Vacilando Is For Sale…

vacilando - cal 35 for sale

Yes, our beloved Cal 35, Vacilando is for sale.

For those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, or if you’ve read Chris’ book, You Gotta Go To Know, you know that a couple of years ago we decided to sell everything and move onto a boat full time. We love sailing and we love to travel, and it was the perfect way to do both, but we also knew that it would be a BIG lifestyle change, both physically and emotionally, and we said we’d give it at least a year, to determine if we liked it.

We wanted a boat that was big enough to live comfortably on with us and our dog Jet, but one that was small enough for one of us to handle alone on things like night watches, or God forbid should something happen to the other crew member. I wanted a few comforts that we didn’t find in many other boats in our size range, like a separate shower, and lots of ample storage space.

Some of the best people we've ever known

Remember the time we had 10 people on our boat?

We got a great boat that was in our price range that would suit our needs as we transitioned into this lifestyle of living aboard full time while cruising to different places which, for us so far, has been up and down the East Coast, the Chesapeake Bay, and several areas of Florida. Sadly we never made it to the Bahamas on Vacilando, although we’ve been told she made a few trips there with her previous owners.

And now? Well, our two year “boat” anniversary came and went while we were offshore on our way up to the Chesapeake Bay last month. We talked to each other about future plans, as we often do, and we asked the same question we had asked each other a year prior around this time. “Do you still want to keep going and continue living on a boat?”

The answer was a resounding and unanimous yes.

What can I say? We love it. I’m not gonna lie. It’s not an easy life. You have to work for it, and working means you’re gonna get banged and bruised and there are times it will break your heart and nearly break your spirit. But the trade-off, at least for me, is worth every bit of it. There are things that this lifestyle has shown us that I wouldn’t give up for anything. We were meant to be on the water.

vacilando cal 35

I’m so proud of what we’ve done with her. We took a great boat, and we made her better. We loved her, we kept her clean, we replaced her old, broken parts, and we sailed her. And in return, she took care of us. She gave us refuge. She gave us a home.

Now that we’ve agreed to continue on, we feel that it’s time to start looking for our “forever” boat. And some lucky person, or lovely couple will get Vacilando. She is the perfect liveaboard cruiser and would be right at home on the Chesapeake Bay (where she currently sits) and would be well-suited for someone to take her to the Bahamas.

We will be listing her through this site for $48k. She is by far the best Cal 35 on the market with her extensive upgrades and clean interior and exterior.

Vacilando At A Glance:

A few things to give you an idea of what we’ve done. Photos and video can be seen on our BOAT page, and her full, official listing can be seen HERE.

Upgrades Since 2012

  • Checked bonding, electrical, bonded rudder (2012)
  • New heat exchanger (2012)
  • Bottom job (2012)
  • New Garmin 441 GPS unit (2012)
  • New aft chainplates (2012)
  • Rebed stanchion bases (2012)
  • New electrical fuel pump (2012)
  • Rebuilt injector pump (2012)
  • New injector lines plus spares (2012-2013)
  • Dismantled and serviced winches (2012)
  • New shower head (2013)
  • New shower sump pump (Whale Gulper) (2013)
  • Rebuilt shower access hatch (2013)
  • New Jabsco twist-n-lock toilet (2013)
  • New hoses and clamps in head (2013)
  • New holding tank (2013)
  • New Shurflo fresh water pump
  • New custom main sail from Super Sails - 2 deep reefs (2013)
  • New Mantus 45lb anchor with 50′ 3/8″ chain and 260′ new rode (2013)
  • Installed starboard chafe protection under anchor chain on bow (2013)
  • New steering chain, wire and brake assembly (2013)
  • New Universal Admiral’s instrument panel (2013, installed 2014)
  • New wiring to panel (2014)
  • (4) New Odyssey AGM batteries (2013)
  • New Xantrax Linkpro Battery Monitor (2013)
  • New Mastervolt ProCharger 12V 40amp battery charger (2013)
  • New wiring and fuses in battery bank (2013)
  • New propane solenoid (2013)
  • New raw water pump (2013)
  • New fresh water (coolant) pump (2013)
  • All interior cushions professionally cleaned (2014)
  • Full rigging inspection (mast and standing rigging) (2014)
  • New standing rigging (forestay, backstay, and cap shrouds) (2014)
  • New U-Bolts for standing rigging (2014)
  • New custom oversized chainplates on starboard side
  • New Pro-Furl roller furler (2014)
  • New running rigging – Sta-set jib halyard, Endura main halyard (2014)
  • New belt and spare for Autohelm
  • Retabbed bulkheads (2014)
  • Bottom job – new antifouling eco-friendly paint (2014)
  • New cutlass bearing (2014)
  • Zincs changed regularly
  • Diver hired to clean bottom every 3 months
  • Oil changed every 75 engine hours since 2012
  • Fuel consumption:  0.57 gal/hr

Full Specs

DIMENSIONS

LOA: 35′          LWL: 28′ 9″        Beam: 11’  Draft: 5′ encapsulated fin keel

Displacement: 13,000#                Ballast: 5,200#            Clearance: 53′

 

DESCRIPTION

Cal 35

Classic fin keel aft cockpit cruising yacht

Built in Tampa by Cal Jensen, 1984

Designed by the legendary William “Bill” Lapworth

USCG Documented Vessel

 

ENGINE AND SYSTEMS

Universal Diesel Engine  32 HP Model: 5432

Bronze Shaft and PYI Dripless Shaft Seal

Fixed three-bladed propeller

Spare 2-blade propeller

Heat exchanger

Cruising Speed: 6 knots

 

ACCOMODATIONS

Sleeps 5 comfortably, 2 in V-Berth , Single salon Port, Double salon Starboard

Full Headroom in all cabins

Generous Storage,  Hanging lockers, w/ Drawers throughout

Barometer and Clock

5 opening hatches, 6 opening portlights and 4 non-opening salon windows for lots of light and air!

Separate shower in head!

Large fold-up table in salon

Teak interior with nice, neutral upholstery in great condition and just recently steam cleaned

Forward facing Navigation Station with ample shelving and storage inside for charts, manuals, etc.

