Monthly Archives: June 2016

Trying to get further off the grid

Note:

This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May.

Yours, Captain Procrastinator

In an attempt to reduce our dependence on shore power and running the engine, we decided to get some form of renewable energy device to compliment the solar panels that the PO installed.  I was interested in hydro as well as wind generation as an ocean crossing would hopefully be a predominantly downwind journey and wind generation would therefore be less effective as our forward speed would reduce the effective wind speed from behind.  Hydro generation also tends to be more efficient as water is a better medium for transferring its energy to a spinning blade/prop.  During my research into options I came across a company who makes a unit that combines both, i.e. their unit could be used for either wind or hydro power generation.  The company is called Eclectic Energy and they are based out of the UK.  The model is called the DuoGen3 (the 3 comes from the revision of the design).

The tower used to hold the wind blades above the bimini pivots at its base and can therefore be lowered into the water behind the boat.  This means that when you remove the blades and replace them with a propeller you can generate power based on the boats speed through the water.  The yaw arm used to orientate the blades into the wind when in wind mode is also a float and holds the propeller close to the surface when in hydro mode.  A dive plane below the propeller holds it the required amount under water.

As it does double duty from an energy generation standpoint I fully expected it would be a jack of all trades and master of none and that it would not perform as well as a dedicated unit for either wind or hydro.

As the alternator is at the base of the tower and not directly attached to the blades, the weight of the unit is at its base and so a substantial support structure is not required.  In fact the unit bolts to your stern rail directly and comes with all the support structure that is required.

One of the precursors to carrying out this installation was to move the solar panels from above the davits to over the bimini.  This was to allow the tower to be swung down from the wind mode to the hydro mode as desired.  This project was carried out and posted back in March… I know, “do your damn blogs in order, Moray”.  Here is a picture showing their old location which clearly shows why it would have been an issue as the DuoGen mounts on the transom and sticks up above the bimini.

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The parts arrived from the UK after some “customs” issues.  I guess the Fedex customs person got out of the wrong side of the bed the morning this collection of packages came across their desk as they required me to fill out an importer form although the UK company had not been asked for this before.  Once I sent that to the Fedex person they asked what all the contents of the spare parts package was, I had to get this from the manufacturer.  Once they discovered that there was 2 types of silicone grease in the package I then had to fill out a toxic substance certification form on products that I had no knowledge about… bloody red tape!

The packages did finally arrive and it was Christmas all over again!

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I checked the contents of all the packages and took them up to the marina work bench to get an overview of the assembly process.  I had no intention of carrying out the assembly that day.  One of my neighbors at the marina, Brad, had shown interest in seeing the unit and came along for a viewing.  As happens, when guys get together, we had the unit assembled within the hour and were walking it down to the boat for a dry fit.

I had no intention of actually installing the unit on the transom that day… hmm, didn’t I basically just say that?  Must be Brads bad influence.  After 4 hours it was a done deal.  Fully installed, bar the wiring.  It must be said that the installation was relatively easy as the kit comes complete with all mounting hardware required.

The next day I installed the regulator, dump resistors (used to dissipate extra energy if the batteries are fully charged) and wiring to the batteries.  I ran the cable from the alternator through an existing clam shell vent used from the Questus radar wiring and mounted all the electrical hardware in the engine room on the wall that is the foot of the rear quarter berth.

The finished installation looks as follows.

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The unit has now been installed for three months now and so I can report back on its efficiency.  Truth be told I am underwhelmed by its performance.  I have only used it in hydro mode a couple of times and it seems to perform adequately.  However in wind mode this is not the case.  The yaw arm, due to its shape and attachment method to the tower, has a lot more resistance to rotation than a typical wind generator and therefore it takes more wind to swing the unit into the wind to actually start spinning.  This means that it can miss out on power generation altogether if we are in moderate winds and the unit is not already facing the wind.  This is not typically a concern as we find ourselves anchoring more an more.  Because of this, the boat will orientate itself to the wind anyway and as the unit can be locked into a forward facing position, it automatically is facing the wind at anchor.  The blades also seem to take a little more wind to start moving in the first place.

