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Sunrise: Chasing the dream
Life filled with adventure, both actual and spiritual.
Thoughts from a boat driver on the ICW
Bill, Rain, 40's
12/04/2009, St Augustine, FL

Isobel the climber, reached around the edge of the settee, palmed a hunk of bread and proceeded to take bites out of it... (note wool shirt and sweaters on both of us!)

A long day at the wheel. Still in the intercoastal Waterway. It would have been a good day to go outside although there were no safe outlets to the sea. We rode the current and checked out birds through the Marine Estuary Research Reserve.

As I sat at the wheel, My thoughts went like this: review my "punch list" in my head... Netting will have to be put up soon, as Isobel can now climb anything.. The other day we found her on the first step of the companionway stairs! I will have to find some nice place to do a bunch of engine maintenance... will have to find a nice place for the girls to hang out. Brrr... it is still in the 50s even though we are in Florida. I have heard that it is in the 80s in Fort Lauderdale... White Pelicans, Storks, Ibis?... I can't believe I forgot my bird book... Oh look, this foul weather gear works to keep the wind out of my neck... Wow, we are doing 9.3 knots over the ground... 2 knots of current... where is the channel?... it is getting shallow... does that chart say the channel is over here or over there? Where will we anchor tonight?... 250 miles to Fort Lauderdale.... I am ready for warmth... I want to shut the engine down and sail... I wonder how Bink is... I wonder how Randy did this by himself... Yahoo, hot soup for lunch!... too bad it is too cold for Isobel in the cockpit... starting to rain... can I get the rain flaps up and stay in the channel?... I wonder if the water that went in the outboard gas tank will do major damage... make a note to find out...

12/06/2009 | Randy
Doing it alone was a challenge at times, but the reward of being there was more than worth it. Dean Perry (Autumn Borne) wrote to say he met you in St. Augustine. Said you departed yesterday. Lots going on there during the holidays, but you can always do that another day. Where are you headed for Christmas?
A real excursion
12/03/2009, Cumberland Island, GA

Isobel waves to all those back home.

We had our first real excursion. We took a half day to dingy ashore at the Plum Orchard Landing on Cumberland Island. This is the site of a huge mansion that was given to the US by the heirs to the Carnegie family.

Apparently there is a ferry that arrives there every other Sunday... so we were alone to put our entrance fee in the metal box by the Info board and to wander around. There were signs of the feral horses although we didn't see any... We did run into a couple who was staying at an Inn on the Island... they took our photo and pointed out a Stork roosting tree... Pretty neat. We tried to imagine one of those birds carrying Isobel to Keene back in February...

Hard aground on the way to Cumberland Isle
Bill, 75 storm theatning
12/02/2009, Cumberland Island, GA

A beautiful morning at the Duplin River GA.

Today was another typical day in the ditch. got off early so we could take advantage of the high tide for the notorious Mud River shoals (shallow spots). We cleared them easily and made it to within a quarter mile of our anchor spot before the tide was out enough to cause us problems. We bumped a couple times in the main channel, which was kind of sketchy anyway, then we turned into Brickhill Creek to find ourselves stuck fast in 5'9" of water (we draw 6'4"!). Well, it was a beautiful spot and we threw out the anchor and waited for the tide to come in. Within 30 minutes we were floating again and cruised the last 1/4 mile up the creek to anchor near the Plum Orchard Dock on Cumberland Island. The Island has lots of history (look it up) and is now a National Park with a ferry arriving every other Sunday! Lots of big Oaks with Spanish Moss hanging.

We are about to have a huge thunder storm, so I had better post this and get below! (Big storm fizzled out!)

12/03/2009 | Green
Cumberland Island is one of our favorite places in the world. Make sure you look for fossilized shark teeth on the roadbeds. I lived there for a year growing up - my Mom worked at the Greyfield Inn. Enjoy, it's a special spot!
Pete the ideal crew
Bill, rain, 63
11/22/2009, isle of hope, ga

Pete has been off the boat for only 24 hours and we miss him. He has been a wonderful guy to have around. A philosopher willing to throw his body between the boat and the dock. A guy that generates peace who is happy at the wheel or up the mast. His music was inspiring. He always said good things about people avoiding the human desire to criticize. Generous and kind to all three of us, he was always able to make Isobel smile even when she was unhappy about something. We are looking forward to seeing his boat "Sea Pod" broad reaching on the horizon. Really, it is beyond language to express how much we enjoyed getting to know him. Pete, call us if you need crew.

