Monday, September 28, 2009

Heading North to Go South

There’s a joke in southern Florida that, if you want to get to the South, you have to go north. We’re feeling a bit like that now because, in our journey south, we had to head north from Cape May up Delaware Bay to get to Chesapeake Bay. In reality, you can head down the coast to get to the southern end of Chesapeake Bay, bypassing Delaware Bay entirely, but we wanted to be near Annapolis, at the northern end of the Chesapeake, so north we went. There’s a canal that runs through the Cape May peninsula, which our friends on Celebration took when they were here. We figured that if they made it, with their deeper draft and higher mast, then we could make it. And so we did, although to make the incoming tide that would push us up the bay, we had to get up at 3 AM and be off the hook at 4 AM. Anne stood on the foredeck with the Q-beam (spotlight) to pick out the channel markers and banks of the canal. Going aground is bad; going aground in the dark is worse. On the upside (according to Annie the Optimist, there’s ALWAYS an upside), our early start allowed us to arrive at the C&D Canal (between the Chesapeake and Delaware bays) about 12:30 PM, just in time to take advantage of the tide ebbing through the canal toward the Chesapeake. Woo hoo! Timing is everything. We anchored in the Sassafras River in northern Chesapeake Bay just in time for happy hour and dinner. More good timing!

Delaware Bay was busy during our transit, with many large ships, like those pictured above, traveling up and down the channel. At least they waited until day time, when they’re much easier to see. As much as we love our radar, actually seeing a behemoth bearing down on you in the light is more comforting than imagining it in the dark.

Block Island to Cape May

We spent a day in Cape May, socked in by inclement weather, then headed out at noon the next day for a passage to Cape May. We spent the first day and night motor-sailing nicely along the southern coast of Long Island. It took us nearly the entire next day to cross the mouth of New York Harbor. The winds were on our nose and opposed the incoming swells, creating waves that smacked into the bow, cutting our speed by half. But we were along the Jersey shore before dusk, and made our way south during the second night, reaching Cape May at dawn. We had a good wind just before our landfall, which made for nice sailing. Since I blogged a bunch of Cape May pictures when we last were here, I’ll just leave you with a picture of a beautiful sunrise at the Cape May anchorage.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to Block Island

Our original plan when we left Provincetown at 6:00 am on Tuesday morning was to catch the ebbing tide through the Cape Cod Canal (you don’t want to run the canal with an opposing tide) and stop at Onset, on the west end of the canal. But it was only 11:00 when we exited the canal, and the weather was beautiful and the tide with us, so we kept on down Buzzards Bay, out into Rhode Island Sound and on to Block Island. Although the light wind was on our nose for much of the trip, about dusk, a slight front caught us and gave us a brisk southerly breeze that we used to surf at nearly seven knots to Block Island. What a difference from July. On our first trip, the harbor was packed, but now, there were only two other boats anchored and a half dozen moored. In New England, the “summer” really ends with Labor Day, and the weather abruptly changed to fall-like with the holiday, too. At least it leaves us with lots of room to drag…er, stretch. Here’s a picture of a beautiful wooden power boat (take note, Captain Bivalve, if you ever get tired of sailing!) that passed us going up Buzzards Bay.

A Wonderful Wave-Through

When we were coming north in July, my (Anne's) sister, Linda, and her kids came to the Cape Cod Canal to welcome us. Now we’re heading back south, and two of my sisters, Linda (on the right) and Karen, came to wave us through the canal. It was a beautiful day, and it was soooo great to see them. The hardest thing about leaving New England is that I miss my family.

If You Want To Do Your Own Bottom Job…

…perhaps you should check out Provincetown. Here’s a boat hauled out on a frame meant just for that purpose. Pretty cool, and a very thoughtful nod to sailors who have been coasting along these waters for hundreds of years.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shelling Has Nothing On Stoning

One thing that New England beaches have in abundance is beautiful and interesting stones. Here are a few that we found on Long Point, at the tip of Cape Cod across the harbor from Provincetown.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Our first stop on our way south was Provincetown, which is on the very tip of Cape Cod. Although it’s about a 100-mile drive from Scituate, it’s less than 30 miles by boat. You can usually see P-town for most of the trip, but we had fog and ¼- to ½-mile visibility. Have I told you that we love our radar? Visibility cleared as we got into the harbor, which is broad and deep and protected from all directions. Moorings fill the area behind the breakwater (immediately in front of town) and beyond the Coast Guard station, but we found a site just outside the mooring field in about 20 feet of water. And what water – perfectly clear and slightly green (it’s a nutrient-rich green, not pollution green)! We haven’t seen water this clear since the Keys, although Chris thought it a bit chilly (that’s an understatement) when he went in in a shorty to clean off the prop.

