Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Idiot Payment

Memorial Day on the Chesapeake means Fairlee Creek. Yes, we had a few issues there a few weeks ago but we were more than happy to go back (especially since we would be anchored no where near the beach).

We were greeted by the Fairlee Creek "camp ground." I prefer staying on my boat, but a tent on the beach may be a close second. By the way, this is the same beach where we had our bonfire.
We arrived Saturday morning and rafted up with 3 other boats. By the end of the day, we had 6 overnighters.

Unfortunately, Joe lost one of his grill attachments in the water. Doug and Joe's daughter, Jenn, were already in the water and dove down to try to find it. 9 feet of water isn't much when you are in a pool and can see the bottom; the murky Chesapeake is a whole other story. Another boater friend, Mike, has an underwater hookah/houka that forces compressed air down a tube and Doug thought this would be a good time to try it out. Here is Doug using that device in order to stay underwater longer to search:

After a couple minutes looking, he came up and said that he was having trouble staying on the bottom. Boaters are so resourceful. Mike decided that he would tie a spare anchor around Doug's waist so he could stay down longer. (This is where I double check to make sure the life insurance is paid up - just kidding - well, sorta.) Doug searched longer with no luck. However, somehow he managed to lose the anchor - he came up, the rope was tied around his waist, the anchor was gone. Mike was not willing to lose his anchor, so he went down to search - found his anchor - still no grill attachment. In the long run, Joe ended up using our grill and had his son Nick bring down his spare grill the next day.

Our next adventure was Sunday. A beautiful Regal had anchored behind us. Around midday, we noticed that it had broken free of its anchors. This boat was in serious danger of drifting into other boats. After numerous attempts by different groups to yell to the owners, it seemed that no one was onboard. Again, boaters are resourceful and very helpful and went to the rescue. Three zodiacs and a skiboat worked together (Joe and Doug in one) to protect neighboring boats and reset the bow anchor:
Once the bow anchor was set, it was realized that there was a small stern anchor and that the line had become wrapped around the stern IPS props. Doug was in the water yet again. This time he was diving under the boat in duress in order to unravel the stern anchor line:
After approximately 30 minutes, the boat was once again secure. Ironically, the owners returned just as soon as eveything was solved. They were quite grateful and offered beer to all who had helped. One group had already left on their zodiac but held up a bottle of wine and said that payment was not needed. My husband reported that they had gone into the cockpit fridge, taken the bottle and declared it as "idiot payment." My husband and our friend, Joe, accepted their thanks and declined the beer. As they know, we've all been there and been grateful to another boater for some help.

Looking back, perhaps they should have accepted the "beer payment." The boaters on the 4 helping boats had left the boat in a very good position. The captain of the Regal decided to fiddle with the anchors and was drifting again in no time and managed to once again wrap his stern anchor line around his props. Essentially, he was dead in the water and about to drift into some of the boaters who had helped him the first time:

After having issues twice I figured we needed to revoke his "Regal Card." In the long run, he rafted up with this other group in order to not cause any more issues.

The rest of the weekend involved sunny weather, sunburns, bullhorn karaoke, and general debauchery. In other words, a very "proper" Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cheshire Crab Lunch Cruise

After a week full of rain we had a gorgeous weekend. And since none of us were raptured on Saturday, Sunday was perfect for a lunch cruise with a crew of 9.

We took the quick trip to the Cheshire Crab in Pasadena, MD. I'm glad we had such a good group of people with us because the service at the restaurant was horrible. I'm really not one to complain much, and frankly with such a beautiful day we were hardly in a rush. However, our waitress was VERY SLOW in getting things to us. We sometimes had to remind her two or three times to bring water, or beer, or butcher paper for the crabs. The website says that they are under new management so maybe they are still working out the kinks for the season, but I still don't think we'll be back anytime soon. In case you are wondering, yes we did say something to a manager before we left but she didn't help the situation at all.

On the flip side, there was a whole new form of entertainment during lunch. Pleasure Cove Marina has a large indoor storage facility for boats. They are constantly putting boats into the water and pulling boats out. Can you imagine seeing your boat in one of these lifts?
Or maybe this is more your style?
It's a little hard to see because of the pylons, but that is a jetski on a smaller lift.

The guys working the lifts were definitely earning their money that Sunday. I understand the postives about having your boat out of the water when it's not in use, but how often is a boat dropped? I never hear about issues, so I'm sure my concerns are unfounded but it's still a little scary to think about.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Karma and When Life Gives You Lemons

No, our boat is not a lemon, thankfully! But you will have to read to the end to find out what the post title means.

This past weekend we did our first raft up of the season. The weather was looking iffy but we decided to go anyway. We left Baltimore at 6:15 Friday evening and made our way to Fairlee Creek. Little did we know what kind of adventures we would have.

Within 20 minutes of getting anchored, Tony and Amy showed up. We weren't expecting anyone else until Saturday morning so this was a pleasant surprise. They also knew another boat that had anchored in Fairlee so we were able to make new friends. We ate, we talked, we sat outside in the cool evening, what a great start to the weekend.