A short jaunt
Bill, 68 in the cabin
11/21/2009, isle of hope, ga

We have seen lots of dolphins out in the ocean at night and in rivers and harbors. Can you imagine how hard it is to get a shot of them. Here is a photo of Sea Hawk pushing a load of fuel up the Savannah river. there were many dolphins playing in their bow waves. We chatted on the radio and they say that the dolphins are there alot and they often walk to the bow to hang over and watch them!

We took a short run to Isle of Hope GA to get back on anchor and to see the historic district, be near a store and still have access to the Savannah train station. More later...

Down the ditch (part 3)
Bill dark!
11/20/2009, Thunderbolt, GA

Today we saw a little of everything... first down the ICW (see video) with Bink to the Wynah inlet... then out into the open ocean, sailing through the night past Charleston, SC and on to Savannah, GA. We were in dense fog from about midnight to 9 am.

Entering the Savannah channel at 2 PM (photo) we thought we were home free. I guess we didn't look at the chart closely or look at the current tables (at all!)... it was 12 miles up the inlet against a 3 knot current, and then the 5 miles up the Wilmington River, which is very casually marked... arriving in the dark in Thunderbolt after running aground twice! The first time we just bumped over a shoal in the middle of the channel just off the Savannah river. The second time Bill drove the boat off the channel in the dark trying to navigate by chart plotter. We already know that it takes a few seconds to refresh the screen... and those were a critical few seconds as we were going around a sharp bend in the channel. There we sat, stuck fast like a car in a snow bank. high centered (you can feel that). We laughed a bit about our blind faith in the plotter (we know better) and moaned a bit about the sparsely marked channel. We did know the tide was rising... so Lara served up spaghetti and Helen's turkey meatballs. After maybe 20 minutes we felt the the boat move a little, then it rotated, and then it was free... (we are learning or relearning everyday!) Here is a little video from the beginning of the day...

Down the Ditch (part 2)
Bill, 77 and clear
11/19/2009, Calabash river

We are all glad that we brought our warm clothes! It did get nice at the end of the day...

We have decided to go "down the ditch" (ICW) with my friend Bink on Eventyr since he is traveling solo from NC to Florida.

Everything is kind of peaceful and tense in the ICW... well, I guess you have to be there... You have hours of driving the boat down a long straight waterway, most of the time the channel is about 100' wide... sometimes there is a bank on both sides and you can't see out, sometimes there are houses and docks and boats tied up along the side. Occasionally another boat will pass or we would come up on another boat going more slowly than us. Think of an Interstate highway with everyone driving 5 to 7 mph! You can't quite dose off and yet there is not much action...

So, Pete is at the wheel and I need something to do, so I call up Simrad to troubleshoot the Autopilot which hasn't worked since we had rudder work done on the boat in May of 2008. I am chatting with the Simrad guy about the issues and I am punching buttons... Suddenly Pete calls out."Bill, Bill, the steering is jammed!" I leap to the wheel and sure enough together we can't budge the wheel and the boat is making a hard turn to starboard (right) aiming at some particularly unforgiving pilings not far out of the channel. The entire route of the steering cable goes through my head with all the possible points of failure, then the possible places in the rudder hinge for possible jams (all this in a second as the boat careens at full speed into the pilings.) I throw the throttle in full reverse. The BetaMarine engine and Gori prop bring us to a standstill, perfectly parked between two 10" pilings. We are all panting and wild-eyed. I look at the phone in my hand and then at the Simrad autopilot which is still on... and steering us hard to starboard!

With the Autopilot OFF and the steering returned we ease out of the pilings and head back toward the center of the channel with Bink looking at us and shaking his head. Pete says, "Learned something the easy way."

Twice denied...
Bill, warm, sunny
11/17/2009, Wrightsville Beach

Today, a walk on the beach and an early Mexican dinner at the surfer's hang out. But that misses a bunch of the story...

