2014-05-30 Week #2.5 In The Yard

We have been here in Galesville MD at Hartges Yacht Harbor for just 2 1/2 weeks but don’t know where the time has gone. We arrived with our list of boat chores as you could see from the Week #1 article we got right to it and have not let up yet. My big job was getting our Single Side Band (SSB) radio installed.

While Magnolia was in the Bahamas we just did not have the level of weather information that we wanted. We made the commitment of time and money to make sure we had access to the information we required. Annette and I both studied and passed our FCC licenses while still in the Bahamas. On the way north we examined the equipment options and purchased what we needed ready for installation upon our arrival. The installation started at the stern of Magnolia where the mast backstay does double duty as the antenna.

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First thing was to install the antenna tuner in the lazarette along with backstay connection and counterpoise grounding loop.

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The 15 kV (that’s 15,000 volts) wire connecting to the backstay.

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The counterpoise grounding loop across the deck of the lazarette.

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Below is the additional electrical wiring I installed for the radio. Those are 60amp fuses!

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The Admiral took the below during my first “contact.” Granted it was with our friend Frank Quigly aboard Eleanor Q and they were anchored a mere 15 miles north in Annapolis. We have since made connections in Melbourne FL and Wilmington NC. Things seem to be working!

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If you thought we can only install radios well we do plumbing as well as seen by the aft head faucet.

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Meanwhile the Admiral has been making repairs to the canvas swim platform cover. Remember Annette’s latest post can always be seen on www.seamlesssailor.com.

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We hired our “rigger” to install an additional small winch on the port combing. This will allow Annette to roll the head sail on her own when the winds get a bit sporty.

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Magnolia will be pulled out of the water next week while Annette and I stay in Washington. She will have some bottom paint done along with her waistline raised. (Since we moved aboard she gained some weight which lowered her in the water a couple of inches.) Once we get her back in the water we will have the rigger do some work on the dinghy davits and then we will be ready to get going again!

Lori, sorry, next entry I PROMISE!

2014-05-20 Week #1 in the Yard

Magnolia arrived the West River last week on Tuesday and took the opportunity to anchor out in the river avoiding the start of our “maintenance availability” for an additional 12 hours. The next morning we hoisted the anchor aboard and went into our slip at Hartges Yacht Harbor. It was cool wet morning yet it was nice to be coming “home” to the marina we know the best!

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While we were still at anchor I reminded the Admiral we needed the make sure we backed into the slip so we could have some work done on the stern davits. In general sailboats don’t back very well and Morgan’s make most look terrific at backing! Admiral did some research and came up with a spring line arrangement that would be ideal for our circumstances and she executed perfectly!

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We got Magnolia settled and I went after getting the cockpit grates stripped and varnished. The maintenance list we arrived with was long and numerous so time is of the essence to make sure we are ready to go at the end of June.

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One of the major tasks is the installation of a HAM radio. The first component to install was the antenna tuner which was installed in the stern lazarette.

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Below is the counter-poise antenna ground laid out on the lazarette deck.

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The tasks aboard Magnolia are important but the really important stuff is happening ashore with meeting up with family and friends. Our first visit was with my great Aunt and Uncle Jim and Mona. Mona is my Grandmother Lavera’s youngest sister. Always a pleasure to spend time with them!

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We then went on to visit with my cousin George and his family. Always a great time!

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Back aboard Magnolia we continue to race the clock to complete our list in the allotted 6 weeks! So far, so good but will keep you apprised!

2014-05-13 — Real Welcome Home w/ The Musketeers

Our first sight of Virginia was actually in the wilds of the Dismal Swamp a few miles south of Norfolk/Portsmouth VA. It was hard to believe….

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Mile Zero of the Intercostal Waterway (ICW) is in Portsmouth VA. I did not realize the highway system used the same mark as well.

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We made a brief visit to the MacArthur Museum/Memorial in Norfolk. We did not see the entire exhibit but we will make time next time through. One small note, when MacArthur retired from the Army he was invited to address a joint session of Congress. I cannot imagine that happening today! Like I said, we will be back.

