Monday, May 31, 2010

May 30, 2010.

Got up and off the boat early so we could walk down to the farmers market in the center of town. Christy was jonesing for some corn on the cob. Evidently we’re spoiled rotten. The farmers market here consisted of a few strawberries, a bison jerky guy and a pair of bakers. I mean, the bread looked great but it wasn’t corn on the cob. We’ve been to farmers markets in several towns in every state along the eastern seaboard and this was the first one that we found a bit lacking. But it’s still early in the season up this way so we’ll give it another shot later in the year.

After walking home we decided to start knocking projects off the dreaded “to-do” list. Our windlass hasn’t worked in close to a year so it was high time to attempt to address that issue. I’ve been hauling the hook by hand every time we drop it but sooner or later the situation where Christy has to raise the hook is bound to present itself so I gotta get it fixed.

I disassembled the gear train inside the cover and found it to be still full of grease and everything looked good. Once I removed the electric motor from the unit it ran as it should when I depressed the foot control. However, I did find that with everything disconnected I wasn’t able to turn the gypsy at all. So I removed the entire unit and will take it to work where I will clean everything up and replace the bearings on the main shaft.

After cleaning up my mess at the bow I created another one on the stern. We had a hatch that’s never leaked before it started to leak during a horrific thunderstorm the other night so it was time to reseal the hatch. Especially since it is right over the bed. A little tape, a little sealer, some sweat and the hatch is once again watertight.

After that the pumpout boat came by to make a withdrawal. While I was dealing with the stool bus I decided to tackle a head problem. My nose doesn’t work right and Christy has been claiming to smell something horrid INSIDE the boat every time one of us uses the head. So after a little investigation we found that the vent hose for the forward holding tank was the culprit. The vent fitting on the hull was both clogged and rotted to the point of having to be replaced. That meant a trip to West Marine for some parts. After putting in the new vent I’m told that there are no longer malodorous spirits invading our living space.

Thank God tomorrow is a holiday because I feel like I’ve been at work all day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 27, 2010.

Christy has started her new job this week and despite being sore as hell she seems to be enjoying it. She’s working for a small contractor refinishing people’s brightwork. She’s had to endure a couple of really hot days so far and thing are looking good as far as her not bursting into flames. She’s getting good money and it seems like she’ll be kept reasonably busy so as far as the whole “job” thing goes. Things are good as far as her job is concerned.

I’m working on a trawler that seems to have a jinx of some kind. We’ve got a whole punchlist of work to be performed but everything we’ve taken apart so far has led to another issue. So as we check off one item a new issue presents itself. I feel bad for the guy, but it is what it is.

I started by removing the rudder so I could get to the rudder post. He’s been having a bad leak at the rudder post and the stuffing box was completely seized up. After liberal doses of PB Blaster, a bit o’ swearing, brute force and some fire the stuffing box did finally come apart. This enabled me to drop the rudder post out. I figured I’d clean the post and the stuffing box up and put it all back together and everything would be all worky worky. But no. Once out of the boat the rudder shaft was found to be extremely corroded to the point of being hour glass shaped and a new one will have to be fabricated. Sucks for him. Welcome to boating.

We also discovered that the cutlass bearing on the prop shaft was no good. It was so bad and the alignment so far off that the prop shaft had worn completely through one side of the cutlass bearing to the point of scoring the 16 foot long shaft. I think he can get away with the same shaft but we’ll see what he decides to do. So let’s add an alignment to the list.

While I was busy fondling the back of the boat “Bob” was taking apart the windlass. The owner was complaining of intermittent operation. He removed the windlass motor and while he was there he noticed that there didn’t seem to be any oil in the sightglass. So he opened it up and it was so dry inside that there was a tiny Mexican town complete with tumbleweeds and dirt devils swirling about. Captain, intermittent? You’re lucky it works at all.

It’s a beautiful boat inside and it’s a shame that all of these little niggling maintenance issues have become a rather long list. But we’ll keep plugging along…..

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26, 2010.

Did you ever have those annoying neighbors that throw a ridiculously loud
party complete with live entertainment? Today while I was at work the
neighbors threw a hell of a party.

The neighbors in question were actually the United States Naval Academy.
The Academy was holding graduation today and the entertainment for the
afternoon was the Navy’s own Blue Angels.

