Archive for November, 2009

Wednesday, 11/25/09

November 25, 2009

It’s Wednesday, November 25, 2009 and we are in St Marys, Georgia. Laura took advantage of a local service to truck boaters to the closest grocery store and I walked about ½ mile to the community center where there is free Internet.

On Thursday, November 19th we received our “new” transmission late in the afternoon. I worked until 8 pm that night to install the transmission and hook up the new water lines to the cooler. I had removed the old transmission and purchased all the water lines and fittings I thought I’d need. The technician I talked to at Hansen Marine told me our transmission was “on the border” of being too small for our motor and the cooler would prevent future problems. The cost was only $150 so I couldn’t turn it down. Hansen Marine was excellent with us and even paid for the overnight shipping of the new tranny which I’m sure was a couple hundred dollars.

Friday we spent the morning cleaning up the boat and bring the broken transmission to a local UPS Store for shipping back to Hansen. As usual, we found friendly people at one of the docks who let us tie up our dinghy and leave it while we took a short walk to the UPS Store. There was also a nice grocery store right next door so after we dropped off the big package, we used our wheelie (little fold up cart) to truck back a couple bags of groceries.

Just before noon we pulled up the anchor and put our new transmission to the test against the strong currents in Snows Cut. There were no problems this time as we motored against the 3 knot currents for the next 1 ½ miles. As we popped out onto the Cape Fear River, the currents were just switching to the ebb which would help us go down to Cape Fear. We zoomed down the river at 7 – 8 knots while letting the mainsheet out to catch the following wind.

The weather forecast was good for an offshore run so we decided to exit the ICW just before Southport and were off-shore around 2 pm. After getting the boat on course for Charleston and setting our 3 sails for the broad reach (wind aft of our beam) we enjoyed one of our nicest ocean sails ever. The swells were 3-4 feet but they were behind us and very long. As each wave would catch us, it would gently lift up the boat and push us forward. Then, as it passed underneath us, the boat would settle on the back side of the wave and start picking up speed again on the next wave. It was very nice.

The seas were so calm, we decided to grill a steak on deck and eat dinner in the cockpit while underway. From what we can remember, this is the first time we’ve done this while on the ocean. Dinner was excellent but the seas and winds picked up again shortly after dinner. The boat was sailing nicely as we headed farther and farther from shore because the land bows away from our course around Myrtle Beach. I guess the farthest we were was about 25 miles from land.

Winds and seas picked up a little overnight which made it a little rough for sleeping. But, we usually don’t sleep well during our first night at sea so we were prepared to nap and relax during our off-watch time.

Things calmed down a little in the morning hours and we sailed into Charleston Harbor after a 120 mile run without running the engine. We continued down the ICW toward Beaufort, SC and anchored about 30 miles from Charleston. We had covered about 200 ICW miles in the last two days (and one night). Nice!

Sunday morning we continued down the ICW and anchored in Beaufort, SC around 2 pm. Turns out we had helping currents and winds almost all day so we made great time. It was a relaxing evening on the anchor and we watched a little TV before going to bed early.

Monday was to be another off-shore day so we left Beaufort around 7 am for the trip down the Beaufort River and out the Port Royal Sound. This was the first time I had gone through this inlet but there were no problems other than the typical Georgia scenario of having to go about 12 miles off-shore before turning south toward our destination – the shore in Georgia is very shallow for a long way out. During the night we were about 25 miles off-shore and the water was only 40 feet deep.

It was another lovely night on the ocean – especially since we were in no hurry. We only had to make 4.5 knots to be in St Marys inlet after sunup. Once again the winds were behind us so we had the full jib and mainsail out all night. The boat kept a decent speed until about 8 pm when we started the engine and ran at low RPMs the rest of the night. We could see many sailboats and shrimp boats around us all night.

Around 7 am we entered the channel just outside St Marys and slowly made our way up the St Marys River to the great anchorage right in front of the town. This time we had slept fairly well as the boat just barely moved all night.

St Marys has a great Thanksgiving celebration for boaters that was started 9 years ago by the locals. Now it is an all week party with something different every night. Tuesday night was a “painkiller” party where you bring your own rum and the mixers are supplied. They went through 10 gallons of mixers (fruit juices) before we left there and headed to a local pub, Seagles, for a pot-luck snack party. The place was hopping with about 100 boaters plus many locals. I was surprised to meet several people who were not on their own boats but drove into town just for the great party!

