Category Archives: 2010

Cat Maudy morphs into an Igloo

For months, Captain Paddy informs me “it’s coming”. He is referring to our least favorite time of year — called winter. I know what you’re thinking. Paddy has amazing insights ’bout the coming of the “seasons”.

The nuances of weather are amplified when you are engaged in an extended camping trip – on a catamaran. For us, the arrival of winter in Baltimore looks like:

1) frost on the dock making for a slippery and treacherous AM walk from Cat Maudy to shore.

2) no more running water. The marina decided to shut this off. It has something to do with 20 degree weather. Our running water consists now of whatever is left in our tanks. And that’s not much.

3) the cockpit of Cat Maudy is filled with bottles of pink liquid. That would be anti-freeze.

4) Captain Paddy’s mood is not so good. He has to put the pink liquid into the engine, the hoses…and anything else that will freeze and break.

5) our ‘boat camping’ experience is restricted to the salon. This is the only section of Cat Maudy that has any heat. We run all computers day an nite — to add to the heat factor!

6) we run our propane heater INSIDE. Some might consider this hazardous. Yes, the fumes could kill you. But we’re desperate for heat.

7) we avoid going down into the hulls for any reason. Here, your breath looks like puffballs of fog.

8) wool hats and 5 layers of clothing are worn 24/7. I’m starting a new hairstyle – called the matted hat look.

9) winds are blowing from the north – steady 25-35 knots – forcing new cold air to leak into Cat Maudy’s uninsulated structure. It’s breezy inside.

If that isn’t enough to push us to land life (or better yet, migrate south for the winter!), now the igloo people have arrived. The shrink wrap boys. Within hours (and in between wind gusts) – Cat Maudy is covered in a sea of white taut plastic. The good news is, that the wind gusts no longer send blasts of cold air thru Cat Maudy’s uninsulated structure. But there is a downside.

The entrance into Cat Maudy is a tiny door….that rests at an angle….making getting ON or OFF Cat Maudy a Cirque du Soleil challenge.

Here is how it works. First, you lie down on your belly and squirm around in the cold fiberglass cockpit or fishdeck…and with your arms, swim your way thru the tiny shrink wrap door. Don’t stop with any momentum you have made via “swimming”. Start kicking with your legs, until you are through the opening. If you are going OUTBOUND, grab onto something so that you don’t slide into the 40 degree water. If you are going INBOUND – resist the temptation to stand up. Keep flailing with your arms and legs until you are past the helm station. Then, work your way up to a standing position.

Watch the videos of Paddy and Jane demonstrating their unique styles on how to enter the Cat Maudy Igloo….

After 3 days of igloo life, I caved. As much as I resisted making any transition back to land – (knowing full well it would be a temporary transition) – the igloo broke my spirit. We dragged off the boat anything that could turn to mold for the next 3 months, contents of the ‘fridge, and of course Soxy….and reluctantly patted Cat Maudy a temporary good bye. Let me emphasize TEMPORARY. Don’t worry Cat Maudy, the first warm spell (above 30 degrees), we’ll be back. OK??

Cat Maudy hangs on as mighty mighty winds (tornado!) rip thru Baltimore

It was 1:34AM, and I’m pretty sure I was in a deep sleep…when suddenly Soxy and I bolted to a wide eyed upright position. The noise was deafening….and I shook Paddy to wake him. Paddy can sleep thru any weather condition, and it is my job to share these moments. I don’t want him to miss out. “Listen….listen to that noise” I demanded. It sounded like a freight train. The same sound we’ve experienced twice before – while aboard Cat Maudy. The sound of a tornado.

The winds roared so loud, you couldn’t hear much else…except for our typically still water now turbulently breaking into Cat Maudy’s hulls. I peeked out our hatch — to see a violent sea state. I’ve never seen the waters in our protected cove at Anchorage Marina quite so upset. I am hoping that all of Cat Maudy’s lines hold tight to dockside. I peer out another hatch to check on our anchored neighbors….and not one of the anchored boats is holding ground. Frantic sailors are doing their best to avoid crashing into nearby docks or boats.
Within 2 minutes….the wind driven freight train had moved through. We have escaped yet another tornado “direct hit”. And our anchored neighbors are busy looking for a safer spot for the night. In the news…

Capt’n Janie’s scary mast invention

It might appear that I have too much time on my hands. Not so. Actually, it has more to do with insomnia. I lay awake thinking… thinking… thinking…. and every now and then there is an idea that won’t let go.

Here are my ideas for Cat Maudy’s mast re-design.

Problem: How to modify the design of the top of our mast, so that Cat Maudy can easily navigate under 65′ bridges on the ICW without having to hoist one of the captains 63 feet above the water to remove “gear” that adds 2 or more feet to our “Air Draft”….and then return back UP to the top…when sailing in open water. Too much captain hoisting!!