I will take the time to carry out a more exhaustive benchmark some time in the near future.  This will involve unplugging the solar array with the engine off and turning of all electrical/electronic devices. To ensure that the alternator is able to supply current to the batteries I will first have to make sure that the batteries are not fully charged.  If I then monitor the true wind speed in front of the blades and compare that to the voltage/current produced by the unit I should be able to see if it is producing power close to its specifications.

I will also polish the tower with a silicon based polish, as recommended by the manufacturer, to ensure that the yaw arm is as free to rotate as possible.

Engine Overhaul

Note:

This is another project blog for work carried out before we left in May.

Yours, Captain Procrastinator

This project had been on my mind for several years now but I had left it to the bitter end, in terms of us leaving, as I really didn’t know how to tackle it.

Not long after getting the boat I noticed that the port side engine rail had some rust on it.  The engine is mounted on rubber isolation mounts which are in turn mounted to a piece of angle iron on either side.  This is through bolted to wooden stringers which are fiberglassed to the hull of the boat.  I was unsure of how bad the corrosion was as it was hard to access the area to get a good look.  Two years ago, Paul and Diane, a couple we are friends with, had a near disaster when one of their engine mounts collapsed due to rot, while underway.  They had a costly repair and this was what set my mind to ensuring that we did not have the same issue once we set off.

I enlisted the help of Larry, who has turned out to be a good friend and all around nice guy 🙂  He has beaucoup experience with diesels and offered to help once I had outlined my intentions.  He tried to dissuade me from removing the engine altogether, but instead hoist it far enough to access the mounts only.  I had wanted to take the opportunity to carry out some other work on the engine and engine room while it was out which would have been very tricky without removal, so I declined.

Once I had the whole plan in my head, I booked an engine lift with a local yard, South Texas Yacht Services (great guys), and a dock to dock tow with Sea Tow (waaay better than Tow Boat US).  This would allow me to fully disconnect the engine from the rest of the boat before being towed over, thus reducing the time at the yard.  I took over 150 pictures of the engine room from all possible angles to ensure that I wouldn’t have a “where does this go?” moment upon re-installation.  This included all electrical and pipe runs and connections among other things.  A selection of these pictures show the corrosion of the port side mount as well as the engine casings themselves.

 

Larry helped me with the disconnection process with insights that I would never have thought of and therefore, when the day came, we were only at the yard for 20 minutes before the engine was in the back of Larry’s truck and off to his storage unit.

With the engine removed the boat was towed back to the dock so we were able to get back on with the process of living aboard.  Now the fun really began.  The work that was carried out on the engine was as follows…

  1. removed the engine rails and inspect them.  After removal of all the rust it was obvious that the rails were still in good shape.  They were sent to a shop along with 2 of the mounts which attach the isolation mounts to the engine body.  The shop shot blasted the metal and then primed and powder coated them black.
  2. degreased and washed the surface of the engine, then painted all surfaces showing signs of corrosion with Gem (another brand similar to Ospho).  This is a solution that contains phosphoric acid which reacts with rust to form iron phosphate.  This is a hard layer that readily accepts paint and protects the metal from future corrosion.
  3. removed and replaced all hoses and pipe clamps from coolant lines to injector return lines
  4. replaced all 4 engine isolation mounts
  5. sent all injectors to a shop for rebuilding
  6. overhauled the heat exchanger vented loop (replaced the vented loop diaphragm and replaced the nylon elbow on top with a bronze one that actually had the threads wrapped with PTFE tape!!!!!!!)
  7. removed, wire brushed and repainted the oil cooler assembly and the coolant pipe below the fresh water pump.

    engine 030 (2)

    after wire brushing and before painting

  8. sanded the mating surfaces of the prop shaft and transmission and then filed off any burrs.  This would ensure that when it came time to use the feeler gauges to align the prop that there would be no misreadings due to uneven surfaces

Next on the list was the engine room itself.  The sound insulation had long ago ceased to offer any insulation.  It’s sole purpose now seemed to be to rain down insulation powder on any surface in the engine room.

