Our mission -- Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enter .. OOPS, sorry, I got carried away. Let me start again.

Our mission -- Warm Waters and Great Weather: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Motor Vessel Traveling Soul. Its five-year mission: to explore strange warm waters, to seek out new forms of recreation and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Brown, Applegate or Higgins has gone before.

Friday, December 21, 2012

To Fernandina and Beyond (17 Nov - 21 Dec)

You will probably remember that in my last entry I was complaining when the temperature was 41 degrees in Deltaville, VA. In Charleston, it got up to 70 degrees occasionally. Once in a while, though, it got downright chilly. So what do you do when you are on a boat and cold? You head south of course. We are now in east central Florida enjoying the sunshine. But how did we get here? Well, that is the story I’ll cover here.

I am not going to say much about our time in Charleston. For me it consisted of the following: Traveling to and from northern VA so I could see my various doctors. In case you are interested, it is 518 miles and two McDonalds stops between Charleston and Woodbridge, VA. If you think that’s bad (and it is), remember my foot is in a cast; that means Ann had to do all the driving. Of course she had the benefit of my wonderful company, but 518 miles is a long way, wonderful company or not. When not traveling back and forth, I spent a lot of time on the boat (we had cable … on the boat … Yes!) in part because our slip was so far from the parking lot. Walking over ½ mile on crutches is not a pleasant experience so I ended up as something of a stay-on-boat cruiser. Ann had a chance to go a few places with our friend Sharon from Finally Fun. I know they went shopping a couple of times (I saw the credit card receipts) and to at least one Christmas concert.  Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the third thing I did was to enjoy the company of our friends Sharon and Andy. Well Ann, Sharon Andy and I enjoyed cocktails on more than one occasion and dinner on a few. Yes, hobbling ½ mile on crutches is a pain in the %$^*, but if it ends in a good dinner in a wonderful Charleston restaurant … well, maybe I can stand the pain (he says with a pretend grimace on his face).

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “enough about Charleston, how did you get to West Palm?” Good question! The reason it is a good question is because – well, what can I say, therein lies the story!

Because of doctor’s appointments, we had already made our plane reservations to leave West Palm Beach Florida on 23 December. Using my patented backward planning technique, that meant we had to be in West Palm by the 22nd. If we went on the ICW it would have been 551 miles, which at 70 miles per day (about a 9-hour day for us), would have taken nearly 8 days.  That meant we would have had to leave Charleston one day after returning from a different doctor’s appointment. (See how these appointments get in the way of living?) Anyway, I had recently read about a couple in a power boat like ours who went outside for 72 straight hours – and I knew that long distance sail boaters do it all the time. Suddenly it occurred to me (duh!) that, while I was not willing to try 72 hours, I was certainly willing to go for 24; which would save us almost three days. We talked about our evolving plan with our friends Sharon and Andy – who were also headed south and who, having been to Grenada and back, had much more experience that we did on traveling at night. They agreed to go with us as our “Buddy Boat.”
Our Buddy Boat, Finally Fun, between a red buoy
and a major container ship.

Okay we were set. We got the boat ready for ocean running (basically we strapped down anything that could move) and checked the weather every day for the week leading up to our departure. The weather looked good; for the whole week 5-10 knot winds were forecast and 2-3 foot waves. As we drew closer to our departure day, the forecast changed, but only slightly. On Sunday night (the night we would be at sea), the winds were scheduled to change direction and the seas were forecast to be 3-4 feet. We could definitely handle all of this, so at 0800 on Sunday the 16th, off we went. We were in the lead with Finally Fun about ¼ of a mile behind us.

The MOL Premium -- about 200 yards away.
It would get even closer
Our start wasn’t that auspicious. As we were heading out of the Charleston Inlet, a ginormous container ship fell in right behind us and indicated that he was going to pass. We squeezed over to the side of the channel as far as we could without running aground and held our breaths. Well, let me tell you, when one of these ships pass you and is moving at maybe 15 knots, and you are only about 100 yards away, you definitely get rocked by its wake.  We heard a lot of clattering in the galley and were expecting the worst, but it turns out that only Ann’s knives had fallen on the floor. Whew! Every time we go out to sea we learn something new. This time is was to secure the knives better.

The rest of the day was uneventful. The winds were fairly calm, the seas were only 2-3 feet – as forecast – and we had a very smooth ride. Then came the night.

Now I have seen black before, but I am not sure I have seen it THAT black. It was as black as a witch’s heart (see how literate I can be?) and you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. Of course, we had the radar running all night and ships at sea are supposed to have some lights on, but I must admit that the blackness made it a bit scary! It was helpful, however, to be able to look backwards and see Finally Fun and know that if a ship containing the “Pirates of the Caribbean” appeared, at least someone would be able to report on our fate.  A little later a sliver of a moon appeared, but it wasn’t much and didn’t provide much light.
Off into the sunset!

I kept the helm for most of the night, but about midnight I asked Ann if she would take over so I could get a little shuteye. She did a great job so I felt comfortable laying down and dozing in and out of consciousness for about two hours – enough to recharge my batteries. While I was been resting the seas had picked up to about 3-4 feet (again, as forecast) and the ride was a little bumpier, it wasn’t too bad and we have definitely been out in worse, but it was bumpier.
All was well until about 0500 when I felt the need for a catnap and asked Ann to take over for about a half hour. Man, that nap felt good! When I awoke we were approaching the entrance to St, Mary’s Inlet which is the inlet leading to Fernandina Beach. It had taken us about 22 hours, two hours less than we thought it would. (We had believed that Finally Fun wouldn’t be able to go much more than 8 knots (8.8 MPH). We must have had some following seas or something because she easily kept us with our 9+ knots – putting us at Fernandina two hours before planned. ) The problem now was that it was still dark. Now if we were old pros we would have said “damn the darkness, full speed ahead.” But having a little more sense than that, I called Finally Fun and told them I was going to turn around, retrace our route for a half hour or so, and wait until it was lighter.

