Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chesapeake to St. Augustine, Leg 4

White Stone, VA October 2, 2011.  Susie, Chase and I have visited my good friend Jim Hatch a few days and now we are pushing off today heading South to Hampton Roads and Newport News Virginia.  We had left the boat there for about a month while we went home, and now we are back to continue the trip.  We contemplated moving in with Jim thinking that he wouldn't realize we were in the house for weeks.  Its time to sail.  We have several days to do a short trip, but that's just what we want so we can spend some time exploring the Chesapeake Bay sailing at our leisure with our son, Chase, who has flown in from Denver, CO.  The weather isn't cooperating perfectly in that it is raining and a cold front has moved in. The 50 mile sail down the Chesapeake Bay is bumpy and cold today, but we put up the side curtins and Susie bundles up in warm clothes, and we make it fine. 
Tied up at Jim's dock getting ready for the trip
Jim's little cottage viewed from the dock.

 As we headed West into Mobjack Bay towards an anchorage we had heard about, we cranked the engine so we could head into the wind up into the bay.  What I noticed was that the engine was not driving the boat at the power and speed that it should, and at max trottle it was only running at 1200 rpm. and the engine started running hot. We dropped the anchor at 1920 hrs, cooked dinner and then settled in to a quiet night on the hook. 

Chase and Susie are reading their e-books, i-pads and i-phones which really helps save the boat's batteries by not having so many bright lights on.  After anchoring the night in a beautiful secluded spot in the East River off Mobjack Bay, we headed out again.  Engine still not working well.  We then re-anchored the boat and I put on the wet-suit and went overboard to check out the prop and shaft.  What I found was that in the one month that we had been in salt water, we had accumulated enough barnacles on the prop and shaft to make it remarkably inefficient.  After 30 minutes of chipping the prop clean, we headed out again with full power.  I learned a lesson that this Max-prop has to be very clean in order to work well. 

We sailed the day and at 1600 hrs on 10-3-ll we tied up at the Yorktown Yacht Haven Marina.  This is a very nice marina with top notch facilities, floating docks, ship's store and one of the best restaurants on the Chesapeake.  Next day we headed out and sailed south to Hampton Roads, VA., a beautiful port  and historic town. 
Hampton VA docks facing
 the Space & Rocket Center
One thing about the Chesapeake Bay is that it is full of big ships.  As we entered the main ship channel coming into Newport News/Norfolk harbor we had an encounter with a freighter that was bearing down on us.  Our strategy:  stay in shallow water (20 feet) and the ship which draws 36 feet could not reach us.  Then, after he passed we headed back into the channel. 

Chase on watch in the Chesapeake
Chase is standing watch on the freighter.  With the AIS electronics we have on board, we are able to see exactly where that ship is in relation to us, it's speed, name, radio call sign, and calculated point and time of collision if we didn't move.  Pretty interesting software. We keep in mind that freighter props are as large as our boat and could make jello out of fiberglass.
Quinn and Helen at the helm
On ll/5/11 Chase flew out of Newport News VA airport and headed back to Colorado... from sailing to skiing.  The next day, Quinn and Helen flew in to Newport News and we crewed up for the next leg of the trip. 
On the 7th of October, with fresh crew and stores, we headed out passed Norfolk and then South via the Dismal Swamp to Elizabeth City NC. 

Norfolk Navy Yard

Nolfolk was most impressive with miles and miles of Navy Ships of all sizes and purpose lining both shorelines for 15 miles.  There were two aircraft carriers sitting side by side at the beginning of the harbor, each as big as a city.  It would seem to me that the Navy could spend all of the military budget just keeping all the ships in and out of drydock. 

Charlie & Susie Sailing Albermale Sound

Most of  this was motoring in the ditch except for crossing Albermarle and Pamlico Sounds, where we got some good sailing in.   This inside (ICW) route is a popular route around the "graveyard of the Atlantic" off the coast of North Carolina.  We bypassed Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout and stayed inside until we got to Cape Fear, NC. 