Talk about spectacular. Actually LOUD and spectacular. The epicenter of
the aerial hijinks was the Severn River. From my vantage point at Jabin’s Yacht Yard on Back Creek the show was great. On Tuesday afternoon we watched a good bit of the performance as the Blue Angels practiced just overhead.

Today the actual performance was something to see. If we’re up here next year I think I’d like to take the day off and go watch the entire show. It was amazing to see these guys traveling at several hundred knots with only feet separating the planes. The slow flight demonstration in a plane designed for supersonic speeds was impressive as hell.

I’m sure it takes thousands of hours in the cockpit and classroom time as well to prepare for a performance at this level. Talk about a kickass job though.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 22, 2010.

The Veranda sits safely moored in her tiny little slip just off Back Creek here in Annapolis. We’ve enjoyed visits by both the girls in the last couple of days but its time to get down to brass tacks.

I resumed working on Monday and had a challenging week. My first 2 days were spent on a 60 foot power vessel that had to be ready for a charter on Wednesday. Both engines were leaking water and running hot. By Monday afternoon the port side engine was in a serious state of disassembly. The same guy has owned the boat for several years and has never changed any zincs or the transmission fluid for that matter.

He needed new raw water impellers in both engines, a new fresh water pump on the port engine and the installation of the pump was precluded by a ridiculous amount of engine disassembly. We also found the heat exchangers to be almost completely clogged in both engines. We ran some Barnacle Buster through the raw water side of the engines and the difference was truly amazing. Barnacle Buster is as expensive as hell but it really does a remarkable job. After the new pump was installed and all the peripheral bullshit was put back together we fired both engines up.

The starboard engine ran at a normal temperature and a few turns here and there stopped the few leaking hose clamps. The port side was a different story. It was leaking from EVERYWHERE. Water was actually weeping through the hoses not at the fittings. So we had to tear everything apart, run to the store and purchase new hoses and clamps and then put it all back together again. A couple of the old hoses were so dry rotted that I could actually tear them with my bare hands. We walked off the boat just after 2100 hours on Tuesday evening and the guy was happy as hell he was going to be able to keep his charter. Trust me, there’s more work to be done in his immediate future.

Yesterday I had to remove and replace both engine water seacock’s in a large power vessel. They were in a tight spot and were only accessible by removing the batteries from their battery boxes. Of course the batteries were 8D’s that weigh in at about 165 pounds apiece. Couple that with the fact that the headroom is such that I couldn’t quite stand upright, let’s just say I’m really glad the weekend is here.

We have been doing a lot of walking in our spare time. While walking along Ego Alley we came upon a powerboat that was tied to the wall. I hope you can appreciate one of the knots that he used to secure his boat as much as I do. Sore muscles and a tired body are all forgotten when something as simple as this can make me laugh.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 14, 2010.

It was time for us to check back into the United States.

Our first attempt was to use our Local Boaters Option card and check in by telephone. I knew it was gonna be a long shot but I wanted to give it a try. The LBO card enables you to check back into the country by phone if you are making landfall in south Florida. I’ve asked at Customs & Immigration before and nobody is really sure what actually constitutes south Florida. I figured I’d give it a shot and see if Maryland fell into south Florida. I called the appropriate number and although the customs officer was mondo polite he was steadfast in his opinion that Maryland was not in fact ANY part of Florida. He did however give me a number to call.

After calling this new number I was able to confirm that Maryland is also NOT a part of Orlando, Florida. So it seems that the guy from south Florida referred me to Orlando, who had me call another office until finally on my 5th phone call they gave me a number that I had already previously dialed. I know a circle jerk when I see it so we decided to try something a little different.

The Annapolis port book has the Annapolis dockmasters office listed as a Customs & Immigration contact office. So we headed over to the dockmasters office where much to my chagrin we were handed another phone number to call. So we dialed this number which turned out to be the Customs & Border Patrol office at Baltimore-Washington Airport. They assured me that they were the right place but we’d have to come out to the airport to check in, in person. It’s not what I wanted but I was starting to get Carpal Tunnel from dialing the damn phone.

We had picked up a rental car for the weekend so it was off to the airport. After parking the car we wandered through the airport going from one unoccupied customs office to the next. Finally we found a staffed office and asked to be let back into the country.

