Monday, April 30, 2012

April 29, 2012.

We arrived late Wednesday so we spent Thursday morning sleeping in. And it was wonderful. On Thursday I walked down to the job and told em' we were back. It was good to see everyone again and to see what changes had taken place in my absence. Most impressive was an awesome brand new travel lift. After a short visit I borrowed one of the company trucks and did some running around.

Christy and I knocked off a bunch of niggling tasks from the to do list. We went to the eye doctor and had her glasses repaired. We picked up some propane, groceries, hit West Marine and we stopped in and rented a mailbox at one of those places. Once back at the boat I gathered up my tools and loaded them into the truck for the trip down to the shop.

On Friday I started work again. I was surprised that the first boat I was assigned was one of the last boats I touched before leaving. In the fall I installed a bunch of new Alpenglow lights and when I went to tackle a few small electrical problems I found that the water in the bilge was actually showing 13 DC volts. Thats never good but it was time for us to head south so the boat was passed to colleague.

After contacting the owner it came to light that the boat had spent some unexpected time on the bottom of the bay. And since the boat is not a submarine this voyage to the bottom of the sea was very bad for pretty much all of the boats systems. Once refloated another marina did a complete rewiring of the boat. It turns out that its not as easy as it looks because they really did a crappy job.

During the course of the winter Karl removed and replaced various wiring and terminal ends throughout the boat. He also dealt with several “wires to nowhere” that were randomly left here and there. He gave me a quick walk through of what still needed to be done and I spent the day finishing things up.

This weekend the First Annual Spring Boat Show was held here in Annapolis. The show is really small; only filling Ego Alley with boats and a few dozen vendors. We heard that it was $10 per person to attend the show so we decided to head over. Imagine my surprise when we got there that they expected US to pay THEM. I figured since the show was so small that THEY ought to pay US 10 bucks apiece to attend their sad little show. I thought they should pay us this year, maybe next year we'd do it for free and after that as the show got to be more enticing they might be justified in charging admission. I can guarantee that if they had done things my way there would have been a much better turn out and descriptions of the show like “underwhelming” wouldn't be floating around.

So instead of walking through the boat show we did boat chores. Prism Polish on the Stainless and Aluma-Guard on the aluminum. Next weekend I'll clean the ICW mustache from the waterline and the Veranda should be almost presentable.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 25, 2012.

After wonderful evening at Pete & Lynns gorgeous new home we were looking forward to one more long day to get back to Annapolis. We had a 75 mile day in front of us so we slipped away from the dock at 0600.

The trip out to the bay was directly into the rising sun. With hundreds of crab pots and several fish traps to deal with the trip was a bit of an adventure. But once we turned north it turned into another great day on the bay. The winds were lighter than yesterday but still from a favorable direction so for the most part it was good sailing.

The one thing that did surprise me was the amount of fishermen out on the water. We dodged at least 500 small vessels towing all kinds of crap in the pursuit of the infamous Rockfish. We really had to pay attention as boats were headed in every direction all day. Hundreds of pleasure craft bitching at each other about who has the right of way and who's going to foul whose gear and then we come along and pick our way through all of them. Its Wednesday, why aren't they all at work?

 We had to motorsail the last 3 hours to make it into Annapolis before dark. We arrived during Wednesday night racing but we snuck into Back Creek without getting in anybodies way.

We warped our way into the same tiny slip from last year just as darkness fell. The boat is safe and we're glad to finally take a day off from dawn to dusk traveling.

Veranda done reach.....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 24, 2012.

Generally, overnight in the Bahamas we'll use between 60 and 80 DC amps from dusk til dawn. The bulk of that is sucked up by the refrigerator and the freezer. Last night with the temps in the mid forties we used 18 amps....all night. It's so damn cold the fridge barely comes on.

We woke to 15 knots outta the southwest. We're at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay so the prospect for a glorious day of sailing was pretty high. We pulled the hook, raised the main and headed out. After 2 miles we pulled out the genoa, killed the engine and began what would be a perfect day of sailing.

