Being on the anchor in Annapolis felt rewarding. We had visited Annapolis last year in September for a week, shopping for a boat. To be here at this moment living on our own Tartan was deeply satisfying and hard to believe. Sometimes you just have to put it out to the universe and she obliges.
We had several priorities while in Annapolis. Top of the list was deciding whether we would join the Salty Dawg rally. The rally is a coordinated effort by volunteers who organize a blue water rally, allowing sailors to travel in the company of other sailboats headed for the Caribbean. It began in the Fall of 2011 when a small group of friends began sailing south together and has grown to include anywhere from 70 – 120 boats. The benefits associated with this group were great in exchange for a very nominal fee. Sharing in the collective wisdom of seasoned sailors, weather support and other perks made them pretty appealing.
I had heard the Salty Dawgs were hosting a rendezvous that evening in Annapolis, so I emailed Linda, one of the founders and asked if we could attend. Linda wrote back immediately and said we were welcome.
After a very quick visit into the town and scout around the show, we headed over to Back Creek for the Salty Dawg Rendezvous. The welcome was warm and genuine. These people are definitely experienced but equally nice and easy to imagine hanging with for an extended period. Al and I both left with a pretty good feeling all round and at that point I think we had decided that we would join the group.
The next morning we were up early and headed into the boat show with a list of items to knock off. The number one item was to find the Salty Dawg booth and sign up for the rally. The volunteers at the booth were welcoming and gave us loads of advice on preparing for the departure date of November 2. So with that date fixed on our calendar we had a lot to do! Our next stop was M Yachts looking for expertise on single side band radio. It has been a struggle to find anyone who could install insulators on our backstay but Steve and his company had loads of experience and we set a date for installation.
Annapolis has to be the best boat town we have ever spent time in. This place caters to boaters and the level of expertise and the availability of resources is truly impressive. We spent the morning checking out booths and ran into a couple of Salty Dawgs whom we’d met the night before. After a busy morning we met up with Bev and Allan for lunch at the Dock where I had a spectacular seared tuna salad with a wasabi dressing. This stop was a lovely reprieve from the chaos of the boat show.
And then it was back to the list! We sought out Ferris Harrison, the company we’d purchased our solar panels from in Newport. We have been very happy with their product, so happy in fact that we were looking to add more solar. Having talked with them however we opted for a larger alternator and figured that might be the best route to improve our power reserves.
We also took some time to look at a few of the newer boats on the docks. Why? Because we are suckers for punishment I guess. I was dying to check out the Hallberg Rassy and I have to say that if I ever get another boat, the Hallberg Rassy would be in my top 3! But that’s not even in the cards right now 😉
After a long day at the show it was nice to get back to Ingomar. We had planned to hang around the boat show again the next day but the weather was looking ominous. Remember that hurricane we’d been racing to avoid? Well it was still moving up the coast, not close enough to be worried about but close enough to bring high winds and busy seas making our anchorage pretty uncomfortable. We decided to head into a secluded creek while the weather passed.
We spent two days up Mill Creek, in a quiet and pretty area, on the anchor. As I have mentioned before the Chesapeake is very shallow and at one point we had a reading of 0.4 feet on our depth sounder as we found our way up the meandering creek. It was a holiday weekend in Canada (Thanksgiving Day) and US (Columbus Day) which I had not thought about, so we had nothing resembling a turkey on the boat. Bev and Allan were gracious enough to invite us over for an awesome meal and a great evening sharing stories. On Monday morning we headed back to Annapolis to revisit the boat show.
Al retuned to the show while I decided to stay on the boat and spend some time with Filly. There was a lot of traffic coming and going with the show and I think the constant action was upsetting him. He’d had a languorous weekend in Mill Creek and was enjoying the boat, so we two hung out and watched boats come and go all day. That evening we finally got to meet Linda and Grinnell, from S/V Thistle who dinghied over to say hi and invite us aboard a friend’s yacht. We had been sailing alongside these two and their dog, Cloe for the past week but after we shared travel stories we realized that we’d left Maine within a couple of days of each other and had been in various ports along the way not knowing the other was there. After communicating on the radio for the past week it was great to finally meet them in person. When they came aboard that evening for a visit, Cloe had to stay in the dinghy however because Filbert was not keen on having a doggie aboard. So while Cloe waited patiently in the dinghy Filbert sat on the back of the transom of our boat staring down at little Cloe. Such a cat!
