On a Happier Note

Last entry I talked about Renata.  I did that because it occurred very recently and more recently than this week.

This week, we took a week off for birthday and anniversary celebration.

I turned 60 this past week, and JoAnne and I have been married now for 40 years.  As I said before, I am not sure how she has put up with me this long, but I’m very happy she has, and proud to be her husband.  I did a quick Facebook post honoring her, posting images and a statement.  I would try to recapture it here, but it will simply repost on FB and I’m sure a lot of people are tired of seeing it now. haha.

We did a little road trip, traveling to Georgia to see Stone Mountain, something JoAnne has wanted to do for some time now.  We spent a couple of days in a very nice hotel there.  We also visited a local restaurant here on Oak Island, called Swain’s to try their sea food.  It was ok, not the best I’ve had, but not the worst.

We found a nice brewery near Atlanta and tested several beers.  All of the beers were very good.  I tried five tasters and wound up with my “standard go-to beer”, an Irish Red Ale, which was so smooth, it made Killians (not my most favorite, but one that most will know) taste like cheap crap.  (Which, I suppose, technically it is after so many craft brews under the bridge.)

The only thing of note on the trip (other than a good time) we had was a massive amount of rain yesterday.  Torrential downpours throughout the day made traveling difficult and cost us about an hour or so of time in going so slowly at times.  At one point, we couldn’t even see ten feet in front of us and were doing 25 mph behind a large truck so I could see his lights and keep an eye on the road lines.  Going off the road would have been very dangerous and probably we’d still be stuck, as there was water flooding the sides of the roads and median.

Eventually, we made it back here, and surprisingly, we had very little leaking going on in the hard rains.  I had placed a large tarp up to reflect the sun off the decks a few days back, when it was choking us with heat and humidity, which actually helped reduce the heat, and apparently the leaks.  So I now know most of them are coming from the top of the main cabin somewhere.  I’ll continue looking for them.

Turning 60 sounds awful to some.  Especially you younger folks, right?  I’m sure many can’t even imagine being this old.  I certainly couldn’t when I was 30 and in the military.  I figured I’d never make it out alive anyway.  But, I did.  And I have made it past several dangerous things in my life, including a nearly “heart stopping” heart attack.  We’ve both had our share of dumb and awful things happen to us over the years.  An accident once in Colorado nearly got us both killed.  A guy ran a red light.  My “quick thinking” and previous “training” I’d had years before kicked in and I managed to put more car between me and him, than had been between him and JoAnne split seconds before.

The car was destroyed, as was his own vehicle.  JoAnne was injured but not anywhere nearly as severe as it would have been had I not acted.  We’ve had two “butt kickings” out “there”, neither of which was really all that bad, but it did give us a deeper respect for the ocean, and the weather.  Mother Nature will surprise you when you are not watching closely.  A boat is as good as it’s master.  Sometimes though, a boat is better than the Master’s skills and the skipper can do almost anything stupid and survive.  Except if they don’t care for the boat correctly (as in the last blog entry).  Eventually, doing nothing at all, can kill you.

Cancer tried to get her.  My heart tried to kill me.  Together, we’re stronger than ever before, but also, we’re more wary, we’ve slowed down, and realize that while we want to go-go-go, we can’t-can’t-can’t hurry.  Taking our time and eking out as much from life as we can takes not only courage, but perseverance, and thinking, reasoning and time.  You can’t always just rush in and get it done.  Sometimes, you seriously need to step back and evaluate what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and how you’re going to do it.

Setting sail is easy to do.  But, when you live aboard, it’s more difficult, because you become comfortable leaving things laying about, sometimes you don’t take all the precautions you would in a seaway, like wearing your flotation device or keeping your radio on all day/night.  You don’t have your wind equipment turned on constantly and tend to guess the wind speeds from experience.  You don’t always remember to close certain hatches at a dock… until it rains hard and you were away from the boat, and your bed gets wet.

You sometimes get bugs in the boat, even though you try hard not to introduce themselves, or you take precautions against them.  But, you learn, you cope, and you deal with everything.  From an emergency, to simple day-to-day things.  And sometimes, you watch as someone else’s dream sinks beneath the waves, helpless to help them.  And yet, you go on.

As to the boat, and the ants…. they seem to have fled or died finally.  We have tried two different kinds of ant traps, both of them seem to be attracting those left and both having different sorts of poison in them, they have pretty much left.  I have seen no sign of any of them since our return yesterday evening.

Our plan at this point seems to be – because we do not set hard dates now for anything – to try to get a good weather window sometime in October, to depart for the Bahamas.  The plan is to head south, outside the Gulf Stream, and sail directly to Marsh Harbor.  We will probably use that as our hub to explore as much as we can see in three-six months time there, and return to our “home” here by not later than April, to try to catch decent winds and weather.

All of that depends on the boat, the crew, the skipper here, and our ability to accomplish it.  I am extremely confident of our ability to accomplish it.  I’ve seen “Lesser Humans” come through here who’ve accomplished more.  No, I’m not insulting them, I’m stating the obvious.  Younger people with much less experience than we have now, having accomplished wondrous things that we have not. We can, and we will do them though.

At 60 life has become shortened.  Time on this planet is meted out in moments and memories and we intend to make the best of them.  We don’t want to wind up stuck in a dock for the rest of our lives, living like the crew of Renata, watching as our home sinks beneath the waves due to lack of hope, caring or whatever finally took it’s toll on Renata.

While time is slowing ticking away, we are still learning, as are all people, every day.  Each event is a learning event.  Each day is a time to reflect on your skills (or lack thereof) and move forward.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new learning events.

A sailor never becomes a complete expert in everything they do, but they surely have skills that most can only dream about.  Sailors KNOW what they know, and know there is much they do not know.  Sailors are not afraid to test the waters, sail the tides or do without things they would like to have, but do not.  Sailors learn as they go, and they pass on to others as they can.  This sailor never stops reading, never stops learning, and will never give up.

 

Sailing and Cruising: Preppers (Facebook Group)

Over the years I’ve gone to training courses I was offered including winter, desert and jungle survival.  Some of them sucked worse than others.  Also, over the years I became what is known today as “a Prepper”.