Tonight (Wednesday) there is an oyster roast with cash bar. Tomorrow the Thanksgiving feast starts around 1 pm. The locals supply turkey and ham while boaters bring all the fixin’s. I’m looking forward to a great meal but we both will miss our families during the holidays.

We’ll probably leave here on Friday or Saturday and our plan is to pay for our first marina in St Augustine. That will give us a chance to do laundry, fill up our water tanks and spend a little time ashore before heading down the Florida coast to The Keys.

Happy Thanksgiving from Second Wind!

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Tuesday, 11/17/09

November 25, 2009

After a fun several days travel from Oriental, our poor boat is broke again. One of the chances you take with purchasing “rebuilt” equipment is there may be problems with it. Well… Our “new” transmission we purchased 6 weeks ago died yesterday as we revved up the engine to motor against strong currents near Carolina Beach, NC. The boat gradually slowed down in the currents and we thought they were too strong for our slow boat so we anchored for a couple hours until they calmed down again. We tried twice to motor against them with no success. I guess the transmission was slipping all the time and gradually got worse until it wouldn’t go at all in forward. So… I used my sailboat backing technique (which has become much better lately) to back into the protected anchorage and we dropped the hook on a beautiful calm day.
Earlier in the morning we had left Wrightsville Beach and motored about 10 miles to Snow’s Cut. Along the way we had listened to a great off-shore weather forecast and decided to go out the Cape Fear River and do an overnight passage to Charleston. This would bypass some of the big problem areas of the ICW near the NC – SC border. There are a couple inlets there where the bottom is very sandy and the water shoals along the ICW channel. It’s common to have a couple sailboats (which have deep keels) to run aground there every day. Also, this stretch of the ICW between Carolina Beach, NC and Georgetown, SC doesn’t have any good anchorages so we would have to pay for a marina somewhere around Myrtle Beach. Going off-shore around all that is very desirable for us.
Anyway, after we anchored I called the marine supply that had sold us this transmission. They told me they didn’t have any spares to send me and I would have to send this one back for a rebuild. That would put us here probably 10 days or so – not awful as this is a beautiful area. Later in the afternoon they called me back and said they had found a “core” (broken transmission) that matched mine and would rebuild it on Tuesday for us. The plan is to ship the transmission today and we should have it in 2-3 days (hopefully) then I can ship this one back in the same container.
There is wi-fi Internet here but it’s very expensive – $9.95 for a day, $24.95 for 3 days, $44.95 a week, $59.95 a month or $84.95 for 3 months. YIKES. Not bad if we were going to stay here a year! So, I’ve spent a little time figuring out how to update the blog using the Internet access on my cell phone. This is my first try so I hope it works ok.
We have a few boat jobs over the next few days – low priority stuff that I’ve been putting off – and will spend time taking the dinghy around and checking out this place. The beach is supposed to be beautiful and we’re looking forward to some long walks on the beach and around town.

Sunday, 11/15/09

November 25, 2009

Bill was up very early, but we waited until about 7 am to pull up the anchor and head out to New River Marina for fuel and water. By 8 am we were fueled up and on our way. Picking up the tide current we made some good time, but since we were only going about 40 miles today, we didn’t push it and had a leisurely motor/sail as the winds were very light and the sun was warm and inviting. Yay!! We’re looking at having a few really nice days for the week.
There were a lot more dolphins today, most of them a lighter gray, probably bottle nose. We see them ahead of us, then what seems like we’ll run over them, they are all of a sudden behind us, not surfacing by the boat like they do in Florida. I can’t wait to get down there. I just love the sea life. This winter, I plan on doing much more snorkeling.
We anchored early, around 2:30 this afternoon in Wrightsville Beach, NC. This is the first time I have been in here. It’s a very busy anchorage, I’m sure because it’s the weekend, but nice. Quiet now that night has fallen after a most beautiful sunset. I’ll never tire of the ever changing canvas called the western horizon.