The wind was a bit gusty with wind speeds jumping from 11 to 25 knots. We ended up averaging 6.9 knots for our 55 nautical mile day. We're now tied up behind our friends Pete & Lynn's home on one of the 186 Mill Creeks on the Chesapeake. We woke in a Mill Creek, traveled 55 miles only to spend the night in another Mill Creek.

Pete & Lynn usually cruise on their 44 foot Hylas, First Edition. They took this season off to complete the building of their new home. The new house is magnificent with 2 features that I was very glad to see. First was a deep water dock with room for their boat and anyone who happens to drop in. Like us. My other big fav was of course the veranda with a wonderful view of the river.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 23, 2012.

I just finished up the math and we've covered about 775 miles in 8 days. With only one overnighter on the ocean that's some serious hauling butt. We knew we had 2 days of heavy rain on its way so we really pressed hard to get to the free wall at the Great Bridge Lock in Great Bridge, Va.

We made it to the wall by 1600 hours on Saturday and the heavy rain arrived on Sunday. Like the other 7 boats tied to the wall we decided to stay put until the weather cleared a bit. This gave us the chance to meet Bill and his wife Sali. I've interacted with Bill on various sailing message boards for 5 or 6 years now. They picked us up at the boat and whisked us away and treated us to a really nice lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. Over the course of our cruising lives we've met probably 2 or 3 dozen folks that we already had an internet relationship with. I'm always a little apprehensive when meeting people that already know so much about us but once again we've yet to be disappointed.

After bidding our new friends goodbye Christy and I settled in for the evening. Thats when it struck us just how freakin' cold it was getting. Rain with no sun all day forced me to run the generator for the first time in over a month. As the temps dipped below 50º Tucker was invited below for the night.

While checking the weather today we were shocked to see that there’s a large snowstorm making its way up through the northeast. It seems like its going to stay to the west of us but there’s still something disturbing about being at the same latitude as a major snow storm. I mean, its the end of April fer Christ sake.

On Monday morning the rain let up for a bit so we decided to knock out a short 20 mile day. We gathered and stowed our lines and passed through the 1000 lock. As soon as we were locked through the rain once again resumed. It was so nasty we had to use our Nav lights to safely transit Portsmouth and Norfolk. All the bridges cooperated today so we were soon anchor down in Mill Creek awaiting more favorable conditions to start north on the bay tomorrow.

The temps never exceeded 60 degrees today. We had the lanterns of warmth & balminess lit before 1500 even though the warmth from engine is keeping the boat fairly decent.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21, 2012. Since we left Saint Augustine we've been hauling ass. After a peaceful night in Winyah Bay we motored 67 miles up the ICW to Calabash Creek, SC. Along the way we got to transit The Rockpile at dead low tide.
There’s plenty of depth and at low tide the dangers are more apparent so I actually prefer the low tide trip. This sign has never made sense to me. They want you to worry about the rocks that you can see.
What about at high tide when they're under the surface. It seems to me that's the time you should be worried. After Calabash Creek we motored another 58 miles to Wrightsville Beach. The highlight of this day was doing the Cape Fear River against the tide. With all sail up and a very light but favorable breeze at one point we were making an SOG of 2.8 knots. We ended up dropping the hook in Wrightsville Beach next to Discovery and Tilt. We had been outta internet touch for a while and they shared their plan to head offshore in a light and variable breeze and motor to Beaufort. A long day on the inside would find us in Mile Hammock Bay and then another day would get us to Beaufort, NC. So it was a no brainer. The next day we pulled the hook at dawn and headed out on a truly miserable day. 10 knots close to the nose, gray as hell, cold, just a shitty day. We motorsailed all day and as the others dropped their hooks in Beaufort we kept on going. We knocked out another 20 miles and dropped the hook in Adams Creek at dusk. The next day was an uneventful 102 mile day down the Neuse, up the Bay River, through Goose Creek, up the Pungo River, through the Pungo Canal and we didn't stop until nightfall just north of the Alligator River Swing Bridge. 102 miles makes for a looong day. This morning we pulled the hook at 0600 for a 72 mile day to the free wall at the Great Bridge Lock. We had to get underway early to make it to the Centerville Turnpike Swing Bridge which has a restricted opening schedule from 1600 until 1800 every evening. We made it by 1500 and after hitting the fuel dock at Atlantic Yacht Basin we tied up at the free dock in Great Bridge, VA by 1600. Then we walked downtown and grabbed us some veggies at a real grocery store. Now we're drinkin'

