging labels. Very curious indeed. Please note the price information below is VERY market dependent. Winter 2008 was high, Winter 2009 is much lower and I have not up-dated the table.

                                                Vol. %                   
                                                Propylene    Freeze    Burst  Price (2008)
Product                                  Glycol           Point, F   Point, F    $/lb PG
***Camco Ban Frost 2000     97                  -60           -60         $1.85
Camco Freeze Ban -100          64                  -63           -63         $1.89
Camco Freeze Ban -50            32                    5            -25         $3.84
*Star-brite -200 RV / Marine  97                   -60          -45         drums only                  
Star-brite -100 RV / Marine    60                   -60          -60         $2.45
Star-brite -60 RV / Marine      32                    5            -25         $2.49
Star-brite -50 RV / Marine      25                   10            0            $2.37
Sea-farer -50 Marine               25                   10            0            $1.90

* Concentrate. Use at 30-60% to get freeze point of -10F to -60F.
* * Product names do not always match always burst point claims, as determined from MSDS glycol concentrations and test data.
***For engine use only. Not for potable water systems. Like EG engine coolants it contains corrosion inhibitors with some toxicity.

Engine Coolant
Most RV (propylene glycol) antifreeze products are not designed for use in operating engines, and they are not optimized for corrosion protection. They contain only small amounts of corrosion inhibitors, and not the additives required in engine coolants; those additives are too toxic for potable water systems. There is no such thing as a “marine” engine coolant, in the sense that it is formulated specifically for or is better for marine applications; automobile and truck manufacturers have research this subject since the beginning of engines, and you should chose according to the engine type you have:

Gasoline or light-duty (not wet sleeve liners) diesel engine
PG or EG engine coolant                    *  Long-life type, 5 yr., typically yellow or red.
                                                              *  Conventional type, typically green.

Heavy-duty (wet sleeve liners) diesel engine
PG or EG engine coolant                    *  Long-life type, 5 yr., typically yellow or red.
                                                             *  Conventional type, typically green or pink.
                                                      Both must be rated for diesel (heavy duty) use. Some contain an SCA pre-charge of nitrite, while many of the newer formulations are nitrite-free. Nitrite-free has certain advantages for road use (nitrite can form ammonia in situ in certain brazed aluminum heat exchangers) but this makes little difference in marine engines.

Change interval. The coolant interval ratings are stated above. However, in marine applications the conventional wisdom is to change the coolant every 2 years, because of the risk of seawater contamination (0.2% is the condemning limit based upon chloride) due to heat exchanger internal leakage. Seawater is about 25,000 ppm chloride, and is also high in sufate and hardness.

(water requirements from ASTM D3306)
Contaminatant in Water                     Maximum PPM
Chloride                                                  25             
Sulfate                                                     50             
Hardness                                                 20             

(I designed and built this plant in 1995. Chemical engineer by training.))
Recycling is always best, and because of the high value of glycols, used antifreeze has a value to recyclers. Both propylene and ethylene glycol are recyclable, and they can be commingled in collection tanks at your marina, county collection center, or service station. The best recyclers distil the spent antifreeze under vacuum and produce glycols and coolant products meeting all virgin engine coolant specifications; much of the recycled product finds its way back into the cars you drive as factory fill!

Bottom Line
  • Buy antifreeze by the pound of glycol. In 2008, Camco -100 for water systems and Camco Ban Frost 2000 for engines are the best deals; several others are very close, but Camco -100 has the safety factor to handle water left behind.
  • If your engine has a glycol cooling system, buy at the auto or truck parts store, either EG or PG. Long-life formulas are cheaper over time, though they should not generally be mixed with or used to replace conventional green antifreeze; there can be compatibility problems. The new “global” or universal” products have solved most of these issue. However, remember diesels should get diesel engine coolants; that peculiar diesel rattle produces vibrations and cavitation corrosion that automotive coolants cannot protect against.
  • Be wary of skimping; freeze/thaw cycling separates glycol/water mixtures and can cause bursting of complex systems and horrible fermentation problems. Be cautious with weaker products if there is any water remaining in the system. PG concentrations in the system of less than 34% are questionable at low very temperatures—the burst point curve is very steep in that range.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Removing and Replacing the Engines in a PDQ 32

 I wanted to choose a humorous title, but there just wasn't enough humor in the topic to pull it off. Or as I am fond of saying in unpleasant straights, "all's well that ends."
I recall the first engine troubles I had on my PDQ; just shortly after our delivery trip home the starboard engine would refuse to start. It would run just fine on ether, so it was clear it was getting no fuel. It wasn’t the fuel pump — enough was coming out the hose. I replaced the pump with a spare anyway, just to be certain and because it was easy to get to. Soon enough, after a few conversations with others, it became clear it was the carburetor, and the carburetor is just plain tough to get to on the starboard engine. I was sure I needed to pull the engine to see what was going on. Thankfully, a wise old PDQ sailor, Page83, came to the rescue with a manual and with the help of the manual I found it was actually quite simple to pull the barb off, after which cleaning and re-building it on the bench is a snap. No fuel injection, no computers. I grew up on old cars in the 70s and so it all looked familiar - just like my 76' Pacer. I hesitate admitting to that choice, but a college kid will buy anything that has reasonable milage, is cheap, and runs. Actually, the profile resembled the PDQ 32. Every so often I read of a PDQ sailor that is going to pull and engine to work on something minor, like like a carburetor cleaning. Please don’t. It's not that much fun.

During our last Delmarva trip I noticed that the starboard engine was beginning to drink oil. Where previously a few ounces would last a year, now a pint would last only a few hours, and eventually, perhaps only 20 minutes. While I was considering my options, it seized. Later investigation revealed that it did not seize in the sense that metal welded to metal; I think the combustion chamber somehow filled with oil, preventing the piston from going up (I found the intake manifold and carburetor full of oil during tear down. After draining, it turned easily). At the same time, the port engine stopped cooling. Oh, a very small portion of water was getting by, enough to just prevent overheating in cooler weather, but not enough to be safe. Because the pump had perhaps never been serviced, the lower casing refused to separate easily, or not even with heavy persuasion. 
Both engines had failed at the same time.