A Prepper is someone many people look down upon because they collect food, water, learn survival techniques, and “prepare” for a somewhat sketchy future in the “Not-Too-Distant-Future”.  Whether they call it a Zombie Apocalypse, “The End of the World as We Know it” (teotwawki) or “The Stuff has Hit the Fan” (shtf) is not really relevant.

All preppers have some inner belief that something can go critically wrong in a moment of time which in turn will bring the end of Civilization.

The truth is, such a thing may never happen.  Or it might and we may never know it happened.

For example, an errant asteroid might strike the Earth, without us first discovering it (or being informed of it’s presence).  It could cause local damage or world wide damage.  Surely it will cause world wide panic when or if it is discovered.

A smaller, local scale disaster might befall us.  For instance in the United States we have “Yellowstone”, a wonderful Nation Park, which is known in the past to have been a very, very dangerous place more than once.  At least four geological events have occurred there causing major destruction.  Fortunately, the last one was about 640,000 years ago, long before humans are known to have roamed the Earth.

Yellowstone is past due for another event.  It could literally destroy the United States as an entity.  Ash and debris covering half the planet could bring about a massive temperature drop, causing a small “ice age”.  It could gum up the works across the country or around the world.  We just don’t know the extent of the damage that might be caused.

The human race might self-destruct and start a nuclear war, from which few of us would be insulated.

As a boat owner, extended cruiser and live-aboard, I have considered these things and tried to “prepare” for the worst.  Before we lived on the ship, we lived in Colorado, in the midst of five US military installations within “nuclear blast range”.  We figured if we were hit by the Russians, we’d have an extremely low chance of survival because we worked at separate installations  with 40 statute miles between us.  So my wife and I had set up our home as a survival place.

Even though we were pretty sure the house wouldn’t survive a multi-megaton blast on NORAD (in visual range of the house, where we lived on a hill, with nothing between us and NORAD) we hoped at least the basement would survive.  We kept a pantry when the children were growing up, food for months and months.  We installed a Hot Tub for fun and water supply.  We set up shelving in the basement that could double as sleeping cots and had plans to put in “fall out insulation” (which would have been in the form of dirt in sand bags to help prevent radiation from penetrating to the basement level).  We never finished that job of course and eventually sold the home.

Today, someone asked the question:

Any doomsday sea preppers out there? With the civilization seemingly inching closer to collapse, nuclear apocalypse and what have you, has anyone offered any thought as to how this will effect us sea people? Cruisers are inherently self sufficient, but we do in the end rely on mother earth and functioning societies to provide us with shelter, food, medicine, tools, parts, communication etc. This is a non political post btw, and feel free to delete if it doesn’t meet the groups standards. 🌅

Now, me being me… I decided to respond and posted a couple of items.  But then I checked and found no such group, at least not a public group I could see.  There might be one, there might not, but there certainly is NOW.

I created the group called “Sailing and Cruising: Preppers” because there is a perceived need for such a group.

I added a few friends, and notified most of them of the addition, but interestingly enough, only a couple others have joined at this point, even after I posted the link.  I expected with all the experts there, they would flock in. 🙂

In any case, IF you’re reading this now, and might be interested, and of course are on Facebook, the group is there now and you’re welcome to join.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/SailingAndCruisingPreppers/

See ya there!

 

 

S/V Adventure Video Tour

I think I posted this before, but because it’s one of Kurt’s most watched videos, I’m going to post it again… with comments.


This video was shot by Kurt A. Seastead of s/v Lo-Kee.  He is currently doing a refit of his boat.

Adventure was purchased in January of 2015 by Rick and JoAnne Donaldson (that’s us) for a long term cruise and travel.  The boat had a few things wrong with it, but over all, she floated.  The equipment was old (and mostly still is), but it all worked.

Some of the comments on the Youtube video included comments about how “sloppy” I am. 🙂  Another comment was about how dangerous in mast furling is (or perhaps could be?) and that the person writing the comment would NEVER use it.

I’ll make a few of my own comments.

I’m currently working part time in a marina.  I’m handling boats coming through from the Caribbean and Bahamas headed north.  I count the number of in-mast furling rigs I see daily.  I see no less than 5-6 out of 7-10 sail boats.  I find it interesting that there are so many who’ve traveled oceans with these rigs so far.  I have traveled IN the ocean but not crossed it yet.  But so far, the only issues I’ve had with the rigging was having to replace all the halyards and make sure the proper maintenance was performed on the rig.

The boat came with the rigging installed.  I’m not going to undo everything just to make a couple of people happy so they can assume they are right.  The truth is, if the rig gets jammed, the sail can be lowered and treated like any other main sail.

I wonder how many people who make claims about how “bad” something is, have actually used those pieces of equipment.  I venture to say “Almost ZERO”.

As to my “sloppiness”… We had not cruised before we bought the boat, except on bare boat charters and a smaller boat in lakes using our trailer to get there.  Out of necessity we packed lightly, moved the boat and sailed, but generally for 2-3 days at a time.  We couldn’t get enough stuff on the boat to support us.  That included food and water (rather important items).

We also LIVE on this boat, full time.  We don’t have a house, don’t want to waste money on “storage units” we will never visit.  Have no place close by to store things with friends and honestly, don’t want to do so.  There is certainly only so much room on a boat.  We have spare parts for a lot of things.  We have tools to do repairs (and tools take up a lot of space, but without them, we’d be lost).  Tools also can keep me working when necessary to earn some money, because, I know how to do a LOT of jobs.

So one person’s sloppy, is another person’s “organized chaos”.

Also note that we had been on the boat LESS than three months when that video was shot.  We’d owned the boat less than a year and moved aboard in August 2015.  We were still learning how and where to store things.  It was somewhat haphazard at the beginning.

Truth is, we have gotten rid of a lot of things, BUT, we still have clutter and things we can’t yet part with, and until we can find smaller, like items to replace things we use we won’t be doing that just yet.  We have significantly reduced the weight of several items though and we now have a car at our “new marina home port” so we use it to store extra tools I won’t need when cruising.

