Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Annual Hunting Trip

Second week of December 2006:

Winter is moving in and the camping and sailing gear has been put aside. Now it is time for our annual deer hunting expedition.

Each December we travel with Sharon's father to New Jersey and go deer hunting while visiting Sharon's sister and her family. We are meat hunters --- not trophy hunters. We love the taste of wild meats and each hunting season we replenish our chest freezer so that we have venison to eat the rest of the year. Venison is leaner and is not contaminated with any hormones, etc. so it is just about the only red meat that we eat.

Because deer have become a nuisance in New Jersey due to increased population densities they consequently have fairly liberal deer harvesting regulations. You can basically shoot as many does (female deer) as you need and up to two or three bucks. With the help of Glen (our brother in law) who is our resident expert hunter and guide we do our best to satisfy our needs. We usually hunt from tree stands. We harvest and process all the deer ourselves. Nothing is wasted. We even donate the hides to a fellow who processes them. We return home with enough roasts, venison hamburger, and stew meat to satisfy the needs of two families for the year to come.

"On The Hard" At The Surgery Center

Early December 2006:

The leaves have fallen and winter is on the way and now Evergreen is "on the hard" and having both structural and cosmetic surgery done during the off months. Among other things her bottom has been soda blasted in anticipation of a new barrier coat and her rudder removed. We delivered the original rudder to Robinhood Marine for use as a template in the manufacture of a new rudder. Cape Dory 36s are still being made at Robinhood Marine upon request.

The Fever Pulled Us Back

November 11th - 13th 2006:

We just had to go sailing one more time before Evergreen was hauled out. We felt like kids with a new toy.

This time we convinced Peter, Sharon's father, to join us. He shares our appreciation of the outdoors.

During this trip the weather was much more unsettled and it was obvious that the true late Fall weather systems were moving in.

We had a beautiful sail to Leadenham Creek. We choose this very small and protected creek because a strong front was supposed to come through during the night. It was indeed protected but a little small for us so we decided to leave in the morning and find a better spot to ride out the predicted gale force winds.

After hauling the anchors I turned the helm over to Peter so that I could stow the anchor rodes. However, I failed to properly orient Peter to the GPS chartplotter. I just assumed it was self explanatory. Peter is a retired pilot and what I didn't realize is that instruments that pilots use are usually oriented in the direction that the plane is flying. I, on the contrary, keep my chartplotter set with North being up. This disparity resulted in Peter's confusion and we consequently ended up firmly aground on a sand/mud bar in Caulk Creek. Despite my efforts to reverse the engine the 8 ton boat would not budge. On top of that the winds were increasing to gale force, it was starting to rain, and the tide was falling. Boy did I feel helpless and dumb! Out of options we called Tow Boat US. Luckily we had purchased unlimited towing insurance the week before. I prefer to be self sufficient, however, I knew that I was out of my league as a novice on such a big new boat. Tow Jamm II arrived on the scene but despite their efforts the boat would not budge and was starting to list. We resigned ourselves to sleeping at a radical angle overnight while the tide drained and finally returned in the morning. The following morning Tow Jamm II returned right on time for high tide and after careful efforts with the assistance of many horsepower Evergreen was finally floated free. Boy, what a relief!! I am embarassed to say that it will take Boat US ten years of my membership to recoup the cost of that one tow. I certainly am going to be more careful in the future.
Having wasted a day aground it was time to head for home. We had a pleasant sail back to our slip despite the weather. When we returned to Solomons we stripped Evergreen and readied her for winter hauling and maintenance.
Weather summary: Nights in the low 40s; Days in the 60s; Water was 60 degrees; Winds were around the compass due to the fronts and between 15 - 45+ knots.

Our First Mini Cruise On Evergreen

Late October 2006:
The sailing season in Maryland was winding down, however, we could not resist the temptation to get out on our new boat. On top of that we had not sailed all summer so we were almost feverish with the need to go sailing. So we drove to Maryland and spent the first couple days on Evergreen in the marina trying to figure her out.

Finally, despite the fact that there were gale warnings posted we felt bold enough to venture out for an overnighter. We had a wonderful sail from Solomons to Hudson Creek on the little Choptank. The expected gale fizzled out and conditions were perfect for a first sail.

When we awoke in the cool, still morning it was a sight for sore eyes. It reminded us of why we were out there. Finally, we got underway and sailed back to our home port. We didn't mind getting back to our slip after dark because backing a sailboat into a slip is never an easy task especially when you don't have a clue what your are doing. However, we accomplished the feat without incident.
It was a short but fantastic introduction to Evergreen and her abilities. While we were there the night time temperatures were in the 40s & 50s and the day time temperatures in the 60s & 70s. The wind was always from the South half of the compass at 10-15 knots.


October 2006:
I purchased my wing keel Catalina 22 "Swizzle Stick" new in 1990. Since that time we have sailed her on extended cruises on the Maine coast, the Chesapeake, Florida's East & West coasts & panhandle, the Florida Keys, and to the Bahamas. We usually trailered it to the desired location and then spent anywhere from weeks to months cruising. We almost always anchor out. Our focus was to explore and get as close to nature as possible. I always had a "significant other" with me as first mate and occasionally a guest or two or three. However, we finally felt the urge to get a bigger boat that might allow us to travel further from home and civilization.
We wanted a sailboat that could take us just about anywhere. So we chose the conservative approach yet we wanted a boat that sailed well. We are sailors and really dislike motoring. After extensive research we purchased a 1986 Cape Dory Cutter. We wanted a new boat but that just was not financially feasible. We did not want to spend our life fixing up an old wreck so we dove in and bought the best that we could find in a reasonable length of time since our work schedule severely limits our shopping time. We accepted her flaws and are in the process of getting the significant ones repaired while she is "on the hard" this winter in Solomons, Maryland. Yes, we live in Florida but we are keeping her in Solomons Maryland at the marina where we bought her. The marina is one of the best full service marinas to be found and our work schedule does not allow us time to work on her ourselves. When we are off we want to go sailing - not work on the boat. The East coast of Florida has very limited sailing. Basically everyone just sails up and down "the ditch" (the intracoastal waterway). On the other hand the Chesapeake is one of our favorite sailing areas and it also is much closer to Maine and the Canadian waters (our most favorite sailing waters). So Solomons will remain her home port.
It is only a fifteen hour drive from our home in Florida. So initially we will do long weekend trips of five or six days exploring the back waters of the Chesapeake. During the late summers we hope to take her to Maine and eventually into Canada for a few months each year. After that the horizon is the limit.
Sharon and I will always be doing these adventures together. We also hope to turn as many as possible of our family and friends on to the wonder of exploring on a sailboat. Evergreen is a larger boat, however, the experience still remains like roughing it camping ashore.
I have one word for Evergreen: "Massive" I just can't get over how big and heavy she is. It is going to be a challenge learning how to tame her.

Saturday, January 6, 2007



On the right is a photo of Philip & Sharon in Maine during the summer of 2005. We were cruising the Maine coast on our Catalina 22 "Swizzle Stick". On the left is a photo of "Swizzle Stick" in the Bahamas during the summer of 2004.