Cruising with Footprint

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Summer 2007: General fun and Shake down cruise

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April 2007 – moving aboard

In order to get a schedule that allowed Kyle to have time off to bring Footprint to Norfolk, he had to sacrifice all weekends with Maryanne in April. This ended up with Maryanne and Kyle basically alternating days off, moving things from Prydwen to Footprint (we were fortunate to have a slip nearby free up for a couple of days). Maryanne moved everything from one boat to the other and left everything on Footprint in piles. We then moved away to a further dock and both spent the rest of the month organizing and stowing our possessions. While doing that, Kyle weighed EVERYTHING and found that we had 1830 lb of “stuff”, well below our 3600lb design limit. Whew! (Although tankage and crew would add another 1000lb, and we also have to account for the “extra” stuff installed).

We did manage one weekend of sailing before we unpacked (with boxes aboard everywhere), and went to “deep creek”, a very shallow (I know!) anchorage that we had never before been able to enter. It is a very pretty anchorage, with a working oyster boat populations; full of the classic Chesapeake Bay dead-rise boat (common to the area).

By the end of the month our one final task of cleaning Prydwen was bitter sweet for Kyle. He found himself over two days going through every nook and cranny, cleaning her with care and remembering our many adventures, and how she had taken care of us so well. It was Kyle’s way of giving her a proper good-bye, to ensure she would be clean and ship-shape for the new owner (whoever that may be). She seemed so empty once we had removed all our “stuff”, and was probably the cleanest she had been since we moved aboard – ironic!

May/June 2007

A permanent dock opened on the same dock as Prydwen (but on the opposite side). We moved Footprint there and were able to keep a good eye on both boats. With a less than Ideal work schedule for Kyle (again) it was difficult to find time to sail (although we did manage some day sails). We did manage to go day sailing on a few occasions and our time was spent split pretty evenly between that and entertaining a buyer for Prydwen.

We spotted our first dolphins of the year on May 20th on the Poquoson River – as always a pleasure!

The Prydwen buyer took up a lot of our time and energy, he looked very promising, but kept coming up with more and more conditions for the sale, progressively growing less and less reasonable. We repeatedly went through cycles of providing what he asked, only to be given “one more thing” to resolve before he would sign a contract. Eventually after reaching our limit of patience, no deposit and a modified low-ball offer, we parted ways, remaining the owners of Prydwen. Since we had turned down numerous other potential buyers during these two months it was a particularly depressing experience. Prydwen was officially back on the market.

July 2007

At the start of July we sailed to Kiptopeke, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake bay; anchored near a sandy beach, within shouting range of anyone playing on the beach. (How nice to be able to anchor so shallowly). At night we used the radar alarms to confirm we were not dragging onto the beach, in the morning we woke to a beautiful day and swam to the beach for an exploration of the area. Afterwards we had a fast run home on a broad reach in 6 foot seas and we saw a larger catamaran heading out to sea. As we were sitting on the windward side (starboard) a wave hit and broke into the cockpit – drenching Maryanne who was none too pleased. (Quite a shock). The only time that has happened – and the boat remained stable and comfortable. ON that same trip we noticed quite a few cow-nosed rays that we later learned were migrating – they tended to surf down the waves with their wing tips out of the water – quite a strange sight.

The Norfolk area is a large naval base (the world’s largest!) and we often spot all sorts of HUGE military ships, planes and helicopters – even the odd submarine – plenty to look out for when sailing. The area is patrolled by security vessels (Navy and privately owned) – one wanted to play chicken with us and attempted to run us down – quite a disturbing experience as you might imagine..

