Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leaving Portsmouth, VA

After some gentle nudging from friends and blog addicts that it's been over a month since our last post, we thought it best to provide one last update before we depart for Antigua.

We chose Portsmouth, Virginia as a safe place to leave Moonshadow for travels out West for John's nephew's wedding and then on to San Diego to wind up the sale of Legacy.  It was great to see family at the wedding, then catch up with the life we left back in San Diego.

Transients that we are, we surfed several couches back home which gave us time to reconnect with friends and loved ones.  Deb's dad Ed provided a home base opening his place to us and lending us his car so we could be two places at once.

Deb's calendar looked like a page from her old career life with every day booked for breakfasts and lunches with her many friends and a laugh fest/slumber party with girlfriends. 

At John's brother Steve's beautiful ranch home, Casey has fully adjusted to her new home where she maintains her day job as newspaper retriever, but also has opened a new chapter in her life as Queen dog.  

Spending time with the grandkids reminded us that years ago, we were right to put off our cruising dreams until after raising our own family.  
The everyday joys of watching children grow and amaze is a part of life we're glad to have had and now witness again with Ryan and Shelly's beautiful family.

Amid the chaos of little ones growing into wonderful little people, we were also impressed with the amazing results that flow from loving parents and the parenthood career choice of a stay at home mom.

But John had to leave early, rushing back to Moonshadow when hurricane Sandy threatened the lower Chesapeake (see Oct 30 post). Secure in our marina, Moonshadow weathered the exposure to the extreme fringes of the huge storm that killed people and put the "bill" in the billions it cost residents just 200 miles to the North.

A few days later, after Hurricane Sandy passed through, Deb flew back to Portsmouth and Moonshadow.  Soon we were enjoying the company of several cruisers we'd met in various ports this year including Chris and Sue Bright and their delightful twin boys Wilf and Sid from their yacht Yindee Plus (see their blog link to the right).  

For many cruisers, Portsmouth, situated at the southern end of the Chesapeake (and the point where the ICW begins at mile marker zero), marks the beginning of an inland cruise through to points south (and warmth!).  

But Moonshadow cannot pass under the bridges in the early part of the ICW route, so instead, Portsmouth is where we've stopped to catch up on some of the work we've been putting off while visiting the East Coast, and where we we're preparing and provisioning for offshore voyaging.  We've been running like crazy trying to take advantage of our last exposure to Costco, Best Buy, West Marine and others willing to swipe our credit card.

While here we've accomplished dozens of tasks, large and small.  

First, we took the life raft in for an inspection, which was fun since Deb got to pull the inflation lanyard, while we both watched the little box turn into a home away from home with an ocean view.

Better to witness the inflation of your life raft on the workshop floor than at sea!  We got in and tried to imagine living in this little black and red igloo, but finally decided we'd rather stay with Moonshadow.  Sadly, the raft failed inspection and since the manufacturer Givens went bankrupt this year, parts are no longer available so it has been "condemned".  Maybe that's best.  We're happy knowing we'll have a brand new Winslow raft vs. a 27 year old version.  

Moonshadow's water heater is big (for boats) at 20 gallons, but unfortunately we found it had begun to leak.  Being big suddenly became a liability as it cannot be removed from the engine room without the removal of the cockpit sole which is bolted down with 36 Stainless Steel machine screws.  The bedding compound used to prevent leakage into the engine room is a strong adhesive/sealant, but this too became a liability when attempting to remove the sole.  We had to use a car floor jack and 2x4's to break it loose. 

On the positive side, while the sole was out, we took the opportunity to mount a flush deck fitting to accept a removable table leg for a new teak cockpit table.  Bring on the Mexican Train!

We hired a carpenter to do some dressing up of the navigation area.  Paul from Ocean Marine Yacht Center created sliding black acrylic bookcase doors, matching the cabinet doors in the galley; a matching black acrylic panel over the SSB radio; and a new drawer to organize all the charging components for cameras, iphones, etc.  It turned out great and looks like part of the original cabinetry.  The black acrylic also complements the new TV and wireless printer/scanner.

Then came the epic construction of a new awning.  We ordered the canvas and some fiberglass tubes for battens and started a journey of about 500 feet of stitching.

The result is a shady and waterproof cover 16' wide and 24 feet long (the full length of the main boom) with walking headroom underneath fore and aft.

The best part of the project was getting to work in short sleaves inside a heated building.  It has been bitter cold aboard Moonshadow with day after day of lows in the 30s and highs in the 40s.

We could not have completed this project without the generous offer by Bob McBride, owner of Mile Marker "0" Marine hardware store to use the upstairs loft to spread out our cover.  Bob McBride is well known among cruisers in these parts for going the extra mile to find any part you need.  He's taken our propane tanks for refils and fed us lunch while we were working upstairs.  

Now Moonshadow is itching to get back to tropical waters.  While looking for a good photo angle of her new awning, she gave us a sneak peak at what that might look like being in the tropics.

Weather permitting, on Wednesday, December 5th, Moonshadow will sail for Antigua.  We will have two crew aboard for the trip.

Alli Bell, our dear friend who sailed with our boys at San Diego Yacht Club's Junior Program and later made so many summers at Howlands Landing in Catalina memorable will drive down from Washington, DC.  Alli will be an excellent crew.

For her first assignment as crew, Alli took on the huge responsibility of representing Moonshadow at the liquor store in DC that was having a huge sale on Captain Morgan Rum and showed up in her Capt. Morganesse costume.  Captain Dirt would have approved.

We met Ed Lazarski when he tied his Catalina 36 Triple Pisces to the slip next to Legacy on H dock at San Diego Yacht Club.  Like all great people on H dock we enjoyed visiting with Ed and Nancy dockside and we're delighted to have Ed sail aboard to Antigua, where his wife Nancy will join Moonshadow as we island hop down to St. Lucia.

Alli, Ed and Nancy will stay on to share Christmas aboard Moonshadow in the tropics so this will be a special Christmas for all of us!

Portsmouth VA to Antigua

Typical routing for this 1600 mile journey has you sailing mostly east for 3-5 days until southeast of Bermuda, then turn south for the islands.  This is because at southern latitudes, say 25 and below, the tradewinds are consistantly easterly.  Thus if you sail south too soon or even head direct to BVI or Antigua you find yourself beating into headwinds and adverse currents.  We are hoping for favorable winds that will keep the trip under 10 days.


Once Moonshadow is underway, we will post a daily update to this Moonshadow blog, through the magic of SSB radios, Pactor modems and/or Iridium Sat Phones and Sailmail.  The posts will be brief text descriptions of the last 24 hours.  Photographic updates will not be possible until we arrive somewhere with wifi.

See you in the tropics!

1 comment:

allibell said...

I would like to think that Capt'n Dirt is watching all of this with nothing but approval! Also, I would like to thank you for your choice of photo and words, not revealing too much about what makes our trips to Howland's so memorable. I can only assume you will have a video camera around from the moment I arrive on Tuesday. Can't wait to see you!

Post a Comment