Bye bye, sweet Keeto.

A day or two after I left for Charleston, in one of our phone calls, Monte gave me the sad news that our sweet Keeto bird had died. We had been keeping an eye on him for the last year or so, as he seemed to tire out quite a bit after flying around, and sleep more and more. We took him to the vet for a checkup, and he was given a clean bill of health. But last Monday he went down to the bottom of the cage, laid down, and flew his spirit away. That little bird had the biggest personality. We are both so terribly sad.

Buon viaggio!

We moved Trident to her slip Friday, just an hour or two before a hellacious storm front moved through. We were rocking and rolling at night, but we were safely tied up in the marina. It’s been raining here ever since.

We were so fortunate with the weather window that we had for the prior 2 weeks. We really had no crazy weather to speak of while we were on the move. Thanks mom! 🙂

We walked around in the rain on Saturday just because it was the only day I had to explore the town. We visited a couple art galleries and wine bars and uber-ed home, falling asleep while watching Master and Commander for the millionth time.

Nibblies!

Today is Sunday, and I’m flying home. Happy to close the book on another adventure with my sailing sister. I’m looking forward to spending a new summer on Nirvana with Monte.

Day 12. Arrival Day.

We had a short day on Thursday, arriving in Annapolis around 12:30PM. The city has a mooring field in front of the US Naval Academy, and we grabbed one of the balls for the night. Mission accomplished – or nearly. Tomorrow we will move Trident into a slip in a marina. Lori will keep the boat here until November.

Annapolis mooring field

Annapolis is called the sailing capital of the United States, and they aren’t kidding. Lots of sailboats here of all shapes and sizes. We watched the J boat fleets head out into the harbor for a regatta.

J-boat races

This is Easterner, built in 1958, and competed in the America’s Cup Defender series in 1958, 1962, and 1964. That mahogany hull is beautiful.

Harbor cruise on a schooner…

We took a water taxi to the city dock and walked around the quaint downtown, then enjoyed dinner on-board.

We have arrived!

Days 9 through 11.

We picked up the anchor at sunrise Monday morning and enjoyed some good sailing across Albemarle Sound and Currituck Sound.

Lunch nibblies aboard

We hit the last bridge openings before rush hour and tied up at Atlantic Yacht Basin in time to watch the local rowing club practice alongside us.

For dinner we biked to a fantastic Italian restaurant for a delicious meal ashore.

Yummmmm

Tuesday morning we caught the 7AM bridge opening at Great Bridge and followed the parade of boats and geese into the lock beyond the bridge for the one foot rise in water level between the canal and the Elizabeth River beyond it.

We reached mile marker 0 of the ICW in Norfolk and kept going on past it and into Chesapeake Bay for some more good sailing. We anchored in the Piankatank River, on the west side of Chesapeake Bay for the night.

Sunset on the Piankatank River

Wednesday we picked up anchor at sunrise again, trying to get as far north as possible before sunset.

We crossed into Maryland before noon, and raced a thunderstorm into our anchorage at the Choptank River on the east side of the bay.

We made it before the rain and high winds came, and watched the full moon rise after the storm passed.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we will arrive at our destination. Annapolis, here comes Trident and her crew!

Days 4 through 8.

We left Winyah Bay Wednesday morning with E to ESE winds predicted which would make for a great sail around Frying Pan Shoals. But… while you can buy weather guidance, you can’t buy good weather. Turns out the wind was not as predicted at all, it was out of the NNE, exactly the direction we wanted to go. And the seas were big enough to slow us down if we tried to motor directly into them. So, we sailed some big tacks to make more headway than motoring. FINALLY after rounding Frying Pan Shoals the winds did eventually turn out of the east, about 1 or 2 AM, so we were able to sail nicely after that. While the wind has not always been cooperative, the weather has been beautiful.

We made it to Cape Lookout by about 4PM Thursday afternoon, and anchored in a beautiful spot in the bight in front of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. We grilled up some salmon for dinner and got a good night’s rest.

Cape Lookout Light, North Carolina.

Friday we motored into Beaufort Inlet and stayed at a marina for the night. We were able to do some laundry, take a nice land shower, and restock some provisions.

Wild horses on Shackleford Banks, entering Beaufort, North Carolina (they’re there, trust me)

Saturday morning we biked to the local farmer’s market and scored some basil, which will be good for a pizza night on the boat. Then we left the marina and headed up the Intracoastal Waterway for the remainder of the trip. Neither one of us fancies going around Cape Hatteras with a crew of two. Going from Charleston to Beaufort on the outside allowed us to miss all the shallow, shifting shoal areas of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. So we’ve got that going for us. 🙂

Mmmm, Basil.

Saturday we crossed the Neuse River and anchored overnight in the Bay River.

Pretty sky leaving the Bay River.

Today, Sunday, we cross the Pamlico Sound, and head up the Pungo and Alligator Rivers, and will anchor overnight on the south side of Albemarle Sound. We should be in Chesapeake, Virgina by tomorrow night.

A pair of bald eagles watching us watching them.

Days 1, 2, and 3.

We left Seabrook, South Carolina, on Sunday morning, taking the ICW to Charleston. We spent an hour or two getting fuel and a pump out, and then picked a spot in Charleston Harbor to anchor for the night.

