S/V Delilah

A Blog to track the wanderings of the S/V Delilah, a 37-foot Tayana sailboat.

Friday, June 29, 2007

NYC Fun Times

Here Jill is surrounded by trash in NYC.


Look what parked on top of us at our marina! Zounds! Yikes!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Home Sweet Home (or Boat for Sale)

Tuesday, June 26
Boston Waterboat Marina
66 Long Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

N 42 degrees, 21.642 minutes
W 071 degrees, 02.912 minutes

602 days, 16 countries (countless islands), 3 languages, and roughly 7,500 miles later, Delilah is back where she started, plugged in, rinsed off, and patiently awaiting the real scrubbing she has earned by getting us home safely. Yes, we miss the Caribbean, but we are happy to be home. Yes, we are suffering culture shock, but there's nothing like watching Derek and Wally's condiment-squirting fight at Aunt Bernie's pool party to put the importance of home and family in context. (What I actually mean by "context" you can decide for yourself.)

We had a great time in New York with Amanzi. Kim had never been to the city before, so we hit all the major sites, and walked for miles, enjoying Chinatown, Times Square, SoHo, Greenwich Village, and Central Park and gawking at all the people—more people, perhaps, than we saw the whole time we cruised outside the U.S.

I really knew the trip was coming to an end when we hit Beaufort, but once we got to Long Island Sound, there really didn't seem to be any point to dragging our feet any longer. We gave up sailing in order to make best speed toward New England, and so our last few days at sea were full of the sound of our droning engine, and my droning on and on about how COLD it is up here (okay, it's 90-something degrees on the boat as I type this, but LAST week we were wearing long underwear and fleece). We had long days on the move, using every minute of daylight, and occasionally dodging theatrical thunderstorms off Rhode Island and Cape Cod. We caught one last fish, a bluefish, which we grilled for dinner, and on our second-to-last day at sea, Buzzard's Bay gave us a typically rowdy welcome home.

We spent our final night at a mooring in the Harbor Islands, admiring Boston from a distance. On Sunday we attempted to sail to our marina, figuring it's really pathetic to motor those last five miles. But after tacking and tacking our way into NW winds with the tide against us and increasing in velocity, we lost patience.

What next? Well, Dean and I both need to find jobs very soon, but maybe we can squeeze one last cruise in, up to Maine for a week or two, before we go back to work and Delilah, our means of escape and our home for more than five years, goes up for sale.

Stand by for some final photos.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Who's cuter than Malcolm? Nobody, that's who!

NCY Images

Here we have the Statue of Liberty. You can sail VERY close to her...
And Dean, bundled up. It's been getting fairly cool, sailing through the night.

NYC, Baby!

Monday, June 18
New York, New York
N 40 degrees, 47.369 minutes
W 073 degrees, 59.036 minutes

How do you stay in Manhattan for only $30 per night? Sail on up the Hudson to the 79th Street Boat Basin and pick up one of their transient moorings. That’s where we are today, following a 51-hour sail (okay, motorsail) up the coast from Norfolk.

Grudgingly, I apologize to all of you armchair adrenaline junkies who seem to think our last few passage blogs, and especially Joe’s blog, were the “best ever.” Does fearing for one’s life really make for great writing? Well, our last two long passages (up the ICW from Beaufort to Norfolk and along the coast to New York) have been fairly uneventful, even tedious at times. We did, of course, have more engine troubles along the Waterway, but having the engine stop cold at an awkward moment is becoming routine. I hardly swear at all anymore when it happens.

In Norfolk we said goodbye to our good friends on Carapan and Indra. Since April we’ve sailed well over a thousand miles with these boats, sharing meals and anchorages, swapping favorite sundowner recipes for dominoes lessons, and always planning where we might like to go next. We were sad to go our own way, but both boats were continuing up the Chesapeake to Annapolis, while we had planned a nice long visit with Tina, Ian, and Malcolm (not to mention their shower, laundry, and kitchen facilities). We picked a great time to visit, as there were all sorts of celebrations going on in the area, including a parade of tall ships and one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen. We also ate countless pulled pork sandwiches at Doumar’s, and I had my first pedicure in 2 years (yes, I gave a healthy tip to the poor, smiling woman who worked on my calloused toes).

