We're Nomads September 4, 2006

We're Home! September 9, 2006

Reefing Mods September, 2006

Life in MD September 29, 2006

Great Falls October, 2006

Mt. Vernon October, 2006

Monticello October, 2006

SSCA GAM October 11, 2006

'06 Boat Show October 11, 2006

Bookshelves October 25, 2006

Mack Boring October 25, 2006

Last Roadtrip October 25, 2006

Still in MD November 20, 2006


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send email to Neal

It's Official - we're nomads

September 4, 2006
by Mary

We finally left Boulder on Sept. 1 and headed for Sea Fox. Didn't get finished at the house soon enough to have time to visit Minnesota, but stopped in Chicago to pick up the cats who'd been staying with my brother, and visit with Mom and brothers. We've shipped more stuff to Sea Fox than we'll be able to find space for, but once we're there we'll have a better basis for deciding what we can actually fit on the boat.

We're anxious to get "home" to Sea Fox because we heard from the marina this morning that one of our lines broke during Ernesto and there's some gelcoat damage from hitting the dock. We're assured that it is very minor, but it will be good to finally get there and see for ourselves that she's really ok. And I'm certainly ready to get on with it.

We arrived at my brother's house on Saturday and will leave tomorrow (Tuesday) so we've had a chance to rest up from our hectic clean out project. Feels good.

As for being a nomad, it's an interesting feeling to realize that we no longer have a specific spot on the map that is home. We've filed papers establishing a domicile in Florida, but the address is our mail forwarding service, not a place where we can hunker down. I guess our home is now "the world"; and I'm ready to explore it.

We're home!

September 9, 2006
by Mary

On September 5 we arrived at Sea Fox to take up permanent residency. We shipped far too much stuff so now we're again in the throes of sorting through what we really need to fit onto the boat and how to dispose of the excess. Our task is to change it from a floating warehouse into our home - and with everything stow-able for crossing open water. A marine carpenter has been here to give us a quote on adding bookshelves. The rigger did the work to have the line for the 3rd reef led back to the cockpit (I hope we never need it.). So that's two more items about to be checked off the list. Now that we're here I really miss the convenience we had in Texas. Everything here is a trek. Neal commented the other day that we could never use this marina without having a car. If we stop in this area again, it will have to be at Annapolis where taxis are available for getting to grocery stores, etc. The cats have adjusted well so far. They seem to remember having been on the boat before. It'll be interesting to see what happens when we begin moving. There's still so much to do before mid October!

Reefing System Modifications

September, 2006
by Neal:

Sea Fox has three reef points in the main sail. Reef points are used to reduce sail area as the wind picks up. With the reefing configuration that existed when we got Sea Fox the first two reefs could be put in and taken out from the cockpit but the third and final reef requires that somebody go to the mast to put it in and to take it out. Now this isn't very logical because you only need this reef when conditions are really bad and this is the worst time to have to go up to the mast.

In fact when Sea Fox was being moved from Galveston to the Chesapeake, while out in the Atlantic, a storm was encountered where a 3rd reef, while not absolutely necessary, would have been prudent. But no one wanted to go to the mast to put it in.

On our June trip to Herrington Harbour I asked the resident rigger for a quote to move the 3rd reef from the mast to the cockpit. I gave him our boat card so that he would have both a phone number and email address. The boat card also has Florida mail forwarding address on it. Late August just prior to leaving Boulder we started using the mail forwarder and in the 1st bunch of mail was a month old invoice from Alpha Rigging. The rigger didn't bother giving us a quote but just went to the boat and did the job. He also didn't bother to call to discuss any aspect of the job. I found this to be pretty irritating as there were decisions that I would have liked to be part of. In the end the rigger did a good job and we are happy with results but we don't like his methods.

In order to have the 3rd reef in the cockpit a rope clutch had to be freed up for the 3rd reef. The topping lift was relocated to a cleat on the mast freeing up a rope clutch.

