Sunday, September 30, 2012

On to Buffalo tomorrow...

At 6:30 a.m. the weather forecast was for 5 to 10 knot winds out of the northeast, with rain expected most of the day. Although we are anxious to get to Buffalo we decided to spend one more day in Dunkirk. The forecast for tomorrow is much we will sail at daybreak. Once in Buffalo we will say goodbye to Lake Erie, enter Buffalo Harbor and continue to the Black Rock Canal. The Canal runs along the Niagara River. The current in this part of the Niagara River can be 8 - 10 knots. That is not somewhere I want to be with a 35 horse power engine. The Black Rock Canal utilizes a lock to drop the boats five feet and at the same time avoid the strong current. We all know where the Niagara River goes...over Niagara falls. You can not be too careful here.
We spent the day doing odd jobs on the boat and making a blueprint of all the running rigging so that I can put it back together when the mast is stepped in Catskill. I am familiar with most of the running rigging, (lines that control the sails), as well as the standing rigging, (cables that support and align the mast), at this point. However a diagram will not hurt.
Serenity's mast will be unstepped, that is taken down in Buffalo. We will carry the mast on deck through the Erie Canal. Do you remember the song from junior high school.. ..Low bridge everybody down? Well it still holds true today. I read where the clearance of some of the bridges on the western Erie Canal is 15 feet.
Tomorrow we sail to Buffalo. Tuesday I need to detach all rigging and build the on deck supports for the mast. They will be crude. My tools are limited. Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday the mast will be lifted out with a crane and laid into the supports. I will then need to secure the supports and the mast from moving. Can you imagine what kind of damage a 48 foot mast can do to a boat? Crossing Lake Oneida can be rough, and the Hudson River can be as well. If the mast can move it could come loose and hurt someone, do damage, or even be lost overboard. I will get pictures of the mast on deck, and will use the George Ryder, (my dad), technique to tie it so we do not have to worry. My dad used to tie things on the top of our family station wagon, and it would take a couple of hours to untie them. Of course you know who had to untie.
We will be going through 36 locks on the Erie Canal, while motoring 363 miles at 6 miles per hour. We will have a mast hanging over the bow and stern of the boat. This should be interesting, as well as fun. At least we do not have to worry about being bored. So far this has been a great trip. Shirl and I are adjusting to life aboard Serenity. In this situation the boat becomes your own little world. We take care of Serenity and she takes care of us.

It seems we always see some interesting boats wherever we are.

Argo is a government boat that does annual assessments to monitor Lake Erie and the fish stocks to help manage the lakes resources.

 The economy has had a negative impact on boating on Lake Erie. There are empty slips everywhere. People are taking their boats out of the water for winter, but it is apparent it has been a slow year for business at many marinas.
 Shirl brought me a surprise today...a Jamaican drink.

We walked to the pier tonight and listened to a band play. They were pretty good and the store next to them had cans with blue mountains...just like at home.
If any of you are thinking you need some excitement, or a change of pace, or just want to mix it up a little...I highly recommend taking off in a sailboat. See you in Buffalo!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

On to New York

Even though the forecast was for NE winds we decided to sail to Dunkirk today. We motor sailed most of the way. That is we sailed with our motor, (nicknamed little big man or LBM) running. We were able to just sail for the last ten miles. We both much prefer sailing. The good news is that LBM ran great, and although overcast, it was not terribly cold today. Lake Erie was calm with two to three foot waves, and light winds. The forecast for tomorrow is for light winds, east shifting to north, and an eighty percent chance of rain all day.We hear a lot of thunder right now. I will check the forecast early in the a.m. If there are no changes we may spend the day here in Dunkirk. With winter moving in we are anxious to begin heading south. Although it will be a lot of motoring,and a lot of miles east instead of south,  I am looking forward to the Erie Canal. I remember learning about the Erie Canal in junior high school. I have always been fascinated by boats, barges, and all things nautical. We will keep you posted about our progress.

Below is a map of our route so far. We decided to only sail during the day on Lake Erie. The blue stars represent where we stopped each leg of the trip. We started in Lorain last Monday and we are now in Dunkirk...almost to Buffalo, where we will begin our cruise through the Erie Canal next week.

 A calm Lake Erie...unfortunately small waves and light winds go together.

 Cruising at five knots in eight and on half knots of wind. Not bad...

 Arriving at Dunkirk...rock formations at the waters edge.

 The light house at Dunkirk.

One for Rodger and Eileen....another Blue Moon. (Rodger and Eileen have a houseboat named Blue Moon)

Someone sent me comment!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tomorrow...New York!

