Start of another Winter Voyage
30 December 2017 | Joyous on Joy !
It's that time again, as winter approaches, we begin preparations to sail south to a warmer place and new adventures. The summer has been spent with new upgrades on the boat and planning where we will go this year. It's November now and right after Thanksgiving we plan to make our way to North Carolina and final packing of the boat ready to leave. Our plans include going to the Bahamas, to visit and explore the many islands and locations we didn't get to three years ago. We have gotten the watermaker running, an expensive and lengthy process, but important this year because water in the Bahamas is expensive and quality variable. We have also added to our house battery bank, at this point more than 1000 amp hrs for more extended anchorages, and with our solar and wind energy supplies, almost unlimited capacity to stay out of marinas if desired.
As we approach a departure date more issues come to the forefront. We made one big mistake this summer... we didn't use or move the boat ! Not even one sail to Ocracoke. All the time spent with repairs and upgrades, left the boat torn up through most of the summer and as anyone will tell you, an unused boat is a deteriorating problem. So our lessons learned: Getting ready to leave, we found the barnacles and sea slime build up had gotten beyond a diver's quick cleaning. So I took the boat to Hurricane Boatyard for a "short haul", they lift the boat out of the water, and we power wash with low pressure to preserve bottom paint, and I spend a couple hours scraping barnacles. The prop was clean, but zincs were reduced and no replacement available, and the thrusters were caked over with barnacles. Joy is dropped back in the water, minus about a 100 lbs of barnacles and she moves better through the water, but even with heavy scraping the thrusters are still not working.
It was difficult, because our original plan had been to move the boat to Charleston, SC early, go back to St. Louis for Thanksgiving, then back to Charleston to proceed south, but our early weather window saw us both down with the flu, and we had to abandon our original plan and go back to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. On arrival back at Saltayre, we did final packing, had a window opportunity got on the boat an left.... hmm, did I say "left", actually we got out about 15 minutes and discovered that our compass was not working ! As the compass effects the auto-pilot, we returned to Saltayre. Neither of us wanted to hand steer the next 5 months, so the auto-pilot needs to work and home port with people we know would be better to repair it than somewhere south. Now the rear sad story begins. With help from Keith at Voyager Navigation, we found out the course computer was not working correctly. Options are to send it in for repairs which would take a minimum of a month, or buy a new one, another big repair cost. The new unit was available and we can have it in 2 days, no question on that decision so we order it and Keith will be back in 3 days to install it. Don't hold your breath, its not over yet! So its installed, to calibrate it, we take Joy out and "swing" the compass, essentially driving in circles to allow the compass and computer to "find" compass points and deviation. Now I did tell you not to hold your breath, it didn't work ! We tried a number of times, different calibration systems and none worked. Frustrated, we again returned to the dock and called Raymarine. We explain problem with the NEW course computer, run the diagnostics they tell us and they agree to replace it. They were good enough to send out the new unit before we returned the defective unit, but another few days lost. Finally, a replacement unit arrives, its installed, and once again we go out to "swing" the compass.... finally success. Of course by now we have lost a few weeks, and the December cold fronts start in earnest. We could get one day, perhaps two tops between fronts and conditions in which we don't want to be at sea. So we wait, another week waiting and watching the forecast and sea state.
We never really got it, our goal had been enough time to sail to Charleston or even Florida in one shot, that opening never came. I think in the end, we decided we had had enough and were going to move, even if it meant a day at a time and even if we had to go down the ICW. So on December 18th, just 1 week before Christmas, we left Saltayre, with nothing but the prospect that temperatures would not go below 40-45 degrees. We spent the first few hours traveling to River Dunes for fuel and water, immediately continued on and spent our first night out at anchor, on Adams Creek, 15 miles from Morehead City. At least we are underway, Joyous on Joy !