The guy looked at us and said “Oh no, you have to go down to the Baltimore waterfront so they can board and inspect your vessel, you’re in the wrong place”. I countered with “Oh no, we just called on the phone and were directed to report here”. He was unsure and pretty soon every officer behind the bullet proof partition was involved.

It turned out that nobody there had ever checked in a private vessel before. There were questions about which forms to use, what papers we should have in our possession and if we still had to go down to Baltimore with the boat. After a good 20 minutes of filling out forms and a phone call to the Port of Baltimore we were welcomed back into the country. While on the phone with the woman from the Port of Baltimore I asked if the rumor I heard was true. That by next year we’ll be able to check back in online. She said to me “Haven’t you received our mailing yet?”. I looked at the phone for a moment and said to her “Remember me?, I’m the one who just got back to the US, we haven’t seen a mailbox yet”. She kinda laughed and said “Welcome back”.

It drives me a little bit nuts that in Florida you can just call in and whamo, you’re back. Yet 900 miles further north they’re still stuck in a paperwork quagmire. Incredibly, the list of questions never included anything about bringing in fruits or vegetables, Haitians, cocaine and or fissionable material. It was never brought up and the possibility that we might be smuggling a rare Yeti into the country didn’t seem to concern anyone. I just don’t get it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May 12, 2010.

We woke at 1000 after 7 hours of truly deep, well deserved sleep. We farted around a bit before heading over to Back Creek just after lunch.

Our friend Jay had found a possible slip for us in Annapolis but somewhere in the translation the size of our beam got lost. We’ve been in contact with the guy who owns the small backyard marina several times before it dawned on him that we were wider than he had originally thought.

The slip was advertised at 11 foot 6 inches wide, while the Veranda is 12 feet 10 inches wide. We figured that we might as well head over and take a look for ourselves. To my complete pleasure when we arrived at the slip it became apparent that the 2 pilings on the outer end of the slip weren’t straight across from each other, they were kinda staggered. This gave us a little wiggle room, literally. I powered in while Christy fended, then I shoved and pushed, twisted a bit and added more power until we were completely in the confines of the slip. Now I understand how fat chicks get into spandex. A little shimmy shimmy, shake shake goes along way.

After tying and adjusting docklines things looked pretty good. We’ll have to see what the neighbors say about it when they show up. There will probably be no day sailing because I don't want to have to get in here again. But for now Veranda is plugged in and tied to the dock that will be our home for the next few months. Our friends Jay & Di ROCK! Thanks guys! I also need to throw out a giant thank you to all of our people who put feelers out there for us in an effort to find us a suitable slip here in Annapolis. So many people jumped at the chance in an effort to lend a hand and we truly appreciate it.

Veranda done reach and now we’re goin’ drinkin’.
May 11, 2010.

On Tuesday morning we rose to a pleasant breeze that was promising to build out of the southeast. We raised the sail and motored past the naval fleet in Norfolk. The river was choked with huge ships moving here and there.

After 10 miles we were clear of the naval yards and headed out towards the lower Chesapeake Bay. We were able to raise all sail and kill the engine. On our way out the channel we were passed by an inbound French
submarine complete with its US Coast Guard escort. I wonder which wine goes best with nuclear armageddon? Once we turned and headed north our sail became a 7 ½ knot beam reach in 15 knots of apparent breeze.

We had the tide with us for a while and even when we were bucking the ebbing tide we were still doing over 5 ½ knots SOG. I had estimated the trip to take us 26 hours at 5 knots but it soon became apparent that if things continued as they were we would cover the 133 mile trip a lot quicker.

And continue it did. The beautiful clear skies soon yielded to an overcast drizzling day. The grief of the gray day was offset by a breeze that was continuing to build. We soon had 20 to 25 knots of apparent breeze coming over the starboard quarter. We had to douse the genoa and add 2 preventers to keep the main out to port in the surprisingly rolly seas. We literally barreled up the bay towards Annapolis.

The gray day gave way to a pitch black night that was both very cold and crowded with ship traffic. We’ve traversed the bay on several occasions and have never encountered nearly the number of huge ships and tugboats we saw that night. We probably spoke with the captain’s of 8 different vessels during the night as we arranged a safe passing.

