Blog - at last!

Brian & Loretto Linehan
Sun 15 Aug 2010 21:02
Finally managed to sort out the blog section – so here are a few emails
which I sent over theprevious few weeks to let you all know what we have
been doing.
Sunday 18th July
Well we are still here – in Oxford, Maryland, that is. We were hoping to
leave Saturday morning but unfortunately another problem has reared its
ugly head. We took the boat out on Friday to clean the bottom and check
the anodes and do a quick clean of the bowthruster. The bowthruster then
decided to go and act up. We discovered it was leaking hydraulic fluid
and, as we cannot proceed without a bow thruster, we have to leave the
boat out of the water while it is fixed. This means that apart from
needing a very tall ladder, there is no power on the boat so no aircon,
refidgeration etc. So we have had to rent a house. We were lucky enough
to get a lovely house in St Michaels, about a 40 minute car drive away so
here I am in a house again. We went to the boat yesterday to get some
clothes etc and the heat was just horrendous. Hopefully, when the yard
goes back to work tomorrow they will able to order the necessary parts
and, perhaps, get the boat back in the water by Wednesday. There is still
some electrics to be sorted and the main boom and sails have to go back on
so maybe, maybe, we will eventually sail out of Oxford next Saturday.
If we do get going we will firstly head up to the top ofChesapeake Bay and
go through the CD Canal to Delaware Bay. Then down to the bottom of
Delaware Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean. We will then follow the coast
up to New York probably stopping at Atlantic City for a night (to sleep
not play!). And then we will sail past the Statue of Liberty - how cool
will that be!
We have held onto our hire car (on our sixth so far - each one getting
progressively smaller). During the past month we have visited Annapolis, a
major naval base. It is a city full of history – you can feel it in the
place. The buildings in the historic town area are all old colonial and,
as you can imagine, they trade on this having walking tours, etc, guided
by people dressed in 17th century clothes. Although you woul d have to be
very keen to do a walking tour in 100F heat. We just about did a little
walk but I am afraid most of our sightseeing was done from the inside of a
lovely air conditioned car. We also visited Baltimore - mainly the
waterfront area which is quite nice. Shopping malls and outlet stores
have also been a major draw (as you can imagine).
Oxford, the boatyard town, is really quaint. Before the revolution it was
a major tobacco shipping area on the coast and remained so until crops and
trade changed. There is a small car ferry which brings you across to the
other side of the bay (about 15 minute ride) which has been in situ since
the early 1600s and has been running constantly since the 1800s. The
houses are all quite colonial looking - all wooden with the white picket
fences. Really, really quaint. The locals are all very friendly and
welcoming. There is a local store which has everything and a fantastic
ice cream shop which is owned and run by a Scotsman (they take sterling!).
We have a bicycle now so Cliona (who is the main user) is riding to the
bank, shop etc, for me when supplies are required. It really is idyllic.
The kids are all fine - enjoying playing with Bono. Jack and Ciara are
also getting quite expert at playing the Wii which has come with us to the
house. Today we have been invited to a crab lunch with a couple who work
at the boatyard, Steve and Lairde. Their daughter, Caitlin (11yrs), is
friendly with Cliona & Ciara - already two sleepovers have been enjoyed.
So Steve works in the yard during the day and then gets up at 3am to go
crabbing. So today we taste the Chesapeake Bay crab.
Tommy & Braeden flew into New York yesterday and on Monday are flying down
to Baltimore so we will pick them up there and they will join us at the
house. Caroline arrives in next week.
Hopefully you will have now read my recent musings so here is the up to
date picture as at Monday 26th July 2010
Well we are still here!!!!!!!!!!!
The boat eventually went back into the water without the bow thruster on
Thursday. The bow thruster needs to be completely re-done and this may
take 5/6 weeks. They have completely sealed the area where the bow
thruster should be so it is okay to sail etc. but unfortunately with a
boat this size we really need the bow thruster to manoeuvre in close
quarters eg. marinas and would really need it if caught out in bad
weather. So we have decided to sail around the Chesapeake Bay area for
the time being. Today the main boom has been put back on and we will be
putting the sail back on later (oh goody! - a lot of work in very hot
weather!) Once the windlass has been fixed we will, again hopefully, get
going Tuesday or Wednesday. Caroline arrives into Baltimore on Saturday
so we are hoping to be up there with the boat to collect her.
