Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things that remind me of NYC: The subway

Things that remind me of NYC: City stuff

wax museum

m&m store

times square

bikes stripped down to the frame

Hot dog stands


Meter Maids

Having left NYC about 5 weeks ago now...it was home for awhile.  I was going through pictures and found a few things that I miss.   The next few posts might be of NYC.  Sarasota is nice...just haven't been enough places yet to have enough pictures to post.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting to Sarasota

An update by guest blogger Rolland Trowbridge

It has been a bit since Rachael has updated her blog and she is in the busy orientation part of her job, not to mention getting used to a new town so I am stepping up to the plate. The pictures and writing are all my fault.

Rachael has now sailed just about the entire eastern coast of North America, some of it twice when she delivered her previous boat, Dances with Wind, to Nova Scotia. All in one year.

Chanty's Travels in 2009

Several parts of her trip from Newfoundland required open ocean jumps of over three hundred miles, most of which she did by herself.

Twenty five or so years ago such a trip by a solo female sailor would end up in the national newspapers. Now, solo females circle the globe so I guess that the average person might think that this type of trip is just commonplace now. Let me give you some perspective. Around 3000 boats go from the Northeast USA down to warmer climates each year. I only know of three solo females to have made the trip. My guess is that less than a dozen solo females make this trip every decade. The oceans that Rachael sailed this summer are known as some of the most treacherous anywhere in the world. The readers of this blog need to know that what Rachael has accomplished this year is nothing short of astounding. Ocean sailing is not like driving in a car where when the weather gets bad you can just pull of the highway. As soon as you leave port, you are committed to whatever comes up. Rachael has handled weather, without complaining, that other bloggers would turn into a white knuckle stories. As she was going through the gulf of Main, I was reading the blog of a sailing couple on the same trip at the same time that made it sound like Armageddon.

One advantage Rachael does have is her vessel, a Contessa 26, "Chanty" is one of the best small boats to take out in the ocean. The Contessa 26 handles bad weather and high winds with stride. They have proven themselves as capable circumnavigators and I have never heard of a Contessa 26 being lost at sea. They are tougher than most of the people in them.

Another advantage Rachael has is over a decade of sailing experience, much of it on Lake Michigan which is really a small ocean that can get very angry in short order. The last two years Rachael has logged over 3000 miles sailing alone. She knows how to handle her vessel. When I did the jump with her from Ny, Ny to Norfolk, VA (about 300 miles) it was nice to sail with her because I didn't have to worry about her when I was off watch. I would get up and the sails would be set perfectly. Rachael has become an accomplished solo sailor.

I was fortunate to sail with Rachael from New York City, to Charleston, South Carolina. Since her last post we were mostly forced to sail in the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway), a canal that goes the entire East Coast from Norfolk, VA down to the Keys and around to Mobile, Alabama. The ICW is nice if you are retired with lots of time, money for fuel, and don't actually like sailing. For Rachael and I it is like being stuck in the slow lane in a traffic jam while the other lanes are zipping by. The southwest winds just kept piling up keeping us stuck in the waterway. I would get up at five AM and get the boat ready to go in the morning and leave at the first possible light and we would motor until we had absolutely no light left in the day to see by. Most of the ICW does not have lit channel markers. With this method we could make 65, maybe 70 miles if we pushed it, which we did the night before Charleston. In Charleston we fixed some deck leaks and did some minor rigging repairs. The next morning I stood at the dock with tears in my eyes while I watched Rachael's little red boat sail away from me. I got in my rental car and made my flight out just in time.

Rachael sailed nonstop from Charleston, SC, making Daytona, FL in about 48 hours - about mid morning. She navigated the tricky Daytona inlet, stopped at a marina and got fuel, got someone to take her to the closest West Marine and pick up more charts, and then kept going. She managed to get 20 miles further down the canal before dark. This after two days nonstop at sea. The phrase "wooden boats with iron men" needs to be changed to "plastic boat with iron woman" Rachael then managed to single hand her boat from sun up to sun down for the next five days going down the ICW, and across Florida through the Okeechobe canal. At the end of the fifth day, she didn't stop but went out into the Gulf of Mexico as the sun was setting and sailed all night to arrive in Sarasota, FL as the sun was rising the next morning. She started work at 0730 the next morning. This, my friends, is an amazing accomplishment; a feat of incredible endurance and skill.

Rachael has been spending the last few days taking the required testing and training before she starts work in Florida. She is also looking for a new bicycle and getting herself settled in a new town. Her boat is being turned from a sailing machine into a living space - a sometimes frustrating process for any sailor.

Rachael will write an update just as soon as she gets settled in.

Every one who reads this should leave a congratulatory comment. Amen.


Rolland writing for Rachael

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


This is what happens when I don't keep up on the blog...I can't remember what happened in the time since I last posted. Where did I stop, what did I do for Thanksgiving, how long it took me to get here or there, did I get the bad weather that you guys had over in so and so.

