June 10 to June 15, 2010: From Annapolis back to Milford
We had one last breakfast with Dietmar. He invited us to a little place nearby so we could talk for one last time before heading back towards Milford, towards home. It looked like a glorious day, but our mood was mixed, on the one hand quite sad as the time with Dietmar is always very enthralling, but at the same time with upbeat anticipation of getting back home. You might not fully understand what I am talking about, but if you met Dietmar, you would know - and since most of you know us, you also know how much we like our home...
So, on this note, the gallery will show a few good-bye images of Juergen and Dietmar and his beautiful Romany Life, and then, there will be images of our return trip.
Our first day took us back to Chesapeake City. But as much as we loved the place on our trip "South", we were disappointed with it this time around. But we loved seeing all those birds. While there were lots of osprey nests everywhere, we especially appreciated all the herons we saw (or their family members), mostly flying from East to West, towards the restricted areas. And, speaking of those, there was so much shooting with life ammunition - it was almost scary. We heard all the shooting noise and were transferred back to England where we were exposed to most of it. So while we were mostly scared of what was going on, our experience in the USA clearly reminded us of our experience in England in 2006. While in England, I thought this sort of thing did not happen in the USA, but having sailed the Chesapeake Bay for about 2.5 weeks by now, we know better. Though such training is necessary, it is a little scary, too. The birds did not seem to mind, however. We have never seen so many herons (or family members) as we saw heading towards the canal (from Annapolis).
We stayed at Chesapeake City for the night but left at 0800. We were the only sailboat anchored when we arrived, but a number of boats came after us and stopped for the night, including a German yawl "Magic Carpet Ride" and another yawl, US this time, "Luna" with a seemingly very nice couple on board. I am saying that, because the next day, they and their friends (on another boat) left the anchorage before us. We caught up with them in the Chesapeake Delaware Canal. Firstly, we have a stronger engine, our boat is larger, and we also had the tide with us - they did, too, in the combination of all the factors, we were just faster than they and all the other boats we passed before exiting the canal. They waved over to us, extremely friendly. We later on that night saw them again in Cape May. We had already been there for almost three hours when they arrived and anchored right near us, again waving enthusiastically.
We had dinner in the cockpit and were drinking wine when the Coast Guard arrived to chase us and lots of other boats out of the channel. The anchorage is tight and not very deep, though, this time, it seemed a lot deeper than we remembered from 2007. We quickly reanchored, as did most everybody else, except for the late comers who did not have a choice in the first place but to anchor "in". Good for them. Luna was one of them.
We had breakfast in the cockpit and left shortly past 0800 for our trip to Atlantic City. Initially, we had hoped to get all the way to Sandy Hook, but the trip is about 110 nm - more than we can normally handle in a daylight trip. What's wrong with stopping in Atlantic City, we asked ourselves, and headed towards it. The around 37 nm trip was uneventful, except it remained hazy for most of the day. We filled our diesel tanks and asked for a slip at the Trump Marina, the place we really do not like, but with the heavy winds we had, we decided that anchoring was out of the question.
We finally had lunch around almost 1500, played a few rounds of Backgammon at Juergen's insistence (I am getting so tired of it because I lose most of the time). We decided to have our usual cocktail around 1800 and head for the casino around 1900. I was not in the mood for it, but Juergen wanted it so badly. We called Dietmar just to tell him about today's trip and then got ready for our "night out". It lasted exactly one hour from leaving our boat to being back here. We wasted $ 20 each and were totally bored. We did not like the atmosphere nor the people, and none of the restaurants interested us. So we decided to go back to Impromptu and have dinner aboard. We had a shrimp cocktail and fried rice, the last leftover of a meal we had shared with Dietmar in Annapolis. We had ice cream, slightly melted - our freezer is very temperamental at this moment - and coffee for dessert, and of course, we had some wine (but did not finish the bottle).
It is 2200. Juergen is in bed, asleep, I am trying to update our website though I will not be able to upload it. The WIFI here is so weak that there is no point in spending the $ 12.95 for a 24 hour period. At least, all will be ready by the time I have access to proper WIFI again. The images will also be uploaded by then.
