Sun 6 May 2012
Docked at Barefoot Landing, N. Myrtle Beach, SC
[photo: Diane finally at the beach for the second time.]
The thunderstorms came close but not too close last night; we did get very little bit of beneficial rain. Owing to our situation and looking at the tides, it was a very early start today - 0600. Diane was not happy, but she had been forewarned. As it was, I readied the boat in all respects except that she was needed to tend the bow line when we finally cast off near low tide.
The funny thing about these river sections is that when the tide ebbs (flows out to sea), there is a strong current that lasts a long time. When the tide floods, at least in the upper regions of the river, the beneficial current for someone traveling up stream is very small and short-lived. We hardly saw more than 3.7 knots of speed for the first several hours, and then gradually we surpassed 4 knots. Only at the very end of the journey did we see 5 knots. Our 31 mile run took just over 6 hours.
Today's run was interesting in that the first part was through beautiful trees. Their roots were visible at low tide and made many interesting patterns. Although the recommended track for the waterway brought you very close to the trees with 20 feet of water depth, I tried to stay at least far enough away that a fallen tree couldn't be lurking easily beneath the surface.
The second part of the run was in the man-made canal (or cut) that runs somewhat parallel to the beach in the Myrtle Beach area. It is not as pretty, but there is much development going on so there are many homes of all sizes and types to observe. In fact, there was one stretch where I saw more variety in the architectural styles than I ever noticed before.
We were passed close aboard by two gorgeous motor yachts of perhaps 80-90 feet in length; one was from Annapolis and one from Newport. At one point, you pass under an overhead tramway with cars that transport golfers from one side of the canal to the other at a height of about 70 feet, so that sailboats can pass under.
We are currently docked at Barefoot Landing on the long dock (S) side of the canal. The other side is a full-fledged marina, but we don't really need access to the showers or laundry and this is closer to the beach and other things we might want to visit. Clyde got a short walk ashore but was typically not too interested.
We just returned from a biking excursion to the beach. Even with our small tires and Duane's weight, we were able to ride along the hard-packed sand of the very wide beach. It was a mostly cloudy day, however, so not many people were there. Then again we have no idea what crowded is on this beach, part of the "Grand Strand." The way back was slightly different, but still entailed crossing the busy and not-so-friendly Rt. 17. That highway is not set up well for pedestrians or bikes and we had a few close calls.
Getting back to the Barefoot Landing (a large assemblage of shops, restaurants, attractions, and entertainment), we relaxed with an al fresco ale. Back on Diva Di, it was time for some boat chores and then supper - fresh shrimp with three vegetables. We have tried to cut down of the heavy starches so far and substitute more vegetables. It seems to be working to keep us feeling healthier.
Being alongside a long dock with other transient boaters means that people are strolling by often. We have had several enjoyable encounters with other cruisers, as well as some visiting tourists. The evening temperature is wonderful with low humidity and no bugs. There is a lot of light from the lanterns along the promenade, and the setting is far from natural, but pretty nonetheless.
Tomorrow, Diane will get to the beach in her suit for the second time this cruise.
Sat 5 May 2012
Alongside Fuel Dock at Wacca Weche Marina, SC
[photo: Just a few of the shrimp boats based out of Georgetown, SC.]
Last night's forecast severe thunderstorms did not appear, thankfully. Unlike so many previous cruises, I was able to active my smart phone's hotspot and use my laptop to watch the weather radar. When I checked at 2100, it was a very large nasty cell, indeed, still 30 miles to our W. By 2200, it was dissipating markedly, and I went to sleep expecting a little rain and very little wind, which was what we got.
After the morning boat chores, plus the first sweaty job I have done so far (replacing the zinc anode in the heat exchanger), we cleaned up and dropped the dinghy to go ashore with the bicycles around 0900. This is a great town for short biking excursions; there are several areas to dock larger and smaller boats and there is a quite an attractive waterfront. Rather than drop the dinghy, the smart thing to do would have been to simply weigh anchor and move Diva Di to the dock. That would have been quicker and easier than the dinghy, but we didn't think of it until it was a moot point.
We enjoyed s delightful slow ride all around the area surrounding the waterfront, stopped at a farmer's market in the park where Diane got some incredible cantaloupe and corn. On the way back, Diane stopped at a hair salon and was told to come back around 1030 for a quick cut. We rode until then and she waited in the salon while Duane went to the local seafood market where the independent fishermen and shrimpers sell their catch. We are having tuna steaks for dinner. By the time I got the fish back to the dinghy and the bike stowed, Diane was there, too, all set to go. We got the food in the refrigerator and hoisted the dinghy.
There are a few museums here in town, a Maritime Museum and Rice Museum, but we elected to pass on them at this time. We would recommend a stop here to anyone cruising this section of the ICW.
