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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jeff Dobkin Arrives / Izzy Falls In!

Ben here again – With stories from Baltimore, MD to Cape May, NJ.

We made our way up the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore to meet up with Jeff Dobkin, an old friend of Jeff’s from his college days.

This is going to be confusing with two “Jeff’s” on this boat. Could be worse - I’m glad his name isn’t “Ben”.
When we arrived in Baltimore, we found two other “Looper” boats in the Inner Harbor flying the same AGLCA flag as ours.
Anne and Hank on “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, and Linda and Charlie on “Freedom’s Turn” invited us for a glass of wine to get aquainted. We made friends with them and planned to travel together for a few days to New York.
The Baltimore Inner Harbor is lively, with bands playing, cruise boats and street entertainers.The next morning the weather turned ugly again, so Jeff and Izzy visited the B&O Railroad Museum and went to the downtown market place to buy some rockfish for barbecuing. That night we welcomed Jeff Dobkin onto the boat in the cold and rain,and then headed out to Fell's Point to find Kooper’s Restaurant and Pub. My kind of place…named for the owner’s dog! Finally a 5K Run worth entering! They had a lot of laughs, a juicy Kooper’s special hamburger and a beer. Jeff even bought a T-shirt with Kooper's picture on it. Then they wandered around little Italy in the rain looking for Vacarros for desert. A nice young driver from the Marriott gave them a ride back to the boat in the pouring rain. The fog and drizzly rain persisted as we left Baltimore in the early morning and then traveled north and then east through the C& D Canal. I think Jeff Dobkin was hoping for a little more sun and swimming on his boating vacation. Instead he was on the lookout for big tugs and barges to appear in the mist ahead of us.As we followed Freedom's Choice and Queen Ann's Revenge through the haze,the day cleared and warmed up and we arrived in Chesapeake City that afternoon. We tried to find a spot to anchor in the shallow bay....hmmmm.... but the anchor wouldn't hold in the mud. Maybe it was the Mardi Gras beads we dug up with it!?Jeff opted for the marina and headed for one open spot left on the dock. Good thing the water was warm, because Izzy took an unexpected swim while we were tying up the boat!
Here's Izzy getting lines ready to dock the boat.And here she is after the poor dock hand had to drag her sorry butt out of the water.Somehow she came up with her hat and sunglasses still on her head. Must have been some fancy dive that I don’t know about. (I did recognize the "doggie paddle" back to the dock, though. It brought back memories of my encounter with the canal in Fort Lauderdale that I told you about in the blog in January. I had to be dragged out too.)
I’m glad Jeff Dobkin was around with his camera to catch it on film. He should have taken the opportunity to jump for that swim he was thinking about earlier.
After she got dried off and cleaned up they all had drinks and laughed at her new docking technique. I’m not sure if she’ll keep doing that from now on, but if she does, I hope I can help.
That night we barbecued on the boat and went to the lively Chesapeake City marina pub to listen to some live music and relax. In the morning we walked to the Bohemia Cafe and Bakery with the Loopers for a big breakfast, then the Chesapeake Museum beckoned everyone for a visit before leaving the dock. Here's Jeff Dobkin looking at some of the old lock equipment in the Museum. Then back to the boat to ready for the trip through the rest of the C&D Canal up to Delaware CityBy early afternoon we were in Delaware City trying to tie up to the dock in the narrow channel with the strong current pushing us toward the bridge. With some fancy boat handling, Jeff turned the “Izzy R” around and got us secured to the narrow, wobbly dock with the help of our looper buddy, Charlie, and the very helpful dockmaster, Tim. Once we were all tied up, Izzy said the "W" word and got out my leash. I was all ears! Yippee! A nice walk in town to see the sights and smell the smells. It’s a real small place, so I had taken in all the smells within about an hour. Dinner that night was at “Crabby Dicks” (can I write that?) - overlooking the water. I opted to stay home for fear of either encountering a mean guy named “Dick”, or catching a rather uncomfortable medical condition.
The next day we went down the big Delaware Bay with lots of currents and big waves and big ships. Everyone got up real early - before the sun came up - to travel to Cape May, NJ.
We had to “catch the tide”, they said. It was foggy and cold, so I went back to sleep and let Izzy and the two Jeffs take care of catching it – whatever tide was. I think it was a kind of chicken, because that night we had a good chicken dinner when we arrived in Cape May. Here's Jeff cooking the "tide" we caught.We bought fuel there too, and that made Jeff have a bad day when he got the bill.Our friends, Bob and Theresa were at the Urstch’s Marina that night too, so they helped to cheer up Jeff when they came over for dinner. We hadn’t seen them for a while, and they always make Jeff and Izzy laugh. I guess they’ve had days like that, too.

Jeff Dobkin is getting good at the lines and fenders and connecting the water and electrical lines when we dock. Here he is helping Jeff in the lazarette. Are you having fun Jeff? Quote from Jeff D:
"Yes, I remember it well. In this photo it shows how Jeff was working me like a dog (no offense to Ben). Here I was half in "the hole" - where he kept me for most of the trip. It was cramped sleeping, but somehow I managed. I think I was just coming out at the time to get the toilet plunger and the hose - as Jeff had me do some "plumbing work." I think he called it "Regular Maintenance" and then mumbled something about a 'Manual Cleanout.'"

