From Nova Scotia to Philly

There’s a lot to catch you up on. July and August were busy months! We spent more than three weeks in Narragansett Bay, taking care of personal business like annual check-ups at the Newport Naval Station clinic and enjoying visits from family. It was strange to spend that much time in one area, but good to see a little more of that nice cruising area.

On July 30th we flew to Norfolk, Virginia, to attend the Change of Command ceremony in which Ty’s former colleague, CDR Bryan McGrath, USN, assumed command of USS BULKELEY (DDG 84).

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CDR Bryan McGrath assumes command

 When Ty and Bryan first met back in the 80’s, Ty was a Commander and had command of the destroyer USS JOHN RODGERS (DD 983). Bryan was then a junior officer who thought Ty looked mighty scary! Now Ty is sailing the seas on “Liberty” and Bryan has his own destroyer!

Back aboard Liberty, Suzanne celebrated her 28th birthday (Well, that’s how she FEELS, anyway!) with a pizza and champagne party in Bristol harbor. This came complete with a special DVD and 3D glasses, thanks to our cruising buddies, Geoff and June on “Concerto.”.

The next day it was back to Newport where Suzanne’s parents joined us for a great three-day visit. We wanted to give them a taste of what our cruising life is like. So, rather than go out to dinner, we got underway and went fishing! Just when it started to look like we might have to hit a fish market, that old fishing line sang out! Ty reeled in a beautiful bluefish that wasn’t quite big enough for the four of us. Not to worry! Within thirty seconds of putting the line back in the water, he got another hit! On the way back to the marina we were treated to a fleet of six 12-meter America’s Cup yachts sailing past in all their glory. What a sight! Once back in port we enjoyed a great dinner. Whoever says bluefish aren’t good to eat hasn’t tried them grilled with Suzanne’s signature mustard-jalapeno sauce!!

WE HAVE A WATERMAKER!

Prior to sailing to the Bahamas last winter, we went back and forth as to whether or not to install a watermaker. We ultimately decided against one. While we did fine without it, we realized life would be much easier and we would be more self-sufficient if we could produce our own water. The result is our new PUR 160E 12V watermaker! (See “Cruising FAQs” for more technical info). When a cruising friend heard about it, he asked Ty who was going to install it. Who? Well, Ty, of course! For a boat job, the installation went relatively smoothly, but there’s always that moment of fear before

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you turn the “on” switch for the first time... Not to worry! The thing started right up, and within minutes we were turning salty sea water into pure, sweet drinking water! It’s PUR magic!

BACK TO NOVA SCOTIA!

We’ve developed patience in the last year. So, after sitting an extra day in Provincetown to allow the wind and waves to die down to a comfortable level, we set sail for Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The 40 hour passage was calm and uneventful -- just the way we like it! Just like last year, however, the fog rolled in as we approached the Canadian coast. No problem! We just turned on the radar and kept on plugging.

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 It was great to be back in Shelburne, home of the friendliest yacht club in North America. Thanks to everyone there for their incredible hospitality, especially Sue, the wonder-woman who not only manages the marina office, but serves drinks at the bar, waits tables, ties up boats, pumps fuel and loans her car to needy sailors!

Shelburne harbor was a great place to initiate our new 10’ kayak. Surrounded by pine forests and beautiful rocky shores, Ty filled the cockpit with enough mussels to feed us for three meals!

From Shelburne we headed north, with stops in Lockeport and off the gorgeous beach at Port Moutton. This year we tied up at the Brooklyn Marina outside Liverpool. While the paper plant next door wasn’t the most scenic backdrop, the sight of full-sized 18-wheelers UPENDED on a hydraulic lift to empty their cargo of wood chips provided plenty of entertainment.

The best part of Liverpool was pulling into the marina right next to Andy and Barbara on Moxy, cruising friends we first met at Big Majors Spot in the Bahamas.

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Yes, that’s a real 18-wheeler!

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Would YOU crew with this man?

We made more friends in Liverpool, including a real-live Canadian Mountie who was crazy enough to sign up to crew with us to the Mediterranean next year! We’re going to hold you to that, Grant!Thanks to Grant and countless other generous folks, our days have been filled with memorable “cruising moments,” such as hikes in Kejimkujik National Park, wine tastings, and coffee breaks at Tim Hortons, the Dunkin Donuts of Canada.

We got as far north as Halifax, where we tied up right at the downtown waterfront pier. From there we headed south for the first time since we left the Bahamas last May. We returned to Shelburne to pick up mail from our mail forwarding service. For you cruisers & cruiser-wannabees out there, St. Brendan’s Isle mail forwarding service is great. We’ve met lots of cruisers with the same address as we have -- only the box number is different!

THE JOYS OF CRUISING

On our way to Shelburne, we had a little “adventure”... There we were, motoring in light winds, when Ty pushed the throttle forward to increase RPMs and nothing happened. This is what is known as “bad ju-ju.” For those of you who don’t do boats, this meant that we not control the engine from the wheel (we could not go forward, but we also couldn’t STOP, as one stops forward motion on a boat by putting it in reverse, within running to the engine room). Luckily, the throttle cable broke while we were miles from shore, not coming alongside a pier!

