Archive for November, 2008

Entry for November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008

We left Great Bridge at 7am and motored south with increasing winds on our bow.  We eventually were able to put up the jib and motor-sail for awhile but it made me nervous to have sails up when we were travelling over shallow waters with sandbars.  If we have just the engine running I can quickly put the boat in reverse when I see the depth sounder getting shallow but having sails up means I have to perform an “extra” step of releasing the sheet then listening to the sail flap while trying to get off a sandbar.

Anyway, the winds kept increasing and we decided to anchor along the northern shore of a pretty open bay and wait out a 2 day storm.  We anchored near Lutz Creek on the North River about 5 miles north of Albemarle Sound and hunkered down.  Just like when we were anchored in Sandy Hook, the weather forecasts kept getting worse and worse.  Winds that were supposed to be 25-30 when we anchored quickly became 35-40 with gusts to 55 knots – YIKES!  And, the rain was almost unbelievable!  At one point we heard on the radio that a city very near us had gotten 6-7 inches of rain in 2 hours.  It sure felt like that where we were. 

The next day (Wed, 11/5) we sat out the storm watching DVDs.  There was another sailboat anchored about ¼ mile from us and a small Trawler motored in during the afternoon and anchored ¼ mile on the other side.  I watched our radar and GPS closely and found that we were slowly dragging our anchor backwards as the winds changed to the northwest where we had less protection from the land.  The waves were about 3-4 feet and the boat was bouncing around pretty good.  I finally decided to move the boat to the western shore before dark so we waited for a break in the weather that never came.  So….  Around 4 pm on a rainy, windy and dreary day I put on my wet gear and tried to work in 40 knot winds while the bow was bouncing up and down about 4 feet with the waves.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought and we had the anchor up in about 15 minutes.  It took us about ½ hour to motor the 2 miles to the western shore where the waves were much lower but the wind was still howling.  We anchored quickly and it set really good which made me happy.  Another night in the storm passed without problems and we woke up to clearing skies but still 30-35 knot winds.

We watched several boats in the morning motoring and sailing down the ICW behind us and heading out on to Albemarle Sound which is one of the worst sections to cross in high winds.  We called our friends D and Don who were in Oriental to see what their schedule was.  These are our friends from the southern Caribbean that we spent several months cruising with.  They were home for a couple weeks to take care of personal business and we were hoping to meet up with them for an evening together.  Their time was running short so we decided to buck-up and make some time south.  We hauled up the anchor and put out our jib to sail back to the ICW.  We eventually put out the mainsail but it overpowered the boat with the strong winds.  After rolling in half the jib and main we crossed the Albemarle at 8 knots on a close-reach with waves crashing over the bow every few minutes.  But, the rough seas only lasted a couple hours then we were in the Alligator River with strong winds but gentler seas.  We ended up travelling 60 miles that day and sailing 40 of them – very unusual for the ICW.

On Thursday we anchored just south of the Alligator River Canal on the Pungo River.  We cruised the last hour in the dark and anchored in the dark without problems.

Friday saw us motor-sailing the rest of the way to Oriental where we paid for a marina slip (our first of the trip) and had a great reunion with D and Don.  They took us out to dinner and we had them over the boat for one of Laura’s great homemade desserts and a couple bottles of California wine.  Mmmmmm

On Saturday we moved the boat about 100 feet to the anchorage in front of the marina after doing 2 loads of “free” laundry at the marina.  A quiet night on the anchorage then the alarm went off at 5:30 am for a long day on the water.

Sunday we motored south to Morehead City then west to New River where we tied up overnight at the New River Marina and filled up our fuel tank for $2.38 / gallon – quite a difference from our marina in Catskill that sold diesel for $3.88 two weeks ago.  This morning we left early and are currently anchored in Carolina Beach, NC – ICW mile marker 295 (295 miles from Norfolk).  This is a very nice anchorage and I’ve made a note to stop here for a couple days in the Spring when it’s warmer

We’ve travelled 780 statute miles since leaving our marina in Catskill and have about 600 miles to Titusville where we plan to meet Rob and Sue for Thanksgiving.  We are 900 miles to our winter cruising grounds in Marathon FL.

Tuesday (11/11) we are up early and motoring out of the anchorage at sunup.  We are against the tide in the crazy Snow Cut and only doing about 3 mph for the first hour.  Then we enter the Cape Fear River and finally have the tide with us.  We’re motoring at reduced RPM and still making 8 – 9 mph.