Weather delayed our departure a few days, and I don’t know how Tina and Ian felt about the house guests who wouldn’t leave, but I was thrilled to stay a little longer, visiting with Tina’s mom and awaiting the long-delayed arrival of Amanzi, who have suffered their share of adventures on the passage up from Cuba.

Kim and David arrived Thursday afternoon and helped us all celebrate Dean’s birthday, for which I had unselfishly baked a cake from scratch. Over the next 24 hours, they persuaded us to sail up to New York with them (Dean, having sworn for the 3rd time never to do another overnight passage, was pushing for a 3-day journey straight to Block Island).

Saturday morning at 7, we pulled up our anchors, and we ate Amanzi’s wake all the way here. Now we are supposed to be napping and cleaning our boats before we head into the city to see how fast we can spend the rest of our cruising kitty (all 47 cents of it). I am too excited to sleep. I swear the Statue of Liberty waved hello to me as we entered the harbor.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Joe's Guest Blog

A five day cruise aboard Delilah at first sounded like a good idea. In truth, it turned out to be a death-defying, 92 hour, 1 long day @ sea, living at a 45 degree angle and eating beef raviolis out of the can for every meal experience.

I began to have my doubts as I boarded the Yellow Air Taxi in Fort Lauderdale. The yellow Cessna looked like it had seen its day. As I looked out over the wing on my side, there were rivets, screws, and hatches missing. I assured myself the plane was safe because they fly in it all the time, right? They wouldn’t let people in it if it wasn’t safe, right? Well, we got off the ground OK, took a sharp left @ about 20 feet and flew right over the terminal @ roof top level. They do this all the time, right? As we headed for Treasure Cay, there was a terrific headwind which made for a bumpy and slow flight. Landing @ Treasure Key about 90 minutes later, the pilot turned towards the runway, those headwinds were now at our side, and the plane wanted to land sideways. It was a white knuckle landing, and I was very glad to have touched down. I had no idea this was only to clear customs and we would have to take off and land again. Taking off was worse! It was down the runway, up and an instant bucking bronco ride, going sideways and bouncing all over the place. The pilot must have thought it would be amusing to buzz his friend's house @ the tip of the cay, smiling like a madman, he turned to me and said, “If they ask why we were so low, we will tell them there was a plane above us HA HA HA!" Well we landed alright, same thing, sideways, but at least that was the last time. I thought to myself, at least I’ll be taking the boat back, that will be much safer.

Dean was at the dock waiting for me: it was good to see him. Jill greeted me at the boat; it was good to see her as well.

After a couple of days waiting for the weather to settle, Dean said it was time to go; Sunday, about noon, we headed north. It was very unsettling for me, being a power boat guy, to have 10’ seas at our beam, and 20+ knot winds. We're going to turn around, right? Dean assured me that the boat would not capsize. Although the rail was in the water, and the sink was filling with seawater, Dean continued to assure me that the boat would not capsize, something about 4 tons of lead, big keel, blah, blah, blah. He also said that if it does flip, it will quickly right itself. Well, that made me feel better!

For the next 30 hours or so, we pounded north, rail in the water, and Jill bailing out the sink, each of us doing 3 hour watches at the helm with this crazy gizmo doing the steering. I still don’t know how it worked. I pondered over it for hours on watch, I didn’t want to appear stupid, but I asked Dean anyway, he mumbled something about the wind, the rudder, and ropes all over the place. It made this noise like everything was going to pop any minute. Dean was right again though, it really worked, kept us on course, despite the wind and seas, but I still can’t figure out how.

The first night at sea, the seas still about ten feet, wind still howling at our beam, I could only lie in the cockpit, tethered to the floor, with that steering contraption singing its song. Going below was difficult, I certainly couldn’t sleep down there. When I did go below to use the head, I ended up slamming my head on something, I don’t know what, but I saw stars, groping in the dark to see if my ear was still attached. It wasn’t until things calmed down, days later, that I admitted to Jill it was my blood on her pillow.