There are things on this boat a lot of people wouldn’t want.  I’ll give you a little idea.  Composting toilet (a lot of people HATE them, but have never used one.  A lot of people swear by them. I’m still in the middle on this).  OLD electronics.  I have very old radio, doesn’t do AIS.  Broken radar, I’m not paying 2 grand for a new one.  Old, but functional chart plotter (old…. is 1990s, updated firmware for 2009 and no more support).  But it has brand new charts (days old now).   We have no microwave.  We have no freezer.  We DO have a working refrigeration unit (I repaired the ancient one and it works fine).  We have a gas generator (Honda 2000eu version) which people hate because it uses gasoline.  (A lot of people have a gas motor for their dink…../shrug).  We have a propane engine for the dinghy (hard to get propane I hear…. so far, so good, no problem with that).  We have a NEW stove and oven (ok a year or so old now) but my wife loves it.

And so on.  I’m absolutely CERTAIN that if you’ve ever been on and sailed a sailboat something in that list will make you cringe.  And some of you will think “Cool, I use one of those!”

Here’s my point, and the point of re-posting the video once more.

Everyone has their way of doing things.  We each have an idea of what we like, don’t like, and how we would do it, and how we would NOT do it.  You, me, him, her, doesn’t matter.  There are people who wouldn’t GO in a sailboat, because they are power boaters.  We have some who pick at us calling us “Blow Boaters”.  I take it as a compliment, and point out the price of fuel, and the wind is free….

We’re on this journey because my wife wanted to travel.  We think it is a neat way to see things.  We love meeting people.

We’re not on this journey to please ANYONE other than ourselves.  Perhaps that’s selfish, but after 60 years on this planet, doing everything for everyone else, I’m a little peeved at armchair sailors and snobs who nit pick everything anyone else does “because it’s not how *I* would do it”.

A few years ago, I stopped visiting Cruisers Forums, and Sail Net (and I HELPED form sail net!) because of the armchair sailors who would denigrate others for what they considered “dumb questions”.  There is a large group of people out there that are at work every day, getting up, going to work, going home, and logging into the computer – and on weekends they go out to their marina where they store their boat, they climb aboard and drink “sundowners” and wake up with hangovers.  On Monday they go back to work.  During the week they call some company to go polish their boat or wash it, and pay through the nose for the privilege of sitting on the dock on weekends drinking their Bud Lites – but during the week, they bitch and complain about all of us who actually live on the boat, go places, and make due with significantly less space than they have, no or low income, squeeze Lincoln until he screams and buy our cheap beer at the grocery store, and our liquor from the local markets.

They do this because they feel as if they are better than the rest of the cruisers out there.

I’ve yet to meet a long distance cruiser who has a perfectly clean, perfectly cared for boat, that isn’t somewhat cluttered, full of extra “stuff” they “need” (hoses, extra lines, pieces of “small stuff” – that’s bits of twine and line for those of you who might not know that), tools, the odd “silver tea service” or plastic wine goblets.

You know why?  Because they are out there doing their thing, being happy and not complaining about how the other half lives.

Kurt and I are discussing a remake at some point.  A follow up video to this one.  It will address some of the questions you all have, assuming we find the time and can connect somewhere to do it.  But, it will also be real, personal and it shows the truth.

The fact is, I write this blog on the same basis.  I tell it like it is.  Not how you want it to be.  There’s no such thing as a perfect boat, day, trip, travel, or location.  There’s rarely a perfect day of sailing (it happens, but it’s not often).  Extended cruisers sometimes pick up jobs.  They sometimes have to stop and work for a living.  Sometimes they travel and are out of contact for weeks at a time.  Sometimes they even catch fish.  Sometimes they get hurt.  Sometimes, unfortunately, they can die.

I write about everything.  Good. Bad. Ugly. Fun.  Doesn’t matter.  I enjoy writing about our Adventure(s) and what we go through.  I was beat up by a once-friend on Facebook because she disagreed about how I presented my store about a marina.  We had a ROUGH time there.  We had a lot of things go wrong.  Most of them happened when we were not even at the boat.  And yet somehow having these bad things happen and writing about them upset this lady to the point she de-friended me.  I was, in her eyes “putting down her marina”. /Shrug

As I said, I’m not here to please anyone else.

Kurt wanted to do the interview above.  It was impromptu, we had not really cleaned up the boat after having been traveling for a few weeks. The wife was off doing laundry.  I was going Kurt the tour.

So, sometimes, sloppiness is a perceived thing (mostly to OCD people who have a penchant for correcting where someone sits their coffee cup) and equipment issues are almost ALWAYS, ALWAYS based on 3rd hand, biased reporting by people who have zero personal experience with them.  I’m sure that a lack of spit and polish on the bronze pisses people off to no end. 🙂

When it all comes out in the end…. If we have a good time doing what we’re doing, why would anyone be upset?  Except for the people in Florida that don’t want over night anchoring because, well, they are armchair sailors and boaters and honestly don’t know anything about how the other half lives.  They just don’t want to see us in the waterways.

If we all had to please everyone around us, all the time the task would be to ensure everyone is happy.  And you’re not.

That is not the way to live your life, friends.

Go out and be happy.  If you’re going to sail a boat, do it.  Don’t complain about how others do it, how they live, that their equipment isn’t like yours…. be happy we’re different.

 

 

 

Cape Fear

In 1962 a movie was made about Cape Fear.  Saw it as a kid.  Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen, Telly Savalas were in the movie.  It was a thriller type movie.  Criminal, murder, stuff like that.

Yesterday we could have starred in our own thriller movie.  Or horror movie.  Or just a documentary about puking.

We left the docks at 0900 on the way out the Cape Fear inlet.  We were supposed to leave at 0700 and JoAnne listened to the NOAA weather, and said “Not going out in 9 foot seas” and she was right.  Completely, totally right to trust her instincts on departure.  After discussing it with Judy and Stephen for a few minutes, we all agree a couple more hours sleep might be prudent.

We pulled out on time, at 0900, and headed back to the inlet.  Tide was just starting to come back in and we slogged a bit through it in places.  Bentana had little trouble with a newly repowered boat, brand new engine.  We, on the other hand couldn’t make more than about 4 knots maximum most of the time and that was pushing the engine.  I almost turned back and said “Nope”.  But I didn’t.

