Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Boats?

When we sold Short Walk last June, the majority opinion among our boating friends seemed to be that we were having some type of crazy illness/reaction to all the sunshine in the Bahamas and that we would be very sorry that we sold.   I'm pretty sure there was even a pool going to see how long it would take us to buy the next boat.   Well...... a couple weeks ago we did it, we purchased two kayaks!   Not exactly on the scale of the cruising boat we sold but just enough to get us back out on the water with a lot less effort.   Over the winter, we really did miss Short Walk.   We especially missed her during Jan, Feb, and March when all our cruising friends were sending e-mails describing all the sun and fun in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean (thanks for that by the way).   However, as spring came around and we were not waxing 40' of fiberglass boat or stripping/sealing teak, or shining stainless steel or painting the bottom or making seemingly endless runs to West Marine for more costly boat parts we smiled and knew that we did make the right decision for us.   We have only had the kayaks in the water once so far this spring (when is the warm weather really coming to PA?) but we hope to do much more paddling this summer.   We have a road trip to Mystic CT and Maine planned for the summer, we're headed back to Savannah, GA in September for Joe's Navy reunion and we booked a trip to Croatia and northern Italy later in the fall and I am starting to work on 2014.   So many places to go and see!   Anyway, we think of all our boating friends often and hope to catch up with you again soon.   Stay safe out there.

Friday, June 8, 2012


We went to settlement on the boat yesterday and woke up this morning to find ourselves boatless!   GULP!    Actually, it is a good feeling.   Short Walk has a great new home on the other side of the bay and will soon have a new name.  

Truly, we are ready to move on to the next chapter of our lives.   We plan to spend some much needed time at home, reconnecting with family and friends here.   Later this year, we'll start planning some land based travel.    The only hard part of the sale was knowing we won't be seeing our boating friends as often as we used to.   However, we are not saying goodbye as we plan to visit Rock Hall/North Point every summer and as we travel, we hope to keep in touch with those of you in other parts of the country.   You can run (or sail) but you can not hide! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back in Rock Hall!

We finished the Dismal Swamp route on Monday April 23 docking in Portsmouth, VA for the night.   As we went through the final lock in the Dismal Swamp, Joe presented the lock tender, Robert, with a conch shell from the Bahamas and a bottle of Hole in the Wall Rum.   Robert tuned Joe's conch horn (does that sound funny to anyone else?) on the way south and we wanted to pay him back for the kind service.  Robert clearly loves his job and always has good musical advice and a smile on his face.   When we went through the lock, it was raining so I couldn't get pictures but suffice it to say that the gift of Rum made his day.   Portsmouth has always been a favorite stop because of the Bier Garden Restaurant and we all enjoyed the extensive beer menu.   We also took the ferry to Norfolk and revisited the Nauticus Museum and the toured the USS Wisconsin.   They are constantly opening up new parts of the ship so we did actually get to see a bit more than last time.   Robert also recommended the Commodore Theater to Big Run.   The Commodore shows first run movies in a theater that has been restored to Art Deco divine.   They replaced all the movie seats with dinner tables and comfy chairs on wheels.   You order and eat right before the movie.   Only dessert and drink refills are provided during the movie.   It was a great experience and something we wish more theaters would try.  Very civilized.

We stayed in Portsmouth an extra day because of high winds and then did an overnight motor trip home to Rock Hall, arriving early Thursday morning.   Lots of ship and barge traffic on the Chesapeake this time but we made it safely through it all.   Can't tell you how happy we are to be home!    We have some weekend committments in PA and then we will be working on the boat to get it ready for sale (see Sail or Sale?  below).   We had a great trip but as Dorothy says, "There's no place like home!"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's in a name?