By the second night at sea, things really calmed down, it started out a beautiful, calm moonlight night. I was on the midnight to three watch, and really enjoying myself. Dean and Jill were sleeping below, and I thought things were great until I saw the squall line up on the horizon. At first it only rained a little, then a little more, then came the winds. It wasn’t too bad, not as bad as before anyway. That was when I heard this noise straight out of the movie White Squall, this incredible gust of wind from nowhere came and heeled the boat over, like nothing I had felt before. My feet were on the port gunnel, and I was grasping for the starboard rail. I swear I was standing straight up and down. The boat seemed to stay there forever. JILLLLLLLLLL……!!!! I SHOUTED IN PANIC. She peaked her head out and said, “Looks like we have a little squall, I don’t think it will get any worse, but if it does, wake me up." And with that, she went back to bed. Well! I was terrified, but shook it off. The squall settled down, but it took the rest of my watch to calm down. I spent the second night at sea, tethered to the floor in the cockpit, wondering how they would handle my obituary in the Town Crier. I was sure I would not survive this trip.

The remainder of the trip was quite uneventful, seas were calm, life was good. With the exception of a couple of minor engine problems, drifting into a flotilla of warships, and catching an excellent mahi mahi, things were pretty routine.

When dawn broke on the fifth day, I was still in the cockpit, feeling like I was in Water World. But today we would see land, and eat some real food.

All in all, it was a great trip, and I would like to thank Dean and Jill for including me in their crew. It was an adventure I will never forget. I learned many things. I learned the basics of sailing, I learned what the sails and all the other stuff are called. I learned that the boat will not flip over, but if it does, it will quickly right itself. I learned that in Marsh Harbour, there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. I also learned that if you drift into a flotilla of warships, they will get out of your way. I learned the Delilah is a great boat, seaworthy and sound, with an excellent captain and crew. Most importantly, I learned that although sailing is fun, I will keep my diesel powered sport fisherman, and when the rail of the Capt. Easy goes in the water, I’ll know it’s time to turn around and head for port.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Check These Out

It's Big Daddy Wesley's, in Beaufort. Fishing bait, beer, and boiled peanuts (in season, apparently). Then, Dean is getting the Q flag ready for entering the U.S. after a year and a half. Lastly, Mae Mae surfs the web in Abaco.

Here we see the lighthouse at Abaco and Jill's parents. Notice the coconut hat on Mr. Martyn. Nice.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Landfall Happiness

Look how happy Joe is to see land. Dean is getting ready to hoist the Q flag.

The South

I love the south. In Beaufort, we asked the manager of the marina where we could find a propane solenoid. He told us where to go, but it was a fair ways off. He offered to loan us this car. No signing of forms. No checking of licenses. Just please replace the gas you use. Nice.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tardy Guest Blog

Mary’s and Jack’s Visit, May 2007:

It took a Continental 737, a 20-seater Gulfstream and a ferry ride to reach Jill and Dean on Elbow Cay, a small island in the Abacos. But there was herself, wearing a straw hat and sunglasses and looking like a native of West Palm Beach which we had left just two hours before, and Dean relaxed and tanned, carefully guiding the dinghy alongside the dock.

We had a fun visit with the two sailors (sorry, cruisers) on this small island 6-1/2 mile long and only one-quarter mile wide in some parts. It’s lovely there, with many, mostly deserted, beaches to choose from. There are just a few walkways through the little village of Hopetown, where all the houses are painted pastel colors and flowers are everywhere. You park your rented golf cart at the appointed area at the edge of the village and meander around to perhaps Iggy Biggys to pick up a gift or two, or have lunch at Captain Jack’s.

Our cottage, which Rose found on the internet after much searching, provided the fun advantage, that as we sat at our breakfast table, we could observe Delilah at anchor out in White Sound, and spy through our binoculars as they took their dingy into “our” dock. Jill cooked freshly caught (by Dean) Mahi Mahi with coconut rice and veggies for our first island meal. After that, we enjoyed the mostly waterside restaurants.