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 16, 2012.

After 2 days of eating wonderful bargain priced pizza and swilling 2 for 1 beers it was time to leave Saint Augustine.
(work disclaimer)We weren't dragging our feet, we were just pausing for a weather window. The wind has been honking out of the east northeast so on Saturday morning when we pulled the hook we found the inlet impassible. There were 2 sailboats on the outside and they couldn't get in while we couldn't get out.

Rather than sit and hope for a better tomorrow we headed up the ICW to Jacksonville. Conditions there were still dangerous so we found a quite anchorage to drop the hook in. We ended up right in front of an old plantation on the Fort George River. The plantation is now a part of the park system so after dark we had the place to ourselves. Except for the ghosts.

We were just going to bed and Christy glanced out the port and exclaimed “look at those windows!” Up on the second floor of the deserted building the lights were flickering on and off. Full bright fading to black and then back on. Then fading almost out before coming back halfway, then out or full on. Whatever. It was totally random and quite otherworldly and considering the locale a little freaky. Alright, very freaky. But we were tired so we donned garlic necklaces and went to bed.

At 0630 we were out of there and riding the current down and out of Jacksonville. The last 200 meters of the inlet was quite lively and once we turned north the sailing was exactly what we both signed up for. For four hours.

The 3 foot rollers coming under the beam went unnoticed while we had 15 to 18 knots in the sails. But after 4 hours the wind started to fade, dramatically. I spent 5 hours trying different sail sizes and combinations to no avail. Finally with the wind down to 4 knots and us with a boat speed of 1.8 knots we started the engine at 1600 hours. The 3 foot swell never went away so any sail just tried to flog itself to death. Even the Boat Pole of Speed© was no help.

At noon on Monday we rode the tide into Charleston. Since it was so early and we're trying to make tracks north (brown nosing for work) we turned up the ICW and kept going. We got a terrific push from the tide and we put another 50 miles behind us on the ICW and we finally dropped the hook just before sunset and killed the engine after 27 hours.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 14, 2012.

I just realized I neglected to write about a very exciting event in our cruising lives. We were underway in the ICW just south of Daytona Beach when we were ambushed by the Fecal Federales.

The water cops in New Smyrna Beach are infamous for their heavy handed boarding of private yachts. Some how traveling boaters have no civil rights. If you were driving your car down the road a cop can't stop you and go through your car unless he has probable cause. The cops can't come to your front door and demand entry because they think your septic system isn't up to code. Its crazy but it is what it is, deal with it. A lot of people lose their minds over it and the internet is rife with horror stories of dealing with the waterway Poopie Police.

In the past we've had the Commode Cops board the boat in front of us and the boat behind us but they've never done us. Before today. We were both in the cockpit and I saw 5 heavily armed cops crammed into a smallish center console. They were headed the opposite direction and I waved as they went by. When I received a sheepish return wave I knew our day had come. They spun around and roared up along our starboard side. Damn honey, hide the Haitians and flush the plutonium we're being boarded.

The guy in charge told us they were coming aboard to check our MSD's. I made them stand off while Christy put a leash on Tucker. T-dog isn't very big but everybody has ankles. If Tucker was a 120 pound Rottweiler named Lucifer I might not have said anything. Just let them discover him themselves and maybe they would add something new to the list of questions they ask before they hop onboard. With that done 2 of them hopped across and the head Doodoo Detective started to explain what an MSD was. I start every day on a Marine Sanitation Device so we cut him off at the beginning. Lets just get this over with.