2 propane lockers with propane tanks

2 deep lazarettes

Built in Hamper

 

U-SHAPED GALLEY

Hillerange 3-Burner Propane Stove w/ Oven

Double stainless steel sink w/ H & C Pressure Water, & freshwater foot pump

6 Gallons Hot water tank

Large Top-loading Icebox with Refrigeration and Freezer

Deep Dry Locker

Built-in Wastebasket

 

ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS

12VDC and 110VAC Systems

4 Odyssey AGM Batteries (3 in house bank, 1 separate starting battery)

Mastervolt Battery Charger (2013)

LinkPro Battery Monitor (2013)

VHF Radio at Nav Station with RAM (remote access mic) for use in cockpit

Sony Radio/CD player w/2 speakers in salon and 2 all-weather speakers in cockpit

Datamarine Speed, Depth and Wind Indicator

Autohelm 4000 Autopilot with spare

Universal Admiral’s Engine Panel (new 2014)

Regulator

LED lights throughout salon

Garmin GPS 441 at helm

Garmin GPS 152 at Nav Desk

 

SAILS AND SYSTEMS

Mainsail – Custom with 2 deep reefing points, new in 2013

ProFurl Roller Furling (new 2014)

110% Genoa on Furler

135% Jib

Whisker Pole

Sail covers / sail bag

TANKAGE

Fuel: 33 Gallons

Water: 90 Gallons

Holding: 24 Gallons

 

DECK GEAR

Stainless steel standing rigging – new forestay, backstay, cap shrouds in 2014 w/Sta-Lock fittings

Running rigging – Sta-set jib halyard, Endura main halyard (new 2014)

Integrated Bow Roller

Mantus 45lb anchor w/50′ 3/8/chain plus 200′ rope  rode

Spare 35’ CQR Anchor

Spare Danforth Anchor

Bow and stern pulpits with Double Lifelines

Edson Pedestal steering

Pedestal mounted Ritchie Compass

(3) Barient 2-speed Self-tailing Winches (serviced 2013)

(3) Barient Winches on Mast (serviced 2013)

2 Dorades for Great Ventilation

Stainless Toe-Rail

Outboard Motor Hoist

Outboard Motor Mount

Boarding Ladder

Fenders

Magma stern-mounted propane grill

Boat hook

Bimini

 

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Life Sling

Offshore flare pack

Fire extinguishers

Manual Bilge Pump

2 Electric Bilge Pumps

 

Please email questions to crew(at)mondovacilando.com.

Ah Summer. Sun. Saltwater. Anxiety and Fresh Tomatoes

It’s really hard to believe that July is upon us. Time is just flying and I have arrived at what I like to call my “summer slump”. Once the hustle and bustle of readying to leave, sailing and arriving are over, I’m good for about a week. One week of “ahhhh, rest and relaxation… cough, cough” and then it hits… like clockwork, the slump.

I wake one morning, stretch, look at my beautiful lady then at the amazing scenery here on the Bay and think, oh my God, we’re broke. What’s next? What am I going to be when I grow up? I’m a total failure! A bum! I’ve wasted my life!!! Let me just add if I may… a birthday doesn’t help this swift decent.

As Jet and I walk along the serene lanes that wind along placid coves I start to feel the swell of anxiety, shortness of breath, rise in heart rate and after about two weeks, I’m a nut-job. I begin to look for projects. And I find them. Like pulling out the water tanks and re-tabbing  bulkheads. Cleaning the carburetor in the dinghy outboard (for the fifth time) and inventing silly floating chairs. Then, I realize… holy shit, I gotta get a job! How are we gonna pay the bills?! Book royalties are not cutting it. Music royalties are not what they used to be. Sweat starts to bead on my brow and then … I get quiet. Very quiet.

Melody knows when I get quiet things are beginning to unravel. And she, like a maestro begins to unravel the ravel. She knows if I’m quiet for too long, I’ll start to … (cue the horror movie sound effects, dun-dun-dunnnnn)… remodel. She’ll go to the restroom for fifteen minutes and return to find me dismantling the engine or removing all the floors because my neurosis needs a project and I JUST COULDN’T STOP!!! And she begins to counter-attack.

She begins to talk.

Now, if you don’t know my lovely Melody… she can talk. She’s a waif of a girl but she holds a lot of wind. And we’ve been talking about maybe finding a small plot of land, an acre or so, near some water and maybe toying with the idea of building a tiny house. Of course all we can do is talk because we have no money.

Tiny House - photo by Marc Walters

Photo Credit: Marc Walters Photography

If you are unfamiliar with the tiny house craze, you should check it out. I’ve always loved small, uncluttered, uber-simplistic spaces. I liked being on a tour bus and I liked my small cottage in Nashville. I also love the idea of being completely off the grid and self-sufficient in a space that is designed so well and comfortable that you forget all about the dimensions. I said, dimensions not dementia… but I digress.

One of our talks was about how our boat is actually a “tiny house”. And Mel astutely distracted me by dangling the “shiny object” of a blog post. “Honey, why don’t you write a blog about it? Like right now. Go. Now.”

tiny boat house

Tiny boat house – how cool is this?

I had never thought of it that way. We live in a very small space and we call it home. It’s uncluttered and very well designed. We want for nothing and we really don’t miss the conventional home. Now, if I’m being completely honest, I do miss having a garden and I miss a fireplace on those chilly fall nights. I would also love to have a place to keep my nice guitars and not fear them being destroyed by the changing humidity and exposure to salt air. These things we could totally incorporate into our “tiny-house/cabin.”

The amazing thing about the tiny house movement is that there are no limits to what some people are doing. It’s pushing the boundaries of design and innovation to extraordinary lengths. Of course conventional building codes are going to hinder the most extreme but people are even finding ways around that!  One architect designed and built her house for eleven thousand dollars! Can you imagine not having a mortgage?! We don’t and let me tell you… it’s freaking awesome.

Tiny House library

A family of four lives in this tiny house

I think (always dangerous because my opinion is to follow) that the modern adaptation of our living spaces should be challenged and pushed forward. Environmentally friendly building methods will benefit everyone and alternative energy sources are getting better every year! I love watching our solar panel pump amperage into our batteries! FREE! Clean and free energy.

Imagine living in a space powered for pennies a day, insulated with materials that don’t contain formaldehyde and other dangerous gases and maybe a waste system that uses composting toilets and other cool alternatives to just dumping it all into the ground. I don’t know… I’ve been called crazy for less.

Texas-Victorian-Tiny-House-stairs          2 Floor Tiny House

We love our floating “tiny house”. We love the fact that if we wanna move… we don’t have to pack a single box! We stow the laptops. Secure the Rum. Toss off the lines and swing the bow.

Now… if I can just find a place to plant some damn tomatoes.

 

Here are more cool links if you wanna read more about tiny houses:

Tumbleweed Houses

Tiny House Build

The Tiny Life

How Close Is Too Close To A Tanker, You Ask?

That’s a good question. Just how close is too close? Let me begin with some back story.

We spent this past winter in Ft. Lauderdale again doing some work on the boat and doing some work on the bank account. We managed to install a new Admiral Engine panel to replace the original cracked one, as well as new wiring to do away with those dangerous wire harness connectors that are on the old panels. We did the standing rigging (by ourselves) with some superb council from my friend and rigging extraordinaire Brad Storm of Storm Rigging and the boys at Sailing Services, whom you know from a previous post. We got all new running rigging and a new Profurl roller-furler (that we literally got installed the night before we left), and that was that. If you heard an enormous “sucking” sound around the end of May, that was my bank account! But the boat was finally ready to leave for her trip up to the Chesapeake Bay, where we are spending our summer.