July/August 2007

In early July we hit “something hard” in the water. The damage was minor, but with that new boat feeling we agreed to get it repaired at a local boat yard. We took the boat to Portsmouth Boating Center. The stay was much longer than we expected. Repairs required the boat to be hauled out of the water (damage was just at the water line). As the boat was pressure washed, the bottom paint started to flake off. This revealed some of the hull appeared not properly prepared to accept the bottom paint – certainly no good adhesion to the boat – we agreed to strip the bottom paint off, sand the bottom and repaint – given this opportunity we raised the water line 2” to allow for our live aboard weight. During the sanding process several voids were found (areas of poorly impregnated resin, and air bubbles between the layers of fiberglass close to the surface) we fixed these too. In the end the boat spent over 2 weeks in the yard – in the very hot humid July weather (hottest of the year – several days over 100 degrees F, lows always above 90; there was little shade or wind). We made sure the staff had a case of beer to numb the pain! The cost was over $4000 of unexpected bills! Ouch. We later discovered the Port rear cabin bulkhead had broken loose – a repair we then also had to make in September (under warranty this time).

Summer 2007 generally

Kyle’s work schedule became better, we spent every available weekend out with the boat, learning the systems and slowly working through our list of jobs and planned purchases as well as testing systems and procedures. We wanted to do as much as possible before our planned shake down cruise, scheduled for the end of September (traveler, dinghy, radar reflector, satellite phone, etc) we learned many new skills (riveting, etc!). By the end of summer we finally found a legitimate buyer for Prydwen, a wonderful family that we feel sure will be having fun with her for years to come. We were pleased to have the sale finalized before our Shake down cruise for Footprint at the end of September.

Footprint Shake Down Cruise! September/October 2007

Setting off

September 22nd, we left our dock at Ocean Marine at 03:00 – headed for the Atlantic Ocean. With very light winds, we were often moving (!) at around 1kt. By 6am we had barely cleared the other end of the navy base just 8 miles away. Kyle was sailing as Maryanne slept. For ½ hour one of the Navy patrol boats shadowed Kyle – making no contact. Just at the end of the base, a different patrol boat stopped Kyle with sirens blazing – and told him he could not stop in front of the base. Kyle “explained” he was not stopped, but just moving slowly – it was a sailboat and there was little wind! (All this time Kyle was out of any security area – but I guessed his long term presence freaked them out a little). The altercation woke Maryanne early for her watch. We spent most of the day crawling across the Chesapeake Bay at very low speed, attempting to get out of the entrance before the tide turned against us (we didn’t make it). The Atlantic

Once we got into the Atlantic proper, the wind stabilized and allowed us to continue on course. We turned North, towards a point 30 miles seaward of the Delaware bay entrance. A route that we expected to take around 24-30 hours.. things did not work out as planned. The wind did not play nice! The weather was BEAUTIFUL. Kyle was even able to sit the early morning watch in shorts and a t-shirt. The wind slowly increased and shifted to North-East (directly against us) forcing us to bear off and head seaward. This was starting to look like it may be a repeat of our 2004 (sea sick) sail in Prydwen. Rather than beat hard to weather, we slowed the boat and bore off to make the motion comfortable (making little or no ground to our destination – getting further and further off shore). While I (Kyle) was off watch I heard Maryanne on deck and saw her, through the berth windows looking forward, coming forward on deck to reef the sails (4 times in one watch); I was pleased to see her securely attached via jacklines and tether – our family rule! I felt the warm and gratifying feeling of being in the capable hands of the woman I love, watching her work while not knowing I was watching, seeing how skillfully she did everything. I really did marry an amazing woman. For the remaining trip I felt no apprehension or nervousness going off watch and was able to sleep very well.

We spent at least 2 days heading further and further off shore. Each day we communicated by satellite phone internet connection to our respective mothers, confirming we were safe and updating our current position and estimated arrival date. After a day a so, the wind started to die off, and the sea calmed. We were travelling at around 2 knots and still in the wrong direction. The sea was a BEAUTIFUL turquoise blue, looking tropical and enticing, an unreal color!. Kyle particularly enjoyed his nightwatch – starting with the moon so high and bright (as if on a lighted highway), and as the moon dipped and turned red, the surroundings darkened, and Kyle would spend long periods watching the bioluminescence trail away in our wake in a perfectly flat dark sea.

