Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009.

Let me jump back to Thanksgiving for a minute. We had a lovely meal in the Far Niente’s shoreside home along with the Alibi II’s and Solitaire. During the course of dinner conversation it became known that Bill from Alibi II is actually Vanna Whites big brother. Since I had the picture I figured I had to tell the story. I can see the resemblance.

Back to the present. We were sitting in the anchorage at Lake Worth waiting to start an overnight crossing. The inlet is pretty small considering the size of some of the boat traffic transiting the inlet. This large fella came in with a deck just covered in boats being transported from one
place to another.

At 1600 hours we pulled anchor and set out for Lucaya on Grand Bahamas Island. The crossing was into a very slight headwind and was an all night motorboat trip complete with a full moon for most of the trip. We arrived just before dawn and were pleasantly surprised to find the inlet bordered by well lit navigational buoys. Solitaire was timing their arrival to coincide with the marinas opening at 0800. So we slipped through the channel and anchored in a wide spot inside the safety of the harbor. We had close to 2 hours to catch up on our sleep but I was unable to rest as I was pretty excited about being here once again.

Once Solitaire arrived we hoisted anchor and pulled into the marina. That’s pretty much where the love affair with Lucaya came to an end. We both took slips as required to check in with Customs and Immigration. When Nancy was making our reservations she found that the sailboat section (read that as cheaper) had closed. We were told that we would be given that sections rate. That was of course until we actually showed up in person. Then it was “No, no der be no such ting as special pricing”. The 20 percent difference in price was annoying but the whole lying thing…..well that’s just really gets my goat. While the woman was lying to my face she made a motion with her hand and knocked her full cup of coffee all over her keyboard, calculator and desktop. I was in full smirk when I said “Oh boy, that’s a shame” and left. Karma meet lying marina worker, lying marina worker meet karma.

Next it was off to Customs and Immigration. The Customs officer was not in yet so Immigration was first. When you fill out the half dozen associated forms one of them asks how long you would like to stay in the country. The maximum is 6 months so we always ask for 180 days. It’s very random as to who gets what. Solitaire and we were only granted 90 days. It’s not that big a deal as you can stop in at any customs office and get an extension for another 90 days. So the question becomes…..”If you’re gonna give me the 180 days anyway, why can’t I walk outta here with all of em’ today?” It’s a huge pain in the ass as we have to be in a place where we can get our extension just as our permits run out. But it is what it is.

As part of the process the Immigration officer called the Customs division and let them know that there were people here to check in. After 2 hours and repeated assurances that she was on the way the facts came to light. The Immigration officer never made the call. Once the Customs woman was actually notified she was there in ten minutes and blew through our paperwork quickly.

After spending 3 hours to accumulate a few rubber stamps we went home to the boat for lunch. After lunch we walked the downtown shopping district with the Solitaires. Then Christy washed the salt and filth from the decks while I jerry jugged some diesel to top off our tanks.

We’ll be leaving for the Berry islands in the morning and once there we’ll be hiding from a front that supposed to move through the area on Wednesday and Thursday. So its no internet for us for at least a week I would guess.

There’s something a bit wrong with 85 degrees, loud Christmas music and a huge decorated tree. Don't misconstrue that as complaining, I'll deal with it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009.

To paraphrase our friend Mike on Sapphire….”We’re sinking”. Fortunately, like Mike's sinking it turned out to be a semi minor event. We were up and underway from Vero Beach. We were headed to the Fort Pierce inlet where we had absorbed a vicious ass kicking last year on our way north. We planned to sail south along the coast and turn east towards the Bahamas when we started to feel the effects of the Gulf Stream.

As soon as we left Vero Beach the recently installed bilge alarm started screaming. We had overfilled the water tank at the fuel dock in Vero so I figured it was the excess water being pumped from the bilge. After the pump had come on several times it was time to go below and check things out.

Both stuffing boxes and the engine room were all dry. I thought maybe it was a problem with the alarm so I pumped the big manual pump and sure enough there were a few gallons of water in the bilge. Crap. So I headed to the bow to start a systematic check of every thru hull in the boat.