We did take the boat out for a motor yesterday for a couple of hours and
it was lovely - very hot though - we had to put the generator on to put on
the aircon as it was like an oven down below and we had six very unhappy,
hot children.
We were keeping an eye on the weather as there was a storm alert issued by
the met office for the area and we got back to the boatyard with minutes
to spare. The storms really build very, very quickly - a matter of
minutes. The dark clouds were building up behind us when we tied on. Jack
and Braeden went with Ciara to the toilets and had literally just arrived
back on the dock when all hell broke loose. The wind was ferocious with
gusts of 30knots, loud and whirling with dust everywhere. The boat was
pulled away from the pontoon so we couldn't get them back on.
They hunkered down with Ciara's arms around them. Then suddenly the bow
line broke loose from the dock and the boat swung away completely from
the pontoon. The force of the wind on the boat had completely pulled out
the cleat to which the bow line was attached. We had fifty knots of wind
but with the help of Cliona, who was also on the pontoon, Brian managed
to get another rope attached at the mid point and I threw another bow
line to Tommy (also on the pontoon). I hesitate to call it exciting as
it could have been pretty serious but everyone was brilliant and the boat
was soon back secured. We weathered out the rest of the storm with a
couple of beers and a lot of hugging for the kids. The two boys were
very brave but Jack was heard to comment "why can't we live in a house?"
but as you know children are remarkably resilient and now their adventure
is just history.
Another adventurous moment was the dog falling into the water. Yes it had
to happen and it did just as a discussion about dog-overboard recovery
techniques was taking place. Always sniffing around on deck he became too
curious and ended up in the drink. Swimming was not a problem except the
direction - away from help so Brian had to get into the dingy and rescue
him. He did not appear too traumatised by the adventure so at least we
know he can swim - just have to teach him to swim back to the boat!
So we continue to enjoy the Oxford boatyard hospitality for the time being.
Sunday 15th August 2010
Well a lot has happened since I wrote last. On Friday 30th July we left
Oxford and motored up to Baltimore where Caroline was to join us. The
distance is approximately 1 ½ hours by car but by boat – approx. 9 hours.
But it was great to be out on the water and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It
was quite exciting going under the Bay bridge which carries Route 50
accross the bay. It has a vertical clearance of 186 feet which is plenty
for our 86ft requirement but it was still an event going under the bridge
which we had crossed so many times by car. The Chesapeake is a very busy
waterway with plenty of pleasure craft and commercial traffic so you have
to be on the constant lookout for large tankers, car transporters etc as
despite their size they can move quite fast and can sneak up on you.
We tied up at the Baltimore Inner Harbour Marine Center right in the
centre of Baltimore. A lovely marina where it was quite easy to dock the
boat on a long outer pontoon without the bow thruster. Caroline was
flying into New York where we had expected to be at this time so she took
an internal flight from there to Baltimore.
We had the use of the swimming pool at the Intercontinental Hotel, about a
5 minute walk from the marina so myself, Caroline and the kids spent a
couple of hours there on the Saturday while Tommy & Brian had to return
various hire cars and do some shopping. Caroline then took the younger
kids to the Science Museaum and the older girls went shopping. The
harbour is really alive with plenty of small craft buzzing about, some
touristy “pirate”boats and larger restaurant boats sailing in and out at
all times of the day well into the night. We had a free jazz concert on
the Saturday evening – very pleasant as we enjoyed a few beers on the back
On the Sunday we left the marina and sailed/motored down to the South
River which is on the west shore below Annapolis. We anchored there in
Aberdeen Creek. It is very picturesque with the woodland punctuated by
various large houses, each with their own boat dock.
Monday we sailed to St Michaels, on the east shore on the Miles River.
The St Michaels Marina was our home for two nights. It was lovely – a
swimming pool and within walking distance of the town with grocery
shops,great restaurants etc. St Michaels is a very historic city with
lovely colonial buildings. It played an important part in the revolution
supposedly “fooling the British” into shooting too high when the Redcoats
were shelling the town. It was a shipbuilding centre noted for the
Baltimore Clippers the fastest sailing vessels of their time. Nowadays it
seems filled with tourists all the time.
