Monday, October 17, 2016

Oriental and then Home

This last post is coming a bit late, but Friday was a busy day, and then our homecoming caused us to get swept up in a few other things.

After a good nights sleep on Thursday night, having enjoyed the fresh provisions acquired in Ocracoke, we took the dinghy into town and enjoyed a nice little walking tour around town. The island has a nice little web app designed for the mobile phone (http://www.ocracokenavigator.com) that we used to check out some high points of the island while we walked around in search of breakfast. Unfortunately,  many of the businesses were still closed because of the flooding, however we wandered into the Ocracoke Coffee Co and got a good cup to fortify us until we found a gas station/convenience store with a grill in back were we enjoyed a nice breakfast.

I was bummed that Teach's Hole was closed. I had hoped to be able to peruse the Blackbeard exhibit, and maybe get a new jolly roger for the Black Dog. It was not to be though, and I will need to save that for another trip. After a late breakfast (probably more like lunch), it was back to the boat and anchors up and back out to Pamlico Sound. After our struggles with the channel the evening before we decided to do what we found that other sailors do. we sat back and watched what the ferry did, and then followed that course. The channel in does not seem to follow the fixed markers (we saw waves breaking on a shoal in the middle of the "marked" channel), so caution is always advised there, and one should keep an eye out for floating markers, which seemed to get moved and placed as appropriate.

It was a good day for sailing in the sound, and we had a nice one on our way to Oriental for three or four hours. Eventually the wind shifted though, and we had to motor on to Sea Harbor Marina, where we were to leave the boat for the time being. Lisa, the dock master, was very nice, and she helped us out a lot, from advice on a vent problem to a ride into town later on. The facilities in the marina are also very nice, and I has able to enjoy a nice, hot, "Hollywood" shower before we went into town for dinner. After dinner, we had a brief walk around Oriental, and then Lisa was kind enough to pick us up and drive us back to the marina.

We were up early on Saturday, and did a three hour field day on the boat, both topside and below decks. Additionally, the fuel was topped off, along with the water, so things will be ready to go when Bob and Ronda go back up to move her a little farther down south.

It was another great trip, and a learning one for me as well. I got practice docking, as well as anchoring. As always, I am looking forward to the next adventure on the finest Island Packet to terrorize the Carolina Coast.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On to Blackbeard's Last Stand

Today was a very quiet day of motoring. We were anchors up at 6:40 AM and had 12 hours of motoring until we arrived at Ocracoke Island, the site of Blackbeard's last stand.

It is no wonder that Blackbeard favored this island, as it is a tricky channel to navigate. It is easy to imagine him sailing away laughing as the Royal Navy ran aground.

We haven't gotten to see much of the island, since we got here so late, and the power was out when I came ashore. Apparently they are experiencing the worst flooding since 1944,and the island is under evacuation for visitors. The locals were a bit surprised to see us. Bob dropped me dockside before heading to anchor so that I could get provisions. Fortunately the grocery store and ABC store were running off a generator and open. It was about a half a mile walk there, and on the walk back the power came back for the island. We had a nice dinner on the boat consisting of some locally acquired steaks, and are looking forward to exploring tomorrow before departing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Repairs Complete!

The team at the Atlantic Yacht Basin were awesome! Bob and I showed up at 7:30 AM with spare prop in hand, and these guys got us out of the water, prop replaced, and back in the water by 10:30. So the voyage is able to continue.

While repairs were going on, Bill Eisman and I picked breakfast to go at the Lockside Inn right near the Great Bridge Lock. The breakfast was good and the service was quite friendly. We brought it back to the Basin, and by the time we got finished eating it was time to put the boat back in the water.

We departed the boatyard and tied up directly across the channel. There are is a historic park there marking the battlefield for the Bridge. We walked around the park for a bit, before saying goodbye to Bill. He departed us today to return home.

Bob and I restarted our trek back south around one o'clock. We made good time. Bob went ashore in the dinghy in Coinjock to get ice, and we continued on to our anchorage point just south of mile marker 50.

It has been a great trip so far. We are well provisioned for the most part, the exception being adult beverages,  shall we say. Our intention is to make Ocracoke tomorrow night. Being a pirate friendly town, we hope to have that situation resolved. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Waiting in the Atlantic Yacht Basin

It has been an interesting few days, and now I am finally getting to update the blog. We are sitting in the Atlantic Yacht Basin with a busted prop, but more on that later.