Life in Maryland

September 29, 2006
by Mary

After 3 weeks aboard Sea Fox we're making a dent in the project list. Got rid of some stuff; stowed some stuff; and ordered some stuff; but we still have a full storage locker here in the marina. Everything from the lazarette is in the locker waiting for the guy who's coming to diagnose and fix (I hope) the furnace problem. The bookshelves should be ready soon and then we'll be able to unload the boxes of books - but I think we still won't have enough places for all the books and some will have to go. We've ordered the radar upgrade and solar panels and wind generator - the last of the big upgrades. We'll be poor but well equipped.

The second weekend we were here, the marina hosted the Deale Bluegrass Festival and Car Show. Very small-town folksy and fun. Photos are below. The Navy Bluegrass Band was the only one we photographed. Didn't know the Navy had a bluegrass band. The cars were fun to look at.

We've been getting to know the area but haven't done any major sightseeing yet. We're sampling the luscious cream of crab soup whenever we find it on a menu. We hope to get a couple of trips in to the Smithsonian plus some other touristy things before we take off.

We've seen the notorious Chesapeake sea nettles. They're translucent white jellyfish about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. There was a small blue heron on the bank the other day and Neal saw a pair of swans.

The cats have settled in although they're still spooked at some of the strange sounds. Patty's been up in the cockpit once, but until we quit using it as temporary storage, we're not encouraging them to explore the outdoors.

We'll be here until the end of October, probably. It seems that everyone leaves right after the boat show and it gets to be gridlock on the ICW - especially when there are a dozen or more boats all just milling around trying to stay out of each other's way waiting for a bridge to open. We'll wait a couple of weeks and hope the rush is over.

Here are the bluegrass and car show pics. Click on an image to see a larger version    


Great Falls National Park

October, 2006
by Neal

When we asked the locals what we should see in the greater Washington area one of the must see places is the Great Falls of the Potomac. We were told that it is the most spectacular falls east of Niagara Falls. I don't know if that statement is correct but it certainly is spectacular.

So Saturday morning, September 30, bright and early found us heading for Washington. The falls are a mere 14 miles upriver from Washington. We are constantly amazed as to how quickly you get into wildness around here.

When we arrived at the falls it was overcast and raining off and on but we didn't let that stop us from enjoying the falls. Because of the rain we didn't hike any of the trails so if we have time we will return and take some of the walks.

Many people consider the Great Falls of the Potomac to be the most spectacular natural landmark in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Here, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The falls consist of cascading rapids and several 20 foot waterfalls, with a total 76 foot drop in elevation over a distance of less than a mile. The Potomac River narrows from nearly 1000 feet, just above the falls, to between 60 and 100 feet wide as it rushes through Mather Gorge, a short distance below the falls. The Great Falls of the Potomac display the steepest and most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern river.

While we were observing the falls, a bunch of kayakers arrived to kayak in the gorge. It sure is important for them to know how to perform the Eskimo roll as several of them got turned over as they as they tried to position themselves in the current.

Click on an image to see a larger version


Mount Vernon

October, 2006
by Neal

We visited George Washington's home, Mount Vernon Saturday, September 30. I particularly enjoyed visiting the estate, both from a historical perspective of Washington but also the insight into plantation life. The house while not particularly magnificent or large by today's standards is never the less impressive. The house setting, views and gardens are all truly magnificent. The view of the Potomac River from the front of the house is really spectacular. It is interesting to note how near to Washington DC Mount Vernon is.

Washington acquired Mount Vernon in 1754, and over the next 45 years greatly expanded and improved the appearance of his home, outbuildings and extensive gardens and grounds. He personally oversaw every detail of design, construction and decoration, even when away at war. The plantation was 8,000 acres in area and the grounds include two formal gardens and a bowling green. Washington died in the master bedroom on December 14, 1799.

The dining room was large and is probably the most attractive room in the house. Washington had overnight guests almost continuously, one year there were almost 6oo overnight guest and there is even an outhouse to house visitor's servants, and the dining room was the focal point. Next to the dining room was a parlor with both a card table and chess table. The other rooms of note are the master bedroom and Washington's study.