Theres 2, one forward, one aft, help yourselves. After a minute the "head" guy popped his head up and asked me to show him where the appropriate plumbing was. I showed him the valves that send the poop to the holding tank rather than overboard. He noted that they were set to the correct position and locked in place with zip ties. That was it, a moment later they were gone. But not before the younger guy bashed the shit out of his head when he tried to stand upright while still underneath the hard dodger. Snicker, chortle.

All in all they couldn't have been more polite but then again so were we. We came to idle for them to board and then he asked us to resume speed so as not to delay us. When their mission was done they just jumped back into their boat at speed and were gone. The fine for a violation is 250 bucks so it really pays to have your shit straight.

Were our civil rights violated? I dunno, probably. Do I give a shit, no, I keep it in a tank onboard....
April 13, 2012.

Someone wrote with some questions about deploying 2 anchors like we did in Great Sale Cay. So here goes....

When we left Jersey we had never had the need to drop 2 hooks. The tide went up, the tide went down but there was never any current to deal with. If the wind was up, we stayed in the slip rather than venture out on the bay. But once your out and about you have to learn to deal with what Mother Nature steers your way.

Our primary hook is a 66 pound Spade on 200 feet of 3/8's chain. The thing is a beast. I have the utmost faith in this setup and we've slept like babies while others dragged away. But since we carry 4 anchors we never hesitate to drop a second hook the first time I even consider it. Its a lot like reefing your sails. The expert opinion is that if you even consider it! Thats the same approach we take with dropping the second hook. Anchors won't do you any good if they aren't in the water. I'd feel like a major asshole if we dragged while we had 3 other hooks just sitting around going for a boat ride.

If I know which way the heavy wind is supposed to come from I have an easy technique that I like to use. If the water is clear as it is in so much of the Bahamas I begin by setting our primary hook just like any other day. We may pay out some additional scope but other than that its the same technique. Then I take our Fortress FX23 and attach it directly to our secondary anchor rode. Its all rope with no chain.

Lets say we have 90 feet out on our primary anchor. I have Christy drive the boat directly up over our well set primary anchor. We go to neutral and come to a stop about 60 feet past the primary anchor. So the set hook is behind the boat. The primary anchor is still set and we haven't affected it other than the chain being dragged up past the hook. This is where I drop the Fortress. I pay the rode out by hand as we drift back. Christy goes into reverse to pull the primaries chain straight while I continue to pay out the rode.

Once I'm sure the chain is straight like it outta be she goes to neutral. Theoretically we have the well set primary 90 feet in front of the boat and the Fortress as a secondary 150 feet off the bow. I pull in the rode and the Fortress has always set within 20 feet. Then Christy backs down on the secondary hook. Once its set I cleat it off so that the chain from the primary is hanging straight down and the entire boat is being held by the secondary hook. Even though the hooks are directly in line with each other they're at least 40 feet apart. This way in the unlikelihood that the secondary hook starts to drag the already well set primary hook will come into play and save the boat.

In Great Sale the sand in the water was so stirred up from the wave action we opted to drop the hooks 45º apart. I didn't want to take the chance of dropping the second hook too close to the primary. I couldn't see the primary so to avoid possibly tripping the primary with the secondary we modified the plan a bit. We dropped and set the primary and then motored off at an angle before once again dropping the Fortress, drifting back and setting it. We ended up with 120 feet of chain on the primary and 140 feet of rode on the secondary so no matter what happened the hooks couldn't get within 20 feet of each other.

