Archive for September, 2012

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Ah, yes, an oil change!

[caption id="attachment_919" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Norfolk Naval Base"][/caption]

Sherwin Williams, eat your heart out!

[caption id="attachment_922" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Deep Creek Lock"][/caption]

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

September 29, 2012
Hey there, Somedayers!
Long time no talk, eh? So it’s been just a few days with no communication. We know, we know. Tropical Attitude hasn’t gone “undercover”; she’s just been under the radar during recent crew changes.
Capts. Greg and Pat reconnected yesterday after Pat’s “eventful” taxi ride from the Norfolk Airport. Although having a safe driver is top priority, one with knowledge of the area would always be helpful. Shouldn’t riders get a fare discount when one has to google MapQuest on the cell phone and relay the directions to the driver? Just sayin’.
TA pulled out of the BlueWater Marina in Hampton, VA., in the southwest corner of the Chesapeake Bay around 8:30 this morning among the cool, cloudy, and drizzly weather conditions. Not to worry; she has an enclosure, remember? She traveled through/over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and on her way down Elizabeth River past the Norfolk Naval Station and Naval Shipyard. There’s certainly a great deal of “heavy metal” happening in those places! Rest assured, some of America’s finest men and women of our Armed Forces work there and we thank them and their families for their service.
After passing under the State Hwy. 64 bridge, TA made a sharp right turn into what always appears as a simple creek at first glance; actually it was Deep Creek. For a creek, I guess 6-7 feet is fairly deep, eh? After a short jaunt, we proceeded into the Deep Creek Lock to be brought up 10-12 feet. The lockmaster told us to get ready for a “ride” and he was right. The water came rushing in to the point that it looked as if someone had filled it with gallons and gallons of colas- brown and bubbly!
The next obstacle was the Deep Creek Bridge and then TA went on her way through the Dismal Swamp Canal. The DSC was first proposed by Col. Wm.Byrd, II, in 1728 but not authorized by VA. or N.C . until 1787 and 1790; respectively. It was named “Dismal” by Byrd as he found his explorations through the dense undergrowth and forests of the swamp to be dismal.
The canal construction began in 1793 and was dug completely by hand, mostly by slaves hired from landowners nearby. Slaves became so familiar with the swamp that it became a haven for runaways. The canal eventually opened up in 1805 and was used to transport logs, shingles, and woods from the swamp by flatboats and log rafts. Congress purchased the DSC in 1929 for $500,000 and it is now maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Enough of the history lesson! Captain Greg says, “Of the 5 times I’ve passed through here, this is the shallowest I can ever remember. The controlled depth is 6 feet and it’s pretty much right there. “ By the way, TA has a draft of 5 feet 5 inches! Yes, we’ve bumped a few bottom-hugging logs throughout the day.
A steady rain has chased us all day and TA has now stopped for the evening at South Mills, NC, but only because the lock tender shut down at 3:30 and there’s a bridge in our way! So we’re thinking burgers, popcorn, and a movie? What better way to spend a Saturday evening? Just what are you doing?

