Tuesday, December 7, 2010

St. Petersburg

The last few days Earthling has been docked in St. Petersburg, Florida. She is going to take a break for the next few weeks meanwhile I fly back to Chicago! Since I got to this marina, I've fixed things and finished projects that were left unfinished! Still need to climb up the mast and replace the wind indicator and anchor light!
First day I got here I got to meet Dave, whom helped me with the docking and invited me over to Solarice for a beer. Dave and Bonnie are cruisers and just started their adventure. Bonnie made her first sushi aboard and I was happy to join them for dinner. I will be meeting them at various locations in the future. All cruisers I meet are retired and have a steady source of funds. I am the opposite, traveling around with Zero budget! I've done that many times before but not to this level!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First saltwater passage

Earthling experienced her first saltwater passage from Apalachicola to Clearwater, Florida. She sailed smoothly on the 8-10 foot waves and recorded highest speed under sail of 9.5 knots. The wind was NW 12-15, gusting up to 22, and no clouds in the sky. During the 28 hour passage, we saw the sunset, moonrise, the milky way surrounded by all the stars in the sky and kept our course by following Orion's belt, and when i couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, the sun rise!
The Autopilot did not hold the coarse, so somebody had to be behind helm and I'm so happy that Dee was aboard and helped me with this passage. Nothing serious happened during this passage beside that we lost one of dinghy's oars in a wave and snapped one of the mainsail sliders!
Sailing in the ocean is like taking a saltwater shower all over your vessel! There are salt crystals everywhere, I must rinse all the salt off before it corrodes everything!
Last week I was in Pensacola, 3 days ago in Apalachicola & right now I'm having a Coke Cola, what a world!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Apalachicola to Clearwater Florida.
Just unfurled the Jenny for the first big passage across the Gulf! Strong north wind at 10-15 knots should take us 147 nautical miles from Apalachicola, FL in the panhandle to Clearwater, FL in the peninsula overnight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The swampy land along the Intercoastal in northern Florida's panhandle. Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Motorsailing, it's sunny 75F, 7m/h wind, 1ft waves, & speed 6.3kt. 

Florida's Panhandle & GIWW

The Gulf Intercoastal Waterway is a great route toward east. GIWW stretches from Carrabelle, Florida all the way to Texas. I have taken the Intercoastal from Mobile bay to Pensacola bay, continuing to Choctawhatchee bay by Fort Walton Beach & Destin. Right now heading toward St. Andrew bay and a stop by Panama City to pick up my friend Dee. Along the GIWW, there are beautiful white sandy beaches on the south shore & beautiful homes on the other side. The white beaches are amazing and one of the kind.
Since I got down to the Gulf, the wind has been east to south east and that's the direction I'm going! Unfortunately it has not been much of sailing yet. Yesterday however, I sailed for an hour heading northwest, 12-15 wind on reach doing 6.5kt and it felt great!
One of the downsides for a sailboats on the Intercoastal is all the bridges. Most bridges are around 65ft. But there are 2 bridges from Pensacola bay to Choctawhatchee bay that are only 49.9ft. The antenna on top of the mast touched both of the bridges & that's was very scary.
Another scary thing this morning was the fog. Visibility was maybe 100 feet and I could not see the midway bridge (64') till I got very close to it.
I will tell you one more last beautiful scary story and that will conclude this input. This morning at 7:30 I left last nights anchorage. Meanwhile I'm having my cup of tea & focusing on not running aground, a big fish jumps out of the water just next to the boat & that freaked me out. It was a dolphin trying to say good morning but she scared me! I end up getting friends with miss dolphin & invited her aboard on Earthling for a cup of tea, but she couldn't get on so she accompanied me swimming next to the boat for few minutes. :-)
Thanks for reading

Sent from a iPhone

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pensacola Beach, Florida

Pensacola Beach, Florida.  It feels like it can't get more beautiful than this. Palm trees, white sandy beaches, & nice weather. A special visitor is joining me for the weekend so Pensacola beach is home for the next few days!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gulf of Mexico by Mobile bay, sunny, 71F(18C), wind SE 1-2, & calm water!