As luck would have it, Page83 had a pair of Yamaha 9.9 engines that he had swapped out in favor of 8 hp engines with power tilt. The Yamaha tilt system on the PDQs is always a sore spot with the owners, and must finally have exceeded his tolerance. Or perhaps his wallet was just heavy enough to tip the balance in favor of ease. Either way, I became the owner of a “new” pair of moderate hour Yamaha 9.9s. After a few evenings of tuning, maintenance, and minor part replacement, they were purring in a 55-gallon drum.  Of course, they were only beside my house instead of Page83’s house; they were not in the boat. 
Enough rambling over how the situation evolved. Down to details. 
Pulling the Old Engines 
I considered dropping them out on dry land. I gave that up for a number of reasons: I had just painted the bottom with 2-year paint in August and had no other reason to haul; it seemed to me that the hole in the bottom was not quite large enough to drop the engine through—close, but not quite; several owners have described hoisting them up. In fact, it was a reasonable 1-person job. Putting them back in with 2 people was better, but could have been managed by one person with a little more time. no step was strenuous or required 2 people.
Would I haul the boat and do it on dry land, given the choice?  No, I don't think so. It wouldn't be easier; it would be different. I think it was easier sliding them onto the dock than it would have been lowering them. It would have been nice to get under neither once or twice. Either way.
* Duct tape over the drain hole in front of the mounts. Bolts and tools are strongly attracted. 
* Bring lots of old quilts for padding the boat! There it no slamming involved, but there is much scraping potential. 
* Knee pads are a must. There is a lot of time spent leaning into the well to reach things. 
* Disconnect the starter, charging, and control wires. A prudent person would take the positive cables off the batteries. A cautious person will merely be very careful not to touch black to red while disconnecting. It may only be 12 volts, but the amps are nearly unlimited.
* Disconnect the gasoline line. I my case I had to remove a Raycor fuel filter just forward of the engines.
* Disconnect the shift and throttle cables. The linkage ends are simple slide-clips. A single bolt (10 mm wrench) underneath the clamp where they enter the engine, where you can’t see it, is all that secures them to the engine. There is a rubber grommet - I slit it from underneath with a knife and removed it that way. There is a grove at the end of the cable that fits in a pair of slots next to the 10 mm bolt. If there is not enough slack to pull the cables out, don’t force them - they will come out easily enough when the motor is lifted a few inches. The only real reason to get them out now is to provide better access to the transom clamps.
* Disconnect the tilt lock lever extension. 4mm allen wrench.
* Loosen the transom clamps. In my case this step took about 2 hours of painful work for the first engine, including lubricating the bolts several weeks beforehand. There is little space to work and no wrench fits those stupid little plastic handles. It required the use of vise grips and 2 different small pipe wrenches, each one specializing in one a small arc of a full revolution. I have been told that a self adjusting socket (Sears Gator Grip or Gemplers Self-Adjusting sockets will do the job; the plastic handles will need to be removed first.  PB Blaster (penetrating oil available at most parts stores) is also a HUGE help. I discovered it just in time for the second engine. Just as tight as the first; after giving the PB Blaster 60 minutes to work and a few tough turns... I could turn the clamps with my fingers!
* Remove engine cowling and install a light chain lifting bridle to the flywheel. Three short 8M bolts are required.
* Position two 2x6 planks across the hard top with one end above the skylight and one hanging over the back. Lash them together, but not too tightly; you want to be able to reposition the tackle by sliding it (unloaded, of course). This will create a fore-aft adjustable mounting for your tackle. No, they do not need to be this large for strength, but it does help spread the load. (see photo below)
* Attach a 3:1 tackle between the engine and the planks, connected to the genoa winch. I used the port winch for both engines, since it is less crowded than the starboard side. You must winch through the genoa turning block to insure a good lead angle to the winch. By the way, the tackle is not needed for power; it helps slow the lifting, reduces the stress on the hardtop (140 pounds vs 220 pounds) and reduces the side pull on the planks. 
* Try to minimize the stack height of the tackle and bridle so that the motor will lift clear; measure the lifting range and compare it to the length of the motor from transom lip to skeg.
* Crank away. Be aware that the winch, with a 3:1 tackle, has enough power to break the hardtop in half. Don’t force it! Be warned that the transom bolts may be driven into the mounting; rock it loose by hand and without the winch first. Any time you feel any resistance through the winch, look to see what has caught. You will start and stop many times and go up and down a few times if working alone.
* There are some clearance issues. You will need to rock the lower end to the outboard side as it comes up through the hole. Be very careful with the carburetor and the ignition wiring panels. A second person underneath would be helpful, but it is not too bad from above.
* Disconnect the engine tilt line as it comes into reach. 
* Once clear of the well, set the skeg on the seat behind the well, disconnect the
tackle,and lift/slide/boost the engine up onto the padded aft cabin roof.

Engine Mount Repair
It seems PDQ could have put a few more layers of glass into this area. On both of my mounts the transom clamps had punched in about ¼-inch. This results in water getting into the core, necessitating repair. Additionally, it allows the motor to rise a bit during hard reverse, increasing the chance of sucking a lifting line into the prop (I'm guessing that the mount damage actually occurred when the hold down latch failed, allowing the line to wrap into the prop and placing a huge strain on the bolts, something they only see in reverse). The previous owner had made some ineffective repairs with Marine-Tex or something similar. The aft surface of the mounts were fine—the force is distributed over a much larger area.

A permanent repair is a simple matter of epoxying a section of ¼” pre-laminated FRP to the damaged surface using thickened epoxy. Grind everything down smooth, fill the holes, slather on a nice thick layer, and clamp it down to cure. Easy and much better than new, I think. Do confirm the maximum clamping range of your engines; This repair took me to within 1/8-inch of the maximum. If I ever need to do something with the aft surface of the mount in the future, I will need to grind off some glass and go in with something stronger instead of something thicker.

Getting Engines on and off the Boat at Dock

A piece of cake, as it turns out. A single section of an extension ladder with a piece of plywood fitted between the rails makes a nice gangplank with rails such that the engine cannot slide off into the briny.
* Secure the plywood to the rungs (a few holes with cable ties).
* Lash the ladder to the rear railing openings. It works best if you extend the ladder on-board until it touches the aft cabin roof; pad all of the contact points well. With enough padding, it is simple to spin the engine so that it goes prop first to the ladder, and then slides down the ramp. Pull it with a rope around the prop, as needed. Be careful, but the ladder rails should do a good job of keeping it centered.

Because getting the engines on-board was up-hill, we used a winch with a turning block extended from the aft hard top support. Take the cowling off the engine and use the chain lifting bridle to bring the engine up head first (to prevent the oil from going places it shouldn’t). Easy. Again, always lots of padding.

