Saturday, September 20, 2014

Unscheduled in McClellansville

It was to be a Waffler's trip for the ages. Bill, Bob, and I back under sail again together for the first time since 2009. We were going to be the scourge of the Seven Seas. We got scourged instead.

From the on set, we noticed that the seas were choppy, however the wind was good, and the weather report indicated that the choppiness would improve. As we made our way further out to navigate around Cape Fear and the Frying Pan Shoals, the weather report deteriorated and things got worse. The wind picked up to 10 knots higher than we were expecting, and the sea got rougher. Everyman on-board succumbed to the dread sea sickness to one degree or another.

To top it all off, there was no moon, making the night pitch black, which added an additional level of difficulty to an already challenging voyage.  We rounded the shoals at about 1 AM, and made a decision based on the worsening off shore forecast to enter the Intracoastal Waterway at Georgetown.

We made good enough time to Winyah Bay that we were able to make a good start on the Intracoastal and tie up in McClellansville. We are extremely excited at the prospect of a hot meal and hot showers. Tomorrow we complete the transition to Charleston.

Looking out at the sunset over the Intracoastal, it is hard to imagine that it is such a different picture just a few miles out to sea.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Closing Out This Leg of the Voyage

Today we secured the boat in Beaufort, and loaded our rental car to head home. It was a little sad to leave her alone in a new harbor, but Bob will be back to her soon.

Although we had to cut our sail short by a day, I think we crammed a weeks worth of sailing into two days at sea, and there was know lack of excitement.

I am looking forward to continuing to move the Black Dog up the coast, and, of course, more Waffler adventures.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beaufort, America's Coolest Small Town

After two days at sea, we were happy to get a good night's sleep. When we woke up this morning, we agreed that going ashore in search of breakfast was a good idea.

We found a nice little cafe on Front St, where we could sit waterside, and map out  our day. The first order of business was to find a longer-term berthing for the Black Dog. After breakfast we returned to the city docks, and paid our tab. From them we got a list of locations where the boat could stay for a while. We set off to check them out, and after deciding on one, spent an interesting couple of hours at the North Carolina Maritime Museum.

The museum is contained in two buildings across the street from each other. The building that is waterside hold a historic boat building shop, where they still build boats the old fashioned way, out of wood. They do workshops, projects for historic societies, and such. A very interesting place to visit. Across the way is the museum proper. There's an interesting exhibit dedicated to the shore rescue crews, who used to risk it all to bring in survivors from wrecks along the Carolina coast. The also had many great exhibits on boats used in the area throughout history, but of most interest to me was the exhibit on the Queen Anne's Revenge. This was one of Blackbeard's ships, which sank off the coast near Beaufort. The ship's location has been discovered, and there is an excavation and conservation project that has been going on for a while. They had several preserved artifacts there, as well as a lot of great information on Blackbeard, and on how they perform the underwater operation.

We spent a little more time walking around. Beaufort has quite a few little sold and galleries that make it a very nice place to spend a little time. It would be easy to lose yourself here for a week or so.

Lunch found us at the Queen Anne's Revenge (are you sensing a theme here?), a nice little restaurant on Front St. The food was quite good, and the beer selection was incredible. Two 7 foot bookcases filled with the bottles of beer available in stock. I wound up with a Poet Oatmeal Stout, which they consideratly chilled for five minutes before serving. I need to acquire some of that stout for home use.

After lunch, we moved the boat to the marina we had arranged with, and secured a rental car for the trip back to Charleston.  We then spread out the spinnaker to dry on a grassy lawn at the marina before re-stowing it.

We were contemplating our dinner options, however, while having a cocktail, we
noticed the boat developing a distinct list. After confirming that the list was not alcohol induced, we went out to investigate. It turns out that there is not enough water for us here at low tide, but just by a foot or two. We will get up early tomorrow to adjust our position to resolve this issue.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Spinnaker is Gone! And Now the Main Boom!