We left Erie at 9:00 a.m. in route to Dunkirk, New York. The wind was out of the Northeast and according to the forecast was to change to the north at 11:00 a.m. The wind was blowing 15-18 knots right at us...we are traveling Northeast. Shirl and I decided that if the wind was going to change at 11:00 a.m., we would motor into the wind and sail after the wind changed directions, allowing us to arrive at Dunkirk before dark. The waves were very large. This is not so bad but as is typical in Lake Erie they were very close together. They were so close in fact that at times there were two waves under Serenity at the same time. For those of you not familiar with me a few months ago...a sailboat can not sail directly into the wind. Motoring directly into the wind is called beating, and can make for a very uncomfortable ride. Serenity does a great job with waves, but waves this size combined with 15-18 knot winds on the nose do slow the boat down. The waves were running six to eight feet. We had gone only eight miles in two hours. We have a weather app on our cell phones, and when Shirl checked the revised forecast we discovered that the wind would not shift to the north until 2:00. With that delay we could not make it to Dunkirk before dark, and to be honest the ride was very uncomfortable. I do not want to enter an unfamiliar harbor after dark...after all we are still newbies, and there is not a good place to stop in between. We decided to turn around and spend one more day in Erie. We turned, rolled out the genoa. and sailed back at six miles an hour with the waves on our stern. It was a great sail, and very comfortable, even if it was in the wrong direction.
The forecast for tomorrow is for winds out of the Southwest. We plan to leave early and sail all the way. After Dunkirk it is on to Buffalo. I made a tentative appointment at a marina in Buffalo to have the mast unstepped on Monday. We will carry the mast on deck through the Erie Canal.
When we returned to Erie, Shirl had made some calls to find an ethernet Cat 5 coupler so I could finalize the installation of our Rouge Wave WiFi booster. We decided we would walk to Radio Shack. What I did not realize was that the walk was 6 1/2 miles. (she knew) We did walk to Radio Shack all 6 1/2 miles and they did have the coupler I needed. After leaving Radio Shack Shirl wanted to walk back. I decided it was better to take a cab...$20.00 well shoes are more than that.
I installed the coupler, turned on the router, and we now have Internet on the boat. (more on this later)
Last night we set out on picnic tables close to the marina office to have Internet access, tonight we are on Serenity, nice and warm, (heater running), surfing away. One thing I do miss is not having transportation...6 1/2 miles of missing it.
I am really enjoying cruising. I love living on the boat, the sailing, traveling, visiting new places, meeting people, and the problem solving. It is not all margaritas and sunshine. This is a lot of work, and very enjoyable at the same time. By the way the sunshine has not been there either. Shirl and I have naturally gravitated to the jobs on Serenity that we enjoy and are good at (future blog post). So far the teamwork has been great, and made for an enjoyable cruise. Make no mistake, we are still newbies...but getting more experience all the time.

 Perry's Monument in Misery Bay, Presque Isle, Erie Pennsylvania
 Along the waterfront in Erie
 More waterfront
 After entering Erie Harbor I called the marina on the VHF and asked for directions. His reply was "turn to port at the hotel, go under the walkway, turn to port at the back of the hotel, go one hundred yards, turn to starboard, and look for B-9". My reply...WTH, I mean OK! I guess I am just not used to going under walkways and behind hotels in a boat with a fifty foot mast.  Learning new my age...I love this part.
 On the way out...all 35 horse power.
Shirl and Captain Hook!

The water was too rough to try the auto pilot today, but Eric...Serenity's previous owner emailed me and told me to check for any metal around the area where the auto helm compass is located. We found a portable vacuum, and some metal hangers near the area. Items were removed and we will check the auto pilot tomorrow.  Thanks again Eric! It is so nice to have the previous owner to call on.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A bit of history...

Since we did not sail today we decided to explore a little of the waterfront in Erie. We spent time at the Maritime Museum, where a replica of Perry’s ship, the Niagara is docked. We toured the ship with a very interesting tour guide. He sailed on this particular ship for ten years. The ship goes to different cities on Lake Erie for tours, and does day cruises. Niagara has a crew of forty, including twenty students learning to sail a square rigger. The ship was beautiful and the tour was very educational.

