Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trawler Shopping

Doug and I attended Trawler Fest this Sunday in the Inner Harbor. Yes, we are die-hard boat fanatics - we attended a boat show in the rain. We are truly starting to research potential live-aboard boats.

The wonderful thing about trawlers - lots and lots and lots of space!
The not so good thing - they typically go very slow. I don't mean to make fun of trawlers, but when you are accustomed to cruising at 30-35 kt it's difficult to imagine only going 8 kt.

What are we looking for:
*2 1/2 staterooms: one for us, one for guests, and one for storage. Go ahead and laugh, but if we are still working while living on a boat, we can't just live in shorts and t-shirts, we need room for work clothes.
*2 separate living areas: an example is a salon and a helm station with extra seating. We love each other but we also need to be able to get away from each other.
*A decent galley. One of the boats we looked at has a full side-by-side refrigerator!
*A patio: we want an outdoor living space that is close to the water level.
*Ways to go green: how fuel effecient is the boat? is there a potential for solar panels to run the electric?
*Something we can actually afford!!!

We did find three boats of interest. I'm not saying they are in our price range, but one can always hope to win the lottery.

The Fleming 55 Pilothouse Motoryacht

The Manta 44 Powercat. One of the catamaran dealers did mention that we need to consider where we plan on keeping the boat. There are only so many shipyards that can pull a 21 ft beam boat out of the water.

The Maine Cat P-47

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Annapolis, again

Annapolis has been a frequent stop for us this year. It's a great city for many, many reasons. These are a couple from today's trip:

1) The view from the top of Main Street.
2) This sign outside of Armadillo's:
Seriously, how can you go wrong at a place that charges less for a margarita than for a hot dog?

Finally, just to show that I'm not the only one that sleeps during our trips, here's my fantastic captain sleeping on the job.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

College Football Saturday

Good friends, tasty adult beverages, beautiful weather, and college football - what more could you ask for? I know, how about a bar on the water. So with a crew of 8, we set off for Pusser's in Annapolis. Home of:I don't drink rum (I know that is a blasphemous statement to most boaters) but many of the crew threw a few back.

One quick note about Pusser's. There is a two hour limit on docking along their wall. We chose to get a mooring ball and take the dinghy in so we could stay longer.

It may seem silly, but I have to compliment them for posting the games which would be shown on each TV. So the signs were a little primitive, at least they were useful. How many times have you been to a bar during college football season and spent many precious minutes trying to figure out which TV is showing your team's game?

Boating is such a small world. We ran into 5 other boats that we know while we were in Annapolis. Part of the Labor Day bunch was directly across Ego Alley from us.

The sun sets earlier this time of year so we started the trek back to Baltimore around 4:30. Sirius 90s on 9 is a perfect station for singalongs if you have a bunch of 30-40 year olds on board. This was certainly one of our more lively return trips. Thanks everyone for making the day so much fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trouble in Paradise

After a fabulous day trip on Saturday (more on that in a couple days), Doug returned to the boat on Sunday to clean. He discovered that someone decided to have a little bit of malicious fun on our dock. The straps that hold our dinghy on our swim platform had been cut through. Lucky for us, the zodiac was not punctured and we could find no other damage to our boat. Doug reported the damage to the marina office and was told that ours was not the only boat with issues that evening.

A friend of ours has a sailboat a few slips up. All of his docklines were cut that night. While the boat did float out into the fairway, his powercord and waterhose kept it from damaging other boats. His neighbor found his boat adrift at 3am and was able to secure it before it was damaged.

Through our friend we learned that a Silverton motoryacht on our dock was boarded. The kids (we assume that is who did this) entered his cabin, drank his alcohol, ate his food, and left everything a mess. One more boater was on his boat after midnight when he heard someone board his boat. The trespassers were scared off when he coughed.

Our boat is on a gated dock. We don't know how these kids got on the dock, nor the reasons for the destruction. We are simply grateful that no one was hurt.

We've since communicated with other slip holders on our dock via phone and email. We feel safe at Anchorage Marina but we want everyone to know what happened.

The positive side to all this...we are making more friends on our dock as we share information and collectively vow to watch our surroundings a little more closely. And the moral to the story: sometimes you have to watch your back - even in paradise.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursdays on a Monday

In an effort to resist the real world a little longer, we made a lunch stop on Labor Day Monday. Our friends had heard about a place on West River and 4 boats decided to try it out on the way back to our respective home marinas/docks.Thursdays has a lot of outdoor seating and, even better, many slips available for "dock and dine." Hurricane Earl must have called upon his windy friends that day. After a fabulous weekend sans hurricane, the wind picked up just as we pulled up to the restaurant. The dock hand we worked with was great and we got into the slip with minimal trouble. I also have to give a shout out to my fabulous husband and captain, he did a great job manuevering the boat into the slip.

We were immediately seated at a table right along the railing and ordered food while we waited for the other boats in our group. The clam strip appetizer was disappointing - small portion and more breading than clam. My fried shrimp entree made up for it. The shrimp were large enough that the restaurant butterflied them before frying and they were quite tasty.