I arrived in Deale on Saturday evening, and made it to the Annapolis Sailboat Show. There was a lot to see, but my favorite was meeting Andy Schell and his wife Mia, of 59 North Sailing (http://59-north.com) and seeing their beautiful Swan 48 named Isbjorn. They are very nice people and were very patient with me as I gushed about my favorite podcast episodes. A great experience for me. And I encourage all to check out the On The Wind podcast.

Picked up Bill E. at the airport and then we waited for Bob at first the airport Marriott, and then at the Brewers Art in Baltimore. The coffee porter was awesome, and they serve a good bratwurst as well. After multiple delays, Bob finally arrived in Baltimore,

We had a few items to deal with before we left Deale (get it?) so we didn't get underway until around two. Bob had me dock for him at the fuel dock which was good practice for me. I am happy to report that there were no crashes followed by firery explosion.

We sailed through the night, and it was a good night for it. The moon was bright and there were stars forever. We shared the Bay with a great deal of other vessels, but thanks to AIS and proper watch standing, we all got along just fine. Around 3 AM, the winds died down, and it was time to fire up the diesel.

Morning saw is by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and for me it was a bit of a homecoming as we passed by Naval Station Norfolk, as I had not been there on the water since my final Navy cruise in 1989.

We enjoyed viewing all the Naval ships and other sites on the intracoastal waterway. On this section, there are quite a few bridges that require waiting for the bridge to open to allow passage. Disaster struck when we were waiting for the Great Bridge Lock to open to let us through. The Autoprop H5 threw a blade, and we limped in to the Atlantic Yacht Basin with with two blades. Special thanks to Captain Ed from Sea Tow for helping us find a berth in a very packed marina. We have a spare prop on board, and we are hoping to get this resolved tomorrow and be able to continue on.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Cape Charles

Due to issues with water depth, we had an early start from Tangier Island this morning. We were bummed about missing breakfast at the Chesapeake House, but waiting to leave would have kept us there until late afternoon, and we really needed to reach Cape Charles today.

Unfortunately we had to motor down,  because the winds were right on our nose. But we made Cape Charles by one o'clock.

Once the boat was secure, we were able to shower at the marina (as opposed to showering on the boat and cutting into our fresh water supply)  and then walk around the town for for a bit. We visited several interesting shops, including a hardware store that harkened back to th the hardware stores of my youth, the type of hardware store that has everything under the sun. Matt was even able to buy some cigars.

We wound up at Kelley's Gingernut Pub for an early dinner, and after a brief rest on the boat and a stroll around some local art galleries, we wound up back there for dessert. The food was good,  and I would love to make it back there sometime for the shepherds pie.

We also met with another sailboat named the Black Dog out of Newport News. The owner, Jim, was a friendly guy, and we had a nice little chat about sailing and kayaking.

Tomorrow we will need to move the boat to the slip were she will reside until the end of June, and then give her a good cleaning. And then Bill and I will drive to Jersey, while Bob and Matt head back to South Carolina. I have hopes that planning will begin for our next voyage soon.

Tangier Island

Another long day, but so worth it. We had intended to leave Mobjack Bay at 7 AM to get an early start for Tangier Island. However, we were all pretty excited to go, and we were up and underway by 6:30.

We initially had to motor, but then got some wind coming up from the south, and where able to put out our sails. We even used the whisker pole for the first time, holding the jib out to sail in a wing on wing configuration. It was a good day for sailing, and the Chesapeake is a beautiful spot to do it in.

We tied up at the Parks Marina on Tangier Island around 3:30. The dock master Milton met us on the pier, and although in his eighties, was quite spry, and was able to help us get tied up very quickly. Upon his recommendation, we opted for the Chesapeake House.

A brief word on Tangier Island. I am not sure I can give it justice by typing words on a smart phone. It is  a very fascinating place, with a rich history. The island is totally isolated from the mainland (the only way on or off the island is by boat or air transportation) and they have their own way of life that might be envied for its simplicity. The impression that I walked away with is that this are good and friendly people.

We arrived at the Chesapeake House at 4,which was good because they close at 5 (most of the island closes down early). They serve family style there, so there were no menus, they just started bringing food. We had ham, corn pudding, pickled beets, fresh baked bread, coleslaw, potato salad, crab cakes, and clam fritters. Everything was delicious, and we stuffed ourselves. Bill and I even bought cookbooks.