Along the way we visited Elizabeth City NC on the 7th of October where we met Bill and Mary on board "Easy Going" from New Bern NC and they made some restaurant and marina recommendatios that were their favorites in the area.  We had a good sail across Albarmarle Sound with NE winds at 8-12 kts. 
Stopped in Gator River Marina for fuel and pumpout and since we didn't like the lady that ran the place, (bad attitude) we left there and headed to the South end of Gator River to an anchorage in Stump Bay on Saturday, October 8th .  Alabama was playing Vanderbelt that evening at 6:30 so we got the anchor set, cooked dinner and got the ballgame on the XM radio.  Life couldn't get any better.  October 9, 2011.  Today is Quinn's birthday, so we sang a song and he got to pull the anchor up.  Birthday or not.  We motored most of the day through the Pungo ditch, out into the Pamlico Sound for some sailing, and then arrived in River Dunes Marina.  River dunes is a very luxurous marina/resort, out in the middle of nowhere, about 5 miles by car from Oriental, NC.    The marina did loan us a car and we drove into Oriental for dinner at a real restaurant. 

In tall cotton
Our next stop was Beaufort (Bo' fort in NC) which was one of the neatest port towns of this part of the trip.  Beaufort has a long history of fishing and sailing ships, and today is a town full of boats of all sizes and shapes and destinations and origins.  We stayed two nights in the Beaufort Docks municipal marina, and we were one of the smallest boats in there, at 42 feet.  We were literally surrounded by large motor yachts ranging from 85 to 125 feet flying either US or foreign port flags. 

Beaufort City Docks

Charlie at Maritime Museum, Beaufort NC

Town of Beaufort

10-12-11 Still in Beaufort and today we changed oil in the boat engine.  Met a guy, Bob Tilly,  at the breakfast restaurant who had a car and offered to take us to the auto parts place so we could by oil and filter and then he drove us back to the boat.  Since it was raining that day, we were glad he made the offer.  Bob was a retired Methodist preacher and US Army Colonel, and Mr. Conservative.  We got along well. In Beaufort we also met Bob Fine who is another Pearson 424 owner and was bringing another boat south, "Usra Minor", a 56 foot Krogan. 

On 10/12/11, we departed Beaufort at 0800 headed South to Wrightsville Beach and Cape fear.
At 1730 that night we anchored at Topsail Beach at mile marker #86 off the ICW. 

Wrightville Beach Municipal Marina
Quinn and Helen
On the 13th we were up at 0730, breakfast and off to Wrightsville beach.  The Wrightsville bridge only opens on the hour, and we were 5 minutes late, so we waited 55 minutes.  Got fuel, ice and overnight dockage at the Wrightville Docks marina.  Had dinner at Blue Water Restaurant.  Good, but not great.  Expensive, though.  Made up for it with Breakfast the next morning 10/14/11 at the Causeway Cafe.  A great hole-in-the-wall cafe.  We walked 1.5 miles to Harris Teeter and West Marine for groceries & supplies and then got a cab back to the boat.

10/14/11  Headed to Bald Head Island at the mouth of the Cape Fear Atlantic inlet. 
Bald Head Lighthouse, 1817
The first night there we stayed in the Bald Head Island marina and took a short bike and walking trip around parts of the Island.  The Bald Head Lighthouse, originally built in 1794 was damaged by erosion and demolished and the one we see today was rebuilt in 1817.

Southport Marina
As beautiful as Bald Head Island was, it's marina is just as rolly.  With the West winds howling across the Cape Fear inlet, we decided to move about 3 miles inland to the Southland Marina which was better protected. There we were close to a real town with groceries and restaurants, and the boat was not constantly rolling.  We were also on the mainland which made it possible for Bob McKay do drive up from Birmingham in a rental car, and that would allow Susie and Helen to drive back to Birmingham in the same car, with a "local" rental.  Much cheaper, and we were able to get a car in a remote area. 

On October 16, 2011, 0900 Quinn, Bob McKay and I head out the Cape Fear Pass out into the Atlantic to make passage to Charleston, SC. 

Schooner, Spirit of South Carolina in Charleston
Maritime Harbor. 

Bob McKay looking over the Battery
in Charleston Harbor
We sailed all that day, all night and arrived in Charleston Harbor at the Charleston Maratime Marina at 0920 on October 17.  Walked all over town and had dinner at the Noisy Oyster restaurant, mainly because it was the closest walk from the boat. 

