throwback! First Days on Journey

i found this post on our old blog and thought it was pretty relevant.  originally posted by jr, he does a great job describing our first few days on journey.  they were not fun :)  be sure to check out the link for the derecho video.  enjoy…

july 2012

Journey

I don’t think we will ever forget the day we officially became the owners of Journey.  Friday morning after working for a couple of hours, we stopped by our house and tried to pack what we thought we would need for spending the night on a mooring buoy in Annapolis and then motoring/sailing up the bay to the Patapsco River.  We did not worry too much about food since we knew we would have access to the water taxi in Annapolis harbor.  Once we loaded up, we headed to Pasadena to sign the papers on the slip.  We had to drive separately because we were going to need a car at the marina after dropping the boat off and one to take to Annapolis to pick up the boat.  The marina owner was adamant about us having boat insurance which I had not been able to obtain by that point, but this became a good thing.  While in the marina office, I finally got through to someone at the insurance company who was capable of reviewing the boat survey and getting us set up with a policy while we read over and signed the slip paperwork.  We still ended up an hour late to settlement, but I do not think the brokerage guys were bothered too much.  We were driven over to the previous owners’ slip with our broker and dropped off so that the three of us could get the boat underway.  This was sort of voluntary by the broker, but it seemed to work out well.  The previous owners were there and were telling us things about the boat but then someone realized that the drawbridge opens at 4:30 and then stays down until 6:00 because of traffic, so we had to leave fairly urgently and the extra hands really helped out.  Once into the harbor, we tied up next to the boatyard where the brokerage is located , dropped off the broker and also picked up our overnight bags from our vehicle.  After we started Journey’s diesel back up, it was just us and our new boat.

We headed out toward the Severn River but we were not having much luck with reading the depth on the GPS and since we did not have any charts with us, we decided to just hook up to a mooring buoy and get things figured out.  Since it was somewhere around 100 degrees and humid that day with only a tiny breeze on the water, we figured we would choose a buoy as far away from town as possible, which turned out to be where most of the other boats were as well.  We pulled in between a couple of other boats and Drena tied us to the mooring line.  I cut the engine off and we tried to settle down.

Drena had tied us up the way our broker had suggested, but we realized that nobody else had tied up that way and everyone just ran the eye of the mooring line right over one of the bow cleats, mostly the starboard one.  So after deciding that their boats were bigger and nicer and they may be more experienced, we decided to follow suit and changed ours to match.  After figuring out the GPS and feeling confident that I would be able to get us home without running aground, we relaxed on the bow and watched the end of the sailboat races that were going on just ahead of us in the Severn River.  Actually, I am not sure how much relaxing Drena did, I think she was feeling a little bit overwhelmed about everything at the time.  But I was just kicking back, happy with our purchase.

As the sun set, we decided to head to shore for dinner and called the water taxi.  When the water taxi pulled up, the captain suggested we close our hatches because a storm was coming in about 2-3 hours.  I figured we would be back on the boat by then trying to get some sleep, so I only barely closed the ports and hatches and did not snug anything down because I didn’t want to keep the captain waiting while I obsessed.  We picked up some food for the next day at the nearby drug store and stopped at a little italian place for dinner.    For some reason, neither of us were too concerned about this approaching storm and we never checked my iphone for a weather forecast, radar, or anything.  We went about our business as if it was just going to be a round of summer thunderstorms and we were too tired to even worry about it.  We called the water taxi and got a ride back to our boat.  The captain of this water taxi also mentioned a storm, and said it would be about 40 minutes and he heard that the wind was going to be bad.  As we pulled up to Journey, Drena asked the captain if he had any recommendations on tying up to the mooring better, but he said we should be alright.  As we tried to figure out what the heck to do besides finish tightening down the hatches, I wanted to see if we could add a line through the mooring buoy to have as a backup.  But when I got up to the bow and tried to figure out just how to do that, the wind came from out of nowhere.   Drena called for me to head down below so I gave up on the line and headed in.  We closed the up the companionway and I turned off the power because I figured it might save some equipment if the mast were struck by lightning.  So there we were in the dark in the cabin of our new boat, helplessly swinging around a mooring buoy hoping nothing would break.  Drena was pretty freaked out by the whole thing, I am pretty sure she thought it was going to be the end of us.  I honestly was not too freaked out, but only out of ignorance not bravery or confidence.  There was lightning everywhere and the wind was pushing us all over the place.  My biggest fear in the whole thing was that it seriously looked like the boats around us could possibly hit us if we swung around the wrong place at the wrong time.  Maybe there was some clearance, depth perception is sometimes difficult on the water, but the way we and the other boats would swing around during a gust sure had me worried.  And there were times when we would swing so violently that we would hear a creak, whether it was just the stretching of the mooring line, a little deflection of the cleat supports, or who knows what, and a jerk of the boat as everything pulled tight and we would just listen for that final snap of something breaking, but thank heavens that nothing happened.  After about 45 minutes of heavy winds some moderate rainfall, it was over.  Neither of us got up on deck to check on everything until the next day, we just snuggled in the double berth in the salon and tried to sleep off that dreadful experience.

We woke up on Saturday morning to the sound of a voice over a loudspeaker, apparently the plebes at the Naval Academy have PT at sunrise.  But with higher sun elevation comes hotter weather, so we dropped the mooring line and motored off.  We recounted our experience and listed to the VHF where we heard reports of the Coast Guard looking for a man whose boat had capsized to the south of us.  We discussed how bad that storm seemed, but we had no idea how bad it even was.  Eventually we got tired of talking about it since it was a frightening experience.  Once we got past Sandy Point, though it was light, the wind seemed just enough off our bow that we felt we could still make fair progress sailing and give the motor a rest.  So one at a time, we got both sails full of air and were making about 3.5 knots north.  I thought it was great!  I saw the sails on our sea trial, but to get a chance to look everything over and think about how much better these sails were than the ones on our old boat, gave me a good feeling that we made a smart decision on this boat.  Unfortunately, the little breeze was short-lived and soon gave out, so we ended up motoring the last 2 hours to our new marina.

As the sun got hotter, the breeze got lighter and then the flies came out of nowhere.  They were the biting kind too.  Needless to say, though I really enjoyed being on our new boat, I was really happy when I finally got to turn the wheel to the left to head into our creek.  We docked without too much fuss, only a little when I kept trying to back it in.  But I eventually settled for bow in and then spent a while in the blazing sun trying to get all of the dock lines tied how I wanted them.  After obsessing for a short while, we headed over to the pool and cooled off.  There were a couple of other people there and they were talking and then the marina owner’s wife asked how we made out with the storm.  We told her our crazy experience and she could not believe it.  She told us that it was a real bad storm and we started to get an idea that what we went through was not your typical summer thunderstorm.  But it wasn’t until after we picked up the car in Annapolis and drove back toward home that it started to dawn on me just how bad the storm was.  There were trees down and power lines down all over the place.  There were so many roads closed and traffic lights out that it made it extremely difficult and frustrating to get anywhere.  And after watching news reports, radar images, reading weather data, and hearing that this kind of storm has a name, derecho, we realized that indeed that may have been the worst storm we may ever see.  Here is a link to a radar movie of the storm moving across the country: June 29 Derecho  According to some data from the Naval Academy, the sustained winds were over 30 miles per hour and gusts were near 60.  We are thankful that we purchased a sturdy boat and we are glad that we would have had the insurance coverage if something awful had happened.  But it has made us realize that we were not equipped or ready for such an event, so we need to make sure we know what the heck we are doing before we take the boat anywhere.

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