I think we last posted when it was raining in Morehead City. And I think you all knew that we would be sick of the rain and wanting to move. So on Saturday evening we moved our boat out of the slip in Morehead City and travel the few miles to anchor in taylor Creek in Beaufort, NC again (so Pete and I could use our beer tokens at the Dockside Restaurant). We were up early and, despite having the anchor fouled on some random line in the harbor, we sailed from Beaufort at 0800.

Once we were 15 miles south west of Beaufort the sun came out and the sea was calm. The wind blew at about 15 so we could set a broad reach. When we started, our destination was Wrightville Beach, NC. Then the wind died and as we looked at our arrival time, we decided to push on to Charleston... As the sun set, we chatted with some other boats who were headed to Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas! "Three days" they said... "hmmm" we said. We contacted our weather folks, checked our fuel and water and took a 90 degree turn to the East to head across the Gulf Stream. the night was spectacular and the wind blowing 5 to 10 out of the north promising a lump but OK passage and we were all entranced by the warm waters of the Bahamas....

At about 11 pm with everyone asleep but Bill, the engine sputtered again. Pete was rousted and we again found a clogged filter... With some mucking around we fired her up again and we off with Pete back in his berth... again the engine sputtered and again Pete came up on deck in his skivies. After a short discussion we opted for the closest port: Wrightville Beach, NC. We plotted a course that would have us at the outside bouy around sunrise. Under full sail we cruised back to the US, arriving in time to have Pancakes with Maine Blueberries abord Starbound. So, here we are... being here now.

11/18/2009 | Randy
I was wondering where you might be. Sorry to hear about the continuing fuel issue. Good luck sorting this one out.
11/18/2009 | George Mora
Mmmm...Bahamas. So sorry you were held back. Sounds like you need to start filtering your fuel before it goes in the tank.

11/19/2009 | Bill in Miami
Yeah! Like Geoge said, a prefilter before you might dump Mud into your Tank. "You're a better man than I, Gunga Din." I'd be pretty PO'd with yhe Marina that fed mr that junk.
Rain Rain Rain
Bill, Rain
11/12/2009, Morehead City, NC

Rain rain rain

We moved over here to get out of the wind and be clear of any boats that were going to drag anchors in the big wind. Most of what we have seen is lots of rain.We have bailed the dingy once already...

Showers a nice here and we have treated our selves to Pizza and fresh baked goodies from a bakery in town. We have installed our "5 Mile WIFI" system and that does allow us a better connection although the Marina's WIFI doesn't seem to work right so we have a hard time keeping a connection. The same has been experianced by some of the other boaters holed up here.

Although it has been nice to relax here, we are all ready to move on to warmer and dryer places!

11/12/2009 | George Mora
I just want to reach into the screen and smooch that precious little girl!
11/13/2009 | Ruanne Ewing
What a gaze that girl has!
11/13/2009 | Randy
I can't help but wonder how the passage would have been to the VI's had you been out there skirting Ida. BTW, the water in the dinghy looks higher than the water level outside of the dink. Not often that you would pull the plug to let water OUT of the dink while it is IN the water sitting still. LOL!! :-)
11/15/2009 | Gretchen
I remember how wonderful it was to find a good shower! Kim and I send you lots of light and energy for your passage. We will be in the Virgins in January and will watch your blog for contact. Much Love.
hunkered down
11/10/2009, Morehead City, NC

Isobel passed out, waiting for the next passage.

At the Beaufort Docks, the day was spend completing little projects such as the fuel filters change, checking the Trisail for how it would sheet. Pumping out the waste tank and filling the water, buying gas and testing the dingy engine (it runs!)

Then we talked with all the people around the marina about the impending storm (Winds to 45 and offshore seas to 20'!) Where to go and how to anchor. Finally we ran into an Irish couple who were on a Hallberg Rassy. They were headed to Morehead city because it was protected, less expensive than Beaufort and they provided slips with piers to tie to. Pete and I created a spider web of lines around the boat so it will be clear of the floating docks. (Lara had purchased 110' of 5/8" line that I cut into 3 lengths and spliced big loops to make more dock lines).

Then, inside the boat the discussion turned to the concept of Complete. Like a job complete. And then we went on to discuss Myths (Pete having a memory full of good Greek and Scandinavian myths) Isobel drummed on the floor with the measuring spoons and bill nodded off...

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