I like to use the Fortress as our second hook for a few reasons. Its light and easy to handle. As a directional anchor in a mud or sand bottom its a monster. When we want it to keep us from swinging too close to shore I put it in the dink and drive away while Christy pays out 150 feet of rode. She cleats it off and I drop the hook over the side. I go back to the big boat and hand set the anchor and then re cleat it. The Fortress needs a decent amount of scope to be effective. This need for scope also makes recovery a snap. From either the big boat or the dinghy I just haul in the rode and once the rode nears vertical the hook just pops out. Its hard to believe how the hook that just held our 32,000 pound boat in 50 knots of wind can break free from the bottom so easily. The reason we use all rode is that chain makes manual handling a bit of a pain in the ass.

The Fortress is most effective in either a sand or mud bottom. Anything too hard or grassy and we drop our 45 pound CQR as a second hook. The CQR is much more difficult to handle than the FX-23 and from the dinghy it can be a real ball buster.

In the last 6 years I think we've used the CQR twice and the Fortress perhaps 12 to 15 times. We also carry another, even larger Fortress FX-37 that's never been wet.

If we have 2 hooks down for an extended period of time and as the tide and currents do their thing the 2 rodes may become twisted. Its easy enough to untie the all rope rode from the boat and pass it around the chain rode until its untangled. Or, when anchored in a small tidal creek with 2 hooks I've used the dinghy as a tugboat and just pushed the stern of the big boat around until the rodes are untangled.

I've heard of some people using 2 hooks in series on the same rode but both deployment and recovery is more difficult in both cases. In fact the logistics involved boggle my mind. If its not simple you're not gonna use it. The all rope rode with the Fortress couldn't be easier.

When in doubt, throw 2 hooks out. It only takes an additional 5 minutes to deploy the second hook. Recovery is a snap as well once you've had a little practice. And it sure beats the hell out of trying to kedge your boat off the beach.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12, 2012.

Just some random recent stuff...

When Jesus gets tired of walking on water I guess he and one of his disciples jump in the Hobie and go for a spin. You'd think that when the Lord was out on the water he'd have better breeze.

This guy spent 10 years building his own trawler. Its got to be full of “individual” touches. Whens the last time you saw a circular stairwell boarding ladder?

The Department of Homeland Security was out on the water conducting man overboard drills. They needed the practice.

We were in Staniel Cay and found a bizarre stairway....

You ever hand fed a rooster? They're as quick as a snake and definitely have some emotional issues.

Finding blue seaglass is fun. Finding the entire bottle still unbroken leaves you with a conundrum.

And finally, I take this picture every time we pass by. I don't know why but the giant fish face on the roof just makes me happy....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 7, 2012.

Here we go again. After 3 nights of hiding near Great Sale Cay (There were no sales) we once again set off on what we hoped would be a favorable window.

The day before we met some new folks who were headed home along the same route. We like to sail and it's not unusual for us to watch everyone else motor over the horizon because “this sailing shit” is taking too long. So I was pretty happy when they explained how when their engine shit the bed last year in Nassau they decided to stay in the Bahamas and went everywhere under sail alone. They even told the story of tacking 50 times against the wind and current to get up into the anchorage at Staniel Cay. Kindred sailing spirits, I'm psyched.

We pulled the hook and once again found ourselves sailing back towards the states. We sailed from 0830 until 2330 and only covered 60 miles. The wind was light and almost directly behind us. At 0930 our buddy boat called on the VHF and told us it was too slow and they were gonna start the engine. So much for kindred sailing spirits. After 1 hour they had had enough and motored over the horizon.

As we left the bank the wind completely died. Unfortunately, there was a long slow 6 foot swell outta the north. With the swell bucking into the Gulf Streams north flowing current there was a bit o' rollin' goin' on. Motor only and not enough wind to leave some sail up to stabilize the boat. It made for a loooong night.

We arrived in the port of Cape Canaveral at 1300 hours.

There are 2 lift bridges and a lock to negotiate before gaining access to the ICW. Once we reached the ICW we turned north and covered 15 more miles to Titusville.