We followed Finally Fun into the inlet at about 0715 and headed to the fuel dock. We had done it! We had completed our first night run. Although we were proud of ourselves we were a little beat. We weren’t finished, though. Andy and Sharon’s destination was Jacksonville Beach, about 30 miles down the ICW. So, we followed them the rest of the way, pulled into our slip at Beach Marine and crashed (not into the dock, but into our bed). A little while later we went out to eat with Andy and Sharon and wished them fair winds and following seas. They are staying in Jacksonville Beach for a while then are heading back to St. Pete, on the other side of the state. Meanwhile, we had to get going the next day as we were still on a tight schedule. We had to travel  80 miles on Tuesday.

Before I forget, let me tell you why we refueled at Fernandina Beach. Florida Consolidated Petroleum runs a fuel station there that sells diesel at almost $1 less than we paid in Charleston. Now that is a bargain! We took on as much as we could – we are now as close to our 700 gallon capacity as we have ever been.

On the three successive nights we anchored in Daytona Beach and Cocoa Beach (where I rendered that salute to your dad, Fergie), and took a $12 mooring ball at Vero Beach. I know, I know, they all have “Beach” in them and sound really cool. But we were on a mission. We didn’t get ashore anywhere though we would have liked to. Ann, in particular, wanted to get into town while we were at Vero Beach. Remember the world’s best lobster rolls? She sure does!
Ann's frolicking dolphins. Maybe our best dolphin picture yet.
Although we spent most of our time plodding ahead, there was one bright spot along the way. I am sure Ann will talk about it below, but we saw lots and lots of dolphins. Moreover, we had several groups of dolphins frolicking in our wake.


We were going to stay one night in Vero Beach, then be on our way to Lake Park Harbor Marina. Well, the weather turned on us so we decided to wait one more day here at Vero. I have no doubt that we could have braved the “rough” ICW today and made it to Lake Park, but why should we? Tomorrow conditions are supposed to improve to “choppy” with a little less wind. I am going to try and get this into the ether today so I am not so pressed tomorrow. You will just have to trust me; I am sure we will make it the rest of the way.

ANN’S NOTES:    It seems like a long time since I have made an entry in our blog and so much has been happening. I think Michael gave a rather good overview on what we have been doing. Yes we did spend many hours in the car driving back and forth from VA to SC. Glad that little, almost 13 year old Miata, still had some miles left in her… who knew? We also spent time in doctor’s offices, Michael as the patient and me learning advanced wound care. Thank heaven I am a CNA and not very squeamish. After working eight year in Hospice, I have seen wounds and that helped me deal with Michael is going thru.

We did have a good time in Charleston even if the boat was docked so far away. I must agree that it was a hike to the parking lot and it did make Michael feel rather boat bound. We were happy to see our friends Sharon and Andy. Sharon is such a good friend, we went to the commissary at the air force base and to the base exchange, and also made a run to Traders Joes. I did go to a concert in the Circular Church built in 1681. The concert was called “The Sound of Charleston” and was the history of Charleston through music and song. All the performers were local and were very talented. I enjoyed myself very much and only wish Michael could have been at my side.

Our first 24 hour trip in the Atlantic was exciting and a little unnerving. I had to learn to trust the auto pilot and radar. It really was pitch black outside, but the stars were beautiful. The sky was so clear and bright, it looked like a chart of the constellations you would buy in a book store. Now I want to learn more about the night sky. The universe is amazing, vast and oh so beautiful. I also learned that if you watch a radar screen a long time, the little bleeps inside the circle start to look like changing alien faces. Just saying … the lack of sleep can do weird things to your brain.

Now for the much anticipated Wildlife report…

Mon 13 Nov 2012
Bay River NC
Pod of 6
Tue 14 Nov 2012
Newport River NC
2 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3
Morehead City Channel NC
1 Pod of 9
3 Single
Bogue Sound NC
1 Pod of 4
Queens Creek NC
1 Pod of 10
Wed 15 Nov 2012
ICW/ Wrightsville Beach NC
6 Single
Carolina Beach NC
1 Pod of 12 Played in our wake
Thurs 16 Nov 2012
N. Myrtle Beach SC
2 Single
Wacamaw River SC
Friday 17 Nov 2012
Murphy Island SC
1 Pod of 6
Awendaw Creek SC
1 Pod of 5
1 single
Bull Creek SC
Charleston Harbor SC
7  Singles
Friday 30 Nov 2012
Ashley Marina Charleston SC
8 Singles
Sun 9 Dec 2012
Ashley Marina Dock
1 Single followed me down the length of the dock … so exciting!
Friday 14 Dec 2012
Ashley Marina
5 Single
Sun 16 Dec 2012
Charleston Harbor SC
2 Pods of 2
2 Pods of 4
3 Single
Atlantic Ocean
2 Pods of 4
1 Pod of 5
1 Pod of 10
1 Pod of 15
1 Following our wake
Mon 17 Dec 2012
Fernandina Beach FL to Jacksonville FL /ICW
3 Pods of  2
2 Pods of 4
4 Singles
Tue 18 Dec 2012
Jacksonville FL to Daytona Beach FL/ ICW
5 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3
2 Very Playful
8 Singles
1 Splashing in and out of our wake
Wed 19 Dec 2012
Daytona Beach to Cocoa Beach FL/ICW
1 Pod of 6 Playing in the wake
3 Pod of 2 Playing next to the boat
2 Pods  of 3
2 pods of 2
5 Singles
1 Very Playful
Thur 20 Dec 2012
Cocoa Beach FL to Vero Beach FL/ICW
2 Pods of 2
1 Pod of 3  Playing in our wake
1 Pod of 4
1 Pod of 3 ( one with a tattoo on his dorsal fin 92H)
Mom and baby playing in our wake
2 Pods of 2 Playing next to the boat
9 singles
2 singles Playing


As you can see I keep very busy counting, watching, admiring, and talking to dolphins. They really are wonderful to watch. When they play in our wake they are so close to to side of our boat you can see their eyes. If you talk to them, they will roll sideways as if listening to what you are saying. They are such a wonder to see in the wild. I feel a true connection to them.