The following day, we were lucky enough to have a vehicle to knock off an expansive list of chores. Allan’s friend, Cynthia, had met us the day before and shown us where everything was located. She loaned us her rig which was incredibly helpful. We were able to get our laundry done, provision our boat, visit marine stores, a hardware store, Bert Jabins boat yard, and find a good wine store, all within 6 hours. With our dinghies loaded down we headed back to the boat for a quick rest before heading into the Boathouse to meet Cynthia, Linda and Grinnell for dinner. The Boathouse is a great spot and I had my first taste of soft shelled crab, which I would highly recommend. Succulent yet crispy. Al and I had stopped here last year so I was delighted to revisit this place. The food is Annapolis is really good.
Bev and Allan sailed south the next day and while we were sad to see them go we were delighted to have had the opportunity to have met them. Had it not been for Allan calling us on the radio while sailing down the New Jersey coast, we may never have hooked up with them or Linda and Grinnell. It goes to show that reaching out can have great rewards.
We planned on staying in Annapolis for another week or so prepping Ingomar for offshore sailing. We scheduled a haul-out at Bert Jabins Yacht Yard for the next day in order to clean the bottom and check our zincs. We’d also decided to add a third reef to our main sail and Cynthia had sourced out Chuck at Chesapeake Sails who was willing to come and pick the sail up if we were willing to dingy it into him on shore. We managed to fold our sail on the deck, no easy feat, pack it into the dinghy and head for shore to meet Chuck.
We had also purchased 200 feet of chain the previous day. This has been a constant worry for the captain since we left on our trip. We have 150 feet but is comprised of two separate pieces that are joined together and the problem with a joiner is as the cliche goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Under strain the joiner could snap leaving our anchor on the bottom and us floating untethered. We arranged to have the chain delivered to Bert Jabins wharf and load it into our dinghy. After delivering the sail we hauled up the anchor and moved over to Back Creek to pick up the chain. That evening Bert Jabins yard allowed us to tie up to their wharf and be in place for an early haul out the next morning. Tied up to the wharf that night we installed the new chain and cleaned the boat.
Early the next morning the travel lift came promptly at 8 am and lifted us out of the water, power washed the bottom, and had us on jack stands in under an hour. Burt Jabins Yacht Yard is a marvel. I can’t believe I am this impressed over a boat yard but this place is really amazing. Four travel lifts, 4 fork lifts, crane lift, and a slew of contractors. Its impressive how well run this yard is, and clean. It also has showers, laundry, a small cafe and is close to grocery store and marine stores.
M Yachts were scheduled to install the isolators on our backstay that day and Steve came over to coordinate the removal of our backstays and inspect our rig to ensure all was well. We hoisted him up and when he came down, well so did we.
And this my friends is the trouble with boats. Just when you think you’ve got everything working and under control you send a rigger up the mast and when he comes down its not so good anymore. What Steve found was that we had movement in our spreaders that had created some wear and tear in the carbon fibre mast. He recommended it be fixed before we travel offshore. All it would mean was time and money.
So while living on the hard getting the bottom painted, the hull shined, the rig disassembled and the mast pulled and fixed, we decided to have some fun. Thankfully Linda and Grinnell had moved over to Back Creek as well and we got to hang out with them. We went out for dinner our first night and they graciously invited us out to Thistle for pizza and beer the second night. Living on your boat in a yard is no fun as sailboats are meant to be in the water so any chance to get way from the yard was welcome. Ironically Filbert enjoyed it because he got to take walks, eat grass and stalk squirrels.
We also reconnected with Jill and Mike from Mojo I, who had made it to Annapolis that week. A nice aspect to this way of life is you meet people, get to know them and they sail on. But then you meet them again later. At the Annapolis Boat Show we ran into Pat and Karen from Break Free II whom we’d sailed across the Bay of Fundy with earlier that month. And when you do meet up with cruisers its a big reunion, even if you saw them 2 weeks ago!
But there was still coordinating, planning and negotiating to be done. Grinnell was a huge help working through technical issues with Al, offering advice, research and even producing a CAD drawing for one problem. Linda and I had lots in common and enjoyed hanging out together. Sadly these two also had to move on and make their way down south.
So as everyone it seems we know move south, Al and I remain in Annapolis getting the work needed done to head offshore in time for the rally but more on that in the next blog as I’ve already gone on way too long! But we remain in good spirits and just chalk this up as another part of the experience on our great big sail. The universe is funny that way.