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

September 26, 2012
Ahoy there, Somedayers!
This is being written from Pat’s landshark point of view as she hasn’t yet returned to Tropical Attitude and as she understands from many of you who have called, texted, or emailed her, the “remaining crew” has not posted a blog yet this week. Well, here’s what Pat knows after a lengthy cell phone conversation with Capt. Greg this evening.
Tropical Attitude’s crew of three (Greg, Tony, and Brett) left Annapolis Monday morning near Smith Point, Virginia. That area is the tip of the Potomac at the Chesapeake Bay and named for Capt. John Smith (maybe a distant relative??), an English explorer (1580-1631) who was the first to map the Chesapeake Bay area and New England. When Jamestown became a New World settlement, Smith trained settlers to farm and work. His statement “he who shall not work, shall not eat” kept many from devastation. Hmmm…would that make a good campaign motto this year? (Sorry…no politics, we know, we know.) One never worries about that phrase aboard TA. Everybody HAS to work! Okay, enough of the history lesson…
TA’s crew woke the next morning (Sept. 25) and departed the anchorage around 7:30 a.m. in a 6 foot chop with waves directly on the nose. For you landsharks, that means waves were crashing over the bow ALL day long until the arrival in Hampton Roads aka Norfolk, Va. The crew docked in the Blue Water Marina and remain there for now. It’s been said nothing of real interest or of humor happened on that leg of the trip but it was the first time throughout the entire trek that the crew sat inside the full zipped up enclosure all day! Too wet on the other side!
Last night was movie night and the movie of choice was Black Ops for one. I understand it was Tony’s choice and Greg and Brett threatened to pitch it to the bottom of the “sea” saying it was terrible. Their second movie, a comedy called Walk Hard, got a 2-thumbs up from the team of Smith,Lacko, and Lacko (not quite Siskell and Ebert but they’ll do!).
Today is Wednesday and the crew started the day with Chef Tony preparing eggs, bacon ,and toast for breakfast. Pat is not sure what Greg and Brett ate! (still laughing!!!…sorry) Seriously, the guys all ate and Brett washed AND dried the dishes, she’s told. It was off to West Marine for some parts then time was spent doing a freshwater wash of the entire outside of TA to remove the saltwater spray that had dried. It can create havoc on the deck equipment and electronics if left unattended.
The crew refueled with 50 gallons of diesel at the lowest price noted yet- $3.79 gal. Hmph…that’s even cheaper than here in northern Ohio right now! It took that 50 gallons to travel from Annapolis to Norfolk due to fighting into the wind and waves yesterday.
So that’s a quick catch-up to what’s been happening aboard TA. Tony and Brett depart tomorrow for a quick trip home and will rejoin the adventure somewhere down the waterways. Here’s wishing them some calm cloud action for their trek across the blue skies!
Well, Somedayers, time to check out for the evening. Wishing you uncongested roadways as you trek to work or school or the mall tomorrow! Remember, sail naked; maybe not a good idea to drive naked though, ya think?
Today’s Nautical Lesson: map-a visual representation of an area depicting geography such as roads, highways, cities, states, mountains, lakes, and the like commonly used by a landshark.
nautical chart-a graphic representation of a maritime area and coastal regions showing depths of water, navigational aids and hazards, tides, currents, and human-made structures like bridges, locks, and harbors.
Quick story: Once Capts. Greg and Pat were sailing in western Lake Erie near West Sister Island. Suddenly a powerboat containing two young women roared alongside. One was holding a map; yes, a map. The other young lady asked, “Which way to Put’N Bay?” We pointed the general direction but one wonders which “road” they took?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

September 23, 2012
Hey, Somedayers!
This day is over already! Here’s hoping yours was a pleasant one, even if tomorrow is Monday and y’all may have to go to work in a few short hours!
Not too much to tell you today since it was a layover day. We did meet up with Capt. Jim for a tasty brunch at the Marriott in Annapolis. Brett was still sawing logs so we didn’t disturb him. A lot of laughing and storytelling occurred for sure as Capt. Jim entertained us at the table with his tales of his new life in Annapolis and his memories aboard BananaWinds. He is one very bright young man!
Jim and Greg then stuffed Pat into a taxi for her ride to BWI Airport and her short flight home to “check on” things. The crew, now including Jim for a few hours, spent the rest of the afternoon taking Tropical Attitude to get groomed again for her next engagement. In other words, they got her a pump-out, refueled, watered up, and the all-important ice stowed properly.
Later Capt. Greg spent several hours riding around the port at work with Capt. Jim in his water taxi. No one’s quite sure what they did during that time because they’re not talkin’. It’s like the saying goes, “What happens on the water taxi stays on the water taxi!”
Tomorrow TA says good-bye to Annapolis and heads south again with a destination just south of the Potomac River. After that, it’s on to Norfolk, Va. There’s a good weather window for this next leg and they’re going for it.
Have a good night and remember, sleep (oops!), sail naked!
Today’s Nautical lesson: What is a “pumpout”? When the head (toilet) holding tank gets full, it’s got to go somewhere! Most often the crew must move the boat to a fuel dock area where there is a suction hose connected to a pump connected to a large “holding” area, or maybe a city sewer, that will remove said waste from the bowels of the boat. Sometimes…as in the Port of Annapolis…there’s even a boat that comes around and will complete a pump-out while at a mooring or anchorage. In marinas, sometimes the pumpout “station” is pulled down the dock on wheels to a boat as needed. Sometimes the portable pump-outs are nicknamed “Old Stinky”, “Pepe LePui”, or as we learned today, the “Stool Bus”!