I want to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year…

Thank you for following us…

Traveling Soul….OUT

Monday, November 26, 2012

Down the ICW (10 - 17 November)

Do you really want to know why we should have gone south three weeks ago? On 7 November 2012, in Deltaville, VA, it was 41 flippin’ degrees outside, that’s why! Since we moved onto the boat last year, I have probably worn long pants MAYBE 10 times. It was so cold in Deltaville that I actually had to go buy a wool sweat suit. And other than the three days I spent convalescing in northern VA, I wore it just about every day until we left. In fact, the only thing that has kept me going for the past several days was the sure and certain knowledge that by Sunday 18 November we would be in Charleston, SC. And today, Charleston was 70 degrees!

“Wait a minute,” you must be thinking, “did he say Charleston? How in the hell can a guy on crutches, who’s wearing a cast, even think he is going to captain a vessel as magnificent as Traveling Soul all the way to Charleston?” Hey c’mon, ain’t you heard of peg leg pirates? I am better off than they are as most of my leg is okay, it’s just one little tendon that is causing a problem.
I think the best format for this entry is to go chronologically. First, I need to catch you up.

Our second mate (Tim) preparing to take on the anchoroing responsibilities.
You might remember that we couldn’t get out of Deltaville initially because the boat repairs had not been completed; then we couldn’t get out because of Hurricane Sandy; then we couldn’t get out because I re-injured my Achilles. Well, on Thursday, 8 NOV we drove from Deltaville to Northern VA to see my doctor. On Friday the 9th we shanghaied our son, Timothy, and brought him back to Deltaville so he could serve as the second mate on M/V Travelling Soul. Usually, of course, we don’t need a second mate as Ann and I pretty much have our routines down pat: Basically I maneuver the boat and she handles the lines. In fact, I can do most of my job without moving out of the Captain’s chair. There is the possibility, though, that something untoward might happen and Ann would need another set of hands. Since I don’t get around very well, that could cause a problem. My hands work fine, but hobbling out to the bow to help her with the anchor, or to the stern to help her with docking lines might be tricky. Anyway, Tim volunteered to help us out and accompany us down to Charleston. All we needed to do was to ensure that he had connectivity on Monday and Tuesday evenings and assure his wife, Carrie, that we would get him back to Northern VA by Sunday the 18th. Check, check and double check. As long as we don’t meet another ‘cane we should be good.
Saturday, Sunday 10 – 11 November
And we were off! As I said, we picked up Tim on Friday, drove to Deltaville Friday night, turned in our Enterprise Rental Car, then took Frank’s taxi to the marina. Frank regaled us with stories about the Norfolk branch of the Jamaican mafia all the way. Anyway, we spent the night on the boat and on Saturday morning we threw off the bowlines, put wind in our sails, diesel in our engines and hit the high seas! It was a nice leisurely 65 mile trip to Norfolk. We spent the night at the Hospital Point Anchorage, which is located near Mile Marker Zero on the Intracoastal. (I don’t remember if I have discussed Mile Markers before, but basically, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is 1090 miles long. Mile markers (for the most part they are virtual, not physical) indicate how far you are from Norfolk and mile marker zero. Mile marker 1090 is near Miami.)

Broad Creek Extension -- Monday morning with fog
Our goal for Sunday was to spend the night at the “Broad Creek Extension,” an anchorage near Mile Marker 65. If it is windy, you can duck into Broad Creek itself and you will be very well protected from all sorts of wind and weather – though there can be quite a few mosquitoes. Since the weather was so good, we decided to stay just outside the creek with maybe five other boats. It was a beautiful night and a beautiful anchorage. Then came Black Monday.
Monday, Tuesday, 12 – 13 November.

On Monday morning, we got ready to go and cranked the engines. Ooops! I meant to say that we cranked one engine. The starboard engine turned right over and worked like a champ. The port engine, not so much. It started fine but appeared not to respond to the throttle. Hmmm. This was not good. Because we all know that everything happens in “threes,” it stands to reason that the Garmin Chart plotter chose that moment to both drop the routes to our next anchorage that I had built into it (#2) and lose its GPS signal (#3).

Well, we got the GPS signal back right away, but since neither of us were diesel geniuses the engine problem was an issue – a major issue. We checked the engine, we played with the throttle, we did everything we could think of (which wasn’t much) before deciding we would have to head to the nearest marina, in Coinjock, NC, which we had passed about 2 hours earlier. Luckily our starboard engine continued to work admirably and carried us at about 8 MPH on 1400 RPM back to Coinjock.

On the way back, Tim went up to the other Chart plotter to see if it was having the same problems that the pilot house chart plotter was having. As he was moving through the various screens, he saw a brief flash saying something like, “You have zero waypoints left.” Our plotters each hold 1500 waypoints, but, while I frequently delete routes and waypoints from the lower plotter, I apparently had not done so from the plotter in the flybridge. The result? The “Waypoints” function (and hence the “Routes” function – which depends on waypoints) would not work. Now think about this. It is like being on a computer network and, because one of your fellow network members used up the memory on his computer, no one else on the network can do anything. Pretty dumb, huh? Welcome to the world of recreational boating. Anyway, after Tim deleted about 100 waypoints, we could use the Route function again and could plot a course back to Coinjock.