We got out to the channel and dodged a ship.  He called me and asked if I’d be polite enough to step out side the markers for him, to which I replied that he could have the entire ocean should he desire it.  We moved outside the channel in 40′ of water and his bow bulb was as big as my whole boat.  After he passed, I called him and “thanked him for the slow pass” and I think I made his day, he laughed and said “Good travels”.

No more incidents for a bit.  Then the shoals came into view.  And the water turned into a rocking wash tub.  I almost turned back…. but I didn’t.

We called Bentana who was now gaining ground and moving at a quick pace out to sea.  Judy said that they were going past marker 6 I think it was and then turning to 180 degrees to catch the wind, get out to sea and then would tack back later.  I followed her lead.

We didn’t make it to the mark she turned out at.  We were taking a pounding by then and the wind was wrong, and so were the waves.  Making a decision to stop taking a pounding, I checked depths, and objects in front of me and turned to 180, raised sail and steadied the boat considerably.  I consulted with JoAnne about turning around.  She said “I want to go to Charleston.  We’re already out here.”  She had a point. I could have turned around… but I didn’t.

We sailing relatively well at that point going up and down the waves, and not getting slammed now, things somewhat smoothed out.  But JoAnne kept getting sick.  At some point I had to go below to check on something.  What it was, I don’t even remember now.  That’s when I started getting sick.  First time ever being “seasick”.  When we took a steep wave and most of the ocean washed over the foredeck and back to the cockpit coaming, it was at that point I thought “We should turn back…”.  But I didn’t.

I called Bentana to check in at 1230 as we’d planned.  They were “doing ok” and we all exchanged encouraging words.

By 1300, JoAnne was doing all she could to keep from throwing up, and I wasn’t.  It was my turn.  I got so sick I threw up for five solid minutes.  I think I nearly passed out from it.  I had heart surgery last year in May.  I still have pain in my ribs and back from where they cracked open my chest.  All my ribs crack like knuckles.  I think they all popped yesterday.  It was right about that moment in time I realized just how stupid this was.  I stopped and considered the situation carefully.  We could go on and we didn’t know the sea state would settle for sure, or we could go back, reverse course back through the washing machine, tides, current and winds all from different directions, we could heave too (we were about 8 miles out perhaps by then) and hope things settled.

At that moment, I made the “prudent” decision to turn around.  Finally.  All DAY I had not listened to my inner voice telling me “Today is not the day!”  Please note I called it a “Purdent Decision”.  It truly wasn’t a prudent decision.  It was a mistake to go out when I had thought it wasn’t a good day.  And to be clear I DO know weather conditions pretty well, and I wasn’t sure I was comfortable, but we were tired of being here, ready to go, ready to roll, get going, go somewhere else.  All the way around “prudence” was jumping up and down trying to be noticed and I was ignoring “her”.

I called Bentana and told JoAnne, Judy and Stephen at the same time we were headed back in.  I can’t bear to see JoAnne sick like that, and if something had happened to me she’d have been helpless at that point to do anything about it other than call for evacuation.  That wasn’t going to happen.

We rode the waves back in, partially under sail, trying to keep the winds right and give us some speed.  We made 4-5 knots back in, until the channel, where the waves were crossing us, and hitting the side of the boat.  Not that we had a LOT of choice in which way to go.  Shoals were coming up and waves were big, ships were headed out, and winds were still only 20 knots maybe.  Not enough to bother the boat.  It was the wave action that was sucking bad.

We passed three more, outgoing ships, I gave them wide berth and even used their wash to get into smoother waters for a bit.  That helped.  I had long since stopped being sick.  Nothing left.  JoAnne was settling down too I think by then.  I occupied her with helping watch for markers and ships.  (Hard to miss a ship, though, you really want to miss them….)

We hit the junction of Cape Fear River out going current, the incoming tide, let a giant cargo ship pass, and a tug pulling a barge, and I made it to the ICW cut headed back in with little difficultly.

The engine was still running so that was a good thing.

After we docked with help from Norm from the Marina, who was kind enough to stay on the dock until we arrived, Jay from Knot Working and the folks from the power yacht Chrysalis, I discovered the water pump running down below.  I killed the breaker assuming the worst.  A bit later, I discovered all the water in our main tank was pumped out (probably to sea) and the pump was running for awhile I guess.  I’m surprised it didn’t burn out.

This morning I heard Judy and Stephen got beat up pretty badly as well, Judy was also, apparently ill as well.  They made it as far as Georgetown.  Far short of Charleston.  I believe they said (JoAnne reported) they are on anchor now and resting, well and safe.

I have work to do on the water tank.  I’m going to extend our visit here at least a week.  I have work to do on the ship, repairs to make and I’m going to have a little chat with a few local business establishments around here…. because I came back to a message about my credit card being compromised (AGAIN) and five transactions for 17-28 bucks occurred yesterday in Raleigh, a good distance from here… but there are three suspects who could have used my number (having all three taken my card out of my sight to take a payment, or getting the number some other way).  The rest of the places I used it, the card was never out of my sight and they swiped it into a machine so they couldn’t have easily gained the information from the card).  I’m NOT happy about that happening either and if I discover for a fact who did it, there’s going to be consequences.  I HATE thieves and I won’t hesitate to take whatever action is required to prevent them from stealing again  (legal or otherwise given the right circumstances).

Today, JoAnne gets to relax her back and rest, I’m tearing things apart, making coffee and preparing for the cold weather coming.  We are discussing giving up and quitting, selling the boat, getting an RV, going back to Colorado defeated, going on down the ICW, or choosing better sailing days on the outside.

Stay tuned.  We will let you know what’s next.

Fair Winds!

Rick

Coinjock to Belhaven

Here are some notes I wrote the other day to put into the blog.  I’m just too lazy today to rewrite everything into a different set of notes.  But, it gives you an idea of my thinking a couple of days ago versus today.

Traveling

We departed early yesterday (Election Day, 8 November 2016) morning from Coinjock, at Midway Marina.