Mast Bridge Collision

Since the mast went up few weeks ago, I've been nervous going under bridges. Earthling's mast is 48ft & with the antenna it goes up 50ft. I've passed many bridges that are 52ft and it's very scary. Few days ago I arrived to Meridan and Bigbee Rail Road Lift Bridge in Alabama. According to the charts & the books, the bridge is 44ft closed & 55ft open. The bridge was down when I arrived, I kept calling on CH13&16 & didn't get any respond. On the bridge pillars it said 50ft from the water level up. I wait around for 30min or so  and decided to go parallel to the bridge and see if the antenna is touching! The camcorder was on the stand and recorded the attempt.

Yes, I did touch the antenna, broke off the wind indicator, and broke the new mast light that was installed few weeks ago! For the next 45 min I tried to call the railroad and the company that manages the railroad but no success. I only need a foot to pass the bridge. If I put the sails on and wait for good wind to come through maybe I could get her to tilt a foot! Meanwhile I'm thinking and getting the jib sheets ready I hear a noise, look up & the bridge is lifting!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mobile Bay, Alabama. The first leg of this adventure is accomplished. Chicago to Mobile, 43days. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cloudy & rainy today, but I see seagels & that's a good sign! 

Black warrior Tombigbee

For the last 3 days I have been motoring and anchoring on Black Warrior Tombigbee waterway. There are not that many good anchorages along this 216 miles. A stern & bow anchor have been used to minimize swinging in narrow creeks off the main river. I'm getting good at using 2 anchors, never before have need to do that!
There are 60 miles left to the ocean & the smell of the ocean is hitting me more & more. I can't believe Ive sailed over 1200 miles from Chicago, cutting through America's heart to get to the ocean!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tenn-Tom Waterway

Single handing and going through locks becomes challenging sometimes. Two days ago I went through 3 locks in 24 miles distance. Every first attempt to tie around the bollard didn't work, so I had to back up and try again! Poor dinghy was almost crushed when I was backing up for a reattempt! I also dropped the pole in the water twice! I was accompanied by 2 motorboats, "Hallelujah" from Michigan and the other one from New Hampshire! Hallelujah was calling in the locks. After the first lock he started counting me in the calls and tell the lock master that the last vessel is a sailboat and he's single-handing. Whitten lock dropped 84 feet, It was like an eight story brick wall around you. Water was dripping from the walls like a water fall! Every time I go through a lock I have to pay attention to the mast, the bow, and the stern so it doesn't hit the wall!

The dingy had to come up on deck and lay down and 2 big fenders were blown up for port side and few other things to make it easier going through locks.
Yesterday I got a big surprise, Perry and Darius called and said they are on their way down to Mississippi to meet me! I get so excited when company shows up. They drove 11 hours from Chicago and stayed till today 1pm and just left. I'm getting ready to make another 25-30 mile passage today and there is only one lock to go through!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pickwick lake

Chicago is four weeks behind today. I have gone over 800 miles down the rivers from Chicago to Pickwick lake, Tennessee. Tomorrow the Tennessee river ends for my part and Tenn-Tom waterway starts, which stretches from Pickwick to Demopolis, Alabama. Two-Third of this part of the adventure is passed, the weather is getting warmer and in 2 weeks I should be able to smell the ocean.