We called Coinjock, got the number of a diesel mechanic and made arrangements for him to meet us at the marina. When we got there, everything worked like clockwork. The mechanic was there, he stepped onto the boat, went to the engine room, listened to what we had to say and within ten minutes had us ready to go. I l know, know, you want to know what was wrong. Ok, I am going to tell you, but you can’t share it with ANYONE.
The night before when we had been turning on the generator we had apparently played with the fuel flow a little too much. You see, we have three fuel tanks (port wing, starboard wing and aft) and three consumers of fuel, the port and starboard engines and the generator. Now that doesn’t sound too complicated, but those of you who know something about diesel engines know that you not only have to decided from which tank you are going to draw fuel, you also have to decide the tanks to which you are going to return the unused fuel. (Diesel engines draw a lot of fuel from their respective tanks, but they do not consume it all; they return some of it BACK to the tanks.) Now, the smart thing to do is just to have the engines draw on their respective wing tanks, which is what we usually do. However, we have 300 gallons in that aft tank and we want to use some of it once in a while. So, rather than get into a fuel management discussion, let me just say that in adjusting the fuel flow to/from the generator, we apparently turned off the flow to the port engine. Anyway, from that point on our second mate, Tim, was the fuel tank guru.

So out of this little mishap there were three costs: (1) The mechanic only charged $85, which would have been cheap at twice the price. (2) The embarrassment for having done something soooo stupid. (Remember, you are all sworn to secrecy.) But (3) the most significant cost was the time we had lost. We had built the trip around eight 65 mile days. Those were long days, but very doable. Now we had to go between 5-10 miles further each day. This was still doable, but the days would be very long AND we could not afford any other time-consuming problems.
Monday evening we stayed at Tuckahoe Pt. (Mile Marker 104) with about five other vessels. We wanted to go further, but just beyond Tuckahoe Pt. is the Alligator-Pungo River Canal, a very narrow waterway with no anchorages for about 23 miles. Since we got there about 3:30, it would have been 5:30 – 6PM (and dark) before we could have made it through. Instead, we stopped near the entrance so we could get an early start the next day. The anchorage was a pretty good one; there was decent protection from winds, good, solid holding and plenty of swing room.

The weather on Tuesday started out very nicely – it was sunny and probably in the high fifties. But as we exited the Alligator-Pungo River Canal and entered the Pungo River, the weather changed. Actually, it was kind of interesting. I am sure you have all seen very calm, mirror-like conditions; that is the way the day started. But early in the afternoon, coming up behind us you could see a line of ripples on the water. Those ripples turned into waves and within ten minutes we were traversing some pretty choppy waters. In addition, the temperature dropped, maybe, ten degrees. It was the very definition of a cold front.
Apparently there is some money in Oriental. This is a
Rolls Royce that was at the pizza place
We spent the night at a marina in Oriental, NC (MM 182). Oriental is supposed to be a real cruiser’s Mecca and when/if we come back through we would like to spend a few days here and enjoy the local hospitality. We couldn’t this trip, though, as we are on a time schedule. Ann and Tim did borrow the marina’s courtesy car and went to a small grocery store (my son consumes several bananas a day and rather than risk mutiny, I authorized a “banana liberty”) and someplace to order pizza. We had intended to track down our friends Grover and Judy, and Chuck and Fabin. But the weather was cold and wet and we were so tired that we decided we would track them down next time.

Wednesday, Thursday 14 – 15 November
It was still cold and wet when we pushed off from Oriental the next morning. Our goal for Wednesday night was Mile Hammock Bay (Mile Marker 244) – an anchorage we discovered last spring. Although we would like to have gone another few miles, Mile Hammock was the only anchorage we could find within seven or eight miles. Moreover, before we could get to the anchorage we had to pass through parts of Camp Lejeune’s firing range. Normally, that’s not an issue – you just cruise on through. This time it almost became an issue for two reasons. First, the red flag was up and firing was going on. Fortunately for us, when we got there, it was still okay to pass through as long as we did not stop. They did, however, close the ICW an hour later. (Personally, I don’t think anyone should be allowed to close the ICW – especially the Marines.) Those boats that got caught in the closure had to anchor and wait at the entrance for an hour or two before they could proceed.

The second reason this was an unusual passage was the presence of a grounded sailboat about half way through the firing range. Now that wasn’t really a threat to us, but it did remind us that grounding can happen to anyone at any time. This particular time it happened to a sailboat that zigged when it should have zagged and ended up on its side in the midst of the firing range during a live fire. We tried to help by generating a large wake that would lift him off the bottom, but the water was so high that we couldn’t do any good. I really felt badly for the guy (everybody who called him on the radio referred to him as “grounded sailboat.” It is significant, I think, that they did not halt the live fire just because there was a grounded sailboat in their rage fan – it kind of makes you wonder whether there was any real danger or whether the Marines just like shutting down the ICW.
Anyway, we had spent the night at Mile Hammock Bay on the way up and found it to be a very good anchorage in good weather. This time, however, the weather wasn’t so good; it wasn’t terrible, but it was blowing about 20-25 MPH, raining intermittently and it was definitely cold. There were about 15 boats in the anchorage by dark and our anchor (and everyone else’s) held well. To me that’s the definition of a good anchorage.

Thursday turned out to be kind of a complicated day. We had to manage our way under four bridges that had very restricted opening times.

Onslow Beach Bridge                     240.7                     On the hour AND Half Hour
Surf City Bridge                               260.7                     On the hour ONLY
Figure Eight Island                          278.8                     On the hour AND Half-Hour
Wrightsville Beach Bridge             283.1                     On the hour ONLY

 To understand why this gets complicated, imagine that you get to Onslow Beach at 0830 and pass right through. You now have twenty miles to the next bridge. To make it there on the hour, you either have to move at 13.3 MPH (very fast for us) or 8 MPH (pretty slow for us) – otherwise you have to sit at Surf City for up to an hour. So, you have to get to Onslow Bridge on the hour, and then move at 10 MPH to get to Surf City on the hour. Then you have to move at 9+ MPH to get to Figure Eight on the hour and then move at 10 MPH to get to Wrightsville Beach on the half- hour. So, here is the bottom line: as long as you get to Onslow on the hour – and nothing happens to slow you down in between bridges – you can make it work; otherwise you could be sitting for quite a while at a bridge that only opens on the hour.