It is still blowing quite hard. Everybody is trying to put as many fenders between the boat and the dock not to scratch the boat. We did too. We have our four "normal" fenders out plus the two thick round red ones, and they all get squashed quite a bit. Thank God they seem not to mind and remain fully inflated albeit flattened. The forecast for tomorrow indicates winds of lesser strength. We hope so as it will otherwise be quite an uncomfortable ride, and I already felt queezy today - don't know quite why...
It is 0740 and we are already underway. Getting off the dock was an easy feat, and we quickly followed other boats (mostly motor) through the channel towards the buoys before heading North. It was a very long trip - about 90 nm miles And there was a severe thunderstorm watch issued by the Coast Guard, telling every boater to go inside and be protected. This was not possible for us, nor for many other boats which were out there at the time. In the end, the "storm" did not really occur, and we were totally safe. We had taken our genoa sail in and decided to just motor ahead. All we got was rain, not even heavy. Two other sailboats were on their way to the same location, but neither of them dared to go where we did. They actually ended going towards some of the marinas while we decided to anchor instead. For that matter, we anchored in an area that turned out to be too shallow during low tide, and we had a rather uncomfortable night. Thank God there was no wind, so Imprompto just sat "on the soft sand" until the tide changed. Of course, we cannot exactly talk about sleep...
We had wine, nibbles, and then went down below (it was quite cold) to have our vegetable dinner with cheese. Tomorrow, we will have to depart around 0700 as the tide will thus take us up North up the East River and beyond. We will stop some place where we can stay for the night - possibly Greenwhich??? - or elsewhere. Juergen does not like the idea of Washington Harbor. We will see. Right now we are listening to Schubert music which I particularly love.
Life is somewhat depresseing right now, but I won't get you all upset. Just remember that life is not always what we expect it to be and that you all are loved by me very much no matter what.
We called Eddie for his birthday - actually, we called twice, but the first time around, our singing voices were so far off, it was embarrassing. We, however, did not have the strength to "fix it" and continued singing. Our trip was very long - around 90 nm - mostly in haze with very little to see or experience. The only fun was the many birds we saw, some seagulls, some gannets (or a type thereof), some terns and then another kind of tiny bird, smaller than terns, mostly black with a little bit of white before the tail - just beautiful.
I wished I were a bird, I wished I could understand them, I wished... yes, I am in a miserable state and wished I could help it, but I miss being part of nature, being part of what is so beautiful...
I cannot believe that the night is over. We were heeling so badly while being aground that we cannot really talk about sleep. By 0130 all was well. I had checked it out, but by 0300, things were drastically different, and certainly not pleasant. Juergen decided to sleep perpendicular to the aft cabin. I did, too, just to avoid rolling to the same spot. Thank God for waking up early and getting up to avoid the mess. By then, we were in deeper water again, and all seemed well, but I certainly did not feel like sleeping a minute longer. Juergen did. So I got up, took my shower and prepared breakfast. In the end, Juergen got up, too. By 0715, we had left our anchorage and were trying to find our way through the channel "North" towards the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. It was quite hazy and difficult to see our way. With the help of our chart and my previous night's navigation, we did well and found all the buoys we needed for our course towards the East River. The tide was with us, slightly, but as we turned NorthEast from Governor's Island, we were swept away at speeds of 11.2 to even 12.8 knots - just amazing. I took pictures to prove the point. Please check the Gallery.
We passed under all the Manhattan Bridges of the East Side and went into Hell Gate. There, Impromptu was twisted and turned though Juergen steered - it was just amazing. We had taken lots of pictures though the light was not exactly photography light. We made it past Execution Rock, the one hazard we all like to miss and then checked the charts for our next destination. We decided to go to Huntington Harbor, into Eaton's Neck. The chart showed about 10+ feet of water, perfect for anchoring. As we got there, we mostly found 30+ feet. What is going on??? We have not found out, but in the end we found a spot that showed about 12-15 ft - perfect for comfortable anchoring.