After over a hundred miles on starboard tack we had to ease the preventers and gybe onto a port tack. We started the engine but couldn’t put it in gear as the approach to Annapolis is crowded with crab pot floats.
The wind was honkin’ as we sailed into the anchorage near the Naval Academy. We rounded up and dropped the mainsail and then the hook at 0230. I swear that it was sleeting when I went outside to drop the sail. We used the engine to properly set the hook. We were the only boat there so we dropped 150 feet of chain into the 20 feet of water. After stowing the sail, the flag and a few lines we were both tucked in for a well deserved rest. Fortunately, we dropped the hook just minutes before a vicious squall line came through. The night was completely pitch black but this front came towards us as a dark wall on the horizon. We saw it coming, the wind built but the minute our heads hit the pillow we were out.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May 9, 2010.

We left Pungo Ferry and motored 30 miles northward in the winding ICW. We hit several bridges at exactly the right time but made up for our good fortune by getting caught at one of the train bridges for over half an hour.

Traveling through Portsmouth, all
I can say is that the Navy has the coolest toys. We’re now sitting in the anchorage at Hospital Point waiting for the north winds to peter out.
There should be a favorable breeze on Tuesday so we’re planning to head up the Chesapeake then.

While I’m here with some spotty free Wifi I thought I’d post the season hunting totals for this year. We had a very good year in spite of being boat bound by the weather on more than one occasion. This year we took:

27 Hogfish
14 Grouper
71 Lobster
2 Slipper Lobster
42 Lionfish
4 Schoolmaster
3 Mutton Snapper
22 Conch
2 Cuban Snapper
7 Margate
2 Yellow Jack
1 Triggerfish
1 Permit
5 Coral Crabs
1 41" Mahi Mahi
1 6 foot Sailfish (released)

The 27 Hogs were a nice surprise. The Grouper numbers were down a bit this year but we did take 9, 10 & 17 pounders. Being in the country for an extra month of Lobster season really paid dividends.
We gave all of the conch that we gathered to other boaters who had asked us to keep an eye out while we were in the water. And finally the Lionfish; they’re an invasive species that need to be eradicated before the native fisheries suffer. We’re just doin’ our part.
May 8, 2010.

So after the 31 hour nightmare the right thing to do would have been to sleep in. But alas, we couldn’t afford to. The forecast was for big southwest winds that were going to build through the day before clocking northwest.

We were headed north so as long as we could get underway early this should work out for us. So I set the alarm and dragged Christy from our nice warm bed at 0600. I raised the sail and then the hook and we were off. As soon as we set out Christy recommended that we put a reef in the mainsail and in retrospect, boy was she ever right. There is an old sailing expression that goes something like, If you think about reefing then you better do it.

Because the wind was so close behind us we couldn’t use the genoa to any advantage. It made no difference to us as we blasted along at over 6 knots with just a double reefed mainsail. We did the 20 mile length of the Alligator in just 3 hours. The Alligator River Swing Bridge opened for us on request and we blew right through with nary a moments pause. It was lucky for us as the bridge will not open in winds above 35 MPH. The bridge tender told us it was hovering at a steady 33 MPH.

Once clear of the Alligators convoluted entrance channel we headed out across the Albemarle Sound. To say conditions were a bit “sporting” would be an understatement. There was a tug pushing a barge behind us and when he got out into open water he turned the whole rig around and went back into the Alligator to hide.

Our big concern was to get across the Albemarle today because when the wind switched from the northwest it was going to be a real bear. Close reaching in 30 knots or better would not have been an option for us. As it was we had 25 knots apparent driving our double reefed boat onward in spite of the ridiculous rolling seas.

We were both relieved to be across the sound and into the lee of some land. It didn’t do anything to knock down the wind but the sea state was markedly improved. We were still banging along so we kept adjusting where we thought we might spend the night.

Stopping options are few and far between in this stretch so it wasn’t easy to watch Buck Island slide by early in the day. Since the wind was supposed to be big outta the northwest the next day we got real ambitious and decided to get across Currituck Sound. It’s a 10 mile long body of shallow water that has a channel dredged through the middle of it. Pounding through there would suck so we opted to try and put it behind us today.

And put it behind us we did. After 73 miles we found ourselves anchored just off the ICW near the town of Pungo Ferry. The next day will be a 30 mile slog into big winds. We should garner some protection from the surrounding forests as the last of the exposed sections of the ICW are behind us.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 6, 2010.

After spending a few fun days in Oriental tied to the dock behind our friends Ken & Carol’s house, it was once again time to hit the not so dusty trail north. And I had a plan….