 Well we got to Onslow Bridge about ten minutes before the hour. We waited until the bridge started opening, revved the engines and prepared to pass under. Then it happened. Some goldarn, landlubbing SOB ran his car into one of the bridge’s guardrails and halted the entire bridge-raising process. We waited and waited, then waited and waited some more. There was some wind and current and while sitting there, I had to keep the boat from drifting too far in any direction; it sounds easy but it can be anything but. Anyway, they opened the boat about 20 minutes late so we had to move at nearly 12 MPH to make the Surf City Bridge. I hate moving that fast – it burns fuel faster than I want – but I hate sitting at bridges even more, so we put the pedal to the metal and made it to the next bridge on time. In fact, we made all the bridges and covered 71 miles on our way to St. James Plantation Marina. Whew! It was a heck of a day.

St. James Marina was recommended to us by our friends Sharon and Andy – and it was an excellent recommendation. We got there late and didn’t have much time to look around but they do have a good restaurant. Because of my leg, we had takeout (Ann and I had ribs and Tim had a crab cake.) We all thought the meal was excellent. It sounds like they have even more to offer during the spring and summer. This may be another place we have to revisit!
Friday, Saturday 15 – 16 November

Friday morning we started early and drove hard. We reached our anchorage at Wynah Bay (Mile Marker 415), just past Georgetown, SC, at about 4:30PM. Again, Georgetown is another cruiser’s town, but we were on a mission. Maybe next time. Anyway, we had anchored at Wynah Bay on the way north last spring and thought it was a decent, though not necessarily great, anchorage. This time, though, we noticed the current that comes through. Man, it moves right along. I was a little bit concerned that as the tide and current changed we would be pulling on the anchor so kept my eye on the boat/anchor/current combination most of the night. It wasn’t a problem, but we may delete Wynah Bay from our list of anchorages for the future.
The next day we gave ourselves an extra half-hour of sleep before leaving. Even so, at about 2PM WE ARRIVED IN CHARLESTON!!!!!!!!!!! We could have arrived earlier, but Charleston has a significant current. Given that we didn’t want to maneuver the boat in the marina with or against a 2-3 MPH current, we thought we would wait until slack tide – which wasn’t until 5 – PM that evening. So we cruised all around Charleston Harbor, showing Tim the Battery, Fort Sumter, a couple of marinas, etc. Finally, at about 4PM I piloted, and Ann and Tim handled the lines (along with a dock hand and our friend Andy from Finally Fun) and we pulled Traveling Soul into her slip in Charleston.

We went to the doctor's office on Tuesday and the news wasn't particularly good. Apparently, the incision site isn't healing as well as it should have. The result? Now I have to go to a "wound specialist"next Tuesday before my orthopod will do anything else. I may have to start a blog on "Why I hate doctors."I suspect that if I did I would be overwhelmed with readers.

We had planned on spending Thanksgiving at Tim and Carrie''s house. As it is, we are going to spend until next Tuesday here in Northern VA, at TIm and Carrie's. We aren't quite sure how long we will be up here or how long the boat will be in Charleston -- at least until we hear from the doctor on Tuesday. Meanwhile, our friends Sharon and Andy are checking on our boat while we are up here. (Thanks Andy and Sharon!)
Ann’s Notes: All I can say is “thank heaven for family”… we cannot tell you how much Tim helped us on the trip to Charleston. It was wonderful to have him on board and share with him what it is like to live on our boat. He is a very quick study learning about the fuel transfer system and how to set an anchor. Also he was great company and we loved spending time with him. We also need to thank Carrie for “sharing” Tim with for the week. Working full time and coming home with her husband not home to help with the two very active children is a tough job. Again, thank you so much Carrie.

The cruise down to Charleston was a mixture of fun, long days, minor mistakes that took time to fix and mostly cold weather. Tim drank a lot of hot coffee and I wore sweat shirts most of the time … we also turned on the heat. We have a very good heating system on our boat.
Like Michael said we stayed at two nice marinas but arrived late and did not have a chance to explore. I do hope we get to go back and enjoy the marinas.
Dolphin Season has begun!!!
It was good to get to the Ashley Marina in Charleston S.C. I had a feeling of relief that we had finally made it to our destination and on time. Our friend Andy from Finally Fun was at the dock to help us in and then was gracious and offered to take us on a very brief tour of Charleston and out to dinner. Since Tim had never been to Charleston before, we took him up on his offer. He drove us around and gave a little history tour. Then he took us to a wonderful little Italian restaurant…I can’t remember the name of the place but I do have a card because I want to go back. They had the BEST lobster ravioli I have had in a very long time … yummy …
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, we saw dolphins! I left the count on the boat, but I will include it next time. Meanwhile, dolphin season has begun!

Well dear readers that is all for now …

Traveling Soul…OUT

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy (31 October - 3 November)

This blog entry is about Sandy and its immediate aftermath. Most of the news we have is good, though I will admit that there is a little bit in the not-so-good category. We are going to discuss the good first and the not-so-good at the end. I know some of you will be worrying about the not-so-good all the time you are reading about the good stuff. Well, this is my little contribution to helping you smell the roses before you look at the … er … uh … glass half empty. (Ok, so maybe I am not too good at using metaphors appropriately. But you know what I mean.)

