Onward’s Cruise Journal 2014
ICW, Chesapeake & New England Cruise


Updated: 11 July 2014

May 2014


1- 2 May 14; San Diego

  • Joseph called to announce that he and Erin had put a deposit on a home in San Diego in an area that bordered Balboa Park. I agreed to take the train down on the 1st so I could see the house and be there with him while the various inspectors did their thing. It was a lovely "Craftsman Era" home. Unfortunately, the inspections showed that it had been built on improperly compacted fill and the cost of repair was too high for the seller, a "flipper" company to agree to credit to them. My heart first soared and sung to see a house with great potential that Joe and Erin were both charmed by and and the same time bummed when I saw what turned out to be the fatal flaw.
  • I also got to spend some time at the fantastic 10-story San Diego Central Library located across the street from Joe's condo. This is a newly completed architectural sculpture. I only wish I had had time to explore it more.
  • I had a great visit with Joe and Erin and we talked about their wedding which they had just scheduled for 10 October 2014. After breakfast Saturday, it was time for me to take the train back to LA as the carefree couple had multiple social engagements with friends scheduled for the rest of the weekend.

3 - 8 May 14; Los Angeles
  • Back in LA I enjoyed just being immersed in the family. Every morning and afternoon, I did my favorite job: schlepping Miss Elena to and from nursery school, chatting and laughing all the way.

9-11 May 14; Friday- Monday Los Angeles to Las Vegas
  • I bid a fond farewell to Kian, Elena and Laura as I departed for the Burbank airport via Uber. I had a wonderful stay and look forward to the repeat.
  • This was the first time I used Burbank / Bob Hope airport. It is closer to Laura's home and served by Southwest. I found it cheaper to get to and much less crowded than LAX.
  • I arrived in Las Vegas and took a shuttle to the Flamingo Hotel. I had flown through the airport on connecting flights but never visited the city -- not being my favorite type of place. I was surprised by how close the airport was to the "Strip". Joanha drove in from Park City in the early evening and we had a chance to say hello before she went off to get ready for the concert she planned to see that evening. I took a short walk to get some dinner and decided that Las Vegas was a place I hated to be in alone.
  • joahna and I spent a nice time together on Saturday and Sunday. We walked a good part of the Strip and visited many of the themed hotel/casinos: Belagio, New York New York, Cosmopolitan, Aria, Paris, Mirage, Caesars Palace, Venitian, Flamingo. Interesting for the spectacle of people and venues. Now that I've done it, don't need to do it again.
  • We went to a Cirque du Soleil show: Love. The sound and music was grand. I found it fascinating on many levels: music, choreography, creativity of show and set design, acrobatics, and the fantastic engineering and devices used. Neat. Glad I went.

12 - 13 May 14; Monday-Tuesday; Marco I
  • I took the early morning flight from Las Vegas and arrived in Ft. Myers at 1800 where Peggy was there to greet me with a much-needed smile. We returned to Marco I and enjoyed a quiet evening and a sunny day together as Peggy completed the process of closing up her condominium for the season. I was really surprised at how quiet the area was as compared to when I left to go to CA. All that was missing was tumbleweeds rolling down the road.

14 May 14; Wednesday; Marco I to River Dunes
  • Peggy and I picked up the rental car and then loaded it with my bag and all her stuff for the summer cruise. All the assiduous training done by the previous women in my life enabled me to keep my mouth shut without comment and just load the car. I never asked, what exactly are you going to do with all this and where is it going to go aboard Onward.
  • We were underway by 0900 and road and traffic conditions were great. Sharing driving in ~ 4-hr blocks kept it from being a drag. We did so well we decided to press on to River Dunes. We arrived back at Onward by 2300 and found all was well. We crashed for the night and left the unpacking for tomorrow.