We dropped anchor at Tuckahoe Point, directly in front of the Alligator River-Pungo Canal entrance about 1525. JoAnne wrote “Anchor Down” at that time. We found 7-9 feet of water moving out of the channel to that particular spot. We spent the night on a quite anchor, occasionally hearing engines coming through the canal (I believe for the most part they were barges being push by tugs.

This morning (9 November 2016) we up anchored at about 0700. We went back down to the spot I’d entered the anchorage and we turned into the channel right after a barge went through past us in the channel.

Through out the trip we saw birds and occasional fish jumping. Did not run aground (that’s a good thing!) and managed to remain mostly in the center of the channel.

We were passed by mostly power boats, the majority of whom did not call us and ask, just usually blew past us leaving a large wake shaking us up pretty hard and usually before I get get the bow into the wake. A few called us. Every sailboat that passed (three I think) called us and requested permission, and asked which side to pass. A couple of power boats did the same thing, but generally the power vessels ignored us like we weren’t there.

One guy, who passed me as we entered into the very large area just out of the canal had been calling sailboat behind us all day, requesting permission to pass, and was polite all the way through. His boat name was “Trixie”. When he passed us, we had a very wide area and he didn’t need to call me, but I called him and told him to pass, and I’d slow for him. He thanked me and went on around with no wake. He was the largest boat we’d seen in the canal moving.

At Coinjock Marina the morning we pulled out, there was a very HUGE cruise ship sitting there I think called Independence. It was taking up 50% of the docks and honestly, I have no idea how they got in there or where they came from!

I have been checking the engine carefully either the night of the stop or morning before we pull out, and adding a tint bit of oil to keep it at the right level, and checking the belt, the bolt on the alternator, coolant levels and the fuel.

Tonight, we’re at about a 1/2 tank of fuel on one tank. Full on the other. We have good coolant. I’ll probably have to add a tad bit of oil in the morning.

I put up the enclosure tonight, cleaned the deck (mud from anchor), added gas to the generator and fired it up a bit ago so I can run the shortwave, and do this blog. We have no internet or phone service at all here, therefore I’m writing this “ahead” of being posted. I’ll post it as soon as I have service again.

Tomorrow, we will be doing a very short day and stopping in a small creek or river across the Neuse River (away from the “magenta line” and away from the crowd for the most part. A lot of people are heading south and the marinas and anchorages are getting filled quickly (the standard and well known anchorages). We’ve been looking for things slightly off the beaten path because then we don’t deal with dragging anchors and loud noises haha.

Tomorrow, we’re looking at two places. Either a very short run of about 25 statute miles or a 40-something run. I did not find a good anchorage at shorter distances.

I’ll write more later.

Now, is later…. so.

With plans to be out of here this morning I woke up early, and made coffee, JoAnne was putting things away and I went outside to take the trash and visit the head.  And then got to thinking.

Tonight it is supposed to rain.  And tomorrow, it’s supposed to rain all day where we will be on anchor.  And it’s pretty chilly and JoAnne is getting cold and can’t stay warm.  So, debating about getting 25 miles south of here to an anchorage where we sit all night and all day tomorrow in the rain with no internet connection, versus sitting on the dock an extra two days with electricity, wifi, access to showers, head, town (and I need to replace a propane tank) caused a quick discussion, and a go-over of the weather reports.

The final decision?  We didn’t leave.  We will wait out the chill and rain here on a dock until Tuesday.

Tuesday through Friday should be 60s (warmer than the frost last night for sure), no rain, plenty of sun, light winds (for crossing the next two large bodies of water) and we will have North West Winds on Tuesday for the Neuse River which should be pretty ok, since we will be motoring anyway.  The winds will be too light for us to sail starting today for the next week anyway.

So – comfort has been a major determining factor for us.  If it’s kicking up and good sailing weather, we’re ok with that, as long as it’s kicking up in the right directions.  Why go out and get our asses kicked trying to hold a course under sail when there are channels to worry about?

A friend asked me the other day, “In a do-over, would you chose a different boat?”

I believe at this point the answer is a resounding “YES”.

To travel the ICW in a full keel, deep draft sailboat isn’t fun or easy, and nothing about it has been simple.  I’ve had more white knuckle moments than sitting in a Jungle in Central America getting shot at caused me.  I could at least shoot back.  I can only adjust the sails in changing winds – which is great if you’re not constrained by the channel….

I’m certain that, somewhere down the line we will wind up sitting on an anchorage, in the wind, rain and hail or something and waiting out another weather condition.  So, why bother putting yourself in that situation?  When it comes right down to it, we’re honestly not in a huge hurry to go anywhere in particular.  We just want to eventually get someplace warm.

What is funny is, when I ask “Where are you headed?” to the other cruisers, all have the exact same response, “Someplace warm… south….”

We have met some very nice people so far along this part of the trip.  All of them save one or two are like us, first timers.  Many have only been at cruising for two or three months.  One person has been sailing forty years, but this is his first trip down the ICW.  Another retired a few weeks ago and started down.

In general, ALL of them have had almost the exact same thinking processes as we have.  Make a plan, get the plan in motion, move the boat south – and every one of them have had the same thoughts of “quitting”, going back home, the boat was wrong for the journey, and a host of other tid bits about this trip.

In other words, all of the people who’ve gone before us who had no issues probably had the same issues and they didn’t consider them to be “issues”, or just problems to be solved.  I think that is perhaps the best attitude.  Everything is a problem to be solved, and solving it is what comes to the forefront when dealing with moving the boat.

Whether it is plumbing, engine issues, alternator issues (as in our case), fuel problems, electronics malfunctions or simple failures, we all have the same problems with which to deal.  In my case, it seems like there are more problems to solve at once probably because I let them get to me and worry about them too much.

One problem we had was the charts we have.  For some reason, I don’t even recall why now, I picked up ALL the charts for the east coast.  And yet, did NOT pick up all the charts for the east coast.  I was missing a rather important set.  Florida and the Keys.  How I did that, I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I took one of the chart titles at it’s word and didn’t actually open it up and look inside until much later.