Solution: The adjustable HINGED-HOLLOW-SPREADER with controls at the base of the mast to allow either (a) open water sailing with gear resting ATOP the mast or (b) bridge navigation with gear resting at some acceptable angle below the mast.

Watch this scary video for more on Capt’n Janie’s invention 😉

Note: This design has not been approved by Captain Paddy

Slowin’ it down….in Reedville VA

Not a whole lot happens in Reedville VA. Located near the southern end of the mouth of the Potomac River….Reedville is about as remote as it gets.

You will find the Menhaden fish factory nearby. This means that during “processing hours” (i.e. all day long) it smells like dead fish irregardless of which way the wind is blowin’. The locals say you get used to it. Hard to imagine.
Next to the local Cessna airport…is Jaynes Marine. It’s a new “cat” yard (catamaran) on the Chesapeake — and we are here to talk about “cat repairs” to Cat Maudy. Doug spent hours with Paddy talkin’ guy boat stuff….while I spent my time eating chicken soup and trying to bounce back from a nasty cold.
By Thursday, we decided to leave Cat Maudy here for the remainder of the fall…and get her back in ship-shape. Then reality set in. Biz was callin’. And by Friday, we decided to procrastinate the repairs until the spring – once our computer work settled into a more manageable pace.

So, for now, we get to breath “real air” without that fish scent upon departing Reedville, knowing that this feature will wait for us when we return in the spring.

Captain all grins as Cat Maudy screeches down the Bay

Winds 15-20 from the NW, with gusts to 25. This is Captain Paddy’s ideal world. Only one bit of data to potentially foil the day…rains and gale force winds to kick in later. “Later” is the operative word. Would we make it to Reedville VA before the weather intensifies?

Departed Annapolis harbor by 8AM, and we wasted no time raising the main sail, and turning off the diesel engines. Haven’t even unfurled the jib sail – and we are already doing over 8 knots. As we get closer to the mouth of the Severn, the full force of the winds are felt. For an hour or more, we sail with just the main.

It doesn’t take long to see that the weather is “changing” and the skies are getting darker. We need to make better time. Thus, we unfurl the jib sail…reefed. Cat Maudy easily hits 9-10 knots, for a very smooth sail with winds off our stern quarter. Somewhere near the mouth of the ChopTank River…a huge freighter called the “Northern Juvenile”, traveling at 21 knots makes a sudden turn directly at us. WOAH!! After a brief “holy sh#$” moment…Captain Paddy headed up and Cat Maudy INHALED the wind….getting us out of the path of the “Juvenile” in the nick of time. NOTE TO SELF: Big freighters make their own rules as to where the channels are in the bay…

Generally, when I get a call from shore (my brother) giving me weather updates — this usually means the weather is going south faster than predicted. Sure enough, BRO reports heavy weather in Solomons, MD by noon. We are 11 miles to Cove Point – near the Pawtuxent River. The winds gusts are now increasing, and Cat Maudy tops out at 13.2 knots. Sweet.

The skies are dark, and the rains have started. We are 2 miles from the entrance to the Patuxent River – and decide to abandon the notion of finishing todays trip in Reedville VA. Instead, we’ll take cover in Solomons, MD. Our 50 mile trip to Solomons took just over 5 hours of sail time…. Needless to say – Captain Paddy is in a very happy place!

Woa – we actually LEFT the dock in Baltimore!

After a failed first attempt on Friday…Saturday’s departure from Baltimore proved more successful. The winds have subsided MUCH from gale force – and it appears we will have a leisurely, no hurry sail south to Annapolis.

Leisurely it is. Highest speeds are 6 knots…and by the time we reached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge…we had slowed to 1.5 knots. This is a notch above floating backwards. The winds have disappeared. We motored to Annapolis harbor and decided to grab a mooring to stimulate the Annapolis economy (and grab showers, water taxi and all that fun stuff).

On shore, I just “HAD” to go for a 4 mile run through the Naval Academy…Jus Say’n!

Tropical Storm Nicole: 1 Cat Maudy: 0

Now that the rainy portion of Tropical Storm Nicole has moved north of Baltimore – we are left with her tailwinds. A bit fiesty (some call this GALE FORCE) – and strangely I was game for a sail to Annapolis.

We waited til noon – giving me ONE LAST EXERCISE OP and the gale winds a chance to subside based on professional weather forecasters. If you ask me, the winds got stronger after noon – but hey, who’s askin’? Paddy and I finished provisioning for a trip of unknown length, and only one known destination. Where the wind is blowing. The wind is blowing from the north – so it should be a fast sail – to whereever we decide to stop.

Left the A Dock at Anchorage Marina around noon…and we are quickly blown out past Ft. McHenry. “Maybe we should double reef the main?” I suggested to Paddy? Captain Paddy positioned Cat Maudy upwind and had plenty of work to do to hold her in place, while I attempted to raise the main to a double reef point. Once in place, all 3 of the reef lines need to be tightened.