15 May 14; Thursday; River Dunes
  • After breakfast, we transferred all the stuff from the car to Onward. Then I set about swapping out the non-functional alternator for the backup (the rebuilt original). Peggy set about with her quiet efficiency to stow all the gear we'd brought aboard. Very impressive.
  • Working on the alternator proved not to be one of my finest hours - or several. This job is one where seeing what one is doing and being able to get both hands on it is near impossible. It all started south when the shrink tubing protection on the old wiring harness between alternator and starter came off unseen by me and shorted in a burst of sparks. It was an immense struggle to find out what was the problem and then eliminating it. Much cursing, loss of blood, and showers of sparks ensued before it was tamed.
  • The worse part was that this put me in such a foul mood that I wasn't thinking straight. I finally got the alternator off and began the installation of the replacement. The hinge bolt is located such that when the alternator is in about the right position, the hinge-bolt and mounting studs cannot be clearly seen from the top or side I have access to. I found the spacer bushing that goes around the hinge bolt was too long to fit. I ended up cutting off ~2 mm to make it fit. That done and all bolts tightened and fan belt tensioned, I started the engine. I found the alternator was not putting out power!
  • Bummed out, I called it quits, showered, and then drove in with Peg to drop off the rental car. I talked to Ed Burke on the phone about the non-working alternator and he suggested checking that the +12 V was getting to the field terminal to provide the excitation voltage.
  • We got a ride back from New Bern to the marina and were aboard before the rains began. Torrents poured starting at ~ 0200.

16 May 14; Friday; River Dunes to Pungo River
  • While it poured, I downloaded some Yanmar manuals then checked the connections to the alternator. I found the +12 V was going to the wrong terminal -- apparently they reversed the terminals when I had this alternator rebuilt in Annapolis. I made a jumper and hola the alternator began working.
  • By 1200 the rains had stopped so we prepared to leave and were on our way by 1300. It was a reasonably pleasant day and we made fairly good time. The shoal "bump" at the S end of the canal at the Hoebucken Bridge has gotten worse. I saw about 7' at the lowest.
  • We anchored for the night at the head of the Pungo River just outside the canal mouth. We made a comfort meal of rotelli pasta and meatballs. All was right with the world.

17 May 14; Saturday; Pungo River to Great Bridge Lock
  • Before getting underway, I checked the engine oil as I always do. I usually check the fan belt, but for some reason didn't.
  • Just before we reached Coinjock, I had been taken a nap due to my fitful sleep last night. I was awoken by a string of 4 power boats heading N. We hadn't seen another boat all day and now, just before I wanted to stop for fuel, 4 appear. Only one stopped and the marina had another open fueling position so I quickly put and and took on 50 gal of fuel in the midship tank. I also took the opportunity to tighten up all the bolts on the alternator.
  • We hadn't seen a tug & barge yet on this segment of the trip. But past Coinjock, we encountered 3 pushing barges loaded with recycled metal scrap headed for NC and a crane barge!. Unfortunately none of these encounters was at an opening bridge where we could have sneaked through early. Our timing for the bridges worked out well and we concluded we could reach Great Bridge lock and tie up there for the night at about 2015, just after sunset.
  • We approached the Steel Bridge in the dusk at ~2015. I had checked the Google Maps satellite photo and it showed the new free face dock at the SE quadrant to be open for use. Since I'd seen only 1 other sailboat, I expected to find both this face dock and that at the marina on the W side to be open. WRONG!. Both sides were chockablock with boats??? I was trying to figure out what to do and decided to as the bridge tender if there was open space on the face dock to the NW. I got no answer but then the bridge started to open -- early??? I began to wonder if it was now opening on demand and he had heard me. Then a voice comes on VHF13 in a Virginia twang saying that he was about to bring a tug and barge through and I needed to get out of the way. Soon there were voices from the bridge tender, tug captain, and lock operator, talking to us in their twang and we were trying to figure out who was telling us what. Finally I heard the tug say i needed to back up further and at the same time I realized he was pushing a barge that was almost twice as long as the others! So I quickly back in as close to the E bank as possible. The tug captain was really nice and said there was space open on the NW face dock. The bridge tender said he'd hold the bridge for me to pass. I confirmed with the lock tender we would not make the transit tonight.
  • When I first approached the SE face dock, I thought I had seen the name of the boat at the N end and it was Anania. Then I got too busy to verify this. Once the tug had passed, I heard a deep male voice yell out: Onward!. It was Tom standing on his side deck waving. I completed the transit, got tied up at the S end of the NW face dock. Then I called Anania on the VHF and we got caught up. Tom related that in the heavy rain on Thursday, the electrical equipment for the Centerville Turnpike bridge, it had closed the ICW until it got fixed. That and the bad weather had caused a number of barges to get hung up on the N side. I had seen the 5 go by me. A number of sailboats decided to wait out the weather at the lock. I guess I was luck to find a space to the NW.
  • Peg and I enjoyed a much-needed cocktail hour. Then I threw together a "Progresso soup/stew" where I combine two very different cans of soup and add a good bit of small pasta to it; and wine, of course! This makes a quick very hearty and tasty soup/stew that never tastes the same. Peg enjoyed stealing my secret and eating the results.
  • It was a very quiet night which we both needed.

