Monthly Archives: October 2011

Oh, the places you’ll go

We met someone crazier than us. No really, we mean it. Crazy crazy, and so full of stories and tales that you feel like a kid in an iMax theater.

We were dinghying through the harbor past the Coast Guard station minding our own business and checking out all the other boats here. Then my eyes fell upon a very very wee vessel. A mere day sailor me thinks. Nice lines, low freeboard, blue hull. Looks fast and sleek.

Wait, wait, there is a person on board. Not just a person, but it looks like someone is living on that tiny thing. Not just a person living on that tiny thing, but a WOMAN!

That’s more rare than a Made in the U.S.A product in Wal-mart!

So of course we had to go over and say hello. Meet Linda, skipper and owner of a 22 foot full keeled Pearson Ensign day sailor. She has had the boat in New Hampshire for years on stands but recently moved to Florida. So on October 1st she launched her wee vessel from Maine, and is sailing it down to Florida. There she’s going to live on an 80 by 25 foot steel barge that her brother built from scratch. Their plan is to go to Panama, where there aren’t many people, so they can get away from it all.

No, we aren’t making this up for our dear readers. This is reality blogging in action! This living breathing 62 year old woman is single handing a 22 foot day sailor named “summer wind” from Maine to Florida in October.

As far as I’m concerned, no one ever gets to call us crazy again! Now, we love this lady already. When we call her crazy, it is with adoration and affection and respect, but DAMN, she’s salty! Look at this boat! It’s almost all cockpit, and you can’t even sit up all the way in the cabin. Not only that, but the cabin leaks a bit, and the bunk is always wet. Wow! But, hey it has a U.S. coast Guard licensed 100-ton master captain at the helm, so she definitely knows what she’s doing. Hell, she grew up with 6 siblings on a 70 foot schooner in the Bahamas!

So, seeing her lovely wee vessel and knowing how wet it was outside (e.g. It’s been raining all day), we stole her away to our boat for a little hot tea and a dry towel and warm cabin couch and conversation.

I know, I know, land people would never dream of meeting someone in a parking lot who has a really small car and inviting them over to their house for tea, but that’s just how it goes here on the water. Maybe the next time you see a wee little SmartCar or one of those new Fiats, go over and ask the person over to your house for a drink just to see what they do. You can always tell them that we said it was okay and that you read about it on a blog online somewhere called Way Happy.

-Capt’n K & Lala

PS. It looks like we’ll be shut in here in Cape May for a few days. (Wow, that’s news, right! 😉 The next weather window for heading south may be on Friday night or Saturday, and we hope to run outside, e.g. on the Atlantic, from here to Norfolk, Virginia. That’s the way the pickle wrinkles.

Location:Cape May, NJ

Windless Flight to Spinnaker Heaven

This morning we launched at dawn. Literally as the crimson star rose above the horizon to the east, we were making our way out the Atlantic City inlet.


Another missed opportunity yesterday, and today we launched into serenity and calm. The feeling of joy at leaving Atlantic City was more powerful than our resistance to using the four cylinder diesel beast in our craft, and we motored happily out into the rolling southeast swells of the Atlantic.

Earplugs deep in our heads, we coasted over rolling black waves that started long ago and thousand of miles away off the coast of West Africa. We were so happy to be free of the clutches of that port.

To make our exit even more poetic, there happened to be a building on fire in Atlantic City as were leaving, and the city was covered in a nasty cloud of thick black smoke. As we headed to the clear sea, we spotted the first pelican of our trip, leading the way south. The pelican is Lala’s favorite bird, and seeing this lone bird this far north was a good omen indeed!

15 miles into our 40 mile run we felt a puff of a breeze from the east. Another gift from Africa? We’ll take it! It wasn’t enough to keep our jib full, so we debated putting the genoa back up. Tha’ts the sail that we took down the day before, so it was painfully ironic to be considering putting it back up the mast again. We’re lazy cruising sailors, I guess.

But then again, maybe not. We pulled out the biggest sail in our inventory, the spinnaker. This sail hasn’t been out of its bag in 30 years, and we decided to inspect it. Turns out it’s like new. We figured out how to rig it and took our time to get everything ready.

Like a perfect bell ringing a true note through the air, our spinnaker took a long slow deep breath, filled with wind, and then filled our hearts with joy. We choked the diesel to death, dug the earplugs out of our brains, and breathed sighs of relief. We were sailing. FINALLY!

Sure other sailboats passed us, but they were all motoring, and we were getting infinite mileage. Who doesn’t want that? Infinite miles per gallon. Thank you Africa.

Capt’n K & Lala

Location:Cape May, NJ

Comedy or Trajedy? You decide!