This is a great stop. Great protection, long beaches to walk on, and an interesting town. Provincetown was the area where the Pilgrims first landed, before they headed across the bay to Plymouth. The Pilgrim Monument is a tower that can be seen from far offshore (see in the picture above). We recommend the museum at its base, as admission ($7) includes access to the tower. It’s built entirely of granite, and along the interior walls are polished blocks with the names of Massachusetts towns and cities and their dates of incorporation (Quincy, 1625). Eat your Wheaties for breakfast, though, as it’s a long climb up lots of stairs and ramps (here’s the view from the bottom of the stairs, but don’t look up before you climb), but the views are so worth it. You can actually see Boston in the distance to the northwest!

Provincetown also has some amazing architecture, like this house that to me resembles a bride, and artwork. How cool is this wharf house, adorned with lovely pictures of old women!

Fall Is Coming, And We’re Migrating South With The Birds

Summer in New England can’t be beat. Although they had lots and lots of rain early in the summer, since mid-July, when we arrived, it’s been warm and sunny most of the time. A far cry from the sweaty heat and humidity of a Florida summer! Chris groused about the cold water as we traveled north, but we’ve gotten in some swimming up here. Also, lots of gardening at Anne’s mother’s house (with no poison ivy!), ball games, and lounging in the sun on the boat and at the beach. We didn’t get to sail around New England as much as we would have liked, but perhaps next summer we can. But now it’s starting to cool down and our nieces and nephews have gone back to school (sorry, kids!), so we’ll head south. We’ve got our camera back now, so we’ll be able to include more pictures.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

My apologies to Monty Python for borrowing their phrase, but it's perfect for describing DragonCon. (Actually, Terry Gilliam and another writer for Monty Python were at the con, but we didn't get to see them.) This is one of largest science-fiction/fantasy conventions in the country, and it's always a ball. For those of you who don't know, Chris is an avid writer of fantasy and science fiction, with four fantasy novels in print and a three-part science-fiction/satire serial in audio-book format (see the previous blog for info on his new book from Dragon Moon Press, Scimitar Moon). Also, Anne is getting in on the action as co-author with Chris on The Cornerstone Trilogy: Book 1 (Zellohar) came out earlier this summer. We've attended lots of conventions to sell the books (here's Chris at his booth), and DragonCon is one of our favorites. It's held in Atlanta, Georgia, every Labor Day weekend, with venues filling the downtown Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton hotels.

One of the great things about DragonCon is the energy...and the views. Tens of thousands of people attend, and probably half of them are in costume. Some are simple, some elaborate; if you have a Facebook page, you can see pictures of some of the great costumes at this link. On Saturday morning, they shut down several blocks of streets in downtown Atlanta for a costume parade, always well-attended, with just about every science-fiction, fantasy, and anime character represented. For example, they have whole squadrons of Star Wars storm troopers, as well as Darth Vaders and Jedi knights. All weekend, people wear their costumes around, and there are areas in each hotel specifically for photographing those in costume. For Lord of the Rings fans, there was a totally awesome Sauron, shown here with Anne. He really was that tall.

Chris participated in several panels at the con, which he really enjoys doing for the interaction with other writers and publishers, as well as guests and fans. Book sales went well, and lots of previous customers returned to find out what new books had had. It's so gratifying when someone comes up and says that they love your work! We met up with our friends, Joe and Kim, from Tampa, whom we miss greatly, and Chris got to meet his Dragon Moon Press editor and cover artist. All in all, a great time!

New Book Release!

We're soooo excited, because Dragon Moon Press just published Chris' new book, Scimitar Moon! This is the cover above. The book debuted Labor Day weekend at DragonCon, which I'll write more about later. Scimitar Moon is a fantasy-pirate story, but as Chris liked to say, these are not "Pirates of the Caribbean" pirates. He got to work into the story both his love of fantasy and his love of sailing on the ocean. What more can you ask for! Sales of the book at the con were great, and we're now working on marketing it to a wider audience. Marketing comes naturally to neither of us, but Chris has come great mentors in Gail Z. Martin (The Chronicles of the Necromancer series) and Jana Oliver (Time Rovers series), both popular fantasy authors, so we've got a good head start! For more information on the book, click here to view Chris' blog.

Back to Blogging

I hadn't realized how much I'd come to rely on my camera and computer. Both crapped out recently, and we've only just gotten them both back into working order, so I can blog again! Now you might say that I could have used Chris' computer to blog, but the screen on my computer bit the big one, so I couldn't even access the blogs I had already written, much less the pictures. Also, it's probably less dangerous to try to take a bone from a rabid dog than to get between Chris and his computer. Anyway, I've got them both back now (cross your fingers that they'll stay fixed), so I'm back (take that as a warning or a threat, your choice)!