Back to the States
23 June 2013 | Florida to Annapolis
Arrived safely at Fort Pierce – picked up the ICW to get to the marina and boy was getting to our slip at the marina a bit confusing! Instead of saying “hook a left off the ICW at marker such and such, take a right into the marina and at first dock take a left and your slip number is …., but NOOOO we got this whole rigamarole that just confused the heck out of us (apparently also “Dolphin” didn’t understand their directions either). Anyway, we missed our dock and had to turn the boat around in a very crowded marina – it was a bit nerve wracking as; one, the boat does not turn on a dime (though, if we had a bow thruster, …. one can only dream) and the boat does not back up “worth sh_t” as Brian would say. We managed to get the boat turned around without hitting any other boats or docks and made it into our slip without incident. We’ve never been at a slip that we’ve had to tie off at pilings (basically a telephone pole stuck in the ground); we were not quite sure how to lasso the pilings as you are also handing off lines to the dock hand while trying not to plow into the pier in front of you, or scrape the boat sides, but we managed albeit not the smoothest operation, though the dock hand said we were doing just fine – it definitely helps when you have dock hands that are calm and can give precise info as to the how’s of it all. Asked the dock hand if anyone was watching – he said “no and that you did just fine”. He lied – come to find out, we were so absorbed in getting the boat docked that not even 150 feet away there was a restaurant with a large outdoor section that overlooked the marina – SOOO, everyone was watching! Geesh!!! We celebrated that night by going out for a pizza – the first one since we started our journey.
Brian met with a mechanic regarding our engine – we were all set to go forth and replace the engine by the time we got talking with him, but his boss couldn’t guarantee that the new engine would be shipped by no later than next Tuesday. We want to get North and staying a night or two at marina is a treat for us – we can’t afford to stay here for two weeks, (we were willing to spend a week to get the engine replaced) though the showers were wonderful, the laundry facility is brand spanking new, the facility is very clean and neat and we are meeting cruisers that we’ve met on our trip throughout the Bahamas.
Went to leave the marina, but our draft is 6 feet and we were in 5 feet of water – couldn’t budge the boat – got to stay another night for free.
We were able to leave the marina next day – nervous about backing the boat out of the slip – I was at the helm while Brian took care of all of the lines. Thankfully, it was calm and early in the morning, so we didn’t have an audience. We did just fine.
May 12, 2013
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Have been motor/sailing the ICW. Hit a couple of rain squalls with thunder and lightening, but no high winds – they didn’t last long. Long days!
Reading: Lauren – finished “Galilee” by Clive Barker and onto “Dracula” by Bram
Brian – finished “Snowman” and is catching up on his Cruising World issues
Dinners: Pork chops with left over potato salad
Pasta with asparagus
Left over pizza
Pasta with peanut sauce and broccoli
From Fort Pierce we’ve motored the ICW to Cocoa, FL – Mother’s Day breakfast out, then off up the ICW rest of day and anchored just south of New Smyrna Beach Bridge.
Next day a 12 hour motoring day as the wind was on our nose all day – anchored on the Matanzas River, 7 miles just shy of St. Augustine – long day!!! Onto St. Augustine and picked up a mooring ball for a couple of days. While in St. Augustine, we walked the town and found another restaurant that offered pizza – way better than we had in Fort Pierce.
From St. Augustine, we motored, motored-sailed and sailed all of 28 and ½ hours to a marina in Hilton Head, SC so that we could have the engine looked at and hopefully replaced. I took first watch from 8PM – 11PM. Brian and I opted to sail several miles (about 10 miles) out from the mainland – “Dolphin” sailed along the coast. The sunset was beautiful. Saw some fireworks about 9PM – even as far out as we were, they were still pretty impressive and kept me occupied for a bit. Don’t like doing the night watches. The sea was fairly calm, so that alleviated some of my apprehension. Still, our cockpit is not comfortable – no cushions – it’s open to the elements which means it gets cold and damp. I played some scrabble and just kept an eye out for other cruisers, freighters/tankers, constantly watched the monitor to make sure we stayed on course and that we had plenty of water depth – it actually was pretty shallow for being about 10 miles out – average depth was about 40 feet; didn’t have to call Brian for anything. Second watch for me was 2AM – 5AM. After that shift though, I only slept for a half hour. Went above and kept Brian company. Early morning, the waves calmed down even more, so we opted to take showers. The water was nice and hot from running the engine and I didn’t have to worry about any peering eyes as we were still out quite a ways, though getting closer to land and our entry to the ICW towards Hilton Head. Boy, did that shower feel wonderful!!!
