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Log of Calypso
The Bowsprit Project
03/20/2016, MCAS Cherry Point (Slip A-1)

We arrived at our summer home at the Marine Corp Air Station Cherry Point almost three weeks ago. Since then we have been busy, but not too busy to enjoy the Hancock Yacht Clubs annual Oyster Roast with over 40 people joining in.

Meanwhile the spring pollen from Elm, Oak, & Juniper Trees is keeping our allergies going and the larger Pine pollen, falls leaving a yellow covering on everything, inside and out. The water around us maintains a yellow flowing film.

We are in the opening round of our project to stop the leak coming from underneath the bowsprit. As you read on you will see why CALYPSO has much more waterline showing than when we first pulled in at the beginning of March.
But, before we could start on this project we first needed to recover our Jeep. Next, we needed to find secure storage for the many items we would remove in order to get the access we need.

After those two steps were accomplished without too much difficulty our first road block happened. Our Jeep had a broken Leaf Spring. How long could that be to repair, you ask. Well like most things in dealing with a boat project, longer than we thought!

It seems that the quickest way to fix the problem was to have the repair shop, Wayne's in Morehead City, order and install an after-market lift kit. To do this however, the 20+ year old rusted bolts would need to be cut out and the new springs installed lifting the Jeep a modest 1 ½". Our final word to Sean, the shop owner, was that we didn't want to use a step ladder to climb in :)

With the help of a barrowed pick-up truck from Pete, on Esprit, we started the offload. This included both of our hanked-on forward sails, as well as, the storm sails & drifter stowed below. We emptied the forward storage bin of fenders, spare anchor rode, and extra teak. OK nobody has extra teak... it's all just waiting for another project!

To help with balance we removed our SCUBA Tank & 100' of 3/8" BBB Chain from the lazarette. Then we removed our forward anchors, a 20kg Bruce& 60lb CQR, along with another 300' 3/8" BBB Chain. We now have 5" of hull showing that normally is underwater.

We stopped just short of removing the bowsprit as we travelled back to Raleigh. We are dog sitting for our daughter and son-in-law while they are away in Ireland, on business. We did ask if they needed someone to carry their bags but settled for 10 days with our Grand-Puppies.

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Our Summer Home
03/01/2016, Hancock Marina

As the sun started sinking over the horizon Monday evening the powerful west winds also started to settle. We had looked at the forecast and spoke with Chris Parker, who confirmed, these calming conditions would not last long.

The alarm went off at 0430 but we were already awake, listening. What we heard was nothing, not a single breath of wind. Coffee was made & the engine was checked and started at 0530.

We started to haul in the anchor and looking into the black water of the creek, it soon  became obvious that the 30 minutes we estimated to clean the anchor chain may not be enough. It was half tide and CALYPSO must have been sitting just above the muddy bottom. Not just the chain but the nylon snubber lines were covered in thick, gooey mud!

Crank in a little chain then scrub, scrub, scrub, was how it went for 50' of chain until the anchor was on deck. Underway at 0609, Wendy then maneuvered us to within a boat length of the condominium docks at Spooner's Creek Marina and could not find deeper water. We later thought how unfortunate it is, because if the shoaling, to leave this favorite anchorage for the last time. What would have been worse is to have bought one of the $100k boat slips only to have it silted in.

At sunrise, 0635, the tide pulled us down the windless ICW towards The Port of Morehead City at 5.2 knots with minimum RPM's. This great boost wouldn't last long and as we passed under the High Rise Bridge we we fighting a current which would not let up until we entered the Neuse River, 20 miles ahead. Even as Yoda droned on it was one of those rare calm, quiet trips absent of both boats & birds.

We had asked dock master, Owen, for a slip were we could work on CALYPSO's bowsprit leak safely and at 1310 pulled into slip A-1. We will spend the rest of this week settling in, adjusting lines as the 20-30 knot winds return, renewing friendships, telling our story to the Hancock Yacht Club membership, and retrieving our land dinghy, a 1995 Jeep.

This upcoming Monday, the project starts!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

So Close
02/29/2016, Spooners Creek (ICW Mile 211)

They say if you want to make God laugh, make a plan! This winter we have learned all too well the truth of this statement. Our plan of getting to Cherry Point was foiled by strong west winds which would make the East-West running Neuse River an angry mess.