As soon as I got to the forward head the problem was obvious. One of the new fresh water couplings that I had installed a week ago under the sink was leaking. Christy was doing dishes and had the fresh water pump on, the elbow failed and we were filling our bilge with our drinking water. Underneath the sink there was water spraying everywhere, it looked like a scene from a German submarine movie. Crap. I shut the pump off and that stopped the water for the time being.

Far Niente was having a problem with his autopilot so we stopped in Fort Pierce for 2 hours so Jay could run to West Marine for parts. While he was busy with that, I removed and reinstalled the coupling only to have it fail almost immediately. Crap.

Jay was done, the last of the ebb tide was running so we had to up anchor and go out the inlet. The inlet was much nicer to us than it had been last year and we were soon southbound in the ocean.

Almost immediately Far Niente called us on the VHF and said that their autopilot was again acting up and they would have to stop in Lake Worth rather than cross to the Bahamas. I had the water system to deal with so we opted for Lake Worth as well. Solitaire also changed plans and headed in as well. We all arrived just after dark and carefully threaded our way into the anchorage to drop our hooks for the night.

Since we couldn’t wash either the dishes or ourselves I had to jump right on the coupling repair. Once the coupling was properly installed the root cause of the problem became clear to me. The regulator on our fresh water pump had failed. It was allowing the system to over pressurize until the weakest link in the system failed. Now that the system was once again in good health the pressure built so much that it actually overpowered the pressure relief valve on the hot water tank. Crap.

The pressure regulator is not adjustable so that meant the entire pump must be replaced. It was too late, I was to tired, so it would have to wait. So, first thing in the morning we had to dig through the entire V berth to find the spare water pump. It was only 6 feet away, I knew exactly where it was but it still took a half an hour to lay my hands on it. The install was pretty much remove/ replace and all went well.

After that I spent a bit of time on Far Niente basically confirming Jay’s fears. Technically speaking, we think Jay’s course computer has “shit the bed”. Since its Sunday things get a little more complicated as Jay has to wait until tomorrow to get a call into Raymarine. Is there a new unit in town, can they ship one immediately, is there some other kind of troubleshooting that they might recommend? Far Niente could be here for a couple of days so it looks as if Solitaire and Veranda are going to head out tonight before this weather window closes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25, 2009.

We’re in Vero Beach and taking care of our final provisioning. We borrowed Solitaires car and spent $860 on food.
We had two shopping carts straining under maximum load. Several people took the time to question us as to why we were buying so much food. It’s pretty tough to try and food shop for a 6 month period. That was only the basic foods. We made separate trips later in the week for meats, bread and fresh vegetables.

After getting the meat home Christy broke the packages down into smaller, more user friendly portions that I resealed with a vacuum sealer. After that, all of it went into the freezer.

We also recommissioned the watermaker. We use a TDS meter to check the water for “solids” content. Anything less than 500 ppm is considered safe to drink. When we were in Washington, DC we checked the water coming from the taps there and found it to be at around 480 ppm. Here on the boat our water is consistently under 300 ppm. That’s some fine quality H²O.

While Christy was out shopping with Nancy I took the opportunity to attend a local car show with the Far Niente’s.

There were quite a few cars and most of them were in wonderful shape.

I also spent a bit of time up the mast of all 3 boats tied to our mooring. It seemed we all had niggling problems that needed some attention so we took care of them all one after the other. It was kind of like a crappy game show where everybody gets a chance to haul my fat ass up their mast.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 18, 2009.

On Tuesday we left Saint Augustine at first light in the company of about a dozen other boats. We spent the majority of the day with a favorable tide so a 60 couple mile day happened easily.

The ICW in Florida is pretty much a north-south affair. None of that meandering Georgia crap. So distance wise it’s pretty much the same as going on the outside. The bad part is that you have to remain vigilant but the bonus is that you can drop the hook whenever you’re ready.

