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chesapeake bay

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Aboard Tallship Bounty

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We have left Velocir for a larger ship!  Well, only temporarily to crew the tall ship BountyBounty was built in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia in 1960 for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie Mutiny on the Bounty.  A wooden ship- she is 180 feet long overall.  The height of the main mast is 115 feet. (www.tallshipbounty.org)

This ship is significant to us because it is how we met!  Grant was a professional crew member and Amelia was a volunteer when they crossed the Atlantic together on Bounty in 2009.  Being back on the ship three years later is a fun experience.  It is also a lot of work!  Bounty has over 18 sails to hoist, furl and many projects to attend to.

Tallship Bounty by Velocir

Our watch the first morning was from 4-8 am, so we enjoyed the beautiful sunrise on the calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay as the anchor was hauled up and we got underway.  We had spent the night near Turkey Point, where the C&D Canal and Susquehanna River part.  There was a lot more current here then we expected, and moving into the Delaware River the current picked up even more.Tallship Bounty by Velocir

During the day, the barque rigged tall ship Guayas from Ecuador (launched in 1976) moved past us in the channel just before the entrance to the C&D Canal. Many crew members were aloft in orange work suits and waved to us.

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From 12-4 pm is work party!  During this time the Bosun gives the off-watch crew (crew not on watch) maintenance projects to do around the ship.  Today all the lines were taken off the pin rails so that the wood could be oiled.  Amelia and other crew also went up to the top of the rigging to tar the shrouds while Grant hung off the side of Bounty to do some painting.  We’ve tried to highlight these interesting and unique projects in our videos!

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Amelia stood bow watch as we came into our anchorage.  Just for a fun challenge, the mates turned off the GPS and used traditional navigation (compass bearings and paper charts) to get us near shore.  We were only .2 miles from our intended destination, so we did rather well.  Dodging crab pots was also a challenge but we managed to avoid them all!

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Later in the day privateer Lynx anchored near us.  (www.privateerlynx.com) After we are at anchor Bounty goes into a rotation called “anchor watch.”  One person spends each hour on watch logging our GPS position, writing down the compass bearings of three specific buildings on shore, completing a boat check and pumping the bilges.  We spent the night off Newcastle, DE in anticipation of our next stop, Philadephia!

Check out more tallship activities at: www.sailtraining.org

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Old Point Comfort, VA

Determined to get off to an early start, we were sailing out from our anchorage by 0730.  A miraculous feat I know!  It was well worth it.  The wind was N about 5 –10 kts and we were able to get around a sand bar we needed to pass before being headed (wind forcing us down) to a more southerly course by NE winds.  The timing was perfect

Sailing Albin Vega Sailboat Velocir

We set the asymmetrical spinnaker again and proudly did our 2 kts all day as others motored past us.  It gave us a chance to finish setting up our sun shade, listen to music, put together our whisker pole, read a book and rearrange some gear in our cockpit.

By 1630 we anchored by  Old Point Comfort and the tunnel bridge just north of Norfolk.  After using a sunshower for the first time (super cool) we were refreshed and ready to go ashore.  We got our dinghy inflated and motored over to the Old Point Comfort fort on an evening stroll. History fact: the longest US fort in continuous use, where Jefferson Davis was imprisoned and where freed slaves came to enlist.

Old Point Comfort by Velocir

The fort was more like a well-manicured park amidst old military housing.  Children played on the grass and Halloween decorations hung outside the historic homes the military families live in.  The perfect lawns and older homes are like the Naval Academy in Annapolis, but here it is more empty, less populated, and surrounded by a fort.  The homes are everywhere—inside and outside the fort.

Old Point Comfort by Velocir

One of the nicest parts of our walk were the old trees.  They were everywhere and seemed as old as the fort itself.

Old Point Comfort by Velocir

The fort also boasted a large moat. Filled with water, it did not disappoint.Old Point Comfort by Velocir

To enter and exit the fort, you walked through tunnels which were also roadways. (As you can see—homes everywhere.)  Lincoln stayed at the home at the end of the tunnel.Old Point Comfort by Velocir

Lincoln was a running theme.  This is a cannon that could shoot up to 4 miles is named after him.Old Point Comfort by Velocir

Hiking up to the top of the fort, we found the pet cemetery (like in Scotland, Eva!).  Mitzy was my favorite.  Honorable mentions include Lassie, Skippy and Schnapps.  And apparently one family in particular didn’t do very well with three of their pets in the late 30s.