Had we planned a bit better, we would have spent a few more hours in town. I knew that leaving too early would subject us to a very foul current the whole 20 miles to our next intended anchorage, but we were a bit bored to be sitting there and there was a very wonderful wind blowing in a favorable direction, so we left earlier than planned at 1300.
Raising the anchor proved to be a challenge because the electric windlass suddenly failed to operate. [Lest someone get the impression that the boat has been neglected and everything is falling apart, I will tell you that this is a brand new windlass as of 2 years ago. I suspect it is a switch problem and will tackle that later.] There was a 2 knot current and 12 knot breeze right on the nose as Diane carefully motored forward and I attempted to raise the anchor chain by hand. There used to be leather gloves in the locker but they had rotted away, so there were none. The mud on the chain was slippery, and as I have stainless steel chain, there was no pitted/rusted galvanized surface to grip. It was very difficult, but I finally got the anchor up as Diane navigated safely out of the anchorage into the channel.
The passage would have taken less than 3 hours with no current, but as we had at least 1-2 knots against us, and the wind died after 2 hours, the run took us 4.5 hours to go 20 miles. That is very slow and frankly we would not cruise if this was our average speed. The scenery was mostly tall trees and the wide, deep water of the Waccamaw River.
Arriving at the intended anchorage, we were disappointed to see that it was extremely narrow and with lots of pleasure and sightseeing craft buzzing in and out. There was a marina immediately adjacent, so we tried calling, but they were closed for the day. I elected (with an inoperative windlass) to tie up at their fuel dock (a fixed dock with no cleats reachable at low tide) for the night as a prudent measure.
Diane and I are sipping a very cold beverage while we decompress from the drama of the day. Dinner was pan-seared tuna steak, bronzed in a teriyaki glaze, with fresh corn on the cob and green beans almondine. The chef sweated profusely in the heat, but dining al fresco on deck with the live music from the shoreside guitarist/singer was magical. Truth be told, we have had no problem finding and preparing great tuna and green beans since we moved to Florida 8 years ago, but the corn on the cob was the best we have had since our last visit to the NJ/PA area. It was still not as good as "Jersey corn", but quite tasty.
Clyde was especially entertained tonight by the dozen or so swallows that live under the dock where we are tied. It was a very pleasant evening until about 2100 when the bugs appeared and we headed below. There are thunderstorms to our W, which I will be tracking on the Internet radar.
Fri 4 May 2012
Anchored off Georgetown, SC
With a bridge only 7 miles along our route that does not open between 0700 to 0900, we elected to delay departure until 0745. Before that, we had to stow the TV cable, remove the shore power cable, fill the water tanks and hose the dirt off the boat. Being near land sure makes a boat dirty. It took so long that we actually did not shove off until 0800.
We had a very mild fair current until we got to the section before the bridge. We were trailing another sailboat by 1 minute as we got closer and saw a number of sailboats waiting for the 0900 opening. I pushed the engine from 65% full power to about 85% full power to catch up, but noticed that the engine temp climbed from 170 to 200F. I hailed the bridge to tell him I would not pass at this time and to open as soon as he could after this one. I throttled back; the engine temperature came right back down and we circled for 15 minutes until we could pass again. The lesson is that this bypass cooling system is marginal and I need to be wary of that.
The rest of the day's run was very long and mostly very boring. The one event was shortly after the bridge when I let my attention wander to the sails (trying to get every bit of help) and we left the channel. We came to a rather sudden stop, but could back off easily with no damage. Not having a working auto-pilot is a big pain.
Speaking of that, I asked Diane to turn it on a few hours later and lo and behold it was working. I carefully monitored it to be sure it was reasonably reliable. It is nice to have that assistance again.
Today was not really a good day, in the sense that we both got really sore, no matter what we tried to do to stretch and move. It took 11.5 hours to run the 68 miles from Charleston to Georgetown, an atypical day for us, to be sure.
Arriving at Georgetown, we had trouble finding room to anchor amid the many anchored and moored boats. Finally we got a spot at the northern end of the narrow anchorage. We intend to explore tomorrow until early afternoon, and then take off for a 3-hour run to another anchorage. The waterfront here looks really interesting.
Thu 3 May 2012
Docked at Ashley Marina, Charleston, SC
[photo: Rather than show yet another very interesting historic home, this is a shot of King St. where many very ritzy shops are located. To my amazement, Diane did not even want to window shop.]
With sunrise becoming earlier, Duane is now sleeping until it is light, although still not past sunrise. It was another great night of sleep, and we had a relaxed morning until meeting Vern and Rose, who took us to the Lost Dog for a nice breakfast on Jolly Beach. Upon return to the marina, we returned Vern's tools and then got ready for a biking excursion.
Biking from the Ashley Marina to the Battery Park and historic areas seems like a problem until you actually try it; then it is not so bad. We found a few too many streets with cobblestones, bricks, or very uneven flagstone, which made the ride tough, but overall, it was a pretty neat biking experience. We rode south along the waterfront, which eventually became the Battery area with a half-decent sidewalk. One of the things that many old cities have in common is very narrow streets (and sidewalks).