Update: 11:50 AM.
We had trouble this morning changing our headsail, and we’ve been delayed. So, we are not taking off today. Of well.

The headsail, our nice big Genoa/Jenny, wouldn’t come down so I had to go up the mast in the bosun chair to check it out. While about 3/4 of the way up the mast, my line got stuck, and I couldn’t go further up nor come back down. *ugh* It was wrapped around the winch and bound up on itself and Lala, who was working the winch on deck, couldn’t get it unstuck.

I debated trying to climb up the rest of the way by myself, without the aid of the chair and security line, but that was just a moment of pure insanity. We still had the main halyard available, so Lala sent it up to me on the flag runner, and I clipped into that instead. Then I was able to make it the last ten feet up to the mast head successfully. I cleared the blockage on the jib furler and headed back down to the deck, exhausted and sore. Going up the mast is like doing 100 leg lifts and ab crunches, along with a dozen pull ups for dessert.

Nothing like a little headsail-change-and-climb-up-the-mast drill at 6:00 in the morning to wake you up! And all this before breakfast! Then we lowered the Jenny and raised the working (smaller) jib without any problems. It was a reasonably fast headsail change, as far as we are concerned. Fast for us is under 15 minutes…enough to make a racer have a heart attack for sure.

Finally all ready “to go” then we raised both of our anchors to find them covered with the foulest stickiest oiliest black tar mud you’ve ever seen. This stuff is seriously vile. It’s like a cross between crude oil, permanent ink and velcro. It laughs at water and soap. Even WD-40 and bleach leave leave it unscarred. The only way to get it off is water pressure. You know, take a fire hose and blast the crap off.

So we headed out of the anchorage to cross the inlet and go to the marina on the other side, where there is fresh water available in a hose with a pressure nozzle. Our water tanks were empty anyway, and we needed to fill them before taking off.

Now, we’ve come into this anchorage twice now *in the dark* with strong currents and cross winds while exhausted, so we figured it would be nothing to head out in daylight with light winds on a rising tide. I’d checked google satellite images to see what it looks like recently from above, and it seems that we should head almost all the way out and then turn south near the tip of the north grass edge.

Well apparently I turned just a little too soon because *BAM* the bow dipped and the stern rose and everything lurched forward.  We hit ground.  At least I was going slowly!  Full throttle in reverse, and we pulled off.  I turned a bit more to the west and shifted into forward again and *BAM* free instant replay.  Heart beat pounding in my throat, blood pressure through the roof, I aimed back to the northwest and poked my way slowly right to within five feet of the grassy edge. Then I turned south and found the deep water.  Thank God!

So we made it to the marina, cleaned off all the black glue goo that was all over both anchors and the bow and deck, and filled our water storage tanks to the brim.  By the time we were done and cast off the dock lines, it was nearly 11:00am–much too late to start a run to Cape May and expect to get there in daylight.  Rather than head back into the lagoon anchorage, we decided to park it on the west side of the river, near to Atlantic City and the marinas.  Besides, a friend is coming to visit us and stay tonight on the boat! It’s Kurt from Drifter, who we got to know and make music and perform firedancing with in Marathon Florida last winter. He’s heading down to Drifter in his new car, and he’s stopping by to see us on his way.  So, it’ll be easier to pick him up at on of the marinas if we just anchor here:

Hopefully our weather window will continue into tomorrow, and we can make it to Cape May by dusk tomorrow.

Small windows for getting to Cape May NJ

We’ve consulted with a professional weatheman named Chris Parker who is also a cruising sailor, and it looks like we have a 12 hour window today to get south, so we are running 40 miles south to the tip of New Jersey. That should put us into Cape May NH by this afternoon.

Sorry if any of you have been checking up on us on and didn’t know that we had changed over to We just posted the link there last night.

Enduring the crap

Today we are recovering from yesterday’s adventure of getting our boat off the tidal flats in the dark. The episode included a bunch of disgusting mud that got pulled up with the anchors we had out, and this morning we awoke feeling hung over from stress to find our boat a disaster, with mud, anchor lines, and stuff everywhere. So we’ve been cleaning today. That feels good to get things back in order, getting ourselves ready to leave. We have a hopeful window on Monday or Tuesday to at least get to Cape May. We want to be ready to cast off as soon as the wind changes. But for now it continues to howl relentlessly at 20-25 knots from the west-southwest.

So to all you readers out there who are following our adventures with dreams of doing this yourself one day, and to those of you who may think cruising on a sailboat is a never ending sail into the sunset and moonlight encounters with dolphins, here is a reality check. Sometimes you end up stuck in a crappy place for a week with nothing to do but stress out about the weather. Sometimes a simple trip to the grocery store turns into an all day adrenaline filled hell that you were not in the mood for. Some nights you crawl into bed covered in mud and all you want to do is cry.

