02/16/2012, St Mary's, GA
I had hoped to have Kristinly back in the water by 1300 - 1400, but that did not happen until 1530. As a result, I was not able to make it to Lang's Marina in time to take on fuel and water before heading on, so I anchored here for the evening and will head to the dock when they open. Even so, it is great to be back on the boat, on the water. It will be much greater when Nikki arrives a week from today. So for now, the coffee is brewing and I feel that familiar sense of calm I always get when on the boat.
The weather is unsettled and wind is unfavorable (southerlies), so I am going to head down the ditch (ICW) as far as St. Augustine, FL rather than head outside. Not sure if it will be good to go outside then, but I hope so. If not, I will continue down the ditch and possibly head outside at Cape Canaveral.
One final note for this post: I am always so pleased to experience the southern hospitality of the folks in Georgia. You will never find folks more willing to help than these people. They're out there, but only equal. I don't always agree with their politics down here, but I love being around them.
02/15/2012, St Mary's, GA
After arriving here Sunday, I've spent every bit of daylight recommissioning Kristinly and will launch her tomorrow around noon. Assuming all goes well, I will be on the hook tomorrow night in Florida, via the ICW, probably somewhere around Fernandina Beach. These updates will also appear on my Facebook profile.
Nikki is flying into Fort Lauderdale the 24th and I will pick her up there. We are hoping for a good weather window and if we get it, we will head for the Abacos, the northern island in the Bahamas. If not, we will make for Key West. Nikki has 12 days off and after she returns home, I will make a bee-line for Vermont. My uncle Dave is flying into Jacksonville, FL March 13 and plans to sail north with me for a week or two. I expect the weather will be the deciding factor there. He is from California.
I am heading north early in order to do the final launch of a new business I am starting and plan to be there the first week in April. The name of the business is Champlain Blasting Solutions, and no, it does not involve dynamite. Think sand blasting ...
I will update here when I can.
10/24/2011, St Mary's, GA
This sunset was off the coast of South Carolina, or maybe Georgia. I don't remember but it was very pretty at the time, so I took a picture. I must have hundreds of pictures of sunsets. I guess I never tire of moments like that.
The balance of the trip south to St Mary's, GA was relatively uneventful. The transmission operated flawlessly for the next 10 hours or so. I am pretty convinced there was something just below the surface that was struck by the prop.
The winds eventually backed to the NW and picked up to 10-15 kts so I was able to shut the engine off and sail for about 8 hours at 6-7 kts on a broad reach. But the seas were confused with the NW wind waves crossing the NE swell and there was a lot of pitch and yaw going on. The upside is it gives you good core body exercise!
Timing of entry at the St Mary's River inlet could not have been worse. There was a good 3-4 kt ebbing current met by 15 kt NE wind which created the dreaded standing waves, some easily in the range of 6 ft. The ride in during these conditions is much better than plowing through them when heading out to sea, but really a pain in the ass, none the less. I pushed against the current all the way to the boat yard where Kristinly will be hauled, so after stopping to take on fuel at another place that was an hour out of the way, it was nearly 1530 by the time I got here. I was dead tired after 32 hours.
All told, it was 1,278 nm from Mallets Bay, VT to St Mary's, GA. I left VT 38 days ago. If you subtract the 4 days in Sandy Hook, NJ waiting out the weather, the 9 days spent in Annapolis for the boat show and meeting Nikki and Susan, as well as Joe and his buddy Kevin, and the 2 days spent in Wrightsville Beach, NC waiting out the weather there, I spent 23 days actually moving with the boat. Avoiding the ICW whenever possible and going outside around NJ (which you pretty much have to anyway because of the shallow depths), and from Wrightsville Beach to St Mary's, GA really saved a lot of time, but it's still a sailboat and you don't go anywhere fast.
I love, love, love sailing. I have found no activity or pass time in my life that I enjoy, or have enjoyed, more than this. But leaving Nikki behind is heart breaking, for both of us. I am also missing the opportunity to be with Kristin and Dan, and Jenni and Matt, and all my friends and extended family in the New England area. And by the way, my first grandchild (his name will be Marcus!) is due in December and I can't miss that. So as much as I love sailing, I love my family and friends more, and I have to rethink this whole business of sailing alone for extended periods of time. I don't want to give up sailing, but I need to find a way to do it and also keep the people in my life who mean so much to me, as close and possible. I will work on that. Being one who wants it all, I will have to give this all a lot of thought before heading back to sea the next time.
I will fly back to VT Thursday. Kristinly will be hauled after I leave next week and I have arranged to have a guy soda blast the hull in preparation for repainting the bottom. The working plan right now is to return to the boat late January, repaint the bottom and recommission her, and sail the boat to the Abacos in the Bahamas in time for Nikki to fly in to meet me there during her winter break in February. We hope to sail the Abacos together for two weeks. I will then prepare to sail the boat back to the northeast for summer sailing. As my friend Mayann always says about maiking plans to go cruising, the plan is cast in jello and we'll know more as January gets closer.
