30 April 2010

Georgetown and Beyond

You know how I said in the last post we were anchored in Georgetown, only a few yards from the dinghy dock? Well, later in that same day, we ended up anchored so close we didn't even need the dinghy. Well, of course there's a bit of a story behind it...

After getting highly caffeinated at the coffee shop while writing that post and doing various other internet researches, we returned to the boat with the intention of gathering our laundry and heading up to the laundromat. We had made it about 50 feet down the boardwalk when it was decided I was going to stay with the boat, as the wind was already twice its forecasted speed and only getting stronger. So, I rowed back to the boat, and tried to get some work done. About 45 minutes later, the people anchored directly in front of us drug anchor (it was blowing about 25-30 knots then, with gusts over 40). They managed to get the engine started and motor away, did about four rounds of the very crowded anchorage trying to reset the hook, then finally gave up and tied up to the town day dock. Just then, WE started to drag. The wind direction already had us as close as possible to the day dock, but when the anchor dragged, we came within 20 feet before it reset. Only about 10 feet from the boat that had just tied up. So, now I had to decide whether it would hold until Darcy returned from the laundromat and could aid me, or to try and pull up the anchor and dock us myself. Normally I would have no problems with this, but in a crowded anchorage and strong winds, it was not my preference. Anyway, we dragged back about 3 more feet, so it was decided for me. It went far more smoothly than I could have anticipated, but I will admit sprinting the length of the deck half a dozen times and hauling in over 200 pounds of ground tackle in two minutes is by FAR the best workout I've had in a while. J.J and Anne (the people who had dragged in front of us) were standing on the dock to assist me with lines, and soon we were tied nicely to something we knew couldn't drag. We spent the night at the dock (they don't bother you if it's blowing that hard), taking notes from J.J. and Anne on their travels and recommendations.

In the meantime, we've been enjoying the sights in town and along the way:

Some shots from Georgetown

How would you like this barreling at you?  He didn't slow down.  We found out what wasn't properly stowed.

Low tide - it is apparently NOT safe to go near the markers.

The wind is against us, every day.  This day, we didn't meet a single sailboat that didn't have a jib out.

Sunset through the storm.  The sunsets make the long days worth it.

You might need a bigger boat house...

It's easy to power a ship that size when you're going downhill.

Once again, low tide is no one's friend.

26 April 2010

Swansboro, NC to Georgetown, SC

So, we left Swansboro in the early morning, and continued down the ICW towards Wrightsville Beach. Our first point of interest was passing through Camp LeJeune Marine Base. Occasionally, there will be live fire exercises and the like on this part of the ICW, so signs at both ends warn of such activities. Long, straight and narrow, the most interesting thing about this stretch was the sight of several mobile missile platforms that seem to have been abandoned along the shore....All along the banks of the ICW, residential development seems to be booming. This was one of the more memorable ones...That evening, we pulled into our anchorage in Wrightsville Beach. It's a pleasant little town, and the ocean was within 500 yards of the dinghy dock. We meandered about the town for two days, enjoying the beach and various touristy things like the museum of history.

After leaving Wrightsville Beach, we headed south to Carolina Beach for the evening. It was a short day, but necessary due to the long run to Calabash Creek we had planned for the following day. Shown is the Carolina Beach waterfront.We awoke with dawn the next morning for our run down the Cape Fear River to our anchorage in Calabash Creek that evening. Along the way, we passed through the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge, the last of it's kind. With ZERO vertical clearance when closed, the traffic waiting for this bridge was fairly intense. Of course, it only opens at the top of every hour, and we managed to show up 8 minutes AFTER the hour.Our anchorage that night was right next to the "Calabash Crossroads", where the ICW, Calabash Creek, and the Little River Inlet meet. From our post, we were able to see the huge casino boats coming and and out of the inlet. Somehow, these thing manage to draft only a few more feet than us.
On the move at dawn again, we were greeted by the sunrise in our wake as we headed to the "Most Worrisome Stretch of the ICW". Neither of us had slept much that night after we read that from our guidebook...But we made it through "The Rock Pile" without incident. As we passed through at dead low tide, we were able to see the sharp rock ledges and such that the guidebook warned us about. Not something you want to find with your keel, and not all of them are marked...That evening, we anchored in the serene Bull Creek. It was gorgeous. Enough said.A little later than dawn this time (at 3am the current and wind became engaged in an epic battle to see how fast they could spin the boat), we got underway. It had started to lightly rain, but we couldn't tell if it would stick around or it was an isolated incident. It wasn't isolated, as demonstrated below by Darcy... we did however manage to gather a few gallons of fresh water from the morning deluge.
And that pretty much covers it. We're anchored in Georgetown, SC right now. Only a few yards from the dinghy dock, which is VERY handy. Stay tuned...