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I removed all the batteries (house bank and starter) along with all equipment that was attached to the engine room walls.  This was a considerable amount of stuff to remove.  Once done, I scraped all the old insulation off and cleaned the surfaces.  I had decided to use Soundown for the new insulation as it could be glued in place.  Soundown is a heavy material which consists of a layer of sound deadening PVC sandwiched between 2 layers of foam and covered in a rip stop Mylar vapor barrier on one side.  It requires that spiked fasteners should be epoxied to the walls to give extra support for the panels where there are large sections installed.  The following pictures show the before, during and after pictures of some sections of the engine room.

Before…

During…

After…

With the walls done I then cleaned the rest of the engine room and repaired/repainted the house bank battery box which had some delamination of the plywood on one corner.

Everything was then replaced and reattached to the walls, and the engine rails and isolation mounts were reinstalled.  We were now ready for another dock to dock to drop the engine back in the boat.  30 minutes after arriving at the yard we were ready to be towed back to the dock.

Larry then took charge and I assisted in the alignment of the prop shaft which took about 3 hours to complete.  Once finished, I set about the task of reconnecting all wiring/piping.  I replaced the exhaust pipe tubing from the mixing elbow to the muffler box and replumbed the way some of the hoses ran around the engine to minimize chafing. I added tubing on the outside of hoses that had to run against vibrating surfaces.  I rewired the panel for the backup bilge pump as the existing wiring was a mess.

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3 days later, with an oil change and coolant flush, and I was ready to turn the key.  Larry helped me bleed the system from the Racor filter forwards and each injector at a time.  It turns out that the bleeding cannot be done correctly without the ignition being turned on.  I have to assume that this is because some component in the injector pump is energized by the ignition and this allows the diesel to flow through the pump.  Once we worked this out all went according to plan and the engine fired without issue… can you say HUGE RELIEF!?  We then ran the engine at the dock in forward and reverse to verify there was no excessive vibration from the prop shaft which there was not.

After much patting on each other’s backs the project was finished and checked off the list.

 

Another day, another state

Friday, June 10th:  Up to this point we have been rushing along, trying to get north and to the cooler weather as soon as possible.  This has meant lots of trips with multiple overnights, which is exciting but exhausting.  So now we plan to slow down a little and try to do more day hops, or trips with just one overnight.

Bright and early on Friday morning we said farewell to Morehead City and set out along the ICW towards Belhaven.  We had heard that there were free town docks there, but just in case, we found a nice anchorage near the town.  As we were coming to realize on this “sailing” trip, the weather is hardly ever perfect for sailing – if there is enough wind, it is coming from the wrong direction, etc.!  Today was no exception, though we did manage 30 minutes of sail alone, among the 11 hours that we traveled!  The ICW between Morehead City and Belhaven was beautiful.

IMG_0540 On arrival at Belhaven, we stopped first at the River Forest Marina to refuel, then moved over to the anchorage.  The town docks did not look too inviting and with no services available, it seemed to make more sense to stay out in the anchorage.  There were a number of other boats there, including one being single-handed by a 74 old lady!

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Saturday, June 11th:  The plan for today was to continue along the ICW to Camden, where there were a couple of nice anchorages.  There are 2 ways to take the ICW North, either through the Dismal Swamp or the Virginia Cut.  Both legs go through water that is heavily tinged brown, we are talking coffee brown.

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This is a result of the tannic acid that naturally leeches from dead and dying vegetation on the river bank.  This leads to the famous waterway mustache that boats get at their waterline after some time in these waters.

That day we chose the Virginia Cut which would take us through the Albermarle Sound, where we had heard that the bugs could be bad.  BAD????  They are diabolical! It wouldn’t be so bad if they were “just” flies, but these were monster horse flies and they were biting!  Moray was on bug swatter duty while I steered.  When it was impossible to keep up, despite the heat, we pulled down the enclosure curtains, just to slow them down a little.  It was so bad that he wore out the fly swatter (we have a spare, thankfully).

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At this point the plan changed – again!  There was no way I was spending a night at anchor, with no air conditioning, dripping with sweat and being attacked by man-eating bugs!  So we called Coinjock Marina, just a little past our planned anchorage.  They were actually full but found a spot just outside the marina where we could have power and, water.  They saved my (and therefore, more than likely, Moray’s) life that night!  The marina is small but is right by a restaurant/bar, where there was a live band playing.  Moray met a very interesting lady who had been all round the world with the Navy.  They had a great conversation about Key West where she told him how “colourful” it has become!

