“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.
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
|Our second mate (Tim) preparing to take on the anchoroing responsibilities.|
Saturday, Sunday 10 – 11 NovemberAnd 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|
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
Wednesday, Thursday 14 – 15 NovemberIt 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 HourSurf 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!)
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!!!|
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 …