I hope it's not going to take 2.5 hours like it did today, for each lock of the 12 locks down to Mobile. Few miles before Pickwick lock, I heard a sail vessel calling in the lock. I got so excited there was another crazy sailboater on the river. I haven't seen any sailboats going down the rivers to the gulf since I left Chicago! I heard about the french sailboat that lost their propeller on Mississippi river & I remember seeing them passing by Canal St. Marina few days before I left Chicago. However, the lockmaster at Pickwick lock & dam told "Surona" the wait would be 1hr to get through! Great, by the time I get there I don't have to wait long! When I got closer, I called in and the lock master said that there are few barges before and the wait will be 2.5hrs. That was weird! I was happy that at least there was another boat I could wait with. There was no place to dock! I saw Surona drifting around & I joined them! I met Pete and Cheryl and we end up putting the fenders between and raft up and drift together. We shared our stories, had a beer and 2.5 hrs went by quick! Surona (Surona.blogspot.com) left Chicago way before me! However, her shaft & propeller got damaged after hitting a log on the river! She had to come out of water and the prop and shaft were replaced($$$)!

There are so many big logs on Mississippi river. The current and turbulence takes the smaller ones below water and you can't even see them. I've been lucky & I hope I keep it that way!   

And what happened to my luck fishing, I lost 3 lures and caught zero fish since Lee & Roy left. I guess the fish knew that Lee is good at catching them so they didn't play hard to get! The fish don't know that I am not giving it up that easy, I will catch them sooner or later! :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tennessee River & Kentucky Lake

I'm going to hang loose in this marina by Kenlake state park in Kentucky. Thunderstorms with strong wind and rain are coming and going so what's the hurry! Besides that few other things happened the last couple days so I have to hang loose here! I don't know what to say about things that happened! I have to learn from this and make sure to prevent so it doesn't happen again! 
On Saturday night I anchored in Pisgah bay, very nice anchorage site. Sunday morning I woke up hearing the dinghy banging next to the boat. I realized the fender between the dinghy and the boat was not there. So I look around and I see the fender all the way by shore. I can not afford loosing stuff, so I got in the dinghy and rowed over to shore. It got very shallow close to shore so I had to get out and walk in the mud to get the fender. I thought, that was a good excitement & exercise of the day!
The winds were strong on Sunday, gust up to 35-40 miles! Within couple of hours down the lake the sky started getting dark of clouds and I could feel a storm coming. The bay I had in mind for anchorage was only couple miles away and I would be anchored mid afternoon and still have 3 hours of day light. Anyhow, the clouds were getting darker and darker and in few minutes it started pouring down. By this time i had everything moved in the cabin along with the charts. When I got close to the bay I spotted the buoyed channel. Kept my eye on the depth-sounder, I didn't want to experience running aground again. I've been running aground 4 times & I got myself out of it every time! I realize that the depth sounder is acting up and doesn't show the right depth. And suddenly, boom the boat stopped and yes I ran aground!
I tried to back up and it didn't work. Meanwhile I'm trying to back up, I hear some unusual noise in the engine room. I went down to the engine room and saw bunch of wires wrapped around the shaft and it's dripping water down there. So here I am stuck in the channel, it's raining, the depth sounder is not working, and I can't run the engine because the shaft is all wrapped in wires!
Anyhow, I cleaned the shaft, still leaking though, took an anchor out with the dinghy and dropped it and tried to haul myself out! But no, I was stuck pretty good. My phone don't have any reception. I tried to radio the Marina and TowBoatUS, and no answer. Finally I go on deck and get one bar on the cell phone and called the tow. I had to wait 2.5hrs for the TowBoatUS to come over and tow me out. Finally after 5 hours I get out! A less better day!
There are couple of projects that had to be taken care of before I leave this Marina. Yesterday, I worked on the shaft and fixed it. It's not leaking anymore. I installed the new sonar so I can see the depth. And to make this story better, lost my cell phone in the water yesterday! What a mess!

I'm in the middle of nowhere, the closest store is 20miles away and it's a Walmart. I met Ed yesterday. He is on a 39' Beneatau in this harbor and he was so kind and helpful. He drove me to town to get a new phone. My T-mobile phone didn't have much reception down the river anyway so this was a sign that I need a new phone with a new provider. So I got the iPhone 4 with at&t. I can't afford loosing this one and I really would like to take a break from shit happening.
Last night I invited Ed over to Earthling for dinner. I made the special shrimp & mushroom stew with rice and salad. Ed loved it and he said he is going to miss me when I leave tomorrow, which is today!                 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kisses to the catfish!

