After some nine weeks of travels and trials, we have made it to what I consider is our halfway point to the Caribbean, Portsmouth VA. This is the staging and departure point of the Caribbean 1500, our rally to the BVI. It’s been pretty crazy. I had this idea that I’d be able to blog about our travel south, but the long days have been filled with other more important stuff, like unclogging my kid’s poop from the head. So, apart from throwing some pictures and thoughts on Facebook, it’s been quiet. Here have been some highlights of the over 500 nautical miles from Lake Champlain to Portsmouth.
- On August 19th we moved aboard Alchemy and packed our world into 200 square feet. In Lake Champlain we waved goodbye to our car, and our autopilot broke.
- The Champlain Canals found Peter making Volvo MD2030 speed curves for his math boatschool. The locks were our first test and first step in changing us from a family of five into a team of sailors. The canals gave us our first (of many) opportunities to run aground.
- At West Point we got a “backstage” tour from Major Portis, my rugby buddy, and the boys visited the first (of many) military museums. Some crazy guy locked our dinghy and made us wait because we tied up in the wrong place at a yacht club. The Hudson continued the motoring boredom, but also gave us a taste of arriving at places from the perspective of a boat. Asking for directions continued to get us blank looks when we would say “we are walking”.
- What’s not to love about the Big Apple. Meeting up with sailor friends, we stayed at Newport Marina and spent several days being the tourist. This time, everyone else was walking too!
- Twenty knot winds and eight foot swell were a quick reality check as we headed down the New Jersey coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May. The first time in the open(ish) sea gave us our first serious challenges. Being laid low by sea sickness made it difficult to look after the kids. The bad weather forced us in at Barnegat Inlet and our engine overheated and smoked. Running aground as we entered, Peter stood watch over the engine with a fire extinguisher as we struggled against the headwind.
- Cape May sure has alot of Tuna boats. It’s also the last time we went swimming.
- The Delaware Bay was tamed with easy weather and comfortable sailing. Continuing into the early night, we used the running lights of ships to play the game of “will that container ship run us over or not?”
- Coming into the Chesapeake Bay, we realized (and did some boatmath) that Lake Champlain has been the deepest we have been this whole trip. Coming down the Chesapeake we had to weave between the channel markers. The Sassafras river was our best sunset yet.
- Baltimore is a harbor of brown mutation-inducing water surrounded by pleasant leafy streets. Checking out the USS Constitution, we fired our first cannon. Checking out Fort McHenry, we did our first bit of fact checking the museum’s “history” of the war of 1812.
- What’s not to like about being in Annapolis during the Boat Show? It was great to meet Andy and Mia and the boys helped out the Carib 1500 booth with Lemonade refreshments. They boys showed surprising stamina for looking at boats, usually with comments of “it’s sooo big!” For myself, the 32′ Seward Hake caught my eye. We managed to visit the Naval Academy a couple of times and saw the lunch time parade.
- Last but not least has been Yorktown, a historic town where the French were finally able to defeat the British (with some help from some Americans and Germans).
Now begins the process of changing Alchemy from a cruising boat of a family of three young boys (think legos, TV screen and boatschool) into a bluewater passage-maker for an adult crew (think SOLAS flares, storm sails and dog bowls). The departure date of the Caribbean 1500 is Nov 2nd, so we have about 9 days to make this transformation.
- Bodies of water = 5 (Champlain, Hudson, Atlantic, Delaware, Chesapeake)
- Big Cities = 4 (New York, Baltimore, Annapolis, Portsmouth)
- Run Aground’s = 5 (Canals, Barnegat, Sassafras)
- Military Academies = 2
- Times people have thought our boys were girls = 21
- Time we wished they were = 49
- Kid Boats we have met = 4
- Miles traveled = 549
- Days on board = 65
- Engine fires = 0
Weirdly enough, I was borne in Portsmouth, England and lived there till I was 13.