Sunday, June 12th-Tuesday June 12th:  The next stage of the journey was to continue along the ICW to Mile 0 – Portsmouth, NC.  ActiveCaptain had information about the free town docks there – you can stay for free for 36 hours.  There is no power or water, but the docks are safe and convenient.  Our concern was that this was the end of the Norfolk Harborfest and maybe they would be full, so we had an anchorage picked out too.  It was a relatively short day – just 9 hours – but as we approached Portsmouth, it started to rain heavily.  As we approached the first of the two free docks, we had to stand off for a while to let the ferry depart, but that gave us time to figure out that there was plenty of room.  There were already two boats there – s/v Pearl and s/v Dream Catcher.  As we came in, Bruce from s/v Pearl, came over to help us dock.  We were just getting settled in, when Sandra Foppiano, from s/v Stephanie Dawn (a former neighbour from Kemah), came along to say hi.  She is staying in the nearby marina.  After a quick catch up, and making arrangements to meet for dinner the next day, we settled in for the night.

The ferry that I mentioned earlier runs every 30 minutes and stops at the two town docks and across the river in Norfolk.  For $4, you can buy a day pass that covers the ferry and the local buses.  Great value and available from a machine at the kiosk you are supposed to check-in at near the High Street Dock!  We could see that, although Harborfest was over, some of the tall ships were still docked over in Norfolk, so we took the ferry over and went to take a look.  Then we took a walk around the old town, looking at the historic houses, and finally, went to Nauticus .  This is a very interesting maritime museum, and well worth a visit.  It has exhibits regarding the oceans, sea life etc., as well as the naval history of the area.  The main reason for visiting, though, is that the Battleship Wisconsin is sited there.  This is now a museum and you can walk through the ship, either a self-guided tour or with a guide.  Several of the guides are men who served on her and they have great stories to tell.

We took the ferry back over to Portsmouth, where we were greeted by Bruce.  It turns out that he also knows Sandra, having met her and Rick in Florida several months earlier.  The sailing community seems to be like that – everyone gets to know everyone else very quickly!  Dinner at the Lobscouser, followed by a drink in the The Baron Pub, was a perfect way to round off the day.

Technically, we should have left the free dock that day, but no one seemed to be in any hurry to move us along, so we decided to stay for one more night. We walked around Portsmouth, looking at the beautiful old houses, a light ship, and following the self-guided tour brochure that the tourist office provides.

Wednesday, June 15th:  I walked to a grocery store and stocked up for the next few days, while Moray checked the weather forecast and planned our route.  It seemed that this would be the best day to leave.  If not, we could well have to wait for another week.  So we decided to head out through the Chesapeake Bay, and take the offshore route, via Assateague Bay and Atlantic City, to New York.  Once we got out to the Bay, the seas were horrible, nothing like the prediction, so we decided to follow Plan B and take the Chesapeake route instead.  This would mean an overnight trip, but the second night we would take on more fuel at Tolchester and then anchor in Worton Creek, MD.  As we were approaching the anchorage, at about 4:30pm the next afternoon, a Coastguard alert was issued that the bad weather was coming.  We anchored in a beautiful, protected anchorage, with three other boats and waited for the bad weather to come.  It appears we had made the right decision to leave when we did.  The storm hit Portsmouth really badly that night, and all we got was a little rain.

Friday, June 17th:  Today’s trip would involve continuing up the Chesapeake, along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, down the Delaware and then offshore to Atlantic City.  This would be another overnight trip, finishing at anchorage just across the river from Atlantic City.  We had to plan the timing of the trip carefully, because the currents around these various bodies of water can be up to 4 knots, which can leave us standing still!  So we left at 7am, and headed out.  Shortly after our departure, we passed the Grazela Primeiro, one of the tall ships we had seen in Norfolk.

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She was on her way back to her home port in Philadelphia.  She really is a sight to behold!