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Magnolia departed Portsmouth, VA bound for Deltaville VA. In route learned not only would Eleanor Q be meeting us there but our friends on Mandala as well. What a complete surprise treat! While waiting the “fleets” arrival Annette and I toured the re-built Maritime Museum as well as a nice walk around.

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As I described in my last post just before Eleanor Q & Mandalas arrival a significant thunderstorm passed through the area. Thankfully both vessels and crew arrived just fine!

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Tradition has it the vessel not traveling that day host dinner aboard. Lucky for us Mandala had caught a number of fish on their offshore passage so we gladly added those tempting treats to the menu! It was great to have this crew back together though there were a few boat friends missing! Sad smile

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The next morning the entire crew got underway for Solomon’s Island on the Patuxent River.  As we passed Naval Air Station Patuxent river we saw an un-manned drone fly over which was cool.

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We all had a nice visit to Solomons but it was time to get on down the road, Magnolia into Galesville & West River while Eleanor Q will return to her homeport of Annapolis. Mandala will be in Annapolis for a while, well until the ice clears in their homeport in Maine!

Magnolia is currently anchored near the red circle in the chart below. If you look closely you can see our exit route from 7 months and 3 weeks ago. By the way that is also AT LEAST 3797.85nm miles ago. I have not been 100% on the mileage tracking so we suspect it is closer to 4400-4600 nm. Tomorrow we will start Magnolias “maintenance availability” but today, we are just going to revel in the accomplishment.

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2014-05-13 Our Un-Welcome–Welcome Home

Let me begin with no person nor boat was significantly damaged during this storm though it did scare the be-jesus out of us and reminded us again who is boss…least of all the crews of these vessels.

Magnolia has been taking a leisurely trip north through the Carolinas and spent a couple of days in Portsmouth VA as well. Out buddy boat Eleanor Q was a couple of days back and after all the miles traveled together we simply could not return to our home port of Galesville, MD without sharing a “sundowner” to celebrate our accomplishment. A site for our rendezvous agreed on and with Eleanor Q a couple days back the Admiral and I took on a few chores and did some sightseeing ashore in Deltaville VA. Deltaville Jackson Creek is a very protected anchorage as you can see from the track of our entrance.

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Last Friday we receive an unexpected email from “EQ” that Mandala, “our third musketeer” was actually off Cape Hatteras!! Holy you know what! On Saturday as Mandala & Eleanor Q made their way north with the ever present threat of thunderstorms. When the thunderstorm warning was announced it was not unexpected and not unusual for the Chesapeake Bay. The warning is common in the summer months and always worthy of monitoring. About an hour before arrival the thunderstorms struck with extra ferocity, much more so than the typical summer storm. EQ & Mandala were in open water and with sails down lightening strike was probably the highest concern. (Note: we were not out there so only speculation on my part). Mean while back at the anchorage Magnolia was anchored in 7-9 feet of water (tides) with a 55lb Rocna and 75 feet of chain out, 9 or 10 to 1 scope. Should be more than sufficient though it would have been nice to have more out but we limited by the size of the anchorage. As the wind swept through the distant trees I could hear a very loud roar and immediately knew this was not the typical thunderstorm. To her credit, the Admiral was already on heightened alert than I. We immediately started the engine and put on PFDs and out communication headsets to be ready for anything. When the anemometer spiked to 52 knts (60 mph) Magnolia started a slow anchor drag which we were able to minimize with the engine as Magnolia danced around at the end of her chain. In 15 min it was over and the sun came out just as we were able to welcome our friends into the anchorage. (More on that next time)

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Some lessons learned….the diagram below blue circle shows where we were anchored. The blue arrow shows wind direction and yellow direction of anchor drag.

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1) It goes without saying but reminding is not a bad thing either…Mother Nature rules the roost!

2) The soft mud of the Chesapeake Bay does not hold our Rocna nearly as well as other places. We SHOULD have used our Danforth Anchor and that SHOULD have better holding properties in the very soft mud of the Chesapeake Bay.