Saturday, 11/14/09

November 25, 2009

Wow, we can’t believe that it’s been two whole weeks since coming to Oriental, NC. We have totally enjoyed our stay here. D and Don were excellent hosts, opening not only their home, but finding free docking not only for us, but about half a dozen other cruisers in the two weeks we were there. We teased them about having a revolving door and I’m not sure D ever knew how many were going to be there for dinner each night. We all pitched in for meals, even having a “left-over” pot luck one night. That was interesting and fun. Great conversation and a late night game of chicken-foot dominoes made for great memories. While D and Don work on an overhaul of their boat for the next few years, we’ll plan to make their home a stopping point on our way north and south. They are certainly wonderful people with big hearts! And Oriental is a wonderful little town. Thanks again you two!!
Now we are once again underway, making our way to Florida. Since “Hurricane Ida” came farther northeast than originally expected, she’s kept the last few days rainy and very windy. Although today was overcast, the “nice” winds made it a great travel day. We made excellent time, timing the currents in our favor, making 56 nm and getting to our anchorage Mile Hammock Bay, just after sunset. Traveling in this type of weather isn’t bad in the ICW, but “Ida” sure has done a number on the seas off the coast. They are still pretty wild and confused and will be for about 4-5 days, so for the time being we’ll be staying in the “ditch.”
We saw a few different pods of dolphins today. They seem to come in at the inlets and “fish”. A few times there were as many as 12 in one area, arching their fins up and slapping their tails. They must have found some really good feeding grounds. The dolphins here seem to be a dark gray or black.
While underway, I roasted some boneless chicken breasts and thighs and right after anchoring, made some chicken chow mien. With rice, crispy “noodles” and a glass of white wine, dinner on the “hook” really felt like we were “home again”. I hear the wind whistling outside, but toasty and warm in here, we’re ready for a good nights sleep.

Pictures from our trip south – Catskill to Oriental

November 1, 2009

This was our first sunset anchored off Kingston, NYFirst Sunset of Trip South
A Manhatten Sunet as we sailed toward the last bridge.
Sunset on Manhatten
Our first night “at sea” rewarded us with this beautiful sunset off the coast of NJ.
Sunset off NJ Coast
After we anchored in the Sasafrass River (northern Chesapeake), this huge flock of geese landed about 1/4 mile from us and spent the night.
Geese Flying in at Sunset
Here is a great picture Laura took of the leaves in the water along the Dismal Swamp Canal
Lauras Leaves on the Water

Saturday, 10/31/09

November 1, 2009

The winds were light as we pulled up the anchor and sailed out onto the Neuse River. Today’s forecast was for 7-11 knot winds from the south which should be excellent for sailing west to Oriental.
We tacked down the Bay River into the Neuse River. When I was sure we were far enough down to tack and run the rest of the way to Oriental, we tacked to the west and set our sails on a close reach. Well…. Nothing is ever what it seems…. A half hour later we were tacking again, back to the south, as the winds had moved to the SW and were pushing us toward the northern shore. And, they had picked up to 15 – 20 knots and heeling us over to about 20 degrees. But… The waters were pretty calm still and it was a lively sail.
The rest of the morning was a tacking duel with the wind which increased to 25 knots about an hour later. Every time we tacked to the south and I thought we were good to Oriental, it would go a little more west and we’d have to tack again. Laura was a good sport about it as I was not going to let the wind beat us in this game. We eventually sailed into Oriental harbor at 6 knots with just ½ our jib out and everything else rolled in. The wind was howling at 25 knots and the windchop on the river was starting to build. I was glad we were in the harbor.
D and Don own a dock in Oriental Harbor Marina which they were letting us use for awhile (no time limit for now). We entered the marina and the very tight slip. The poles at the slip were supposed to be 15 feet apart but our 14 foot wide boat pushed them open a little as we entered. A few minutes later we were tied up and mostly safe from the wind and seas.
At the dock waiting for us were Bob and Carol from Place-For-Us. We had met them in Marathon last winter and had a fun reunion. A few minutes later D and Don showed up for more hugs.
We spent the next ½ hour or so configuring the boat for our marina (power cords, clean up, etc.) then we were off to D and Don’s house on our loaner bicycles. They showed us around and we chatted for quite a while with their friends and neighbors. Later in the afternoon we ate a great dinner of boiled shrimp, rice, baked bread and coleslaw (everybody brought a little something) along with a fresh apple pie which Laura had baked between tacks on our sail up the river. Dinner conversation was great as we all told stories about where we had been in the last couple years. After dinner we played a short Mexican Train domino game while being visited by about 40 trick-or-treaters. We biked back to the boat around 10:30 thoroughly exhausted. I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow….