Well, we sailed into Shelburne Harbor and dropped the anchor. Now, a throttle cable is pretty easy to buy almost anywhere, but this happened on Labor Day weekend. We figured we could twiddle our thumbs in Shelburne for a couple of days, or we could say “the heck with it” and head for Southwest Harbor, Maine, where we could anchor right by a West Marine store. We chose option B. Being a former ship’s engineer, Ty used all his skills and devised a precision-calibrated device to control the RPMs right at the engine: that is, he attached a rubber band to the lever. (Don’t laugh -- this was very scientific! One loop gave us 1000 RPMs and two loops gave 1500). Now all we needed was a couple of mice and a treadmill... But seriously, we were able to sail for a good part of the 26-hour passage, but when the winds didn’t cooperate, Ty went down to the engine room and attached the rubber band! Worked like a champ! When it was time to drop the hook in Southwest Harbor, we just took off the rubber band and coasted in! Phew!

The jury rig was good, but there’s nothing like a good throttle cable, which West Marine had for us by the next day. Ahhhhhh... All part of the cruising adventure.

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Liberty in Lockeport, Nova Scotia

The best part of the passage was just off the SW coast of Nova Scotia. It was minutes before sunset when Ty spotted a whale less than 1/4 mile away. No, it wasn’t just one whale... it was FOUR! And they were humpbacks! Humpbacks are the best because they like to do neat tricks. These guys didn’t disappoint us... you can imagine the oohs, aahs and wows from Liberty as one of the whales breached, his head and fin coming completely out of the water! Another flapped his fin several times. Now, this is no little fin, mind you. It’s about ten feet long and all nobby! Very cool! All four flapped their flukes at us several times. What an experience! Now see, if we hadn’t set out when we did, we would have missed all the fun!

BACK IN THE USA

Just like last year, Maine proved to be a fantastic cruising ground. This time of year, post-Labor Day, there were few cruising boats around and we had most anchorages to ourselves. Lobster was an incredible $4.50 a pound! After two weeks, cold weather sent us scurrying for warmer climes, and we sailed straight from Portland to Newport in a pleasant 30-hour trip. After picking up more mail there, we made yet another offshore passage only 3 days later from Newport to Cape May, New Jersey in 41 hours. We had intended to stage at Block Island, 25 miles south of Newport, but the winds were favorable and we were enjoying such a good sail that we looked at each other and said, “Let’s keep going!” That trip was our TENTH offshore passage involving at least one overnight straight-through since we started cruising 16 months ago. While we don’t get lackadaisical about the offshore passages, always remembering that Mother Nature is in charge,, they’re no longer “that bigga deal.” Ty, The Weather-Meister watches weather patterns and has a good idea of what to expect well before we head out. While it’s not an exact science, his predictions are as good as the National Weather Service!

Our previous visit to Cape May in 2003 consisted of a 24-hour anchor watch in 25 knot winds. We never got off the boat! This time we enjoyed a very nice port call and went ashore for a couple of good runs and some re-provisioning. From Cape May, most snow-birds head up the Delaware Bay and transit the C&D Canal to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay on their way south. We’ll get to the Chesapeake soon enough, but this time we decided to be a little different...

When we arrived at the canal, instead of turning west, we kept on heading north. Suzanne grew up 25 miles outside of Philadelphia in West Chester. She used to visit the city often via train, riding up front on the Paoli Local while her dad drove! She hadn’t been back to the city in about 25 years. (She was VERY young when she made all her previous visits...)

The trip up the Delaware had its challenges. Recent heavy rains and storms left an incredible amount of floating debris for mile after mile. We had to turn the autopilot off and zig-zag around THOUSANDS of tree limbs and huge trunk pieces. Some were as large as actual trees, requiring extreme vigilance.

The worst part of the trip was when a ship, which shall remain nameless except in our official report to the Coast Guard, passed us close abeam traveling at a speed of no less than 20 knots. We were in a narrow section of the river, as far to the right of the channel as the depth would allow, when this monster charged past us kicking out a wake big enough to make a surfer’s day. Ty turned Liberty’s bow straight into the wake while we both held on tight. The first wave sent our bow pointing skyward, but the second wave was so close to the first that when we came back down the green water gushed out and up like Yosemite’s geyser. We’ve been in some big waves before, but never two big ones so close together, causing such a violent reaction. For those of you familiar with traveling along the narrow Intracoastal Waterway, this was not what one would call a “courteous pass.”

Now, the Delaware River is not a “no-wake” zone, but there are rules about safe seamanship. An overtaking vessel is required to pass in a safe manner. Having driven ships for 26 years in the Navy, Ty can tell you that this was far from safe. Had Liberty been a smaller vessel, we would have been tossed about far worse, no doubt incurring personnel injury and property damage. Every other ship that passed us on this nautical highway did so with a minimum of rocking, but just like on REAL highways, there’s always some guy in a hurry...

Anyway, at the time of this latest update, Liberty is now peacefully berthed at Penn’s Landing in the birthplace of liberty, the city of brotherly love! (By the time you read this, however, we’ll be farther south).

We are right behind USS OLYMPIA, the historic flagship of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, and USS BECUNA, a WWII diesel submarine. Right across the river is USS NEW JERSEY, the sister battleship to USS IOWA, on which Ty served as Operations Officer! This is way cool!

We are within walking distance of the city’s historic district and have visited Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the Constitution Center, not to mention the Rodin Museum, which isn’t exactly “histerical,” but well worth a visit. We also walked to the Italian Market (made famous in “Rocky”), where we loaded up on cheeses, prosciutto ham, hard sausage and fresh basil. Yum yum!

And thanks to the ever-more-popular internet cafes, we were able to fix the problems with our web site and get back online. Hooray! Please come back and visit us again.

For now, as they say in Philly, “Youse have a great day!”

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Enjoying the good life