Reading: Brian: The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria
Lauren: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (have read before – excellent!)
Dinners and lunches on the ICW/and on the outside – anything I could get made up ahead of time and eat cold, because 1) depending on the weather – I don’t do well in the galley when it’s unsettled and 2) after traveling non-stop for 2 days – who really wants to cook let alone eat – we just want to crash
Talked to the mechanics today regarding our engine – we have decided to stay here and get it replaced. We said our goodbyes to Nina and Adrien of “Dolphin”. They anchored out and will be moving on tomorrow. Hopefully someday we will be able to meet up with them. We have been traveling with “Dolphin” since we met up with them the second time in Warderick Wells, Bahamas – we will miss them. Tomorrow we move from this marina to the working dock. Brian is going to break down the engine and do as much as he can to cut down on the cost of the job. We are going to rent a vehicle while here and do a bit of site seeing once they start working on the engine. We are hoping that all of the work will be done before next weeks long weekend – can’t believe it’s almost Memorial Day Weekend! Our friends, Gale and Glenn are here at Hilton Head for two weeks and we have tentative plans to meet up with them on Monday afternoon.
May 26, 2012
The last couple of days, Brian has been dealing with the mechanics. We have to install a new shaft for the propeller as ours will be too short for the new engine – the boat will have to be pulled from the water for this. One of the mechanics ran wire to two negative terminals of the two battery banks and Gary, who will install the engine, came and took several measurements so he will have everything in order for the install. After the engine was pulled, Brian and I spent the afternoon with Gail and Glenn. Late afternoon, Brian and I cleaned out the bilge; what a mess, between the sludge, grease, the sweat (it was so humid) and the non-latex paint we applied to the bilge, we looked like we hadn’t showered in a week – we were rather gross. Gail and Glenn generously let us stay at their time share for the night so we wouldn’t have to smell paint fumes – nice!
Yesterday, we took a ride to Savannah and walked around for the day. There was an actual chill in the air – almost felt like Fall – refreshing! We had a wonderful walking tour of Savannah.
This morning Brian worked on putting together and installing his hot water manifold that runs to the bathroom and kitchen sinks and also to the cockpit shower. It took all morning, but went rather well. Running the new hose went much smoother than he had anticipated. Of course, there was quite the clean up afterwards – always is. In order to do any work on the boat, the boat has to be torn apart – literally - and then find places for all the stuff that has to be moved so it’s not in the way. When the work is done, we make sure the areas are thoroughly cleaned before closing all compartments back up and then everything else gets put back in its place – this is done for EVERY job! I did go and do one load of laundry just so I wasn’t underfoot all of the time.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day – Hilton Head does not have a parade, but there will be some speeches and singing – we may attend.
June 1, 2013 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!
Spent Memorial Day in a “Doc in the Box” – nasty sinus infection and migraine – was there for almost three hours – very busy place (actually we beat in the crowd, but there were a couple of emergencies – which I didn’t understand why they weren’t at a hospital). My initial wait wasn’t long, but once in the examining room, well….. The doctor actually stopped in after an hour and profusely apologized and “Do you mind if I take care of the emergencies?” Really??? Jimminy Cricket!!!! Told him to please, please go ahead – I was ok. When he finally got around to me, he couldn’t stop apologizing (told you the Southerners were so polite). He even called me the next day to check up on me.