One thing we have seen recently is a lot of is ospreys.  From Morehead City all the way to the C and D canal they seem to have made every other marker into their own nesting site.  They are quite a sight to behold on the wing and feeding their young

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That day we made good time and arrived at the anchorage in Brigantine Cove at about 8:15am on Saturday.  We would have arrived earlier, if I hadn’t run us aground twice getting into the cove 😦  No harm done and we got free in the soft mud pretty quickly.  The anchorage is well used, although it was a bit of wake action, as lots of people ride their jet skis and power boats through it.  After taking a nap, we decided to take the dinghy over to the nearby beach, where lots of people were gathered, sunbathing, fishing, swimming etc.  We started talking to Jen and Camilla, two awesome women who live in the area.  We hit it off with them straightaway and arranged to meet up later, to go to a nearby bar at the Golden Nugget that had live music.  That night it would be the British Invasion, with three tribute bands – the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who!   Awesome!  They also gave us information about where we could get our laundry done and get showers – always welcome information!

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Just a side note – now that the dinghy motor is operational, we are able to anchor out.  This is giving us so many more options and best of all, saves us money, so we can afford to do other things.  It has taken a while to get into the swing of things, but finally, we feel that we are beginning to get the hang of this cruising life.  There are a couple of things that have to be considered when anchoring or using a mooring ball.  First of all – power.  We have solar panels and a wind generator, so as long as there is sun and/or wind, we are fine.  Most things on the boat are 12 volt, but we have an inverter for the few items that need 110 volts.  Next is water.  We have a watermaker which converts sea water to potable water.  That can be used if the water is clean, so we have to ensure that it is done before entering marinas or enclosed bodies of water, which tend to be dirtier.  Finally, there is laundry.  If we don’t have access to a laundry, handwashing is the order of the day.  We have to be frugal with the amount of fresh water, but hand washing is perfectly acceptable.  One luxury we have is a spin dryer.  The clothes dry a lot quicker when we use that!

Monday. June 20th:  We spent one more night, so that we cod just relax, before the next overnight trip.  This again would involve strict timing, because the currents going through New York can be horrendous.  So at 9am, we left Brigantine Cove (no groundings this time!) and headed back offshore.  We needed to arrive at the Verrazano Narrows by 5am so that the current would be in our favour.  This gave us a strange dilemma, as we had never had to slow the boat down before!  So we spent a lot of the day and night under sail, to ensure that we would be there at the right time.  We approached the bridge just at dawn, which was an amazing sight.

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From there, as we turned towards New York, we saw Lady Liberty, and realized what a fantastic sight that must have been for people who had been several weeks at sea, coming to look for a new life.  We came along the East River, past the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building, and then turned toward the part of the trip we had most trepidation about – Hell Gate.  The currents here lived up to their reputation – we had over 4 knots of current and were flying along at 10.4 knots!  Once again, we got very lucky – we heard a weather alert for severe storms with 30+ knot winds, but it was for an area we had left a few hours earlier.

Tuesday, June 21st:  we arrived in Port Washington, Manhasset Bay.  There is a great anchorage here, but best of all, the town of Port Washington provides mooring balls to transient boaters, the first two days for free.  There is also a water taxi service that will pick you up from your boat, which is great.  We are planning to make this home for the next few days.  Having been in 10 states in the last 6 weeks, we need a break!  Also, we want to take a look at Manhattan, and meet up with our friend, Karen, while we are here.

 

An eventful week

May 29th – June 2nd:  Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, FL is a great place to stay for a few days, whether you need to be in a slip or on a mooring ball.  It has a store that sells a few groceries, an onsite restaurant and bar, free loaner bikes and, best of all, really helpful staff.

The town is great, with lots of little stores, bars and restaurants.  It’s easy walking or biking distance to most places we needed.  About ten minutes’ walk from the marina is the Pelican Cafe.  It has no indoor seating, so it is open “weather-permitting”!  The weather was lovely, so we sat there, overlooking the water, watching the sunset and listening to live music.

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There are several good bars along the water front, but our favorite place was Terra Fermata – live music, good beer, fun people!

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The main reason for going to Stuart was to meet with Mack Sails about a new full set of sails.  After meeting with Colin, we had a really good feeling about the company, so went ahead and placed the order.  We will pick up our wonderful new sails on our return journey down the East Coast, ready for our trip over to the Bahamas.