18 May 14; Sunday; Great Bridge Lock to Salt Ponds
  • I was up and moving at 0530. While the coffee was making, I called the lock to see if it was operating. It turned out there would be a north-bound transit at 0600. That startled me as I somehow thought it would be after 0620 - I forgot it was coordinated with the 0600 opening of the Steel Bridge. That got me moving. I checked the engine and found that the alternator was fairly rigid but the belt needed tensioning. I didn't have time to do it now so I put that off until I got into the lock. As I approached the lock, the gates were closed and I called the lock operator who told me to open my eyes as the gates were just starting to move. Then I got reminded to stay out until the light turned green (which I couldn't see while standing at the helm). Onward was soon in the lock as vessel #1 and on the forward W side. As the water fell and the gates were about to open, I quickly ran down to retention the belt by hand and tighten the alternator belts. I actually got that done before the gates were open.
  • The new high rise fixed bridge at the Dominion Boulevard bascule bridge was preparing to have the girders for the center span put in place. It will be nice to have one less opening span to contend with on this section.
  • At the Gilmerton Bridge, the opening was delayed for the railroad bridge to open. A waiting tug and barge told me to go ahead of him once it opened. From then on it was an easy transit and we passed ICW Mile Marker 0 at about 0800. Thus Onward completed the southern half of Cycle 7 of the Onward Saga and the 14th transit of the ICW. Wow! Who would have thunk way back in 2007?
  • As we passed the naval base we got to listen to the USCG traffic on VHF from the escort vessel for a nuclear sub setting off to sea. At one time, I got on the radio to say: "USCG give the folks a break and stop using all the acronyms" (for the various naval facilities) that the transient private vessels had no idea what they referred to. No answer, but they stopped with the alphabet soup.
  • As we passed Point Comfort, the winds built to 20 kts on the nose, the seas got choppier, and SOG dropped to under 4 kts. About a half mile from the Salt Ponds entrance channel, a huge wave came over the bow and popped open the starboard forward hatch in the salon. A deluge of water got on the floor and starboard settee cushion - more water in this one event than in all the last 10 years of sailing! The IWOB had screwed up yet again, closing but forgetting to dog the hatch. I warned Peg that she needed to be on the lookout for such IWOB antics.
  • Other than having choppy crossing seas, the entrance into Salt Ponds was uneventful and we had 9-12' of water all the way as we were near high tide. We put into slip K3 which was a bit of a challenge with the wind still blowing > 10 kts. But that went well if not exactly pretty.
  • Soon after we got the lines fixed, Ken, the new owner of C470-48, Voyager II, came over to say hello. He pointed out another C470, Southerly, in slip K7 that I'd been too busy to see on the way in. He also mentioned one or two others in the area.
  • After taking a bit of time for both the engine and myself to cool down, i decided to tackle the alternator mount problem. I removed the alternator completely to look at the problem and in doing so I found that if the positioning bolt at the top was removed from the tensioning strut, it could swing away from the engine enough to actually be able to see the hinge area AND use two hand while working with the companionway open. Eureka!
  • I discovered that the spacer bushing which I had to cut 2 mm off was now ~2 mm too short. I also found that the hinge is a 10-mm bolt and the hole on the engine mounting stud was ~11 mm in diameter. Further, over the years the fore and aft ends of this hole had become a bit eccentric. To make things worse, I had discovered that although I had been tightening the head of the hinge bolt, the nut on the aft side was not itself getting tightened. Working with this is a pain as the hose and hose clamp for one of the water hoses to the raw water pump interferes with it. These factors combined with the too-short spacing bushing allowed the alternator to precess a bit about the hinge axis no matter how tight I made the bolts. This created a vibration that then loosened the bolts.
  • As a temporary fix, I found 2 SS washers that when stacked could take up all but < 0.5 mm of the space. I also reversed the mounting bolt to have its head aft. I then reassembled the alternator which now appeared to be as rigid as it had ever been. I installed and tensioned a new belt and although the alternator was still dead, at least the fresh water circulation pump would work OK until I got to Annapolis.
  • With the temporary fix in place, it was time to clean up the boat an me. Peg and i then went up to the restaurant and enjoyed a couple of drinks while we waited for her son and family to arrive.
  • I got to watch grandma Peg joyfully see her two grands ons and meet son Gene and his wife Leslie. We had a very nice dinner together on the deck of the marina restaurant.
  • Peg's family was off to their busy lives and we were back aboard Onward by 2000 a bit chilled by the wind on the deck. We were both tired and were soon asleep.