Maybe that’s what makes the good moments so good, the fact that you have to endure a lot of crap to be able to enjoy this lifestyle. Maybe, as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t really know, and there are days like yesterday that make me convinced we really are insane to be out here doing this. But here we are in the middle of it now, so we’re gonna keep going.

Damn that was a lot of work!

That's a lot of heel!

Well, we are free. We are nicely anchored again, but this time with our big danforth anchor. we have been anchoring with a plow type “Delta” anchor, which is what came with the boat, but that anchor is terrible in mud. Terrible!

This afternoon we put out the big danforth anchor to windward off the bow and led the line back to the cockpit winch. Then we put out another smaller danforth to windward off the stern and led its line to the other cockpit winch. Then we winched them tight to keep us from getting pushed further aground. Then we waited.

The water fell and fell and fell until the boat was on her side, 45 degrees off level. What a disaster! It is positively painful to see a boat in that position. Thank goodness there was at least some comic relief in the hilariously absurd positions we had to put ourselves in to move around the boat at that angle! When the water was at its lowest, we hopped off the side and went looking for clams. We got some too!

Then we went out again in the dinghy and this time we pulled up the main Delta anchor and then re set it off to windward so that we had two anchors to kedge us off from the bow.

When the evening high tide came, we raised the head sail and ran the motor and worked our asses off winching in on the anchor lines. It took every ounce of energy and determination that we had and then some. But, we mustered it, and we got ourselves free.

So all is well that ends well, although the stress was exhausting. Now we are enjoying being able to walk on our boat again, since it is level now.

Good Times Aground in Atlantic City

Ugh! We ran aground!

Well, welcome to yet another fun-filled day aboard way happy!  Today, the winds are blowing 20 knots and gusting to 30 from the west.  We swung on our anchor all night, and we figured it was set really well.

So we dinghied over to the grocery store to get some food and water.  We were gone about 2 hours, and when we came back, our boat was missing.  It just wasn’t where we left it.

We found it downwind of course, on her side on a falling tide.  What joy!


So we are learning how to inhabit a living space that is leaned over 35 degrees.  It’s really hard to walk, as it’s almost as much gravity pulling you down to the left as there is holding you to the floor.  It’s like being in a fun house, except it is *your house* leaning on its side!

The cats can’t even walk on the floor. Their little paws just don’t have enough traction. They just slide downhill.

So, we put out a nice big danforth anchor to windward and brought it back to the cockpit winch. That should keep us from running further aground.  We may even be able to use it to get ourselves unstuck when the tide comes back up.  The problem is that the next high tide (in 8 hours) is the lower of the two high tides of the day. It’s a foot lower than the other high tide.

So we are expecting to inhabit slant world until probably around 11:00am tomorrow when the higher high tide comes in.  Then we’ll either float off on our danforth or TowBoat U.S. will help pull us off.





Dinghy Adventures

The wind is howling away out there, and we are sitting tight praying our anchor continues to hold.  It was a restless night, with the boat swinging a lot on it’s anchor and the wind whistling and howling loudly.   According to our new boat neighbor Dave, even the big boats like megayachts are coming in for shelter from the conditions out there.  He was happy about it though, as his girlfriend works as a chef on a megayacht that just came in to Atlantic City during the night to take refuge, and he was off to see her and have what he called in his Australian accent  “a dirty night”.

Not only are we held hostage in Atlantic City by the wind, we are finding it difficult to even get out and about in our dinghy.  We haven’t introduced you yet to our new dinghy, who we are starting to call “Way Wee”.  We got it used from some friends of the guy we bought our boat from.  It is a small inflatable dinghy with a tiny 3 horsepower, 2 stroke Mercury engine.  It doesn’t have a transmission, meaning it only has forward gear, there is no neutral or reverse.  This makes starting the dinghy an adventure.  You have to get yourself all positioned to go before starting the engine, because as soon as it starts, that’s it — you’re off!!  With two people in the dinghy it works out all right — one person gets the lines all ready to cast off and the other person starts the motor and steers.  But with only one person in the dinghy it gets a bit more challenging.  Like yesterday.  We had been on the boat all day while thunderstorms passed by and strong winds blew.  Finally just before  sunset it cleared a bit and I decided to take the dinghy over to the beach nearby for a walk by myself.  Getting over there was no problem, but on the way back I had super strong wind blowing the wee dinghy ashore, and it was almost impossible to get it out in deep enough water to start the engine with out having the boat blown into the marshy weeds along the shore.  I finally had to stand almost waist deep in the water, with one leg in the dinghy and one leg standing in the water  trying to anchor us in place while pulling on the pull  starter cord awkwardly in that position.  And of course it didn’t want to start, and I had to try about 100 times before it finally burst to life and reared forward, with me scrambling to get in before it left without me.  Whew!  Even the littlest things take on a sometimes annoying quality of adventure out here on the water!!