Installing the Engine

Much like pulling the engine, only more delicate… but you can see where the connections are better this time! I will discuss only those steps that are different.

* Remember to reconnect the engine lifting line! I forgot on the port engine until it was too far in to turn back. I ended up going for a swim to get it reattached. In the Chesapeake Bay in November this is not a lot of fun, but with a wet suit it wasn't really bad - just those first few moments as the water filled the suit. I have also done this from a tender before—swimming with a wet suit in 55 degree water was better than that torture. Fortunately, the water in my slip is only ~ 4 ½ feet deep, so it is more wading that swimming. 
* You may need to insert the shift linkages while still a 2-6 inches above the mounts. It was different on each side. However, do not attempt to attach the cables until the motors are clamped in place.
* Lube the shift and throttle cables, while you’re at it. IF you are replacing them at the same time, there are some tips here.
* The cables may require adjustment for proper operation; mine were perfect the first time. There are threads on the end for this purpose. Take a good look at them while the engine is out, so that you understand the operation.
* Use lots of anti-seize on the transom clamp bolts! No-Alox is my favorite for aluminum joints (see comments below).
* Clean all of the power cable connections completely with emery cloth; not just the ring you removed, but the entire stack. Coat with heavy terminal grease (any auto parts store), or better, No-Alox by Ideal . It is a corrosion preventative for cable connections (synthetic grease with zinc dust), specifically for aluminum wiring, but applicable to tin and copper as well. Waterproof grease is not as good in this application.  I have tested these products in a heated salt environment chamber, alongside both grease and aerosol products for a year for a sailing magazine article, and they were the winners. High resistance connections are the leading cause of cars and boats failing to start, right behind dead batteries and empty tanks!
Go sailing! You have earned it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Circumnavigating the Delmarva Pensinula" book summary


Edition: Sixth Edition.
Binding:Kindle or PDF, 159 pages

 Description: The Delmarva circumnavigation demystified. Join us on the quintessential mid-Atlantic cruise. Bring whatever you have - micro-cruiser, multihull, or mid-size cruiser. On our first trip around we sailed a fast yet spartan 1200-pound Stiletto catamaran; later we enjoyed a comfortable 32-foot, 7,500-pound cruising catamaran; the experiences were different and I have shared and explained both. Primarily, I have done my best to share a tale of a father and his 10-year-old daughter's first trip around the Delmarva, exploring the Chesapeake Bay and the most beautiful wilderness on the East Coast, the Virginia Coast Preserve. Throughout the narrative are woven details and advice gained over multiple visits to each of the areas described. The balance of the guide information is compiled in extensive appendices; everything needed to make a relaxed and safe passage. In the first edition first the emphasis was on story telling and small boat cruising, demonstrating all that is possible in a micro-cruiser. In the second edition, I have added a few tales from Delmarva trips in a medium size cruiser and additional guide information reflecting the needs of larger boats.

Cobb Island Life Saving Station, built 1890. Click to enlarge.

The writing of this book has been a 8-year labor of love, summarizing all we have learned in six circumnavigations, and all we have learned of this trip from locals and other sailors. I remain baffled by how few taste the inner passage or many small harbors along the way. I grant you, the prospect and the reality of piloting changeable inlets in anything but calm conditions is intimidating , but with suitable caution and flexibility in planning, there are many fascinating possibilities. I have describe both the conventional paths, and the more adventurous and rewarding alternatives.

  • The distilled experience of six Delmarva cruises and countless Chesapeake Bay cruises in small and medium cruising boats.
  • Information to help an experienced day sailor make the step to coastal cruiser.
  • Our favorite towns, resorts, and stopovers... and our less favorite.
  • A detailed cruising guide to the Delmarva Coast, tailored to the needs of a shoal draft boat (4-foot or less). Hand drawn charts combine on-site observations and satellite imagery to provide critical information about less charted inlets.
  • All of the required navigation information is available on-line for free, and we have cataloged the specific URLs needed to access this world of Coast Guard and NOAA material. By downloading required charts, tide information, and Coast Pilot® chapters just prior to departure and inserting these in this convenient binder, you are assured of having the most current and complete information at your fingertips. The Delmarva coast is a very changeable area, and we have found charts even a few months old are generally out-of-date.
  • Shoal draft. We mean less than 5 feet. More than that is certainly plausible, and I've seen 45-footers in Chicoteague, but there are other places that are off-limits or where you will watch the tide. With a draft of less than 3 feet, a whole world opens up. With a mast height of less than 35 feet, the entire inside passage opens before you. 

We went the places big boats fear and brought back the details of a world known only to watermen and local sailors. I hope I have brought real life this tale; I know how deeply I enjoyed the time spent with my daughter.

Ponies on the Beach, Assateague Island

Circumnavigating Delmarva Peninsula—A Guide for the Shoal Draft

Table of Contents

Map: Course of 2006 and 2007 trips
Preface to Second Edition
Trip Summary: Anchorages, Stops and Inlets Transited: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012

 --------------(click sample pages to enlarge)--------------

Lesson 1: Preparations
Day 1: Deale to Solomons Island
Lesson 2: Single-handed and Shorthanded Sailing
Day 2: Solomons Island to Cape Charles
Lesson 3: Kids
The Cape Charles Impact Crater
Plate: Smith Island, Southern Point
Day 3: Cape Charles to Wachapreague
Plate: Cobb Island, Southern End
Plate: Hog Island Inlet
Plate: Hog Island Inlet and Broad Water Area
Plate: Wachapreague Inlet
An Alternative Passage: Cape Charles to Wachapreague
    by the Virginia Inside Passage
Hurricane Swells and Night Sailing; Cautionary Tales
A Brief History of Cobb Island
Day 4: Wachapreague to Chincoteague
Lesson 4: Settling Down for the Night
Day 5: Chincoteague, a Non-Sailing Day
Lesson 5: Safety
Day six: Chincoteague to Ocean City
Lesson 6: Tips for the Trailer Sailor
Day 7: Ocean City to Cape May
Days 8-11: Interregnum - Cape May with Family
Day 12: The Approaching Storm
Day 13: Cape May to Chesapeake City
Day 14: Chesapeake City to Deale
Three Weeks Later…

Appendix I: Cruising Guide
a) Delaware Bay and Atlantic Coast from Cape Henlopen to Cape Charles
b) Camping Opportunities on the Delmarva Barrier Islands and Chesapeake Bay
c) Chesapeake Bay—Details and Corrections of Interest to the Shoal Draft Sailor

Appendix II: Access: The Delmarva Barrier Islands and Chesapeake Islands
Appendix III: Recommended Reading

Suggested Inserts

Ship John Shoal Light, Delaware Bay

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dog Fish: The New Cod?

