Monthly Archives: September 2013

More US CBP confusion

Shortly after arriving in Annapolis the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) office in Baltimore called and left a message on my cell phone.

The Annapolis Harbor pumpout boat took my cell phone number ostensibly for pumpouts. They must have reported us to the CBP because we shortly thereafter received a call from the CBP.

The CBP has been a constant source of angst and confusion on this trip. Every CBP office interprets the rules differently so every time we move to a new area we are expected to comply with a new set of rules. Worst yet, it is difficult to find out what the rules are.

Our situation in Annapolis is a good illustration. We called the Baltimore office when we entered this area almost a month ago because we knew we had entered a new customs area. We were given a general number to call and the operator had no idea what to do with us.

After we talked to several people we were usually sent into the yachts voicemail and asked to leave a message with our phone number. We never received a call back.

When we do talk to somebody we are told we did not need to call in the first place because our boat had never left US waters…. but if we don’t call they come looking for us. If are not in compliance we could face a $5000 fine and seizure of our boat.


For the last month we have had one of the most dangerous things a sailor could have on a boat – a schedule. We need to be in Annapolis on Friday, September 27th for the start of the job at the boat shows.

We planned on being ready to leave Deltaville on Friday, September, 20th so we would have a big enough weather window to find two days of favorable breezes needed to sail to Annapolis. On Saturday, we made a nice downwind run from Deltaville to Solomons Island, a little more than halfway to Annapolis. But since Saturday night the wind has been dead on the nose for the next leg of the trip to Annapolis.

There are two weather models we have bee watching since leaving Duluth: GFS (Global Forecast System) and NAM (North American Model) via GFS was the more reliable from Lake Superior to Cape May, but in the Chesapeake NAM seems to have become more reliable. This may be because NAM is a higher definition model, ie: it gives more detail for smaller areas. For more discussion on the models see



Both models predict unfavorable conditions for sailing to Annapolis by Friday, so we are resigned to a 40 mile motor. But how unfavorable is it going to be today? The GFS model predicts conditions moderating early today with light winds later in the day. The NAM mode predicts conditions moderating late tonight.

Our schedule pushes us towards betting on the GFS model, even though we know that probably is not a great idea and we will probably be motoring into a cold north wind. But the crab boats are going out this morning for the first time in a few days… maybe that is a good sign? Oh well, the sun is coming up, time to get out into the bay and find out!

Small town, big boating scene

Sea Change's makeover  - a coat of primer going on.on_the_hardDeltaville, VA is a small town with a big boating community. The permanent population of the town is one thousand but there are up to two thousand boats, a West Marine, several canvas shops and at least a dozen marinas and boat yards.

All this work means we have a little extra money to spend on home improvements.We have been on the hard at Chesapeake Boat Works the since last Monday so do some maintenance and improvements on the boat. Our fixed monthly income covers our living expenses, but the money for maintenance and improvements comes from additional work we do every month. This month I have been busy with Farm Show and SpEd Forms programming. Starting on September 27th, Mary will be spending three weeks working at the Annapolis boat shows.

  • At the top of the list was a “bimini”. A bimini is a shade for the cockpit which makes life on board the boat a lot more bearable. We had thought we might be able to make one ourseleves, but find it can be almost impossible to get a project like this done with a three year old aboard while also trying to get consulting work done. We have handed the job onto Ship’s Tailor, a Deltaville cavas shop.
  • Fans. I purchased three expensive Hella boat fans almost a month ago and finally had time to install them. Their flmisy plastic construction is a disappointment, but their low power consumption is not.
  • Another solar panel. Since leaving Duluth we have added several power hungry “neccessities”. Our 85W solar panel can no longer keep up.  At anchor we have been finding we need to run the engine every two or three days to keep our batteries charged. Our new solar panel doubles our solar capacity to 190W which should be adequate for our needs… for now.
  • Paint job. Our topside paint was so oxidized, faded and splotchy we felt our home needed some brightening. I found a boatyard (Chesapeake Boat Works) which would let me do all the prep work and then spray the boat for me. Like all paint jobs, prep is most of the work so I maanged to cut the cost of a paint job from about $6000 to $2200.

The boat primer was applied yesterday. I will sand the primer one more time before the final coats are applied. We hope to have the final coats applied on Monday and the boat back in the water next Friday.

Sailor-readers of this blog read through the list and notice none of the improvements actually make our boat more seaworthy. This time around we have been spending money on cosmetics and creature comforts. But in their own way, the cosmetics and creature comforts do make the boat more seaworthy. A happy crew is a safer crew, and more power will help me get more programming work done which in turn allow us to spend money on improvements that do make the boat more seaworthy.  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.:)