After walking a loop around the side of and through the fort, we returned to our dinghy.  Next to us was a sport fishing boat waiting at the ramp for his trailer.  The guy wanted to give us some of his left over calamari bait, but we don’t plan on fishing until NC.  He said we could just eat it, yet, still we declined.

Old Point Comfort by Velocir

As a beautiful sunset began to appear, Grant motored us back to the boat. (Old Comfort Marina in the background).

Cruising the Chesapeake

We left Monday afternoon, sailed out to Whitehall Bay (just North of Annapolis) and anchored for the night.  It was calm and we finished putting everything away, continuing to find more space then we thought we had.  But it is quickly running out!

Tuesday we got up early.  About to start hauling up chain, Grant stepped out of the cockpit for a millisecond and Ker splash!  His rig belt, which he had spent months handcrafting from pieces of leather, sank 12 feet to the bottom.

After the initial shock, he put on his wetsuit and dove down.  Within 15 minutes he had retrieved it with the tips of his toes.  Pretty lucky!

By 0915 we were headed S with the wind NW from 10-15 kts.  We set our asymmetrical spinnaker and by 1122 we were just off Thomas Point Light.

Cruising the Chespeake by Velocir

Velocir averaged about 5-6 kts, reaching 8 in a good gust.  At 1907 we arrived at Solomons, MD to meet our good friend.  We docked next to his schooner.  We look so tiny next to Heron, you can barely see us!

Cruising the Chespeake by Velocir

Wednesday we departed at about 1100, following some great pancakes.  Our plan was to get south of the Potomac into Cockrell Creek off Great Wicomico  River.  Winds were NW 10-15 kts.  But after passing Point No Point it died to about 5 kts.  We played around with the NAVIK for a while, but it doesn’t seem to like the asymmetrical very much.

We realized it was going to be dark before Velocir made it south of the Potomac.  We found another anchorage just north of the Potomac that we liked.  But the wind had picked back up, and as we entered the Potomac we were getting huge swells that had been building all day on the West Wind.

Cruising the Chespeake by Velocir

Not wanting to fight the waves, we stuck with our original plan and anchored on Cockrell Creek.  Unfortunately it is next to a smelly and noisy fishing plant and we would not recommend this location!

Compass by Velocir

Thursday, we left early for Deltaville, VA.  Winds were 15-20 N/NE with waves 2-3 ft.  We set the Genoa and a reefed main.  Velocir got knocked around a bunch in the swell but did a good job.  We’re getting a bit of water in the scuppers during swell on the stern that is trickling down into the main cabin along the tabbing.  Not a big problem.   We plan to reseal the cockpit floor (again) and keep an eye on it.

By 1536 we anchored in Deltaville, VA.  Today, Friday, we are exploring the town.  It has a public state dock to tie up to.  A short walk down a quaint road is a library with free wifi and free books/magazines, a hardware store and a grocery store.  It has been a great stop and reminds us a lot of St. Michael’s, MD, but much smaller.  Tomorrow we hope to continue farther south, as far as Yorktown area.

Official Vega!

Back in early July we applied for Velocir to be an official USCG documented vessel.  It may make customs easier, I don’t have to pay a yearly fee to DNR, and most importantly I can scrape off the state registration numbers from the bow of the boat. I dislike them in an unreasonable fashion.

Well, apparently this process takes them MONTHS, because this week we finally got the document!! Yay, I am overly excited about this, maybe because I am proud such a small boat can be this legit.

With all the preparation work going on, I was able to steal a few hours to satisfy my desire for a carved wooden official numbers plaque.  Here’s how I made it.

In a word processing program, size the numbers in a font you like to be at least 3″ high.  Print them out, measure them to be sure.  Find a piece of wood that will be easy to carve (ours is the unused leg from our dinette table and a soft pine).  Tape the letters to the wood with simple packing tape.

Then, with a dremel carve the edges of the numbers to get the outline for each one.  This was a great guide for the router and gave me a cleaner edge.

Using a medium-sized router with a small wood attachment I ground out the numbers.  This was time-consuming and made my elbow hurt for a while, but gave clean edges and a nice depth.

Finally, some varnish and paint make it shine.  As you can clearly see, a huge mistake I made (compare this to first pic) is completely masked  (thanks to using a wide piece of wood and a grinder).   The only problem now is finding a place for it on the boat.