Ok, on to Sandy
Travelling Soul facing down Sandy
Some of you might be wondering why we didn’t have the boat hauled out of the water and put up on blocks. It is a decent question, but we didn’t do it this time and won’t do it next time for several reasons. First, it cost money. For our sized boat, it is about a BU. True, our insurance company would pay for ½ of it, but that’s still that’s quite a bit of money. Moreover, we were not in Sandy’s path and if we had Traveling Soul hauled every time a hurricane came within 500 miles, we wouldn’t have any money left to spend on repairs. Sure, there were predictions that in Deltaville we might get 50 MPH winds and have four feet of surge, but we had already weathered 40 MPH winds in the Bahamas and weren’t particularly worried about 50 MPH and a super high tide. Now if they had been predicting 100 MPH and ten feet of surge, it would have been a different story. But come on guys, if you can’t handle 50 MPH winds and a four foot surge – with plenty of warning AND while sitting in a marina – you probably shouldn’t be living on a boat.
Perhaps more importantly, many of the local boaters have longstanding arrangements with marinas in the area to haul their boats automatically in case of a storm. When you add to this the fact that many or most of them had already made reservations to have their boats taken out of the water over the next couple of weeks for the winter, you discover that there are simply not that may lifts are available to haul non-local boats – especially when they are as big as ours.
Knowing what we know now would we haul the boat next time? Nope. The storm was, as predicted, 50 MPH winds with a four foot surge.  Our boat handled it very, very well. We did learn some lessons, though. In fact, that is one of the reasons for this particularly entry. In addition to letting everyone know how we fared, in addition to continuing to chronicle the adventures of Traveling Soul and her intrepid crew, we are using this particular entry to organize our thoughts so we can draw some decent lessons for the next time we stare into the abyss – AND I want to practice my especially dramatic writing about which I will warn you with an occasional DRAMA ALERT.

Ok, so on Wednesday after the work on the boat was finally completed, we heard about Sandy and decided to wait her out on a day-by-day basis. From all indications, it seemed we would k now something by Friday or Saturday. At this point, I have to tell you that we were still hoping to get out of Deltaville by Sunday or Monday. By Thursday afternoon, though, it was becoming increasingly clear that Sandy had chosen her direction and that, though we were not directly in her path, she was going to give us some problems.
(DRAMA ALERT) But we were not going to let Sandy run roughshod over us; not us, your intrepid Traveling Soul adventurers. We would point our bow into the wind, tie ourselves to the dock and force that damn storm to confront us head on. We might not be able to stop her, but we could slow her progress by a fraction of a fraction of a mile per hour so our fellow cruisers could be better protected. Yes, we would do our part for the human race. So … how’s that?

Friday morning
On Friday, we put fuel in the boat (that has nothing to do with the hurricane, we just needed fuel) and moved Traveling Soul to a new slip. In the old slip she was broadside into the wind and was pretty much open to the elements in all directions. In the new slip her bow faces into the wind and she is located between two covered sheds that have both made it through Irene and Isabelle. Although we still have a substantial northerly fetch, we are hopeful the sheds cut down any wind which has either an easterly or a westerly component. We are port side-to and, on Friday morning, put a total of six lines on the boat – one from the bow to the dock, one forward spring line (so the boat doesn’t move forward), two aft spring lines (since the wind is going to be pushing us backwards, the aft spring lines should prevent us from moving in that direction), and two aft lines – one to port and one to starboard. We also put on four fenders, one each opposite the pilings on the port side of the boat. When I asked one of the marina employees if there was anything else we should do, he suggested we take down our canvass. Lord, I don’t want to do that, so we are going to give it a day or two and see if the forecasts get better or worse.

Ok, so once the boat was in position and fairly well prepared, we spent the rest of the day talking to Grover and Judy, watching several episodes of “30 Rock,” and trying to figure out exactly what this damn storm is going to do.
Early, early Saturday morning. (I almost always wake up at 0300 or so – especially when there is weather – and walk around the boat seeing what I can do. So, early, early is about 0300.)

(DRAMA ALERT) I heard the sound of rubber grinding against the side of the boat at about 3AM. It is that sound you hear when you rub two balloons together, but deeper and more ominous. (In another place, at another time, I would have described the sound as kind of like that of a machine gun – and you would have known what I meant. But here, now, skillful mariner and observant author that I am, I was pretty sure it wasn’t pirates.)  Once I dismissed that thought …
I was afraid that it was our rub-rail scraping against the rain-sodden wooden pilings – which can make a similar eerie sound. I checked my anemometer and, though the wind was 25MPH gusting to 35, I donned my trusty rain jacket and ventured forth. It turned out that some of our fenders, which are about 24” long, were catching the piling on the last 4” or so of the rubber – making a deep, rubber against rubber sound. It wasn’t close to either the rub-rail or the hull. That was good, but I would need to move the fenders a little.

As I went around the boat, I made a mental checklist of what I would need to do in the morning. First, I would need to add some fenders – after all we have eight, we might as well use all of them. Second I wanted to tighten the aft line on the starboard side so it will hold us off the dock more effectively. Third, I wanted to tighten some of the spring lines (both fore and aft) so the fenders would stay in one place relative to the pilings and would stop making that rubbing sound. In addition to making the checklist, I also logged on and tried to determine where the storm was and where it was going. It looked like it might be going a little further north than I had feared – but not far enough north to make us happy.

Saturday Morning
As I got coffee in the captain’s lounge, I looked around and noticed that nearly all the boats that are left in the marina had taken down their canvass. I didn’t like it and I knew Ann wasn’t going to like it, but I thought we better take ours down too. It is bound to reduce windage substantially. We did, and it wasn’t as complicated as we had thought. The real test would come when we put it back up.

After coffee, I checked the items from my 0300 list: tighten the aft starboard line, check; adjust the spring lines, check; add four fenders, check. I also decided to two more lines, one at the bow line and another forward spring. We now had two bow lines, two forward and two aft spring lines in addition to the two aft lines; that gives us a total of eight lines out overall. The average breaking strength of our ¾ inch nylon lines is 16,700 pounds, and the safe working load is 2,500 pounds each. So, no matter how you cut it, our boat wasn’t going to float away from the dock. We would have put out more lines, but I was running out of places to tie them. Instead, we dedicated two more ¾ inch lines to act as a reserve; we would keep them in the salon and use them if, when and where necessary.
When we added the extra fenders, we wanted them both to reinforce the fenders we had, but also to extend the effective length of the fenders. So, rather than stacking them directly on top of one another, I offset the bottom one by about six inches, so it stuck out from the top one. That way, instead of having the fenders cover 24 inches, they covered about 30. It seemed to work reasonably well.  