Checked the weather and the forecast was for Westerly winds 25 to 30 for that next afternoon and night with gale force winds (35+) for the next day.  With that forecast, we decided not to go off shore but to make time in the ICW.  Glad we did.  It blew all day and we saw some 40kt winds during the day, and we were in protected water.  Made our way just outside Beaufort SC (pronunced Beau fort) and anchored in Mulligan Creek at mm#530 three miles from Beaufort. 
10/18/11 0800 Pulled anchor up by hand, well, Quinn and Bob pulled it up.  I was at the wheel.  The anchor windlass stopped working and now we have to pull up all the line, chain and a 60#CQR up manually.  More about the windless later.  Then we ran aground trying to get out of the creek at LOW tide.  In these parts the tide drops 8 feet and we were in the mud.  Finally got off (tide was rising) and we missed the Beaufort bridge opening by 5 minutes.  Had to wait for the 10:00 opening.  That worked and then we immediately made the Beaufort City Marina downtown at 1020.  Very strong currents at about 4-5 kts and about 18 kts of wind really didn't help the docking.  Docked anyway, and though I thought I laid her in easy to the dock, but, we got a long scratch down the waterline where the floating dock caught her.
I hate it when that happens!!! I can put every scratch on the hull on the map where it happened.  Never get scratches or bumps at sea, that only happens close to hard things.  The moral:  stay at sea. With fuel, pumpout and ice, we are headed out again.  Hopefully the wind will die down some so we can get out to sea from here.  We motored in the ICW to Bull Creek just off Hilton Head Island, where we dropped anchor at 1730 for the night.  We are 10 miles from the Savanah River which puts us back out into the Atlantic, if the weather improves.  Ran aground two more times at low tide that day in the ICW.

Bob and Quinn at the helm
Bumpy seas and 25kt winds
Bob checking out the beaches
On Saturday, 10/19/11 at 1200 hrs, we finally are at the Savanah River entrance sea bouy and set course to 205 degrees to Jacksonville Florida.  Winds are still high, WSW at 20 to 25 with gusts to 29.  Seas are confused at 6 to 8 feet.  We put up a reefed jib and mizzen, no main.  As soon as we got the mizzen up she balanced and set into the sea like a good boat should.  It was a bumpy ride, but the boat handled it great.  It was exciting, but safe.  Sailed all day beating to the wind on a close reach.  At 1900 hrs. we turned the engine on so we could keep the boat pointed on the rhumb line without falling too far off course in the night.  During the night the winds subsided to 16 to 20 kts. and the seas laid down some.  We set 3 hour watches starting at 2100 hrs. with Bob on first watch.   At 2400 hrs Quinn came on watch, and at 0300 I came on.  The winds had come around more to the West by then so we killed the engine and sailed beautifully and quietly at 6 kts all morning until we reached the Jacksonville ship channel.  By 1030 we had reached the Intracostal Waterway (ICW) and again were heading South looking for a marina that we felt comfortable with leaving the boat for an extended period while we came home.  We found that place in St. Augustine, and by 1530 we were tied up at the Rivers Edge Marina on the San Sebastian River, St. Augustine
View from masthead down

Bob McKay making windvane calibrations,
up there.
The date is Saturday, October 22, so Alabama must be playing Tennessee.....and they did, especially the second half.  Again, thanks to having XM radio on the boat we were able to get the game in living sound.   We had planned on driving home on Sunday, so that gave us a day to do some work on the boat.  What you have to realize is, when you take your house and pound it on waves in salt water for extended periods of time, things break and corrode.  Remember, our anchor windlass stopped working back in Hilton Head.  Today we took it apart and off the boat so we could bring it home for some repair work.  What we found was that the bearings and gears had suffered from saltwater intrusion, and we will have to replace them.  We also took the opportunity to go up the mast in the boswain's chair to repair a few items up there.  First we put a new L.E.D. anchor light up top.  That will greatly reduce future problems with bulbs, and reduce battery consumption by about 80 percent for that light which has to stay on all night.  Next, we had a short in the "steamer" light which is the white light up at about spreader height.  Then, we had to calibrate the wind meter with the annemometer that sits on top of the mast.  All that done, we came down, cleaned up, and went into town to see historic St. Augustine and get some dinner. 

   As for the windlass, here is the "before" picture compared with the picture "after" we refurbished it; new bearings, sand and paint, new bushings, new bolts, rebuilt motor, and new gaskets.  The windlass was built in Gasglow Scotland, so some of the parts had to be shipped from there.  Hopefully it is ready to go back on the boat for some dependable service.
Ready to go back on the boat
Cleaned up with new gear bearings
New paint and main-shaft bearings

To see all the pictures go to:    

No comments:

Post a Comment