Next job that needed to be done was to fix the outboard motor.  We haven’t been able to use mooring fields or anchor much, as we haven’t had a working motor for the dinghy, so this was an important task.  We got very lucky in that there is a marine supplies store in Stuart which specializes in parts for outboard motors.  They had the carb kit and throttle linkage that Moray needed to fix the motor.  Unfortunately, at some point during the rough crossings, sea water had got into the fuel tank, so before he could work on the motor, we had to get rid of the contaminated fuel.  We found a place but it was too far to go by bike, with a huge gas tank, so we rented a car for a day from Enterprise.  We reserved the cheapest car we could, but when we got there, all they had was a Dodge Charger!  So they gave us that for the same price as the compact we had reserved!  We got rid of the bad gas and got some fresh.  Once the outboard was fixed we went for a celebratory run around the mooring field!  That is probably where we will stay on our return visit.

As we had the car, we took the opportunity to go to Walmart and get groceries, so we were able to stock up on items that are generally too heavy for me to carry.

Our plan was to leave on Wednesday, June 1st and head to Charleston, SC.  As I was doing our pre-departure checks, I realized that there was no coolant left in the engine.  Moray inspected the engine and found that the freshwater pump bearing had gone and so coolant was escaping past the pulley shaft. That meant we would need to replace the pump.  There was a nearby supply store that could get one for us the following day, so we arranged with the marina to stay another day.  The part arrived the next morning and Moray managed to get everything fixed in time for us to leave around lunchtime on Thursday, June 2nd.

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Thursday, June 2nd – Saturday, June 4th:  we left Stuart, and headed for Charleston, SC.  We headed out to about 12 miles offshore, where we hit the Gulf Stream, and started speeding along.  We made pretty good time and hoped to stay a few days to look around Charleston.  However, there was a festival on and the marina could only let us have one night, Saturday, June 4th.  We took that and headed in at around 5pm.  Now we were aware that there are very strong currents in the marina, but all the Active Captain reviews said that the dockhands were very experienced and would be able to help us.  As instructed, we started hailing the marina as we approached, but could not get a response.  I called the marina on the phone and managed to raise them, so they told us where our slip was and said that they would be there to help.  The current was horrendous.  As we entered the slip, I threw the bow line to the dockhand.  He asked for the spring line too, so I threw that.  Unfortunately, the current had taken the stern of the boat and we were drifting toward the other boat in the slip.  The dockhand dropped our lines and ran round to the other boat.  He didn’t tie anything off!  I jumped off the boat and secured the bowline, but by this time we had already hit the neighbouring boat and were hard against it.  I grabbed the spring line and managed to pull us off a little, while Moray steered our horribly unresponsive boat in reverse.  Between us, we got Sol Purpose close enough for him to throw me the stern line, and I pulled her into her slip.  Once she was tied up safely, we met with the owner of the boat and inspected the damage.  Luckily, it wasn’t too severe and was cosmetic, so we came to an agreement and wrote him a check.  It seems that if we aren’t spending money on our boat, we are destined to spend it on someone else’s.

We just had the one evening to spend in Charleston, so we walked around the French Quarter and the Waterfront areas.  There are some stunning houses there!  After dinner and a drink we went back to the boat, for an early night.  We needed to be up early to be ready to leave by 8am, as that was when the current would be weakest.

Sunday, June 5th – Monday, June 6th:  after re-fueling, we left early and headed back offshore.  The plan was to sail to Morehead City, NC.  The forecast was good and soon we were under sail.  The sun was shining, the motor wasn’t running and life was great!  This was more like it!  Then an alert came over the radio that the weather around Cape Fear was now predicted to change, with higher winds (which we could manage) and 9-14ft seas (which we can’t!).  So we decided to come back to shore and take the ICW to Morehead City.  Once again, we were entering a major waterway in the dark – sigh!  When this happens, we don’t take watches, but instead both are in the cockpit, and when possible, we take turns to catnap. When it was daylight, we called a couple of marinas in Morehead City.  Now it turns out that this weekend there is a huge annual fishing tournament called Big Rock.  The first marina would only be able to take us for one night, whereas we had hoped for three.  The second, Portside Marina, not only said they would be able to take us, they said that the weather was predicted to take a turn for the worse, with Tropical Storm Colin moving faster than had been predicted.  As in Charleston, the currents can be horrendous, and we needed to get in as fast as possible, so we didn’t have the luxury of picking the best tide/current to go in.  Denard, from Portside, called us several times during the day to check on our progress, and when we had a reasonable estimate of our arrival time (go figure, in the dark again!), he gave us directions to a public dock where we would have the most protection and would be relatively easy to dock in the dark.