June 3, 2013
This morning knowing it was going to rain all day and waiting for the marine tech (we are expecting him at 10), I decided to make us our version of Egg McMuffins – they were yummy! Yesterday, being Sunday, knowing I wasn’t going to be disturbed by having floors taken up for work, I baked oatmeal raisin cookies – that’s an all morning diversion. Very frustrating that we are still here at Hilton Head as it’s been one thing after the other with the engine install. There are always delays of some sort, but geesh, it’s going on our third week here!!! Today we are hoping the work will finally be done (we are assuming it will take all day ((very slow)), then there is the test drive, so maybe leave tomorrow????, though it’s suppose to rain all week, so since we are already on the monthly payment schedule here at the marina, we might just stay a few more days til the weather clears. Brian has laid out our route for the outside (weather permitting) and if and where we can duck into the ICW if need be. Nothing exciting going on here as the rental was returned on Saturday ‘cause we thought we were leaving that day. Brian and I take daily walks. Hilton Head comprises of many gated communities; the marina we are staying at is one of them, so in order to get back in we have to have a pass (and remember to take it with us when we go walking). I’m not sure I would want to live in a gated community. Downsides are the fees associated with it and so many rules and regulations that are strictly enforced. On the upside, there is no yard maintenance (yah, I know – me, who loves to garden), everything is nasty clean and neat and I suppose there’s a bit more privacy from the public, though the houses are literally on top of each other and the access to so many of the bike and walking trails, though you would have to have a pass for each gated community. Also, if I was to live in the South, I would most definitely have a pool. Swimming pools here seem to be almost non-existent. As in Charleston, here at Hilton Head the techs move at their own pace, even though they assured us we would be on our way a week ago; can’t even get too upset with them as they are so darn polite. Today is so humid that we actually plugged in to the dock and started our a/c – figured the techs would appreciate that.
Spent one morning (waiting for the tech) and defrosted our freezer and cleaned that and the fridge out. Doing lots of reading and catching up on emails. Also, as everyone knows, I really enjoy playing Scrabble on my IPad – me against the computer. I started making a list of words that the computer comes up with and looking them up in our Oxford dictionary – ¾ of these words are not listed – hmmm can the computer cheat??? Think I’ll have to invest in a new dictionary. If I look up the words on the Scrabble dictionary, it just tells you if it’s a useable word – doesn’t give the meaning of the word.
Brian got some great pics at the marina; a heron that came in each evening and beautiful sunsets with an old dock system in the foreground.
Dinners: Tuna noodle casserole and corn
Pasta with sautéed onion, bell pepper and tomato (starting to go) mixed in with left over spaghetti sauce
Home made nachos with lots of jalapenos
Pork Chops with sautéed asparagus
Reading: Brian – finished the Jack Reacher series that he downloaded, then Tom Clancy’s “Changing Of The Guard” and is now onto “The Emporer’s Bones” by Adam Williams
Lauren: Started the Jack Reacher series, jumped to Karin Slaughter’s “Undone”, then Lisa Gardner’s “Live To Tell” and then just finished Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin”
June 8, 2013
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUDY!!!
Well, this morning at 6:45 we were finally able to leave Hilton Head; three weeks to get the new engine installed, then we had to negotiate their fee down – it ended amicably, thank God. Headed out to sea, but yet again, the waves and winds were not what was predicted – we persevered and motor sailed (have to break the new engine in – for the next 50 hours we actually have a schedule to run the RPMS). We were doing fine til I had to go down below, then I ended up not feeling well. Our plan was to travel all day, overnight, next day and another overnight. Just before Charleston, the bracket for the end of the outhaul on the main sail busted; Brian temporarily fixed it in place with heavy duty line, but didn’t want to use the sail in case the line chafed. That was about the time the sea sickness got the best of me, so we opted to head into Charleston and up the ICW for a bit. The Charleston area seems to be a jinx for us. When we initially started our journey, it was at Charleston and if you remember it was the trip from hell. Anyway, dropped anchor at 8:15PM – cockpit shower and leftovers for dinner; reviewed charts and bed.
June 9, 2013
Traveled the ICW – 2 knots of current against us for the 12 hour trip, so a lot slower than we had planned. Saw an alligator partially submerged near the shore, quite a few turtles and some huge osprey nests. Brian took some pics of the trees along the shore that had their roots exposed. One thing about traveling the ICW is that I can go below without getting sick, so am able to cook; even though it’s slower travel there are some upsides. The water we traveled through all day looked like the color of tea. We had lots of company of enamored dragonflies (they were flying all over the boat in pairs ((actually they were mating as they were flying)). Also, Brian was kept amused for several hours trying to fly swat dear flies – they were so annoying. Pulled off the ICW in a Cypress swamp; it actually has a large cut through for boats. We anchored and sat out and ate dinner just listening to the quiet. Saw a family of ducks swim across the channel; lots of bubbles surfaced – don’t know if they were turtles or alligators, fish jumping, etc. So quiet and peaceful here. Tomorrow we will try to have anchor up by 6:00 and get a long day of travel in.