An excursion to the lighthouse provided splendid views all around and gave us a sense of where some of the Abaco islands are in relation to Elbow Cay.

Many thanks for the opportunity, Jill and Dean, and safe sailing, as you continue north towards home, to complete your fantastic trip.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Passage Notes

Saturday, June 2, 2007
Beaufort, North Carolina
N 34 degrees, 42.919 minutes
W 076 degrees, 39.826 minutes

I've been tardy in this blog. There's really not much you can do about it though, is there?

I think we already mentioned that our friend Joe came along to help us out on our longest offshore ever on Delilah. We picked Joe up in the Abacos, then waited a few days in howling winds for somewhat suitable (but promising to get better) weather, then headed out for our 500-mile, four-day journey to the U.S., taking us right smack through the Bermuda Triangle.

Things began on a minor down note: Saturday night, the night before we left, our propane solenoid packed it up in the middle of cooking dinner. I fiddled with it for a few hours, but it was broken beyond repair and we therefore had no hot food or drink for the entire trip. I made do with Pop-Tarts, jill with PBJ, and Joe with cold ravioli from a can. Really pretty disgusting, but we didn't starve, and four days is not long enough for scurvy to set in.

Overall, I really can't complain about the trip. Sunday we had some sort of favorable current, combined with plenty of wind, which gave us an unheard-of speed of 8 knots for the first day. We had reasonable weather for most of the trip (wind and seas were pretty rough the first two days; we knew they would be when we left, though Joe might have something else to say about that in his blog). Joe was there to help with the watches, which made such an enormous difference I can't begin to explain it). Two other boats left with us (Indra and Carapan). Our windvane did all the steering for the first two days, when maneuvering in heavy seas and high winds at a high angle of heel would have been most exhausting. However, as is probably inevitable on such a long journey, there were a few vexations and a few strange happenings.

On Tuesday, our third day, smack in the middle of nowhere, we saw a strange object off our port beam. We watched it for over an hour, puzzling over its strange shape. At first we thought it was a cruise ship, but as it got closer we realized it wasn't so much a vessel as a fuel platform...a MOVING fuel platform...headed, wait a minute...headed straight for us! Because there was no discernable bow or stern on this thing, and because it took so long for it to approach, it took until we could read the writing along its side for us to see the bow wave and realize that the Saipan 7000 was actually underway. Jill ran down and hailed the vessel, who assured us that we would pass astern (ah, the joy of radar, which we don't have). We altered course to assure ourselves the same.

Tuesday night we realized that our masthead tricolor was broken. That's our navigational light, which tells other vessels in the area which direction we are going (after altering them to our presence, of course). Not a good thing. Luckily, we have deck-level lights, but they are not nearly as visible in big seas. Luckily, we had no big seas. Then our steaming light broke. This light tells other vessels when we are under power so the appropriate rules of the road can be followed. Not a huge deal, but still.

On our third night, things got very strange. At three a.m., when most of the excitement seems to happen, Joe and I spotted an emergency flare while about 80 miles off the coast of N.C. and 180 miles from our destination. I went through the proper motions (putting a waypoint in the GPS, calling the Coast Guard, getting out the spotlight, etc.), but after searching for over an hour we decided to proceed on our journey. I think we made the correct call, but of course there's always the worry that some poor people were out there in a life raft...

Our decision was based on a few factors. First, the Coast Guard had been receiving many, many flare sightings over the past few days. Some of these were no doubt meteors (Jill saw one not 15 minutes after I saw the flare), but still... Also, the Coast Guard was not sure that the military wasn't on exercises (they were indeed on exercises, we found out later). The flare appeared green to me, and distress flares are not green. I could not be sure how far away the flare was when I saw it; another boat radioed the Coast Guard and he was 20 miles or so from our position. Finally, there were absolutely no visual reference points, which made searching very difficult. I practically pleaded with the Coast Guard to tell me what to do, and their response was basically to keep our eyes open. This was a very unnerving happening.