Catfish have always been déclassé, a poor peoples fish... until they began showing up as "blackened catfish" in fine restaurants. Many fishermen still scorn them, but perhaps it is in part because they never learned and efficient skinning technique. In part it was because they populate polluted water, surviving in low-oxygen conditions other fish cannot survive. It is certainly about where you catch them.

Sharks have always been summarily thrown back, along with other trash fish. Then mako started showing up at restaurants alongside swordfish and tuna.

Cod have always been the staple of New England fishing: mild in flavor, easy to catch, and plentiful. The cod fishery was temporarily closed when the regulatory folks decided that commercial fishing had brought them to commercial extinction. The fish-&-chips people quickly learned that dogfish (sand sharks) tasted very much the same, were plentiful, and set about catch as many of those as possible. The fisheries people concluded that the dogfish too were under great pressure also and must be protected. Commercial catches of both cod and dogfish remain heavily restricted and populations have rebounded, although both still bare watching. It is a success story from what I can see; when visiting Cape May this summer, dogfish were all anyone could catch close to shore or in the backwaters, and there were hordes of them!

Well, I am converted. In the past I always threw them back; this year Jessica questioned me on that., after I threw 2 back, one after the other. "Why not try them?" We did try them, Cajun style that first time, and she was right and I was wrong; fine eating with no bones.

Even more than catfish, they have an incredibly tough hide and must be skinned. If anything the operation is simpler, though, because they are not slippery but rather like 150 grit sandpaper. In fact, they are quite easy to handle, as they have no teeth, no dangerous spines, and are easy to hold on to. Skinning instructions can be found all over the web, better than what I can relate; youtube is best ( Perhaps their best characteristic, at least in preparing smaller ones, is that  they have no bones! No filleting step is needed, minimizing waste. A cartilaginous spine is easily removed leaving a long trunk of solid meat that is easily prepared in any number of ways.

Bleed them as soon as possible after catching. They will taste better. Like catfish, they do not die quickly out of water, so clubbing may be involved. Just taking the head off will not kill them, strangely.

Skates are next on my target list. They show up in restaurants occasionally, fish markets regularly, and occasionally, as fake scallops (cut round with a cookie cutter). There is, of course, the venomous spine to contend with. I haven kept one yet, but I will keep the next one and I will report in!

For more information (regulatory and background) on dog fish and atlantic cod, visit the NOAA information sites: and

For information on skinning:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hood Seafurl 800 Bearing Replacement

rev. 7-1-2016

On a pleasant windless day at a dock 150 miles from home, I decided to partly lower our furling genoa so that I could put a few stitches and necessary patches on the sacrificial leech cover. A simple morning task to pass the time in a sailorly way. We were 10 days into a 2 1/2 week cruise around the Delmarva. I released the halyard tension, lowered the sail a few inches, and watched 48 ball bearings merrily dribble onto the trampoline, filter through the netting, and plop into the harbor.

The furler had been prone to catching for the past few days. It would roll fairly easily for a bit, then seize, and after a good tug, roll easily again. The bearings in this furler are half-and-half stainless and Torlon, and it seems the Torlon bearings had worn down to where the stainless bearings would ride up over them. Eventually, the wedging force pushed the lower circlip out of its groove and the lower race fell apart, unnoticed. My genoa is a little to long on the luff but still, it sets very well with no halyard tention; in fact, some wieght rests on the tack, just a little, and this held the upper race in position. When I went to re-hoist the sail the the foil was lifted by normal friction in the groove, the top half of the furler was lifted, and everything fell apart.

Although I could no longer furl the sail, I could still use the luff extrusion as a foil, so we lowered the large geona and planned on using the much smaller self-tacking jib for the 3-day trip home. The weather forecast called for strong winds on the nose the first day, followed by spinnaker reaching conditions for the next two days. That is how it worked out, so the loss of the furler was no great handicap.

Back at home, after considerable stress over the great cost of replacement unit, I set about disassembling the furler drive. It is a simple matter: bring the jib and spinnaker halyards forward and tension with winch; place a pad under the boom and release the topping lift - this relieves some tension from the forestay; remove the plastic set screw between the luff extrusion and the drive tube, remove the split aluminum castings, and while supporting the luff extrusion, gently lower until it rests on the turnbuckle - the luff extrusion will slide right through the drive unit; lift both the luff extrusion and the drive unit and place a vice-grip on the flats of the lower end of the forestay wire - this will support these parts and keep the forestay from turning when the turnbuckle is loosened; remove the cotter pins, and loosen and remove the turnbuckle - it was not necessary to loosen the shroud turnbuckles; remove the vise-grips and slide the furler drive off the forestay, while supporting the luff extrusion; replace the vise grips on the flats to hold the luff extrusion in place.

Replacing the bearings is quite simple. Each race (4 races) contains 48 x 9/64-inch 440C stainless balls, McMaster-Carr part number 9642K31. Parts are also available at Pompanette Co.. They are most easily installed by assembling the races first, and then inserting them from the bottom up, flipping the assembly over as needed. I used waterproof grease, but if you are using plastic balls and wish to assemble the mechanism without grease you will still need something sticky to hold the balls in place; tooth paste works and will rinse out. I have used it on other projects with Torlon balls. Be certain to tap the circlips securely into their grooves. Be careful to position the four
set screws into the matching holes in the drive tube. In my case I was not able to separate the stainless steel basket from the bearing tube and thus was not able to reinstall the furler line in the normal manner. However, a clove hitch around the spool with the stopper knot on a dead-end has proven secure. The heads of the set screws provide extra grip.

 Even fully furled, with the sheet around the sail twice, there should be a few turns on the drum.

 If you cannot a proper knot through the hole (sometimes the drum is stuck to the core due to corrosion) the line can be secured with a clove hitch. The set screw nubs are enough to make it secure.

In my case, since I elected to get rid of the failure-prone mix of Torlon and stainless, I am using grease. To reduce the intrusion of salt spray I fitted a large (~3"x 1/8-inch thick, fitting just inside the tack fitting) polyethylene washer to the top of the stack, just above the top circlip. That is really the only place water can enter. I drilled a small drain in the stainless basket. We will see.