There’s a lot of wildlife to be seen, there’s the challenge of timing the bridges and the opportunity to run across old friends plugging along down the ditch.

We stopped for the night in Rockhouse Creek. We were the third boat in and we watched as another 7 boats filled the anchorage during the late afternoon.

On Wednesday morning we were up and outta there before anyone else even had lights on. I’ve definitely worn Christy down on the whole “getting up early thing”.

At one point during the day the motor bogged and started to fade a bit. Crap. Its amazing the trouble shooting you can run through your mind while you’re dropping down the companionway into the boat. I quickly unscrewed the panel that hides the fuel selector switch, flipped it and the engine instantly resumed its happy tune. We can usually run for about 30 hours on a tank of fuel and I was planning to check the tank around noon. Somehow I screwed up the math, forgot a day or something, I dunno but it all worked out.

It was another day with a decent push and when the tidal flow turned against us the wind picked up so
we were able to maintain an SOG of over 7 knots for the entire day. We saw some new things today; snow white pelicans and cops on jet skis. We ended up doing over 70 miles and still had the hook down before 1600 hours.

Most public libraries have wifi now-a-days. As a cruiser it’s nice to be able to carry your laptop into the library and take care of internet business. But to find a library that backs up to water deep enough for you to anchor behind the building so you can connect from the boat, well, that’s just priceless.

On Thursday we left at 0730 and did a quick 30 mile day and made it to Vero Beach where we plan to stay through Thanksgiving before crossing to the Bahamas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 16, 2009.

We spent the early part of the day walking Saint Augustine. We headed back to the boat for a bit so we could sit and oooh and ahhh over the scheduled space shuttle launch. We’re about a hundred statute miles north of Cape Canaveral. So the launch didn’t exhibit the power and intensity that others who were closer experienced. But when you consider that the shuttle was a hundred freaking miles away, in broad daylight, it was pretty impressive. THAT’S the way to cross the Gulf Stream.

The highlight of our day was that we would be having dinner with somebody we had never met before. They have been reading the blog and had offered to meet us when we came through their neck of the woods. Well, we’re here. It’s pretty bizarre for us when we meet somebody whose been reading the blog. We’re usually at a pretty big disadvantage in that they know a bit about us from reading my blathering. While we don’t really know anything about them.

Since I do the blogging, Christy assumed that I would know a bit about these people that we would be having a meal with. She asked questions and I had no answers. Are they in their 30’s, are they in their 80’s, republicans, scientologists, blood donors? I dunno, we’ll have to see. Terri & Larry turned out to be good company so the meal and the conversation went well. They’re experienced sailors, he’s freshly retired and her retirement is right around the corner. They’ve got the boat and are looking to take a shakedown to the Chesapeake next year. We talked about everything from charts to colonoscopies. Three hours easily flew by and we look forward to seeing the s/v Vixen on the water one day soon.

Speaking of meals. Molly and Tucker have the developed the dinner “shakes”. They eat every day at about 1600 hours. So when the time rolls around they show up at the companionway and stare down into the galley because that’s where their food magically appears from. As soon as you touch their food bowls or head over the cabinet where their food is kept they start to tremble; really really tremble.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fashion Alert

Its come to my attention that yellow is the new black. Accessorize accordingly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 15, 2009.

Ida finally took her wind and left. We were actually very lucky as far as Ida went, the bulk of the rain and nastiness barely skirted our hidey hole in Factory Creek. She really seems to have beaten the crap out of the Carolinas and the lower Chesapeake Bay. But anyway, she’s gone.

On Saturday the winds on the ocean were supposed to be from the north at 15 and drop to 5 to 10 while veering from the west as the evening progressed. We pulled our hooks and rendezvoused with Mojo who was just passing through Beaufort. Mojo was another boat that we had met up in Annapolis this year. Bill on Alibi II had hurt his back and Lee on Krasna had a few boat chores to take care of so they opted to stay in Beaufort for another day or two.