For the 10 mile run down the Cape Fear River, Laura is downstairs cooking up a storm.  We’re planning to spend the next night or two at sea to take advantage of good winds to sail off-shore instead of motoring the twisty-turny ICW.  She made chicken-pot-pies, cut up veggies, spaghetti, cooked up noodles and made tuna salad for lunch.  WOW!

We sailed out onto the North Atlantic around 11 am with the wind mostly behind us and a 1-2 foot sea.  As we sailed away from shore, the winds and seas picked up a little but it wasn’t bad.  There were two other sailboats sailing south at the same time and we contacted each other on the radio to make introductions.  All three of us were playing around with sail plans because the winds were between a broad reach and run (about 160 degrees off our bow).  We eventually settled on the full mainsail all the way out with a large preventer from the end of the boom to the bow which would stop the sail from slamming to the other side of the boat if the wind changed or we rolled in a large sea.  The other two boats decided to tack back and forth so they could keep their jib and main powering the boat.  This is a typical sailors dilemma – run close to the wind at reduced speed or fall off, away from your course, to keep the speed up.  The boats that usually fall off will get there first.  But, in this case we were pretty close as we watched the other two boats tack in front of us for the next several hours.

 

It was our first ocean sunset of the trip and we were not disappointed.  The colors were a beautiful combination of reds and oranges that lasted for almost an hour.  The almost-full moon was already up when the sun set so we were never completely in the dark all night. 

As we sailed farther from shore the winds picked up considerably.  The forecast was 10-15 knots with gusts to 20.  By 1 am we were seeing 15 – 20 with gusts to 30. The boat would ride fine for a couple minutes until a series of larger waves came from behind but a little to the side.  Then the boat would roll 30-40 degrees on both sides until those waves passed and things settled down.  It was uncomfortable but not scary or dangerous.  The worst part was neither of us could sleep because the large rolls would wake us up immediately.  Worked our way through the night on our typical 4 hour shifts.  I relieved Laura at 2 am and it didn’t take me long to decide we should go into Charleston instead of trying to make one of the Georgia inlets.  The other two boats make the same decision and we entered Charleston harbor between 5 and 6 am in the dark.  Just as we made our way into the inner harbor the Sun came up and we motored to the western shore and the entrance to the ICW.  We had to wait 2 hours for the next bridge to open so we anchored and slept great for a little over an hour.

The bridge opened on time and we motored back down the ICW looking for a decent anchorage where we could relax and catch up on our sleep.  In the middle of the afternoon, after travelling 35 miles from Charleston, we anchored in the South Edisto River and I crashed on the bed.

Laura tells me a couple hours later several boats anchored near us. One of them dropped the dinghy and went to all the other boats inviting everyone for cocktails.  When they came to us, Laura told them we were catching up on sleep so would have to sit this one out – bummer.  I slept until 7 pm when Laura made a great dinner then we sacked out again for another 9 hours.

The next morning was very foggy and we couldn’t see more than 100 yards from the boat.  It was around 75 degrees at 8 am.  We waited for the fog to clear and finally pulled our anchor at 10 am.  The rest of the boats followed us out of the anchorage and down the ICW as the fog cleared then closed in several times.  We have a great radar and GPS so I wasn’t too worried.  I can see all the ICW markers on the radar and all the other boats around us very clearly at this close range.  At some points we couldn’t see more than 100 feet form the boat.

The fog finally lifted a little after noon and we motored the rest of the day to Beaufort, SC (pronounced “B-you-fort” unlike Beaufort, NC which is pronounced “Bow-fort”).  We anchored in front of the downtown marina and took the dinghy into town.  This was the first time in this trip that we put the motor on the dinghy and used our “car”.  We walked around town for a couple hours and couldn’t find a grocery store.  After asking directions back at the marina, we walked another mile (each way) to a Piggly-Wiggly where we bought eggs, cheese and fresh veggies.  We hadn’t walked much more than the length of the boat in the past 3 weeks and now we pounded 4 miles.  Neither of us slept very well that night from the aches and pains in our legs.

 

The next morning we left on the tide down the Beaufort River to the very large Port Royal Sound.  We continued down the ICW for about 35 miles before stopping a few miles before the Georgia border in New River.  We wouldn’t be able to make the bridge in Savannah before they stayed closed for the rush hour traffic between 4:30 and 6:30 so we made it a short day. 

The anchorage was nice but the weather was crappy.  There were high winds and rain most of the night but we were snug-as-a-bug in our nice warm boat.