Notice that I also added a plastic ring above the furler as a drip ring, deflecting rain that drips down the forestay. Does it help? Not sure, but they are still smooth after 4 years. In a few more years I will open it up and re-grease, but for the moment, it feels and sounds (no squeaks or vibration--just smooth) like there is still grease in there.

What I am actually doing in this photo (11/2015) is spraying water NikWax repellent treatment on the furler line. I sail all winter and this prevents the line from freezing, which can be a big problem.

Piece of cake. I imagine I will be doing this every 5 years or so, under considerably less mental stress.


7-1-2016 update. Still smooth as glass.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trip Report - 2009 Delmarva Circumnavigation.

Twice before, in 2006 and in 2007, my daughter Jessica) and I had sailed around the Delmarva Peninsula, stopping at many small harbors along the coast and Bay, and stopping for a week to visit with her grandparents in Cape May New, Jersey. They've been wonderful trips, made adventuresome by the high strung nature of our boat; we had a 1979 Stiletto 27; even though modified for cruising, it was probably the fastest boat of its size. It would easily motor at 10 knots loaded down, could sail at over 20 knots, and became a bit frightening anytime the wind gusted over 20 knots. It was very shallow draft and could go anywhere, but was not accommodating. Living in narrow hulls with no bridge deck is rather like trench living with a view. There was certainly no room on the boat for our whole family. Great father-daughter times.

This winter we bought a new ride, a PDQ 32 Altair. Although not physically much larger, simple comparisons of length and beam are deceptive. The PDQ is a very ruggedly built blue water catamaran and is about as accommodating as possible of that length without unduly compromising seaworthiness or performance. There are two cabins with closet space and queen-size mattresses. There is a galley with refrigerator, stove and microwave. There is a head with a stand-up shower. And there is a comfortable salon for that all-important un-wind time at the end of the day and after dinner. For the first time my wife (Laura) would be able to experience, in a way, what my daughter and I had experienced on the Stiletto. Unfortunately, you can never recreate a first trip of discovery and never recapture time past.
Day One. Deale MD to Solomons Island MD. 40 miles.

To ensure an early start, my wife and daughter drove from our home in Vienna, VA to Deale, MD the night before and I joined them there, flying in from a business trip late into the evening. It was nice that they could get settled in the afternoon rather than feeling pressed in the morning to put everything away and hit the road. Very nice.

As is the custom, I was up at first light and hit the road, without rousing the rest of the family. Lamentably, there was no wind at all, and I began the long slog down the Bay. Sailors always lament not being able to sail, and I agree with that, but early in the morning when the waters flat and no boats are out, it's delightfully relaxing with the boat on autopilot have a leisurely breakfast as the miles melt away. Not stimulating, not challenging, but peaceful.
In the past we've stopped in at Calvert Cliffs to enjoy little fossil hunting. I was looking for something different this trip, as I had been there enough times. I spotted a small and isolated beach some miles north of Calvert Cliffs and motored in for a closer investigation. We: by this time my family was up and about. We found 6 feet of water about 200 yards from shore, anchored in hard sand, and Jessica and I dingy over to the beach. There were no houses for quite some distance on either side, so I reasoned it was either a park of some manner or simply unused land. I spotted a sign on the beach from the big boat, but it was too far to read even with binoculars. I reasoned the sign would reveal the ownership status of the beach.

It turned out the sign was a warning to proceeded no wake speed up the creek. The creek was only 6 inches deep low tide. The canoe country.
Parker's Creek / Warriors Rest is one of the nicest hidden beaches on the Chesapeake Bay; however, it is restricted access. It is operated by the American Chestnut Land Trust and as a wildlife refuge specifically targeted at protecting certain endangered insects. It seemed reasonable amount to enjoy the beach and to enjoy fossil hunting along the cliffs to the south. I hope any who follow in our footsteps know enough to walk lightly and to stay on the beach.
During our absence on the beach the wind came up nicely and we enjoyed pleasant close reaching and beating down towards Solomons Island. I chose a course between the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power station and the Cove point LNG plant, taking the opportunity to show the sites to my wife.
Just a few hundred yards north of Drum Point another attractive beach called to us. Drum point offers a nice park, clean sand in clearwater, and a pleasant tidal creek that alternately fills and drains Drum Point Pond. When the tide it is rising is delightful to sit in the creek and enjoy bay water rushing over your legs, watching crabs scurried this way and that. It is an easy walk on a hard sand bottom in ankle to knee-deep water from the Bay to near the pond, and this stroll is highly recommended on a hot day.
Our traditional anchorage for the night has always been in Mill Creek, heading just north out of the Solomons Island Harbor. The first night out we seldom choose to stay at a marina. Quiet is nice the first night. I did dingy over to the Solomons Island Tiki Bar with Jessica. Quite the scene. For smaller boats, they have free dockage available.

Day Two and Three. Solomons Island to Tangier. 40 miles.
Small craft advisory conditions, all day. Right on the nose.
This was probably the first real sustained test of windward bashing and strong conditions for my new boat. It passed with flying colors. At 20 knots true she rests just on the edge of wanting a reef, and with the sails trimmed full-and-by, the autopilot will easily steer for an hour at a time, the boat making 8-10 knots, though the motion can be a bit much after a time. There is always some concern on a small catamaran that waves will slam the underside of the bridge deck; this is not the case with the PDQ. There were a few slaps, to be sure, but the hard impacts were 15 minutes apart, and only occasionally did the front beam plow into an especially steep wave. The boat would slow to about 6.5 knots and then slowly accelerate to 8 knots. Bracing.
We did pull a winch out of the deck, trimming the genoa under full load. We didn’t lose the winch—she just lifted a bit and made crunching noises. I quickly transferred the sheet to a matching winch next to it. Later discovery, weeks later, confirmed my suspicion; this one winch had been owner-added on a cored deck without adequate backing. I was surprised, though, when I saw that not even simple washers had been placed under the nuts! The nuts simply punched into the foam under what must have been the greatest strain the winch had seen. The factory installed winches were installed with big fender washers into a solid glass area of the deck, reinforced for winch mounting. I reinstalled the winch with and over-sized FRP backing plate.
Because hurricane Bill was still tromping just offshore, we chose to spend two days in Tangier rather than to hurry on down to Cape Charles. Cape Charles is pleasant, but it is pretty dead. Even compared to Tangier.
I don't know how to describe Tangier. So much has been written. It is described as cute, as old English, as a traditional waterman's town; none of these truly fit. Perhaps they all fit, in parts. Many of the residents’ lives revolve around the tourist trade these days, and that's not traditional. Many of the residents seem to resent the tourist trade; they seem to resent life in a bottle, being looked at and pointed at. Many not involved in the trade are standoffish, and that's easy to understand. Still, I think you would need to spend a month in Tangier to feel that you understood it. You still wouldn't belong there. But don't for a minute interpret these words to mean I feel that any of the people are unpleasant. That's not true. It seems only that the gap between cityfolk involved in commercial enterprises and islanders married to the water is so great that it surpasses any simple description.
We found plenty to do. There's a wonderful swimming beach at Tom's Hook. IT is about a 1-mile walk through town from the docks. A town carnival, The Reunion, was in progress as we visited. Few small fireworks. Carnival rides were provided for the kids, all inflatable because traditional carnival rides could not reasonably be delivered to the island. The bull ride was particularly fun to watch, as it was clear that everyone knew everyone, and the dares through fast and thick. Funny; the girls seemed to do best, as they kept their weight forward over the center of gyration.
Another family of cruisers arrived with a boat full of children—my daughter immediately set about entertaining them in guiding them around the island, being an old hand after several visits herself. Fishing, critter hunting, a trip to the carnival, all with Jessica as tour guide for the whole family!
Spanky's ice cream store and the Fisherman's Cove restaurant are very reliable. The General store, 50 yards from the dock, has ice and groceries.