19 May 14; Monday; Salt Ponds to Solomons
  • I had a very restful night with a lot of deep sleep. It was so warm and comfy that I couldn't pry myself out of bed until 0545. It looked to be a beautiful day even though the wind would be from the N but <= 10 kts. So I decided to get underway. Peg was soon up and moving. She reminded me it was low tide but I decided to give it a try. We got out of the slip and headed down the fairway. There were a couple of places where we had to plow through a bit of silty bottom but it nicely deepened to 9' as we got to the exit channel. Our luck ran out at the very tip of the exit channel abreast of the N breakwater where we ran into a bump. In the process of trying to back off, I lucked into a hole to the S that a passing small wake allowed me to get to and we were free.
  • A combination of the end of the falling tide and a N wind kept us to below 6 kts SOG until above Mobjack Bay. The rising tide eventually caught up to us at Smith Pt and we were soon at an SOG over 7. We entered the Pautuxent at 1900 and were anchored in Mill Creek by 1940. A good moving day. The weather was perfect. I even got to soak up some sun while napping in the cockpit.
  • Along the way I emailed Corinthian bud Dick Tudan who lives in Annapolis. On one of the nights we had dinner together in the Abacos, Dick had offered use of a slip at his home when I got back to Annapolis. He expected I'd get there first but due to my sojourns in Marco Island and the West Coast, he beat me back to Annapolis. I wrote to see if he knew of any other slips open in the area and he replied to my surprise that he actually had 3 slips at his home and both of his guest slips were open so he invited Onward to berth. Neat!

20 May 14; Tuesday; Salt Ponds to Annapolis; Mill Creek
  • I checked the alternator mount this morning and found it all secure. It appears the temporary fix made a huge difference. We were underway by 0645 under overcast skies and hazy conditions over a dead calm bay.
  • Onward sailed pass Ron Draper's home in Chesapeake Beach and continued on to Annapolis Harbor where the folks had planned a welcome for us by the Blue Angels. We anchored near Greebriar Pt. along with a hug he fleet of boat who had also come out to greet Onward and stayed to watch the Blue Angels. The Merlins with Mike & Alison aboard came out and anchored nearby.
  • As many times as I've seen a Blue Angels show, I never get tired of it. The power, speed, showmanship and skill are awesome. After the show we headed into Mill Creek and found Dick Tudan working aboard Willoway. Onward pulled into his open slip to the Nf. This was the first time I had visited Dick's home. He ha a gorgeous home facing E across the creek and a pier with 3 skips. It was a very pleasant homecoming to Annapolis.
  • Ed and Tina drove over to Dick's home from the marina where Merlin is berthed just a bit further up the creek. They invited us to visit their home in Gaithersburg MD. So Peg and I settled Onward, packed a few things, and headed off to Hawk's Nest Farm. Along the way we did a bit of shopping for dinner.

21 May 14; Wednesday; Mill Creek
  • We spent a relaxing day at Hawk's Nest Farm with Ed and Tina. This included a shopping foray. The day ended on a very pleasant note with Ed making arrangements with three of our colleagues from the lab and their wives to meet us for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. We had a great time catching up with good friends: John and Joanne Pellegrino, John and Vivian Eicke and Andy and Paulette Ladas. A wonderful meal with good wines was a nice addition. A true homecoming for me to Maryland.