Click on an image to see a larger version

Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) 20th Anniversary Annapolis GAM.

October 11, 2006
by Neal

On Saturday, October 7 we attended an all day SSCA meeting called a GAM. The meeting was held in a 3-sided tent. We wore our foul weather gear which was a good thing as it was cold and blustery all day long. Despite the conditions we had a really good time.

Nigel Calder, Bill Trayfors and Scott Berg had a panel discussion on power management which was very informative. They spent over an hour afterwards answering questions.

Next was a presentation by a man who along with his wife was on a round the world cruise. While in Thailand they survived the tsunami. They were swept under water over an island and lived.

Beth Leonard gave a talk about her circumnavigation plus events since which was great. She is a very gifted speaker. She has written 2 books, which of course we have, plus numerous magazine articles about cruising.

Suzanne Giesemann, retired Navy Commander and author. Gave a talk entitled "It's your boat too: a woman's guide to greater enjoyment on the water. There was nothing new for Mary in this presentation.

We met several other cruisers so it was an overall good time.

37th Annual Annapolis Sailboat Show

October 11, 2006
by Neal

The granddaddy of the fall boat show circuit, Annapolis draws big crowds -- rain or shine. And not only did it rain on Friday and Saturday, it blew a gale too! Show goers on the outer docks looked like drunken sailors negotiating the heaving docks, exhibitor's banners blew out in the 35+ knot gusts, and some exhibits even blew over. Salespeople reported a thin crowd on Friday. Saturday's crowd was amazingly large for the conditions at least until the tent exhibits went underwater, by as much as knee deep in spots. In the late afternoon many tent exhibits and some boats in the inner dock area were closed. Sunday dawned bright and shiny with a huge crowd. Monday was another bright and shiny day and attendance was again outstanding.

This is our 4th Annapolis Sailboat show though this is the first since we bought Sea Fox. The Annapolis Sailboat show is the world's largest sailboat show with all the boats on the water. We attended the first two days, Thursday and Friday.

Thursday, October 5 was opening day, known as VIP day. The entry fee is higher on VIP day which keeps the attendance down making it easier to get around and reduces the wait time for going on board the boats. Thursday's weather was just about perfect, mid-70's but partly cloudy keeping it from getting too hot. We only went onto boats that held some interest for us as outlined below:

Outbound 44 - This is the boat that I originally wanted to buy but couldn't as there were no used boats available due to the small size of their fleet. It is a very nice boat and still has features that appeal to us but thankfully nothing about it made us wish we had it instead of our boat. In fact that was one of the good things about the show, we came away very happy with Sea Fox. They are now up to hull 33 to be delivered September 2007 with a base price of $425K.

Bruckmann 50 - We only went aboard this boat because we were impressed with picture of its interior that we had seen in reviews. It is a motorsailer but I could live with it. It is a very nice boat but it should be at $1,090,145 base price.

Far Harbor 39 - This is Bob Perry's, the designer of Sea Fox, latest creation. The boat fits into a standard 40 ft shipping container. This reduces the cost of shipping the boat anywhere. The idea is you ship your boat to that exotic location that you want to sail and then you fly to your boat. To fit into the container the boat is very narrow. It is very innovative and they claim that it sails well, but it's not something that I would want.

Delphia 40 - This is a Polish built boat that is very reasonably priced at $189K. The boat has had good reviews and one of Mary's favorites because it is Polish.

Island Packet SP Cruiser - This Island Packet's latest and we were definitely not impressed, though it probably appeals to the Island Packet crowd. It is a motorsailer that looks more like a very narrow power boat than a sailboat. Also it has an odd interior layout. It strikes us as not wanting to be either power or sail. It is not cheap at $330K.

Amel 52 - An acquaintance of ours has an Amel that we have never seen so we were interested in looking at the boat. It is a very nice boat with the most comfortable chairs that I have ever sat in on a boat.