Day Four. Tangier to Cape Charles. 40 miles.
No useful wind. We sailed a few miles from Tangier to just south of Watts Island, but then it went light. We slogged on down to the harbor and slid alongside the bulkhead just past the fuel dock. Cape Charles is typical of the marinas found up Delmarva Coast; it is a state run Marina that serves both recreational and commercial fishing interests, with work boats along the bulkhead and a mixture of work boats and recreational boats between piers. There is a full-time harbormaster and modest facilities.
Perhaps it is just the old part of town, part of town closest to the marina and the part we see each visit, but at least old Cape Charles is dying. Every time we visit it seems that 2 or 3 more stores have closed up, or have been replaced by another venture that is on the verge of closing up. The only restaurant to remain successful—and it's a dandy—is Kelly’s Ginger Nut Pub on Main Street near the water. There's a hardware store, a few knick-nacks stores, and a handful of real estate offices. I guess new houses and condos are selling at the other end of town.
The star attraction, from my daughter's point of view, is hunting the gigantic hermit crabs that inhabit the boat ramp area. Typical of Atlantic Coast beaches are small hermit crabs that inhabit periwinkle and small moon snail shells. The hermit crabs of Cape Charles inhabit conch and welk shells as long as 8 inches! She collects them by the dozen and watches them walk along the wooden docks between boat ramps. We keep a small aquarium on our boat—one of those 3 gallon hexagonal aquariums available in every dimestore. It is a perfect fit for the shelf in her cabin and it allows us to keep a little ecosystem of things that she's collected throughout the trip. Much better than a bucket with a few smelly shells and easier to mange. She's a budding biologist and has a strong interest in the found at the water's edge. We spent hours slowly maneuvering our tender along bulkheads and beaches, cataloging algae, kelp, sponges, sea squirts, and all of the fish, mollusks and crustaceans that call the boundary water home.
Note: If you are going to try a small aquarium you will need to keep the water level lower so that it does not splash underway. Shorten the air lift tube by several inches so that it still functions properly.

Day Five. Cape Charles to Chincoteague. 85 miles.
It wasn't our initial intention to do this as a passage. I would've started even earlier and pushed for more speed. I hope that the two visit one or more of the inlets in between—Sand Shoal or Wachapreague—but the swells from hurricane Bill had caused every inlet from Cape Charles to Lewis to break, including Ocean City. The swell was not uncomfortable in terms of sailing. It was very long-period and not rough at all. Initially there was enough wind to sail, from Cape Charles, around the point, and some way up the Atlantic coast, but as I realized how far we would have to go to reach harbor, motoring became necessary. Very necessary, it turned out.
Alone. We saw only 2 other boats on the passage from Cape Charles, until we neared Ocean City. Miles of quiet, wild beach, in the distance, though. With a swell running it was prudent to stay a good 2 miles out.
As I said, the swells seemed very calm. I called the Wachapreague harbormaster to inquire about the condition of the inlet. He said it wasn't a problem at all, but that no one had been out that day. Hmmmm. I decided to get closer to one of the sandbar areas where I could see the swell breaking, to get a feel for what depth was dangerous. I got a trifle too close. Before I reached the selected bar, with every hatch open, still in 20 feet of water, we took an enormous breaker the full length of the deck. It seems a few are much larger than the average and break in deeper water. No damage, but everything was soaked. Most critically, my wife's blood glucose monitor stopped functioning, and as she has little ability to sense fluctuations in blood sugar without monitoring, she can easily pass out and the Atlantic off Wachapreague is a poor place to have an emergency. We need to get to an inlet where we could reach a pharmacy. No options.
I hadn't planned on passages long as from Cape Charles to Chincoteague. We were prepared for this possibility, of course. It would have been no real strain to continue to Cape May through the night, but we need to get to a pharmacy sooner than that. The immediate danger was that we would reach Chincoteague just at dusk and have to run the channel in the dark. Though I've always felt that the Chincoteague entrance is a very safe in daylight, completely resistant to the effects of swell, running it at night is a different matter. Some of the markers are not lit, it is critical that you locate all of them, and there are sandbars all along the twisting approach. I called the Chincoteague Coast Guard; it is the headquarters station for operations between Lewis and Cape Charles. I explained our situation— that although we had no immediate emergency, we needed to reach the pharmacy that evening and I wanted clarification on the condition of the channel. They took all the relevant information, gave extremely detailed information on marker positions and on one marker that was out of position due to the recent storm, and offered to provide any additional assistance as needed it and we got closer. Very professional. But everything went well, we met with no delays and were able to run the inlet just as the sun set. We tied up behind the Chincoteague Inn (good restaurant, both informal for lunch, informal for dinner) and I did the speed walk to the pharmacy.

Notes: the new town marina is nice, with power, water, and showers nearby, but getting in the piers with the tide is trick to impossible. There is one good bulkhead spot. The others are for trawlers, leave you far out, and have no power. The only marina with any draft (over 3' at MLW) selling gas quit. IF you stay at the town dock, however, it is only about 150 yards to a Valero gas station. The swing bridge is being moved about 1/2 mile north. This will put all of the marinas on the ocean side and reduce openings. Construction should be complete about February 2010.