The mast is up!

The last couple of days we have done so much work on Earthling. The mast is up and rigged, radar dome is installed, wired and is working, the wiring for Sonar is connected, the bow pulpit is fixed and few other things. I feel like Lee & Roy are the maintenance team! Originally they were supposed to come here and go down Kentucky lake with me but since the mast collapsed on deck last week, it was a sign to get it up! After we raised the mast on Thursday, we left the marina and anchored in a cove off Kentucky lake. The best anchorage place so far, we had our own little space there. There were few campers and tents on the shore and many people came on their little fishing boats and fished there. 
We actually caught 4 different fish yesterday and today.  I have not been fishing since I was 14-16 years old! Few years ago! :-) Yesterday I caught a big Cat fish and today I caught a Stripper! One of Lee's hobbies is fishing, he lives down in Florida 3 months a year and is fishing all the time. Being with him was a great opportunity for me to learn and get into my fishing mode!
I just dropped Lee and Roy at shore, they left an hour ago and I'm solo again. Hopefully in few days couple other friends of mine will join me. Now, before it gets too late I have to sail away and find another cove to anchor in!        

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ohio to Cumberland River into Kentucky lake

Dear Readers, I'm trying to get better updating the blog. Lack of data communication makes it a little difficult. In the last three days, I went northbound on Ohio River, and southbound on Cumberland river into Barkely Lake. I had to go upstream on both of the rivers but thank god the current wasn't as much as Mississippi River. Cumberland river flows from east to west into Ohio River. Cumberland river is very scenic with rolling hills and forest.

Yesterday Lee & Roy joined me in Grand Rivers, KY at Turtle bay Marina. We have been working on the mast to get it ready for rigging. We add a new Anchor light on top of the mast, ran new cords inside the mast for Radar & camera and new flag line on the spreader. Running the cords inside the mast was a project! I'm so glad to have friends like Lee & Roy. They have helped me so much with Earthling. Last winter they spend time fixing the stringers on Earthling meanwhile I was traveling to different destinations.
The goal today is to lift the mast, and I can't wait for that. Everything is ready, the radar dome is there and we are ready to go. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dangerous Turns!!

After being docked by the barge in St. Louis for 2 night we sailed down to Kimmswick, MO. We docked at  Hoppies Marina in Kimmswick. This marina is run by an older couple, Hoppie & Fern. They have been running this place for over 30 years. Fern kindly went over the charts with me and another docked boater, pointing out dangerous turns where there is a lot of turbulence and current. She also pointed out few good anchorage locations, but there are no marinas for the next 230 miles. 
There is so much commercial traffic on the river. When we were docked at Hoppie's, barges passed by and created wakes that would make me nervous! Few times the mast moved slightly forward and backward and the stands the mast is laying on would make noises.I was not comfortable with that!
On Thursday evening, Rachael took the train back to Chicago, Jesse and Jessica gave me ride back to Earthling from the train station, and on Friday morning I was all by myself ready to sail Mississippi southbound!
The Friday passage went well. I have been so lucky with the weather, sunny every day since we left Chicago. I made 41 miles in 4.5hrs. The current adds up to 5kt to the boat speed. I keep the RPM down so it doesn't put much pressure on the engine and also save fuel. Fuel was topped in Grafton and the gauge is just below full right now & I made 170 miles!
Last night I docked on a wall in Kaskaskia river by Kaskaskia Dam & Lock. First night by myself on Earthling. For the first time I watched a movie aboard. I have a 4TB external drive with lots of movies, shows and documentaries.
The passage today was 70 miles down the river. In the morning I made breakfast and lunch ready for the 7.5 hr passage. When you are solo on the river, you can't really take your hands off the wheel, so you have to make sure you have everything ready and handy. I got the charts, log book, radio, phone, life vest, and camera always handy on deck! Yesterday I passed one of the dangerous points at mile 130 (crook light) and it went smooth. There are under water vents at these turns, the depth drops to 60-70ft and you see whirlpools & lots of turbulence. The lady (Fern) at Hoppies Marina advised us to radio ahead and see if there are any barges going through at those points and if there are any, we should wait till they pass. It would not be safe to pass barges around these turns. 
Today, at mile 84 (fountain bluff bar), I called ahead and nobody replied, repeated and no reply. I motor closer and didn't see any other traffic so I proceeded through. The whirlpools at this turn were really strong. I was scared it would suck down the dinghy. I passed through without any problems. Few miles after I passed a barge that was going northbound, which created big waves and the wind helped building up the waves, the waves were 4'-5' and there were few of them. I hit the first one and the mast moved more than ever before, as the second was coming through I put my hand on the mast I was hoping it's going to be ok, NOT!!
The mast moved backward, forward and all the four stands broke and the mast landed on deck.
The bow pulpit bend & held the mast from falling off. Two of the reserve fuel tanks were hanging on the side and almost fell off. So I put the wheel on lock, grabbed a knife, cut the lines attached to the tanks, took the tanks to the cockpit, grabbed couple dock lines & secured the mast down on either side. I was so lucky the damage wasn't bad. It could been worse!
I am currently anchored on Little River Diversion. I worked on the mast as soon as anchored before it got dark. I will secure it more tomorrow morning before the next passage. I just hope I can make it safe to Green Turtle Marina in Kentucky lake. Over there most likely the mast will be rigged. It would feel so much better if the mast was up, maybe I could sail down Kentucky lake! Thanks for reading!   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Down Mississippi

