Thursday, November 29, 2012

South toward Morehead City

We headed south out of Hampton to make our path through Norfolk. The area is inundated with Navy ships being worked on. We probably past 5 aircraft carriers in various states of disrepair. Getting through Norfolk requires passing through and under a string of bridges.The bridges have restricted opening times. We managed to show up at two different bridges 2 minutes late, just to have the bridge tender close the bridge on us and make us wait a full hour to get the next opening. Not sure these tenders like the pleasure crafters.
Next up was the Great Bridge Locks. It’s a simple, low stress lock to get through. This is about as far as we got the first day – spent the night at the free long dock just past the Great Bridge.
Next day we motored down past Coinjock and anchored just outside Broad Creek. We anchored outside the creek cause we couldn’t figure a way in with our 6.5ft draft. This is a picture of the sunrise at anchor.
The sunrise picture may look pretty, but check out the ICE on the decks. The water temperature when we left the Chesapeake was 50*F.
After doing some research with the local SeaTow operators (AAA of the Sea), we figured out that we could not make it under the last bridge on the Alligator River. This is the normal pass south on the ICW. Problem is the bridge was designed to have a 65 foot clearance like the other bridges on the Atlantic ICW – turns out it was built to 64 feet. Georgia’s mast is 64ft 3in- measuring to the tip of the last piece of hard stuff up there. I could take off some parts and get us a 1/2 foot or better. The SeaTow captain said he worries a lot with anything over 63ft 6in under that bridge. There’s no real tide in that area, but the water depth changes based on the direction of the winds.
The alternative pass is to go along he east side of Roanoke Island, just inside the Hatteras Outer Banks. This passage has one true 65ft bridge. It also has a dredged channel that is charted as very shallow. I talked to the local SeaTow operator in the area and he said its all fine except between marks 36 and 30. Here he said “there was a chance we could get our 6.5ft draft through, but if we get stuck, call him”. We carefully analyzed our choices and picked one randomly. The Outer Banks won. The trip was fairly uneventful except for the two times we grounded, in the channel. These were both past the ‘dangerous’ area in the ‘deep’ channel, but across from the Oregon Inlet. At least it’s all sand.
icwIMG_1685 The Oregon Inlet Lighthouse from the inside. Looks like she is getting a dress fitted.

When we finally got out of all the narrow channels and into the open waters of Pamlico Sound we started to relax a bit. Of course the two ferries that cross this body of water decided to simultaneously point at us at the same time. I called up the east bound ferry (the lollipop on the right) on channel 13VHF and asked him if he was comfortable with our CPA (Closest Point of Approach). In a friendly southern accent he said “No, keep your course and speed and I’ll take your stern”. So did the other. Then we were back to empty waters. Tonight we are in a fairly open anchorage in the middle of nowhere. Tomorrow, off to Oriental, NC.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks

We rented a car and drove 6 hours down to Spartanburg, SC, to spend Thanksgiving with brother John and Lisa, their daughter Hazel and Lisa’s Mom. They recently moved into a new house on the golf course. Delila, the official house dog, took us for a walk along the golf cart track.
The new house is just off one of the fairways – hence the draw full of golf balls recovered from yard.
Their other daughter Rebecca decided to call in over Skype
And offer a complete trial-by-fire for her boyfriend by introducing him to the parents over Skype. If nothing else, he was a good sport.
After we got back from our road trip to SC, we decided to get off the boat, throw out the list of stuff that still had to be done before we left Gloucester Point and go check out some of the Revolutionary War history in the area. It was one of those crystal clear, cold autumn days you get before winter sets in- perfect for some sight-seeing. We headed across the river to Yorktown. Took a quick look around and drove past the old houses and taverns. Then we headed off to Williamsburg, travelling along the York River on the Colonial Highway. This was the old original capital of Virginia, founded in 1632. Patrick Henry made a big stand here. But after Governor Thomas Jefferson decided to move the capital to Richmond, Williamsburg pretty quickly fell into disrepair. Slowly being rebuilt from the old foundations as a living piece of history. We enjoyed playing tourist on our last day, been wanting to do it all summer!
The governor's palace. Filled with firearms for the local militia- think 2nd Amendment.
Apparently no one told this guy they’d moved the capital.
The smithy’s shop- making hinges to reconstruct local buildings
Speaking of giving thanks. The York River Yacht Haven ( has been a really good place to hang for much of the summer and work on the boat. Decent prices, good chandlery, great space for canvas work, nice restaurant and really friendly staff. They welcome anchor-outs in Sarah Creek too.
We left York River this morning and had a glassy calm motor down the Chesapeake and past Hampton Roads into the Hampton River. We stopped at the Hampton Yacht Club expecting to get a reciprocal freebie slip for the night. Not to be – they don’t like us West Coast yachties. So we paid for a slip as they are right next door to North Sails where we had to pick up our recut solent jib. The Hampton North staff are very cruiser friendly and did a good job on the sail at a reasonable price, including some generous help with the construction of our new stack-pack for the mainsail. Check them out- North Sails Hampton -if you need sail work done.
Tomorrow we are off to head through the Great Neck Locks and down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) on our way to Moorehead City, NC.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We Hauled the Boat Yesterday – Twice!