Almost Goodbye

We said our goodbyes to all our dock mates and around 11:00 am on Thursday, May 22 on a rising tide… supposedly. Now picture the scene: we toss off the dock lines, engine running, everyone saying somber goodbyes, “Ok… love you guys! We’ll call you! Email! You guys better stay in touch!” Them hollering back, “We love you! Be safe. We’ll be following you on the Spot Tracker!” Then… the anti-climactic dead stop. What? Mel looks at me, “What happened?” Tommy, our friend from Nashville who flew in to do the trip with us, looks at me, “Um…” and all I can say is, “We’re aground.”

Yep… Not fifteen-feet out of the slip, a large hump had formed since we pulled in a few months before and now on a rising tide (thank God), we stopped dead. Everyone was howling laughing. So much for sad goodbyes, ay? After about forty-five minutes, we got off, headed out the Port Everglades inlet and hoisted sail. It was a glorious day and we were promptly into the Gulf Stream. Not moving too fast in the light winds but moving, under sail, nonetheless.

Cal 35 sailing on the Atlantic after leaving Port Everglades

Tommy sailing

Tommy’s first bluewater sail!

Ground Control to Tanker Tom

That night, we all got ready for the evening watches. Harnesses, tethers, binoculars, and the discussion about what to look for, what to do, and under no circumstances does anyone go forward on deck without waking someone else up. Also, no question is a stupid question. If you don’t know what you’re seeing ahead of you… wake someone up.

Tommy had first watch. I was to take the midnight to 3am, and because Melody likes to see the sun come up, she took the 3 to 6am watch. Tommy had never been on a blue water trip before. I had faith he’d be fine but we gave him the first watch cause that’s the easiest one to begin with. One gets really tired the first couple days at sea and until you get into a rhythm, it can be tough.

About halfway through his watch, I was awakened by a calm, “Chris on deck” call from Tommy. I lumbered out from behind the lee cloth and up on deck in my underwear, “You okay? What’s up?” As I turned to face the bow, I saw exactly what was up… a tanker… within 1/2 a mile away, maybe closer, directly off the port bow and crossing! Full speed. NOT GOOD.

I disengaged the auto-helm and went hard to port to dip his stern. We were on starboard tack so I was simply falling off, no drama of tacking or jibing but still. As we crested his wake and breathed in the stench from his exhaust, I had to be careful with my expletives here cause like I said, Tommy had never been out here before. I turned and as calmly as possible said, “Tommy… what were you thinking? That’s just too close.”  He said, “I was watching him for the last half-hour and then he was just right there. I was like hypnotized by him and then I realized too late he was on top of us.” That was how close it was.

We adjusted course, set the auto-helm and continued on. I sat up there for the rest of his watch trying to calm his nerves (and mine). We made some coffee, tried to make some small talk and mostly sat quietly. Mel came up for her watch and I briefed her on what happened and all was good. I will say this now and I’m gonna brag on my woman here, she blossomed on this trip like I’ve never seen. She was trimming the main, easing and trimming sheets, adjusting the course to suit the wind shifts… It was awesome.

Usually when I’m off watch, I’m rarely asleep. I’m lying there worrying if she’s ok. Is she cold? Does she need some coffee? Does she have to pee? Should I poke my head out?… but that’s not the deal. Every body needs rest. When you’re not “on” you should be “off”, period. Nap. Read. Whatever. Just don’t be at the helm unless you really want to.

Mel at helm, sailing on her night watch

Mel at the helm, enjoying her night watch

Finally… Some Fair Weather Sailing

So, besides one afternoon of getting kicked a little from a wind that backed to the NE while we were in the stream, it was a quiet and uneventful passage to Beaufort, North Carolina. We played with Tommy’s sextant and learned to dial in noon sites, we fished and Mel hooked a Mahi that jumped the line just as she was pulling it in. We did some laundry when becalmed and had a whole lot of fun.

Melody and Chris - offshore on Cal 35 - Vacilando

Enjoying a nice, easy passage for once!

Doing laundry offshore while sailing is a breeze

Laundry while sailing is a breeze

Mel and her Cuban yo-yo... and an empty hook after the mahi jumped off at the last second

Mel and her Cuban yo-yo… and an empty hook after the mahi jumped off at the last second

Chris taking noon sights with the sextant

Chris taking noon sites with Tommy’s sextant

Tommy Taking Noon Sites  - Sextant

Tommy taking noon sites

Fair Weather? Don’t Speak So Soon…

The ride into Beaufort inlet was another story. It was just after midnight and we were trying to get in the inlet ahead of a front coming around Hatteras. We didn’t make it. The wind built to 25 and the waves were coming from astern and smashing us on the port quarter. We can never get into an inlet unmolested… ever.

Anyway… everyone was in the cockpit wide-eyed and helping me steer to the lights. I was almost certain we were going to get pooped before getting inside and we almost did, but around 2 am we were safely in. Then… the next problem… where the hell were we going to anchor?

I wasn’t going to try to anchor in Beaufort’s harbor since the wind was now 25 constant and it was pitch black. Lots of boats in that anchorage use bow and stern anchors since the current shifts so much and we weren’t going to try to navigate that as tired as we were. My idea was just to motor around the inner ICW until dawn and then continue north, drop an anchor at the first cove and sleep.

Mel was furiously checking Active Captain and the charts trying to find  a suitable stopping place. The wind was just too high to stop in the unprotected area where we were, just outside of the big turning basin inside the inlet, so we motored up the ICW at 2 knots, in the dark with Melody on the bow holding our spotlight that’s so bright it could shine to space.

She would illuminate my “Greens” and “Reds” so I could stay within the narrow channel, then she’d turn the light off, and fall asleep, sitting on the bow, light in hand! I’d yell from the cockpit, “Honey! Can you hit the green again?!”  Immediately the long, straight beam from hell would shine into the dankness and bam! There would glow my green. Then she’d fall back to sleep for about 45 more seconds.

We did this for an entire fifteen miles until we hit the Cedar Creek “anchorage”.  It’s a tiny little cove with 7′ depths and a sunken sailboat in the middle. But it was heaven for us. By then, it was 6:30 AM, and we promptly opened a bottle of wine to celebrate. The wind was howling. We were exhausted but totally fired up. It had been a great trip.

Mel at the helm after finally getting anchored after a long night

Mel, tired, but happy to be anchored after a long night

We slept the entire day, made a killer kale and white bean soup for dinner and ended the night with more wine and the entire second season of Breaking Bad on DVD… Thank you, Margaret. Melody is now hooked on that show the way Jessie is hooked on Meth.