I hate the monotonous length of the Pungo Canal and we always seem to take an ass kicking in the Alligator River. So I figured a way to bypass them both. I opted to leave Oriental at 1130 on a day with a light southerly breeze and head out on an overnighter for Manteo. Hell, it would even save us a day of travel time. The 22 mile Manteo Channel is a narrow winding affair which includes some ambiguous channel markers. It would be impassable in the dark so I planned on arriving at the channel entrance at dawn. We had to average about 4 knots for the entire 75 mile trip to arrive early the next morning. But the way it played out was somewhat different……

For the first 15 miles we were making 3.8 knots on a beautiful sunny day. At this point, the plan was looking like a stroke of genius. Then the wind started to build a bit which is what most sailors would love. But not us, we had to slow the boat down. First we had to furl the headsail so the wind countered by building….Shit. Next we put a double reef in the mainsail. We did everything we could to slow the boat down except throw an anchor overboard, and it still looked like we were gonna get there about 6 hours before dawn. Shit. There is no place to anchor there so arriving way to early was not an option. Finally the wind started to abate a bit before finally going light and variable. 15 miles from Manteo we were ghosting along at less than 2 knots and things were looking up. We were going to arrive on time… fact, a little late so we shook out the reef and sailed slowly towards the entrance channel. And then the weather took my foolish little plan, crumpled it up and shoved it right in my ass.

The wind went from 4 knots outta the south to 20 to 25 knots out of the north northeast in a matter of moments. How and why does this happen? We tacked back and forth for an hour in building seas in an effort to wait the wind out. No dice, if anything it was building. We had breaking 3 and 4 footers everywhere. My frustration level was through the roof. We were both tired, the seas were up, we’d run into a front that didn’t make any of the weather services, it was pitch black out and we were in water so thick with crab pot floats that we didn’t dare start the engine. Then to cap it all off I heard a local fishing boat that was on his way home through a section of the channel we were planning to use. He was freaking out to his buddies on the VHF that there were 5 footers sweeping across the narrow channel. F#%k it honey, we’re turning around.

So at 0345 and after 70 miles I turned the Veranda around and ran before the wind under a full mainsail. I headed southwest, backtracking the way we’d come and then headed west towards the Pungo River. This was like a 50 mile backtracking/detour. We were averaging over 6 knots, you do the math. Christy was not talking to me. Once at the Pungo River the winds finally veered from the east and slowed to 15 knots. We had all sail up and headed up the river. We were able to sail all the way up to the beginning of the Pungo Canal where we planned to stop for the night. But like the last plan, this one fell to the wayside as well.

The weather for the next day was sounding a bit like shit, so we decided to press onward. We motored through the 22 miles of the Pungo Alligator Canal (Pungo, you'll remember, is the Arapahoe word for godforsaken) and dropped the hook at the southern most end of the Alligator River at 1945. The sailing was extraordinary as we covered the entire distance under sail except for the last few hours through the canal.

We did have a few bright spots in our attempted circumnavigation of greater North Carolina. We saw a bald eagle which we always enjoy and we had to give way a small black bear cub as he swam across the Pungo canal. We ate and went to bed after 31 hours behind the wheel. So much for plans….

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 3, 2010.

Lets talk batteries for a minute. We have 4 large 4D batteries in our battery bank. 3 batteries were dedicated to the house bank while the fourth battery was the starting battery.

We never used the starting battery so a couple of years ago with a flick of the master switch I added it to the house bank. A few weeks ago a problem began to surface. I checked all the batteries and found that one of the 4 batteries had given up the ghost. It was completely dead, charge it all you want, remove the charging source and nothing, dead.

Fortunately, it was the starting battery so it was a simple matter of flipping the master switch back from “ALL” to “HOUSE”. That removed and isolated the dead battery from the equation.

The rest of the batteries haven’t been holding a charge all that well either. We used to wake up with the batteries around 12.7 volts but lately they’ve been around 12.2 volts. I figured that the batteries were finally all showing their age and would need replacement soon. That was until we motored those last 8 hours during our crossing……

We haven’t run the engine continuously for 8 hours since we headed south from Annapolis last fall. While we were motoring the other morning we smelled something burning. Something electrical. After checking everything I could think of I realized that the smell was coming from the starting battery which should have been isolated from the charging system.