Beneteau - With so many acquaintances with Beneteaus we wanted to see what kind of boats they are. We were pleased with what we saw, nice production boats.

Catalina - We looked at the Catalina's for he same reason as he Beneteaus and pretty well came away with the same impression. Also we still have a soft spot for Catalina since our first boat was a Catalina.

CatalinaMorgan 440 - We were really impressed with this boat. It had a surprising amount of innovation and unusual features for a production boat.

Tayana 48 - Our friends, Jim and Jennifer Bagley, have a Tayana 48 which we have never seen. So we wanted to see what their boat was like. What a gorgeous boat, very high quality and beautifully made. It also seems to be good value as there are a lot of lesser boats selling at a similar price.

In addition to looking at the boats we toured vendor stands and tents. We were able to see everything that we were interested in on Thursday which was a good thing as the weather turned bad on Friday.

Friday, October 6 we returned to the show to pick up some items we had purchased from Hotwire Enterprises that was being delivered at the show to save shipping. What a horrible day, a northeastern has set in late Thursday evening with heavy rain and wind and the temperature was in the 50's.

We were only at the show long enough to pick up the Hotwire stuff plus buy a couple of other items we had seen on the day before. We were OK as we wore our foul weather gear. But it was pretty miserable for the sales people at the show.


October 16, 2006
by Neal

The fellow in the slip next to us at Herrington Harbour lives in Washington D. C. and is our local source of knowledge as to what to do and see in the Washington D. C. area. When I told him how much I had enjoyed Mount Vernon he commented that Monticello was, in his opinion, much better. So, on October 8, we went to visit

Monticello. Monticello is located 125 miles away in southern Virginia so it was a bit more of an expedition than the other Washington places that we have visited. The day was a nice fall day, sunny and a little cool, just perfect touring a historic site.

Monticello was Thomas Jefferson's mountain top plantation near Charlottesville, Va. The word Monticello in Italian means "little mountain." The Monticello mountain was at the center of a 5,000-acre plantation that Jefferson inherited from his father. Jefferson spent a 40-year period of design, construction and remodeling of the house and grounds.

The house is truly spectacular, the grounds are very nice and the mountain top site provides great views. Jefferson's many innovations in the house also add to the interest.

I think Mary enjoyed Monticello more than Mount Vernon but for my part, while I enjoyed Monticello, I found Mount Vernon more interesting as it did a better job of portraying plantation life. In any event Monticello was well worth the visit.

by Mary

I did find the house much more interesting than Mt. Vernon. Jefferson's architecture is definitely unique; was advanced for his time and even quirky in some aspects - such as the alcove bed that straddles two rooms. But I agree with Neal that Mt. Vernon gave a better sense of the life of its inhabitants.

Click on an image to see a larger version    

Bookshelves and Books, Books, Books

October 30, 2006
by Neal

Sea Fox came with only one poorly designed bookcase, not deep enough for most books, mounted on the forward bulkhead of the forward cabin. This book case (see picture 1) doesn't start to hold all of the books that we want to carry with us. Additionally a box to hold a TV was installed in the forward bulkhead of the salon which protrudes into the forward cabin over the bed (see pictures 2 & 3). We didn't' care for the looks of the box and we didn't have any use for the TV.

After we moved aboard we commissioned Thorny Seiler of "World Class Yacht Carpentry" to design a build a set of bookcases to replace the TV box. Pictures 4 & 5 show the bulkhead with the box removed. Pictures 6 & 7 show the new bookcases installed, don't they look great? Pictures 8 & 9 show the book cases loaded with books. Now we have a decent amount of book storage. Finally we relocated the small rack mounted below the TV box, seen in picture 2, to the aft head bulkhead as shown in picture 10.

We are really happy with the results of this project. The salon bookcase makes the salon look much homier than the old TV box. And as a final benefit we get to keep most of the books we brought aboard.