Reading: Lauren: Whipped through Lisa Gardner’s “Live To Tell” then onto Vince Flynn’s “Consent to Kill” (love those espionage stories). Now reading Ken Follet’s “World Without End” follow up to his “Pillars Of The Earth”
Brian: “The Inferno” by Dante
Dinners: Hot dogs with potato salad
Chicken with pasta salad
Spaghetti with marinara meat sauce
June 10, 2013
Just before pulling up anchor at 6 a.m. and meandered to the other end of the Cypress swamp then out to the ICW, Brian saw an alligator swim across the bow of our boat. Did well today – tide was not against us all day like yesterday – we motored sailed 86 miles. All went well til we grounded and hit pretty hard at Shallotte Inlet, SC – I instantly got upset as I was behind the wheel – we were in the channel where we were suppose to be. We first tried backing up, then plowing through it, but we were stuck. Called Sea Tow and sat waiting for them – it was going to be about 45 minutes. The wind was blowing pretty good (too high for our mail sail), so I suggested we put our head sail back up again; we did and it tipped the boat enough for us to use the engine and work our way off the shoal. It worked!!!! Called Sea Tow back to let them know we did not need their assistance. The next area that gave us a bit of worry was Cape Fear River, NC. It was so windy (again, too windy for our head sail and we still can’t use our main sail til that bracket gets fixed – the main sail would stabilize the boat in the washing machine waves) and an incoming tide with an opposing current, which made it a bit uncomfortable for many miles; also a storm was brewing and we certainly didn’t want to get caught in that. We made it safely to an anchorage at Carolina Beach, SC before the storm hit. We are the only boat in the anchorage, though we are literally surrounded by houses, condos, apartments, and tons of boats – so guess we are waiting til dark to take our cockpit showers.
June 12, 2013
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TERRY
Well, we are still at Carolina Beach. Pulled anchor yesterday just before 7 and headed up the ICW – followed my cookie trail out of the anchorage and grounded even though we were still in the channel – got off easily enough and continued on. Didn’t get a half mile when it felt like we were hitting bottom again, but the chart plotter showed us we were in 12 to 17 feet of water, then the boat made a funny noise – actually it scared us as we just put in the new engine and we shouldn’t be having any problems. Brian opened up the bilge while I stayed behind the helm with the engine running to track down the noise (it was a rather loud squeal); I yelled down to him that we had stopped moving forward – he looked out and said we were still moving – nope that was the current taking us. The shaft had come loose from the engine. I put the boat in neutral and let the current take us to the edge of the ICW and Brian dropped anchor; called Sea Tow and sat for about an hour. Phillip from Sea Tow turned us back around and took us to the first fuel dock. The dock hand called a mechanic for us and we were told they would be right out (this is mid-morning) – the mechanic arrived at 3. Anyway, he went over the problem with Brian. Well, our new problem is that the coupling for the new shaft was not properly attached; there is suppose to be a keyway that holds the coupling to the shaft – it was cut off when the new shaft that was ordered. It was a bit too long and when it was cut, the keyway was taken off with the excess. So, only two little set screws were holding this unit and they sheared off gouging the shaft as it was trying to turn in the coupling instead of with the coupling. The next hour Brian spent on the phone going back and forth between Bearing Marine’s boss and Gary from Marine Tech that did the work in Hilton Head – it went well enough – the engine is still under warranty (Mack Boring) and MB has say as to where the shaft should be fixed and, of course, they wanted us towed way off our route (hours off of our route), then wanted the boat hauled, then….. &&**&^^%%$#$. Gary from Marine Tech did not want to pay for that and okayed the local company, Bearing Marine that is certified by Mack Boring. He requested that they drill a hole through the shaft and coupling and bolt them together as the fix solution. Bearing Marine had wanted to pull the engine, take the shaft off, re-taper and re-key it. Marine Tech would not allow them to do that. We were not asked for our input on this. End result is they will be able to fix the problem here on the dock but not til tomorrow morning and then hopefully we can be on our way again. At this rate, not sure if we will make it to NE with the boat for the family reunion. Will have to ditch the boat along the way and rent a car to get there.