We did make an early start of it on Tuesday, getting underway at 5:30 guided by the Moon, and we cleared Fort Sumpter by 6:20, which was making good time, all thanks to the receding tide. The winds were light, so we were forced to go under power for the first bit, but the afternoon found us under full sail with the spinnaker flying. Nightfall found us heading up the coast towards Cape Fear.

All was going as planned, and we rounded the Cape in the early morning hours on Wednesday. And then at 4:25 am, while we were about 40 miles off of Cape Fear, Bob shouted out "We've lost the spinnaker!"

The halyard attaching the spinnaker to the mast had parted, and we were dragging the spinnaker in the water at about 6 knots. We managed to haul it back on board, and set the jib in its place. We continued on our way.

The winds were good,  but not always in the exact direction we were looking for, but we had a great sail throughout the day.  We had thought to sail to Ocracoke Inlet, but we making such headway that we would have gotten to the inlet at midnight instead of Thursday morning, and we had no desire to tackle a strange channel in the dark, so we opted to head to Beaufort, NC instead. We thought we would overnight there, and then see what we might decide in the morning. However the decision was taken from us when, at around 8 PM, the main boom snapped. We had been under power, and getting ready to take down the sail when an errant gust took the sail and snapped the boom. We scrambled to secure the sail as best we could do that the helm could have a clear view of the channel. We tied up at the city docks here, and tomorrow we will look for a good marina to dock the boat for the next month or so.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Prep Work is Done

Today was spent making ready. Provisions were loaded, and charts are one again consulted. Our biggest jobs were fixing the radar, and getting the AIS set up. It took us most of the day but we are good to go!

Since we weren't setting out tonight, we met Ronda downtown at Fuel, a sort of Cajun style cafe. The food was excellent, and they have a very nice courtyard to sit out in, and it was just the right temperature to be sitting out side for drinks and dinner.

Tomorrow will be an early day. We will leave around 5 in the morning in order to take advantage of the retreating tide. Our next landfall should be in or around Oriental, NC.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Every Good Voyage Starts at the Gin Joint

At least it does if you are a Waffler! We started the planning phase of our trip with a couple of  Churchill Martinis, which are out of this world. A fine blend of a number of top shelf Gins with a lemon peel  (no olives here), and it all comes together quite smoothly. And before we broke out the charts, we appropriately put away a couple of chicken walked sandwiches topped with red pepper jelly. Spicy, sweet, and delicious.

While enjoyed ourselves with food and drink, we broke out of charts and task lists (I was really just kidding about starting out planning at the bar). Unfortunately, Bob has a shift tomorrow, but there are some things I will be able to do on my own to get us closer to finishing the outstanding tasks. Our goal is to get underway late Monday or early Tuesday, and sail straight through to Palminico Sound in North Carolina. If we make good enough time, we hope to be able to see Ocracoke, which is where they captured Blackbeard. We will have to see how we do for time.

Either way, it is going to be an adventure.

Friday, May 10, 2013

From Wrightsville Beach Back to Charleston

The sailing being done for this trip, we spent the morning seeking a longer term haven for the Black Dog. She needs to be there for a wedding next week, then Bob and Ronda will take a short anniversary cruise for themselves.. We wound up in a berth at the Sea Path Marina. It is a nice little place, and the people were quite friendly, and they got us setup pretty quickly. We were able to have a nice hot shower after cleaning up the boat and packing up out gear. We wanted to be presentable for the parade, as we were pretty sure that rounding Cape Fear would warrant a hero's welcome in the town. Bob thought we might even get presented with the key to the city. But the people of Wrightsville were strangely unimpressed. It almost seemed as if they were unaware of our magnificent feat! Sadly, there was no parade.

Not seeing any reason to stick around, we hot footed it back to Charleston courtesy of Enterprise. We made it back in time to meet up with Bob's wife, Ronda, for dinner at Virginia's. The shrimp and grits were all that I has been hoping for. The only thing missing was my wife, for the perfect double date. We ended our night at the old haunted county jail for a ghost tour. I can't wait to get my daughter on a ghost tour. Spooky!

Tomorrow will be a casual day downtown, soaking up some local culture, and then a flight back home to my own family tomorrow night. Is been a good trip but I do miss them and wish they could be here.