Friday, 10/30/09

November 1, 2009

This morning was warm and sunny (again) as we pulled up our anchor and motored into the Alligator River Canal. We’re a slow boat (even for a sailboat) as I don’t push the motor and we get really good mileage at just 5 ½ knots. So, all day long we were passed by other sailboats and, of course, every power boat on the water.
No complaints as it was a pretty nice day on the water with light winds and warm temps. We were in shorts and t-shirts for the third day in a row.
Our sails were up for most of the day but the wind was never strong enough to turn off the engine. The sail across the Pamlico Sound was quiet and calm (for a change).
We anchored for the night in Bonner Bay – just south of Gale Creek before the Neuse River. It was an excellent day and we are only about 20 sea miles from Oriental.

Thursday, 10/29/09

November 1, 2009

What a beautiful sailing day! We raised our sails just off the anchor and didn’t turn on the engine for the next 8 hours. The winds were on the beam coming down the Pasquotank and slightly behind us as we crossed the Albemarle Sound. It was pretty nice with about 10 knots (apparent) winds and 1-2 foot seas. We sailed and read books all day with the autopilot running the boat nicely.
After navigating the entrance to the Alligator River and traversing the Alligator River bridge, we continued our great sailing day all the way down the Alligator River. Near the end of the river, the ICW turns east towards the Alligator River – Pungo River canal. This is a 23 mile waterway that is very narrow with no places to stop. We arrived at the northern end around 3:30 pm. Even with good winds to help us I figured it would be dark before we popped out the other end. So, we turned around and anchored in a new place for us, Tuckahoe Point. It’s a little rolly here but not bad. Laura cooked up a nice hot chicken soup for dinner as it was cloudy and a little chilly today.
This picture was a nice sunset from our anchorage on the Alligator River.Alligator River Sunset

Wednesday, 10/28/09

November 1, 2009

We were underway at 8 am to make the 8:30 lock opening at Deep Creek. This is the northern end of the Dismal Swamp route. It’s very beautiful and not really dismal. When it was named, the word “dismal” had a little different meaning than today. It meant more like isolated rather than bad.
There were 7 boats in the lock and 4 boats at the other end waiting for us at the free dock above the lock. We all made a long line of sail and power boats down the 21 mile route. It is very narrow and you have to keep a close eye on keeping the boat in the middle. 4 hours later we arrived at South Mills and locked through with 10 boats – one stayed at the visitor’s center just a couple miles back.
A nice, leisurely, 2-hour ride down the Pasquotank River brought us to Elizabeth City just before the bridge opening at 5:30 pm. It was a very busy place with lots of cruisers at the docks. Even though there was a dock we could have taken, we decided to keep going a few miles and anchor on the larger part of the river that flows into the Albemarle Sound. It was a very nice night on anchor and I’m sure we saved a few dollars by not going into town.
Here is a picture of our early morning cruise down the Dismal Swamp Canal. It was very humid and foggy.Dismal Swamp Canal on Foggy Morning

Tuesday, 10/27/09

November 1, 2009

We were up early again and underway shortly after first light. Motoring out of the bay was easy as it was well marked. Once we were back on the Chesapeake, we turned south and rolled out our big sails. It was another great day of sailing with the wind and waves behind us. I think we set a record with Second Wind of 10 knots (no current) surfing down a wind-chop swell.
Around 3 pm we sailed past the naval fleet in Norfolk and shortly after entered the ICW at mile marker 0 – Hospital Point. We just about idled for the next 3 miles as the bridge wouldn’t open until 5:30 because of rush hour traffic. Once through the bridge we motored into the Dismal Swamp route and tied up at the free dock.
After we were tied up to the dock, Laura called up to me that she had heard the water pump running when she went downstairs. I checked it out and found that a fitting had come loose on our pressurized house water system and we had emptied about 140 gallons into our bilge. Our automatic bilge pumps had worked just fine and pumped it all overboard. Now we were out of water for washing!
Well…. Not really. We carry two 6 ½ gallon jugs for good drinking water and still had about 10 gallons there. No worries about dying of thirst. But, we both like taking showers every day and I was disappointed that we had no water for showers or washing.
This free dock was advertised as no power or water but I walked up to shore to see if I could fill up our jugs and carry them back to the boat for some water in our tank. I found that water was piped to the dock with a faucet only about 80 feet from our boat. NICE!
After quickly fixing the broken fitting, we filled up the tank with fresh water. ½ hour later we were back in the water business. What luck to have this happen somewhere where we could refill our 200 gallon tank! We do have a watermaker onboard but it wouldn’t have worked in this brackish water. Plus, it didn’t work the last time I tried it so was planning on getting it fixed when we got back to Florida. The manufacture has an office in Palm Beach.
It rained heavily that night and we listened to the water pounding the boat as we slept.