Was able to do several loads of laundry last night and we went for a long walk after dinner to blow off some steam. This morning Brian tried to saw off the broken main sail outhaul car bolt but his blades just started melting – does anything ever go smoothly??
Ate 7oz of peanut M&M’s last night - stressed?? or I just can’t stop at 10 (they are a favorite) – lol.
June 13, 2013
The Bearing Marine mechanic drilled a hole through the coupling and the shaft and bolted it all together, though he went through several drill bits doing it. Ran the engine through its gears and all sounded and looked good. Left the fuel dock about 12:30 and headed up the ICW and this time we made it to Wrightsville Beach 2:15pm without incident. We sat and watched all the goings on; jet skis, paddle boarding, kayaking, tubing, water skiing and then quite a few smaller motor boats buzzing around – very busy place; mostly really young adults and plenty of young women showing quite a bit of skin – Brian was enjoying himself. We both took a catnap in the cockpit, then discussed our next route – do we go outside or continue up the ICW? Of course, it ALL depends on the weather. We looked at all the weather and wind APPS and decided to make a run for the outside; took my seasickness pill, had dinner and pulled up anchor at 7:30pm. The winds were about 12 knots and we decided to sail even though we only averaged about 3.5 knots. The waves were only 2-3 feet, so it was a nice relaxing and a quiet sail. We actually did our cockpit showers while under way. I stood first watch at 8:30 – all went well til just before Brian’s watch at 11:30 – I got seasick – not just queasy (that always happens and lasts for a while) – this was ooops – sick. So, I lay down while Brian did his watch, but I felt so miserable, I couldn’t sleep, so I kept Brian company for a while. I eventually got a 2 hour rest and felt much better. Made it to the entrance to the ICW after sunrise and turned on the motor several (wanted to beat the high winds and waves that were predicted) miles out from the ICW to continue traveling for the rest of the day. Jumped on the ICW about 8:30am and dropped anchor on Pantego Creek in Belhaven, NC at 5:55pm. We were exhausted. We kept getting storm weather alerts – we knew the winds were suppose to get worse and we did see 33.4 knots and the waves really kicked up so we were heeled over quite a bit a few times; getting use to the heeling especially if the boat stays heeled to one side for most of the sail – it’s the swaying back and forth over and over again that is so uncomfortable – it’s hard to not get knocked around and if your behind the wheel, the legs and abs get a great workout, but I don’t think it’s worth it. The area that this occurred in was wide open and probably on the same square footage as Lake Champlain – there was no where for us to run and hide. We persevered and several hours after finally dropping anchor a storm did come through – the sky was a mass of angry black clouds and the winds whipped through at 40.4 knots (we turned on our instruments to check the wind speed); some thunder, lighting and a few sprinkles – it passed over pretty quickly; just glad we were done for the day.
June 15, 2013
Yesterday we did another 12 hour run. Brian had a difficult time getting the anchor up – he thought it was stuck on something. He actually dove on it (again – this water is so brown, you can’t see an arm’s length in front of you). Anyway, the anchor was not stuck on anything, it was just buried so deep in the silty mud. I put the engine in gear and drove forward over the anchor to dislodge it – that worked. Sailed across another very large open bay – winds bounced between high teens and 20 knots – it was actually a decent sail, except we kept hearing a low rumble, but mostly felt vibrations in the floor of the cockpit every time the waves pushed us from the side. Brian opened up the bilge to make sure the shaft was ok. Of course, everything looked just fine at a glance. We were just hoping to get across the bay and out of the rough weather. Finally out of the bay into Alligator River for quite a few miles and, no we didn’t see one alligator; had to drop the sail as the river was bordered heavily by large trees that cut the wind.
Today we actually got a great sail in across part of Pamlico Bay before having to turn on the motor, though once the engine was running, we could still feel that vibration that just doesn’t seem “normal”. The most interesting part of the day was when we reached Norfolk, VA – it was mile upon mile of battleships, carriers, a medical ship, submarines, destroyers and cargo ships – absolutely impressive! Dropped anchor after 11.5 hours in Phoebus/Old Point Comfort anchorage area – we are the only ones anchored here – nice!!!