When we meet other boaters, they almost always ask us why we named the boat Short Walk (see "About Us" for the details).  A boat name can say a lot about the owners.   Hmmmmm...I think we just confessed to being sarcastic, irreverent and ready to laugh at ourselves.   At least that's what we think Short Walk says.   The "walk" definitely gets shorter every year for both of us.  However, sometimes when we say "Short Walk" on the radio, people don't understand what we are saying.   So far, we have been hailed as Short Love (let's hope not!), Short Luck and Long Walk (off a short pier maybe?). 
During our travels the last two years, we have seen a couple thousand boats and the names have sometimes amused, sometimes puzzled and sometimes well, we just don't know what to think.   We tend to categorize them as clever, cute, too cute or what the heck were they thinking?    The list below is just a sample and we won't reveal our thoughts on the individual names as we wouldn't want to hurt any feelings.   In general, we did not include boats named for stars, birds, fish, animals, women's names or combination of names (although some are very clever).  If we do know the explanation, we tried to include it.   And of course, if you find your boat name in here, it is DEFINITELY in the "clever" category.   And if you think we forgot your boat name, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the anonymity.   We haven't grouped them by category so you can decide for yourself:

Scat                                                          Jupiter Smiles                               Different Drummer
Snafu                                                       Cry Baby                                       Rip your float
Peaceful Warrior                                     Wind Warrior                                Oz
Lost Marbles                                           Just Ducky                                     This Old House
Breaking Wind                                        Hairball                                          It's All Good
The Answer My Friend                           Not Love                                        Love Club
Love Boat                                                Afternoon Delight                         Touch Me Not
Steadfast                                                  Hold Fast                                       Alchemy
Dues Paid Again                                     Subway Tammy                             Brown Beaver
Hoser Canuck                                          Bobby Land                                   Dharma (dinghy is Gregg?)
Pattycakes                                                Cupcake                                        Hun Buns III
Why Worry                                              Slow Gin                                       One White Tree
Smiles                                                      Sunspot Baby                                Not So Interim
Cutting Class (2 retired teachers)            Contagious                                    Interim
Karaya (Native American word)             Wicked Witch                               Caesar's Ghost
Octopussy                                                Tautaug (an extinct fish)               Knot Home         
1/4 Impulse power (small Whaler)          Salty Paws                                     Cara Mia
Adanaco (read backwards-O Canada)      N-Aimless                                     Bella Sera
More Mischief                                         Sea Return                                     Aquarelle
Zivelli                                                      Plan B                                            Plan Sea
O Sea D                                                   Fiscal Stray
Local Knowledge (when boats call for local knowledge in a strange port-does this boat answer?)
Hurrah (the owner has a very upperclass British accent-a riot!)                                           
Dopey (We really want to hear them call for help...."Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is Dopey" Ok....and where are the rest of the dwarfs?????)
Dicky Licky (I want to hear him call the Coast Guard and ask for help!)
Retired Sailor (a beautiful power yacht)
Sam the Skull (said in a great Scottish accent)
One Eyed Parrots (their last name is Parrot and they both have only one eye)
And our all time favorite:  Big Run (Short Walk-get it?)

Almost Home

Cruising friends on Big Run caught up with us just north of Charleston and we have been cruising on and off with them as we both head back to the Chesapeake Bay.   We made side trips to Southport (to see friends Maggie and Jim from PA who relocated) and then to Beaufort (one of our favorite towns).  We cruised the Waccamaw River with Big Run and agree it is one of the most beautiful rivers on entire ICW.  Just south of Alligator River in S. Carolina, Joe spotted an alligator, a first for all of us while cruising.   Big Run was behind us and was able to get the great pictures below.  

We also made a stop in Elizabeth City to see Jeanne who now lives in the Outer Banks.   Elizabeth City calls itself the Harbor of Hospitality, has free docks and throws a wine, beer and cheese party whenever 5 or more boats come in.   Friday night when we were there was the first party of the season.   The visitor's center does a great job and although you can see clear signs of the town struggling to stay economically viable, you can also see and feel the efforts of good-hearted people who are proud to live there.   A tradition of giving roses to the women at the happy hour was started by one resident in the 1980s and even though he has died, the rose tradition continues.   Several of the retired men in town also hang around the docks and help you tie up and cast off and fill the time in between with lots of stories.   A very charming town.