This is my best attempt to get all the important stuff in. Last I posted about the Dismal Swamp Canal...very dismal by the way. That was mile marker zero. We stopped next in Elizabeth City mile marker 50. We got chewed out for "breaking the law" by a grouchy old guy for plugging in to power at the town dock ...which the guide book said was free. Also for "being in the wrong spot"...the spot we were in was reserved for Catamarans...and by the way "Enjoy your stay in Elizabeth City." Thanks mister old guy from the south who wears his pants to high.

I think it was in this town that the search for oil and oil change equipment begins. I borrowed Lucile's oil change gizmo before, (thanks Lucile) but it was time to get my own now and I just figured I would get one n the way. Right. I think we actually attempted to use and return 3 oil change pumps because none of them where working. (I think it was 2 days later we found a trusty West Marine in Oriental City with what we were looking for.) Any way, we added oil to hold us over until we could find what we were looking for and also buy some more oil since we only had 1/2 quart left. We decided that most people must not change their own oil and go through this process and just bring their boat somewhere to get it done. But how do you figure out where to go when your engine requires an oil change every 50 hours which is basically every 4 days?

So any way we left there and motored on through the day. We stopped this night somewhere along the way and just anchored in a semi protected little area. After throwing the anchor Rolland noticed oil in the floor of the cabin...we open up to the motor and noticed the oil change cover was not in place...oops. How long had that been off? I dunno, lets just go to bed and worry about it in the morning.

In the morning (mile marker 80) we clean up what we can fill up the precious 1/2 quart of oil we have left and take of at a pampered speed, good thing we have a little wind to keep us going with the main sail. Along the way we see an old guy on his sail boat. but is he coming toward us or are we going to pass him...we never pass anyone. We thought maybe he had an engine problem or something. We passed him and then we decided to ask him is he had any oil to spare. After shouting at him a half dozen times (he was a little hard of hearing) he gave us two partial quarts...just what we needed. Oh yes, I remember now...it was Thanksgiving this day and there was not going to be anything open for us so this was a major thanks on our Thanksgiving day. So those of you wondering what we did this Thanksgiving, well, we spent the day thanking God for our engine not dying on us. We make it to mile marker 150, we ended up going 70 miles this day, the most we ever did.

Our next town we stop in is Oriental City. Here we get our oil pump that works and I got a new window in the dodger. With the new dodger...it seems like there is a just an empty spot where the window used to be....but no, its just a transparent window like all other dodgers. My old window was really bad...totally fogged in and far from transparent. This was a great town where absolutely every one was friendly.

We had a late start the next day which then we decided to try going in the dark since all the next markers were flashing markers. Not a good idea...we grounded. We missed a marker and turned too early. We tried kedging and rocking and everything else... we were in low tide getting lower and not budging. Nothing we could do but just wait for high tide. Talk about uncomfortable sleeping. Well, we didn't have to worry about where to anchor for the night. Around 5am we were free and went to a marina anyway...we needed sleep badly. The current was really rough at the marina area and we went to the first dock we could get into only to be woken up 1 hour later to be told we were in a private marina...OK, whatever we will pay you when we get up...zzzzz. We got up a few hours later only to realize we, in fact, were not in a Transient Marina but some sort of resort...we couldn't find the office. But we found some showers next door at the real marina and also moved Chanty over and enjoyed some ordered-in Pizza.

At mile marker 205: Later that afternoon we decided to make a jump out side the ICW since it looked like there was a little bit of a weather window. We got out there and bashed against the wind and waves for about 6 hours hardly making any head way. We said forget it turned around and went back to the marina we were at in only 3 hours.

We took off the next morning reaching Southport Marina by dark at mile marker 310. Did Laundry, took showers, ate out, slept good and left at the break of dawn. It happens to be very over cast and rainy. Later today supposed to be high winds from the north lasting through tomorrow.

Despite all the setbacks, I have been having a good time. Most of it has to do with having my BFF Rolland here as my first mate. Him having more sailing experience than I makes it much easier to make decisions and helps me keep calm when I feel like we are not keeping to our schedule, not to mention we just work well together and usually think alike. Rolland leaves me on Sunday...I will miss him very much.

All for now...will get some pictures in later I hope.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dismal Swamp Canal

Dismal Swamp Canal with this hazy weather...is quite dismal. The Dismal Swamp Canal was the first canal built in the Americas. We learned from the lock master Rob that the canal name came from the surveyor marking out the border between Virginia and North Carolina. The team he was working with ran out of whiskey and became very difficult to work with. In his notes about the area he wrote that the land was dismal, unfit for human habitation. We have been puttering along at Chanty's max motor speed of a whopping 5.5 m/hr today hoping to hit all of the bridges and locks at just the right times since they only open 3-4 times a day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Norfolk, VA

Morning on the Atlantic along Jersey Coast
Chrysler Building
my work from the East River
One of Hell's gates bridges
We are in Norfolk,VA. It took 50 hours. We had a great sail considering its November. Sun the first day on our way out down the East River. That night was West winds with 3-5ft waves. Even saw dolphins in the dark...really cool. Saturday was partly sunny with wind and waves dying down in the evening giving us a quiet sail the rest of the way. We reached Norfolk this afternoon...the entrance to the Inter Coastal Waterway. Will be glad to get going to still warmer weather.