Today we are getting all geared up to take the dinghy out in spite of the strong winds to get food.  We have heard there is a grocery store within walking distance on the Brigantine side of the anchorage, and so we will go on a quest to replenish our food supplies while we continue to wait, wait, wait for the wind to once again become our friend.

But there is some good news.  Cap’t K climbed up the mast a few days ago during a moment of calm, and succeeded in mostly silencing the banging mast cables!!  He drilled two small holes part way up the mast and inserted a wire into one hole, around the cables, and out the other hole.  Then he sealed up the holes, and voila, the cables are attached to the side of the mast and not banging freely inside!!  Yay!!!

Still in Atlantic City. yuck.

Our new site is up, and obviously if you are reading this, you made it here!  Thanks for bearing with us as we do the switch-over!

Yesterday we ventured into Atlantic City.  I have had a bad feeling about this place ever since we first got here….just looking at it from a distance from the secluded anchorage made me feel uneasy.  It feels like a city with no soul.  But, I thought, let’s go and check it out, give the place a chance.  Our first impressions of the city upon finally finding a neglected and crappy little beach to land our dinghy near the gated and locked area of the Trump Marina (Golden Nugget) was barbed wire fences, keep out signs, trashy broken sidewalks, forlorn ugly apartments, and a generally depressed looking city.   The gray, dismal fog that had descended  didn’t help our impression of the place.  We walked for about a mile toward the highlight of town, the famed Trump’s Taj Mahal.  As Cap’t K commented, it was as if we were being led by a hypnotic light to give our money to Donald Trump.

  What a place.  Casinos are so weird.  All the beeping noises from the machines, the people who look like zombies in front of them, the lights….

The Taj Mahal is a temple to money, for sure.  And the money does not seem to be helping the people of Atlantic City out too much.  Most of the people inside gambling didn’t look very happy, either.

We found some slot machines called “Dreamweaver”.  That happens to be the name of my artistic website and business, so we tried that one.  I put $5 in and promptly lost it.  Then Cap’t K gave it a try with $5, and had a streak of luck that at the high point got him up to a whopping $23, almost enough to pay for our lunch!  But he pushed his luck and it ran out, and we ended up walking away having lost $20, which is nothing compared to what most people in there were spending. 

We walked around the Boardwalk in the fog.  Atlantic City is home to the street names from Monopoly, and Boardwalk is the culmination of a bunch of familiar street names:  Ventnor Ave., Baltic Ave, Pennsylvania Ave…it was a bit like walking around a Monopoly Board.  The coolest thing we saw was a bunch of cats who live on the beach near the Boardwalk.  Some volunteers feed them and they happily live there as strays.




As we were walking back we found a fishing store, and since Capt K has been wanting to get set up with the proper gear to start trolling for fish as we are going down the coast, we stopped in.  The nice but incredibly overwhelmed owner hooked him up with a good deal on a used rod and reel and even offered to give us a ride down to where our dinghy was, because he thought we might get mugged and have the rod stolen if we walked around town with it!

When we got back to the boat we decided to re-anchor our boat since the winds were clocking around from the opposite direction and were going to keep strengthening through the night.  We had a bit of trouble getting the anchor to set well, and in the middle of the night when the winds picked up, our boat started dragging.  The anchor alarm went off and we had the joy of hauling ourselves out of bed into 30 knot gusts to re-anchor the boat again.  I hate that!!  Luckily, we got it reset ok and went back to bed…..adrenaline still pumping.

This morning we are studying the weather forecasts, which don’t look great no matter how many times we check them.  Strong winds coming from the south and southwest are continuing for days.  There may be a small window for us to leave tomorrow morning to get to Cape May with some strong west winds, but we are nervous about how high the seas will be built up and about how uncomfortable a ride it may be.  While we are building our salt up as sailors, we are still kind of wimpy about big seas and rough conditions.  We met a guy yesterday who claimed to have come over here from Australia in a 24 foot daysailer, and encountered days of 30 foot waves and 40 knot winds in the Indian Ocean….and here we are not wanting to go out in 25 knot winds….but to each his own level of comfort and adventure!  We have decided to consult with the famed sailing meteorologist Chris Parker on choosing the right window to get out of here.  We are waiting to talk to him this afternoon. Atlantic City is about the last place I want to be stuck!!  Although, the anchorage is protected and calm, so it isn’t all bad.