Disappointment – Now with Photos

The guys that were trying to move the tree gave it their best effort but were unsuccessful. They’ll be bringing in a crane to clear it on January 2nd. So we left the Dismal Swamp Canal and North Carolina and motored back to Norfolk to head back south via Virginia Cut. Currently we’re tied up at the courtesy dock at Great Bridge.

It is said that the hardest thing to keep on a boat is a schedule. When we planned to leave on the morning of the 28th, I expected to be docked in this location on the afternoon of the 29th. We left 12 hours early and arrived here 48 hours late… argh.

But tomorrow begins a whole new year and with it, hopefully, a turn in our luck for this particular trip as well. Seriously, though, as 2012 comes to a close, we are thankful an amazing year of adventure and new experiences. Happy New Year, everyone!

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Watching and Waiting

Joint Venture is ready to go.

Her crew is showered, the laundry is done, the car is dropped off.
The freezer is packed, the fridge is overflowing, the Christmas cookies are secured.
The strong winds have abated, and it’s a beautiful clear night.

Only one thing remains… the tide.
Currently we don’t have enough water depth to exit the marina!

High tide tonight is at 9:46, and normally we’d have enough to get out of here now. But unfortunately the strong winds seem to have delayed the tide, so now we wait. If the tide never comes up, we’ll have to wait to leave until high tide tomorrow morning. This wouldn’t be bad, except the wind dies tomorrow and we’ll have to motor the whole way to Norfolk. Keep an eye on the Spot track to see what we end up doing.

While I watch the height of the tide, I feel like a kid waiting on Santa Claus!

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Merry Christmas!

After a lot of Brad’s hard work, finally Joint Venture is ready to head south. The weather has changed again, so we’re now targeting the morning of December 27th to cast off the dock lines. First “gaining” a day, and now “losing” a day has caused us to scramble to complete some tasks that needed to be done. Now we can say that JV is in much better shape to sail south than she was last year around this time. It’s a good thing that she’s stowed and ready, because a strong WNW wind is forecast for Thursday. Hopefully we’ll be sailing fast to warmer weather!

Brad drove to Indiana on Sunday to join me. Today we left my parents’ to head to Brad’s folks’ house. We’ll get a chance to have Christmas dinner, but unfortunately we have to turn around and get right back on the road. There’s a strong winter storm blowing through Ohio and the Appalachians on Wednesday. If we don’t leave tonight we would be fighting ice and snow for a few days as we try to get back to tropical Maryland. It’s going to be chilly as we sail south, but it was great to be home for the holidays.

From the crew here at Joint Venture, we’re hoping that you’ve had a happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

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Countdown to Departure

If you look to the right >     >      >      >      >    >    >  > > > > > >>>>>>>

You’ll notice I’ve put up a countdown clock till our departure. VERY astute followers will also notice that a few minutes ago it gained 23 hours?

I’ve been watching the weather for some time now, and in the long range forecast there has been rain predicted for the 27th for some time. I didn’t put much thought into it, but now that we’re only 7 days away, I’m paying closer attention to the forecast.


It will be colder, but the wind will be better for sailing on the 28th.

I’d rather be rested, dry, and sailing, than tired, wet, and motoring.

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Making Improvements

Before we departed last winter we installed some solar panels from SBM Solar. Unfortunately, due to a manufacturer defect, they started to break down after our first winter in the Bahamas. I contacted SBM when we returned to the USA, and they replaced them free of charge.

Two replacement panels arrived in August, but were damaged in transit. I mean seriously damaged. We didn’t have time to wait for another set to be made and shipped before we headed to Maine, so I asked SBM to hold them until we arrived back from our summer cruise. When we returned to BBYH I contacted SBM, and as promised a beautiful new pair of solar panels arrived. They were packaged very securely on a pallet, and arrived without a scratch on them.

Sunday I swapped the mounting hardware from the old set to the new set and got the panels up onto the bimini frame with the help of my friend Bill. After that I just needed to decide how I was going to wire in the new panels. I didn’t want to take the shortcuts that I did previously (imagine ring terminals, a 1/4″-20 bolt and a lot of silicone tape) so I came up with a better idea. I used the terminals from the old panels and wired them in parallel on the 6 AWG wire I have that runs to the center of the bimini frame.

Now I have a much simpler disconnect mechanism that will allow us to remove the panels easier if we’re caught in another storm or wish to remove the panels for the winter.

Before I secured the wires and wrapped everything up I verified that both panels were operating properly. To test them one at a time I tossed an old fitted sheet over each panel separately and read the wattage output from the charger.

For those of you that are interested, the panels are each 256W providing 512W of power. In bright sunshine we saw those levels frequently with the old panels. We’ll see how these panels perform for another season in the Bahamas. If the panels hold up I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these panels to other cruisers in the future. Stay tuned for an update.

Also, you should never use white zip-ties in a UV environment, they just don’t last very long. Unless of course they’re covered with a custom bimini that was made by your wife.

Or you’re out of black zip-ties.