A brief history lesson…
After the American Revolution, England was not happy with the independence of the thirteen American Colonies, and still had ideas about expansion in America.  One of the areas of disagreement focused on the area around the Great Lakes, the border between British Canada America. On June 18, 1812 America declared war on England…sometimes referred to as the second war for independence.  It is a historical fact that America was unprepared for war. Initially the war did not go well for America with the British taking Detroit and Mackinac, as well as Ft. Dearborn, (Chicago).  President Madison was very interested in retaining control of Lake Erie. He ordered a naval fleet of ships to be built.  Construction of the fleet was mostly done by hand in Erie, Pennsylvania. Presque Isle Bay was an ideal spot to build the fleet because British Ships could not get in because of their deep draft. Oliver Perry took charge of the operation in the Spring of 1813. The battle took place near Put-in-Bay, on September 10, 1813. Even though the British cannons could fire a distance of one mile and the American cannons could only fire one half of a mile, Perry and the Americans still won the battle. There were many reasons for the victory, but one was that the British officers would dress as officers making themselves targets, while Perry wore a seaman's coat. “We have met the enemy and they are ours”…remember Perry’s quote from American History? The victory secured Lake  Erie, which is now part of the largest unguarded border in the world.  If you are interested in reading more about  this battle just google The Battle for Lake Erie. It is fascinating.

The Niagara 

 Masts and rigging...

 How is this for a long board?

 One of the cannons that would only shoot 1/2 mile. I was thinking that this would be useful to help enforce a no wake zone.

 Isn't this little sailboat cute?

Tomorrow we hope to sail to to Dunkirk New York, and then Saturday on to Buffalo. The winds are out of the Northeast right now...the direction we want to go. They are supposed to shift to the East by morning. 
So far the trip has been great. We are feeling some urgency to get across New York before it gets too cold.
Thanks for checking out the blog.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good bye Ohio...Hello Pennsylvania

We are in Erie, Pennsylvania. We had a good sail in terrible weather. It was raining most of the time with winds between 8 and 12 knots. There was also a lot of fog. When we arrived at the waypoint for the entrance to port of the Erie, it was raining so hard you could not see the entrance. I relied on the chart plotter to guide us in while Shirl watched for other boats. A little tense but turned out well. We are docked at the Moorings of Wolverine Park which is right behind a large hotel on the waterfront. It is interesting that we did not see another boat on our entire sail today.
 I will get a good nights sleep tonight. Last night I kept getting up to make sure the wind had not shifted, so I did not get much rest.Our next stop will be Dunkirk, about 44 miles east. Then it is on to Buffalo and the Erie Canal. We may not get to sail tomorrow. The forecast is for northeast winds which would probably mean motoring most of the way, which we would rather not do.

 Leaving Conneaut...

 Do you see the entrance to the Port of Erie...between the rain and the fog neither did we.

 This is the screen from the chart plotter. The boat is Serenity, and we are staying between the buoys with the help of GPS.
Night shot of Serenity at the dock in Erie. Click the picture for a better view. Serenity is the boat at the end of the dock.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Today we sailed from Fairport to Conneaut.  We had a chilly but great sail with winds 8 to 10 knots early and then 10 to 15 knots gusting to 20 in the afternoon. We sailed on a broad reach the entire way, only tweaking the sail a couple of times. The cruising book that we have stated there were transient slips in the Conneaut harbor but with the water level being down, we could not utilize the slips because of Serenity’s 4 ½ foot draft. We were told we could check out the municipal pier but that it is very shallow getting to it. Shallow it is,with very little room to turn. On our second attempt Shirl threw a rope around a pier post, and we were able to muscle the boat in. The winds are blowing strongly out of the southwest …luckily. If the winds shift and blow out of the north or northeast we will have to leave here. The winds are not supposed to change until tomorrow night. We are directly in line with the opening of the harbor, and not protected from the waves at all. Tomorrow we will sail to Erie. The only issue I had today was with the auto pilot. For some reason it will not stay on course. I will have to trouble shoot that tomorrow. I can't post pictures tonight because of a very slow internet connection. I will post from Erie.

 Serenity at the municipal pier. You can see the harbor entrance in the background. Moored here there is no protection in a northeast wind. 

 You can see the channel makers...and on the left side of the picture is ground...very shallow.

 Luckily the wind stayed southwest and we were able to follow the same track out of the marine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Then I'm heading south fore my dream shrinks...I gotta go where it's warm."

You said it Jimmy! We woke at 6:30 a.m. to rain and temperatures in the high 30's. After checking the weather once more we decided to go for it. The cruise begins...Our goal was Fairport Harbor...51 statute miles, 43.7 nautical miles. Cleveland and Mentor were plan B and C in case of a problem or bad weather. Waves were four to five feet so we had an exciting ride. The wind was coming from the southwest and we were heading northeast. The waves were moving faster than we were so they would lift the stern of Serenity and pass under us. Some would break under us and send a vibration through the hull. We needed to be on a run today...dead downwind...the one point of sail we had not practiced much or should I say at all. We did get some practice in today.

 A pirate looks at 61
The 2x4s behind me are to build mast supports for the Erie Canal.

 Anyone want to stop in Cleveland?  Not today!

 Does Shirl look worried to you? A nap east of Cleveland.

 Fairport Harbor entrance... a welcome sight.