The problem/benefit (odd combination of words, I know) of being along the railing is that you can watch other boats as they try to dock. After holding our breath as we watched another boat try to dock next to ours in the heavy wind, Doug decided to get up from lunch in order to assist them from the bow of our boat. Even the guy behind me at the bar mentioned that he'd be on his boat helping if he owned ours. Docking is tough - trust me, after 10 years of boating, I'm still a novice - and you want to give boaters time to learn but you also have to protect your property. The boat eventually got in the slip, without hitting ours, and everyone was able to go back to enjoying the sunny day.

This was our first trip up West River and I think we may need to venture back there next season to check it out a little more. But after a couple hours with our friends, the fat lady sang and vacation was over.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eco-Lifestyle Marina

Lately I've been reading that the blue crab population is up in the Chesapeake Bay. This is good news all around. Restaurants are happy. Blue crab eaters are happy. Most importantly, it means the bay is healthier.

Herrington Harbour South markets itself as an eco-lifestyle marina resort. I tell you what, it is certainly blue crab friendly. We saw many good sized blue crabs around the docks. Kids were running around with nets trying to catch them. Some families even caught enough to cook them up for dinner. While I love a good crab smothered in old bay, I can't stand being the one to cook them. So, I just took pictures of the one hanging out on the dock ladder by our boat:
The reflection of the ladder rungs makes it seem like the crab is floating. He's really just hanging out on the rung right below the water line. I wonder if he remembered to put on sun screen before sitting in the sun so long.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Continued...

We went to Herrington Harbour South for three nights for Labor Day weekend. It's a beautiful marina with lots of amenities. There's a beach, a big pool, a restaurant and tiki bar, and a view that can't be beat.

It's a very active marina. It seemed like a never-ending parade of boats coming in and out. The annual slip owners were all very nice and seemed to have many friends there. Granted, boaters are generally nice people that make friends easily but there was an extra level of camaraderie at Herrington.

Being such a popular marina, it does come with pitfalls. If you decide to go there, I recommend calling mutiple times to confirm your reservation. Of the 5 boats in our group, 3 of us had difficulties with our reservations:
  • One boat called many times and was told each time that there was no record of their reservation.
  • One boat had two reservations for the same boat (I guess the marina thought they were going to clone themselves in order to pay double?)
  • We were docked away from the rest of our group.

I need to explain a little more about the last bullet point. Marinas always say that they cannot guarantee that they can put a whole group of visiting boats together. That is understandable. When we received a copy of our reservation, we figured out why we were placed so far away. We had requested to be near our group and that was originally written on our reservation. For reasons unknown to us, someone crossed that out and put us with a different group (a group that we do not know). When we pointed out the mistake, they apologized but made no attempt to compensate for their mistake.

I'm not saying that boats shouldn't go to Herrington Harbour South. I'm just saying that you may need to do a little more legwork than usual to make sure your stay is what you expect.

At least we had a beautiful view of the sunset from our friends' boats.

One final tip - apparently a bullhorn can substitute for a karaoke machine. Just don't be surprised when the harbor patrol asks you to quiet down.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hurricane? What hurricane?

We watched the weather extremely closely all of last week. Hurricane Earl was making a beeline for the East Coast and we were supposed to leave Friday for a 4-day boating weekend with friends. We even called the marina to see how late we could cancel if we decide to delay our trip by a day. Hurricanes like this happen so rarely around here, they didn't know what the protocol would be. Some of our friends were leaving Thursday night to ensure that they could get to the rendevous marina but we didn't have that option.

Friday morning rolled around and we got up early to watch the weather yet again. Yes, Earl was still out there but he had veered a little further east than the original predictions. The wave reports looked promising so we decided to go for it. I'll admit that I did call my mother to tell her where we were going and when she should expect us to arrive at our destination. I felt like I was supposed to be worried about the hurricane but all the boating sites made it seem like it was safe to venture out.

I am so glad we decided to go. The waves were fine. The wind was calm. The only "trouble" we had was a mile north of the Bay Bridge where waves always pick up. We made it past the bridge and had an enjoyable rest of our trip.

There were a least 10 container ships on the south side of the Bay Bridge. I've never seen that many anchored in one spot. We figured they had come up the bay to avoid any hurricane trouble. I've decided to call it a container ship truck stop. This isn't the best photo but it gives you the idea:
We arrived safely in typical time, I texted my mother to let her know we had arrived, and the weekend celebration began...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Naval Ships and Jellyfish

Some boaters really amaze me. We saw a naval ship entering Baltimore on our way to Fairlee Creek on Sunday. The accompanying police boats had to approach boats to make them get out of the way. First off, it's common courtesy to get out of the way of really big boats. Secondly, your boat will have a whole lot more damage than a big metal boat if you collide.

Fairlee Creek is a great place to visit but please remember to follow the "rules of the road" mainly Red Right Returning. Yes, folks there is a reason for those markers. The channel into Fairlee is thin and you will run aground if you don't pay attention. The two boats in front of us were lucky and realized before they got into real trouble.

It's been a long, hot summer. The fact that I was in the water before Memorial Day this year is proof - I'm always dipping my toes in that early but the water is typically still frigid. The delightful summer equals jellyfish now. Very few people were in the water. A couple of us still got in figuring a small sting was a reasonable price to pay for the opportunity to float in 80 degree water. We lucked out and no one got stung.

After a great day with friends we headed back to Baltimore. As it gets later in the season, the sun sets earlier (obviously). I point this out because it gets more difficult to see crab pots against the setting sun reflecting off the water. But we made it home safe and sound and look forward to a few more trips this season.