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

September 22, 2012
Hello, Somedayers!
Today was a kick-back day for the crew of Tropical Attitude. We spent a pretty rocky night on the mooring ball with all the wave action in the harbor from winds and tide changes. But in a way, it was peaceful…my opinion only. Apparently it was only my opinion because Capt. Greg and Tony jumped into the dinghy and went back in Spa Creek looking for another mooring ball where it would be so much more calm and less traffic. They found one and were soon back at the boat and the motor was started. We zoomed through the bridge opening back into the creek only to find that someone had already grabbed the available ball. Back to our original mooring we went. Thank the mooring Gods it was still available! The good news is that today was so much calmer and it was an absolutely beautiful day to be on or near the water.
Tony headed into shore to find a football game for the afternoon and wander the many shops while Greg and Pat dinghyed (How do you spell that?)into shore and spent the afternoon doing laundry. It was a bit interesting as it took us ALL afternoon. The laundry was located at the Harbor Master’s office upstairs in the Men’s and Women’s shower rooms. Yes, it was a bit unusual. There was one stacked washer/dryer unit in each location and it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r! But the pleasant thing about this was we spent the time watching all the craziness below us on the street and in the harbor. There were people from all walks of life just out enjoying this beautiful boating community. Better yet was the fact we could see the local ice cream store from that viewpoint and, of course, we had to sample their wares. The cherry vanilla and peppermint stick flavors were delectable.
After laundry detail, there was still some shopping to do to restock a few grocery items. There aren’t any grocery stores right in this harbor part of Annapolis but taxis abound. After calling a few and getting no response, we tried the bicycle taxi who came within a few moments of contacting. Greg stayed with the laundry and dinghy to do people-watching and Pat had an enjoyable “chariot” ride to the closest grocery. The young man who pedaled his butt off was cordial, informative, and mannerly as he got Pat to the store, waited outside, and then helped pack groceries into the seat next to her. He did all this for a donation only. Can you believe that? Of course, he was “tipped” well for his efforts.
Our biggest news is that Brett Lacko, Tony’s youngest son, flew into Baltimore today and has come aboard to spend some time as crew. We’re glad he finally made it as his taxi driver was not as efficient as Pat’s! Welcome aboard, Brett! You’re in for a good time.
Just to let you know, Pat will be departing TA tomorrow for home but will return later in the week to meet up with the crew further south. So…hopefully one of the guys will keep the blog going in her absence. If they don’t, let ‘em know!
This evening has been absolutely wonderful with a gentle rock, a cool breeze, and a darn pretty moon…the perfect evening to just sit in the cockpit and listen to voices and laughter from other cockpits all around. Sure wish you were here!
Today’s nautical lesson: When on a mooring ball in the Annapolis Harbor, DO NOT leave a life jacket on your ball when you go out sailing. The city’s rule here is you must leave your dinghy tied there…not a life jacket, not your first born, and not a plastic bag! We learned that from the Harbor Master today.