We played Backgammon after Juergen emptied our dinghy from the rain and sea water that had been swept into it. He polished the hull a little while I tried to clean and organize down below - then we played a round of Backgammon before I got out some reading material and our usual rum drinks. This time, I had a winning streak - but not for long... We had two each - I was in the mood for even more of them. Life seems to be complicated right now... We had "nibbles" (cilantro pesto on crackers) and listened to "Lohengrin" (the same records repeatedly) before going down to prepare dinner.
It is 2225 right now. Juergen is in bed, sleeping. The galley is cleaned up. I am uploading the last few images I took today, and I am updating our website so we can truly upload it by the time we have WIFI access. We had dinner in the cockpit, drank another bottle of wine and just sat and talked for a while.
Tomorrow will be our last day of this trip. It is sad and happy at the same time. We will need to clean Impromptu inside and out and pack up all our belongings. We will drive to the city tomorrow so I can start doing laundry etc. We will have at least three dinners before we depart for Europe, and, I am sure, there will be more "chores" to do. We are both looking forward to getting home while truly having loved this trip, our visits with Dietmar. And we are already talking about another trip to the Chesapeake next year??? / or the year thereafter??? We truly loved the area, it is a lot warmer down there compared to here... I am saying this as I am wearing long pants and a heavy sweat shirt... We will see what happens with our sailing plans to the Chesapeake...
Well, we had anchored in "deep enough water", we thought. But, again, in the not so early morning hours, just as we wanted to start taking the anchor up, we were stuck on a sandy spot that seemes to be around 12 ft or less (at high tide). With a 7 ft tidal difference, not a good spot to be. We decided to play a few rounds of Backgammon while waiting for the tide to turn and to bring up the water sufficiently for us to get off. Around 1000, we had enough water under the keel and Juergen raised the anchor promptly. In the middle of the channel out of the harbor, the engine alarm started sounding - what's wrong with our last few days of sailing on this trip??? It was overheating and would not cool down even in low gear. We turned the engine off and, after a little while, Juergen found that the fanbelt had shredded to pieces - we don't know why. Genoa out - let's try to sail - in virtually no wind and with the current against us.
We inched our way forward at about 1.1 knots - I was getting very frustrated and blamed each and everyone for this experience. Our plan had been to get to Milford around noon time, then clean and get Impromptu ready so we could drive home. No such luck at this speed. From time to time, Juergen turned on the engine for just a few minutes until we finally rounded the point and could enter the Long Island Sound. From there, it was sailing, at whatever speed we could. Thank God for tidal and current changes - and also for a little more wind. In my frustration, I began cleaning both heads, then I polished our stainless steel on deck, then my stainless steel stove top. It looks like new again!
In the end, we were sailing up river towards our dock, under genoa only for better control. Only for the moment Juergen had to turn to port to get into our slip, did he turn on the engine, again for better control, especially to be able to slow down Impromptu which had been coasting from the gas dock all the way to our L-dock - amazing. You should have seen our landing. It could not have been any more perfect, that though we had no docklines ready at the dock but needed to tie them anew from Impromptu. It all worked like a charm. While I cleaned up the cockpit (cushions, charts, binoculars, camera, phone, sun glasses down, instrument covers up), Juergen reattached our water hose and the electric chord. Then we got ready to go out for dinner to "Jeffrey's", a rather nice restaurant in the town of Milford.
The food was quite nice, the wine good, the mood improved as we sat and talked. Back on Impromptu, we listened to Carmina Burana, a piece we once saw performed near Muenster, Germany, in a huge tennis hall, with open fire and all - the music took us back to that place, back to that wonderful performance - all thanks to our friends Albrecht and Carola.
See our pictures, not so much of today's adventure but of our travels through New York via East River - you can see that the visibility was limited, even later in the day....
THANKS for reading all of my verbage, for looking at our images. They are only a small fraction of what we experienced, what we "shot". LOVE Gitti abd Juergen