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September 20, 2003

Isabel comes calling!

We are in Annapolis at “The Yacht Basin” Marina and are all snuggled down for the arrival of Isabel. It is Thursday and she is expected here about 2 AM tomorrow (Friday) and is forecast to pass west of us but not by much! Why do these things always happen in the middle of the night? The local forecast is for heavy rain, 60 kn winds and lots of storm surge. We have nothing to do but wait and check on the mooring lines from time to time. It is warm now and the wind is below 20 kn so we just took a walk around the docks to chat with other boaters. There are still 4 sailboats anchored off the Naval Academy who are apparently going to weather the storm there. If I were going to anchor I wouldn’t pick that spot. It is exposed and the bottom holding is not good. There are some great hurricane holes up the Severn River that would be a lot safer – but to each is own!
It is now Saturday the 20th and we have survived Isabel without any problems other than a dent in the checkbook for the 4 days of Marina fees. Others were not so lucky and three boats that were anchored off the Naval Academy bit the dust. Two were sunk after going ashore on the rocks along the Academy and the other was lifted over the rocks onto the road that is just inside the rocks. The big part of Isabel was the storm surge that was several feet above the top surface of the docks - about 6 or 7 feet above normal water level. It was no problem for us but caused a lot of problems in Annapolis and elsewhere with power outages an d water damage. We have checked out of the marina and moved back to the magothy River and anchored. It is a pleasant day with a light breeze and calm waters.
Since the last Ship’s Log a lot has happened. Ethan and Carolyn were eliminated as the 3rd from last couple on Race to the Altar and 2 weeks ago went to LA for the winners wedding ceremony. We got to see the final show in a local restaurant in Baltimore last Saturday night. Their wedding is set for September 27th in South Jersey and we will be going up the middle of next week to help get ready and to be there. Ethan is planning to sky dive into the wedding site from a helicopter and they have put a lot of thought and planning into making the wedding a memorable event. The show has given them a free honeymoon in Mexico, which is a nice bonus.
We attended the Southbound Cruisers reunion in Baltimore last week. There were 220+ boats there and several that we had met during our trip to the Bahamas last winter. It was very well organized with good speakers and seminars and lots of social fun. We now have a Globalstar satellite phone to augment the Verizon cell phone. It provides coverage throughout the US and Bahamas – in fact for all the Caribbean so we won't (should not?) have trouble communicating like we did last year.
We got a new (used) 120% jib to replace the worn out old yankee-cut jib that came with the boat 4 years ago. There is a store here in Annapolis that sells used sails and I ended up paying $1,550 for a virtually new sail that fits perfectly instead of paying a sail maker $3,000 or more to have one made. The larger size adds to Omegas sailing speed and pointing and gives peace of mind that we won’t blow out a seam or something along the way. I have also just purchased a new (used) mainsail for the same place that is being modified by the local sail maker to work on Omega. Again I think a got a fair deal at about 1/3 the cost of a new sail. So omega has a new suit of clothes as we head south again.
We have decided not to do the Caribbean 1500 from Norfolk direct to Tortola BVI. Sue and I looked each other in the eye and said we weren’t ready for 12-15 days of open ocean sailing yet. We will go down the ICW again (but with more outside hops) to south Florida (Forth Worth) and then hop over to the Abacos. Daughter Louisa and husband Chris are joining us December 24th in Marsh Harbor for a week of vacation and scuba diving. They are in the process of getting scuba qualified now. We need to be in South Florida well ahead of this date to be sure we have time to wait for a good weather window to cross the Gulf Stream in early December. This means we will be leaving the Chesapeake at the end of October to be in Morehead City NC by November 1st (the official end of Hurricane season) when our insurance allows us to proceed south.
Once we get to the Bahamas, we can decide how far south to go this year. It is possible to work your way down to Puerto Rico and then to the Virgin Islands by island hopping. Once you “turn the corner” at St. Martin it is easier going since the prevailing trade winds put you on a beam reach. Coming back is much easier than getting there with the wind behind you!

Posted by Dick at 03:07 PM