The two Jeffs rode bikes downtown the next morning go to West Marine - of course - the "Candy Store" for men.
Later Izzy joined them for a ride into town to meet Bob and Theresa and take the Trolley tour of the charming Victorian houses of the city and the seashore.They told me there's water out there, but the cloud hanging over the shore made it look like the earth ended right past that guy. Just on the other side of the street it was sunny over the big old beautiful hotel.We said good-bye to Jeff Dobkin that afternoon as he headed back to Philadelphia and his family. We hope he’ll be back another time to see us. We think of him a lot as we listen to the big file of music that he brought for our computer. Sometimes Jeff dances to it as he drives. Other times he listens while he has a beer.I think I'll join him up there on the fly bridge and chill out to some of those country tunes he likes. Till next time...



Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mike Gets Inspiration at the "Breastapeake" Bay

Hi All...Ben here again,
Our good friends, and across the streeet neighbors, Mike and Debbie, came from Irvine to see us for a get away. Debbie has been working hard, and Mike hasn't had time to do much writing on his book lately, so this was a good way to clear their heads of unnecessary stresses and come up with new ideas.

I think this is a picture of Mike getting some inspiration for his new book.
I don't know what this is called in the human world, but in the dog world that’s called a “bitch”. I think Debbie would agree. But Mike is all smiles. He must have come up with some good ideas.

I don’t quite know why, but as soon as Mike and Debbie arrived, the sun came out in the Chesapeake Bay. It must be the California influence. If Peggy and Larry read this, they’re going to be upset since it rained the whole time they were here. (I won’t tell them if you don’t.)
They arrived in a cab in Annapolis to meet us while we were tied up at Ego Alley in Annapolis again. Bob and Theresa were right behind to us and we were having a great time watching people watch us, and viewing the parade with Annapolis band and bagpipers. There were people dressed in old fashioned costumes. This guy looked pretty funny wearing that outfit while riding a modern Segue.

I got a lot of attention as I barked at other tourists as they walked by, just to show them that I’m a really good watch dog.
Any way, there was a lot of joyful laughter and giggling as the cab pulled up next to the boat and Debbie and Mike emerged with their boat gear in hand. Bob and Theresa joined Izzy, Jeff, Mike and Debbie on another walk to El Toro Bravo for a great Mexican dinner that night and lots of those margaritas that make them real happy.
The next day they all took a tour of the Naval Academy to see what those uniformed fresh faced young men and women that we see in the town do all day.
Debbie loves bagpipes, so we stood and watched for a few minutes as the Navy bagpipe corps practiced for their graduation show that weekend. Graduation was almost upon us so the Blue Angels gave everyone a wonderful show of spins and turns right over our heads as they practiced for the Annapolis graduation ceremonies. Myron Ward drove over from DC to join us for the event. That night we all barbecued on board and caught up on neighborhood and family happenings. A camera crew from one of the local Washington TV channels came by and filmed our boat and interviewed Jeff for their segment on boating safety for the upcoming holiday weekend. I think he told them that having a dog on board is a good thing to keep everyone safe. We thought we were going to be famous, but we were preempted by news of a new donut shop opening, and we missed our 15 minutes of fame. Here I am with Jeff and the "anchor man" ( I don't know why they call him that...he didn't even look at the anchor), and the camera man. His camera is a lot bigger than Izzy's. The next day we took off for another crossing of the Chesapeake Bay. I got into my usual post on the fly bridge and turned my back on the helm so I couldn't be blamed for anything while Debbie and Mike tried their hands at driving the boat. We went to St. Michael's and anchored out in the pretty bay where they have a big lighthouse and museum. Here are Debbie and Mike in front of the lighthouse, They had a good time in town that night at the pizza place called Ava’s and watched the finals of American Idol at the bar!
The next day we went to Oxford, MD and tied up at Brian’s restaurant, “Schooners”.
There we opened a bottle of wine and celebrated our successful journey across the Bay (again), then had a great crab dinner with Brian. In this picture I think one of the crabs is biting Debbie. I’m going to be extra careful of those things from now on. There’s no way of telling if they’re friendly.
Back across the Chesapeake Bay again the next day (doesn’t Jeff get tired of going back and forth across this bay?) to Annapolis again. This time Ego Ally was full, so we picked up a mooring ball in the harbor.
Parke and Moira Davis, our friends from Fort Lauderdale, were in town on their way back home to Ottawa and they joined us on the boat for cocktails, then drove everyone (except me) in their dinghy across the harbor to the Boat Yard in Easton for dinner. I was needed to stay back and keep the boat safe.
The next morning everyone went to Chick and Ruth’s for a big belly stuffing breakfast before we had to say goodbye to Mike and Debbie as they continued on with their vacation in New England. Bye-bye Debbie and Mike!
Say “hi” to the ducks on the lake in Woodbridge for me! I miss my old home that didn't move.