With a little planning you can always eat well on boat. We have found that tortillas are the most versatile bread and used them for many meals this weekend. Breakfast burrito anyone:

Saturday morning we heard that our new friends' dog was missing. They had taken him to shore and he had run off. Fairlee Creek is a relatively remote area and we worried that something would happen to him, especially when a bald eagle was spotted. What do you do if your dog hasn't returned by the time you have to return home? Luckily we didn't have to find out. Somehow they managed to find him a couple hours later.

Okay, all dogs are accounted for, more friends have shown up, huge bonfire is built, things are looking good. We even saw a relatively rare site - we are accustomed to seeing powerboats raft up together, sailboats doesn't seem to do this very often. I hope this group had a great time:

Sunday morning is when the real "fun" started. As I've said in previous posts, it can be a little tricky getting into Fairlee Creek. There is a sandbar to the starboard side as you enter the Creek. Depending on the tides, this sandbar can be well hidden. They've gotten smart and added a red bouy but these pictures certainly explain why you need to follow your charts:

As you can see, we are anchored very close to the sandbar because there is a quick drop off - or so we thought. We have anchored here many times without any difficulty. Sunday morning we discovered that the sandbars have changed a bit at Fairlee. When the tide went out, one of the boats in our raftup was beached. The rest of us were in deep enough water and we tried everything we could think of to get him off the sandbar. We tightened anchors, we added new anchors, we tried motoring boats forward and pulling him with us. Nothing worked. We finally decided that we were just going to have to wait for high tide to return. Here was our friend's predicament: The boat on the left is one that is stuck.
Once the tide really started going out, Doug was able to stand at the stern of the boat:And walk up the side:This is where karma and lemons come into play. All weekend, many of us were joking about the number of boats we have seen get stuck while coming into or going out of Fairlee. I guess the joke was on us this time.

As for lemons, when life gives you lemons make lemonade (or when life gives you limes make margaritas). Chris, the owner of the stuck boat, was able to wax parts of his boat because he had such easy access. Doug and I were able to clean the cabin of our boat in order to prepare for the next trip. And, best of all, the predicted worst weather day of the weekend ended up being the best. I actually got a sunburn.

One of the women absolutely had to go to work Sunday evening, so the boat to our starboard left around 3 to bring her back to the marina. The remaining 3 boats sat and waited. At 4:30 Doug and I really started thinking about what to do. We didn't want to leave the other two boats in such a predicament. We would really hope that someone would stay with us in this situation. The tide was coming in and the stuck boat was starting to "float." So, the three boats decided to try one more time. We tightened lines and put the two completely floating boats in gear. AND IT WORKED! Everyone was floating. Everyone's engines started. We untied our raft up and went home.

The stuck boat seemed to be working fine and I'm hoping there isn't any unseen damage. And we all learned a lesson about how much things can change season to season. Yes, read your charts. Yes, use your personal knowledge. Yes, follow your instincts. And, more importantly, be prepared for anything.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hard Yacht Cafe

I'm very happy to say that the boat is FINALLY back in the water. We were able to pick her up on Good Friday. It was a rainy day but the water was calm. This little guy was swimming right next to our boat and I like to think that he was our welcoming committee. The weather yesterday was gorgeous - perfect for a lunch cruise. So, 7 of us set off for the Hard Yacht Cafe on Bear Creek. When we arrived, we pulled up to the fuel dock and sent our friends in to get a table. This is going to be a tough year for fuel prices so we decided to completely fill up while prices are still in the $4 range. Doug is smiling here because Hard Yacht's fuel dock had gas for only $4.19. Has anyone seen anything cheaper? Our friends started to wonder if we had left them. I guess we should have warned them that 200 gallons takes a while. I sure hope it lasts a good long time. Then again, this is still cheaper than having kids and sending them to college.

As gas continues to go up in price, we think we may be making more trips to Hard Yacht this year because it's so close. Granted, a trip via car from our house would only take 10-15 minutes, but it's always more fun to take the boat. And, because it's so close a couple of friends were able to drive over and join us for a short while. Thanks for coming Billy, Rob, Dave and Jo!

The Chesapeake Bay is wonderful because it's so large. There are so many places to go and visit. However, it's also small enough that you never know who you will run into. As we were (finally) walking into the restaurant, we saw a Regal boat that looked very familiar. We were so happy to see Jim and Kathy (and their adorable dog, Rascal). Jim is an experienced captain but they were in a tight spot and we were happy to help them get on their way. Here they are pulling out of the marina: Hard Yacht has great outdoor seating (thanks for getting such a great table guys) and everyone in our group seemed happy with their food choices. Yuengling in the only worthwhile beer on tap but they make fantastic spicy bloody marys and orange crushes. They serve their drinks in plastic cups so our engineer friend, Sara, kept us entertained with her towering creations. The flag on the top of this creation says "Our Lady of the Brackish Water." Doug and I joke that we are very religious and go to Our Lady of the Brackish Water every weekend during the warmer months. We always have communion (aka tasty adult beverages) and frequently are baptised (aka swimming in the bay).

Hard Yacht also has live music. The guy playing this weekend was fun - sorry I don't remember his name. The songs by Blind Melon, Barenaked Ladies, and Violent Femmes were hits for our group. Not sure "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas is the best choice for acoustic guitar, but he sure tried.

All in all, it was a great day on the water and we are looking forward to many more trips in the future. Thanks for lunch Mike, Bonnie, Sara, Sean, and Greg!