Day Six. Rest.
With northeast winds forecast for the day and west winds for the next, why fight it?
Lacking wheels—we could have rented these just down the road but we elected to stay together as a family on the waterfront area—there is really not far to go on Chincoteague's front street. Main Street is populated by restaurants, nick-nak stores, and a few bookstores. Jessica and I made a run up to the pharmacy once again to collect a package of medical supplies that is been sent overnight in which they have been so gracious to accept. Homemade ice cream store on the way back from the pharmacy call to us required a substantial detour, at least in terms of time.
A lazy day.

Note: we have rented bikes in the past and there is plenty to keep you bust for an afternoon. The beach at Assateague is a few miles down Maddox Boulevard - there are good bike trails there, weaving through the sanctuary - and there are plenty of streets to pedal in Chincoteague.

Day Seven. 125 miles.
By unanimous consent we decided to skip Ocean City. Jessica and I have been there twice, and found it has little to recommend it. The harbor is subject to surge, it's noisy, and we're not boardwalk people. Fortunately, the wind gods concurred with our decision and provided steady broad reaching conditions all the way to Cape May. Not strong winds, mind you. Only about 10 to 12 knots and just enough to keep the boat moving at 6 knots or so. We had already resigned ourselves to a nighttime arrival in Cape May, and having only visited Cape May about 35 times and only arrived at the ferry terminal entrance (Cape May Canal) about 40 times I was fairly certain I would have no difficulty.
Really, on a long transit like this there's very little to report. We saw dolphins a few times. We watched the para-sailors off Ocean City. We saw the ongoing construction of the new bridge at Indian River. All my trips with a Cherokee son I was unable to enter Indian River Inlet because of a 35-foot bridge in the 40-foot mast. Now they are raising the bridge to 45 feet and I've purchased a boat with a 49-foot mast requirement. Darn.

A minor but significantly irritating design flaw of the PDQ Altair is the mechanism for raising and lowering the outboard engines. It is done with a system of ropes and pulleys, and of the engine latched becomes corroded or if the operator allows a little too much slack in one of the ropes while lowering—and this is easy to do if the boat is sailing while the engine is lowered—the rope can get wrapped around the prop. Sure enough, I went to start the port engine near the mouth of the Delaware Bay and found it fouled. Since we would be crossing the Delaware in the dark and I would be both engines in order to maneuver safely through the canal (there are very strong currents at ebb tide) I need to go for a swim immediately to sort things out. No hesitation. And I learned it in the 200 miles in the past since Cape Charles the water temperature had dropped dramatically. Fortunately, the tangle was very minor and only took a few moments to straighten out.
The rest of the crossing was uneventful. Very little shipping or recreational traffic. We were able to follow a ferry into the Cape May Canal, which turned out to be very useful. Though I have entered the canal many times, I never entered at night. The shore lights make it nearly impossible to pick up the entrance markers from a distance. Following the ferry made it very straightforward, even though he was miles ahead, because as he entered the canal he blocked all of the shore lights and made spotting the markers much easier. A few words of caution to other sailors transiting the canal at night: there is a pipeline area and dock on the north side just a fraction of a mile past the ferry landing marked by a fast red flasher - that flasher is not a channel marker and you should stay to the south of it; the railroad bridge has a substantial current under it you should try to hit it well centered and at full throttle - it can be as much as 3 knots at peak ebb; there are buoys in the water marking a side channel just before the canal reaches the Cape May Harbor - watch out for these as they are not lit. There are several other buoys in the canal as well, toward the sides. Keep sharp lookout.
We chose to anchor near the Fisherman's Memorial at the far south end of Cape May Harbor, in the midst of a small mooring field used by pocket cruisers. This is only recommended for fairly shallow draft boats. When we arrived we had about 6 feet of water, but by low tide this had dropped to less than 4 feet. Larger boats will want to anchor near the Coast Guard facility further to the north. Also the harbor is large and can be rather rough in strong north winds, particularly where it gets shallow at the south end.
What a glorious place to anchor, though. Morning came with light northeast winds and a break in the oppressive humidity is been a constant companion during this trip. We're surrounded by small boats: some beautiful and classic wooden day sailors, some older fiberglass boats, some shattered dreams - boats in need of more repairs than they will ever receive. To the east lies the lobster House and the Cape May fishing fleet. To the south a delightful wild beach that brackets the Cape May Fisherman's Memorial. To the east, a small beach and behind that the Cape May Nature Center.
The beach by the Fisherman's Memorial is a favorite Jessica's. As soon as she wiped some sleep from her eyes, found a quick bit of breakfast and her last few clean-ish clothes, she was of in the dingy to tour the harbor and the beach. I joined her of course, always the little kid.
By early afternoon we move the boat over to the marina where we intended to stay; South Jersey Marina. It is a bit higher priced than some of the other marinas, but it is very nice, convenient to everything, and is well suited to catamarans with lots of bulkhead space available. Ever since I bought my new boat, though only 32 feet long, I've often felt that I was showing off. Don't like that feeling. I would rather have a simple boat that is not ostentatious at all. I only bough the PDQ because I liked where she could take me. I like the Stiletto because it was so minimal and always “comfortable” in out-of-the way spots. Quirky, perhaps, but not ostentatious. Well, South Jersey Marina is all about being ostentatious. We shared the bulkhead with a 125-foot megayacht, which was flanked by two smaller megayachts, only 94 and 110 feet, and a 75-foot Viking sportfishing yacht. Each had a crew in charge of keeping the yacht perfectly clean. Immediately upon docking they would turn out with hoses and buckets and squeegees, for they had to was AND dry their charge. In fact, after one short absence I came back to find that all of my dock lines, my hose, and my shore power cord had been recoiled to more picturesque standard. Oh my.
We stayed in Cape May for a week, visiting with Jessica's grandparents and enjoying this wonderful Victorian in seaside resort. We went day sailing on two occasions, taking my parents and friends on short trips around the immediate area. We did all of the things tourists do on vacation. But those are our family stories and I won't them relate here.