We went through the Ladies Island Swing Bridge, made a quick stop for fuel and water and were soon riding the ebb tide down and out Port Royal Sound. The ebbing tide spit us into the ocean and we set sail for the Saint Mary’s River which is the border or Georgia and Florida. Of course, the wind only lasted for 2 hours and we soon found ourselves motorsailing southward. That’s how we spent the night, alternating between sailing and motorsailing. The good thing about that was we were making great time, such great time that we soon adjusted course for the inlet at Saint Augustine, Fl.

What a difference a year makes. Last year this very same jump was definitely our worst night on the ocean. Ever. There was a decent forecast for inshore waters with possible gale warnings offshore. Evidently, the weather hadn’t read the forecast because we sailed right into the heart of a gale. We had huge seas towering over the boat, including big waves straight into the cockpit, tremendously cold and alone. This year was practically balmy, long slow rollers and the company of a dozen other boats on a spectacular night at sea.

The inlet at Saint Augustine was a little entertaining. The boat several hundred yards ahead of us cut one of the marks close and was caught in the crest of a wave and almost broached right onto the huge floating mark. Just watching him I had skid marks in my shorts, I’m sure he was knee deep in his own excrement. It was more than a little hairy for him but the inlet treated us well and we were soon safely anchored.

Boat Name of the Day: It was a toss up between Luff Affair and Breezy Rider. Both were unusual and made me grin…..

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009.

It was gray and windy here yesterday. It was just so nasty out that none of us left our boats or even ventured topsides.

Right after my last post there was another change in the forecast. It seemed we were right on the edge as to whether the wind was going to continue subsiding or if it was going to build markedly. Either way it was going to come out of the northwest. Last night we were within 6 feet of the dock behind us as the wind pushed Veranda back against her anchor chain. If the wind did reach the mid thirties it might have straightend the chain enough to actually reach the dock. I couldn’t afford to pull in any chain as we’re already at less than a 3 to 1 scope. So Christy and I had to go up on deck and prepare to drop another hook. This involved me bringing the dinghy around to the bow and then Christy lowered our second anchor into the dinghy along with 130 feet of anchor rode. I took the anchor out across the creek towards the windward shore and dropped it over the side. Once back aboard the Veranda I pulled the rode and set the hook. Now with the hook firmly set across the creek I was able to pull Veranda 40 feet further away from the dock. The wind did build a bit but we were away from the docks and slept like babies.

Today we decided to get out and blow the stink off. We didn’t really need anything but we walked down to the grocery store for a few odds and ends. On our way home we stopped in at the liquor store. There was wine on sale at a decent price so we decided to buy as much as we could carry. It turns out we were able to carry 40 litres of wine and 2 full bags of groceries the full half mile home. I thought it would be easy, but I was wrong. It was a long half mile.

While we were at the liquor store I saw one more reminder of why I love the south. Right there on the front door they had this 4 picture series from one of their security cameras posted for all to see. At first when I saw the billowing red shirt and the flowing golden locks I thought that it was a Fabio sighting. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was just a hillbilly sneak thief caught on camera as he stuffed a bottle of ripple up under his shirt. I’m sure his Mom will be mortified when she see’s the picture of her son caught in the act. She’ll probably be more than pissed when she see’s that he’s wearing her shirt.

And that boat that had sunken the other day.....well, the guy got it floating again.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009.

The rain seems to be gone and all we have to remember Ida by is her remaining high winds. We’ll be here for another couple of days as it’s just too crappy to be going anywhere at the moment. Besides the ocean must be wild as hell so we’ll be patient. Offshore early on Saturday looks to be the plan for now.

Last night Lee on Krasna showed up in Factory Creek. Since he and the Alibi’s were here we decided to have a little “survivors of the Spa Creek anchorage” reunion. There was some Mexican food, some drinking and a lot of good catching up. And about Lee’s eyes; he’s a single hander so he uses crazy glue on his eyelids to keep them open for those long night passages. Be sure you double click on the picture to get the full effect. Apparently, it takes a few days for the glue to wear away.

