The adjustment to the Code 0 done in record time by Mack Sails, we set out on Wednesday, May 17th, to head back to New Bern, NC. The original plan was to go out through the St Lucie Inlet, but the conditions didn’t look favourable, so we headed back up the ICW to Fort Pierce. We went out through the Fort Pierce Inlet at about 3:30pm and headed out towards the Gulf Stream. With high winds and lumpy seas, the ride was not as comfortable as we had hoped, and we considered heading back in to Cape Canaveral. We decided against that, as we would be arriving after dark, and while it was uncomfortable, we felt safe. The worst thing was that the autopilot wasn’t able to handle the conditions, so we manually steered. This meant that instead of our normal three hour shifts, we took one hour shifts. From Wednesday night to Friday morning, we were able to make good headway under sail alone, helped by the Gulf Stream current, but at about 4:30am on Friday, the winds died, so we motored until 2am on Saturday, when we started to motorsail. At 10:30am, we entered the Beaufort Inlet. There were lots of boats headed out for a day on the water, many of whom turned right round and went back in when they realized how rough it was out there! We were getting anxious that we might not make it to New Bern – so near but so far – but right at 5pm, we pulled into a slip in New Bern Grand Marina. We had covered 534 miles in just over 75 hours which meant we were covering 173 miles a day, or an average of 7.2 knots, which we were very happy with.
We connected the power and water, went to Bayleaf Indian Restaurant, one of our favorite restaurants in New Bern, to pick up a takeout, and then settled in for a good night’s sleep.
The reason for being in New Bern was to take care of several projects before hauling the boat out and storing her for the summer, while we go home for 4 months. These included…
- Remove and replace the 2 water tanks, one with a plastic water tank and the other with an aluminum tank for diesel.
- Plumb boat for shore water so we could remove the tanks.
- Autopilot drive unit replacement.
- Replace anchor 1 ton shackles with 2 ton shackles.
- Investigate blockage in forward sink.
- Installation of a breaker for the solar panels so that they could be turned off when on shore power.
- Pickle watermaker for the summer.
- Service PeekaBooo shades.
- Replace the overhead hatch and install a recessed screen for the forward cabin
- Clean all stainless.
- Clean all teak.
- Organize flights/cars for travel to the UK
Most of the time here has been work, work, work, but we have managed to get in a few fun things. First of all, the marina provides cable TV to each boat, so we were able to watch the live coverage of the America’s Cup. It was amazing to see, and now we are waiting to hear the schedule, so we can start working on our plan to visit the southern hemisphere in 4 years’ time!
We took the opportunity to renew our CPR/AED first aid certifications, both because it is always good to refresh your skills, but also because it is a useful certification to have when applying for volunteer positions which we hope to do next summer.
We also visited the local Escape Room one Saturday evening. Along with another group of 4, we had an hour to solve the clues to escape from the office of the serial killer doctor, who wanted to add us to his list of victims! It was a lot of fun, and I am happy to report that we escaped with over 15 minutes to spare!
Now we are getting very close to hauling the boat out. We have rented a storage unit to house the items that will be better stored in air conditioning, and the fridge/freezer is all but empty. To prepare Sol Purpose for hurricane season, the sails have all been washed, dried and stowed, and the bimini cover and dodger have been removed. On Friday, we will move Sol Purpose to Wayfarer’s Cove Marina (we are praying that the water level will come up a little so that we can get in!), and haul her out of the water, so that she can be cleaned, painted and repaired. We will spend the weekend working on the repairs, while staying in an Airbnb nearby. Then, (at last!) we will be driving up to Newark, to fly home. 4 months in the UK – here we come!
We will write a couple of blogs while in the UK as we travel. We intend to buy a second hand camper van to tour around the country which we will then try to sell before we leave. This will help with hotel costs and give us more freedom to explore.
One last thing, we have to give a huge shout out to Bob ad Clare, who lent us their brand new truck while they were in Bermuda for the Americas Cup. It was a major boon to us for everything from grocery shopping to getting us to our first aid training. It’s great to know people like this when you are a cruiser.