One verrrry long day...
06 November 2008 | Broad Creek anchorage NC (N35*05.424 x W076*37.594) to Deaton Yacht Service, Whittaker Creek Oriental, NC (N35*01.933 x W076*41.149)
7:30am weather: Winds NW 10-24, T: 56* H:77% P:29.9 & Rising
Wow what a day...
The shroud line that came loose was just that - loose (thank goodness). It looks like it never got properly tightened and locked but that was a quick fix (YAY).
While I still have no cell phone service I have had periodic Internet connect through my broadband service so I had a brilliant idea (during my morning coffee) to take the computer topside, connect with my broadband card and use Skype to try and contact Ashley at Whittaker Pointe Marina (our SSCA contact in Oriental for assistance). We were originally going to try and get closer to Oriental and try radioing them while heading over there but I thought hey, lets see if this works. I should have never updated the software for it last night when it came on and said "there are updates, would you like to update now?"
When I tried to connect this morning, I got the message that I would be connecting to another service, so roaming charges would be incurred. What?!?! This was new, but okay. Fine. I needed to find out if we could get into Whittaker Creek - the depths on the chart show 3-4 ft at the entrance before the channel started. We didn't want to get stuck if we couldn't get in, so okay... I'll take the extra roaming charges. In our waterway guide there was an add for Deaton Yacht Service which showed a full service yard and we figured we could stay at Whittaker Pointe and have Deaton's fix our battery charger, then spend some time exploring Oriental in the mean time using the Marina's loaner car to shop for groceries, until we could have the charger fixed/replaced then be on our way south again.
When I connected and dialed up using Skype Ashley couldn't hear me and hung up, so I had to figure out what was wrong with my headset. 10 minutes later I had a bad connection with him but we managed to piece together that we could contact him on VHF. Somehow I thought we were to far (line of sight and all that stuff) but we finally managed to make contact and while they didn't have a deep draft slip for us, they called Sail Craft Marina for us and were told we could come in there, and he'd meet us there (they have mechanics there too). Yes the water gets skinny there but follow the range markers in and no problem. He was going to meet us at Sail Craft and Wayne & I decided that we'd figure out what to do from there.
I thought, okay I'll make breakfast once underway, so we went to hoist up our anchors (we had set two for the 30 + winds the past couple of days). The fortress that we connected with the new rode and chain came up after some tugging (almost like clay). The next one was the Delta with all chain rode (the line that connects the boat to the anchor). This should have been no problem because we have our trusty windlass (which is an electric motor to pull up the anchor) to tackle all that chain. Well, one of the connection pins somehow broke off so the windlass would only let out more chain, and not haul it up. So this became a man and a half job in order to raise 75 feet of slimy, slippery, clay lubricated chain that didn't want to come up (it was well set in the mud/clay), all by hand. It kept sliding through Wayne's hands, depositing clay all over the deck and Wayne. I finally had to leave the helm to assist. Big mistake. I should have stayed at the helm and let him handle it only he couldn't by himself. I had to help get the mud off so he could haul it up. One big mess. We finally got the anchor up and I went back to the helm. I looked and the depth sounder read 4.2 ft. Oh lord. I looked up and saw trees and shoreline and hit reverse. No luck. Hit reverse at higher rpms. No luck. Okay Reverse higher rpms and turn the wheel side to side to see if I could get any leeway to help back. Nada, zip, zero... Oh oh, here comes Wayne, and is he ever caked in mud/clay. Well? Um ya...hey hon, we are not moving anywhere. What? We're stuck. Hit reverse. I'm IN reverse. Look... Okay, here, let me do it. Okay. After another 10 minutes of rocking the back with the steering, then neutral, then reverse, hon - should I call TowBoat US? No not yet. Anther 10 minutes, how about I call Ashley? No... Reverse, seriously this time... to 3500 rpms - really gunning it this time. Then I hear Kolibrie, Kolibrie, Kolibrie, Whittaker Pointe Marina... oh oh, he's waiting for us still. I go below and talk with someone calling for Ashley and tell them what's going on. After another 10 minutes we hail TowBoat on the VHF. I got the feeling they were waiting for us to call. ½ hour later they arrived and they were from Deaton's of all places. I explained we were originally heading for them but didn't think that they had slips, blah, blah, blah and he called back to Deaton's and they could accommodate us while working on the boat. Yay! We were now free to leave Broad Creek and go over to Whittaker Creek so we could get our battery charger fixed. Things were looking up. He told us how to get into Whittaker Creek, stay to the red side, use the range to line up, and give the green buoys a wide clearance. No problem. A range is where you line up two lines, one over the other, that help keep you on a specific course so that you don't veer one way or the other. This is usually used in areas where wandering off course gets you into trouble. In this case a very narrow, skinny channel. No problem we've done ranges before.