Click on an image to see a larger version

Mack Boring

October 25, 2006
by Mary

We attended a diesel engine maintenance course at Mack Boring, the east coast distributor of Yanmar engines. We both were at the first day of lecture but only Neal went to the following 2 day hands-on training. They provide an engine that's the same model as in your boat for the hands-on sessions. Neal was glad to have a chance to work on the engine where he could actually stand up and even walk around all sides. I learned a lot in that first day and feel much more comfortable with the engine now, but wish I'd spent the $$ for the full 3 day course. They augment the basic information and techniques with helpful hints for making things easier. We're both glad that we don't have the turbo charged version. The additional horsepower doesn't seem to be worth the added complexity.

Neal will be adding his observations soon.

The Last Roadtrip

October 25, 2006
by Mary

It rained all the way from Tracy's Landing, MD to Windham, NH as we drove to my son's home on 10/20. Trees are in their fall spendor, but the scenic route along the Hudson River wasn't nearly as scenic in the rain so we abandoned the rest of the "scenic" plan and just rode the interstates. We haven't seen Jim's family for a couple of years so it was great to be together for even a short time. Nathan is a great little guy and smart as a whip, of course. Betty's folks joined us on Saturday and Betty served mussels and lobsters, Yummmmmmmmmmm. We stayed only until Sunday when we drove to New Jersey to attend diesel school.

Click on an image to see a larger version


Still in Maryland

November 20, 2006
by Mary

Now that we're ready, we're waiting for weather. The plan to leave the marina on Nov 19th was thwarted by low water. Saturday morning we were sitting firmly on the bottom in our slip. On the high tide we moved to a slip farther down the dock to be in deeper water and ready to take off on Sunday morning. Then our neighbor came back in from the bay and told us that he saw very shallow water in the channel leading out. We motored out a little way and sure enough we hit the bottom in the channel. Plan B was to head out today (the 20th) and then we looked at the weather. There's a big storm brewing off the Carolinas that is forecast to hang around the coast for a few days and bring gale force winds up into the Chesapeake. We'd be heading right into it if we left today. So here we are hoping to get out on Thursday or Friday and checking all the weather websites frequently. Weather Underground has great marine weather info. Thursday is Thanksgiving and I'll really be thankful if we can finally get going.

It's been a hectic few weeks. We've sorted through the excess stuff we brought and have discarded enough so that what's left will fit on the boat. We still have far too much. We decided to try to provision for 6 months even though we're going no farther than the Bahamas this winter. I don't normally do much menu planning so this was quite a challenge. This is an experiment where we figure that we'll make our biggest mistakes while we're still relatively close to home. In the spring when we're back on the east coast we'll be able to make corrections. We also wanted to get a lot of the heavy stuff while we still had a car to get us to Costco and Sam's Club. It's been interesting. A 6 month's supply of kitty litter is a lot. So is the cat food. Having read that we should have all of our paper goods before we get to the Bahamas because of the expense there, we also had to figure out where to stow six months of TP and paper towels. The vacuum sealer really got a workout.

Mary in the "basement" stowing stuff

We sold my beloved Celica to Carmax. They advertise that they offer Kelley Blue Book value, and they do. It was a very easy transaction. We got around using a rental car until we returned that on Saturday in anticipation of leaving on Sunday.

We've enjoyed our stay here. It is a beautiful area and Annapolis is a great town. We've particularly enjoyed getting together with our friends Lana and Robert Lohe. Thanks, guys for your great company and very helpful local knowledge. My original gripes about being so far from everything diminished as we got accustomed to having to make a trek to do anything and we found some favorite restaurants. An interesting side note is that this is the only place I've enjoyed listening to sports talk radio - not all of it, but one program in particular. In the past I've tolerated sports talk because Neal likes listening to it in the car. But here I've gotten so that I actually want to listen to the John Thompson show. He's a Hall of Fame college basketball coach who has a well rounded show with two equally professional and knowledgeable cohorts and who has the prestige to get the best guests. Imagine a sports talk show that isn't just ranting and raving opinionated self-appointed experts. What a concept!!!

I guess we'll get accustomed to waiting for weather.


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