Sailing to Annapolis

Tuesday at 1:00 pm we left our homey slip in St. Michaels, MD to head back to Annapolis on our Albin Vega Velocir. The wind was forecast to be out of the north 15-20 kts and dying throughout the afternoon. Friends and coworkers cast us off and we set sail in the Miles river, heading north into the wind. We had a blast putting our new sails to the test, going to weather in a decent breeze and 3ft. chop. We were sure glad to have our new dodger on and looking forward to the day when we had some canvas on it to stop the spray!

We rounded Tilghman Point and turned southwest for Bloody Point on a starboard tack. The sail was a lot nicer on a deep reach on a warm sunny day. We discussed our options if the wind was still howling out of the North building ugly chop. As we would have to beat to weather all the way to Annapolis we toyed with the idea of anchoring out tonight if it was nasty. We saw no reason to push it.

Sailing to Annapolis by Velocir

As we rounded Bloody Point and sailed past the rusty old lighthouse tilting forlornly to the side we found the wind had died down on the bay to 10 kts. Close hauled on a starboard tack we sailed right up the bay, getting lifted again and again until we made it all the way to Annapolis! It was a beautiful sail past Thomas Point lighthouse as we turned on the music and just hummed right along.

Sailing to Annapolis by Velocir

As we doused sail and motored into our home river entrance we spotted a dinghy adrift in very shallow water where not even the runabout will go. We had time before sunset so I stripped down, threw on a life jacket and dove into the water while Amelia kept the boat nearby. I swam a lot farther than it looked and finally made it to the derelict dinghy. I could see an older couple near shore and shouted to them asking if this was their dinghy and did they need help getting it. I got back an angry response telling me it was not theirs but it was registered and I could not steal it.

Steal it?! That’s what I get for coming out to help. I found 4 feet of anchor rhode tied to the head of a danforth with 4 feet of chain attached to nothing. I retied the rhode to the chain, reset the thing as best I could and swam back to the boat. We later learned the boat was leftover from two drunks who ran their sailboat aground on the rocks there a couple night prior.

We motored the rest of the way up the creek and made it to the dock as the sun was going down. A beautiful day, a wonderful sail, and an incredible way to end an unforgettable chapter in our lives.

Log Canoe Races

We were invited to sail on the beautiful log canoe, Edmee S, this morning.

A nonexistent breeze, the race was cancelled.  But here are some beautiful photographs of everyone getting ready!  Also video of how to de-rigg a log canoe (great if you’re curious).

Log Vanoe Races by Velocir

Log Vanoe Races by Velocir

The Captains Howerton

Welcome Aboard!  We are the Captains Howerton, recently wed and about to start our adventurous voyage throughout the world in our Albin Vega named Velocir.

In preparation for our trip, we decided to spend the weekend on Wye Island in the Chesapeake Bay.

We looked over our charts and consulted a cruising guide to get some good recommendations on anchorages.  Because the wind was NW we decided to anchor on the west side of the island to get a good breeze and keep away from bugs.

The sail up was slow in the low winds, and Velocir struggled to maintain boat speed with a lot of the larger power boat wakes.  We were quickly reminded how inconsiderate and unsafe other boaters can be, treating sailboats like obstacles in a race course.

As the wind died, we started the engine to make it in time for dinner.  We tucked into an unnamed cove where we were surrounded by marshes, birds and a light breeze that had picked up as we anchored.

In 7 ft of water, we forgot our color coordinated paint system for anchor chain and let out 75 ft…we weren’t going anywhere!

Grant jumped in the water for a quick swim and scrubbed our new waterline clean.

For dinner, we made our favorite Cream of Crab Soup recipe:

Ingredients

5 tbsp. flour

1 packet hollandaise mix

4 c. half and half

Lots of Old Bay

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. celery seed

1 c. whipping cream

2 small cans crab meat

Directions: Add all, stirring constantly!  Serve in bread bowls.

It was delicious, and a favorite of Grants.  He found the recipe himself and now we make it all the time.  When cruising, we still plan to keep it in our collection of boat recipes, but without refrigeration we will have to make it the first night we buy the perishable ingredients.

After dinner, we were treated to a lovely sunset as we played cards and dominoes on the foredeck.

Wye Island Sunset by Velocir

Then…Grant ate the sun and the evening ended.

Grant Eating Sun by Velocir

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