Day 16. Cape May to Chesapeake city. 71 miles.
The weather forecast had been the same for days and would be the same for days; brisk north to northwest winds. Exactly the weather all sailors avoid going up the Delaware Bay, but we had no time to wait. The Delaware is notorious for building steep chop in wind-against-tide situations, that's exactly what we found: 3- to 5- foot square walls of water, one behind the other. The first hour was atrociously rough, and in trying to set sail I managed to rip the tack shackle right out of the jib. The roller furler also chose this time to lock up completely, and I got to spend a stimulating 15 minutes on the bow of a submarine wrestling the jib down. We left the main up and motor sailed the length of the day, tossing a bit for the first hour, without event. The PDQ, because of the forward position of the keels, will not sail to the windward in anything but calm conditions under main alone—she just keeps rounding up.
Chesapeake City was predictably crowded. I had to get up on deck and leer at a few people who were anchoring to closely, all well within our swing radius. A few times, I used a bit of a stage whisper with my daughter, relating how we have moved to a different creek in the past when faced with such crowded conditions. It was the truth; we have moved on to Cabin John Creek or the Bohemia River. There's no reason people can't move on. Even so, one small powerboat anchored rather too closely beside us, and by morning was within 3 feet of our transom. But we all emerged unscathed, thanks to very light winds.

Day 17. Chesapeake City to Rock Hall. 45 miles.
Little wind, but broad reaching conditions with the spinnaker up. Convenient, since using the jib would have been inconvenient.
The upper Bay is clearly powerboat country. I've never seen so many express cruisers and large power yachts with such large wakes in my life. I have seldom seen less courtesy and less awareness of the hazard presented by large wakes. Pure thoughtlessness, as though they HAD to pass right next to you, when the whole Bay is available. As though they HAD to stay in the ship channel, though most of the water in the area is quite deep. To state that “I am a ship.” To state the “I am a powerful person.” Would they behave so, outside the armor of their vessel, and push a little old lady out of line at the local Safeway? No, this sort of people only demonstrate such manners and such courage behind the wheel of a boat or car. Not naked, not on the street, mano a mano. We had more things fly around the cabin than at any other point the trip, including the biggest ocean waves.
A poker run—a sort of muscle boat rally—began just as we exited the Elk River. Nearly 100 go-fast boats from multi-thousand horsepower cigarette boats to 25-foot dual outboard speedsters poured pell-mell down the Bay and over the horizon almost before their wakes reached us on the other side of the Bay. But unlike express cruisers which send a 3-foot wall of water your way, these speedsters didn't sit far enough in the water to cause anything more than several minutes worth of ruffled water. It was fun to watch, quite a spectacle. About 20 minutes later I heard a VHF radio call to the Coast Guard
from a cruising sailor near Sandy Point complaining that he was being harassed by powerboats. A few moments later he stated that the harassment of dissipated. I wonder… was the behavior of the power boaters inappropriate, or was he simply surprised and shocked to see such a wall of high-speed boats coming at him? I imagine had I been in front of the race and not to the side, it might have been more startling. No, I think not. I think it was obvious these boats were moving with purpose.
Our docking Rock Hall was comical at worst. Management was quite certain that their travel lift slip—unused for the weekend—was 17 1/2 feet wide would be a good home for our catamaran. After a bit of confusion when one of my engines refuse to lock in the down position, I managed to thread the eye of the needle and get my boat headed straight towards the slip. We got about 30% of the way in and… we stopped. As it turns out, the slip is only 16 3/4’ wide, which management continued to deny even after it measured my boat and the slip. Technically, the tracks are 17 feet wide, but there are fixed fenders nailed to the entrance pilings and inflatable fenders tied to those. We were quickly relocated to a bulkhead next to travel lift, and everything else went smoothly. ( I believe they have lifted wider boats, as they claim. If the widest section were far above the water, typical of a large power boat, then it would pass above the restriction.)
Jessica made a beeline for the pool. I was right behind her.
A prime eating spot in Rock Hall is the Waterman’s Restaurant. It is only a few hundred feet across the harbor from the Sailing Emporium where we were staying, but probably 5 miles by car and we didn't have a car. The best way, of course, is by dingy.
There was a short wait for dinner. We chose an unoccupied spot at the end of a long high table near the bar. Well, really it was a part of the bar I suppose. Holiday weekend revelers spilled over and kept us company. Many were fairly loaded but harmless enough….
Until it was time for them to leave. We followed one particular group, a group we had watched imbibed heavily, and there was no designated driver. We were curious to see what would follow, and perhaps a bit concerned. We hope they weren’t going far. They wobbled down the floating dock, which of course did its part to upset their equilibrium. They piled into their muscle boat, pinballed out of the dock in a manner that suggested substantial impairment, and motored off slowly to a neighboring marina. Thank goodness.

Day 18. Rock Hall to Deale. 38 miles.
A late start with the fine this day. The wind was supposed to fill-in by late morning and give us 10- to 15-knot broad reaching conditions all the way to Deale. A good spinnaker day. Jessica and I took off early to snatch some continental breakfast and visit the local beaches in a dinghy. A nice relaxing morning.
The Bay off Annapolis is a sailboat racing spectacle on Labor Day weekend. A dozen fleets and many hundreds of large and small sailboats cover the Chesapeake Bay from shore to shore, from the Bay Bridge to the Rhode River. Though there is no legal requirement to avoid sailboat racing fleets, it seems to be good courtesy. Additionally, the fleets are so dense that crossing situations can require repeated jibing that no cruising crew is interested in or perhaps even capable of doing with extreme rapidity. Even so, the afternoon was filled with crossing situations with other cruisers and perhaps lagging racers that required careful calculation of course and occasionally a jibe or other avoidance maneuver. By the time we passed south of the Rhode River we had put a fine polish on our jibes.
The wind continued to rise. The GPS read 11 knots for extended periods and 12 knots for a few monuments. Not surfing—we were too close to shore for that—just sustained speed. And as a cruiser and not a racer, we took the chute down. Those where the strongest conditions yet for that sail, and I did not wish to risk troubles. With the squeezer and 2 days back-to-back practice, it was an easy one-man job.
The rest is anti-climax. Rainclouds and small craft advisories were approaching from the east, it spit rain, but nothing came of it and we easily made it home. After two weeks of tying up at unfamiliar marinas with cross winds strong tides, parking at home, in a calm Chesapeake creek, is as simple as parking a car.
At home you trade increased space and room to move about for more chores and more stuff to be tracked, stored and manipulated. Funny… when you start a long trip life afloat seems complex compared to this simplicity of life at home. Driving a car is as simple as stepping on the gas. Home is roomy and contains everything that you can need. After weeks of float, being on a boat seems simple, at least within the protected confines of the Chesapeake Bay. Simple navigating. A simple schedule. Not much room but fewer things to store and maintain. Different.