That chart (Maptech) says “Norfolk to Florida”.  I made a dumb assumption I suppose and thought it contained Florida charts.  Nope.  It should really have said “Norfolk to Florida: Not inclusive of Florida” haha.  Anway, I mentioned this and Judy Long and Stephen who were in Washinton offered to come and bring the chart.  When I said I didn’t want them to make a special trip, they said they were coming anyway.

Turns out, and I had not quite put the puzzle pieces together yet, Bentana, their boat is sitting nearby!  So they were coming to deal with some problems too, on their ship.  So we had a get together on our boat, with some wine and nibbles.  And they brought the missing chart for me.

I still need the one for the West Coast of Florida, but apparently Maptech is phasing them out now.  Everything is going digital.  Mark my words, that’s a BAD idea…. but that’s another discussion for another time.

Alright, time to get going to get some propane.  The hardware store opens at 1300 today.  I’ll take a golf cart into town (it’s four blocks, long ones, but I don’t want to carry that tank back all the way)!

Lastly, I’ve uploaded some images of things along the way.  Hope you enjoy the image dump!

Here’s some pictures of places along the way:

Sunset over Cole’s Point Marina before departure

ICW Canal

Norfolk Naval Station

Two very large ships… Aircraft Carriers (Don’t know which ones)

The same A/C carriers in the above picture, from Willoboughy Bay.  Adventure in the foreground.  We were aboard the s/v Acadia visiting and going over charts with Marcia and Jon

Behind us somewhere a couple of days ago

The Sailing Ketch Adventure in the back, Sailing Schooner Adventure in the front

Sailing Schooner Adventure

(Our neighbors one night)

The Great Bridge Lock

Great Bridge Lock, looking back

Taylor, from Atlantic Yacht Basin, Great Bridge

(Thanks for everything, Taylor!)

Me, JoAnne and the USS Sequoia – Presidential Yacht, Fishing Bay Marina

Some Right Piraty Looking Rigging

A visit to the Reedville area, and we discovered this ketch waiting for Kurt to come and get her in the water 🙂

Lo-Kee

Lo-Kee

Safe At Fishing Bay – Part Two

I sort of ended on a half thought out “thought” yesterday.

When we headed into the bay here yesterday, the wind was almost dead on the nose.  Once we cleared Windmill Point it slackened a bit, but not much.

Haul out:  Today… we got our haul out and clean.  The bottom was covered in barnacles and stuff.  Not too much slime as I think we peeled it off on the run down the Potomac River a couple days ago.  We managed almost, but not quite 7 knots under sail alone for most of that trip.  I was pretty impressed with the boat, even as dirty as her bottom turned out to be.  I think some of our speed issue yesterday was the prop being covered in barnacles as well.

They cleaned it, removed the wildlife, and some of the paint in the process.  Replaced a zinc on the prop (which was simply GONE. No idea when it came off, or where it might have gone to).  Rudder and prop looked good.  I checked all the through hulls for any damages, problems or barnacles in them, all were ok.

I was able to easily bring the boat from the dock we were on, diagonally across the channel to the lift slip, the guys grabbed the bow and held her while the wind shove the stern around, and they pulled me in backward.  Killed the engine climbed off and watch the lift, and even took pictures.

I just wish we were going to have paint put on before we leave but, not happening.  I’ll be doing the next cleaning myself when I dive the boat in the Bahamas I hope.

Tomorrow our mail should arrive, we’ll hit “town” once (I need a couple of things from West Marine and we need to hit the grocery store for small things), mail in our ballots, I’ll prep the boat for depature tomorrow afternoon after we do our running around, and we’ll back out of this slip early, round the bay, raise the sails and try to look competent for once. lol  (Can’t get stuck here except in two places, and I KNOW where they are.  I’ll avoid those at all costs).

Engine:  Had an electrical guy come in to help me trouble shoot what I thought was a problem.  The Alternator.

There was no problem with the Alternator.  My batteries… not so sure of them, but we’re going to watch them closely and see how they do.  They appeared properly charged, the alternator appeared to be sending voltage properly.

Alternator Belt:  Not so good. Over heated somehow.  Neither the mechanic, me, or the guy at NAPA could figure it out.  Probably too loose was the diagnosis.  I replaced the belt, bought a spare to replace the one I used (I’ve got three spares right now, might get a couple more though).  I did buy extra bolts to replace the one.  I need someone with a laser checker to determine of that stuff is out of kilter, but no one seems to have one, or know what I’m talking about.
Cleaned up the deck, coiled some lines I’d left hanging from the dinghy davits (I was in a hurry to escape from Reedville and didn’t take the time to mess with it, and fortunately, it wasn’t in my way, and I ignored it, otherwise we’d have missed the time yesterday to get in here before the place closed shop for the evening).

Cruising and Pretending to Be Cruisers:  I have begun to suspect the other cruisers out there.  So many talk about minor issues, going from place to place like they are teleporting down from the USS Enterprise on an Away Mission, and going back to the ship with no problems.  Rarely do I see real “problems”.  Although, a few do write up their problems, I’ve also noted a distinct and at times ridiculous ability of others to put down those actually “doing it”.

Basically, the reason I write this blog is to document (for our family) the trials and tribulations we go through just to move the boat from one place to the next.  I’ve figured out that EVERYTHING is difficult, and sometimes impossible to do – but we’re here to do the “impossible”.  My wife and I have performed the impossible in our jobs, our lives, our daily existence and we’ll continue, I suppose to do so until we can’t any more.

But I guess what I don’t like in the cruising community isn’t the cruisers.  It’s not the boats.  It’s not the travel.  It’s not the places we go, people we meet, or the stuff we get to do. Instead it’s the online Forums.  I used to frequent several of them as we were learning.  I thought in my naivety that people were helpful (and indeed PEOPLE are helpful, outside, in person, on other boats, in marinas, walking by, standing on docks).  The people who are unhelpful are those who also frequent those same forums I was frequenting.

I have yet to meet ONE of the people (who sometimes came off as obnoxious assholes on the forum) in person.  I wonder then where these “cruisers” are?  At home?  In a nice warm home, sitting by the fireplace with their tablets talking down to the people who are actually out there?  Probably.