Titusville is one of the cities that have filled the surrounding waters with moorings. There’s not really much going on in Titusville. It's just that its a convenient place to stop south of the Mosquito Lagoon. There were a half dozen boats on the 50 or 60 moorings while everyone else anchored around the periphery. What a waste of moorings. We anchored out in the cheap seats with everybody else and after eating collapsed into a well deserved rest.
April 6, 2012.

We arrived in the anchorage just in time to drop 2 hooks in 30 knots and a bit o' rain. On our way here we had 10 hours to agonize over possible alternatives. The anchorage at Great Sale Cay is noted on the charts as dangerous in big south winds. It's “U” shaped and faces south. We listened to Chris Parker while on our way and he painted a picture of fairly miserable weather in our immediate future.

There were few choices that would offer us southerly protection, and if we chose any of them we would have to pull the hook and move again as the winds clocked to the west and finally north. I figured to hell with it. We'd drop two hooks and deal with the devil we know and as the wind clocked the natural protection of the anchorage would come into play. It might be miserable for a while but it would only get better and we wouldn't have to move as the wind clocked, which might happen in the middle of the night.

So we dropped our 2 hooks 45º apart facing south. There were 20 miles of open water in front of us and the 30 knots of wind had built a formidable sea. Fortunately, the anchorage was so shallow that the waves were breaking. This left them all pretty much the same size as they passed under us from bow to stern. Even though the wind was howling and there was nothing but whitewater for as far as we could see, the ride was actually fairly decent. We've been in WAY worse anchorages. Contrary to the forecast by evening the wind dropped to less than 10 knots. While still out of the south after the earlier part of the day the conditions were lovely.
Exhausted, we slept peacefully in the unexpected calm.

The next morning the rest of the forecast came true. By 0900 we were facing 25 knots out of the southwest. Before noon the weather that had everyone so flustered was upon us. An ominous bank of blackness bore down on us and the wind jumped right up to 40 knots. After 5 minutes it had built to 50 knots before tapering back down to the high 20's. It's funny how after 10 minutes of 40 to 50 knots the high 20's felt like nothing. During the evening we had been joined by 2 other boats and I was relieved to see that all of us held position during the brunt of the blow.

The wind died during the day and we were soon facing north. The wind was supposed to build to 20 to 25 from the northeast for a day and a bit before dying off. We were through the worst of it and were able to enjoy the luxury of the cays protection so it was fine there. Now we wait for a favorable forecast to resume the slog back to the states.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 5, 2012.

The weather forecast has been changing dramatically from day to day so we went to bed hoping that it would stay favorable. So we rose at 0400 and rechecked the weather. The conditions are the same and the window is tight but doable so I took the outboard off the dink and secured the deck for travel. Christy had the rest of the boat sea ready and we sailed slowly north at 0500.

After 3 hours we turned more to the west and our boat speed picked up to 5 plus knots. It was a perfect couple of hours,
complete with a hitch hiker but by the time we had gone 50 miles we had to pause in the lee of great Sale Cay to double reef the main and furl a bit of the genny. The wind had built to 20 knots and we were on our ear skipping along at 7.5 knots. We were ahead of schedule and with nightfall coming on we wanted to slow down a bit for better control.

As the evening turned into night the wind continued to build until we were forced to reduce the genoa even further to keep the boat manageable. 25 knots with 2 handkerchiefs flying and we're still bumping 6 knots. The seas on the bank were steep, closely spaced, breaking 6 footers, the Streams possible conditions had us worried. At 0200 we were debating what to do when we overheard the Coast Guard talking to a boater who was getting his ass kicked in the Stream. The Coast Guard told him there was a weather watch in effect. There was a violent wall of weather crossing Florida from west to east packing 35 to 45 knots of wind with torrential thunderstorms. We heard Coast Guard sectors Miami and Key West warning all boaters of the impending doom. By dawn we would only be mid Stream. Shit, shit, shit.