Once they pulled away and we were back in 8 feet of water we lost our satellite connection to the chart plotter so didn't know exactly where we were in Broad Creek, only that we were surrounded by shallow water. Okay, where's those charts! Do you remember which way we navigated to avoid the shallows 3 days ago? I vaguely remembered the channel in, so Wayne helmed while I visually recalled our path, charted and tried to get the chart plotter to work to show our position. Nothing worked, so we gingerly worked our way out of the creek and back into the Neuse River, avoiding the shoals, wreck, and fishing obstructions while trying to figure out exactly where on the chart we were, how to get the chart plotter back on line and searching for the hand held GPS.
We finally found Whittaker Creek, called Deatons to see where they were, lined up carefully on the range, followed it in, no problem, called Deatons for directions again, put Whittaker Pointe Marina to starboard, gave the green buoys wide berth, turned to go into the marina on the port side, and didn't move. What? We're not moving... Oh shit... We've run aground again this time in front of Whittaker Pointe Marina, next to the Towboat place - how convenient. Call Deaton's again. Um Deatons, this is Kolibrie again, we've run aground. Okay, I'll send our towboat out. Roger that.
Same boat operator came out. I asked "same time tomorrow?" He laughed. So did we... What else could we do? This time it was in sand and much faster to pull us out. We followed him into the marina. A very narrow, full of parked boats, channel. I have a feeling I'll be calling them when we leave. Maybe I should just make a reservation and have them tow us out! LOL!!! I have to laugh... it's been a long day. I hear that it's going to get worse the further south we go. The shoaling gets worse. TowBoat US is going to end up canceling us at this rate. Twice in one day... sigh.
So we're now at Deaton Yacht Services & Brokerage (no we're not selling our little Brie) and have told them what's wrong and needs fixing 1. The battery charger - it will probably need replacing 2. The chart plotter - they have an electronics guy that may have seen this problem before 3. The windlass... I can't wait to see this month's expenses. On a brighter note - the boat docked in front of us (Cat's Cradle) really had a bad day, much worse than us. Going through the Alligator River, the bridge operator closed the bridge on him while he was passing through. Killed all his rigging and bent his mast right over. Makes our day seem.... Somehow trivial... they're looking at $16,000 for a mast replacement plus time spent sitting here in the boat yard, worker fees, etc... and to make matters worse, they are the ones that called to have the bridge opened - so you'd think that the bridge tender would have an eye out for him... They may be in litigation for years on this one - so from that perspective, we haven't had a baaad day yet...
We got a map of the area and walked into town for dinner. We decided I shouldn't cook. I'd probably blow up the stove tonight. Good choice. Down the road a piece and around the bend, we came to a family restaurant - good food, reasonable prices, southern hospitality, and HUSH PUPPIES, okra (I haven't had since childhood), and sweet potatoes with ribs mmmmmm good, but to hot for Wayne. It was a lovely walk in the dark, back to the boat, with the peepers, croakers, and chirpers all singing under a 1st quarter moonlit sky. I don't normally go walking in the dark, but it was somehow romantic after a busy, frustrating day of things breaking, sticking, and running aground twice. The air temperature was perfect - a little cool for a t-shirt but with the humidity, just perfect for a fall evening stroll. Did I mention that we had ribs for breakfast this evening? They were mighty tastey...