Dismal Is Lovely

Elizabeth City was pretty cool but we didn’t get to explore the town too much as we were tired from a long windy and cold day coming from Alligator River, not to mention the anchor moving drill in the middle of the night prior that was fun… no really. It needed to happen at some point. With our Mantus anchor, we aren’t worried about dragging so we had picked a spot to anchor that was exposed (trying to stay well out in the breeze to keep the mosquitoes away… bad idea). So when a storm came up around 2 am, we hauled up our anchor and tucked into a small cove to re-anchor.

The trip inside to Norfolk was also calm and lovely. We did the Dismal Swap route for the first time. Loved it! The Pasquotank River is beautiful as it enters the swamp. We landed at AYB without incident. Had our fill of all you can eat sushi at the killer little Japanese restaurant around the corner and when I flew down to get Jet and the truck in Ft. Lauderdale, Melody decided she wanted to move the boat to a free dock… BY HERSELF. Yep. But that’s a story I’ll let her tell in her voice. She did great!

Dismal swamp route out of Elizabeth City

Dismal Swamp

This was a great passage in so many respects (minus Tommy almost killing us). Tommy, whose new nickname is “Tanker Tom”, finally got to check Blue Water Passage off his bucket list. Melody felt like she had control of the boat on her watches whereas before, she’d wake me up to help with things. She got to cook and read and enjoy a passage and not fear for her life like all the others. Jet was boarded at his favorite doggie daycare and I got to enjoy Melody enjoying.

Now… mid way up the Bay, here we sit. Relaxing and looking forward to visiting with family and friends. We hope all our Ft. Lauderdale friends are well… we miss you. To our Chesapeake and Philly family, we’re here! Let’s eat some crabs! Drink some beer!

Open Letter To Reedville

Five days ago I posted a blog about the Omega Protein Menhaden plant in Reedville, VA. In those five days, we’ve been completely stunned by the fact that we’ve had over 25k hits on the blog  and 2k shares on Facebook which is crazy. I’ve also had tons of comments calling me every name in the book. I’ve been called vile, ignorant and uneducated along with many other colorful things and I’ve responded to every, single comment as calmly and rationally as I possibly could. This open letter will serve as my final comment as I’m finding that most who comment have read no further than the title and merely wish to assault my character and repost things I’ve already answered. So here goes.

1. To the claim that this (Omega’s environmental violations and over-fishing) is an “…old argument and a dead issue.” I say this. Look at the stats above and the heated responses and tell me it’s a dead issue.

2. To the claim that I hate Reedville: Please read the blog and not just the title. We like Reedville. We’ve anchored there several times. I said, “If boaters don’t go to Reedville until the Omega plant plays by the rules, then they will lose tourist dollars and therefore (maybe) put pressure on their local officials.” It’s up to the Reedville townspeople to remedy this issue. Vote out the ones who turn a blind eye, or suffer the financial consequences of lost tourist dollars. That’s how it works.

* Footnote: I find it incredibly ironic that a lot of the derogatory remarks mention how Reedville needs “every  dollar they can get.” They are dismayed and curse me for suggesting that people should stay away from Reedville until the issue is resolved yet there are numerous comments from those same locals blaming and chastising tourists and visitors to the area calling them “come heres”. One lovely citizen said he was going to start a petition suggesting we “…kill ourselves.”  Oh, but not before apologizing to the fine folks of Reedville.  

3. To the claim that I blame / hate the watermen: Please read this carefully because it’s important. Nowhere in my blog post do I blame watermen. I blame Omega Protein Corporation. Now, try as you may to rearrange all those letters, you will not get “watermen” out of that. I understand and respect the fishing tradition. I don’t, however, understand or respect the over-fishing or dumping of chemicals into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s very simple.

4. To the completely unenlightened who will never change, i.e. Cavemen (and women): I don’t even know how to speak to you. Maybe if I bang a couple rocks together, drag my knuckles on the ground and pound my chest while drooling beer from corners of my mouth, you’ll understand what has become the English language. I simply say, good luck.

In closing, So many of you claim that Omega sustains the town and that if it goes, then so goes Reedville. I totally understand this argument. But just because a business is the sole employer of a town, it’s not above the law or social responsibility. Many other factors contribute to the health / decline of the Chesapeake Bay and we all know that. They should also be addressed. But I guess I’ve been most amazed by the townspeople of Reedville and the Northern neck of Virginia’s reticence to accept what’s going on. It’s truly baffling. I am not a right-winged environmentalist, nor a “blogger turned hater.” I’m a sailor and a writer. I’ve made my living by observing and writing about what I see, and I write in my voice. You can not like my voice. You can discredit the source. You and call me ugly, vile and negative all you want but it doesn’t change the facts.

To the citizens of Reedvile, you are responsible for resolving this issue. The spotlight is bright upon you. As one reader so eloquently put it, “…Who knows, maybe the history books will tell of how a small town in Virginia had a huge part in decimating an entire region like the Chesapeake Bay. Or just maybe it will tell of how some people stepped up to the plate and put a stop to one lone company offering a lousy 350 full time and seasonal jobs.”

Good luck Reedville. I hope the conversation continues but I’m not sure the ‘cavemen’ will ever admit there’s a problem. Maybe when that plant closes due to the loss of fish you’ll realize they never had your best interest above company profits.

All the best.

Something’s Fishy In Reedville, VA – Why You Shouldn’t Go There (And It’s Not Why You Think)

Menhaden Fish - Reedville, VA - Fish Plant

1/2 a billion pounds annually. Try to conceptualize that amount. One-half of a billion pounds every single year.

I don’t consider myself a journalist by any means, and most certainly not an investigative journalist.  While I do love the investigative spirit that exposes corruption and abuse, I don’t know that I have the patience to sift through all the misinformation nor do I have the gene that keeps me from screaming “BULLSHIT!” in the face of the politicians and industry mouth pieces mid-sentence.

That said, after spending some time in the seemingly lovely little town of Reedville, Virginia, Melody and I started asking some questions about the foul-smelling fish plant that dominates the landscape. People around the lower Chesapeake Bay don’t seem to want to discuss the Reedville Menhaden Plant owned by Houston-based Omega Protein Corporation. They just simply shake their heads and, “They’re never gonna close that place.”  Hmm.

A Little History, Shall We?

Captain Elijah W. Reed arrived in Reedville (of course not yet named that) from Maine in 1874 where Native American Indians had shown the white man how to use a small oily fish called Menhaden*, as fertilizer. Reed then developed a method of extracting large quantities of oil from the fish by rendering them by the millions.  The oil was then used as a lubricant or in lighting (as whale oil was) and the leftover carcasses and bones were buried for fertilizer.

Cut to today… the Omega Protein owned fish plant is second only to Dutch Harbor, Alaska for the amount of fish processed. They employ somewhere from 250 to 350 workers depending on the season, have 8 modern day fishing boats and 8 spotter aircraft.