22 May 14; Thursday; Mill Creek
  • In mid morning Ed chauffeured us back to Annapolis where the dead alternator awaited. Along the way we stopped to see Bob Jones as he was finishing up the last very minor tasks before the closure of the sale of Silhouette. He had an unused OEM alternator for the JH3TE engine that he made available to Onward. Such a mensch! It will be sad not having him as a C470 owner but he will still be a part of the group. He has been a wonderful Annapolis Fleet Support Center for the fleet. But as he has so many friends in the group and plans to buy a winter home in Vero Beach -- the association will continue.
  • In the afternoon, Dick Tudan was kind enough to take me and the dead alternators over to the local alternator shop. I had hoped to buy a new spacer bushing but they did not stock them. In the process, though, I finally figured out the removable busing on the alternator and how it could be placed to eliminate the problem. Great! We also managed to get some fresh food, bagels, and wine. A good trip. A good day.

23 May 14; Friday; Mill Creek to Rhode River
  • I spent the morning reinstalling the alternator with correct use of the movable mount bushing and the spacer bushing. I had to use a number of SS washers to take up some space. But, when I was done, it was rock solid. Such a lesson learned!
  • About 1700, Dick and Valerie on Willoway, Corky and Debbie on Patriot, and Onward headed over to the Rhode River. It was so quiet in the creek, I expected we would have to motor there to meet up with the Annapolis Corinthian Spring Cruise participants on the next-to-last night of their trip. Once we were out in the Bay there was a great wind of 12 to 17 kts and we had a wonderful sail to the head of the Rhode River. The Willoways came over for a rotisserie chicken dinner. The Patriots joined us for drinks and a fine time was had by all.

24 May 14; Saturday; Rhode River to Tilghman Creek
  • We had a leisurely breakfast and then hopped aboard Venture to visit with Corinthian friends. It turned out that we followed Dick & Valerie around and got to catch up with a number of friends that I only occasionally get to see as Onward flits through the Chesapeake.
  • We weighed anchor about 1000 and headed W down the Rhode toward Eastern Bay. I noticed a military-looking boat moving at high speed up the river and grabbed the binoculars to see what it was. It was a MD DNR Natural Resources Police boat. I remarked to myself that that was a nice and expensive piece of equipment. As if it read my mind, it passed and then turned about to pull up on the starboard side and asked me to stop. Dumbfounded, I went to neutral and asked them what the issue was. They said asked me where my MD sticker was. I told them the vessel was documented and when I left MD in 2007 there was no requirement for any sticker. They then asked for the USCG documentation cir

25 May 14; Sunday; Tilghman Creek to Granary Creek, Wye River

26 May 14; Monday; Granary Creek to St. Michaels
  • We had a leisurely start to the day but by late morning, the Willoways and Patriots were making plans to head back to Annapolis because tomorrow was a work day. I forget about such things. Peg had never seen St. Michaels so we decided to extend our visit by heading there. As we headed down he Wye and then up the Tred Avon, there was a parade of all those boats who were heading home to the workaday world. I do remember that. My present life is better. Along the way we gave Mary Kay Noren and Don Andrew a call because they live nearby in Easton. It wasn't long before we got an innovation to come to their home for a cookout and to spend the night. Nice having friends liberally sprinkled about!
  • Onward anchored in the almost empty harbor and Peg and I headed ashore to the dinghy dock by the Crab Claw where we found Don & Mary Kay waiting for us. They whisked us off to their estate in the woods where we had a fine time catching up on things since we were last together in the Bahamas. We enjoyed a barbecue with their tenant and his friend. Don & Mary Kay have a beautiful home on a huge wooded lot. When I look around at this and Ed & Tina's estate, I am really impressed that these friends have the energy and stamina to maintain large pieces of real property AND a sailing yacht. I can barely keep up with Onward alone!