Elizabeth City is the southern most point in the Dismal Swamp route back to Norfolk.   Every time I write the words Dismal Swamp I think it sounds creepy and wonder why we go there.   However, it easily competes with the Waccamaw River in S. Carolina for raw beauty.   The winding Pasquotank River starts the route north into the swamp and you traverse through 2 locks before you get to Norfolk.   We made it through the first lock yesterday and are staying at the Visitor's Center tonight to wait out the 2-3 inches of rain expected today.   We try not to travel in crummy weather and this is as good a place to hide as any.   Highway Route 17 runs parallel to the ICW and at the back of one of the rest stops along the highway there is a dock that holds 3-4 boats.   Other boats raft to the first 3-4 boats and we have been here with as many as 12 boats tied together.   Last night there were 8 of us and only one left this morning.   With more coming through the locks today, it should make for an interesting happy hour.   The first lock requires the water to rise about 7-8 feet.   Going north you enter the lock at the lower end, the lock tender closes the doors behind you and then slowly (theoretically) he lets the water in the lock to raise you up.   The boat rises along the seawall as the water comes in and then the tender opens the doors and you motor out.   Obviously, this is a centuries old engineering feat but it still amazes me every time.   This time, he let the water in faster than we've ever seen and the boat bounced around a bit with the bubbling water trying to move the bow off the wall.   We adjust the lines holding us to the wall as the water bubbles us up and trying to hold the line and snap pictures is interesting at times.   We have one more lock to go through tomorrow and then we'll make it to Portsmouth, VA.   After that, we hope to do one last overnight motor trip up the Bay to Rock Hall, getting there by the end of the week.   Almost home!!!!

Alligator cruising the ICW

The beauty of the Dismal Swamp

Approaching the first lock

Short Walk and Big Run in the lock.  Notice how far down the wall the boats are here

Water bubbling into the lock to raise the boats

Exiting the lock

Friday, April 13, 2012

The long route north

We left Fernandina Beach on Saturday, April 7 and worked our way to the northwest end of Cumberland Island on the ICW.   Cumberland Island is one of our favorite spots so it was hard not to stop to sight see especially with the ponies visible along the shore.   We anchored for the night near the St. Andrews Inlet and went out into the ocean headed for Beaufort, NC on Easter Sunday around 7 am.   We figured this was about a 50 hour trip, depending on the wind and waves.   When we are offshore, we take 3-hour shifts at the helm.   We had winds varying between 15-23 on the port quarter and a 6' following sea.   I don't know who coined the term "Fair winds and a following sea" but for the most part a following sea is not fun.  Although most of the time it felt like we were surfing the waves, the drop off from a  6' wave tended to rock the boat from side to side, making cooking and sleeping a little challenging.   We were flying along between 7-8 knots but definitely holding carefully on to the handrails as we moved around in the boat.  At 3:30 am on Monday morning, Ann was at the helm and we were near the sea buoys off of Charleston when we heard a very loud BANG and the boom separated from the gooseneck attachment and the mast.   For the non-sailors, the mast is the big vertical stick in the sky and the boom is the big horizontal aluminum piece that controls the bottom edge of the sail.   We had 18 knots of wind at the time and the boom was secured off to starboard with the preventer.   It didn't feel like and the wind did not indicate a jibe and the only thing we can figure is that the rivets holding gooseneck attachment to the boom failed under stress.   Maybe the rolling seas contributed to the failure but we have sailed in far more challenging seas than this without an issue.   The real question is WHY, WHY, WHY does this stuff always happen out at sea in the middle of the night (not to mention on Ann's watch!)?   The loud bang woke Joe up and he put on a lifejacket, strapped himself to the port jackline and went out on deck in 6' seas to drop the sail and secure the boom.   Meanwhile, Ann reviewed man overboard drills and financial beneficiary status in her head.   Just another day on Short Walk.  

