Heating upJim Lowe
10/17/2012, Willoughby Harbor
I girded my loins with warm oatmeal and coffee in order to endure the cold plunge into Willoughby Harbor this morning. It took about 20 mins worth of shallow dives but I did manage to clear the blockage that was causing my engine to run so warm. I even had a visit from a school of curious dolphins which made it all worth while.
I'm still aliveJim Lowe
10/16/2012, Willaby Bay
Twenty five knots of wind is an awful lot for a single handed sailor. The waves were fairly impressive as well. If I had a do over, would I have still left today? Yes. I think it was a good call. Sea Otter had no trouble dealing with the weather. I'm the one that flubbed things up. I knew the wind and seas would be strong in the morning but get lighter as the day went on. I also knew that the wind would be out of the South tomorrow and stay that way for a week. So, this was the window of opportunity for heading South.
Journey begins with the New MoonWinds NW@320, 2ft chop, skies clear
10/16/2012, Jackson Creek
My journey begins today on the first new moon of October. I would have left earlier but the wind has been out of the South since I launched last Friday so I've remained anchored here in Jackson creek. If at all possible I try to have the wind and tides working for me. There are enough potential challenges in a crossing without my making them worse by impatiently sailing against wind and tide. It can be done, and often is, but it is slow, uncomfortable and wasteful of fuel. Much better to be helped along though it does require a casual attitude regarding personal schedules. Last night a cold front blew through and brought a strong Northwest wind with it, which I will ride all the way to the mouth of the James River in Norfolk, about 40 nautical miles away. Planning to anchor in Willowby Bay. I expect this leg of the journey to take about 8hrs. The wind is really a bit too strong, with gusts to 25 knots but it is expected to ease to 15 knots by noon.
10/12/2012, Deltaville, VA.
All the preparations have been completed for Sea Otter to return to the sea. The bottom painting is done. My truck has been put into storage. my bicycle has been disassembled and stowed down below. Dan came by with the travel lift at 3pm and very skillfully lifted Otter from her shore supports. Then he carried her to the water. Splash. I started the engine and motored to the fuel dock. Once Otter was safely docked I went over to the dinghy dock and rowed the dinghy over to Otter. Then I started the engine again, threw off the lines and headed into the harbor to find a place to anchor. The winds tonight are expected to be fairly strong, gusting to 30knots. A good test for my new Rocna anchor.
Paint, paint, paintJim Lowe
10/10/2012, Deltaville, VA.
Trinidad Red antifouling paint. Over 200.00 a gal. ouch! It has got to be done. Heading South means warm, shallow, salty water with lots of critters that would love to hitch a ride on Sea Otters bottom. If Otter were a wooden boat then bottom paint would be even more important because some of those hitch hiking critters eat wood! Thankfully Sea Otter is fiberglass and critters mainly slow her down. Sailboats are slow enough without any help, thank you very much. The yard crew came by this morning and moved the jack stands. Then I painted the parts of the hull they were covering. With fresh bottom paint Sea Otter is ready to be launched.
Wind in the WillowsJim Lowe
10/10/2012, Deltaville, VA.
The last few days here in Deltaville have been gray and wet. Not good for painting at all. One thing you quickly learn about sailing is that the weather always has the final say. Anyway, when I woke this morning the skies were clear and cool. Painting day has arrived. However, I promised a friend that I would help him raise his mooring once he goes in the water and he just went in. It means differing my painting for a few hours or perhaps even a day but Michael is worth it. Mr. Michael Taylor is something of a legend around here. He is heading down to the Bahama Islands and this will be his 30th trip. Michael is 85 years old and has polio. He is a single handed sailor aboard his 30ft catamaran named "Wind in the Willows". I'm sure you can see why it is important to me to put my schedule aside and help send him on his way. I put my dinghy in the water and rowed out to Wind in the Willows. Michael, who is a proper British gentleman promptly set out a small lunch for us and then we turned to our work. First we put his dinghy in the water in order to clear the foredeck for action. Then while Michael started the engines, I began raising the mooring. The mooring consisted of two anchors and chain bridled together and shackled to another line which connected to the deck bridle. I'm sure that sounds rather confusing. Just think of all the different lines that are connected together which have been subjected to twice daily tides and currents and now they have twisted together into a gnarled mess made even worse by slime and barnacles which have grown into the rope fibers. It can be challenging to raise one large anchor with its chain without a windlass but two anchors with chains melded together is a daunting task. After some struggle the task was completed and I returned to Sea Otter nursing an aching back.