We rode back and forth through the many small streets with a large number of beautiful, historic homes. Some were very large and others smaller, but all were interesting in their own way. We next made our way into the French Quarter and liked that very much, as well. Last of the touristy stuff was some time on Market Street, where Diane strolled through the long brick market buildings while Duane walked the bikes outside parallel to her. In addition to the bikes, I offered to carry the little knapsack with our wallets and credit cards, but she said I didn't have to worry.
After that, we found a nice little southern bistro called Sticky Fingers and had a nice cold beer in the air conditioning; it was surprisingly hot, but locals said it was normal for this time in May. The route back was mostly quiet neighborhoods, and we soon had the bikes stowed away. We know it is always better to get that out of the way before you stop to relax. Later, it seems like such a chore.
There were things that could be done, like polishing stainless that is now stained, but a nap seemed like a better idea. Before long it was time to wander over to Roam-a-Lot and join Vern and Rose for a happy hour.
Dinner was at Fleet Landing, near the battery. It may not look like much, since it is an old concrete building, but we had some of the best restaurant food in a long time. Our Seafood Pasta was out of this world, with lots of fresh, perfectly-cooked seafood with a minimal amount of pasta in a very tasty cream-based sauce. For the record, the entrees were fairly priced for the quality, but they gouge you on beverages and dessert. It was our first dessert of the cruise, so we don't feel too guilty.
It was an early night after saying our goodbyes.
[photo: So close!]
Thanks, all y'all, for your kind words of encouragement and advice. :-)
As for exploring Charleston, we were here by car for several days previously and did all the standard touristy things, so this visit was not about that.
Regarding the lifters, the problem is they cannot come out of the engine unless you remove the cylinder head, and we are just not about to attempt that while we are crusing unless we absolutely have to. I already have a long (expensive) list of things that should be done after returning when the boat is at our house and I can work at leisure.
Wed 2 May 2012
Docked at Ashley Marina, Charleston, SC
After an extremely restful sleep, we puttered around the boat until after 0900 when Vern arrived to tackle the camshaft replacement. I will give enough detail to satisfy the "gearheads", so others can skip over the next few paragraphs. Getting the bolt holding the crankshaft pulley off was the first challenge and it took almost two hours before a trip to Vern's home for an impact wrench solved that problem. Next, the pulley just pulled right off with two fingers (welcome surprise). With that behind us, we could take off all the stuff I had previously removed before the first aborted attempt, including the rocker arm cover and assembly.
We now got the gear case off exposing all the timing gears, and things were looking promising. Next, the push rods came out and kept in proper order, and then the challenge was how to pull the lifters (tappets) up and out. Fabricating a small pair of tongs from heavy wire, I was very disheartened to see that the lifters only came up so far before hitting the cylinder head. The ports were big enough to clear the pushrods, but not the lifters.
Now we had three choices: (1) abort the effort and reassemble; (2) remove the cylinder head (I absolutely refused to go down that path considering how many other things had to be removed and assessing the risk of causing further problems); (3) find a way to hold all 8 lifters in the up position while we slid the old camshaft out and then inserted the new one. I was ready to abort at this stage, but Vern was optimistic and unable to accept defeat.
We tried using fabricated wire tongs, but it was clear that the lifters could easily slip off and if that happened when the camshaft was out, I was in deep trouble. Next, we tried gluing magnets to the end of 6 inch long cut dowel rods. It looked very promising because we could pick up a fairly heavy part on the bench (galley counter), but the lifters were a tight fit with the friction of an oil film in a tight bore, so they would not work in practice.
Despite three excursions in Vern's car (two trips to the hardware store and one to his house), we were stymied. I forced the issue and started reassembling everything. I was far from dejected, just hoping that when we were done reassembling, nothing would be worse. After helping for a while, Vern left to attend to other matters and I finished the reassembly. Diane came back from a nap aboard Vern and Rose's boat, Roam-a-Lot, and helped me add back the coolant. We started the engine and all ran smoothly, so it was now back in its jury-rigged, but functional, state.
I should mention that Vern and I had a great lunch at a little Mexican restaurant during our last excursion, and Diane and Rose were shopping in town for several hours. Diane doesn't spend too much when she shops, so she found some cute outfits, and a much-needed pair of non-skid shoes, for a very low price. They, too, had a nice lunch and enjoyed their time in the city.
It is now 1800 and I have been relaxing (and typing) for 30 minutes. We will be here all day tomorrow so that we can both explore a bit, and then plan a long day for Friday. Yes, in some respects, today was a wasted day, but life is not all bananas jubilee and sunglasses, you know (private joke for Dennis). We certainly appreciate the hospitality and assistance that Vern and rose have shown us during our visit so far.
Clyde is up in the cockpit with Diane enjoying the fading daylight and within an hour we will be asleep and ready for a much more relaxing and fun tomorrow.