Omega Protein - Reedville Fish Plant

Reedville Fish Plant, aka Omega Protein Plant. Photo courtesy of www.oceanart.us

Here’s How It Works:

Spotter aircraft circle the Bay looking for the large schools of menhaden that swim near the surface. They cause disturbances on the water and once spotted, the planes radio the fleet and it is immediately dispersed to the area to scoop up the large schools of fish to be processed at the plant and used in everything from cat food to cosmetics to the popular Omega-3 Fish Oil many of us take for our health. It’s also added to feed for poultry and Tyson Foods is one of their biggest customers.

Fishing for Menhaden - Methods used in Reedville VA by Omega Corp.

Menhaden Fishing – Photo courtesy of www.oceansart.us

Here Are Some Facts About Reedville’s Omega Corporation:

Reedville is quite the idyllic town with many of it’s gorgeous homes featured in the historic registry.  Omega is the largest employer in the area and is responsible for a reported $45 million dollars in annual economic benefits to the community. They employ hundreds of people and consider themselves part of the Chesapeake Bay “tradition”.  And that’s where I scream BULLSHIT!

Back in 2006-2007, Omega spent $770,000 to lobby congress to be able to hire foreign workers.  Yep… 650 (nation wide) to be exact. Tradition? Hmmm. Not so much. They were awarded a judgement that enabled them to secure the H2B visas and did so with breakneck speed.  The visas are only supposed to awarded when “…no local labor is available”  and yet the unemployment numbers in Reedville at the time were 1.5% higher than the national average. Hm? Seems like some LOCAL people needed jobs to me… Oh yeah, and… Omega paid these foreign workers significantly less than their American counterparts.

Since 2002, OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration) has cited Omega for a whopping 63 violations.  One man was actually killed when he bled out after being caught in a machine. Very little information was ever provided to accident investigators or the family of the victim. The fine? $79,200. What did Omega pay? $50,000. I’m curious as to that seventy-nine thousand two hundred dollar assessment on a human life. Why the extra two-hundred bones? Why not an even 80k? But I digress…

In June 2013 Omega was assessed a 7.5 million dollar fine for dumping ammonia and bacteria (from ship toilets… that’s a nice way of saying raw sewage and cyanide) into Cockrell Creek which feeds directly into the bay from 2008-2010. Monty Deihl, General Manager of Omega Protein said, “It was not a good time for us here at the plant.”  Huh?  That is the equivalent of saying, “uh… my bad.”  And I can’t stand when someone says that.

Here Are Some More Facts:

Menhaden are tiny bait fish that were once abundant up and down the Atlantic seaboard. They are filter feeders and have the ability to filter a volume of water equal to the entire Chesapeake Bay in less than one day with the potential annually to consume 25% of the nitrogen in the Bay. If you don’t know, nitrogen is not a friend to the bay. The survival of everything from bluefish to humpback whales depends on the small, oily fish. Eagles, Osprey and Pelican also need the fish to survive.

In recent years, the menhaden population has declined by… are you sitting down… 90 PERCENT! 90 F’ing PERCENT, people! You feel me? When you over fish the main fish that sustains the bay, you kill everything. When the Rockfish, Striped Bass, Bluefish and other species don’t have food, THEY DIE! Thusly THE BAY DIES!

One local fisherman/scientist did a study over a couple of years and dissected approximately 10,000 striped bass pulled from the lower Chesapeake Bay. The majority of those fish had ZERO body fat and empty stomachs.  Their diet is predominantly menhaden. The striped bass are starving to death right before our very eyes because Omega Protein Corporation takes a half a billion pounds of menhaden out of the Chesapeake Bay every single year. And they have for decades.

Menhaden Fishing Boat - Reedville Fish Plant

Menhaden Fishing Boat – image courtesy of www.oceanart.us

Recently there have been heated debates about putting restrictions on this plant and they’ve all been defeated due to the serious money the lobby throws at the Richmond, VA governing officials. And that is the real issue at hand here. Do I think this place should be shut down completely? Yes. The real and inexcusable issue here is that Omega won’t even entertain the idea of placing a limit on their catch. They want unobstructed rights to every menhaden in the bay. THAT’s the crime.

Every other fishing and hunting activity has limits. You can’t kill all the deer you want. You can’t catch all the blue crab you want anymore. If everyone did that, there would be nothing left. Remember the American Buffalo?  Hunted nearly to extinction? The Gray Wolf?  That’s what’s quietly happening in Reedville, VA. Some people don’t have a problem with that and personally I think those people are uneducated, unenlightened assholes.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) along with the Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia, are fighting hard to implement restrictions and save what’s left. I think they deserve support.  If you live or sail or spend any time on the Chesapeake Bay, you need to get involved in this story.  I’m not anti-fisherman. I’m not anti-corporations (usually). But I am pro-environment and when you have spotter planes and massive ships that suck up every living thing in a huge net, you’re fucking up a place that is not yours to fuck with. What could possibly stand a chance?

The upper bay hasn’t seen a menhaden in years. They can’t make it past the gauntlet that is Reedville. Melody and I saw this firsthand on our trip up the bay. South of Reedville, the surface of the water was abuzz with schools of fish. Once we passed Reedville, nothing. We saw nothing and we didn’t even realize it until we were sitting at a local watering hole here in Solomons, Maryland, a scant 40 miles north and while talking about fishing with a local, the conversation turned to the lack of big fish in the upper bay and ultimately Reedville. “Nothing survives to make up here any more,” he said. “It’s been devastating to the Bay. Rockfish are now starting to eat the blue crab and all sorts of crazy stuff is happening.”

So there… my soap box. You can read all about it via the links. Fire off some emails, donate some money, share the story or don’t do anything. If you happen to know someone in Reedville or in Richmond, feel free to send them the link to this blog. Everyone has a voice. Social media has the power to effect change.

The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America - Amazon BookSailors, boaters and travelers can also voice displeasure by NOT visiting Reedville, VA. Tourist dollars speak volumes and there are other places to go. Other places to anchor and buy fuel. I’m sorry but 250 jobs (not counting the foreign workers of course) does not equate to destroying the largest estuary on the planet. There is only one Chesapeake Bay. Bypass Reedville and head for Deltaville. It’s nicer and the air doesn’t make you wanna vomit.


*Note: A reader turned us on to this book about this amazing little fish, titled “The Most Important Fish In The Sea: Menhaden and America” if you’re interested in more info on them.
(In full disclosure, we are Amazon affiliates so if you purchase this book through this link, we get a very small commission.)