This is the last post until the end of January. Check back then for updates as the adventures of Kristinly and crew continues ...
Fair winds and following seas,
At 1540, I was enjoying the ride, thinking about the upcoming Packers game at 1615, feeling a little drowsy, and decided to catch a few winks in the cockpit. There were no boats in site, the ride was pretty settled, and 20 minutes of sleep was going to feel good. I no more than feel asleep when I heard (and felt) two relatively large bangs in rapid succession, and heard the engine rpms fall slightly, just briefly, and then return to normal. I jumped up and instantly put the engine in neutral and listened. I looked behind me to see if something would surface in the wake of the boat as in perhaps I had run over something, but saw nothing. Everything sounded normal, engine-wise. I quickly went below and opened up the engine room. All looked normal. Then I checked under all the floor boards and there was no water coming in, so at least there was no immediate danger.
I shut the engine down and checked the transmission fluid level which was OK. (Don Mack, I thought of you at this very moment and your similar story.) I thought maybe the flange where the propeller shaft connects to the rear of the transmission may have come loose, as that had happened before, but that was OK. The shaft was spinning straight (not acting like it was bent) as it free wheeled in neutral in the forward movement of the boat under sail. I could hear nothing grinding in the transmission as in broken metal pieces floating around in there somewhere. So with everything looking and sounding normal, I restarted the engine and put the transmission in forward and listened. All seemed OK, so I slowly throttled it up and went below and monitored everything for the next half hour or so. In the end, I concluded something must have gone under the boat and was struck by the prop as it passed by. Not knowing for sure, I altered course and sailed closer to shore and maintained a course of about 8 to 10 nm offshore for the balance of the trip. The downside of being closer to shore is having to pay close attention to charted buoys and the many fishing boats that are out here at all hours of the day and night. The upside of course is I was close enough to easily get to if it turned out I would need a tow. That never happened, but I tend to be conservative at times like this and err on the side of safety.
That kind of thing can really get your heart pumping and I was extra alert to every bump and unusual sound for the next several hours. I still have the notion in the back of my mind that there is a problem with the transmission that I haven't figured out yet, but I don't think that is the case. I will be anxious to inspect the prop when the boat is hauled out to have the bottom paint redone.
10/23/2011, Offshore SW of Charleston
I got a good start leaving Charleston at 0730 and caught the ebb tide for the 8 nm out to the inlet. The weather is beautiful, but probably won't get a whole lot of help as far as the wind goes. The forecast for both wave and wind is proving to be accurate. Light NW wind blown waves crossing the NE swell makes the ride a bit rolly and hardly enough with to stabilize things with the sails. So it is probably going to be a 170 nm motor sailing trip to St Marys, GA, 60 nm south of Savannah. That is where Kristinly will be laid up on the hard for the next 3 months or so as I return to VT.
I was greeted by dolphins for quite a while around noon. Hard to say exactly how many, but I am pretty sure there were at least 5, maybe 6. They stayed for about an hour, swimming back and forth in front of the bow. With life vest and harness attached to the jack line via tether, I went forward and sat on the bow sprit and marveled at how big and graceful these beautiful creature are. I never tire of their company and get quite mesmerized in the moment. The video isn't great, particularly with the sun reflecting on the water, but you'll get the idea.
10/22/2011, Charleston, SC
The picture is of a 44' catamaran of the couple I met in Wrightsville Beach on the coconut telegraph (VHF radio). We traveled together to SC. Safety in numbers and a good idea when you can do it. The video was taken just after sunrise off the coast of South Carolina before arriving in Charleston.
I am really tired as I have been awake now for 32 hours and managed to catch something like 2 hours of sleep over the course of a half dozen cat naps while sailing. Being alone, that's all I am comfortable with, especially considering we were only offshore maybe 25 miles at most and there were enough other boats out there; from barges, commercial fishing boats, and other sailors that you really had to pay attention. I had one close call with a small commercial fishing boat. He was not paying attention, but I saw him on radar as well as his lights, and after several tries, got him on the radio. Then after I thought we had agreed on how to meet each other, he almost T-boned me. I stopped before that happened and he crossed my bow about 50 yards in front of me. That was the only one like that.
Total trip was 158 nm, took 27 hrs 30 mins, and I am beat. Going to take a nap for a couple of hours, get up for some dinner, and then get a good night's sleep tonight. Planning to go back outside to St Mary's River, south of Savannah about 60 nm. This trip is longer at 170 nm, but it is definitely better than slogging it out down the ditch (ICW).