As we approached the continental shelf on the 24th (around 55 nm – 63 statute miles - off shore) the wind finally shifted sufficiently enough for Maryanne to tack and start heading towards the NE again. Progress was very slow, in very light winds; the boat barely making enough way for steerage; the watches dragging on. Eventually Kyle came on watch one night and Maryanne transferred the boat to his control. We were moving too slowly to register on the knot meter. Pointing NE but drifting SE due to the current. He tried in vain to track her in line with her course, but found the current made her point too much in the wrong direction – so eventually settled with pointing her in the general direction. EVENTUALLY the wind picked up and we started to move smartly on our planned course.

In the day time we started collecting visitors. Land birds strayed off course, or blown out to sea,– saw our boat as a welcome rest stop. Over the course of the day we collected 3 such birds, each seemed very tame (probably just tired) and tolerated us performing our normal sailing duties). One particularly liked the leech of the Jib sail, whenever we tacked (move the sail to the other side) she would fly around once disturbed and return to her spot once we had settled on the opposite tack.

Eventually the wind shifted SW and started increasing; giving us good speed. We reached a point 30 nm from the Delaware Bay entrance and made a 70 degree turn towards the entrance. Although our 6 hours on, 6 hours off watch schedule could be tiring and since one always had to be at the helm (while the other slept), we missed each other. It was still a little disappointing to leave the sea behind and have land come into view again, and the water change from turquoise back to brown. The wind picked up and the boat speed increased. We reefed the sails and were lucky enough to arrive at the Delaware Bay entrance at the start of the flood tide. We FLEW up the bay, making around 9kt over ground, dodging the now busy shipping traffic ! The bay is very shallow so we paralleled the shipping channel, we had to cross a couple of times, and had to keep alert constantly as the 10’s of boats slid by silently in the night – too close to be really comfortable – glad of the radar.

Ships scare us, especially at night; they have an ominous presence as they glide by (sometimes almost overhead)with a very low hum, we never see anyone on deck, no radio contact or anything to suggest they even know we are there. It feels like being a kid awake in bed watching a monster sneak from under the bed to the closet and hoping he doesn’t notice you; fearing you can be crushed with one quick swish of an arm!. We make sure we keep as clear as we can from the channels and keep a good watch. Many times in daylight when travelling at low speed, because of drift we are required to point across a ships path even though our course over the bottom will keep us clear – this sometimes causes our lights to confuse the ships and have them honk at us. Clearly they are not always using their radar effectively.

By sunrise we had reached the Chesapeake and Delaware canal (C&D Canal), and headed into the Chesapeake Bay. Our original plan had been to continue non-stop to Solomon’s island (that would be around another 80nm, matching the anticipated duration of our planned trip to Rhode Island in 2008) but the SW winds in the bay were strengthening (against us), and we didn’t want another night of tacking – especially given the shallow water, crab pots, etc! Besides we had already been at sea for 5 days; that was longer than anticipated, and met the “test” that we could stand watches that long.

We changed our plan and stopped off at Still pond creek (too shallow for Prydwen – at only 3’) and found a whole giant bay to ourselves. We anchored, and caught up with our sleep. In the afternoon we changed our dinghy from lifeboat mode to dinghy mode, rigged the sailing kit and had some play-time with our new dingy (It is a Portland Pudgy, and had arrived literally days before we left, and we had been unable to both spend time getting used to it). At night in the full moon Maryanne opened a bottle of “Barefoot Bubbly” Champagne to toast our 1000th nm in Footprint which we achieved out at sea.