Also at dinner, we shared a table with a couple, Hank and Janet. They are the proud owners of the Salt Lick, a trawler in which they are doing the Great Loop. It is always fun to meet other travelers on our trips, and we wish Hank and Janet good luck on completing the loop.

After dinner, we took a nice leisurely stroll around the island and read the various historical plaques placed around the island. Then Bob and I stopped by the Four Brothers Crab House for a free ice cream. Apparently, this is how the Four Brothers Crab House kicks off their summer season -  free ice cream for everyone. We were told that this is their sixth year doing this, and it seemed to be quite the event on the island. It is quite possible the whole island was there.

We had hoped to stay for at least breakfast tomorrow, however it seems that we need to be off early in order to have enough water depth to make it out, or else we would be here until late afternoon tomorrow, which would throw off out time table. Although our time here was short, it was a very enjoyable and interesting side trip on our way to Cape Charles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From Charleston to Chesapeake Bay

Our intent was to cast off Sunday at 9 AM, however we were a bit delayed due to a safety briefing that took a bit longer than planned. However, we cast off at 9:15,so not too delayed. Once in Elliott Cut, we put Matt in the dinghy to stop at the Greaves residence to pick up a couple of missed items. We were than on our way.

At about 10 AM,  we cleared Fort Sumter and were headed for open sea. We made a solid effort to go under sail, but the winds just weren't there, so a lot of motoring was done. This was a concern because we wanted to reach Cape Hatteras with our fuel at 50 percent minimum. We were planning to cut through a slu in the Frying Pan shoals at Cape Fear (something Bob and I had done on a previous trip), and refuel in one of the available ports there. Overnight though, the sea became unfavorable to maintaining that course, and we altered our course to farther out to sea in order to go around those shoals.  By Monday morning, we found more favorable, and we were under sail. Upon checking or fuel, we found that we still had two thirds left, and no longer felt the need to pull into a port. I was very happy about this, because one of the goals of this trip was to have a contiguous run to the Chesapeake Bay.

Having resolved to press on, our next milestone would be Cape Lookout. After a largely uneventful day of excellent sailing, we cleared that Cape at four in the morning on Tuesday.

Soon after that, we sailed in to the Gulf Stream. This worked very well for us, and we used that current to make better than anticipated time around Cape Hatteras, which we rounded at 3:30. We had a mini celebration, complete with a small measure of single malt apiece. Bill, Bob, and I took a vote and made Matt an official Waffler, with all the rights and responsibilities of membership.

We eventually exited the Gulf Stream, not only the advantages of the current but of the nice temperature that those warm waters brought. And it got cold quick. But the current did its job, and moved our arrival to the mouth of the Chesapeake forward by one day.

Just word here about the evening watches. Our rule was two men in the cockpit at all times, both clipped in to a jack line. Each man stood a four hour watch, but the watches were staggered, so during a four hour watch, a person would see his watch partner switch to a new partner 2 hours into his watch.  This seemed to work out well.

Wednesday morning saw the winds begin to die down. We kept it going for as long as we could by removing the reefs from the sails, but after breakfast, we were forced to motor. They picked back up slightly in the afternoon, and we took advantage of that to run out the spinnaker,which worked out nicely for a time. A noteworthy item on that was that it was the first time on the whole trip that we were on a port tack. Matt and I also took a run out in the dinghy to get some pictures of the Black Dog while flying the spinnaker.

A big surprise for me today was the opportunity to speak very briefly with Andy Schell, of the Isbjorn. I know of Andy through his podcast "59 North". He bills it as a sailing podcast, and for a sailor, it's full of great information. But there are many human interest stories for the non sailor, and would be worth  a listen by anyone.

I had heard the Isbjorn hailed by another vessel, and thought it sounded a bit like Andy on the response. So in a bit we hailed the Isbjorn, and I got to speak to Andy himself, and also tell him how much I enjoy his podcast. It was a nice experience, and I hope to be able to meet him at the Annapolis Boat Show in the fall.

We passed over the bridge/tunnel at 4:03, and celebrated with scotch once again. From there, it was straight to our anchorage at Mobjack Bay. It was just after 8 when we dropped the anchor.

We have until Saturday to get to Cape Charles, so tomorrow we are going to attempt Tangier Island. It is about 50 nautical miles from where we are tonight, so we are going to try to get an early start tomorrow, but we think it looks interesting enough.  I guess we will see.