Saturday we were up early and motored past the Savannah River around 9 am.  The winds were gusty and we really had to watch our course so they wouldn’t blow us out of the channel.  We had squalls during the day as a cold front came through the area.  We finally anchored in Walburg Creek just off the St. Catherines Sound at 4:30 pm.  There were several other boats we had talked to during the day that were travelling just a few miles in front of us.  We all decided to anchor here and leave the next day for another off-shore run to Florida.

The winds “blew like stink” through the night as the front finished its work.  By morning the temp had dropped into the 40s and it was our first cool morning in probably a week.  Shorts and t-shirts had been the uniform of the day but not for the next few days.  The forecast is for highs in the low 60s with nights going down into the 30s.  Winds will be from the NW at 10-15 knots for the next 48 hours so this will be perfect for our overnight run to Florida – probably St. Augustine.  

Not having to get up too early on Sunday morning, we and the other two boats (Long Gone and Enchantment) had decided on pulling up anchors around 11:30 am, as our trip off shore to St. Augustine FL, would take us around 20-24 hours.  We took the lead as we headed out of the sound, and once we rounded away from land, with full main and jib out, we were flying!!!  We had kept telling the other boats that we were just a heavy, old, slow boat, and here we were, zooming at just over 7 knots, and pulling away from them. Winds on our beam (directly on the side) and blowing between 15-20 knots, seem to be our best sailing days, so we’ve figured over the past 2 years. Figuring that the winds would subside, we sailed on, but by 3 am we were heading for a too early entry into St. Augustine (actually still in the dark) so we rolled in the jib, slowed down a bit and by sun-up we were motoring into the harbor. Having only to wait about 10 minutes for the 7:30 bridge opening, we decided to continue down the ICW to Daytona. We anchored on the west shore at around 4 pm, at 5 pm I got an excited, happy call from my son, Ben, with the news that Melinda (his wife) and Baby Ryan David, were both doing just fine!!! I’m a Gramma again!!!  J  I already have tickets to take a trip to the west coast in January, visiting all my kids and grand-kids.

Tuesday morning was a bit chilly, but we were up and going around 8 am.  With another good day of winds and some good currents, we motor-sailed the next 48 miles to Titusville, FL. It only took us 7 hours, but it took an hour and 5 tries of anchoring to really get that anchor set. The winds were blowing from the NNE, and the waves were kicking up pretty good. Getting to Titusville sometime close to Thanksgiving has been our goal as we were meeting our friends Rob and Sue here. They had their boat “on the hard” for the summer, and have been here about a week, getting her ready to get back in the water. Depending on the weather windows and when they get back in the water, we plan on traveling together to Marathon in the Florida Keys. Rob and Sue had invited us to dinner, but when we went to drop the dinghy and put the motor on it, the waves were bouncing it so fiercely that we were afraid we’d end up with the motor at the bottom of the anchorage. So we called them to get a “raincheck”. By morning the winds had shifted a bit more to the NNW so the waves were now calm enough to drop the dinghy and head into land!! Spending the day with Rob and Sue, and helping out with projects with them, brought back some great memories from 2 years ago. Rob had to replace two of his shrouds (or stays- the wires that support the mast), so with Rob strapped into a harness, Bill pulled him up to the top of the mast. Now this was pretty scary as the boat is not in the water, it’s propped up, supported by numerous jack-stands, with boats on all sides of you… and the wind is still blowing. I think Sue and I were holding our breaths. But they were able to pull the old one down. We took a trip to the riggers, picking up the parts needed and then back at the boat, Bill had Rob to the top of the mast, and with-in about 30 minutes the job was done!!.  We decided to go back to Second Wind, planning on returning to Rob and Sue’s for dinner, but when we got out into the harbor, winds and waves whipped us around and I got soaked, so once again we asked for another rain-check and we’ll head back there tomorrow to help out.

It’s supposed to be very chilly again tonight, in the 40’s – brrrrrrrr. So we’re running the generator and the electric heater to keep things warm for the evening.

 

Here is a list of all the places we stayed each day for the past couple weeks. 

 

11/4 Tuesday – North River, NC, Lutz Creek (ICW mile marker 59)

Wednesday – North River, Broad Creek (61)

Thursday – Pungo River (127)

Friday – Oriental Marina (181)

Saturday – Oriental Anchorage

Sunday – New River Marina (247)

Monday – Carolina Beach (297)

11/11 Tuesday – at sea

Wednesday – South Edisto River, SC (504)

Thursday – Beaufort (536)

Friday – New River (570)

Saturday – Walburg Creek, GA (619)

Sunday – at sea

Monday Morning – St. Augustine, FL (777)

Monday – Daytona, FL (831)

11/18 Tuesday – Titusville, FL (878)

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Entry for November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008

Just a quick note to let everyone things are fine on Second Wind. We are anchored in Walburg Creek just off St Catherines Sound in Georgia. In an hour we will head out to sea with 2 other sailboats for an overnight trip to St Augustine, FL.
I have been keeping the blog updated on the computer but haven’t had Internet access in awhile. I will post it in a couple days.