Solomon’s Island

On the 28th, after the front had passed, and the winds shifted back to the NW, we set sail for Solomon’s where Kyle had promised Maryanne Breakfast out! We were back in Cruising mode, where we spend our time together, eating together, reading to each other, and sleeping together safely at anchor each night. The wind increased to around 25kt that day giving us a fast broad reach to Solomon’s (80nm in around 11 hours). The highlight of the day was passing a mono-hull going in the same direction under full sail with his rail in the water (we were reefed in both main and jib and still slid by noticeably faster – within a couple of hours we needed to use the binoculars to see him on the horizon behind us). We arrived after dark at Solomon’s and found a quiet place to anchor. We were able to sleep in the next day, we started to slowly raise the anchor while listening to Car talk, taking our time without too much care – while pottering in the cabin, we suddenly realized we had dragged to the shore, very close to a docked boat! We are rarely so careless, and were lucky to learn our lesson without damage. We set off to Solomon’s, docked and set foot ashore for the first time in a week. We had brunch at a water side restaurant, spotted some very relaxed guys fishing from the dock, and generally enjoyed the views at this nautical haven.

Remaining trip down the bay!

We departed late in the afternoon to catch a favorable tide for our trip to our next stop, Tippity Wichity Island in the St Mary’s river off the Potomac. Tippity Wichity is a favourite haunt of Kyle’s – mostly due to the name! we arrived at 2:30AM! Under sail, as the wind slowly died on us. Our plan was to spend two nights, so we were not so concerned that the trip took longer than planned. Next day after sleeping in we took out the Portland Pudgy and under sail set the world record first for a Circumnavigation around Tippity Wichity Island in a Portland Pudgy, by a couple from a Catamaran on a Sunday. (We had just been reading Steve Fossett’s book and all his world record collecting – it seemed fitting we should have one too!).

Next day (1st October) we set off at 8:30am to our next stop – Mill Creek off the Wicomico River – Chesapeake bay has dozens of “Mill Creeks” it is possible to cruise the bay and stop in a different Mill creek every night – this one is a particular favorite with us – the one we stopped in on the delivery trip from the factory. We arrived late on a moonless night, sailing in using the radar to confirm our path, found our favorite spot and set the anchor, backing down under sail. By now we were feeling very comfortable with footprint, quite the salty sailors – but tired and ready for our beds. We took another rest day as we explored the area under oar in the Portland pudgy. Maryanne discovered she can row in very good circles, but not in a straight line, ensuring Kyle did all the rowing… Hmmm.

Next sailing day , we set off around noon for the Corrotoman River off the Rappahannock. We found a great spot to anchor (again in the dark). We took a rest day and explored in the Portland Pudgy, under sail, and were impressed with the HUGE houses on the water front. Each one seemed totally private and with a wonderful view of the river and scenery (not private from us of course). Each had its own dock with one or more boats – what a life!

Thick fog greeted us the following morning as we set off for Fishing Bay (Off the Piankatank River). We were able to cut the corner off a shallow bar, saving ourselves at least 3 nm of the standard “channel” route we would have taken under Prydwen. (Te he). Again we anchored under sail, this time with a crowd of other anchored boats, in a short rainstorm; luckily we managed to not make asses of ourselves!

In Fishing Bay we continued to try to fish. During the trip we had attempted fishing many times with our newly purchased fishing gear, and had so far failed to catch anything, indeed we had even managed to lose some gear to the fish! After sunset in Fishing bay, the fish were jumping (taunting us?), Kyle managed to hook one, but it jumped off the hook once he had hauled it out of the water, before landing it on the boat – we still have virgin fishing gear!

Next destination was home – but to delay the inevitable a little longer we settled for heading to hospital point anchorage (a pretty anchorage with a great view of Norfolk down town, just ½ mile from our marina). On route we had 10’s of dolphins pass us with a great display for over 15 minutes – what wonderful creatures. AT 11:30 am we crossed paths with Prydwen, she was heading North to the Annapolis area with her new owner, we got some of the best pictures of her we had ever taken (sails up) and had a brief talk on the radio before she disappeared over the horizon to her new life. As we came to the bottom of the bay, the wind decreased and we decided to experiment with the spinnaker. It worked great, until we turned into the shipping channel and on a wind shift we wrapped the sail around the forestay, just as two ships and a tug were converging on us! Fast panic work by Maryanne at the foredeck and some kindly ship operators (keeping out of our way) saved the day. The hospital point anchorage was very full of snowbirds heading south. With our draft however we were able to anchor at the “back” where it gets shallower, and were even able to anchor under sail again. We had dinner and toasted our successful arrival. We reflected on our trip, with mixed emotions (knowing it was almost over). Footprint had performed very well. We had had no major mechanical problems along the way (except the ongoing issues with the screacher).