Now, a few months ago I wrote up our problems in a marina in Norfolk.  I even clearly stated I didn’t have any problems with the PEOPLE there, and they were wonderful, but the problems we encountered were inside that marina, most all of them were the result of others’ actions.  With the except of my wife falling off a dock (which they had placed a boat on we were going to visit, the dock being partially disassembled and probably too dangerous anyway, but we CHOSE to walk there… but I digress).  Asking them to do things, expecting a good job and then paying for the services performed is normal in ALL walks of life and a marina is NO different.

I made a couple of enemies over that blog post and it’s still bugging me a bit.  The REASON it bugs me is the one lady is a cruiser, an accomplished cruiser, smart lady but she took my blog post as an attack.

I’m making it clear here and today, my blog, my posts, my words are mine.  This blog is about what happens to JoAnne and I and our boat, Adventure.  It’s NOT about anyone else’s experiences.  It’s NOT about putting down or ridiculing others.  It’s about making SURE that anyone that reads this blog can see what experience WE had.

Take it as you wish, a story, a warning, or simply a blog post.  But, I don’t accept rude comments in the comment section, and I’ll block you on Facebook if you attack me in that mode over something I’ve posted here.  I tell the truth about what we have had happen to us.  Period.

Don’t like it, don’t read it.

The header says “Cruisers and Pretending to be Cruisers” for a reason.  There are people who I know sit at home and post insulting messages all the time on some of the more “popular forums” online.  That is the reason I walked away from them.  I still check from time to time for information, but even on Facebook now, I’ve stopped offering help.  I’m a radio guy.  Electronics tech and later engineer.  My expertise is in building, maintaining and repairing systems – complex systems.  And yet, one guy told me how “stupid” I was about radio antennas. I just laughed and moved on (I’ve designed and built a dozen different antennas, I’m an Amateur Extra Class ham operator, I held a Third, Second and First Class Radio Telephone license over the years, I spent eight years as a Senior Radio Tech for the White House.  I know my stuff, I don’t tolerate people calling me stupid when it comes to radio and electronic theory).  But that incident occurred not ONCE, but three or four times over the years on similar subjects because people are NOT educated in electronics and claim they are.  But they continue to pass on “Myths” as truths.

Therefore, I no longer assist people when they spout this kind of stuff.  If they want to listen to “Free Advice” from the local yokel on the forum who is spouting nonsense or the “Free Advice” from a profession (I’m not asking anyone to pay for the information I provide), so be it.  Good luck not getting electrocuted, or RF burns.

A lot of the issues we run into daily are things no one really mentioned (some cruisers write books and I do see where we ALL go through the same learning curves).  But there are a LOT of people who go out on weekends, travel down the Bay, turn around and go home and that is certainly “cruising”.  But, they go back home to their home, their job, the rat race and sit down at their computer and pooh pooh things some of us have to ask about.  It’s insulting for them to do it.

Lately, Facebook and some of the forums there have degenerated to the same degree.  I’m sincerely saddened by the people who feel it more fun to attack others for “being stupid”, insult them by calling them names, tell them how dumb they were to “do this or that”, and never give an honest opinion of what THEY did to get around similar problems.

Ok… I guess that’s enough for my rant.   I guess I needed to vent.  Now, WHY did I write all that?

An insulting comment I deleted without even reading the whole thing.  It started, “Smart people wouldn’t have gotten stuck…” and went on from there about my blog post yesterday.

All I can say is some people are assholes and really, honestly, need to get a life.

Presidential Yacht:  As I mentioned, I spent eight years at the White House doing communications for President Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  During that time I flew on Marine One, Air Force One, Air Force Two and was even on a couple of boats in Kennebunkport, ME with Bush Sr. doing my job.  In all that time I never saw the Presidential Yacht.  As it turns out, I saw it last year when we passed through here and didn’t realize it.

Yesterday I happened to look again, and thought I was looking at a house being built.  Turns out, it’s the USS Sequoia, sitting on a rail ramp and she’s been sitting here for a couple of years.  JoAnne spent some time looking up the boat and found out some fascinating information about the boat.  Hoover bought it, Kennedy and other Presidents rode on it, met heads of states, and Carter sold it.  A lot of other Presidents have been on it since it was sold.  It’s currently the object of a lawsuit and fight over ownership.  It’s also a National Monument.  Hope they get it worked out someday.

This is a plaque on the starboard side on a door.  It was too high up for me to read it.

The stern, you can see she is made from wood, and is dire need of work.

Name plate on the stern

The smoke stack on the top, Presidential Seal, name (USS Sequoia).  Sorry for the poor image quality, but that’s my phone.  My real camera is on the blink.

Here’s a shot of the starboard side.  She’s 105′ long according to the research we did today.  The US Navy used to station sailors on this ship to run her.  Carter sold her off under some “saving money” pretense apparently.  It appears that never happened with the government. 🙂

Fishing Bay Marina:  This is a WONDERFUL marina.  It is unlike any we’ve been in so far, with the possible exception of the Kona Kai on Shelter Island, San Diego.  The people are helpful, FAST, accurate, do what they say, and it’s not horribly expensive.  And we don’t have a lot of experience getting things fixed at Kona Kai. lol

They were prompt and efficient here, answered all my questions, sent a mechanic and electrician immediately this morning, pulled my boat, cleaned it and put her back with no issues.  I’ll HIGHLY recommend this place.  However, be aware coming in, it’s quite a distance in from Chesapeake Bay, and there’s a rather circuitous route to get here.

Fishing Bay is large and you can put a large number of boats at anchor.  There were at least seven or eight out there today, some as large as us.  One catamaran was considerably larger than us in all directions.  The fuel dock is easy to access, and is a long, fixed dock so you can roll right up and tie off.  All the posts and pilings have plastic built-in fenders.  In fact putting out fenders just gets in the way here.  All of the docks I’ve seen are fixed.