Saturday, 2/26, we left Southport at 0800. We had a wonderful visit with our niece  and her family. But we were off early on this chilly, 30 degree, morning because we have a date with the Cape Fear River.

We have learned by playing the tides, if we can leave Southport an hour before high tide the incoming flow will carry us nearly 30 miles to Wrightsville Beach. It was a spectacular trip with the current sometimes speeding us along at 7 knots. The big plus is having a calm current with us in Snows Cut. If you enter this man made cut between Carolina Beach & the Cape Fear at the wrong time you are either on a sleigh ride or a turtle crawl.

Reaching the Wrightsville Beach Bridge we felt confident that we could make it to Mile Hammock before dark. Unfortunately the tide turned and we were slowed to 3.5 knots soon making this an unrealistic goal. So, we stopped at Harbor Village Marina, (ICW Mile 267). It was still a 44 mile day!

Sunday morning, 2/28, we were underway at 0643. We needed to pass through the Sunset Beach Bridge at 0800. This bridge only opens on the hour and room to maneuver while waiting is limited. Our timing couldn't have been better!

Our next hurdle was New River Inlet, at Camp LeJeune. Known for its tricky marks and conflicting currents we approached cautiously. However, while rounding the maze of marks we were pushed across the channel by an incoming tide and into the path of a south bound LARGE power boat!  We adjusted course and so did the Hatteras Motor Yacht and somehow both stayed in the channel and set up to  pass  with room to spare, port to port. Then we felt it...

First one bump, then another as we touched bottom in the channel. But its an hour after high tide time for that now Wendy quickly reacted and increased RPM's keeping us from getting stuck. Quick thinking saved us from getting T-Boned by another motor yacht. Now, that gets the old blood pump'n!

We adjusted speed to make the Onslow Beach Bridge opening. This slow moving bridge doesn't see much traffic this time of year So, the bridge tender started the opening sequence as we were still a half mile away. It had just fully opened as we approached and we passed through without slowing.

Now what? Up ahead was Tow Boat US and a sailboat aground & a trawler waiting to continue south. This area of the ICW near Red 60, mile 237, continues to shoal. There are two marks, a red & green, which requires an almost slalom type course to pass through. Both the trawler & us held back allowing the Tow Boat operator to work his magic on the grounded sailboat. There are two types of boaters who travel the ICW, those who run aground and those who lie and say they haven't. We have, and on many occasions needed the help of Tow Boat.

Around 1400, remember we have been traveling for almost 7 hours today, we passed Swansboro. The forecast was for increasing WSW winds starting about now and lasting most of the day Monday. As if on que the wind increased to 18 knots churning Bogue Sound into a lumpy mess.

At 1748 we anchored in the protection of Spooners Creek, a long 56 mile day. Although the channel stays dredged by local boat traffic, the interior basin of the creek appears to be silting in. Three years ago we weathered Hurricane Sandy here with plenty of room but now at low tide we have less than a foot under us. We make a note to explore the basin in the dinghy with the hand held depth finder. But...on a warmer day!

So today, Leap Day, we take some time to catch up on projects like, cleaning, transferring fuel, and even working on this blog. The forecast is for light southerly winds most of tomorrow we'll keep our fingers crossed and take it one day at a time.

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Southport NC
02/26/2016, South Harbor Village Marina (ICW Mile 311)

Wednesday, as we went to bed at "cruisers midnight" which is really about 2030, the winds and rain had stopped. We suspected that we would see a bit mor rain overnight but we were not prepared for what we got.

Then, around 2200 the wind arrived, lots of it! Even behind the shelter of our little tree island gusts nearing 40 knots straightened our anchor chain. The two nylon snubbers, used to keep strain off the anchor windlass, creaked and groaned all night.

At 0730 Thursday morning Jeff called the Socastee Swing Bridge on the cell phone. This would be one of three bridges we would need to have opened today. Unfortunately, all three are swing bridges which don't operate well in strong winds. In fact, they will not open in a sustained 25 knot wind, period. "There are no restrictions", said the bridge tender and at 0854 we were underway. We flew along at 5.7 knots with the wind & tide with us.

As we neared our second obstacle, the Bearfoot Landing Swing Bridge, and asked for an opening, the reply on the VHF was not what we expected. "don't you know it's windy? I cant open if its windy!" the bridge tender said. As you can imagine a number of comments ran through our heads from whitty to.... well you get the picture;)

But if we ever wanted to get thru this bridge today we talked into the microphone with a smile on our faces and asked if he could let us know when he could open. With the engine in neutral we were still doing nearly 3 knots headed towards a closed bridge! As we closed the distance we turned into the current and wind. Now with 1200 rpm on Yoda,  4JH3E we were doing .9 knots.