22 April 2010

Prodigal Frog

WE FINALLY LEFT ORIENTAL!!!!!!!!  Not that I'm incredibly excited about it or anything...

So we got up early on Sunday, planning on taking a final shower and then leaving.  Of course, rowing back to the boat, I noticed our bow frog was no longer with us.  I have failed to mention kiddie Frog Pool until now, my apologies.  The frog is in no way wasteful or spendthrift, in fact, we spent only $3 on him.  He is only prodigal because...well, you'll see.  In the meantime, here is the frog.

So anyway, our bow frog was gone.  I knew that I didn't tie him up too well when we were trying to dry him our for stowage, I take full responsibility.  Finally we spotted him on the other side of the river.  Yeah, that tiny green spot.  So I got an early morning workout rowing over there and back.  Not my first dinghy rescue mission (see:  Pepper Pots).  So the frog was only prodigal in that he returned to us after chancing it out in the big world on his own, which really has nothing to do with the definition of 'prodigal.'

Well, eventually we made it on our way, and waved goodbye to our new family on the dock...  We had planned on going to Beaufort, but realized we had been planning on leaving from New Bern.  Therefore, Beaufort was only a couple hours away, and we had time to make it to Swansboro.

So we started out and everything was going smoothly...until the first wave of the Neuse River hit.  That is the first turn we made - we had been beam to, and so I turned the boat into the waves until we could recover.  Nothing is ever as stowed as it should be, especially in the cockpit.  And from the first turn to the second, we were making sure everything was tucked away for some serious heeling.

But you know what they say, if it weren't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all.  Just after we crossed the bridge by Morehead City, there was a large WHUMP and the boat heeled a little bit.  Darcy found a shoal.  We had grounded, HARD.  It's a lot like being rear-ended in a car - first you make sure everyone's okay, then you make sure the vehicle's okay and you try to figure out what happened.  I hadn't even been watching the depth sounder.  A rookie mistake.

After deciding we couldn't motor our way off it, we hailed a passing powerboat to give us a little wake to help rock us off the shoal.  After getting hit by powerboat wakes all day, I think he had been the first one to actually slow down for us.  Well, after the first two passes on plane, he finally realized that he'd be pushing more water if he slowed down a little bit.  I was sitting on the deck near the shrouds when he came back for his third pass.  He was really close.  Suddenly all the water on that side of the boat went rushing out, and we heeled over.  Almost instantaneously, his wave hit, drenching me up to my shorts - since we'd heeled over, the crest of the wave was much higher than the side of the boat.  I'm hoping my plants didn't get too much salt water in them.  Then Kyle yelled out - we had a seat cushion floating away.  He quickly hopped in the dinghy and retrieved it, despite the strong current of the area.

The towboat had been listening to us on the radio, and he actually came out even though we didn't ask.  We had been about to try kedging off when he arrived.  However, after he pulled us off the sandbar it was clear we wouldn't have been able to kedge off anyway.

So, after that harrowing day, we were pretty happy to anchor in Swansboro.  The town was pretty dead by then, but so were we so we weren't looking for too much entertainment.  And to end, a couple photos from last night.

11 April 2010

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

...It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
--Charles Dickens

That's about how I feel about where we are right now.  For me, it's a lot of sitting and waiting in the Oriental harbor.  By which I mean, going stir-crazy.  Of course I have little projects to occupy my time, but my feet are begging to wander someplace new.  That, and it's been a long week.

Let's start with Monday.  We spent the majority of our day in New Bern at the Emergency Room, because Kyle lost a battle with Daisy the Diesel.  He managed to scrape his hand along just about everything sharp located near the alternator in attempt to fix our battery problem.  The problem was that the batteries were not charging, and we sort of rely on the power the batteries supply.  We couldn't take the boat out for a day of motoring to charge them, because we were pretty hemmed in by this sandbar friend of ours who has pretty much held us hostage for the past couple weeks.  But I digress.

So Kyle ended up with six stitches in one finger, and another finger didn't have enough skin left on it to stitch together - he had a hole about the size of a nickel that went down nearly to the bone.  So I went and got some Subway while he was waiting to be seen, and when I got back they had already taken him back to a room.  I was pretty hungry so I ate my half of the sub then went back and watched him get stitched back together.  Lesson learned, no food before injuries.  My iron stomach did pretty okay.  Oh, and Kyle is fine.

Well, with Kyle's dominant hand out of commission, we lost another crucial system for being anchored - the pump in the head stopped pumping.  At 10 pm I had to row in to go pee.  Sigh.  At that point, there wasn't really much else to do other than take a beach day.  We were both pretty exhausted and just sick of everything.  Back to Morehead City/Beaufort! We found the beach to be far too crowded with holiday-makers and spring-breakers, however.  Oh well.  We were wary of getting sand in Kyle's bandages anyway, so we decided to walk around Beaufort again.