3) After sitting and swinging at anchor for a couple of days we should have made a higher priority of “re-setting” the anchor before the storm arrived.

These are just some things we will be thinking about next time. So that was the unwelcome back we received! I will write more about our real welcome back we shared with Eleanor Q and Mandala a little later. First we have to get Magnolia into her homeport later this afternoon!

2014-05-09–Why we think we are lucky!

We have met many people on our adventure to the Bahamas but three boats Mandala, Eleanor Q and Magnolia have been together the most. As we prepared to depart the Exumas, Mandala continued on towards the Caribbean. Eleanor Q had departed to the Abacos already. We all knew we would catch up to each other but “when” was always the unknown.

Magnolia has been looking forward to meeting up with Eleanor Q before we returned to our respective homeports of Galesville and Annapolis MD but we received some unexpected news today. Mandala made and offshore dash into Norfolk. Not only will Eleanor Q be arriving Deltaville tomorrow but Mandala will as well.

The three boats have traveled a couple thousand miles together so to mimic MaryMarie from Eleanor Q, “we will have our nose pressed to the glass” tomorrow awaiting the arrival of our friends…and that is why we think we are lucky….and blessed too

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2014-05-05 Dismal Swamp–Not Dismal!

Todays transit was one of the shortest of our entire voyage yet the richness of the scenery certainly made the difference. After pulling the anchor at 07:30 in order to make the 11:00 lock transit we were immediately surrounded by the area scenic beauty.

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Not 2 more miles down the waterway did we come to our first head scratcher. Was the bridge really open like the books say? Our approach did not provide a clear view until we got right up on this train bridge.

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This section is so curvy I nearly found myself leaning into the corners!

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View the lock gates (closed) as we approach the south end of the lock which will raise Magnolia about 4 feet.

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There were two other boats joining us for the “elevator” ride.

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As the lock fills Magnolia is being raised.

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The lockmaster with his able assistant.

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Truth be told she did not lift a “paw” to help her boss!

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The canal is so narrow the width of the mast blocks the entire view of navigable water!

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Magnolia moored alongside at the Dismal Swamp Visitors Center.

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After being on the boat for a couple days nothing feels better than a good leg stretching walk…also referred to as Forced Family Fun!

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The Admiral enjoying a little time on the “Contemplation Bench”

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Like I said, it was a short 22 mile day but VERY cool!

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Portsmouth Virginia tomorrow.

2014-05-04 North Carolina–Most of the Way–Full Circle

Since our last update Magnolia covered about 250 miles and rounded the corner headed for the “barn.” After departing Southport, NC Magnolia had a number of terrific anchorages along the NC Coast highlighted by a visit with Annette’s cousin in Morehead City, NC.

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The Marine Corps Camp Lejeune Base is along the coast and you never know what you are going to see during the transit. In this case we caught a V-22 Osprey flying around. Certainly one of the most unique aircraft flying!

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Not sure if this Armored Personnel Carrier (w/Rocket Launcher) is abandoned, a target or simple lost. “Hey, did you guys loose a  Armored Personnel Carrier?”

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As we traversed the Alligator-Pungo Canal we heard a friends boat named Exuberant on the VHF Radio. We have not seen them since Georgetown, Exuma Bahamas! What a small world.

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Below is a panorama of our Alligator River Anchorage. 

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As we are anchored this afternoon in Elizabeth City, NC it dawned on me that we will be back in “Virginia Waters” tomorrow. I cannot believe we have nearly completed the VERY FIRST PART of this adventure. (I must emphasize the FIRST PART because we are just getting started !) We will cross into Virginia, make stops in Portsmouth and Little Creek and into our homeport of Galesville, VA next week. We will be in the Washington DC area till early July catching up with chores and most important, spending time with family and friends. Its going to be a busy summer!!!  

2014-05-01 Morehead City, NC

Magnolia is along side face-dock at Morehead City Yacht Basin…key word is “basin.” We have 360 protection here. Will remain inport through at least tomorrow (2014-01-02) waiting for the weather to settle. Vessel and Crew are well.