While motorsailing on Wednesday, our fourth day at sea, moments after Joe had caught a fish, as Jill was crouched next to the engine compartment, cleaning up the sea water that had leaked into the boat and mingled with the spilled nastiness leaking from the fridge (which is another story, one you have heard before), she noticed that the water seemed to be coming from another area entirely--the engine itself.

With fish guts all over the cockpit and a freshening wind, we had a lot going on in the cockpit, but I traded the helm with Jill and went down to investigate. It didn't take long to find the problem. Our raw water hose was on the verge of splitting wide open, and salt water was leaking everywhere. Had we not caught this in time, the hose would have failed, salt water would have leaked from the engine, the engine would have overheated, and our repairs could have become decidedly more complicated. In this case, however, we had the spare part and were able to replace the hose in a few minutes, but I was tired enough that I forgot to reopen the raw water valve. Duh. Luckily, I noticed that no water was coming from the exhaust and shut the engine down AGAIN before it overheated. Nice move.

Then there was Wednesday night, our fourth and final night at sea. Once again, in the middle of the night, the wind faded to nothing, so I turned on the engine. It ran for a minute, then died. Fuel filters. On Delilah, you can hear the noise the engine makes when it's not getting enough fuel. We have plenty of fuel in the tank, so we knew it was the fuel filters. This is a nasty business, replacing fuel our filters at sea. I won't go into details, but the whole process took two hours of bending over a compartment below our V-berth. I had to fight off puking the entire time, became covered in diesel fuel, got diesel all over the floor and walls belowdecks, etc.

Jill came below to help, and we had left Joe at the helm. To ease the motion, we hove to, which means that Delilah was basically drifting slowly through the water, with no way of steering her. Joe was under orders to touch nothing. But we were 50 miles from land, the seas were calm, and the wind was light. What could possibly go wrong?

My mood was not the greatest when Joe happened to call down for Jill. At that moment we were in the middle of a delicate fuel transfer, so she asked Joe what it was and couldn't it wait. Joe replied, "They're are all around us!" I asked who and he replied, "There are BOATS all around us. They have no lights on. We're going to drift into them!" I began to figure out how we were going to restrain Joe for the rest of the passage, as he had clearly lost his mind and begun hallucinating.

Jill and I went up, and we could just basically make out the silhouettes, but to my amazement, WE WERE SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF A BUNCH OF WARSHIPS THAT WERE RUNNING IN TIGHT FORMATION WITH NO LIGHTS ON WHATSOEVER. And obviously, several had already had to move out of our way. Gadzooks! It was only then that I remembered that we had shut down most of the electrical systems to conserve battery power, including the VHF. I quickly turned it on and basically said: "Uhhhh. This is Delilah. Our radio has been off, if anybody cares." A little more professionally, but not much. Very quickly came the response, "This is Warship 78 off your port bow. Please turn to starboard immediately." So, we did and a few minutes later were out of the battle group. I have to say, the Navy was pretty nice about our boneheaded move, and at no time did anybody appear to be pointing any guns at us or threatening our civil liberties.

Well, we got the fuel fliter changed, made it back to land early Thursday morning with no further adventures, splurged on a slip at the marina, were checked into the U.S. by the nicest Customs guy ever, drank champagne with our friends to celebrate, and were in fairly euphoric moods for the next day or so. Today, Dave Rollins showed up in the cockpit at 7AM. He had said he'd come visit, but due to my legendary poor planning ability, combined with the uncertainty of sea travel and the sporadic communications mechanisms available to me, I never really told him exactly where we were. He came anyway and hunted us down (to the point of almost renting a kayak to paddle around the boats anchored in the harbor). We had a blast with him and Allison (Dave went to school here one summer, and so he played guide), but they had to leave that afternoon.

We had planned to move to a mooring today to save money, but none are available, as the remains of Barry are threatening high winds tomorrow (Sunday). We will proceed north as soon as conditions warrant.