So after 95 miles we tacked 180 degrees and started back towards the nearest possible shelter. Which unfortunately was 49 miles behind us at Great Sale Cay. 10 hours at 5 knots got us back to the relative safety of Great Sale at noon. We had a solid 30 knots for several hours as we were chased down by an ugly line of clouds.

So our forecast 10 to 14 turned out to be 20 to 30. Our small wind chop ramped up into an uncomfortable parade of nasty 6 footers coming at us from the beam. As much as it pained us to turn around I'm glad that we never found out the actual conditions of the Gulfstream.

So now we're stuck here at least through this weekend awaiting the horrid weather we were trying so hard to avoid.
April 3, 2012.

First things first.  We did successfully cross back to the states.  So I'll get caught up and post the bolgs that I've written.  As far as this post goes we're still in the Bahamas.....

I'm fallin' apart. About 3 weeks ago I was tightening the propeller stuffing box when I mashed my pinky. We have a vee-drive so the stuffing box is near impossible to get to. It was tight as hell so after a liberal dose of PB Blaster I put my wrench in place and really put my shoulder to it. The wrench promptly slipped off and I landed a very nice punch on the transmission. I didn't twist it or bend it, I smashed it. I splinted it for a week and then spent a few more days with it taped to my ring finger. Its still sore as hell but I can almost make a fist so its getting better. Its a good thing too because furling the genoa and raising the dink is a test of pain tolerance.

When we deploy the anchor I have to pay the chain out by hand. Its not a problem and I actually prefer it as I think a “hands on” approach to anchoring isn't a bad thing. Unless of course you have a broken pinky and have to drop the hook with only one hand. About a week ago while dropping the hook I scraped the back of my other hand on something sharp. I'm not even sure what it was but I started seeing blood all over the deck while we were anchoring. I looked at my other hand and I had pretty much scalped the knuckle of my pointer finger. I had a dime sized, thick flap of skin dangling from my knuckle. I flapped it back into place and taped it down as best I could. It looks like the flap is going to reattach but not a day goes by without me whacking it on something and starting the blood flowing anew.

And then I got the frigging flu or some damn thing. Friends took us to lunch in Green Turtle Cay and as soon as I climbed up onto the dock my finger started pumping blood and I felt “something” coming on. Crap, I'm falling apart.

So what better time to cross the Gulfstream and head back to the states. There’s a tiny window of opportunity. A big factor is the weekends weather forecast for the area is looking pretty grim. We checked Passage Weather, Ugribs, Windfinder, Weather Underground along with listening to Chris Parker.

The consensus for this opportunity was for 10 to 14 from the south south west followed by 14 to 17 from the southwest in the Gulfstream. A small wind chop on the banks with 2 to 4 footers in the stream. I would like a longer window but this one predicted favorable conditions for the 200 mile jump to Cape Canaveral. We have to be in Canaveral before sunset on Thursday because the weather world is going to shit then. We'd prefer a longer window to take greater advantage of the stream but we'll take this so at least we can progress up the ditch if the weather is questionable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012.

If you've been a long time reader then you know that on April Fools Day I always post something completely untrue. A couple of examples from the past (Manslaughter Mary) & (Lobster Whistle). Its becoming more daunting for me to fool anyone as the years go by so this year I'm going to try something novel. I've decided to post a very personal truth.

Depression. For somebody that deals with depression it can be really hard to explain it to someone who has never had to deal with it. Some days I wake up and am completely overwhelmed by feelings that are hard to explain. Sadness, sorrow and just a general gloominess seems to overshadow my every thought. I truly understand the word “melancholy”.

The more I think about it the more it bothers me. What could I possibly have to be depressed about. I live a charmed life with a woman I love. I have a summer job that I enjoy and spend my winters in paradise. It makes matters worse because I feel like I don't have the right to be sad about anything. Its like a college kid complaining that the Ferrari he got for his birthday was blue.

On days like this my confidence just seems to abandon me. Should we leave today or should we stay. Should we reef or should we let it all fly. Will this this anchorage be safe for us tonight?