I got out my heat gun and found that the battery was at about 192 degrees. The other 3 batteries were at about 92 degrees. WTF?. So the smell was the boiling battery and then I realized that the starting battery wasn’t isolated from the rest of the batteries or the charging system.

I had forgotten about the series of battery combiners we have installed in the system. The master switch only disconnects the batteries from the possible loads on them. The battery combiner is like a secret backdoor which only comes into play when theres a charging source detected. So whenever the solar panels were sending amps to the batteries the combiner saw the dead battery as being the most needy and sent amps that way even though the battery was toast. This robbed the good batteries of the amps needed to bring the voltage up high enough to last well through the night. It all became apparent because of the alternator putting out a lot of amps for an extended time. It literally fried the dead battery which caused me to realize that it was still “in” the system.

The individual combiner for each battery comes equipped with an integral breaker. I popped the breaker for the dead batteries combiner to finally truly remove it from the system and now all of a sudden the rest of our batteries aren’t looking so shabby. Christy was happy because there is no more burning smell.

We rarely run the engine for extended periods of time but this time it worked out in our favor. It taught me that I’m still a bit of a dumbass myself.
April 30, 2010.

Okay, the crossing. I don’t like to brag but I’m not above boasting a little….whoever planned this crossing really had his shit together. We set out from Manjack Cay with wind from the northwest. We motorsailed into 15 knots of breeze for 8 hours before a course change gave us a sailing opportunity. By this point we were at Great Sale Cay which is where most boats stop for the night on the way back to the states. The wind was light outta the north so we opted for the “moving anchorage” scenario. We sailed very slowly along on a beam reach all through the night in dead flat seas. We both took turns getting quality sleep and when dawn broke we were 30 miles to the west of where we would have been had we opted to stop.

Once clear of the Barracouta Banks we sailed off to the northwest in search of the Gulf Stream. The wind had veered and was lightly blowing over our right shoulder as we headed north in the stream. We used the genoa only to allow clean air to fill the sail and move us along to the north. Whenever Christy asked me about where we were the answer was always off Florida. It seemed like Florida would never end.

After 200 miles we started to turn to the northeast and the Carolinas. The wind was also clocking so we were able to keep it right over our shoulder with the genoa pulling nicely. We had days of 108, 172, 170 and 180 miles over each 24 hour period.

We saw several large container ships and with the aid of our AIS things went really well. We were traveling alone but did not lack for company. We had a Woodpecker hitchhike a ride for a while at over a hundred miles offshore. Then we ran into a pod of what we think were Pilot Whales. I snapped a bunch of pictures but all I got were photos of dark swirling water where the whales “used’ to be. Oh well, next time. We did manage to take a small Skipjack which is in the Tuna family. Two hours later some of him was in the freezer and the rest was dinner.

About 125 miles out from Beaufort we were becalmed so we started up the engine and motored for 5 hours before finding some wind. We sailed along for another 6 hours before the wind left us altogether, forcing us to motor the last 8 hours of the trip.

We arrived in Whittaker Creek just as the wind veered to the southwest and blew all the water out of the creek. We just made it to Ken & Carol’s dock just in time. Less than an hour later we were dead aground while safely tied to the dock. If we had arrived an hour later we wouldn’t have gotten in here. Not bad timing after a 96 hour 630 mile trip.

The speed of the Gulf Stream allowed us the luxury of ghosting along at close to 5 knots when the winds were very light. When the wind did blow we saw 10 knots several times. It turned out to be a fabulous crossing with light winds and sometimes rolly but fairly flat seas.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April 29, 2010.

We’ve got our weather window. There was a bit of a debate as to whether we should go straight from Manjack to Beaufort, NC or if we should head west towards the states and jump into the Gulf Stream in an effort to get the push.

The advantage of straight across is that its “only” 495 miles. The disadvantage is that at one point we’d be over 200 miles from landfall in any direction. If the weather window prematurely slammed shut or if we had a major equipment failure it could be a pretty bad situation.

The route we chose was, west across the top of the Abacos, northwest into the stream and then to ride it right up into Beaufort, NC. The advantage was that we’d generally be within 100 miles of shore in case of emergency. We’d also be getting about a 2 knot push from the Gulf Stream for quite a bit of the trip. The big disadvantage was that the trip ends up being just over 600 miles which is another full day.