The bathrooms are large, clean and have showers (3 in women’s, 2 in men’s). Ladies get a hair dryer, most of the guys seem bald that I’ve met lately…haha.  There’s a “Captain’s Lounge” with radio, TV, CD player, books and games, Laundry (one dryer, one washer), Pool (closed now), grill (propane), covered patio.  Next door is the boat yard.  Courtesy bicycles and car.  The BEST part are the people.  The owner (I think) is Jon Farinholt, the folks in the office, were awesome, helpful and nice.  The boat yard is run by Jon’s brother, Lee.  The mechanic was great, the electrician was named Rick and was helpful. (Side note, in the space of thirty minutes today, I met no less than FIVE “Ricks” around the place, and heard at least one other guy from a boat called “Rick” besides me.  RICK is a pretty cool name, if I say so myself).

So – there’s my answer to “Cobb’s Marina” in Norfolk.  It wasn’t a BAD place, but the showers sucked, it’s a working yard, dirty, noisy and if you like that sort of thing, great.  No pool, the folks were ok, but they rarely had a smile for you, didn’t really want to talk to you and I stand by my original report of the place.

By the way…. if you’ve not run aground while cruising… either you’re really new at it, you’ve gotten lucky, or you’re lying.  Even very smart people do it.  It happens.  Especially when you look at the charts and it’s not marked as shallow.  Good luck

Rain today

Yep.  A lot of it.  Started dripping about 2:45 this morning so I climbed up on deck and secured things, closed the covers on the hatches, closed hatches, check the weather, it was hours out yet.

At about 0800 this morning it started and has been raining off an on until now (10:45 or so Monday morning, 19 September).

I have been keeping a tarp over the deck to keep the sun from beating down on the boat and heating it up, and apparently that has helped with some leaks on the starboard side.  Since I had moved the tarp the last few days to do work and didn’t put it back, I have found one of the major leaks inside.  It’s coming down above the refrigeration unit, starboard side, along one of the large angle pieces holding up a beam inside.  I went out in the pouring rain to look and see where it might be coming from but only accomplished getting soaked to the skin, and moving the tarp a bit.  Seems to have slowed the leak, but I really need to figure that one out.  I suspect it has something to do with the coaming in the cockpit, but not sure yet.

There’s a teak cap surrounding it, and it might be leaking there.  If so, a lot of water is probably in there.  I’ll eventually have to pull that all off and examine it.  Everything is solid though, nothing squishy.  And there are also the fine, alligator cracks in the surface of the deck up there which need filling as well.  I suppose those could be leaking as well.

The rain wasn’t a pounding, windy rain, just a nice, steady downpour for the last 45 minutes.  Fortunately, I was here to sop up the drips everywhere.  But, one more thing to look over carefully.  I’ve mostly sealed the port-lights, I still have a couple that need help.  I also need to remove, sand and varnish the main hatch and the vee berth hatches, reseal around the forward anchor box (it’s another hatch that goes right down to the vee berth).  And a little paint on some trim, but those are minor issues.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled for a haul out, zinc check and a paint job.  I decided that even though the last painting was a little over a year ago, we’re headed for the Bahamas soon and I want to not have to worry too much about anything other than scraping the hull.

JoAnne and I will spend the 3-4 days in a local cabin, because she’s really not ready to climb up and down a tall ladder yet.  I’ll be over at the boat fixing some dings in the fiberglass that came from somewhere in our travels, and trying to clean the brown stains from the port side of the boat.

A few days ago our new, manual pump toilet came and I replaced the forward head.  It was a Jabsco electric, apparently a refit, from an older pump head.  I removed the whole thing as it was pretty old and just tossed it after checking the motor, it was burned out, and there was a dead short in it.  So, we now have a regular toilet which no longer pumps into the holding tank, and a composting toilet.  Right now, the forward head is more of a closet than anything so we won’t be using it much anyway.  Maybe we can empty out the head on passages and use it off shore, but I am getting rid of that nasty holding tank as soon as I can (in the next year probably).

The other two things I did, were to finish about 90% of the teak.  I still need to do the port side rub rail up to the name plate and finish the aft part of the boat’s rub rail on the starboard side.  Also need to paint the name plates on the bow and add the name there as well.

And I got the mizzen sail back in place.  Two weeks ago, Marty (former manager of the marina we’re in, just before he decided he didn’t want to work here any more for some reason) helped get that halyard repaired and in place.  He, Pete and Greg did most of the work, I supplied the tools, strings, rope, tape and whatever else we needed.  I don’t think I will go up a mast ever due in part to my heart surgery, and due to the fact I’m terrified of being that high up counting on a simple rope, winch and my upper body strength.

Mizzen sail went up easily, and the furler worked fine after the sail had been cleaned and repaired.  I tested furling and unfurling and it went easily.  Should NOT have trouble sailing now. I hope.

Almost every major job I had on my list is done, except zincs, paint and leaks, but leaks seem to be on-going.  Fix one, find another.  Nothing is dangerous though, so I’ll fix them as I can or plug bad ones. haha.  So far they are just annoying, not dangerous.

I expect, on anchor to have a tent up over the main boom in the islands for heat deflection so leaks will not be an issue in rains.  I just didn’t have it set up right when this rain came. We got a few drips from Hermine when it came through, but, the tarp was in place then.

Right now, we’re considering going to the boat show in Annapolis in the beginning of October, but probably not.  Neither one of us are thrilled about driving up, spending the money and looking around at things we can’t really afford and don’t actually need anyway.  Honestly, the ONLY thing at this point I’d consider it a new radar system since ours doesn’t work.  I likely won’t even use it for anything except weather anyway.  We have no major “Needs” and likely fewer “wants” at this point except food, and a wind generator.  That’s a “Really Want” item, and we can likely do without it, but I’ll be happier if we have it.  And JoAnne’s only really “want” is a water maker.

We have an emergency/survival one, a hand pumped device I’ve not tested yet.  But that is a ditchbag thing.  I won’t use it unless we’re in critical need of water and no rain in the near future.

So, over all, we’re just about ready to pull out of here and head south again.

The trip should take us through portions of the ICW to Beaufort, NC.  We’ll make some decisions there to either sail outside part way, or simply take a five day sail over and south.  If we can get comfortable on a couple overnights going out, we should easily be able to do a 5-6 sail with food and water.  We need to get over that hurdle sooner or later anyway.

Since the rain is still coming down, there’s not much I can do outside.

Fair winds, until next time!