We found out the Grover and Judy found someone to haul their boat, so they are staying Saturday night and then heading up to the DC area. They came by and asked if we wanted to have a pizza-hurricane party that evening with everyone else that was staying. Did someone say party? Of course we would be there.
Saturday Afternoon.
That afternoon the dockmaster told us that when the water came up over the top of the fixed docks (that included us), they were going to shut off the power. If the water was going to be over the dock AND there wasn’t going to be any power, we figured we probably shouldn’t stay on the boat. We started looking for a motel room for Sunday night and Monday night, which, we figured, would have the highest tides. Deltaville has only one motel within about 15 miles. There are other places to stay, of course, but they are B&B’s. The cost of “The Deltaville Dockside Inn,” was reasonable and was within a mile of the marina, so we decided to go ahead and stay there – despite the less-than-glowing reviews on “Trip Advisor.”

Not to get ahead of myself, but when we told some local boaters that we were staying at the Dockside Inn, they raised their eyebrows and kind of shrugged but didn’t say much. That probably wasn’t a good sign, we figured, but what the hell, we were only going to stay a couple of nights and were going to spend most of our time at the marina watching after Traveling Soul. When we mentioned our plans to Grover, however, he said that he had considered staying there a few weeks earlier, but had found a review on the web where the reviewer showed off the bedbug bites he had received at the Inn.  At that point, we ran, not walked to Ann’s phone to find one of the B&Bs nearby that could take us. The good news was that none of the B&Bs in the area were busy (we should have been able to figure that out – who, in the name of heaven, would book a B&B along the shore in the midst of a hurricane?) so availability wasn’t an issue. Anyway, we made reservations at the Edentide Inn near Deltaville. It was about three miles from the marina, but it was the closest we could find. Moreover, they offered to transport us to and from the marina as necessary. In the event, it turned out to be a wonderful little place that we would recommend to anyone.
Later that day, Jack Dozier (the marina owner) as well as just about everyone who worked for him came by checking boats. I didn’t count, but my guess is that there were only about 40 or so boats left in the marina. Many (most?) of the full time marina residents had left. It seemed as if they had long ago made arrangements to have their boats hauled their boats out of the water when hurricanes threaten.

DRAMA ALERT: Us? Ha! We scoffed at the danger. We had no intention of moving from Deltaville or of abandoning our boat. Whenever we saw small groups of people quaking in their boots in anticipation of the Storm, we tried to embolden them and to pass on some of our courage. “Bring it on, Sandy,” we taught them to say. “We’re ready for you!” We told others to repeat the mantra, “We are boaters and friends of boaters. We will NOT be intimidated by a mere Category 1 ‘cane!”
ANOTHER DRAMA ALERT: Later that day, Ann and I were on the dock walking back from the Captain’s Lounge and we heard a weird sound: Clickety-Clack. Clickety-clack. Clickety-clickety-clackety-clack. Oh my God, it couldn’t be, could it? For an instant – just an instant – Ann and I both had a Stephen King moment. Could Sandy be … could Sandy be … after us?

Ok, so maybe it had nothing to do with an anthropomorphized hurricane. Docks are usually not made of one solid piece of wood, they are built with slats that have ½ inch or so between them. The waves come at the dock at something of an angle. So as the water slaps the underside of the plank they make a click or clack sound. When the wave slaps the underside of the slats in rapid succession, it sounds like Clickety-Clack. Clickety-clack. Clickety-clickety-clackety-clack. Alas, it wasn’t the hurricane – this time. Instead, Sandy was saving her evil for later. Read on.
At about 1730 Grover and Judy had pizza delivered to the captain’s lounge. They are a great couple who are a lot of fun. In addition to Grover and Judy, there was Ann and I, of course, and Chuck and Fabin. Chuck and Fabin live on board their Defever 48. They have stayed at Dozier’s this summer where Chuck has served as the temporary dockmaster. He and Fabin were on a much more exposed slip than we were, but they were tied to a floating dock – so their dock could never go under water and did not need to have their electricity turned off. They were going to ride out the storm on their boat. In addition, they had a car and offered to take us wherever we needed to go.

Saturday night we stayed on the boat and Ann and I both got up during the night to check on the boat. Ann’s focus was on what was going on inside the boat, while I checked the fenders, lines, pilings, etc. on the outside. We made all the little adjustments and fine-tuned our preparations.

Sunday Morning
By Sunday morning the wind started picking up a little – probably 30 MPH gusting to 40 and it had begun raining. It wasn’t raining that hard, but the wind was propelling the raindrops hard enough that when they hit bare skin they really stung.

Sunday Afternoon
As Ann and I talked about going to the B&B, it became clear to both of us that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep well wherever we went. Eventually, we decided that Ann would go to the B&B, and that I would stay in the captain’s lounge where I could get up a couple of times during the night and check on the boat. The next morning, if everything was going well, she would stay at the captain’s lounge while I slept at the Inn. Provided, of course, we could get a ride back and forth.

I should have mentioned earlier that one of the MAJOR lessons we learned from Sandy is that the next time we are in the path of a major storm, we WILL rent a car. Dozier’s marina has courtesy cars that you can borrow during the day but they are not available after hours and, even then, they do not want you to go more than two miles from the marina (the distance of the grocery store). During normal times that is okay, but for several reasons, not the least of which was our desire to get to and from the Inn, we could have used a car. 
Anyway after Ann went to the Inn, I continued my Traveling Soul vigil. Of course, since I could not spend every waking minute watching the boat, and since the Captain’s Lounge had a nice TV – the quality of which was really wasted watching the Weather Channel – and since it was Sunday afternoon I figured it was okay to rest my eyes by occasionally watching just a little bit of football. 

