July, 2017

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Sunday, July 23rd. A hot weekend in Cape Charles.

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Last Monday I got a ride to the boat with Rob, the harbor master, who lives close to where I am staying in Chesapeake. I got some cleanup done but I need to pace  my self with the healing process of my back surgery. Last Thursday I rented a car to be returned this coming Thursday. Good thing that the rental car was upgraded from an economy to a mini van. This allows me to sleep in the van. I hope to get the yard here to present me with an estimate of the repairs for the insurance company. The way I understand it is that if it comes out higher than my coverage they will pay the maximum coverage and then I will use it to pay the $19,000 tow bill.  I made up an Excel spreadsheet of the items lost by floating away and destroyed by the saltwater and it alone adds up (conservatively) to over $14,000 including the engine. And since I made up this list I keep discovering additional items. After I have flushed out all the mud, the area where the boat is standing will become a priced garden plot.

Cape Charles is a charming little town. Hard to reach at the very southern tip of the peninsula that starts in northern New Jersey. The Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. The personel at the marina are very helpful. Jeannine and Sean came out today to help me. Sean took the two deep cycle batteries out which way over 40 lbs each and would put me right back on the gurney. Jeannine brought lots of my favorite treats and an ice chest. They also set up a tent where I can sleep and keep the cleaned “keepers” under roof. On Thursday I have a post-op appointment with the back surgeon. I am rehearsing my white lies on keeping the BLT (Bending-Lifting-Twisting) commands.

The country around here is very rural, farms, woodlots, tidal sloughs. A farmer’s trailer sells produce on the honor system, every item is priced and you put the money in the slotted box. The peaches, canteloupe, corn, etc. are a a real treat here. On Friday I had a visiting papillon for a while flapping its wings and aerial acrobatics. I believe it is a Red Spotted Black. A week or so ago, in the back yard of my daughter in Chesapeake, I saw this unusual Dragon Fly, a White Tail Skimmer. Never seen before, but apparently they are also seen in the Pacific Nortwest.

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And aIMG_20170721_195139 picture of the magnificent sunsets we have here in Cape Charles. All taken with my $30 ZTE android phone the      replacement for my single reflex Nikon cameras and lenses I lost in the wreck.


Sunday, July 16th. Fleetwood’s Fate.

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

But first an update on my back surgery. I was released on Saturday July 8th. after Friday’s surgery. I never needed any pain killers but still taking muscle relaxers. Frankly I have not felt any benefit from the operation yet, right this moment the opposite, but figure that will eventually come. And this all came at an inopportune time. Because I need to clean up the recovered “Fleetwood”. She was towed into Cape Charles Yacht Center marina on Monday the 9th. I rented a car on Tuesday to see the damage. She is repairable. But the uncertainty I am faced with is how I am going to pay the $19,000 recovery/towing bill. In my previous blog I mentioned that the young man, Jake, was going to dive and determine where the water was coming in from. He found a crack in the lower chine on the port bow, and made an attempt to close it with epoxy. He had an electric pump and generator with which he and his brother got “Fleetwood” afloat. But he had to abandon the effort by dusk because he did not have enough fuel to keep the generator going while towing the boat the 35 miles to Cape Charles. Now I was left with the only other option I had after several salvage companies had turned me down. For one the remote area and the possibility of un-exploded ordnance in this once bombing practice range.  The Ocean City, Md., Tow Boat US had found out what the maximum insured value of my policy was and they had me between a rock and a hard place. They had the pump and the float bags and towing equipment. They wanted $21,000 for the job. I ended up settling on $19,000. My maximum coverage is $ 18,900. I already paid Jake his very reasonable bill for his attempt and inspection, a little over $1,100. But I need to get the boat cleaned up in the interior to better determine the damage. I shall try to do this tomorrow. The harbor master at the marina lives not far from where I am staying in Chesapeake and he offered me a ride. Commuting from here to Cape Charles is costly, $13.00 each way for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tolls. If I retain possession and see my way to repair her, I shall stay on the boat, like I do in Green Cove Springs and enjoy the quaint old harbor town still glowing in its glory of the time this was a very busy railroad ferry junction.

I managed to recover some of my clothes and some my boat/personal papers.  Everything below decks is covered with a layer of mud/clay. The small 2 gallon diesel canister leaked and the smell of it is in everything. The cockpit floor grates and the engine hatch floated away, the solar panel fell off its frame mountings. All the wiring will need replacement a very tedious and time consuming prospect. The rudder post bent backwards and pushed the leading rudder edge into the bottom of the “sugar scoop”, making a difficult to repair hole.

One thing some experienced boater might be able to explain to me: The lower mast shrouds are loose, the uppers appear unchanged.  I am baffled. The lowers are attached to the same chain plates as the uppers.