If you’ve been reading for a while then you know that my bilge pump hates me. Almost every time we’ve done an offshore overnighter there’s been an issue of one type or another with the bilge pump. After last time I installed a new pump, an electronic activation switch and an audible alarm that scares the shit outta you every time the pump cycles. So imagine my surprise when 10 minutes before we were set to pull the hook I found water all over the engine compartment. The plastic hose barb that screws into the side of pump had sheared, spraying salt water over everything in the engine room when the pump cycled. Shit.

I got out my box of plumbing spares and set about making the repair. Satisfied that everything was as it should be we got underway. After about 100 miles the bilge alarm went off. Shit, what now. I pumped the bilge dry only to have the alarm pierce the silence a short while later. Shit, shit, shit.

I checked every through hull fitting and both stuffing boxes before I found the source of the water. A compression fitting under the forward sink had failed and our fresh water tank was being pumped into the bilge. Shit. Fortunately I had the spares for that as well and made the repair. How does it know?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

April 27, 2010.

The morning after the good bye get together My Destiny and Veranda sailed out of the harbor in a steady rain. We were headed dead down wind under a light breeze on our way to The Whale.

The Whale is a very special cut as you travel through the Abacos. You head out one cut, travel parallel to the seas for a mile and a half and then head back in through another cut. To time it perfectly is next to impossible. I’ve got a better chance of being elected Pope. If you head out on the last of the ebbing tide, you may start to head in on the beginning of the flood tide, if you’re the Pope. Either way you do it, there’s going to be a tide versus wind situation which is rarely fun. Then throw in the better than even chance of a sea running and it all adds up to a good chance of somebody getting their ass kicked. Fortunately for us the breeze was light and we were forced to motor through this short stretch with our asses unkicked.

We anchored off Green Turtle Cay for 2 nights. The first evening we dinghied in to White Sound to spend the evening catching
up with our friends Jeff & Tessa on Inamorata. The next day was spent making water and walking around town. We stopped in to one of the islands small grocery stores to spend the last 6 of our Bahamian dollars before we head back to the states.

We then sailed the 4 miles up to Manjack Cay. Last year, we spent several days here with Blown Away hunting the ocean side reefs with enormous success. We all headed out to the reefs where I was able to take one small Hogfish. The next day the weather went to shit so we couldn’t take the dinghy out to the ocean side so Christy and I spent a few hours hunting the back side of the cay. We took a Grouper and another smallish Hogfish. After having done so well here last year I had visions of multiple 10 pounders dancing in my head so it was a bit of a disappointment.

Oh terrific, theres also horrible weather headed in our direction. There’s very little western protection along this stretch of the Abacos, so naturally that’s where the predicted winds would be from. Instead of the usual clocking wind pattern this series of close set cold fronts would cause the wind to back and clock several times. This resulted in SW, W, NW then back to W, SW, S, SW, W and NW once again. We snuggled as close as we dared to the southern shore of the anchorage in an effort to get us some protection. After a pleasant night in spite of 25 to 30 knots out of the south the wind finally started to come around the corner on us. And come it did. Just after dawn a freight train in the form of a squall packing 52 knots of wind assaulted us dead outta the west. Fortunately, this end of the anchorage has deep sand and we were well set. Driving rain, big freaking wind, and a building sea. To quote a favorite of our friend Leta “What the f*#k are we doing here?” I was feeling pretty down when I considered the fact that the day wasn’t going to get much better. That was until I looked back at My Destiny just as his staysail unfurled itself. OK, his day was gonna be worse than mine.

Greg was at the bow for close to thirty minutes in the cold rain trying to get control of the flogging sail. The wind finally died to “only” 35 knots and he was able to regain control of the situation. It turned out that it’s not just the army that does a whole lot of shit before breakfast.

Around mid day the wind stopped blowing altogether. The forecast had predicted this lull to be followed by another burst from the south before coming hard from the northwest after midnight. We opted to leave the southern end of the anchorage and tuck up close to the northern end. The sand up in the north end is not nearly as good so we set 2 hooks. We were just about to drop the second hook when the wind and rain returned. I haven’t used that much water in a shower in years. It was a little nerve wracking intentionally putting ourselves on a lee shore but I’d rather do that in the daylight with the promise of the wind veering us away during the night.

So it all worked out and it
looks like we’ll be crossing back to the states on Thursday. While we waited for the weather window to open we did do a bit of exploring on the cays extensive trail system.