 

U-Bolt. I Bolt. We Bolt. They Bolt…

This is usually my favorite time of year. Baseball season starts. Hockey kicks into the Stanley Cup playoffs and summer is right around the corner. This year? The Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers are both booking tee times instead of logging ice time. The Phillies look to have a “re-buliding” year ahead of them and since we’ve been in south Florida for the last six months, we’ve missed that horrible winter up north and I’m not anxiously anticipating wearing my flip flops… I’ve been in ‘em since Labor Day.  Alas… I guess the only thing I’m getting excited about is the new standing rigging.  Woo-hoo! Livin’ large here on Vacilando! Right?  Just sitting here chilling with a couple pit-bulls, super models and the Cristal on ice. Uh… not really.

BOAT-break-out-another-thousand

Actually, I’m staring at a couple of U-bolts that cost us $300 EACH!  Yep… Three hundred bones. Three hundred Benjamins, clams, ducats, greenbacks, sawbucks, smackers, stacks and every other name imaginable for a damn dollar.  You know why they cost three hundred bones, Benjamins, clams…? Wait… let me back up.

When we bought the boat two years ago, the rig was questioned by the surveyor since there was no way to tell exactly when it was last done. We knew we wanted to redo the entire standing and running rigging at some point in the near future, so we decided to have an inspection done here by the local rigging giants, Nance and Underwood. I had been to N & U twice, once for a furling line and once for a quote on some halyards. Both times they were rude and a little pricey. But… since we’re working on a time frame here and after calling several other riggers, they were the only ones who could “squeeze me in.”  I should-a known.

Found to be "serviceable" by our rigging inspector

Found to be “serviceable” by our rigging inspector

Now… the photo you see, you know… the chain plate with the massive crack and rust… yeah that one… was examined by our “inspector” and found to be in “serviceable condition.” He said we just had some “surface rust” that we should hit with a scotch brite. By the way, he used his iPhone for his flashlight and only inspected three out of my six connection points stating, “We assume they’re all in the same or similar condition.” I kid you not. That’s a direct quote.

Neither me or Mel felt good about the inspection and as soon as they left, we went behind them and did our own inspection. The surface rust he casually mentioned was hiding the crack you see above. Oh, and the “new” looking chain plate below was literally one inch away on the other side of the bulkhead. How do you feel about those assumptions now?

Literally on the other side of the bulkhead, one inch away...

Literally on the other side of the bulkhead, one inch away…

Listen, Let me say this… I don’t use this blog to bash on people or go off on tirades and God knows I can go off on a tirade or two.  I could go on and on about them not using a magnifying glass, not taking photos, not even removing the boots on my spreaders, etc… etc… etc… I’m not going to do that. I did pull those chain plates off and drove to see Mr. Underwood personally.  I told him about the “inspection” that his boys did.  I told him that I didn’t pay $255.00 for an assumption, I paid for an inspection. I showed him the chain plate that you see here and his chin nearly hit the floor. To his credit, he was receptive and not the least bit defensive. He looked me straight in the eye when I spoke. He took photos and refunded every cent. I actually liked him a lot.  I will never use his company again but I think he’s a decent guy.

The $300.00 U-Bolt… I know… Can you find the crack?

The $300.00 U-Bolt… I know… Can you find the crack?

The U-Bolt above… that was made by Navtec. They have great customer service but no more U-bolts. They stopped making them. The company who does have them… is Rig Rite. They should change their name to “Rip Ur Ass Rite Off” because they are gouging people by charging $300.00 for a bolt that should cost less than a hundred bucks.  Several boats use this U-bolt with the Navtec rod connectors (Cal, Ericson, some O’Days) and the forums are ablaze with people searching for options.

At this point, we made the decision to replace all of our standing rigging before we head offshore. For our rigging needs, we were referred to Sailing Services in Miami. Brion Toss recommends them highly and now I know why. Brooks and Richard are fantastic! They gave me an incredible price and they spent almost an hour talking to me about the f-ing u-bolt issue, drew up alternative configurations and Brooks even called his friends to see if they had some laying around. No dice.

I took the old chain plates to AIM Welding and Fabrication and they made me two new ones. They are a tad over-sized, beautiful, and get this… they only charged me 95.00 bucks! Scott is awesome. If you need anything stainless or aluminum, check them out. I saw them building some vintage motorcycle gas tanks and was blown away by the detail.

Problem was we still needed to figure out the u-bolt issue but we’d spent a heck of a lot of money on all the new rigging and mechanical fittings (we went with Sta-Loc) so a re-engineering project was not on the books… We bit the bullet, or the bolt should we say and purchased two of the u-bolts and I will say this… F.U. Rig Rite. Their customer service is terrible and they don’t give a shit about ripping people off. The guy who own’s the place apparently doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong. The forums are also full of people raging about what a shitty company he has. Apparently he doesn’t believe that either. I hope he chokes on his fucking bolts personally…

What’s the point of all of this?  The point is this… know what you need done before you call someone to do it.  If at all possible, do some research and find out even a little about the job ahead of you. Youtube is an incredible resource for any project you might need to undertake.  Google it and chances are you’ll be able to find enough information to have some clue about what the mechanic, rigger, canvas person, whomever, is about to do or should be doing. You’ll be better able to spot a shoddy job or ask a question that should be asked.

To sum it up… we purchased the u-bolts and that’s a done deal. We got all our wire and connectors from Sailing Services along with a new ProFurl.  A local rigger named Brad Storm (Storm Rigging) let me work with him for a couple days and in return, he loaned us his mast climber and other gear and we are going to re-rig the boat ourselves. We’ll let you know how it goes. Fingers crossed… we’ll be heading out Port Everglades Inlet on or about the 17th of May!

Hollywood… Same Old Thong And Dance

Hollywood California… I’d venture to say there are few places like it in the world… and I’d be wrong. In fact, America has five, yes five cities named Hollywood. California of course, Hollywood, Florida, Hollywood, South Carolina, Hollywood, Alabama and Hollywood, Maryland. Although Maryland is an unincorporated community with no city government, no mayor and no city council. It’s probably the most productive of all the Hollywood for those simple reasons. But I digress. And I think any place you call Hollywood is gonna be “unique”. I think if you name your city Hollywood, you’re asking for crazy old homeless women walking around in gold lame dresses with purple headbands. You’ll have singing man on the corner, skate punks and artists. “Hollywood” calls them all. We, the crew of Vacilando have been spending some serious time in South Florida and in particular, Hollywood #2 (I say number 2 because of population totals) or as I like to call it, “Hollyweird”.

South Florida is already the land of over-population, the rudest drivers in America and the kookiest pretty people who refuse to say hello even though you’re standing next to them at the coffee machine looking right into their face. Yep, the areas is rich with climate and culture yet deficient in courtesy and patience. But… I love Hollywood! While not crazy about the municipal marina, the place my awesome bike was stolen, the town itself is really cool. It has great funky bars and dare I say, “neighborhood” type joints that just ooze character and some seriously good eats. The Broadwalk on the beach is the absolute best place to people watch and if you play your cards right, you can hit it during Canada Fest when the place is infested with our French Canadian neighbors from the north who insist on wearing nothing but speedos and sandals into the restaurants. “Um, I’ll just have a beer… I’ve lost my appetite.”