To finish up installing new instruments and electronics on Georgia we needed to do a quick haul to take out the old speed/temperature through-hull fitting and replace it with a new fitting that takes a transducer for speed/depth/temperature. Georgia’s bottom was really fairly ugly looking – kind of like a blooming algae garden topped off with small oysters. The anti-fouling bottom paint was only 5 months old. The stuff the previous owner (PO) put on is pretty useless – Aquaguard. When I talked to the Petit paint rep at the Annapolis boat show about what I should be using on the bottom, he referred to the Aquaguard as a low-cost starter paint. After a good pressure wash and some scraping Georgia didn’t have a smooth babies-butt, but she was able to strut her stuff with some pride.
I had the yard do the work on the through-hull (for the speed, depth, temperature gauges) because I didn’t have a drill big enough to drill the old one out (through that thick Outbound hull!) and I figured they would do the change while the boat hung in the Travel Lift slings, making the haul cheaper than if she had to be blocked and set on the ground. After we dropped her back in the water the winds were piping up to 18+kts. We wanted to go stern first into our slip, so Ralph, one of the yard guys, came along to help us back into slip. It was a less than glorious entry in the cross winds requiring some quick line handling by the trusty crew. We finally got her tied off and snugged in. I went down below to check the bilge for any leaks from the new through-hull. Sure enough – it was leaking away. So off we went for another haul and some rebedding. The second rebedding appears watertight – a good thing. Not leaking is one of the keys to cruising: Keep the water out, the mast pointing up, and the captain and crew onboard. The second time backing her into the slip was a little more graceful; practice makes perfect, or at least a little closer to perfect.
Going back into the water in on a windy, cold and sunny Chesapeake day – the second time.
The view from the lift
The fall view of the Virginia country side next to the boat yard
We’ve been working on a ton of other projects too. Here’s the first test fit for the new mainsail StackPack that Chris built. This should make handling the big main a lot a easier for the old, worn out crew.
Here I am heading to the mast head, 64ft above the water, to take off the old wind instruments and install new ones. Always a fun job.
Looks like we’ve finally decided to take out the Jello pan and recast our plans. We’re going to stay in York River till after Thanksgiving. We’ve rented a car and will drive the 6 hours down to Spartanburg, SC and have Turkey-Day with my brother and sister-in-law, John and Lisa. Then we’ll head back to Virginia and take off on Monday. We need to head to Hampton (near Norfolk) and stop for the night behind the North Sails loft to pick up the working jib that they are converting from hanked-on to roller furling. Then we’ll take a few days and go down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Moorehead City, NC. This way we avoid going around Cape Hatteras in the late fall. From Moorehead we’ll head outside, and probably stop in at Charleston. Then outside again and head to Brunswick, GA or Jacksonville, FL. There we can catch up with our sister-in-law Mary. If time permits, we’ll then head to St Augustine to check it out. About this time Chris has another job in Zambia for about 10-days. Me, I’ll do some finish up jobs on the boat while she’s gone. Then probably down to Ft Lauderdale to say Hi to my Dad. Then out to the Bahamas for some snorkeling and cruising – no boat projects – except what breaks on the way. After that we  will most likely head south through the Windward passage west of Cuba down to Cartagena, Colombia, then back to the San Blas Islands in Panama. And finally a Canal transit back to the Pacific side.
I wrote all this down just so I could go back in a in a few months to see how unrealistic it was to plan that far head.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Caribbean XMAS Rum Cake

Just saw this recipe on a cruisers board and thought it needed some better exposure
   Caribbean RUM Christmas Cake recipe: 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 cup water, 1 tsp. salt , 1 cup brown sugar, Lemon juice, 4 large eggs, Nuts, 1......bottle Rum, 2 cups dried fruit.
   Sample a cup of Rum to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the Rum again to be sure it is of the highest quality then Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point, it is best to make sure the Rum is still OK. Try another cup just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy. Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
    Pick the fruit up off the floor, wash it and put it in the bowl a piece at a time trying to count it. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit getas stuck in the beaterers, just pry it loose with a drewscriver Sample the Rum to test for tonsisticity. Next, sift 2 cups of salt, or something. Check the Rum. Now shit shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the Rum and wipe the counter with the cat.