Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pre-Christmas Christmas, part 2

On Christmas eve, we went "over the driveway and through the woods" to Grandma Happy's for dinner with Shannon's family. Happy, who never overdoes it, had a gorgeous spread of appetizers, a bar table, three entrees, and three desserts for the 6 of us. We also had fun opening gifts and watching Sara tear into hers. She seemed especially pleased by the bathrobe from Happy, and the Bratz microphone from Mom and Dad. She performed several original numbers from the "stage" in the living room, including "You Quiet (House) Plant."

Pre-Christmas Christmas

We spent the weekend before Christmas with Mark's family. It was a fun, relaxing time with Mom, Dad, Rick, and Andrea on Saturday and then the extended family on Sunday. On Saturday, we opened gifts, ate WAY too much, lay around by the tree (no visible progress on the alleged downsizing of the tree,) and watched a movie. Sunday, we got to catch up with most of the extended family, and really enjoyed second cousin Dylan, who's 20 months and so much fun.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Niece and Nutcracker

My favorite part of this holiday season was taking Sara to the Maryland Ballet's Nutcracker. We read the book to her the night before, so she'd know the story. She pointed out the pinkest of the waltzing flowers, and declared, "I want to be THAT one!" I wish we had a picture of "Happy" (my mom Becky) to show you how pretty they both were, and how much they matched (Mom swears this was accidental; believe what you will.) It was so much fun to watch Sara fold up in the theater seats (been a long time since I couldn't hold them down, but I remember it well) and enjoy the ballet.
Cold rain forced the cancellation of our plans for a horse-drawn carriage ride through Annapolis (sshhh! we're saving it for next Christmas!) So we went instead to Homestead Gardens to see the themed Christmas trees, huge stuffed animals, and train display. Sara posed for"UncaMark," as you can see above.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


We took a hurried family photo to include with Christmas cards this year. This outtake was actually my favorite shot, as Sandy snuck in a smooch for Mark.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mark's First Cover Shot

Mark's been a published photographer before, with shots in SpinSheet, PropTalk, and The Capital. But he's finally on the cover of the December SpinSheet. If you've seen Mark's gallery, you know that he's had many cover-worthy shots, and we're a little surprised that this was the one that finally got published. But we'll take it! -S

Friday, November 09, 2007

Chestertown '07

Early(ish) the morning of November 2nd OutrĂ© Mer left her slip on Back Creek to begin our annual trip to Chestertown on the eastern shore for the Schooner Sultana “Downrigging” weekend festivities. We have been making the trip with Ben and Jen for the past three years now, and it gives us a reason to anticipate the end of our sailing season here. As is the rule with sailing on a schedule, the wind was blowing directly from the direction in which we wanted to head, and strong. Wind speeds of 25 -30 knots warranted reduced sail and sent some Bay water splashing across the deck, and occasionally all the way back into the cockpit. We tacked (zig-zagged) our way up the Bay and under the Bay Bridge until we could make the turn into the Chester River and begin traveling more with the wind, rather than against it. The waves subsided as we entered the protected water of the river, but soon we were turned into the wind again and forced to motor to make continued progress upstream. One of the things we love most about this trip is the long, windy, and mostly uninhabited shores of the beautiful Chester River, especially in the fall. On arriving in town just before sunset, we dropped the girls and the now cross-legged dogs off to tend to business, while Ben and I anchored the boat. After launching and retrieving the landing party with the dinghy, Chris and Dave, dock neighbors at the home marina, also making the trip aboard their own boat, joined us brining appetizers and a wonderful hearty stew for dinner.
Although still seasonal, this year was much warmer than last year’s trip, and the cabin heater was working much better, so the cabin was quite cozy all night, even out at anchor in the river. Saturday Ben treated us to a wonderful hot breakfast after everyone was awake. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the town on shore, with dinner (complete with live music) at Andy’s, the local hot spot.
Sunday’s trip back was less windy, but we were able to sail a bit. This was good as the heater (also diesel powered) had used a lot of fuel and left very little in the tank, leaving us to ponder what “E” really meant, and if we would have to sail into the slip when we reached Annapolis. Everyone bundled up and combined with a warm chili from Shannon we kept warm and nourished all the way back, and we didn’t run out of fuel. A wonderful trip to remember through the cold sail-less months ahead, until we can launch our boat again in the spring ~M

More pictures

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long Winter's Nap

It seems like it was just launched, and now fall is here and it is time for the boat to come out. But far from slumber, this is when all the projects can begin in earnest (and with the bottom still wet, I had already started taking things apart). After a nice sunset sail on Saturday evening, we ended up across the river at our “winter marina” so we would be ready for haul out on Monday morning. Sunday morning we got a phone call from the marina saying they were about to haul the boat. So a day early the Salty Dog is on the hard to stay through the hibernation months to come, with an assurance that we certainly won’t be bored this winter. ~M

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Atlantic Adventure

The day after Mark returned from his trip up the Bay with Woodwind, we set out (together this time) for another nautical adventure. Captain Jim had recruited us (along with first mate Joyce and friends Rosemary and Doug) as crew for delivery of the 101-foot sailing yacht Iemanja from Manhasset Bay(B on map) on Long Island Sound to Annapolis (* on map.) Jim plans to do maintenance and repairs here before setting out to deliver the boat to Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

After the drive up and final provisioning, we set out around 4 pm Saturday. We sailed out of Manhasset Bay into Long Island Sound, down the East River past New York City just as the sun set. We entered the Atlantic, and took turns standing two-hour watches overnight. It was my first time sailing in the ocean, and she took it pretty easy on me, I must say. Neither Mark nor I needed the scopalamine patches we'd brought along. Winds were about 25 knots, but the seas weren't too rough, and the big boat handled them well. Although the winds made the night watches pretty chilly, most of the trip was unseasonably warm. We sailed a few miles off the coast, passing Atlantic City, NJ on our 4-6 am watch, and witnessing a gorgeous sunrise over the Atlantic.