After football I went back to watching the boat … OOPS!… I meant to say that high tide was scheduled for about 2300. I had no intention of walking on docks that were under water, so I decided I would check on the boat at 2200, before high tide, and again at 0100 after high tide. I would check again at around 0400 (or so) and at 0700ish. In each instance, when I checked on the boat I would make sure the fenders were positioned correctly and were doing their job (adjusting if necessary), I would check all the lines and make sure they were tight enough without being too tight, I would go aboard and look for leaks around the windows and other places where we had had problems in the past, and I would check on the bimini. The bimini  is the canvass “ceiling” to the flybridge. While we had taken down most of our canvass and isinglass the day before, we had thought (mistakenly as it turned out) that the nearby sheds would protect our bimini. Every time I got on the boat I would hear a flapping from up above and knew it was bimini. Anyway, I got into the habit of checking it and, in fact, tried to tie it down. It didn’t work.

0700 Monday
During my 0400 check I had noticed that the wind had changed direction and that the boat was no longer being pushed into the dock, but was being pushed away. In fact, it took some effort to pull the boat close enough so that I could get on. When on board, I checked the bimini and noticed that it was starting to chafe and to tear exactly where I had tied the lines earlier. Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea after all.

At 0700 the boat was even further from the dock than it had been three hours earlier and it took a lot of pulling to get the boat close enough for me to get on. As a result, I added a line to the aft-port side (that made three aft lines, one to starboard and one to port). I had to get the new line tight enough so it would take some pressure off the existing line. The only way I could do that was literally to stand on the existing line until I got a little slack, then to pull the new line tight around its cleat. Because the wind picked up significantly even while I was performing this task, I didn’t have much time to tighten the new line even when I was able to generate 6 inches of slack in the old one.  It was stand on the old line – generate six inches of slack – pull the new line maybe three inches and repeat.
After all this work, the boat was probably five feet from shore. I now had a problem – I don’t know if I could ever have jumped the five feet from the boat to shore, but I know that in my 60’s I couldn’t. I pulled on the line to get the boat closer to shore, then backed up to jump. But every time I backed off, the boat recovered the distance I had pulled it. Although I am not great at estimating distance, I am guessing that I was able to pull it to within 3½ to four feet of the shore. Twice I was almost ready to jump, but then stopped and decided against it. Eventually, I saw someone on an adjoining dock coming to check his boat. I hollered at him and asked if he could give me a hand. He was more than willing.

Between the two of us we pulled the boat to within about 3 feet of the shore. I decided this was as close as it was going to get, so I made the leap. Actually, I made it across! However, there was a problem. Remember that surgery I had about ten weeks ago on my Achilles Tendon? Well, apparently the tendon detached when I jumped. In addition, I tore the scar tissue that was keeping the tendon in place. The result was a lame boat captain and a lot of blood.
I like to think I am pretty good at writing a blog and am trying to improve in my ability to write drama (a task at which I am sure you will agree that I need practice), but have I ever been very good at writing about gore – especially when it is my own. So I am going to skip the details. Suffice it to say Bruce Miller is the former Coastie who had the well-stocked first aid bag that took care of me initially and who, after Ann arrived from the B&B, had the car that got us to the Emergency Room at the Gloucester Walter Reed Hospital. Thank you, Bruce.

After our trip to the hospital, we finally rented a car and headed back to the boat – which, at this point, was easy to board. From there we called my orthopedist in Northern VA and, though he could not see me Tuesday (because of the storm), he could see me Wednesday afternoon.
Now, I know some of you are wondering why we sent you an e-mail saying that everything was okay – except for a trifling wound to Mike – when the trifling wound actually wasn’t that trifling. Actually the ER doctor did not see any major issues (other than the open wound and, oh by the way, the pain I was in!) In fact, on Wednesday my orthopedist looked at the wound and didn’t think it was too bad, either. It wasn’t until he got me in the OR and looked around my Achilles on Thursday that he discovered the detachment. So, here I am back in Woodbridge, VA at Dave and Joan Wolf’s house, recovering from surgery in a splint. The splint comes off and the cast goes on next Thursday. I wear the cast for two months, then into a walking boot for another month. I know this routine because I just went through it.

I know, I know you are wondering what this does to Traveling Soul and its magnificent crew? Will they continue their trip south? Will they make it to the Bahamas? I am not going to keep you in THAT much suspense – the answer is yes. The real question is how we are going to do it. For answers to that question and many more, you will just have to read our next  blog.
ANN’S NOTES:  I was going to let Michael sent out this blog without my notes, but I changed my mind.

Needless to say I have had a few Zantac days. I can measure my level of stress by how many Zantac pills I have to take in order to reduce the acid level in my body.

I must share with you that especially in times of stress I know that my family, friends and fellow boaters are always ready with a helping hand. Michael was well cared for when he had his accident. Hurricane Sandy was pretty much in full force, 50 mile-an-hour wind gusts, rain, and it was dark and scary outside. Yet Bruce was more than happy to give us a ride to the hospital and he would have stayed with us longer if we had needed him. Other people at the marina were checking on our boat making sure our lines were holding and secure. In addition, the people at the bed and breakfast that drove me back and forth to the marina were wonderful. They even offered to lend me their SUV. They also gave us dinner, homemade chicken and rice soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was good comfort food and meant one less Zantac. We are now back at Dave and Joan’s house. They are, as always very kind.
I think we are coming up with a new set of intentions that may get us back on track so we can still spend the winter in the Bahamas. We have to work around a few set dates that the doctor said we had to meet.

I am excited about the thought that our son may be able to join us in our cruise down to Charleston S.C.
Even in the middle of a hurricane all the people that came into our lives were more than kind and only wanted to help. The universe is a kind when you most need it to be…I am a big believer in Karma.

Just one more thing … Michael told me that I was “the best foul weather gear he had”… that, my dear readers, is a huge compliment coming from him…
Traveling Soul…OUT