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Small Victories

Sabrina is currently in Indiana with her family, which leaves me here with Nermal in Maryland. I stayed behind to check the final few things off the “To-Do” list. Most importantly, I’m supposed to fix the heater, rebuild the heads, and swap out the new solar panels. Because I’m here, I’m also in charge of packing the refrigerator.

As I live the life of a bachelor, I’ve had a couple of set backs with the fridge. Last week Nermal’s food tipped over, spilling some incredibly fishy gravy all over the fridge. I cleaned that up, but then made the mistake of defrosting some meat in the fridge without a plate beneath it. This morning I cleaned that bloody mess up, grumbling under my breath the entire time.

Both messes required me to remove all of our half full condiment bottles from the bottom of the fridge and wipe them off. I figured there had to be a better way, and I think I’ve found it. With the help of a label maker, some stack-able Rubbermaid containers, some free time, and the impetus of cleaning the fridge twice to get me started, I’ve cleared a LOT of room.

Now the offending condiments no longer will rattle around while on passage or fall over while we’re underway. The ones we use most often, i.e. mustard, salad dressing, etc. remain in their original packaging.

This will give us much more room to pack the fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables whenever we’re in port.

Now I have to buy more groceries to fill the open space that I made!

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We’ll be home for Christmas

It’s always a bad idea to pick a departure date. After telling everyone I talked to that we were just waiting for a minor part to arrive and then we’d be leaving tomorrow, that will not happen.

See the minor part arrived for the heater, I installed it, and the heater still didn’t work. I spent a long weekend trouble shooting – I disassembled the heater, cleaned the heater, reassembled the heater, cleaned the fuel, siphoned the fuel, cleaned the fuel lines. Once it still didn’t work today I finally gave up and ordered a new burner assembly.

So, now we’re waiting on another heater part. Since departure will be delayed at least another week we’re going to hang out till after Christmas. This will make things easier, we were planning on traveling home for Christmas, so now we won’t have to find a marina to leave JV while we drive or fly back to visit family. So logistically, things get simpler.

Even though we now won’t be leaving till late December, if our heater is finally working we shouldn’t freeze!


After deciding that we were going to hang out till after Christmas, I looked ahead to our next probable departure date. The tide is right on December 27th and there’s a full moon. So, even though I said at the beginning of this post that I should never tell anyone our departure date, we’re heading south on December 27th!
(As long as the Bay isn’t frozen closed….)

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On the Road Again

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Once we returned to Bohemia Bay late on November 11th we had to immediately get to work on Monday the 12th. It was very warm out so we wanted to take advantage of the weather and start to get the boat cleaned up. The next day Sabrina flew to Detroit to visit her family in Indiana while I stayed on the boat to accomplish a few more things before I drove out to visit her before Thanksgiving.

A couple of days after I dropped Sabrina at the airport, I awoke to a very chilly boat. It seems the diesel heater had stopped working. After troubleshooting a bunch of different things, I decided it was time to clean out and rebuild the heater. (Our Webasto had provided 5 years of continuous maintenance free service, so it was due.) Along with dealing with that, I also was trying to do everything outside that required fresh water. As it gets colder the marina will be shutting off the water soon (it may be off already) so I wanted to get as many things washed and rinsed as possible.

Once our new solar panels arrived on Tuesday the 20th, I packed up Nermal and myself and drove to Indiana on Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving with Sabrina’s family. Luckily the roads weren’t bad, although it would be nice if the food vendors on the Ohio Turnpike could schedule a few more workers on the busiest travel day of the year. I decided to go hungry rather than wait in the extremely long line.

After Thanksgiving we stopped by Detroit and then onto Ohio to visit my family. After a few days there we went back to Indiana to visit some more with Sabrina’s family (and gather up Nermal.) Today we’re headed for Maryland, hopefully the reverse cycle heater has been able to keep the boat warm while we’ve been gone.

We’ve been traveling a lot, but over our travels we did have a chance to find a new Christmas tree for the boat!

Over the hills and through the woods….

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Back at Bo Bay

We arrived back at our home marina just before midnight on Sunday. Our passage took us from Onset, Massachusetts to the top of the Chesapeake Bay. It was 62 hours and we were glad when it ended. We must have taken on some bad fuel because I struggled against fuel filters for most of the trip. It’s good fun to hang upside down over a hot engine and change a diesel fuel filter while the boat pitches in leftover swells from a Nor’easter and light winds. The heat, the smell of diesel, the roll of the boat, and the blood rushing to my head all combined to truly test the strength of my stomach.

After a good night’s sleep at Bo Bay, we didn’t have long to rest, yesterday was warm and sunny and we needed to take advantage of the weather. We spent the day washing and cleaning the exterior of the boat while Nermal spent the day playing in his favorite shrub. Today it’s raining, so we’ve had a lazy morning as we enjoy some needed R&R.

We haven’t had good internet recently, (the wifi in Onset was apparently knocked out by Sandy,) but I plan to catch up on promised photos and where we’ve been over the last couple of weeks. There’s our visit in Portland, bashing into waves off of New Hampshire, a wonderful time in Gloucester, riding out a Nor’easter, and our voyage home.

That should be more entertaining than blogging about buying kitty litter for our trip south.

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