Slow Boat to China….

I’d love to get you
On a slow boat to China
All to myself alone

Writer · Frank Loesser
Singers: Jimmy Buffett, Ela Fitzgerald, Bett Middler, Bing Crosby, myself and numerous others….

I used to sing this to JoAnne as a fun thing to do.  But, it’s funny actually BEING on a slow boat to China (or in this particular case, Florida).

We’ve dilly dallied a lot coming down from New York since last year.  We’ve had dangerous things happen, we’ve had scary things happen, we’ve had terrifying thing happen, we’ve had wonderful things happen, we’ve had health issues happen, we’ve met a lot of wonderful people, a couple of “interesting characters” and we’ve enjoyed most of the journey.

Yesterday we finished going over our charts, anchorages, weather, you name it… and decided to hang out here in Morehead City (Beaufort) a couple more days so JoAnne can have some fun and do a Thanksgiving Dinner on the boat, without rocking, without worrying about anchors, winds or wakes.  At this point we’re planning to pull out of here either Friday or Saturday morning (we’re paid up through Saturday here).

And it’s chilly here.  It’s actually colder inside the boat than outside today. haha.  Thursday should be in the 70s though.

Our instructor from San Diego from a few years ago used to say, “Get the boat that’s right for your voyage”.  Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

It’s about the people you meet, the things you see and do, it’s about making friends (and occasionally in my past, I’ve found, fighting enemies).  Fortunately there is much less of the “fighting enemies” parts these days as I age.

Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. We’ll spend a quiet one here on the boat, the second time ever in our lives we’ve both been away from our family on this holiday.  Over the years we taught our kids to get together on Thanksgiving, spend the time together, get over your differences, and take the time to communicate about family things.

This year it appears there won’t be much “gettin’ together” for our kids.  Guess they’ve moved on from the family stuff.  We’re sad about that – but, they’re adults.  They can do whatever they feel is right, or not as they see fit.  We gave them the tools and brains to thin, to make their own choices.  I personally can not say I’m happy with many of the choices they and the grandchildren have made.

I’m unhappy about the fact the entire family has a few little bones to pick with each other, whether over politics, each other, grand kids, how-to-do-things… I guess it’s irrelevant now.  They are equipped to deal with life.

And the Journey.  If only they grasped that the Journey is life, and not the destination.

JoAnne and I happy together, happy on the boat today.  I have been personally frustrated over and over about various things.  About the ICW (it’s too shallow, the boat is too deep), about the weather (it’s too cold, it’s too hot), about the boat (this is broken, that isn’t working, I have to fix that thing for the 4th or 5th time) and I don’t know what day it happened but suddenly, none of that as important as living and going and doing.

We do have a destination.  Bahamas.  Florida.  Someplace Warm.  Anywhere Warm actually will do now.

So – after Thanksgiving, we will set out again and head south.  We did decide to spend a bit more time in the ICW though.  Surprisingly, it’s becoming fun and less nerve wracking than it was at first.  Even getting stuck again at Jarret Bay.

The side story here on Jarrett Bay is that we were supposed to be on the dock until 9:30 or 10AM the other morning.  But instead they Dockmaster knocked and told us to move to another dock, right away.  We were still preparing the boat to move and we certainly weren’t ready to pull off the dock.  I wasn’t sure about the currents, and then the slip he pointed to was by the land.  Not good.

So I asked, “How deep it that?”

“Plenty of space for you, I’ve put a lot of boats in there your size before…”

“But, how DEEP is it?”

“You won’t have a problem getting in.”

I noted the tide was coming up, about half tide, rising.  Good enough I said.

And pulled off the dock, the current preventing me from getting off easily and backed hard into the  channel, into a cross current.  Turns out it was swirling in there.  Ok, I managed to keep off everything, spun the boat around and headed south.

I turned nicely into the slip watching the water depths.

Water was at 17′, dropped rapidly to 13′ and then we slammed into the mud.

When the water cleared the depth finder was reading 4.5 feet.  Nice.

The Dockmaster was waving us in.  I yelled to him to say “We’re aground.”

His response?

“Well, what do you want me to do about it?”

I waved him off, and instead of cussing, or kicking something I laughed, walked back to the cockpit and assessed the situation.  We were on rising tide.  I only needed a foot to pull the bow out of the mud.  So I placed the boat in reverse and ran the rudder back and forth to wiggle us. Then I used the bow thrusters (probably NOT the best idea I’ve ever had but it worked) to blow the mud away from the bow.  In about 5 minutes we started moving slowly back.

So, after “I don’t know how many groundings” in mud I’m getting the hang of getting out of it.  Just not getting the hang of not getting stuck yet.

One thing I learned is to stop listening to others. Period. I always assumed that a dock master would know their depths and widths at a dock, how to tie a line, how to take a wrap on a cleat or piling to slow or stop a boat.  The answer to that is “Nope”.  I’m sure MOST do, but I seem to keep getting my share of folks that actually have no clue what’s in the water near their docks.

Ok, side story over.  Why continue down the ICW?

10 hours of day light.  If we pull out of Beaufort Inlet and can do 5 knots (pretty much our cruising speed either under sail or engine power) it’s 72 nautical miles from inlet to inlet (Masonboro being our next stop).  That gives me (assuming I started and stayed at 5kts) 14 hours to get there.

So we have to leave at about 0200 (that’s 2AM) to be able to arrive with enough light left to get into an anchorage.  Leaving in the dark isn’t keen from my point of view either, as I’ve not see the inlet yet except on charts and satellite photos.  Not happy with doing it.

But, we can drive 25 statue miles down the ICW a couple of days and still make it there.

In the Day Light.  I’m good with that.

After Masonboro is Cape Fear River.  And Cape Fear inlet.  And we’ll be on the inside and can go out on the other side of Frying Pan Shoals.

We’re looking at heading off shore after Cape Fear and just spending the next few days sailing now.  I think we’re both ready for a few days of actually SAILING and no motoring, and so we’ll look for the right window and go as soon as practical.

Aiming for St. Augustine, Jacksonville, or Titusville.  Don’t care.  Just want to go.

I hope my kids read this, get the message and have at least a quick get together for Thanksgiving Day.  It would mean a lot to JoAnne and I. And I hope they understand we’re fine, that we’re going to be fine, and that we’re going to continue doing what makes us happy.

Communication will beat demons.

To all my friends and family that follow the blog, have a very Happy Thanksgiving this year, spend time with your families.  Spend time listening to them.  Spend time putting up with the “nonsense” and remember, as Jeff Foxworthy says, “We’re ALL crazy!”

Fair Winds!

Rick

 

 

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