Serenity and Shirl at Fairport Harbor
Serenity loves to can just tell. It was a great day and a fun sail. We learned a lot today. We only had one accidental jibe...when it happens the boom swings across so fast it sounds like the mast in coming down. more fun time I will rig a preventer!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“If I had more skill in what I’m attempting, I wouldn’t need so much courage” Ashleigh Brilliant

This title is so true and I am sure will be the subject of a post in the near future. We are asked a lot if we are worried or fearful. This question never comes from those with sailing experience however. The short answer is that right now we are not worried and not fearful. Ask us again tomorrow night.
Today the weather was not any better than the last week has been.  It is cold and rainy. We are definitely getting used to the motion of the boat. We did however complete the remaining projects and will leave early tomorrow morning. The forecast is for favorable winds and a high of 60 degrees.

Our window on the world shot... Red skies at night... sailors delight.

 We topped off the fuel tank as well as the water. This is Serenity at the fuel dock in between rain and wind storms. We got back into our slip just in time.

 The fuel interesting picture.

 The last day in Lorain and a drink and dinner at Jackalopes. This marina has been a good place for us. We have met some nice people...a lot of sailors, and logged some sailing experience, and are much more familiar with Serenity.

 Waterspouts on the lake. One of the reasons we did not leave today. This picture was taken with a cell phone. Shirl saw a couple of these while on a walk today. There was a small craft warning as well.

 Shirl on the rocks!

Bird dock at our marina. The adventure begins tomorrow with an eight hour sail! Our goal is to get to Fairport. In the event of bad weather we can stop in Cleveland. With sailing you always need a plan B.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


 We are back in Lorain. Rodger and Eileen traveled with us to Lake Erie and drove my truck back home late last night. We are so thankful for good friends. Thanks again Rodger and Eileen. They did not get to see much of Lake Erie. It was raining and cold, but they did get to visit Serenity, and see what she is like. Today was a project day as we get Serenity ready to sail. The weather here today was terrible as it has been for several days. There were a couple of hours today when the sun was out and there was a very stiff breeze. I did see a sailboat go out for a short sail. Shirl is still organizing. She has been at it all day and I must say the boat looks great. While she organized I added a board to attach the Honda generator and a gas container to while underway. The generator will come in handy for those cloudy days when the solar panels are not effective. 

I used a cedar board and attached it with stainless hardware. you can see the propane locker at the bottom of the picture. I did not get to treat the board because of all the rain. I will do that later. A rare moment with sun today.

 While I was installing our WiFi booster, (Rogue Wave), Shirl found some water behind the settee on the port side. I am not a very experienced sailor but from all my powerboat and houseboat experience I do know that we want to keep the water on the outside of the boat. I looked behind the settee and found a small crack in the hose that is at the bottom of the propane locker. This hose provides a drain for the water that enters the has been raining for days, as well as vents the propane overboard in the event of a leak in the tanks or a hose in the locker. Propane is heavier than air and will exit through the hose and overboard. Since I could not go buy a replacement hose...I have no transportation...I did the next best thing.
Yes, you guessed it...a temporary fix with duct tape. We will replace the hose as soon as possible, and in the mean time turn off the propane at the tank after every use. I do have duct tape and WD 40 on board.

No leaks!

A shot for the guys... While running wires for the WiFi booster...a glimpse behind the nav station.

 The weather today...a good day to be at the dock.

Ted, Eileen, and Rodger at Lake Erie. Shirl took the picture. 

We will finish the rest of our projects tomorrow and be ready to sail Monday. The weather is uncertain for tomorrow, and there are couple of projects left to do. We are ready to go...after tomorrow Serenity will be ready also. It is hard to believe we have put all this together in a little over three months. It is in the mid to low 40's here tonight...time to go. Thanks to everyone who is following the blog. We hope you enjoy our adventure. We are very grateful for this opportunity, and especially to be sharing it with each other.
Sail on...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We have radar!

I received a call from Mark today who told me that the radar was functional and we were good to go. The problem was a bad coupler / connection. If you are in the area and need work done on your boat...from systems to fiberglass, I would recommend Parker Marine. I appreciate the fact that Mark spent some extra hours trouble shooting which resulted in a solution. Parker Marine has worked on Serenity in the past and are more familiar with the boat than I am. Thanks again Mark and Dick for the good work. If you are interested check out the Parker Marine web site. they have some cool projects pictured there.

Mark working on the radar.

We are going to Lorain tomorrow. If nothing changes it looks like the weather as well as the wind will be fine for a Sunday departure. We have a lot to do before then. We are very happy that the time to cruise has finally arrived.  Thanks to everyone who is checking out the blog. It has been technical and a lot of work...We should be able to add some more fun now.