Since we’re sitting here on the boat we decided to update and reinventory all of our food lockers.

We’ll need to have an accurate accounting of what we have on board before we can go provisioning for the Bahamas. We really do have quite a lot on board but there are a few holes in the food groups that will need to be filled.

The creek is very deep but fairly narrow. There’s a strong tidal flow that works to keep you centered in the narrow channel. But if there’s a strong breeze from the northwest during slack tide you can be set fairly close to the waterfront docks of the private homes along the water. So of course the remnants of Ida are out of the northwest. We’ve watched a few of the boats lift and reset their hooks as they swung to close too shore for comfort. We’re pretty close ourselves but our hook seems to be well set and we have the kellet down there as well. So even though we’re short scoped we’re satisfied at the moment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 10, 2009.

Today the weather was starting to deteriorate so we decided to make another quick trip to the stores. We hit the drugstore and the hardware store.

At the hardware store we picked up a few odds and ends including a new “Boat Pole of Speed”. I bought this 10 foot long bamboo pole to use as a whisker pole to hold the genoa out in light air. The pole is actually used as a frog gig and sold in the hunting section of the store. I happened upon one last year and was very happy with it until I finally broke it several months ago. So for 10 bucks we’re once again sporting a solid advantage when the light air gnomes strike.

After that it was back to the boat for lunch. Then the sun popped out for a bit and we decided to take the dink across the river into the touristy part of Beaufort. When I use the term "the sun popped out" what I actually mean is that its not pouring at the moment. We spent an hour or more walking around looking at this and that before heading home to the boat.

Right after getting back to the boat the skies opened up. We spent the balance of the day reading. Alibi II showed up just before dark after the long trek down from Charleston. There are 40 boats or more hanging out here in Beaufort waiting to head south after Ida goes offshore to die.

One boat that we’re seen every time we’re here definitely won’t be leaving anytime soon. Each time we’ve passed by in the dink the bilge pump has been running nonstop in this older wooden fishing boat. I guess the bilge pump finally stopped. The owner showed up right after
we took the picture in a small Jon boat and towed the boat off into the shallows. The tidal range here is about 7 feet so when the tide goes out the boat will be high and dry and hopefully the owner can pinpoint and repair the leak.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009.

It looks as if we’ll be here in Factory Creek until Saturday. I put the dinghy into the water for the first time since leaving Annapolis. We headed in to the Ladies Island Marina. Joe at Ladies Island Marina is letting everyone anchored in Factory Creek use the dinghy dock free of charge so they can provision for the upcoming bad weather. So we took advantage and dropped off 2 weeks worth of garbage and then headed down the road to the grocery store.

Lugging all our purchases back to the boat had me thinking about just how well we eat on the boat. To the disbelief of many of our shore based friends and relatives I find that we eat even better than we did when we lived on land. Back in the world when Christy had a full time job there was so many facets to life that all had to be juggled. Dinner was just one more chore at the end of every long day.

Now on the boat with a little more time on her hands Christy has achieved a higher level in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, she was always a great cook. I’m not complaining at all. It’s just that now that she has the time she’s been compiling a large and varied repertoire of wonderful recipes.

When I sit and think about it it’s pretty much the same way on most of our friend’s boats. To me, who is completely lost in the kitchen, I am always amazed at what comes out of the tiny galleys on most of these boats. So even if we’re trapped by the weather for a few days at a time at least we’re eating well.
November 8, 2009.

After a good nights rest we were both up and ready to go at 0600. Immediately after leaving the anchorage southbound boats have to negotiate the Wapoo Creek lift bridge. It’s a pain in the ass because it stays in the down position from 0600 until 0900 for rush hour. Unless of course it’s Sunday. Guess what?; woooohooooo it’s Sunday. So once through the bridge we settled in for the 60 mile trip to Beaufort, SC.