I don't understand how things can be so different from one day to the next. I consider myself to be pretty cocksure. I know where I'm going. I know how to get us there safely and I'm not afraid to try some place new. I realize that I'm not a “planner”, I react. When things go to shit my first reaction is usually the right one. But on other days I second guess myself to no end. Not because things are changing but rather that I’m unsure which decision is the right one. Some days are just completely overwhelming for no good reason.

Its a condition that I find shameful, a weakness. I've never discussed it with anyone because I find the notion embarrassing. Its easier to type it here rather than to look someone in the eye and try to explain an irrational feeling of doom and gloom. I know what type of person I am but its just weird to have doubts about your self worth.

Another issue I have been dealing with is the need to lie my ass off on April First. I can't help it, I enjoy it. So yes, once again I've lied to you. Happy April. I realize that depression is a genuine condition for loads of people and I'm not making light of that. I'm just lying to my friends....
March 31, 2012.

Since we've stumbled across some incredibly fast wifi I thought I'd post some of those random videos that we take throughout the year that we can never afford the bandwidth to post.  

Do you think the seaplane pilot gets a bonus if he can drop off his passengers at the exclusive Fowl Cay Resort with shit in their britches?  Note the dinghy underway near the last sailboat.  They had to stop dead and were still giggling about almost getting run down by a landing seaplane as they passed us....

La Tortuga
Messin' with sharks
Rocket ride to the Superbowl

Iguanas are kinda creepy and don't like to share their food....

I hope you enjoyed the videos

March 31, 2012.

After spending a night at Normans Cay we heard that several friends would be convening at Highborne Cay. Since Solitaire, My Destiny and Savage Son were all headed there from different points we decided to as well.

The wind was less than 5 knots so we took 4 hours to complete the 11 mile “sail”. We got there in time to try our luck on the reef marked to the west of the cay. It was little disappointing as there wasn't really too much structure to be found. I had just taken a 4 pound bug when Christy called out to me.

She said there were several large fish under the dinghy. I swam over and found a school of Almaco Jacks milling about. After taking a large one we headed home to clean up.

There was a well attended dinner on Solitaire and after several hours we headed home to plan our next move. Christy's mom is in the hospital having some spinal surgery. Its important that as we move from place to place we maintain telephone service as we stop each night. So the next morning we headed north to Royal Island, Eleuthera.

As we approached Current Island we once again had phone service. Christy was able to reach her father who assured her that things were okay. With the good news received we decided to continue on through the night. The seas and breeze were perfect for us to sail to Little Harbor, Abaco.

Of course, an hour after committing to the new destination the breeze picked up just enough to have us skimming along at 7 knots over flat seas. This new found speed gave us an ETA at the Little Harbor entrance cut of 0200. Crap.

We reefed down to slow the boat, but the wind saw this adjustment and scoffed at our attempt to be masters of anything. Even while dragging our feet we arrived at the cut at 0500. We've been through the cut twice before and I had saved the route so I wasn't too worried. Conversely, some of the crew WAS worried while Tucker didn't really seem to care.

Trusting that the chartplotter is going to be correct is NOT a good idea. Its spot on 95% of the time but there are those instances where reality and the display are at odds. The GPS portion of the plotter is perfect while the “picture” on the display is off.

Since we had previously used this plotter in this spot I wasn't too worried. I remembered that it had been perfect last time. Even in broad daylight this cut is misleading. The cut is ¾'s of a mile wide but the deep water channel is much more narrow with ironshore off to port and submerged reef to starboard. So even in the daylight you're pretty much relegated to trusting the plotter unless you're "lucky" enough to have breaking seas on both sides which makes the deep water obvious.

The tide was ebbing and the wind was down to 15 knots straight over the stern. We started the engine just in case and sailed right through with no problems. We soon had the hook down in the lee of Lynyard Cay and were fast asleep by 0600.