I tried using my strength. No luck in tightening these lines. I tried the power tool….it sounded like the rigging would break. I tried step 3 – which usually works….”salty sailor talk”. No avail. The reef lines are jammed up – and in these heavy wind conditions…there was no fixin her.

We had only one choice…to return back to base camp. The problem now, is that our A-DOCK landing (perpendicular to the winds) would be very tough to land a wide-ass catamaran. So, we made an emergency landing on the Anchorage P-DOCK. From a dock point of view, we traveled about 500 feet today.

And the reef lines? They were just “tangled”. Likely I never noticed the “tangle” – as I usually do not depart knowing I have to double reef. For today, Tropical Storm Nicole wins. Cat Maudy will depart dockage tomorrow.

Cat Maudy leaves the dock for Labor Day!

After 60 days of scorching temperatures over 90 degrees in the mid-Atlantic, a typical shortage of summer winds (which would have been too hot anyway), an exercise regimen that included 5 sprint triathlons and a host of other excuses (oh yeah – WORK!) – Labor day weekend changed all of that.

Temperatures plunged into the delightful range of mid 70’s, the humidity is gone, and thanks to a “cold front” – winds are steady 20s with gusts to 30. If Cat Maudy can’t get outta Dodge now…then she better have a pretty good reason.

In typical Cat Maudy form…we had no plan. Other than to depart the dock, and get the best angle on the winds. Where we are headed is unknown. How long we’ll be gone – again unknown.

What is known…is Soxy’s tummy wasn’t quite ready for motion. Soxy has been living large being an ‘A Dock’ kitty at Anchorage Marina for the summer – and suddenly bouncing around in waves was not part of her plan. Soxy is not in a good mood.

We put a reef in the main, and headed out the Patapsco River doing steady 8.5 knots. Added a reefed jib sail – and speeds are up to 10 knots. Unlike Soxy, Captain Paddy is grinning ear to ear and easily holding onto his lunch.

With winds from the west – we had many options once we reached the mouth of the Patapsco River. Feeling spontaneous, we opted to head south…. Will we then turn into the Magothy River? Nope.

We continued south under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – and considered a nice quiet anchorage at Whitehall Bay vs a more ‘urban’ anchorage in Annapolis. True to form, we couldn’t decide – and opted to just let Cat Maudy go where she wanted. She choose Annapolis. We anchored in front of the US Naval Academy – and enjoyed an evening of glorious temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

Sailing? What’s that?

It’s been a month since we last sailed. Many days passed with lighter than normal winds, higher than normal temperatures, and a swelter factor that was beginning to feel like mid-August. Add an infusion of triathlon training and working for a living…and we were beginning to think that sailing was a thing of the past.

But not so. Finally a breeze. Finally a break in work projects. And Cat Maudy got a rare opportunity to leave the “A” dock. The sail was perfect, and we topped out at 11 knots of speed over ground. Cat Maudy ate a few monohulls for lunch (just say’n ;-)…. and we even managed to remember details such as pulling up the fenders, hoisting the main, tacking, and avoiding the big ships in the shipping channel.

Baltimore…At Last

Bundled in cold weather gear, we left our mooring in Annapolis in hopes of a slow sail into B’more. But alas, NO wind at all. Not even a smidge. It’s all good. We motored the last 30 miles of Our Big Adventure – back into familiar territory. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Magothy River, Bodkins Point, hundreds of crabpots….and of course up the debris-filled Patapsco River. Some container ship is missing half of it’s lumber from the Amazon forest. It can be found floating in the Patapsco.

Our Big Adventure, which began last fall (October for Paddy, and November for me) has been an amazing gift. We’ve learned to appreciate time. I no longer wear a watch – and generally have no idea what day or time it is. I do wear a compass watch. It tells me wind direction. Go ahead, ask me the time – and I’ll give you North…South….East or West – or some variant inbetween.

In summary:
8 month voyage
6 weeks to return from Biscayne Bay to the Baltimore Harbor
Caught 1 fish
Return trip: 700 offshore miles, 300 inside passage miles, 200 Chesapeake Bay miles
Overall trip: 2500 miles on water, 100 miles in a car
Top sail speed: 14 knots on Chesapeake Bay
Top average day hop speed: 9.2 knots from Ft. Lauderdale to Lake Worth
4 John Shuttleworth boats in the same mooring field
Biscayne Bay sailing rocks!
Favorite ports: Charleston SC, St. Augustine FL, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Coconut Grove FL, Norfolk VA
Cat Maudy steering/rudders are finally “fixed” after 4 years of going in circles!
We left the grid – and lived on 3 solar panels and a wind generator

Transforming our lives, into slow motion, and eliminating the need for instant gratification (pizza delivery, a midnite dash to the grocery store for chocolate to name a few), has given us a rare opportunity to take stock of the importance of each other, each moment, family, friends and those whose paths we cross for a day. It has been an incredible voyage….and I really just need to get my endorphins now.

Stay tuned… the next chapter is just beginning!

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