A New Year and Some Progress
01 January 2011 | Big Bay Creek, SC
Well, the day didn't turn out entirely as hoped. We did get up before dawn and we were ready to leave close to first light. It was cloudy, so you couldn't see until the sun was just about up. We left the dock at just after 7:00 and motored out the Charleston Harbor. I tried to get a decent picture of Fort Sumter as we went by, but with the low light, the distance and the moving boat, in all my pictures the fort looks like a low brown rectangle in the water, and not much else.
There are long jetties that extend out from the harbor towards the northeast. There is one break in the jetty where smaller boats can turn southeast. Bud went through the break, but then had to keep far more east than south, and slow down for some shallow areas, so in the end we may not have saved any time.
Once we were out where it was consistently deep, we set the sails and set our course. There was a reasonable amount of wind, and we could almost point the desired course. The sun came out, some dolphins came along for a while (I even got a reasonable photo) and things were looking good. The only excitement came when something that sounded almost like a shot rang out. Turns out it was the tube on one of the folding bike tires. For some reason it just popped while the bike was lashed to the stern rail; it wasn't even rubbing on anything.
We weren't doing real well on speed, as we were pinching into the wind, but we were sailing at about five and a half knots. We set our windvane up and let it steer. For a couple of hours all was well. Then we had a strange wind change. Bud started to hand steer and when the wind settled back down we reset the windvane. It got cloudy, the wind almost died, the boat went off course. We switched to the larger, light air, airvane and tried again. The boat wouldn't stay on course. The wind picked up, we switched back to the smaller airvane. Somewhere in there we tried to take up on the control lines, which seemed too loose. We could get the boat to steer for a while, but it wouldn't hold the course. The wind was still being fluky. It was getting cold out there and then suddenly fog set in and our visibility went to a few hundred feet. Bud was trying to fiddle with something and set the mechanical autopilot. We heard an awful vibration. We weren't sure if it always made that noise, and usually the engine is running and that's all you can hear, but weren't confidant enough to just use it.
About then I suggested we find a port and head to a marina for the night. Having to hand steer all through a cold night without moon, stars or lights visible did not appeal to me. Happily, Bud agreed and I found we were close to a river that had a marina listed in our 1998 guidebook. We changed course, when we got close enough to shore to have cell coverage and internet I was able to check on the Active Captain website for the marina. It was still listed, so I called them and they said they could handle us. Almost as soon as we changed course the fog started to lift. We had no visibility problems going in.
About 2 hours later we were here. It's a small marina; they put us right at the gas dock so it was really easy to tie up. We have heat and I am very glad we didn't push through. The thunderstorms that were supposed to die down and come through tomorrow afternoon are now being predicted to come through tonight. I'm not sure if they will have died down.
We only went 44 nm today, and only about 26 as the crow flies. But we did sail most of those miles, and we are safe and warm. Tomorrow we'll see what the day brings.