On a really good day, you’ll catch “Thong Man” riding his bicycle over the draw bridge and get stuck behind him as he pedals at a snail’s pace to ensure you get the full view of his middle-aged hairy ass and back. Yes, the man rides his bike in nothing but a thong.  A really, really small thong. And… I’d like to kill him.

The Tiki Hut - Hollywood, FL

Hollywood’s Coolest Place

But I think my favorite thing about Hollywood is the Tiki Hut. It’s little, teeny-tiny tiki bar on A1A just south of Jimbo’s and just north of Sheridan Street. If you’re not careful, you’ll drive right by it… about five times. “Small” is an understatement. It’s literally just a 15×15 foot tiki hut tucked way back on a gravel parking lot with a bunch of old beer signs, a weathered picket fence strewn with fish nets and a porta-pot as it’s “restroom”.  And trust me… you’ll get little rest in there.

One day, Melody and I decided to stop. We’d driven by it a hundred times and just thought it was too weird to stop. Who runs the joint? Is it even open? Do they have food?  So many questions and only one way to find out. We pulled in on a Sunday afternoon and were met by Eddie, the “bartender?” He was originally from Southern California and has known the owner for nearly all his life. When you walk in… or up to… oh, hell… when you get there and get up to what appears to be a bar, Eddie will great you with an amazing smile and ask you what you want. “Two Buds if you got em”, I said… “Two Buds”, Eddie says and promptly walks away. He walks across the gravel and into a shed where a refrigerator resides full of frosty cold cans of Budweiser and other sudsy beverages.

There is a sea wall that kisses the intracoastal waterway and a tee box if you decide you’d like to drive some golf balls into the wildlife park across the ICW. There are a couple of picnic tables and errant lawn furniture to belly up to and if you ask Eddie, as I did, “What’s the story on this joint?” He’ll tell you. He’ll tell you as if he’s known you for twenty years. He’ll smile the entire time he’s talking and after he finishes telling his big Alaskan husky to “…go lay in the shade!” He’ll end with this, “…I want you to feel like you’re in your own back yard, man. Kick off your shoes and chill out. No mean people are allowed here and all we’re trying to do is not get swallowed up by all the bullshit coming.” Sadly, Eddie… I’m afraid the gargantuan Margaritaville Hotel and Resort that they’re erecting down the block is not only destroying the vibe of your little town, it is in fact going to cover you in bullshit and I fear a lot more mean people, too.

Heartfelt THANKS!

Wow… where to start? First let me apologize for not posting in a little while. We have been going full throttle and I can’t even believe it’s already March. February was quite the month – not only did we release our book “You Gotta Go To Know” on Amazon, I also released a new single called “The Fray”, which I recorded last summer during our stay at Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, MD. It’s the most stripped down song I’ve ever done and talks about relishing the simplest moments.

Thanks to all of you and many others, You Gotta Go To Know was the #1 Best Seller in the sailing category on Amazon for the entire month of February and still holding the spot! We are overwhelmed by the amazing reviews, stories and feedback you’ve all contributed.  We heard from folks all over the world and Melody and I sincerely thank you all for reading along and dreaming with us.  The new single, The Fray, is not topping ANY charts! But what’s new… we are undeterred. It’s been several years since I’ve released new music and never have I released a song that I recorded on the boat complete with a cicada accompaniment.

We have been doing these independent ventures with the hopes of creating enough momentum to enable us to cut the employment cord and head to the destinations that lured us to this lifestyle in the first place. This is the year! We really hope to get the rig replaced, a new roller furler and headsail and then figure out our departure plans for next fall.

All this said, I am super grateful for the people in my life. We have incredible friends and family and that family keeps growing everyday when we meet amazing people out on the water. Whether doing the ICW, living in the same marina for 5 years or sailing to the South Pacific, you continue to dream and inspire and that is what we think this is all about. Inspiring others to push through when it might be easier to stop.

I know for a fact that this has been an exceptionally difficult winter for folks all over the country and the world. A lot of our family and friends have suffered through the unusually bitter cold and massive snow falls. All I can say is hold fast, Spring is coming!

Much love and thanks from the crew of Vacilando!

Sunrise at Dania Beach Pier by Vacilando

You Gotta Go To Know

“Every minute you spend wishing you did something is a minute you spend not doing it.”  ~Chris DiCroce, You Gotta Go To Know

You Gotta Go To Know CoverHey y’all – Melody here. I meant to get this post up earlier in the week, but it’s been quite a whirlwind around here! Long story short, we’ve been down in South Florida for a couple of months now, and because Chris works freelance, he often has stretches of time where he doesn’t have “work” – which is funny to say because he’s always working on something – the boat, his music, etc. In fact, he’s hardly ever not working. If there’s anything that needs to be done (which, as you know on a boat, that’s always), he has a hard time allowing himself to relax, so I’ve been trying to encourage him to get away from the boat and boat projects, and just go to the library and write… a blog post, perhaps a song. After many long days at the library, he comes back one evening and tells me he wrote… a book? Yep. A book.

What has happened since it went live 4 days ago has been amazing. We have been overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the people who downloaded it, and for the awesome reviews that readers have taken the time to leave on Amazon. I know I’m biased, but I think Chris has a way of weaving words into something more than just a story, and I love seeing that I’m not the only one who thinks that. The book is available on Amazon. Don’t have a Kindle? You can download the FREE Kindle Reader for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, etc. Thank you again for the downloads, reviews and the kind comments on Facebook. Y’all are awesome.

When Good Decisions Go Bad

Happy New Year everyone.  With the holidays behind us and the awesome AeroPress give-away done, I can get back to the business of sailing and sailboats.  Funny thing… we’re not sailing. We are however adding to the ever-growing lists of things that need attention on “V” and preparing to pull her out for the bottom job that is long over due.  In the mean time, I am going to write a post I have both been looking forward to and dreading.  Looking forward to the comments and feedback all of you will provide and dreading all the comments and feedback all of you will provide! I’ve since spoken to many of my serious off-shore sailing pals and described the events I’m about to write about here and have gotten their takes and suggestions (as well as several, “WTF were you thinking!”) and now it’s your turn.

On our trip down this year, we had several bouts with weather and most of them you are familiar with as we usually posted on the Facebook page.  One event in particular was tropical storm Andrea that kept us sitting in Reedville, Virginia for about three days.  We were holed up in a safe and very secure anchorage just off the crab shack there and doing just fine, although a bit bored and damp from the dinghy rides ashore.  Nothing was open at that time of year (mid October) and the town was quiet.