Of Beaufort I have nothing notable to say except that I like the painting on the bricks at the ice company, and we stopped at the Coastal Community Market and found a great deal on some asiago cheese as well as a sprout mix that is going to really spruce up our salads.

But, back at the boat, things were still as bad as when we left.  Kyle did fix the head pump (yay), but we discovered that our isolator (directs power from the alternator to the battery banks) was bad.  In addition, our batteries are so drained that it will take a long time to recharge them.  Oh, and early in the week the cell phone went for a swim so we've had to work around being sans phone as well.

Lastly, the wind has been formidable.  It just won't stop.  I am starting to feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, sitting on the prairie (except I'm in the water).  One night, I was sitting in the cockpit reading and the wind was cold and blowing my pages in the way.  I was fed up.  So I decided to put up the side curtain for the bimini to see if I could block some of the wind.  Kyle and I had just gotten it zipped on when we realized the bimini zipper was basically disintegrating as we zipped it - the curtain was hanging on by sheer terror.  So now that's something else to fix, and without a sewing machine it's going to take HOURS.

But all is not dark!  I couldn't use the Dickens quote without having some incredible joy to share as well.  First of all, I got the comments working again!  It was apparently a really easy fix (yay) that took hours to find (boo).  Thanks to all of you who failed to tell me they weren't working; my apologies for not noticing.

And more importantly, we decided to spend the weekend at Kyle's dad's house.  One of the neighbors had a birthday, and a rockin' awesome surprise party to go along with it.  We got to see all our friends from this area, in finest form (haha, love you guys!).  Also, we went for a boat ride where neither of us were responsible for anything but socialization.  It's been great.  Plus, we are taking full advantage of all the luxuries a house has to offer.  First of all, bacon.  Yum.  Second, an oven.  I made three loaves of French bread.  Third, a REAL BED.  Glorious.  Fourth, the freezer.  I bought ice cream :)  Fifth, free, unlimited internet.  Since most of this is revolving around food, I'm going to share one of my favorite boat meals, my gourmet chili (it's gourmet because of the saltine garnishes).

So, once again I've written a small novel instead of a blog post.  In my defense, it's been a LONG time since I've written, because lately all my online time has been allocated firstly to email and other necessities, and second I've been trying to fix the comment problem.  Now that it's solved, I can do frivolous things like whine about my life but at the same time make you envious of how great things are going.  Oh, and right now, I'm going for another boat ride where all I have to do is sit in the sun and look pretty.

03 April 2010

Oriental Happenings... and more

So, we have effected repairs, all our parts are in, and we're about ready to go. Right now, I have an opportunity to make a little side money doing some online UG work. We're debating whether or not to sit here and take the job (about 2 weeks) while fixing other things that didn't get done in the refit. So far, there's a pretty good argument for staying a little longer. Anyway, we'll keep everyone updated on developments in that area. Here's what we've been doing for the last few weeks...

Aside from the repairs needed, we've continued with the refit projects (always in progress), the largest being relocating the watermaker and going through the fresh water system. The watermaker formerly resided in the very back recesses of our quarterberth locker, where it's almost impossible to service, and takes up half the locker. Now that it's been relocated, ALL of my tools and maintenance stuffs fit in that locker, and a cover will hide the whole mess and regain the storage space outside the locker. Little white flecks appeared in our water supply, and we're trying to determine and fix the cause, which was part of this move. In other news (VERY exciting news, according to Darcy), I finished installing a second foot pump in the galley that draws raw water (whatever water is outside the boat) through a filter, and straight into the galley. Much easier and cleaner than throwing a bucket over the side every time we do dishes or steam something in the pressure cooker.

Occasionally, we'll take a break from our work to do a little tourist stuff. One day, we went to the beach in Morehead...
And later that day meandered to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, where I learned Darcy has an interest in Blackbeard...
And in our wanderings around Beaufort, we came across a sign worthy of reproduction aboard SC...

And other than that, it's been pretty much working on the boat, walking around town, and visiting with new friends. And the occasional day sail around the Neuse, an excellent training ground, now that our windlass is again functional. Oh, and passing my Technician's Class radio license!

We'd like to extend a thank you to our new friends Steve and Lynn aboard Celebration, Jim and Beth and Cameron aboard the soon-to-be Wild Haggis for their companionship and advice. Also thanks to Charlie and Sigrid for letting us do laundry and shower at their house, and to Dick and Jackie for inviting us to what I'm sure will be a wonderful Easter dinner tomorrow! Thanks all!