Since I was a kid I've always dreamed about sailing down Mississippi river. I remember in school we learned Mississippi river was one of the largest river systems in the world. The river is anything between 30 to 60 feet deep, the current varies at different sections of the river & we have registered as high as 4.2kt of current. Yesterday we were racing down the river doing 10kt.
Right now we are docked in St. Louis next to a barge on the river. There are no marinas here and it's not a safe place for pleasure boating!
I have couple friends here in St. Louis. Last night Jesse stopped by Earthling and he lend us his car so we could do some grocery shopping today. Marcin is leaving in couple of hours and Rachael is arriving in couple of hours. I will be down Mississippi for the next few days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Illinois River & Mississippi Junction

Right now we are in Grafton IL, the junction of Illinois River & Mississippi. Today will be our first day  on Mississippi River. The Grafton Marina is a beautiful marina, with a grocery store, Laundry and showers. It felt great to take a hot shower last night. There has not been any internet reception on my phone the last few days or right now. I will tell you more on the blog about the last few nights once I get my phone working in St. Louis tonight.   

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Second Day of The IL River Voyage!

Today, we left a little later than planned, however when you are cruising, especially on Earthling, there is no schedule! Right outside Joliet, we had to wait for
Brandon Road
lock for an hour & half. We docked by River side grill & met the owner & he sent us a 12 pack of ice tea bottles, such good people!
Brandon Road
lock dropped 35 feet.
Yesterday morning Dee waved @ us when we left the dock, this Morning Rachael waved us & tonight Perry will leave for couple of days, so he will wave too! After the first lock Dariush was @ Helm for couple hours, meanwhile I made special Earthling sandwiches & served with chips & Salsa & some sliced apples! The river is looking more beautiful as we go, it's wider & more scenic!
Illinois river stretches from Lake Michigan to Mississippi River & the distance is approximately: 335 nautical miles. Mile Zero is the Mississippi & Illinois River Junction. Right now we are @ mile mark 241, Ottawa, IL. We have done an average of 48 miles a day! We could do more than 50 miles a day if we hit the locks @ the right time & leave early in the morning. We went through 3 locks today. We were lucky with the 2nd lock (Dresden Island, mile 271), we arrived @ the right time when the lock was raised & there were no barges waiting! At mile 245, Marseilles Lock, we waited an hour for a double barge to go through. During that hour we had dinner & sun went down & it got cold & dark. We went only few miles @ night which was not bad, I would prefer to do most of the passage during day light though! Tomorrow, we will go through Starved Rock national park & I'm very excited! Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 4, 2010

First day of the river adventure!

