04/11/2016 – Getting ready to leave the USA

Where has the time gone? It is a little distressing to find I haven't written anything since Monday 17th October when we left New York so I will try to be brief. The first leg of our trip south was an overnight sail to the mouth of the Delaware river. The anticipated 36 hour run to the C and D canal was doomed from the very beginning! We did not want to enter the canal at midnight and the anchorage we stayed in on the way north would be dangerous to feel our way in during the hours of darkness. Though we shot out of New York, rushing past Staten Island, the current was against us as soon as we met the open sea, slowing our progress quite significantly. Tuesday evening we anchored behind Cape Henlopen, on the south side of the Delaware River opposite Cape May. At first light we pulled up the anchor and carried the tide all the way to the canal, we then transmitted the canal with a lot of help from the current, anchoring for the night in the Sassafras River as we had on our way north. We had an easy trip the next day to Annapolis where we picked up a Harbourmaster's mooring. We'd intended to anchor but the forecast of strong winds on Friday and Saturday persuaded us to tie up to a buoy for four nights. For some time the alternator charging the engine battery has been on strike so John took the opportunity to source a replacement and also to buy some strong water hose to replace much of the pipe work around the engine which was looking rather sad. It's 24 years old so we are not surprised that it needed replacing! Visiting Annapolis gave us the opportunity to catch up with our friends Cathy and Charlie on their lovely boat Celebrate. Cathy kindly drove John to one area of the town and me to the supermarket. Saturday was a grim day so John got on with installing the alternator, we delivered a Christmas card and had lunch with Cathy and Charlie on Sunday then left at first light on Monday. Our trip to Portsmouth from Annapolis was much quicker than our journey north. We only stopped in two places, Smith Creek just a mile or so up the Potomac River then East River in Mobjack Bay. They were both incredibly peaceful anchorages in beautiful countryside. The last part was a short day to Portsmouth where we tied up in a free basin at the foot of the High Street. Mooring is limited to 24 hours but, hey, it's free and very convenient for eating out at any one of a number of restaurants and bars! Thursday morning we were due to be lifted out for a scrub off; to top up the extra stripes of antifouling I'd added in New Zealand; to check and replace anodes (main anode (OK), propellor anode (missing), freezer anodes (both needed replacing) and bow thruster (OK); to grease the prop; to check and, if necessary, to replace the cutlass bearing (the bearing which supports the prop shaft). Fortunately the bearing was OK as that would have been quite difficult to replace, it was just a matter of tightening up the screw securing the cage it fits in. It probably counts as a temporary fix because the thread in the hull is stripped and squirting in epoxy allowed John to tighten the screw for the time being. We had expected to be out overnight but the yard manager explained that we couldn't stay on the boat overnight so we were dropped back in at about 1300. We called up the marina and went in a day earlier than we had booked. The past week has flown by. On Friday we caught a bus to Walmart, a supermarket we failed to find in Portsmouth in June. I particularly wanted to find it because they have a great range of handicraft paraphenalia and is the cheapest place I have found for embroidery silks! The Rally Office opened on Saturday and since then it has been a whirlwind of activity: safety checks, seminars, social events and demonstrations. We have also found time to visit Norfolk, the West Marine chandlery in both Hampton and Virginia Beach, Walmart and Farm Fresh (another supermarket, more Waitrose than ASDA) and Lowes (a big DIY). This morning Rally Control dropped a minor bombshell, the decision had been taken to leave a day early.....the boat looked like a bomb had recently been dropped, several jobs were on the list for Saturday and I have still to buy some veg from the Farmers' Market in the morning. Never mind, we will be ready to cast off before midday. The boat is tidier, not quite there yet but it will happen. John even found time to do an emergency trip to Norfolk to buy some superb Bourbon Whiskey we had been introduced to in Maine. Thanks Carl if you are reading this. For the next ten or so days we shall be at sea. I intend to blog regularly on both our website www.yachtstarblazer.co.uk and on the World Cruising Club site on the Caribbean 1500 page. Joyce

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