After what seemed to be a lifetime, but in this case about 3 minutes, the VHF crackled again. "I'm starting the opening sequence for ya Capt'n," Hurray, and within5 minutes we were heading north again.

Cautious from this experience Jeff called our last bridge hurdle on the cell phone. He found that it was gusting to 30 knots at the Little River Swing Bridge. Gosh, the winds were suppose to calm down as the day went on, hummm...that weatherman thing again! This bridge tender told us to call again as we got closer and he would see what he could do.

Once again we did the "bridge dance" as the wind calmed down, only for a few minutes we got our last opening.  At 1354, we tied up at Cricket Cove Marina for the evening,
After a full and eventful day in the sun & wind we made a 3 mile walk to Food Lion to pick up a few essentials. Then a shower, dinner, & 15 minutes of a movie we were ready for bed.

Today we were underway at 0746. The tides couldn't have been more perfect for passing thru Shallotte and Lockwoods Folly. These areas are known for shifting sandbars and unpredictable water depths at low tide.

At 1359 we tide up at South Harbor Village Marina, The only boat on the marinas 1000 transient face dock. Tomorrow, the Cape Fear River & Snows Cut!

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy & Jeff

The Winds a Blow'n...
02/24/2016, Waccamaw Oxbow

We are glad we stayed here as the strong winds from this Low Pressure System blow through at almost 30 knots.

The picture above shows our tree "wind break". The small float in the lower left corner is our anchor Trip Line. If the anchor gets snagged on a submerged stump we can use it to help free it.

If it settles down enough we will be underway again, tomorrow.

Fair Winds and Quiet Anchorages,
Jeff & Wendy

Gotta love when a plan comes together
02/21/2016, Waccamaw Oxbow (ICW Mile 375)

Whenever we are looking for an anchorage north of Charleston we think of Whiteside Creek, first. Even though there is little wind protection from the south any fetch lays down because of its two entrance shoals. A bit tricky to enter, but once inside, the creek  offers tall march grass banks and medium water depths. Another plus for us is a relatively clean bottom.

What a treat it is not to have to scrub chain as we haul the anchor aboard in the morning. In some areas the anchor locker & bilge would become a muddy mess, not to mention the smell, after only a few anchoring cycles.

Expecting a clean haul you can imagine our surprise, at 0756 Saturday morning, when we first saw.....what is that? It's not mud, it's not shell, it's in every chain link, and it moves! Oyster spat, no not spit, spat? It's the stage in an oysters life between larva & an adult. Now, we love oysters but I'm not eat'n that!

So, what do we do? Well, unless you want 1000 dead oysters in the bilge, that's not going to happen, you pick each one out of the links as the chain comes aboard. It really wasn't that bad once we got our timing right with Wendy cranking & Jeff pick'n. All in all about 10 extra minutes and we were off.

As we neared McClellanville the water got very skinny. At an hour before low tide we passed over several areas with the water less that a foot under our keel. This is another spot where extra caution is needed, especially at low tide, but tides are extra low right know being only days away from a full moon.

We pushed on knowing that another weather system would be advancing on us bringing rain & strong winds in a few days. We wanted to "hide" in the protection of the Waccamaw, just ahead. So, at 1835, as dusk closed, in we anchored behind Butler Island (ICW Mile 396), a 55 mile day.

Up this morning to see (pictured above) red sky, mackerel clouds, and calm winds.Time to go! We raised the anchor at 0742 and headed for our favorite Waccamaw Oxbow. As we travelled the gray clouds covered the sun and the calm winds grew more forceful pushing us along at 4.5 knots against the current. At 1219 we anchored, tucked away and sheltered from tomorrows wind & rain.

After settling in we received a surprise phone call from friends, Jim & Jeanne. It seems that the  Space Station will make an appearance, transiting along the Fl/Ga border tonight. From our location, Jim calculated direction & angle for us to get a good look!

So, tonight as we sit in the cockpit we are thankful for our travels, adventures, family & friends. We'll think of all those little Spat we threw back, count the stars, and look south in hopes of seeing the Space Station.

Fair Winds & Quiet Anchorages,
Wendy & Jeff

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