Here are some of the pictures I took last Tuesday:

Heavy chafing from shell covered sandy bottom

Heavy chafing from shell covered sandy bottom

The underwater epoxy repaircrack with underwater epoxy


A disaster scene in the cabin

A disaster scene in the cabin

In Cape Charles

In Cape Charles





Thursday July 6th. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Or better yet say a prayer for two successful operations. On my back tomorrow and on “Fleetwood” on Saturday. The first one, the kyphoplasty, is well prepared and should be routine. There is a chance that “Fleetwood” could be resuscitated. I had a number of turn downs from salvage contractors to refloat and dispose of the wreck. Then late yesterday a plan formed to drag the wreck onto a “bulkheader” a small flattop barge that is used to construct seawalls and docks, with an excavator. This would effect the removal order but it would be highly unlikely that it would leave the boat in a repairable state, just salvage and dumpster junk. A little later in the evening I received a FB message from a young man who had spotted the boat last weekend on an outing to the islands. He took a close look and he has come up with a possibility to refloat and lift the boat with a travel lift at a boat yard in Cape Charles. He is going to dive to take a better look at the keel joint this Saturday. If there is too much damage and to difficult to pump her dry for towing then we will go for the “bulkheader” plan. So, pray and stay tuned.

The other good piece of news is that I just bought a hard disk drive enclosure and the hard drive on my old Toshiba is good and I am transferring the files to the (even older) Toshiba Satellite that Jeannine has donated. Most of my pictures of the last part of the circumnavigation are on there, my e-mails and word files etc. The hard drive of the newer lenovo is up next.


Fourth of July. Dependent on Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Moving right along after the shipwreck. You all have lifted my spirits with your reactions and encouragements. Thank you very much, I love you.

My back operation, the kyphoplasty, is scheduled for this coming Friday. More X-Rays and an EKG were done yesterday. They will keep me overnight and then I’m good to go on Saturday.

The next operation to deal with is the wreck removal. The Virginia Marine Police showed up at the crime scene while I was hoisted into the helicopter. Last Saturday two husky officers showed up at my daughter’s address and I had to sign the affidavit that I will have the wreck removed by July 22nd., or else. The officer in charge has been very helpful and sent me the below pictures. The first one was taken that Friday morning and the one deeper in the water two days later. The boat was at a fairly steep angle when I abandoned ship but the keel has apparently dug into the sand and therefore straightened out. I had managed with great difficulty to get a liability insurance in 2014. Wooden boats are tough to insure. The coverage was limited to US waters.  I cancelled the insurance in San Diego last October and obtained coverage for Mexican waters. Then last May, back in the USA, I re-applied for liability at the same State Farm agency. They confirmed coverage. But then I received a notice of cancellation by mail to my daughter in Fife’s address. The reason they gave in the letter was that I had not given the answers to an earlier e-mail. But I had. So, when the accident had happened I was desperate. But in the end it turned out that the cancellation takes effect on July 19. So, I am covered for the removal costs. The real reason turned out to be that the underwriters did not want a client who pops in and out of the country. I have asked a few towing/salvage companies for bids but still waiting for answers. There is a remote chance that “Fleetwood” can be repaired. But the longer I wait the lower the chances and fewer the opportunity for recovering items like the windvane, life raft, etc. These Barrier Islands were once used for bombing practice and still contain some unexploded ordnance, complicating things.

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Once I have this operation under way, I intend to drive up to Montreal to meet Roger Simard who has invited me to sail down the St. Lawrence on his Naja “Bonita” to Quebec City for the Tall Ships Parade, July 18-23. This is the second Naja kit imported from England after my “Fleetwood” kit. I flew to Montreal in the winter of early 1980 to see her exhibited as a hull in the Montreal boat show. Roger is the second owner, he did a very successful refit and upgrade of her about 10 years ago. I shall visit friends and my Vermont cousin along the way. In my previous blog I suggested house sitting and it looks like that is starting to happen. I plan to be in the Northwest for Thanksgiving and probably confirm an invitation from friends in Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara, for September and part of October.

Suggestions and offers have been made for a “Fund me” action to finance a replacement for “Fleetwood”. There is a good chance that I’d like to spend a few more years exploring by sail boat, but I have no firm plans yet. I have savings and, thank God, for now a loving home with Sean and Jeannine in Virginia. I am sad that the “Great Loop” did not work out. Cuba and the West Coast of South America remain on my wish list, by boat or by air. In the meantime, I am financially supported by my book sales, especially if you purchase the print versions from Create Space instead of Amazon (see details on the books web sites) tell your friends. I replaced my salt ruined cheap cell phone with a $30 android. Same 253 are code number starting with 441-. Now I am no longer the butt of snickering when I place the phone to my ear.