Without a mainsail, being at sea in 20 knots of wind and building seas is no picnic, so we turned into Charleston (taking the 6' waves on the beam for 2+ hours) and anchored just off the ICW to access the damage.   Of course, we initially assumed the worse and were looking into buying a new boom (cha-ching!) but talking with good friends on Big Run, we realized the boom can most likely be repaired (the boom is much longer than the sail and can be trimmed and re-riveted).   We decided not to attempt repairs along the way but will research this back in Rock Hall.   Therefore, we are staying on the calmer waters of the ICW all the way from Charleston to Norfolk.   We can still use the jib to sail when it makes sense but the boom is now lashed to the deck of the boat and we curse at it daily as we stub our toes on the way to the bow.  

The good news is, we got to skip the section of the ICW that goes through Georgia which is gorgeous but VERY tedious.   We re-entered the ICW quite a bit below our original destination of Beaufort but cruising for the past couple years has definitely taught us to slow down and enjoy the journey.   What happens, happens.   No one got hurt and it is easily repairable.   Not necessarily in the budget but who drafted that stupid budget anyway?  FYI, this event had nothing to do with our decision to sell the boat.  

We hope to be back to Rock Hall by the end of April or early May.

Sail or Sale?

They say the happiest days of a boater's life are the day the boat is purchased and the day the boat is sold.   Not sure about that because we are having some fabulous days in between.   However, we have come to the momentous decision to put Short Walk up for sale when we get back to Rock Hall in the spring.
Joe says he has been in the Navy or had access to the water or owned a boat for over 50 years.  We started sailing together on Lake Nockamixon in his Flying Scott and then bought a Beneteau 23' together.  We've owned Short Walk for 11 years and we had the prior boat (Vixen - 32' ketch), for 7 years.  All told that is many years of lake sailing, 18 years on the Chesapeake and 2 trips along the coast from Maine to the Bahamas.   Lots of sailing and lots of fun.   This winter, we began to discuss what the next phase in our lives should look like.  Kind of a "what we want to do when we grow up" discussion.   Initially, we are looking forward to a bit of reconnecting with family and friends at home.   We downsized in 2008 and haven't really spent much time in the townhouse since then.   We have been traveling for 16 of the last 24 months and although we have made many wonderful and lifelong (we hope!) new friends through cruising, we miss everyone at home and long to reconnect.  After the boat sells, we plan to take shorter journeys to see all 50 states, Canada, Europe, Africa and other far away places.   The bucket list is pretty long.  Heck, we may even charter a boat sometime.   Think about it, we could sail for 1-2 weeks per year without all the endless boat maintenance and expense.   A novel concept.
The hardest part about the decision has actually been accepting that we won't be seeing all our cruising friends on the ICW or Bahamas again (well, we hope to see them on land sometime) and that we won't be spending most of our summer weekends at North Point Marina in Rock Hall.   North Point has been our summer home for 18 years and we love the owners and the slipholders there.   Meeting for coffee under the pavilion, happy hours watching the sunset, hanging at the pool, Fourth of July fireworks from the boat and so many more great memories.   North Point will always have a place in our hearts.   We hope to rent us a motel room a couple times a season so we can stay in touch.  We definitely can't say goodbye to North Point.
As when we sold our home, our timing for the market couldn't be worse.  So to our friends at North Point, you will probably have us to kick around for a bit longer while we try to sell the boat.   If anyone knows of a prospective buyer, just let us know.   We are working on the logistics for selling the boat and will keep you posted.   We consider the Island Packet 40 to be a great cruising boat, lots of room, lots of amenities and we have always tried to keep her in good shape.   We hope she finds a good new home.