27 May 14; Tuesday; St. Michaels
  • We spent a leisurely morning over a delicious breakfast with Don & Mary Kay. While Mary Kay went off to an appointment, Don gave us a driving tour of Easton then dropped us off at the dinghy dock.
  • Peg and I took a long walking tour about St. Michaels as the heat of the day increased. In late afternoon, we went back aboard and I immediately succumbed to the heat (and beer) and took an air bath / nap in the sunny cockpit. I awoke from a deep sleep to find that s funder squall was rapidly moving Onward's way. I went below to use the head and the squall front moved much quicker than I expected and hit while I was below. The winds were so strong and came on so quickly that Onward had no time to weathercock to meet the new wind direction and was laid over on its side. As she righted, I heard Peg call that she thought the anchor might have broken free. I didn't think this could be so I initially didn't rush up until she called a second time. I ran up to the companionway in my skin suit and realized she was right. I had anchored on the shallow side of a steep slope and the initial blast of wind must have pulled the anchor over the edge into deeper water and now we were moving too quickly for it to reset. There was only two other boats in the general area and I could see the captain of the nearest one watching us with concern. There was no time to go to the foredeck and mess with the bridle and rode so, I powered up and dragged the anchor N to the middle of the harbor entrance where it immediately reset.
  • I had developed so much faith and trust in my Manson Supreme anchor, that I realized I've asked it to do things I would never ask of another anchor: hold on or close to the edge of steep underwater slope. It has only broken loose twice and both have been when a sudden storm caused it to be pulled over the edge. Note to Self: don't do this again!

28 May 14; Wednesday; St Michaels to Herring Bay
  • A calm and partly sunny morning greeted us. We got underway by ~ 1000. I took a run by the boat that we had dragged close to last night. I apologized for the fluke incident and the man and woman aboard were good natured as they said it was no big thing. When I explained that the front had caught me as I was cleaning up, they laughed and said they had just dubbed me "Captain Bare Ass". What could I say. I'd showed them my best....
  • We were able to sail down the Tred Avon and Easter Bay then across to Herring Bay where I anchored to the W of the entrance channel to Herrington Harbor S. Ron Draper had arraigned for me to be able to leave Venture at one of their piers. Ron met us and we enjoyed drinks at the poolside bar. Then he took us off to his home in Chesapeake Beach where Peg and Linda got to meet. We got to check out the impressive update of the kitchen and had a great time catching up and swapping stories over dinner. The wind began to pick up as we ate so I wanted to get back aboard before dark. The winds had shifted to the NE and this made for some steep chop where Onward was anchored and we had to carefully time our climbs out of Venture and on to the stern platform. It also made for a rather bouncy night for sleeping -- but the holding here is great and there were no underwater slopes to pull the anchor over the edge of.

29 May 14; Thursday; Herring Bay to Annapolis Harbor
  • It was still really bouncy in the morning although the winds had dropped a bit. But with them from the NE, there was too much scope for quiet. We were underway by 1000 and the seas calmed as we went N and the scope of the winds decreased.
  • We ducked into Back Creek but as expected found it too crowded to afford a good anchorage for Onward in the soft bottom. We then took a jog around Annapolis harbor. The city now has increased the capabilities for the mooring field and can takes boats to at least 55' on the yellow-bagged moorings. We decided to anchor out and after dodging the practice courses of several USNA sail training fleets, we managed to get settled. It was so cold and damp, we hibernated for the rest of the day.

30 May 14; Friday; Annapolis Harbor
  • Another overcast, drizzly, cold day. Somehow, I like the Bahamas better.
  • By mid-day, the overcast disappeared. We arranged to meet Bob & Pam Jones at Eastport YC for drinks and dinner and invited the Merlins who came in to work on their boat. By 1400 Peg and I had gotten cleaned up enough to head ashore and we brought Venture into Ego Alley where I had little concern for someone wanting to abscond with her. We took a walking and window shopping tour of Annapolis on what had turned into a gem of an afternoon.
  • We then Ventured over to the Chart House where we took a look at a new inflatable because I don't know how long I can keep patching poor Venture. I looked at the neat AB RIB with aluminum hulls. They are light and strong with a flat floor and a bow compartment -- but they are in short supply and pricey at >$5000 for a 9.5' boat. Ah well.
  • It was off to the EYC where we secured a table on the deck and awaited the arrival of Pam and Bob. We were soon joined by the Merlins and friends John and Ann. A delightful afternoon of drinks and dinner ensued. Peg and I Ventured home before dark and soon crashed for the night.

31 May 14; Saturday; Annapolis Harbor
  • We spent a lazy day aboard watching the theater of Annapolis harbor on a Saturday. With Mike and Maureen Yorke due on Thursday, I got busy organizing the forward stateroom.