Sunday was a little slower going, due to engine problems, but we popped into Cape May, NJ for fuel filters, water, fuel, ice, and photo ops for Mark. We motored up Delaware Bay and anchored for the night. The full night's sleep and calm anchorage were welcome after the 4-hours of sleep and pitching and rolling of the night before. Monday morning, bolstered by sleep and banana French toast, we motored the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and entered the upper Chesapeake Bay. This was roughly the same trip Mark and I had made bringing our boat home, but Iemanja's more powerful engine made it much quicker. We anchored in the Rhode River just in time for sunset, rum drinks, and a final dinner aboard, before Jim dinghied us ashore.

Mark earned his keep by taking the helm, raising and trimming the sails, navigating, finding a marina in Cape May with a dock long enough for us to fuel up, and engine troubleshooting. I earned mine by staying out of the way, occasionally taking the helm, and keeping everyone fed. We are so grateful to Jim and Joyce for including us.

But, lest you think sailing is all romantic adventure, here's the list of things that went wrong.
1. Radar and GPS chartplotter not working.
2. Autohelm stopped working while underway.
3. Water tasted of antifreeze because the boat wasn't properly de-winterized.
4. Head (toilet) in our cabin not working. This meant 90-foot "fun-house" walk on rolling boat.
5. Fuel spill into bilge underneath Jim's bunk.
6. No replacement fuel filters (clogged fuel filter #1 cause of engine punking out)
7. Refrigeration stopped working while underway with tons of perishables (and the Captain's beer)

Not one of these things were Jim's fault, and everyone made the most of it and had a great time. THAT is what sailing is all about. That, and the rum drinks at sunset.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Boat Show Weekend

The U.S. Sailboat show was this weekend. We made one major purchase (a folding propeller) but overall were pretty restrained. We ogled Zingara, a HUGE catamaran available for charter in the Virgin Islands. We looked at the current Catalina model closest to our own, and were pleased to note that we liked the layout of ours better. After a painkiller from Pusser's, we headed home to meet Mom and Sara. We headed out on our boat for dinner and a "sail." There wasn't much wind, but our guests were good sports. Sara was very excited about the boat, but still recovering from a cold, and her medicine knocked her out. The mattress that belongs in the forward berth had been removed for cleaning, but we improvised and she conked out without even removing her lifejacket.

On Sunday, we headed to the beach after church (in OCTOBER!) Sara braved the waves, even after a stumble where some water splashed into her mouth and she declared, "I almost DIED!"

Sunday afternoon, we headed back to church. St. Luke's celebrates the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi with the Blessing of the Animals. Sandy got a blessing from Father John and a nice walk and Sara got a good look at some of the other pets.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

VMRCVM Homecoming

We drove to Blacksburg for the Vet School Homecoming at Virginia Tech this weekend. Once we got out of the brutal northern Virginia traffic, it was a great weekend. We had gorgeous weather, great seats for the VT-Ohio game, guest passes to the world-famous Newkirk tailgate, and a chance to catch up with some of my classmates and visit our old haunts. Mark got to experience the "BAM" (big a** mug) at PK's Pizza, although his was filled with root beer. Kim and Johnny let us tag along with Daisy for dog fun at the cornfields (Sandy was sidelined due to a minor injury.) And we stopped on the way home at Home Place, where the family-style cooking is out of this world. Somehow, Mark fought off food coma and drove us safely home.

We also visited the new permanent memorial to the Virginia Tech massacre in April. Each piece of Hokie Stone is engraved with the name of one of the victims. I am so struck by the sense of community at Virginia Tech, as I was even before this tragedy occurred.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Not too many kids can boast that their grandmother twirls fire baton. But Sara can. Becky was a champion baton twirler in her youth, and can still dazzle!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to our Roots

We're raghaulers (sailors) again! Our resolve to wait another year melted when Mark found this Catalina 30 at a great price. We've always liked the Catalina 30 for its great layout and smooth sailing. A blue hull was a bonus. She will soon be re-christened "Salty Dog" (what else?) and we'll have a few months to sail her before she gets hauled out for winter maintenance and some (mostly cosmetic) work.

Maiden Voyage

After work Friday, we drove up to spend the night on the boat. Saturday morning, we set out down the Sassafrass River and across the Bay to bring her home. Winds were favorable for sailing for several hours, and the rest of the time we motored. Our big fear was that Sandy wouldn't like it as much as Ben and Jen's boat, but we needn't have worried. Even the squall that took us by surprise after dark didn't wipe the grin off her face.