The journey along the ICW was a little stressful.  We tried to time the bridges, but got one calculation wrong, so had to wait about 50 minutes for the next opening.  One bridge operator required us to be right next to the bridge at the opening time, with no regard for the fact that we had a very strong current, the edge of the channel is about 1ft deep and our boat doesn’t reverse well!  It was a very hairy bridge crossing, but by the skin of our teeth, we made it through.  Moray showed some seriously awesome boat handling skills!  The next event was the shoaling right next to a marker, which we hit.  Luckily, it was sand, so we were able to get off the shoal and found our way round it.

Finally, we started the approach to Morehead City.  It was dark by now, the rain had started and there was a strong current.  The wind was beginning to pick up, but was manageable at this point.  We passed a couple of shrimp trawlers, and asked one of them about any shoaling in the part of the channel where he was.  He gave us great information and then asked if we were aware of the weather forecast.  We said we were, that we were on our way to Morehead City and thanked him for his concern.  The final part of the journey was stressful.  The rain was so heavy we could barely see, and the current began to pick up.  We planned what we would do on arrival and headed towards the town dock.  Everything went perfectly!  We went past the dock so that we could see what we were dealing with, turned round and drifted gently on to the dock!  I was able to step off with no problem and secure all the lines.  Awesome!

The next hour was spent getting everything off the deck that could cause a problem in high winds.  This incuded the bimini and dodger, the solar panels and stowing the dink on the deck.  Once that was done, exhausted, wet through but very relieved, we went to bed for the first time in two days.

I want to pause here to thank everyone who was looking out for us – Edwin Cavazos, Denard (from the marina), the trawler captain, Brad Scott and Joy & Tom Merritt.  We really did appreciate the messages, information and general support.

And to my sister, Tracy – I’m sorry I didn’t call to wish you a Happy Birthday, but I have a very good excuse!  I hope you had a great day and were thoroughly spoiled!

Tuesday, June 7th – Thursday, June 9th:  first thing Tuesday morning we received a call from Denard.  He picked us up from the boat and drove us through the pouring rain to Grumpy’s, a wonderful breakfast cafe.  Then, he took us back to Sol Purpose to pick up our laundry and brought us over to the marina where we would be staying once the storm passed.  It was great to get that all taken care of without delay, rather than wasting a whole morning.  By 11:30am, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining, so we brought Sol Purpose over to Portside Marina when the current was at its weakest.  We spent the rest of the day taking care of some minor repair to a sail, and then headed out to try out the local bars.  There we met a really great guy called Clay.  He was in town to scuba dive, which got us thinking….  Wednesday, Joy and Tom, friends from Kemah who left to start their cruising life two years ago, drove down from New Bern to visit.  They had recommended the marina to us, so they visited with Denard also.  They very kindly took us grocery shopping and then we went to the Ruddy Duck for dinner.  The food and drinks were great, the company even better.  It was so interesting to catch up on all their adventures, and to get some tips on what to do and what not to do!  Thursday morning, we were up bright and early, as we had managed to reserve space with Olympus Divers.  Up until today, the seas had been a bit rough and the visibility not so good, but finally we caught a break!  The seas were smooth and the visibility on dive 1 was about 80 feet.  Added to that, the dive site was the U352, a german U-Boat that was sunk just off the coast.  Dive 2 had 50 feet visibility, on Spar, a Coastguard Cutter that was sunk to create an artificial reef.  I’ll let the pictures and video speak for themselves.  Now we are back in the marina, writing the blog and preparing for the next stage of the journey – Morehead City to Norfolk, VA.