The wind was 20-25 from the northeast most of the week. As we sat, we discussed the possible weather window for our continuation south, listened intently to NOAA and repeatedly checked Passage Weather, Wind Finder and several other weather forecasters in order to formulate the plan.  After a few days of this and not much positive news, we decided that we had sailed in heavy weather in the past and since it was N-NE and we were heading SSW, it was a manageable situation.  Melody has been in the Gulf of Mexico on several occasions when the wind piped to over 20 knots and was accompanied by rain, lightning, rising seas and reduced visibility. She’s of the opinion, “we are sailors and the only way to gain heavy-weather sailing experience is to be out in heavy-weather“.  As a licensed Captain, I don’t take that sentiment lightly.  Safety is the main decider aboard Vacilando. But, after much conversation and plotting our “ditch” options should it get too bad, we decided to poke our heads out and make for Seaford, VA just inside the entrance to the York River.  The entrance to the channel was south west and seemed like a very doable scenario with a NNE wind.

storm on the horizon

On this particular morning, as I stood on the bow I thought to myself, “I should tie in a double-reef right this minute before I even pull up this anchor.”  THAT right there should give you all the information and ammunition you all need to ROAST me for the poor decision I made NOT to do so.  When you think it’s time to reef, you’re too late.  This would later prove to be an almost catastrophic error.  I weighed anchor and we headed out past the completely rebuilt and quite impressive smoke stack that marks the Reedville harbor.  Two other boats followed us out so I wasn’t the only one who felt that 20-25 from the NNE was reasonable – a small Stone Horse 23 and a large Pilothouse that I didn’t get a good look at so I can’t tell you the make.  Anyway, as we passed the last markers into the Bay, we motored and fell off to our course for the day. I unfurled about 40% of the 110 on the furler and the boat was heading between 100 and 120% down wind.  The swell on the port quarter is the reason for the deviation but we were controlled and moving at a steady 6 to 7 knots.  I did leave the engine running just in case we had any issues and needed to maintain steerage.  The Stone Horse behind me had his staysail up and the Pilot House was under double reefed main. Not sure if either were motor sailing.

This configuration worked perfectly fine all day. We did roll a bit and I was wishing (and kicking my ass) that I’d double reefed the main and had it up instead of the furled jib. The wind began to build and by the time we hit Wolf Trap Light, the wind built to a steady 35 knots and was climbing.  The seas at this point were 10 to 12 feet and I’m bad at estimating that and usually go conservatively. Shortly after, the wind went due North and that made my decision to head SSW – a very uncomfortable one at this point. That would put me beam to the swell and ditching into the precarious Horn Harbor was not a viable option.

I’ve been pooped twice in my life. Having a wave break into the cockpit and into the back of your head is a scary situation to say the least… Both times were on this day about 20 minutes apart. Melody was down below in all of this WORKING… making phone calls and conducting business and had no real idea what was going on until she poked her head out. I still cannot believe she was able to function down below. She felt the increase of wind and seas and was astonished when she came into the cockpit.

storm

This photo wasn’t taken on this particular day, but it is our boat in a storm and that day on the Bay looked very much like the photo… but without the mainsail up.

I wanted to go forward and reef, albeit way too late, but she was not in agreement with me going on deck in the conditions as she had never steered in wind and waves like we were then experiencing. I wasn’t going to fight with her in this situation or argue but I should have gone forward and reefed.  Spotting and then getting Wolf Trap Light to pass on starboard was a harrowing task as the seas were bowling me straight into it and my rolled up headsail had very little drive.  The engine was now compensating for my poor decisions and I struggled to get the boat to respond as it would if properly canvased. Not much was said on deck as we did get around Wolf Trap and then had to point up into the York River.  We would have to jibe the headsail.

The waves astern were swinging the boat to the point were the jib did backwind and jibed a couple times unintentionally.  I thought we might lose the rig. I really did.  I wish I had better notes of my compass course and the exact wind direction but I don’t. I know we were trying to find a very narrow channel to the York River entrance and to the west of that Channel lay depths of three feet.  I had very few options and of course as you all know, things get worse before better.  Visibility was about 1/4 of a mile with torrents of rain coming regularly. Usually I welcome rain as it will often flatten the sea state.  Not today, not in the shallow water that we were in.

Since the Jib was uncontrollable in this sea state, I furled it completely. This is where we may as well have been playing Russian Roulette.  I motored with our 1984 Universal Diesel, beam to the seas for about thirty-minutes in an attempt to find that channel marker.  We pitched and rolled violently for every, single one of those minutes and before it was said and done, I saw a steady blast of 43 knots on my instruments.  I stopped watching the gauges after that and tried desperately to show no fear or concern as Mel was now in the cockpit with me brandishing the binoculars trying to find our mark.  I had the chart plotter on and yes it was on there but as you all know, that’s a “cartoon” of where you are in the world… My concern was once we spotted that Red marker, would it be to starboard where it should be or have we been blown so far off that we were also outside the Green as well.  The long and short of it is, we found the Red and yes we had it where it needed to be.

We got into the channel and the anchorage where it was still blowing 25 knots. We spent several days in Seaford experiencing the incredible generosity of those folks at the Seaford Yacht Club and playing over the trip a hundred times.  One clogged fuel filter… one simple engine failure that had been happening pretty frequently, and we would have been on the rocks.  By the time I could have gotten to the main and tucked in the reef that should have already been there, we would have been at the mercy of those ridiculously steep Chesapeake waves.  I fear I’d be telling a different story.  I will say, our CAL 35 is an amazingly unassuming vessel. We have repeatedly been in some tough weather and she is a good little ship.

A couple months removed, I am posting this to prompt discussion.  As I’ve said, I have spoken to several folks and they’ve confirmed what I knew in my heart but I promised to write this and lay it all out there.  That said, feel free to critique and filet my decisions.

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Melody’s Jewelry

Maggie and Milly - Nautical Shackle Bracelets for sailors, surfers - beachwear

Chris’ Music

Chris Dicroce: The Fray
Chris DiCroce: Songs from Before (The Unreleased EP)

About Us

You Gotta Go To KnowChris: Singer/Songwriter (and now Author) from Philly, transplanted to Nashville, needed a break from the entertainment business and decided to convince his girlfriend to live on a boat.
Melody: Computer Nerd/Writer/Jewelry Designer who thought her boyfriend was crazy for wanting to live on a boat but never one to shy away from an adventure, decided to play along and now may never get off the boat.
Jet: Dutch Shepherd rescue who has now traveled more miles in his 5 years with Chris and Melody than most people do in a lifetime. We're waiting for him to say "screw it" and jump off the boat.
The Boat:A 1984 Cal 35. Our home.

We Wouldn’t Do Without…

Tower Paddle Board Inflatable SUP - Perfect for Sailboats - Vacilando