Published: December 12th 2007December 12th 2007
On the hard
Ready to launch
Season II on Appleseeds has begun with my return to Deltaville, Virginia in mid September. Over the summer we had decided that our return trip to the Caribbean would not be a reverse of the Intracoastal Waterway but instead would be a ten day sail offshore from Norfolk, Virginia to the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean 1500. The offshore decision made the list of things to do pale the list of last year. It included installing a Single Side Band radio, a chart plotter, davits, solar panels, a dodger. It also included purchasing a new dinghy, shipping an outboard from Vancouver, buying numerous charts, a MOM (Man overboard module), flares, a freezer, spares for the engine, a new anchor. It included considering, drafting and practicing emergency procedures for man overboard, fires, floods, dismasting; developing and procuring a full medical kit. It included a whole pile of maintenance items such as cleaning and greasing winches, varnish, wax, bottom paint. And then there are about 50 smaller items too tedious to mention.
My first weekend was spent in Hampton, across the river from Norfolk, about 50 miles south of Deltaville. The group organizing the Caribbean 1500 was hosting an Offshore Symposium and
I felt it was a good idea to attend. I would have an opportunity to meet organizers, some participants of the 1500 and ask questions. Hopefully it wouldn’t be leaving me feeling utterly overwhelmed. The sessions over two days went well. The presenters were full of practical ideas with interesting anecdotes. Steve Black, the principal organizer, was a delight to meet and listen to, even when he tended to go on a bit. I left there feeling charged and ready to tackle the chores over the next six weeks.
Back at the boat, still on the hard (that’s on shore in the boatyard), I started the installation of the ground plane for the SSB radio. Not to get too technical but the antenna for the radio is the backstay and at 50 feet in length is far too short for the wave length of radio waves so you trick the radio by making it use only half of a wave length with the other half grounded to the water via the ground plane. The ground plane is a three inch wide strip of thin copper foil glued to the inside of the hull winding and twisting over stringers and
Nightly social in the BBQ shed
bulkheads until about 100 linear feet is installed. It was hot cramping work in little cubby holes, under tanks, the engine, and eventually joining the tuner in the stern of the boat to the radio at the nav station. Three days later… voila!
Deltaville is unique. It was traditionally a farming and boatbuilding community 50 miles from nowhere. There is an election coming up in November and an indication of the quaintness is the broad-brush painted sign on the reverse of the potato stand…”Elect Fred”. Deltaville is now a yachting centre with at least a dozen boatyards and marinas. There is a coffee shop, two restaurants, a hardware store and two West Marine stores. There are at least 100 boats in this boatyard and many are being actively worked on preparing for the trip south or for lay-up over the winter. Late each afternoon after completing or trying to complete a few items on the lengthy to-do lists, many of us at the marina get together for a chat, a sundowner and a barbeque. We have met many interesting cruisers, some local, some from the mid-west or further, many Canadians and a number of Europeans. Some of the conversations
Bill & Dave said "Let's go for a sail"
were difficult due to diversity in languages but I am always amazed by the Europeans being able to communicate with us and with each other, and rarely in their first language. Being fluent in three, four or five languages is not uncommon. And we have trouble with one!
Meanwhile, back at the boat, the top-sides are now clean and waxed; the bottom coated with paint. The propeller needs a final adjustment and Appleseeds will be ready to launch. I look forward to being able to get on and off the boat from a dock instead of a ladder; being able to use the sink to wash dishes; and scrubbing off the boatyard dust and dirt. Rick and Carla, from Montana, have been here for a year and are happy to assist and celebrate ‘back in the water’.
A few days later my old buddies Bill & Dave arrived. Bill, Dave & I shared a house in Windsor while at university and this is the first time all three of us have shared each other’s company in many years. We picked up as we left off; it’s incredible; the banter, the insults, the compliments…like we were never apart. Well
Bill attaching the GTO15
they knew I had a rather large agenda and they pitched right in attaching the antenna for the SSB, installing the davits, cleaning and rebuilding winches, fixing a difficult leaking shroud base. It was good to have Bill, the squirt, who could crawl into places where I became stuck last January in Florida. The evenings at the barbeque were even more entertaining. To Dave’s and my amazement on the first night, Bill sang O’Canada, in French no less, to the enthralled group to introduce his Canadian heritage. The evenings at the barbeque hut were a highlight. We had a margarita night, pot lucks, shared much good and bad wine some incredible tequila and great exchanges among the various cultures. It seemed though, each successive morning started later and more slowly than the previous. A couple of days after Bill & Dave arrived, we drove back to Richmond Airport to pick up Ace, recently retired from North Shore News. The four of us are all good friends and as you can imagine, the evenings in the hut became even livelier.
The boat was a bit crowded and in a constant state of disarray. Each morning we would pull off settee
Jackson Creek in Deltaville
cushions and pull out the various boxes of tools distributing them over the table for the day’s work. Each evening before a shower it would take about an hour to tidy up so that we could ‘live’ in it for the next 12 hours, and then organize ourselves for the festivities in the hut. The weather was incredible; hot and sunny every day. A couple of times I wondered where the crew had gone to find them having a head start with sundowners on the pool deck.
Bill & Dave left at the end of the week and Ace & I headed to Annapolis for The Sailboat Show. Annapolis is a picturesque historic town and the boat show is the most comprehensive we had ever been to. We had dinner with Liza Copeland and stayed the night with Tom Stilley, a friend we had met the previous year in the Abacos, Bahamas. We spent several more boat bucks (b.o.a.t. is an anachronism for ‘Bring On Another Thousand’) on a new dinghy, MOM, a barbeque and a freezer.
The days kind of ran on. Over the next few weeks we finished the dodger and solar panels. With some technical advice from Graham Cole in Vancouver and the adeptness of a fellow boater from England, Steven, we finished the E-80 chartplotter installation the day before we had to head to Hampton for the final preparation for the Caribbean 1500. With a wave to our friends of the past 2 months, “Ricardo” & Carla from Montana & Steve & Barbara from England, off we sailed.