Well today earthling set off with darius, jp and myself! We left Chicago 10:30 in the Morning. The river trip went by fast until we saw the signs that said we must contact the coast guard in regards to an electric fish barrier. Then we had an amazing lunch just the three amigos. Later on, we passed the lock @ lockport which dropped down 37feet! After that we found a free free dockage with shore power convieniently across the street from a lively casino in Joliet. Then miss Racheal joined us for a late dinner and now I am going to bed with a pounds of blankets to keep me warm on this Monday night!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Close to departure

The last few weeks, I have been upgrading Earthling with a new navigation system, new battery bank of 500+ amp hours, new high output alternator kit & many other things. I also obtained four reserve 10 gallon diesel tanks, 5 reserve water tanks, a new folding Dahon Bicycle, Charts for Caribbean and Florida and the intercostal waterways and many other resource books. I still have many things on the list but this list is never ending. As soon as I check something off the list, a new thing has to be added on! Last week the power DC to AC inverter blow, I can’t run the refrigerator now so I had to get a new Inverter which is on the way in mail.

I have had a cross the lake trip planned for this summer before I go down the rivers and we did that last week. Rachael & I sailed across Lake Michigan to Saugatuck in Michigan and met up with my friends Robert, Hayley and her kids. I’m uncle George to Holden & Henry and it was nice to have them on Earthling before I set sail for a long voyage. Every time they come on the boat they hang out in the V-berth. It’s like a little play room for them!

The sail to Saugatuck was relatively smooth. The wind was south east 10 to 15, waves started with 3’ to 5’ and decreased to 1’ to 2’ after 6 hours into the trip, it was partly cloudy and around 70 degrees. We sailed for most of the passage, the distance was 80 Nautical miles and we did it in 16 hours.  
From Saugatuck we sailed to South Haven, MI. In South Haven, Brant joined me back to Chicago. The passage from South Haven to Chicago was one of the nicest and fastest sails ever. We had a South East wind at 10 to 15 and average speed of 7. We recorded as high as 8.5 knots.  

The time is coming closer and closer for departure from Chicago and Lake Michigan. On Wednesday 29th we will go down Chicago River to Canal Street Marina. Then I will have less than 3 days to unstep the mast, and get Earthling ready for river trip down to Mobile, Alabama. Hopefully if everything is in place, I should be departing on Sat Oct 2nd.
This weekend is the last weekend in Monroe Harbor. Earthling will be by shore Saturday and Sunday and friends will stop by to wish me good luck.
Hopefully from now on I should be updating this blog more periodically.
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

 Saturday night was very calm, the water was just like a mirror. Dee & Johnny are sitting on deck & sharing life stories. I'm out on the dinghy & capturing the moment & Chicago is beautiful!

Air Water Show

Last weekend was the Air water show in Chicago. Air Water show is one of the big event in the City. For the last 7 years, I have been going out and anchoring by North Ave beach to watch the show. There are more than 1000 boats anchored to watch the show. Last Sunday, Dee, Johnny, Kelly & her friend, & I went out and we had a great time. It was a windy and choppy day on the lake and that made Kelly friend to feel seasick. I feel sorry for people that have motion sickness. We were lucky to spot uncle Marty on his boat and he had someone sick on Joi De Vie and they were going back to shore. So Kelly's friend made a decision to go back with Marty to shore.     

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Day

Today is the first day of blogging! I'm excited that I finally started this blog. I hope I can share many experiences and thoughts with all readers. Right now I guess there are no readers! :-) This voyage will start in September 2010. I'm planning to leave Chicago by water through rivers down to the Gulf of Mexico. The estimated time for this passage is 3 to 4 weeks.
A map of the river trip will be attached soon!