Enjoy the final post from Leg 2, and scroll to the bottom for a selection of photos.
‘That was the worst day of boating I’ve had in 40 years!’
So said my dad after Monday’s motorboat ride up the Delaware Bay and back into familiar waters. He wasn’t kidding.
The Delaware is notorious for it’s biting black flies. We knew this of course, and have indeed experienced it before. In fact, that last trip up the Bay was our fourth on Isbjörn this year alone! But this time was really something.
When we finally rounded Cape May after battling headwinds for a few days and tacking down the New Jersey beaches, the wind shut down, as it often does, and we fired up the diesel. We wouldn’t shut it down again until arriving into City Dock in Annapolis Harbor.
The flies bombarded us. The heat was bad enough – temperature indexes were over 100º F – but the flies on top of that made it unbearable. They swarmed the boat, landing on and sticking to everything, and biting! After a short while, and despite the sweltering heat – we were downwind to boot, what little wind there was, so there was no apparent wind going over the boat at all – my dad donned a pair of blue jeans and socks in an effort to find relief from what we’ve called over the years the ‘Baltimore Biters.’ I wrapped my legs in a sarong and wore my running shoes, and Matt, at the helm, wore a sheet wrapped around his legs. Mia and Rachel were in long tights, shoes and socks.
At one point my dad must have had 50 flies on his legs and ankles – when you smashed one, the others got crazy, and became cannibalistic, swarming on and eating their fallen comrade. I tried to go below and nap, but they were biting me through the sheets and covers I had. Finally I resigned myself to being awake all day and all night if that had continued.
Thankfully it didn’t. By sunset, we had a massive fly death onboard. Suddenly they all just dropped dead, in the cockpit and down below. Mia swept them up by the hundreds in the cabin, and we hosed out the cockpit. I put shorts back on and my dad changed out of his jeans. By nightfall though, the mosquitos came out and we had another insect challenge, but that was relatively painless in comparison (though Mia might disagree, as she’s covered in bites today).
Breakfast & Customs
The wind never did come back and we motored through the C&D Canal and right the way back to Annapolis, passing under the Bay Bridge around 0800. I was on watch, having relieved Matt at 0600. I woke him up, thinking he might like to see it. He kind of groaned and rolled over, but eventually got a case of what my dad calls FOMO – ‘Fear of Missing Out’ – and came up anyway.
Since we were earlier than anticipated, we took Isbjörn into City Dock to tie up and get some breakfast at Pussers there on the waterfront, but only after our celebratory champagne toast! I had called customs to report our arrival, and was told we’d have 24 hours to report to immigration after tying up the boat. Weirdly, the only ‘convenient’ place was at the international terminal at BWI airport. So after our omelets and mimosas, we piled in the car and drove up there. They took our passports, and in less than five minutes we were on our way again. I think the only reason they needed to see us was because of Mia’s green card – she’s the only one who got a stamp.
Rachel departed directly from the airport. Her fiancé Lee was only 100 miles from completing a cross-country cycling trip with a friend of his, and was due into Baltimore, where they live, sometime today. Lee’s parent’s picked Rachael up at the airport so she could be there for the rendezvous.
Thai Food On Isbjörn
Matt’s wife and daughter drove up to Annapolis from North Carolina to meet him and spend a night in town. Matt’s wife is from Thailand, and offered to come aboard and cook us an authentic Thai dinner last night, which we gratefully accepted! So while Mia and I cleaned up the boat, Matt cleaned up himself and reunited with his family at a hotel in town, then went food shopping and turned up last evening.
Vi Li cooked up a storm in Isbjörn’s small galley, making chicken all sorts of spicy and awesome Thai food! We drank a few beers with the meal, and learned how to eat curry with a fork and a spoon (very efficient!). Matt was trying his best to convince Vi Li how nice it is to live aboard so he can fulfill his dream of buying a boat and sailing over the horizon, so we did our best! Mia and I just finished the leftovers from last night, and still have very fond memories of the occasion. Thanks Matt & Vi Li!
So, two trips up, two trips down! We’ve only been gone for less than three weeks, but looking at photos, that day of departure from Annapolis on July 4 seems ages ago. That’s the coolest thing about ocean sailing – your sense of time gets totally distorted. One day becomes two days with the night watch routine, and the simplified way of life offshore inherently makes you slow down your pace. Being back ashore now for less than 24 hours, and I’m already feeling rushed trying to catch up with real life.
Now comes the exciting part – taking what I’ve learned from these two trips, making the boat better, making the trips better, and better still, getting into Google Earth and planning next year’s calendar! Just yesterday I had a call about someone wanting to go trans-Atlantic, so that’s back on my radar for next year.
Huge thanks to Matt & Rachel for sailing home from Lunenburg with us! You guys were great sailors and great company, and you’re welcome back anytime! And big thanks to Rory Finneran, whose been updating the blog from distant Bejing while we've been at sea! When are you coming sailing Rory!?
And of course, thanks to Dad, who flew up to Canada on spur of the moment to join us yet again for another ocean passage. I couldn’t do any of this without his continued help and support, both morally and otherwise.
Until next time…