Things really lined up nicely for us as we rode the tide southward. Several times we had a push of over a knot and a half as the current swept us along. It was a really nice trip and we were pleasantly surprised to find that several trouble spots had been dredged since we were last here.

The only real potential for excitement was an encounter with a procession of tugboats towing a huge dredge and all its associated support equipment. It was a tug with the dredge, a tug with a barge and 3 tugs with the lengthy pieces of pipe. We were one of 3 sailboats along with a trawler that had to stop off to the side as this mile long parade of big heavy machinery plodded northward through a high rise bridge. Fortunately, there was enough water for us to all get outside the channel as we backed and filled while the tugs crept past. It was kind of nerve racking as we had over a knot of current pushing us down onto the bridge while we all held position. It was a really tight spot and there were crab pot floats as well so the thought of snapping a few pictures never entered our minds. It all went as well as if we had spent time choreographing this maneuver. Once clear of the tugs and their charges we were all underway unscathed.

So now we sit in the protected stream known as Factory Creek. We’ll do some food shopping and await the remnants of Ida. The river is narrow so I don’t have as much scope out as I’d like but there
is no fetch at all so sea state won’t become an issue. The forecast as of right now has Ida dumping some rain on us and perhaps 30 knots of wind. We’ll have to see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 7, 2009.

It’s funny how quickly things can change. All week the weather “experts” have been talking about how Friday was NOT the day to even think about being out on the ocean.

We looked at all the weather inputs we had to consider and it just all became a bit more confusing. We wanted to jump out into the ocean at Cape Fear. The forecast for Saturday called for pretty much no wind from here to Charleston. That would mean 24 hours of motoring to get to Charleston. I hate that crap, we can handle a few waves, just give us enough wind to keep the sails full.

But the forecast for Friday had mellowed a bit. The wind was supposed to blow 25 out of the north until noon with 9 foot waves and then drop to 20 knots in the afternoon. The ocean looked like it was supposed to smooth out a bit as the wind abated. Through the night the wind was supposed to continue to lighten until it was less than 10 knots.

So we hit the ocean on Friday. We waited until the tide changed in the Cape Fear River where a tide versus wind condition is a recipe for a 3 hour ass kickin’. We left the anchorage at 1100 and headed down the river riding the tide with the wind behind us, we found ourselves hitting over 9 knots.

The Cape Fear River spit us into the ocean, an eerily calm ocean. Barely a swell, with just tiny wavelets lapping at the hull. Somebody must have leaned on the wind switch because it absolutely died. We sailed for the first 2 hours while maintaining a speed of between 2 and 4 knots. I couldn’t believe this shit. We were worried about getting blown off the ocean and here we were unable to find any breeze. I can’t imagine what would have happened if we had waited for the calm that Saturday promised. Just before dark we did catch a small fish that we threw back. He was small, it was getting dark.....

After 2 hours we had to start the engine and make some of our own wind as we motorsailed along. Finally around midnight there just wasn’t enough wind to keep the sails full and we had to put em’ away and motor through the night.

It wasn’t to be a dull night though. As soon as we had established our course the Coast Guard broadcast a Notice to Mariners. It seemed that a 63 foot fishing boat had sunk that morning and the 1 mile wide by 1 mile long debris field was last sighted 30 miles away, exactly on our rhumbline. Crap.

There were about a half dozen or more boats out there with us. We could only see one of them but more and more of the scattered boats started to chime in with opinions as to what course they should set to avoid a possible collision with the ever expanding debris field. Some headed east while others veered west. One boat even headed straight for the debris figuring that it had to have moved by then.

One guy stuck out though. There’s always one. He called the Coast Guard a half dozen times to clarify “exactly” what happened, when it happened and when the last sighting of debris was etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. Four hundred thousand questions, HEY, I’m tryin’ to sleep here! This guy was obviously very impressed with his own use of the vernacular.