Entry for November 2, 2008

November 2, 2008

We’re made it to the Intracoastal Waterway and Virginia.  The past 3 days (and nights) we spent mostly motor-sailing from Sandy Hook, NJ to Norfolk, VA off-shore.

The trip from Sandy Hook took 53 hours – 3 days and 2 nights.  We put 35 hours on the engine during the 53 hours trip so our little diesel was running for most of the trip.  We were supposed to have west or northwest winds for the entire time but when we were off Ocean City, MD the winds came around to the southwest (the direction we were traveling) and the ocean found a 3-4 foot swell for us.  That made for a pretty crappy ride which lasted for most of the night.  As I mentioned in the past this boat doesn’t do well motoring into any kind of sea or wind.  As one point we were down to 1.7 knots on the GPS.  We’ve learned that running the boat directly into weather requires the main up and motorsailing about 30 degrees off the wind for the main to help us out with forward progress.  Doing this we were able to maintain about 4 knots but keep in mind we were tacking back and forth every couple hours.  We logged 278 miles on our GPS while our chart plotter showed the trip to be about 255 miles.  That means we “lost” about 23 miles to tacking into the wind – yuck!

That night after Ocean City, MD the winds very gradually died down and we were able to make better progress until about 8 am when the winds died completely.  We pulled in the sails and motored the rest of the way into the southern Chesapeake and Norfolk harbor.  We were much later than planned and ended up anchoring in Chesapeake Bay just north of the Norfolk entrance – not a place I would have normally picked but the winds were predicted to be calm and the water was like glass when we dropped the hook around 7:00 pm.  We had eaten dinner motoring across the lower Chesapeake Bay so after anchoring we watched a little TV and hit the sack pretty early.  We gained an hour from switching to EST from DST and slept the sleep-of-the-dead for almost 11 hours.  That greatly helped to make up for the loss of sleep the last 2 nights while at-sea.

Want to hear a funny story that happened to us?  Just after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge / Tunnel we were motoring toward Norfolk just outside the southern side of the well-marked channel.  Laura was preparing dinner which we planned on eating while motoring.  It was so calm we decided to grill a nice steak from our freezer to celebrate my birthday.  Just after I put the steak off the grill we head a call on the marine radio from a Coast Guard cutter that was escorting a Navy submarine down the channel.  They said all boats had to be at least 500 yards from the sub.

Since we were planning on anchoring north of the channel I decided to turn north and cross the channel before the sub got there.  Oops.  We go pretty slow and as we were motoring across the wide channel we could see Coast Guard and Naval police boats with all their light flashing coming toward us.  Right behind them was a submarine.  We were north of the channel before the sub got there and just as I was pulling the steak off the grill a Coast Guard RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with 2 huge outboard and a 50 caliber machine gun on the bow came zooming over to warn us away from the sub.  So….  I’m walking across the back of our boat with a steak hot off the grill while wearing my “Life is good” pajama bottoms and a t-shirt when this boat comes zooming over at about 60 miles per hour.  He was just getting ready to yell at us when I pointed north and gestured this was about as fast as I could get out of the way.  I think the guys in the boat were laughing at me when the Captain said over the bull-horn, “Ok Sir.  That’s fine.  Have a good evening.”  I guess it was just too hard to believe a terrorist would be on a 43 foot cruising sailboat wearing “life is good” pajamas and carrying a steaming steak on a platter…..

Laura and I both woke up this morning and felt like new people.  I’m not sure I even rolled over in the night I was so tired.  We picked up the anchor and were underway past the Norfolk Naval Shipyards by 8 am.  We entered the Intracoastal Waterway at “mile 0” and proceeded under several bridges and through the Great Bridge lock.  Shortly afterwards we tied up at the free dock south of the Great Bridge bridge.  One of the Canadian boats that was motoring along with us also tied up right in front of us.  We chatted for awhile and decided to walk into town for fresh groceries.  The Canadian couple hadn’t been here before so we walked in with them to point out the propane station, laundry and grocery store.  We’ve invited them over for cocktails and munchies – they’ll be here in about 15 minutes.  I’ll post this blog then add some pictures either later tonight or tomorrow. 

In the morning we’ll carry come laundry into town and head south after cleaning things up a little.