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

September 21, 2012
Ahoy there, Somedayers!
Tropical Attitude’s crew has been together now for 19 straight days, not counting all the days of working together to get her ready for departure back in Port Clinton. We are still talking and laughing which is a good sign as there aren’t too many places you can step off from to “get away” for a bit. Capt. Greg tends to be a morning person with his zipping around and vocal dittys. Swabby Tony takes awhile to wake up and I, for one, have learned to just nod at him in greeting and await the vocal cues later.
You may wonder just what we do all day while underway. Here are a few ideas from today. This leg of the trip from Chesapeake City to Annapolis found us tending to the navigation, tracking crab pot flags (mostly black in nature and often hard to see until right on top of them), turning in to discourteous power boaters’ steep wakes, admiring passing sailboats and such, discussing the trip’s next ports, making airline reservations for some comings and goings, napping, reading, listening to “Watercolors” and Jimmy Buffet on Sirrius radio, listening to freighter captains discussing their maneuvers over the ship’s radio, snacking on cheese, crackers, and salami or the like; fixing something above or below deck that may have suddenly taken a dive, tweaking the sails in those moments where we have them up, or just being lost in thought.
Today we made our way across the Chesapeake Bay in pretty good time with the sun paving our way under gentle breezes. Okay, okay…it got a little rocky around boat traffic but really not that bad. The morning was gorgeous as usual (Thank you to all wishing us fair weather!!) and by afternoon, jackets had disappeared and the enclosure was pretty much unzipped all the way.
We traveled under an amazingly long bridge, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge( formal name -Wm. Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge) Lane was once governor of Maryland and initiated the bridge’s building. Its length is 4.316 miles and was opened eastbound in 1952; westbound, 1973. In 1952 it was the world’s longest continuous over-water steel structure. Over 61,000 vehicles travel across it in a day’s time. The bridge is quite a sight and, of course, we could only get snippets of it on camera.
Our afternoon ended with TA gingerly dropping off into the port of Annapolis and then a sudden phone call to Capt. Greg. It was our friend, Jim Southward, who had spotted us from his Annapolis water taxi. There was excitement in his voice as he welcomed us and advised the Capt. where to locate a mooring ball he’d been guarding all day for us. It pays to know people in high places!
So here we are moored in front of the United States Naval Academy with a full view of all the boats entering and leaving the port. Some of them would make your tongue fall out. Tony has already selected a catamaran but would like one “just a bit bigger”, of course.
Capts.Greg and Pat took off in the dinghy for ride around the port and up Spa Creek where even more boats are moored. Greg reminisced over all the changes since he was last here with his BananaWinds a few years ago. One could tell the stories would be running wild when her crewmates reunited in a few hours at dinner. Not to be disappointed, Jimmy joined us aboard TA for cocktails when he got off work and the four of us enjoyed a fun evening of dinner, stories, and laughs on the dryside along the water. One would be amazed how much Jimmy can imitate Capt. Greg in comments and movements. Me thinks that’s called “bonding”! Jim thanked the captain for making Annapolis a day’s destination years ago on the Banana. Jim fell in love with it and decided then that here was where he was meant to be. It is a bit different than Dayton, Ohio!
So we’re back aboard and will surely be rocked steadily to sleep as vessels continue their movement and we are on a tide’s high-high here this evening! (Try to say that real fast!) Even a street or two in Annapolis is overflowing with seawater from the high tide. By the way, &^%$ to the “lady” who sped through it and sent water splashing over us!
Remember, Somedayers, sail naked! Your clothes won’t get wet that way!
Today’s nautical lesson: What is a tide? Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of the Earth. In sailor’s terms, kind of like a cocktail sloshing back and forth in a glass!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Thurs./Fri. September 20/21
Good evening (yawn) or should we say good morning, Somedayers?
The crew of Tropical Attitude is cold and tired but has arrived at the day’s destination around 1:15 a.m.; yes, that was an ‘a’ and an ‘m’! “You’re killin’ us!” the crew yelled at Capt. Greg in jest.
TA left Atlantic City bright and early Thursday morning after taking on the most important items: fuel and ice. True, there’s an icemaker installed below deck but it has yet to function properly. We then turned out of the harbor and headed south into the Atlantic staying 4-5 miles offshore with 4-6 foot swells out of the east creating a following (Hmmm…Capt. Pat’s favorite point of sail…NOT!)
It was to be a peaceful ride past Cape May at 8-9 knots (10-11 mph for you landsharks) and then we heard HIM. “Ya know, it’s pretty early in the day yet. We made good time to here. Wanna make the next leg to Chesapeake City now?” So TA purred on into the Delaware Bay and up the Delaware River, eventually running with some “big boys” in the form of freighters and barges passing alongside of us. Advice: STAY OUT OF THEIR WAY! We had some little guys, too, in the form of dolphins passing us far too quickly for a photo opp.
Darkness fell with a gorgeous sunset and then the fun began. The crew all donned our PFD harnesses just for safety sake and then delved into “dinner”. The evening’s entrée of marinated chicken, baked sweet potato slices, and sautéed zucchini and onion was changed around 9:00 p.m. to hot dogs and chips. Yup, it was too late and far too bumpy to cook the prior menu. No one minded as we were all starving at that point. Now we can say we ate hot dogs in the dark while motoring up the Delaware! Are you envious or what, Somedayers? 
With lights everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE, it became a challenge to distinguish needed navigational lights from… “Woah! That’s a barge and she’s coming on fast!” Not to worry, they comes on ya fast and they leaves ya fast! ( a quote from the movie “Captain Ron”) TA eventually found her way to the C and D Canal (Chesapeake and Delaware) without incident.
“How much further?” was asked. “Ummm…about 15 miles, “ Capt. Greg quietly responded under his breath. “You’re killin’ us!” he heard back as we all donned yet another jacket or a blanket. It was interesting how the temperature dropped drastically and fog appeared once TA was in the canal.
TA finally came to a halt in a tiny cove at Chesapeake City where more than just a few boats also took shelter. It made anchoring there a challenge, three attempts as a matter of fact; and resembled trying to squeeze just one more sardine into the can. One nearby boater appeared on his deck and pleasantly yelled over, “If you hear a bump, it’ll be us.” He wished us a restful sleep after asking how far we’d come and returned below to his cabin. His demeanor was refreshing as we all thought he was going to complain about us being in “his space”.
So that’s how our 115+ mile 18+hour day ended as we all fell into bed. Of course, the cabin doors and hatchway were left open just in case we heard THAT bump!
Today’s nautical lesson: What is a PFD? A personal flotation device- It may be in the form of a life jacket or inflatable harness. All should be Coast Guard approved. We prefer a harness as it’s more comfortable.

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Where we came through to Atlantic City BUT in the pitch dark

Copyright 2003  Banana Winds Sailing Charters