Brian and I had a wonderful wedding anniversary surprise organised by
Tommy and Caroline. We had gone shopping to the local ACME store (yes it
does exist outside of cartoons) and on our return were greeted with a boat
regailed in pirate flags. We were seated in the cockpit and then two
little pirates and four princesses attacked us to a soundtrack which
included sea shanties and the music from Pirates of the Carribbean. The
children presented us with presents – and then we were toasted with two
beautiful pewter tankards engraved with the occasion and date. I can
truly say it was the best wedding anniversary I have ever had. A BIG
thank you to Tommy & Caroline.
I have to mention the restaurants we ate in – the Bistro St Michaels and
Avas pizzeria – both absolutely fantastic – we can highly recommend them
if you ever visit the area.
Wednesday saw us sail back to Oxford – again because of forecasted storms.
Back to familiar territory we hired a car and visited the local main
town, Easton, on Thursday. This has been the capital of Talbot County
since 1710 and has a very interesting history which we discovered at the
local historical society’s museum. Again we were very successful in our
choice of restaurant for lunch – Masons restaurant. Delicious food and
then purchasing handmade gourmet chocolates and the adjoining Masons deli.
A perfect way to spend the day.
Unfortunately the storm did hit that evening. Myself and some of the
girls were grocery shopping in Easton while Brian dropped Tommy and the
others back to the boat. He collected us and while we were travelling the
10 miles back to Oxford the car was accosted by “power shower” like rain
with winds, thunder and lightning. The boat fared no better as we found
out on our return. No damage but a few worried faces on the children.
But as with all storms it passed and the hot weather returned.
On Friday we sailed down the bay to Solomons, a very popular sailing
destination on the Patuxent River, on the west shore. We stayed a night
at the Solomons Yachting Center and then sailed a mile or so away up Mill
Creek and anchored for a second night. It is certainly a popular boating
area with plenty of small speed boats and jet skis flying up and down –
obviously no problem ignoring the speed limit here!
We had originally decided to travel down to St Mary’s City on St Mary’s
River, a tributary on the northern shore of the Potomac. But that
weekend was the Governor’s Race – an overnight race from Annapolis to St
Marys leaving on the Friday with plenty of partying on the Saturday.
Approx 160 boats were taking part so we decided it might be a bit crowded
on the Saturday and so sailed there on the Sunday – meeting the various
boats on their way back home. We were contacted on the radio by Mark whom
we had met at Oxford while he was getting his new, secondhand, boat ready
for the race. It was strange being hailed but a nice surprise to hear
from him and see him sail by.
We anchored in Horseshoe Bend just off St Mary’s college. This college,
founded in 1840, was based on religious tolerance and continues today as
a coed arts college. The city itself is a reconstruction of the original
settlement – the fourth permanent Englishment settlement in North America
and the first Catholic settlement. It was Maryland’s capital from 1634 to
1695 when it was moved to Annapolis. Only a few buildings have been
rebuilt but it was certainly very interesting to read about the first
settlers and in particular one Dutch man who, it would seem, would feature
in most American’s famly tree!
The only downside was the fact that there were no shops within walking
distance – not good when you are sailing but luckily we were well stocked
(ran out of tonic though!).
We returned to Oxford again on the Monday as Tommy, Caroline & Braeden
were flying back to the UK on the Tuesday. Jack was quite sad to say
goodbye to Braeden but was consoled by the new nintendo game Brian bought
for him!
A tornado warning was issued for the Oxford area on Wednesday and so we
stayed there for a couple of days. The tornado duely appeared – although
you know they are coming the speed with which they appear is amazing.
Thunder, lightening, wind speeds in excess of 50 knots –a lovely time had
by all!
So yesterday we left Oxford once more and sailed up to Chestertown, on the
Chester river on the east shore just above the Bay bridge. We are on a
marina and have been astounded by the number of people coming down to
welcome us to the area and admire the boat. It was quite tricky at times
coming up the river with depths going down to 12/13 feet (we draw 8 ½
feet) so I don’t think they get many big yachts coming up this far. We
toured the town this morning and this afternoon, while the rain poured
outside, enjoyed the luxury of internet access!