Continued on to Annapolis – Brian called Mack Boring to get the name of a marine tech that could do the 50 hour service on the new engine. We found the marina after traveling 12 hours. It was after hours, so we had to dock the boat ourselves and, of course, I started worrying about it miles before we got there. It was a pretty narrow channel passing by several other marinas - so many boats. The wind was down and current pretty calm; Brian walked me through what had to be done to dock the boat; we did just fine. Sometimes, I have to shift the boat into reverse for a couple of seconds to stop it from going forward, but I didn’t have to do that. Brian was able to just step off the boat onto the dock – I threw him the lines and he tied off the boat – a perfect docking and no one to see it – it figures – lol! We got cleaned up and went for a ½ mile walk to a restaurant. Then we walked another mile and ½ to a grocery store and picked up a few items.
The next morning we met with Chris, the marine tech scheduled to do the 50 hour service. That’s when he discovered that the “new fix” on the shaft was broken. The new hardware was lying in the bilge – the bolt had sheared right off and the set screws had gouged the shaft even more. That may explain the vibrations we were feeling. Chris was so upset about how the “new fix” was done; not done properly which would have been to haul the boat and redo a new shaft with the keyway – NOT drill through the shaft and the coupling and attach it with a bolt (this is actually how Bearing Marine at Carolina Beach wanted to do it (the correct fix), but Gary from Marine Tech wouldn’t approve it because they didn’t want to pay for the more expensive fix even though it was the proper way for it to be done and their responsibility. Chris stated that if at anytime we had shifted into reverse, the shaft would have shot back and major damaged to the prop which would have rendered our boat useless. Needless to say, Brian and I were a tad upset. Chris absolutely will not fix the problem any other way but the way it should have been done the first time. So here we are again back and forth with Gary from Marine Tech and our new tech, Chris Oliver of Portside Marine trying to resolve the problem. Gary, at this point is taking no responsibility stating that it was Bearing Marine’s problem – not true – Marine Tech “hired” Bearing Marine to fix their mistake. Brian told him that wouldn’t fly, so now Gary is saying we are at fault. Hello????? How could we possibly be at fault? We aren’t techs. We hired Marine Tech to install the new engine and to do it properly – not take shortcuts. Instead of taken a week to week and ½ to do install the engine, he held us up for three weeks. He sent us on our way with the instructions to make sure we get the 50 hour service done on it and signed off on the trial runs – which is why we were in Annapolis. Gary is upset because he doesn’t want to pay for the fix yet again, but that is his responsibility, not ours since he mucked up right at the start. Now our boat is being hauled and will be out of the water for three weeks. We rented a car and unloaded stuff on the boat that we didn’t need and headed to Tewksbury to stay with Brian’s mom for about a week. We will get to see our children and friends. We received an email from Marine Tech, they are taking no responsibility for the shaft. They say it is our problem. Then next week, we will head to NY for my family reunion. Our boat is scheduled to be put back in the water about July 8th. Guess we will not be heading to Maine as originally planned. That’s okay, there will always be another time for that.
Received a call from Chris letting Brian know they hauled the boat and discovered that the shaft that was installed was still the wrong length – way too long! This was probably the cause of the vibrations we kept feeling. Brian called Mack Boring (the engine manufacturer) to discuss with them what has been going on. The engine works perfectly; the problem is that Marine Tech who is a Mack Boring rep botched the original install and will not make good on the job. So now we are basically homeless, unless Marine Tech steps up to the plate and makes good on their installation. Brian called the credit card company to dispute the payment to Marine Tech.
Staying with Brian’s mom; helping her with odds and ends, cleaning, gardening, etc. Running around doing errands, seeing our children and friends. Thoroughly enjoying ourselves, but the engine issue has definitely put a slight damper on our time away. Brian took our screens off the boat and replaced the damaged screens, sanded all the woodwork and is in the process of varnishing them. He also cut out new hand rails for the top side of our boat that were missing when we purchased it. Heading out to New York next week for my family reunion and celebrate of my parents’ 80th birthdays.