When the Coast Guard gives a position they say 079 tack 34 decimal 234. Most normal people just give a slight pause instead of using the words “tack” and decimal”. But this guy was the consummate mariner and tried to impress his professionalism on all within earshot and insisted on dragging things out as long as possible. We were rolling our eyes at his ponderous use of the airwaves until he asked the Coastguardsmen if they had any “facilities” still in the air to give an update on the current position of the debris. Facilities? I’m sure he meant “assets” and even the young guardswoman had a bit of a chuckle in her voice when she declined saying that no other updates were available. Facilities in the air, perhaps toilets in the sky, maybe that’s what they mean by Eau de Toilet, I dunno.

Christy and I just adjusted our course 10 degrees to the east because whatever wind there was had been from the east and the ocean swell was heading westward as well. We didn’t see anything but then again it was pitch black out and it was probably just a fuel slick, a styrofoam cooler and a couple of empty beer cans. It was interesting to listen as some of the people were pretty much paralyzed while they ran set and drift programs to figure out where this garbage could have floated to. I’ll never understand why they call it common sense.

It was great to pass Fort Sumter as we reached Charleston Harbor. We dropped the hook in the Ashley River at 0930 and spent the remainder of the day loafing before turning in around 1930 hours for a well deserved rest.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 6, 2009.

We were up and underway at 0600. If you think that’s bad consider the fact that we weren’t the first boat outta there. Alright, we were second but you’d think that at an ungodly hour like that we’d at least be first. But most people realize that at this time of year you just can’t waste daylight.

It was to be a long day of motor sailing down the ICW. We had 3 bridges to deal with that all had restricted openings. We timed the first 2 within minutes of their appointed openings so they didn’t cost us any time.

Doing the same with the third bridge would have required us to run 5 miles in 30 minutes. There’s no way we can do 10 knots so we killed the engine and sailed slowly up to the last bridge. After the bridge we only had another 12 miles to go until our selected anchorage in Carolina Beach.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 4, 2009.

Anchored here in Morehead City we didn’t have the luxury of internet to aid us in making an informed weather decision. There are dozens of wifi signals but all are password protected. Bastards. So we listened to NOAA on the VHF, we used Skymate to grab an update and called our friend Jay for a weather update. Based on all these inputs we decided that an overnighter on the ocean wasn’t in the cards. As it stands there’s some ugliness scattered over the next couple of days with Friday being unfit for neither man nor beast out on the deep blue. So our choice was to either sit in Morehead City (with no internet) until Friday rolled around to see what happens or to head off down the ICW making our way slowly south. I guess something is better than nothing, so away we go.

When we retired for the night the wind was non existent. Since we had dropped the hook so early in the day I forgot that our American flag was still up on the backstay. I usually take it down every night at sunset. Of course by 0200 the wind had started to kick a bit and had the flag flapping vigorously. The metal clips for the flag bang against the backstay. The sound travels straight down the backstay right into our frontal lobes as we pretend to be able to sleep through the racket. So, as a result we were both wide awake and ready to go before 0600.

We had the hook up and retraced our way out of the anchorage. The mainsail was soon up and shortly afterwards the genoa made its debut and the engine was off. It was only to be a 45 mile day ending at Mile Hammock Bay. We were able to sail the 25 mile length of Bogue Sound at better than 8 knots due to a great tidal push. We had to start the engine and drop the sails for the last 20 miles of the day as we wove our way through the ICW to our anchorage.

Mile Hammock Bay is part of the military base at Camp LeJeune. It’s a wonderfully protected, very popular anchorage along a stretch of the ICW with very few options besides a stay at a marina. While we were sitting in the cockpit reading we were treated to the sight on a small intracoastal cruise liner making his way along the ICW. How the hell he can make it through these waters just baffles the hell outta me and I was glad we were anchored when he came past. Talk about a big fish in a small pond.

The next suitable stop for us is at least 40 miles away at Wrightsville Beach. Even leaving at first light an 80 mile day was out of the question as days get shorter. With our early departure we arrived early and had the hook down by 1300 hours. We spent the afternoon reading and watching the anchorage fill in around us. And I did remember to take the flag down at sunset.