Monday, May 30, 2011

Settling Back Home

We've been home for a week and the mail is sorted - well thrown away actually. The bags and boxes have been unpacked. The kids settled right back in with Dyna finding her favorite chair and Dylan splitting time between watching for squirrels out the sun room window and sleeping in his chair in the study.

Friends greeted us with a lovely dinner party and every trip to the post office, town dock, or Bah's Bakehouse leads to welcomes and time catching up. It's nice to be home but after 9 months onboard all this space feels a bit silly.

We've gone from a boat "queen” size bed to a king but still only end up with a sliver as the kids are the ones who get to stretch out. We haven't turned on the cable TV and don't feel the need to. Having a dishwasher is much appreciated and cooking is no longer an acrobatic event although Dyna still manages to find a place underfoot.

The biggest difference for Dyna and Dylan is the lack of daily swimming. Fortunately, we're not completely boatless. We have a 13 foot Whaler which the kids helped get ready. Dylan took up position underneath hoping to catch some spray from the hose. The day was hot so Dyna found a cool spot in the garden nearby. So now the Whaler is clean and the battery is installed. A bit of bottom painting and she should be launched mid-week. Summer can begin.

The kids look forward to daily swimming trips to Indian Bar. We already know of several boating buddies heading to Maine this Summer. The first crowd will be three DeFever's arriving in a couple weeks on their way to Nova Scotia. We've never been by boat and feel a longing to join them.

Meanwhile, we think about the Fall and our next cruise and look forward to the beauty that is a Maine summer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to Dyna!

If you believe the "dog years" theory then Dyna is 91 years old today. I think she's doing pretty well for such an old bird. Today reminds us that every day with Dyna is a gift. For Dyna, it's just another day. And like every day since we've docked the boat, it starts with swimming.

Dyna and Dylan begin rustling about sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 am. We attempt to sleep in until the latter but it's usual not worth the effort. So usually about 6:45 am we pull on some clothes, let the kids visit the poop-deck, and head to the cockpit.

Since Dyna almost took a morning dip in Charleston jumping from the boat to the dock, we now use the PetStep to get her to the dock.

The long walk from the T-head where aCappella is docked to shore is a test of strength as both dogs pull in anticipation of their morning swim.

The pulling continues through the parking lot and across the field that leads to Lodge Creek.

Finally, the collars and leashes come off and there's a mad dash to the water's edge.

Dyna's dad manages to execute a perfect "Double Fetch", throwing one stick long for Dylan and one short for Dyna. This allows Dylan to have a much needed long swim while Dyna is able to fetch her stick without interference from the young'un - well, usually.

Meanwhile Dylan flies past. Damn whipper-snapper.

Each retrieval is followed by several minutes where Dyna wheezes and gasps catching her breath, all the while nudging the stick and prancing her paws wanting another go. Dylan finds other things to do.

A dozen or so throws and the girl starts to drag her back feet signaling it's time to head back. A stop at the hose rinses off the pungent creek water. Although I'm pretty sure they'd both rather carry the smell, they've worked so hard for, with them.

The walk back to the boat is more leisurely, even though breakfast is waiting for them.

Two towels per dog are needed to get them from soaking to just wet.

Then it takes both of them to supervise the preparation of the "Puppy Chow."

And it is done to perfection.

There's only one thing left to do while she waits for dinner.

Dyna, we hope you had a happy birthday. We all love you. Even the little twerp.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bad Decision

The longer we've cruise the more unabashed weather wimps we've become. It seems like every year we reduce the wave height and wind predictions that we consider acceptable. Hey, it's suppose to be fun!

We have learned to be perfectly content sitting at an anchorage or dock for days, even weeks, until the winds die and the waves subside, preferably to glassy calm. We're happier and the kids are definitely happier. It has worked very well for us.

So how did we end up in rough choppy seas in the Chesapeake on our final day of cruising? In fact, it was the worst day of weather we'd experienced in at least 2 years. Well, you start by forgetting everything you know, then you add a touch of impatience to get to your destination, and you finish by ignoring the signs around you.

We left Portsmouth after two great days on a picture perfect morning. The day stayed beautiful so we decided to go a couple of hours further than planned to shorten the next day, our final cruising day of the season. Going the extra distance left us only 30 nm to get to the dock were aCappella will spend the summer.

We were thrilled that we would have 2+ weeks there with good friends Robin and Jim, and Pat and Chuck. A 5:41 am email from Robin (she was awake, we weren't yet) let us know that boats were being shifted around to open up our spot. We awoke at 7 am to rain and some wind, so we decided to make blueberry pancakes and wait for things to clear.

When the sun came out mid-morning and the winds died down, we decided to go. First mistake, we didn't take a final look at the weather radar, predictions, or existing buoy reports.

We warmed the engines, prepared the pilothouse, and Jeff went on deck to pull the anchor. It started to rain again and the wind rose making it difficult to hear each other on our headsets. It did occur to me that maybe we should wait, even stay one more day at the anchorage, "but it's only 30 nm," I thought. Mistake number two, listen to your gut and heed the signs around you.

We started off in a moderate chop but were convinced we could see clearing up ahead. Now I must digress. Can someone please explain why it always looks like it's clearing up ahead and that the waves are subsiding when they rarely do? Or more importantly, why are we able to convince ourselves of this illusion time after time?

So we soldiered on. With each turn in our route we hoped the conditions would improve. 4' waves, then 6' waves, then a few 8 footers thrown in just to test how well we could avoid getting seasick. We hoped for relief in vain. The kids went from giving us dirty looks to circling up in a tight ball and ignoring us. This was the worst weather this canine crew had ever experienced (Tucker knew much worse weather but this team has only grown up in our newfound avoidance mode for weather). All waves vanished when we pulled off the Potomac and it was flat-dead-calm when we pulled onto the dock greeted by Robin and Jim who said, "We were surprised you guys left. It must have been bad out there."

Full disclosure, the wave pictured above was not taken by us but is symbolic of how rough it felt.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Saying goodbye to dolphins...

From the moment we reach Beaufort, NC heading south in the Fall, dolphins are a common sight any time we're in salt water and especially offshore. Dylan loves dolphins. From that first sighting in October/November, every time he runs to the bow over the next 6+ months, he looks over the side for dolphins. In Charleston, the dolphins would come into the basin every afternoon. Dylan was always there watching, studying, barking, and crying. Did I say he loves dolphins?

Offshore going north back to Beaufort, I took the team out on the bow for an afternoon romp before the sun set. As always, Dylan ran out and looked over the bow. This time there were a good seven dolphins over the side.

When we're offshore, dolphins love to ride our bow wave. As our bow moves through the water it creates a pressure wave that allows them to be pushed along with seemingly no effort. A pair of dolphins turns into a set of four. In this case, seven came along for the ride.

As we enter the Beaufort inlet the next morning and make our way up Adams creek on the ICW, the dolphins will disappear. Dylan will keep looking. Every day. Fall will be here soon enough and he'll be back crying for his dolphin friends once more.