We did have a list of things we wanted to do before our next trip. Power consumption was an issue especially at night under sail so we planned to reduce our night time amp usage (replace lights) and increase our recharging ability (more efficient or extra solar power). Water consumption was lower than we had expected (we made use of the galley sea tap where appropriate) and we feel we will be able to provision adequately for multi-week trips. Jib lines and track position were frightening to adjust at times, so we agreed to go with line control for the jib car on the track. We felt comfortable that we could be ready for our next big planned sail – 2008 to head North to Maine. We have no concerns that the boat (and crew) can handle the duration of a long ocean passage.

October/November 2007

We continued to sail the boat on the weekend as much as we were able. With the proceeds of the sale of Prydwen we focused on the remaining items from our outfitting list for Footprint. We were going to be ready for cruising. Researching and placing orders took countless hours – our first purchase was new laptops and that helped as Kyle could do research while Maryanne was at work. Boxes arrived daily, installing everything took a little longer, everything felt like a Christmas present. Installing the LEDs dropped consumption to basically nothing! But of course required a trip (actually two, but that is a different story) up the mast. Maryanne has number of sewing projects to keep her busy over the winter – everything is much more time consuming that we might have imagined.. This last few months have left us with very little free time, as we outfit the boat ready to leave in 2008 – hopefully once we leave we will have more time to share and keep in touch with our friends and family. We really feel like we are on course to go. Kyle’s mom (Carla) came to visit for a long weekend, and was a great sport – even staying aboard the boat for 2 nights – she was very complementary about Footprint, and our work to get to this point.

December 2007

By December, the days had turned short enough and the weather cold enough to make sailing unappealing as a leisure activity. Our last sail in mid-November was mostly Kyle outside in the cold wind, and Maryanne in the heated cabin - not exactly sharing the dream!

We did use one warm weather weekend to complete a couple of the last remaining outside jobs. We installed treadmaster on some slick parts of the deck and also installed jib car control lines which much like the traveller control system should greatly reduce the chance of injury and drama during sail trim.

Since we had a fairly large area of treadmaster to apply we purchased a large sheet, which we needed to cut to size and then epoxy on the deck. Once the epoxy was mixed we had a 20 minute window to fit all the 4 large cut pieces. Functionally we are very pleased with it, and those once slick areas of the deck are now much safer - aesthetically we made quite a mess of the job - but as Kyle says, it will keep people from wanting to steal our boat.

We spent the balance of the month getting re-acquainted with friends that we had neglected during the sailing season. We visited our friends JD and Dale in Richmond with their one year old baby Lillian (one of the world's most smiley babies), and celebrated Kyle's 40th birthday with a local soaring trip and skeet shooting with a few close friends.

We pretty much completed the purchase of everything on our outfitting list with the exception of a few spare parts, tools, some medical kit items and the bike! We are really starting to feel ready to go - although Kyle is concerned the "stuff" is about to make the boat sink. Even though we purchased a larger boat, a catamaran is so weight sensitive, and there is so much more living space, that storage is still an issue.

The year was closed aboard Footprint with our friends Mark and Kate, who as always were wonderful company. For the first time in years we managed to be awake for the New Year, and impressed ourselves by staying up several hours beyond. We toasted in the New Year 2008 - together - looking forward to our best year yet. Kate and Mark stayed the night aboard, and were gracious enough to say they enjoyed the food, entertainment, and not complain about the living quarters. All of us suffered somewhat in the morning - lights were too bright, and noises too loud!

At long last we can say we are going cruising THIS YEAR.

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History

2007-Mar - Initial Purchase And Maiden voyage
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