Sunset at Charleston Harbor

Monday morning we left at first light, headed for Winyah Bay. We sailed on the outside with wind pretty close on our nose. We anchored near Georgetown Light.

Today, Tuesday, we are opting to stay at anchor for another day, as the weather offshore will be more favorable for where we want to go. The wind should shift from the NE to the East tomorrow making it easier to sail on a NE heading.

We’ll leave tomorrow for an overnight to Cape Lookout. More later.

Some TLC.

I realized that I haven’t posted in a while, which just isn’t like me. But I’ve been pretty occupied of late. I’ll see if I can remedy that going forward. Today we visited our lovely boat, who has been pulled from the water and is in the queue for a well-deserved bottom job. She’s out of her element, but doesn’t she look good in all that lovely Captain Navy Sunbrella?! I cannot wait for the work to be completed.

This is such a wonderful sailboat to sail and spend time on. We’ve had her for nine years and enjoyed her immensely. I look forward to the summer of 2021!

Two more canvas projects.

Last year one of the catboat’s trailer tires wore out, due mostly to UV damage, and sitting on the dirt. It now has a new set of radials, for which Monte requested covers.

Today I got around to making them, out of captain navy sunbrella. Voila! The squirrels better not mess with these!

Project #2 was a new grill cover for S/V Trident’s Magma grill out of forest green sunbrella reclaimed from one of Lori’s old dodger window cover panels.

Now I guess I have no more excuses to keep me from finishing my taxes…

Clean socks!

A couple of days ago, I observed over the course of a few hours Monte coming in from his shop project du jour, going into the laundry room, swearing, and then going back out to the shop. This happened at least three times. I finally asked him what was up. He said he was just trying to do a load of laundry because he needed a clean pair of socks. But the washing machine wasn’t cooperating. Every time he came in the machine had stopped, unlocked the door and the laundry inside was drenched.

Having fixed one of our washing machine problems a little over a year ago myself (a leaking rubber door gasket), I decided to try and figure out what was wrong this time.

The symptoms:

  • the wash cycle would not complete
  • it would start filling the tub, putting way more water in than I have ever noticed before, up to about 6″ up from the bottom of the door window.
  • at 45 minutes left in the wash cycle, it would stop filling, unlock the door, and blink the start/pause light
  • a 12 minute drain and spin cycle would sometimes work to drain the tub. Sometimes not.

After doing some research online, and messing around with the washer for a bit, I thought we had at least 2 problems:

  • the drain pump, which empties the tub and sends the water out the drain hose into the wall, was not working consistently. I took that out and Monte hooked it up in the shop to a switch, and sure enough, it would only turn on about 2 out of 10 tries.
  • the water level switch hose (a rubber 3/8″ hose) had a hole in it, which prevented the fill computer from correctly detecting the level of the water in the tub. Wear on that hose can happen over time from abrasion against the side of the washer tub and housing.

The website AppliancePartsPros.com is great resource for how-to videos, and also to follow discussion threads from other DIYers.

Our washing machine is a 12-year old GE Model WCVH6800J1WW. The 2 parts we needed were the drain pump (part #WH23X10028), and water level switch hose (part #WH41X10129). I ordered certified GE OEM replacement parts. The fix was easy, requiring only a phillips screwdriver and some pliers.

The two videos I watched to understand how to replace the parts I ordered were:

The first load just finished, and we finally have clean socks!

Irish dinner.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I whipped up a lovely corned beef dinner, that I think even my Limerick-born dad would have enjoyed. Instead of cabbage, I opted for Brussels sprouts; they’re like tiny cabbages 🙂

Sláinte!

Bloody good.

As a young person, I began donating blood as soon as I was old enough. It was just what you were supposed to do. And I felt good about it.

About 20 years ago, the United States FDA imposed new restrictions on who can donate blood, in response to fears from the mad cow disease outbreak in the 80s and 90s. At that time, the spread to humans resulted in 200+ cases of the deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which was linked to consuming tainted meat from the UK. I lived overseas as a kid, and it just so happens that my situation placed me into the CANNOT DONATE category, making me ineligible to donate blood when the new rules were implemented around 2002. It also rendered ineligible practically any member and family member of the US Armed Forces or US embassy/mission workers that served in Europe in the 1990s if their commissary sourced meat from the UK. So many potential donors were summarily blocked from giving blood!

I learned recently that the FDA finally relaxed those restrictions last year, along with a number of other eligibility criteria, in light of blood shortages during the pandemic lock down. You can see the full announcement here. Through the second half of 2020, individual localities worked to implement the less restrictive rules in their donor screening. As of the end of 2020, my blood donor location, weareblood.org, incorporated the new rules.

I’m happy to report that I resumed my donations today after nearly two decades! It wasn’t easy, it took me about 3 months of contacting the blood bank people to get back on the “eligible to donate” list. As you can imagine, there is a huge backlog of donors who are eligible again and want to donate.

Please consider being a blood donor. There are not many ways ordinary citizens can save lives. This is one.

If you are not sure where to donate in your area, the American Red Cross can help you locate a place near you, see this link.

Birthday boy.

Happy birthday, Monte! Julie and Ryan brought their vaccinated selves over last night for a lovely dinner of steak and risotto, to celebrate with us. After dinner, we had cake and ice cream, and wii-ed a bit. 🙂