11/02/2009, Jordan Creek to Cedar Creek, NC
Our first day on the ICW was fraught with danger and peril. Ok, maybe not so much, but I've got to do something to keep you entertained, right? We left under a cloud of fog, so much so that when we looked back at the creek entrance, we could no longer see where it had been. Just like most of our adventures, this gave us the clear feeling there was no turning back. Oh well, onward to the Bahamas we go!
Very soon after entering the Pungo river, we were overtaken by large ominus low clouds. Oh boy, into our foulies, get ready for some wet weather! The rain was with us for about 2 hours, with the wind kicking up something fierce by the time we crossed the Pamlico river. We thought we would get some relief from the wind in the Hoboken cut, and we did.
As soon as we exited, we were fraught with wind again. Then it happened. We were aground in the middle of the channel! We weren't alone. Four boats just ahead of us went aground as well. We called Boat US after twenty minutes of failed attempts to power off, and they would be about an hour getting to us. I had ordered the anchor dropped, and we prepared to wait. We saw a couple of the other boats work their way loose, and then we too felt the keel bumping. We sprang into action, and through our combined efforts, managed to finally break free! Feeling pretty good, we called Boat US off the case, and left the last boat which was in the process of setting a kedge anchor with their dingy. They busted loose around ten minutes after we did.
Into the Bay river, bashed by 6-8 foot waves and more wind than I care to set a sail into. Most of the other boats were spread out ahead of us, and they weren't raising sail either. As we put into the Neuse river, we saw our speed go from 3MPH to 7. We flew onto the planned anchorage for the night, at Cedar Creek. Were anchored by 3:45PM. Had some chili for supper, called Jenn and reported in about our day and got to sleep early.
I write this in the pre-dawn of Monday, still at anchor, just waiting for the sun to come up on a new day. Doesn't much look like we are going to get that wish though; the clouds are still firmly in place.
Using the ICW is sort of like traveling down I95 in slow motion. Lots of traffic at this time of year, as everyone goes south. Oh yeah, and like everyone has your cell phone number and they call you as they pass, or approach. With the VHF radio, everyone gets to know each other by boat name really fast. We keep hearing and seeing the same boats, again and again. We are a pack of wild boaters, Look out!
|bahamas Cruise 09/10||
Well, crunch time is nearing. Our Bahamas sailing trip is closer than ever, and we have been working at a fevered pitch to get everything ready to leave November first. The food is stowed, and Journey was listing comfortably to port. Adding the dingy in the quarterberth to starboard evened her out nicely though.
Now we will add the finishing touches over the next couple of weeks. We will strap our jerry cans to the starboard rail (LEAN TO THE RIGHT!) and our water in solar shower bags to the icebox on the port side (LEAN TO THE LEFT!) Our new dodger should be joining us by the fifteenth, (STAND UP!) we will be tying up our land based loose ends such as arranging for bill pay, mail pick up, and paying property taxes while we're gone (SIT DOWN!) and all that will be left is to hope the weather is cooperative to head offshore. (FIGHT-FIGHT-FIGHT!)
We plan to video blog the trip; make that MJ will blog and make video and upload, while Al makes soothing noises and gentle encouragement from behind. Due to the slowness and scarcity of Internet connections once we enter the Bahamas, updates will be irregular, and infrequent. Sorry, but that's just what we deal with in paradise. Sometimes, there will be 3-4 new posts in a day if we get a good signal. These will be posts for the last week or two when there was no wifi or Internet connection. Just don't want anyone to get alarmed over NOT hearing something for a period of time. For our friends who have asked to keep up with our trip postings, there are a few ways to do this.
1. If you use igoogle or google as your homepage: go to our site and subscribe to the rss feed, and click to add it to igoogle. It will be there each time you log on and you can see new posting right away.
2. If you use Facebook, add me as a friend to get all updates sent directly to your page. I'm a Fbwhore, I'll add anyone who wants in. I mean really, I'm going to be blogging my life for 3 months. What would I have to hide?
3. Log on to our site, and subscribe to the rss feed, and check your feeds tab to alert you of updates.
4. Log on to our site and bookmark the page so that you can find it each time you want to check our progress.
The site address we use is: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/svjourney/
You can also find the site listed under my FB profile picture as a link. Click on it to go there.
To all our critics, nay Sayers, and people who don't know much of anything no how: Yah, see we're doing it, and by the way, what did you plan and do this year?
To all our family, friends and supporters: Thanks for all you've done to help us see this happen. We hope that through our blogs, we can portray the trip as it unfolds for us in a way that lets you share in our fun. Of course, we will be where the sun is warm, water's wet and the lobsters grow as big as dogs. We might have to rub that in every now and again.
|bahamas Cruise 09/10||
We have an impressive ferry system here in North Carolina. Almost every place we sail to is crossed by a ferry path. Maybe it's me, but I think they're trying to mow me down.
My first time in the death-zone of a ferry was my first time sailing Journey. The wind had decided to quit on us, and as we were getting close to the marina entrance, I cut the engine on. Little did I know the tank was full of sludge and the sailing I'd been doing had stirred up a mess. I just wanted to keep the engine running until I could get the boat tucked into the slip. I was worried about it dying out in the middle of the Neuse River. I mean, rpm up, rpm down, barely moving, I was scared of getting stranded.
Then I saw that the Minnesott ferry had started across the river. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to power out of the way before it crushed me flat. I couldn't manage anything over idle speed, I hardly had steerage, let's face it, I was toast. My friend Keith assured me that the ferry would maneuver around us, but I wasn't convinced. I mean "big boat little boat rule" "constrained by draft" commercial working vessel in a channel" I didn't see anything in my favor and it just kept growing bigger and bigger until ferry was all I could see. Then it started to turn, so slowly that I thought it was my imagination. No, it really WAS turning to keep from running me down. I realized that I had been holding my breath. I'm sure that's what made me go all weak-kneed at that point. I would live to see another day! Thanks, Mr. ferry captain!
Another memorable encounter was as we were working our way up the channel to Ocracoke Island. There are two very large ferries that we have to share that channel with, and I usually hug the greens all the way and monitor on channel 16 to listen for any instructions from the ferry captains. The ferry was making the turn out of Silver Lake, and I hunkered down, motoring against the green markers. The wind was against us, and with our 13HP diesel, we were making around 3 knots. Heading our way, the ferry kept to the left half way down the channel and was around 150yards in front of us when suddenly it turned rather dramatically toward us, and proceeded to line us up for the kill.
"What's he doing?" I asked Al, in a shrill panicked voice. Before Al could pick up the radio to ask the captain, the ferry let off three blasts on its horn. Al and I looked at each other. Three blasts? He wants me to back up??? Oh the sheer panic of wondering if I even could remember the horn signals correctly. Surely he didn't want me to back; I have a flop-prop, my boat doesn't DO reverse. And WHY? So he could kill me while I was clearly doing something stupid, like backing away from a ferry in a windy channel? I asked Al where in the ---- did he think I could go; I was already hugging the greens. If I left the channel completely, there was a very real chance I would go aground. Well, that would make his job easier.
Then it hit me... a way out, maybe. I mean the ferry was closing fast, fast. I turned HARD to port and started to work my way over to the reds. The ferry missed us by about 75feet; too darn close. Looked like a five story building attempting a drive-by.
Turned out, it was the Cedar Island ferry, and it was making for the other channel to run it's destination, but I mean, could you call and state your intentions, since you know what you're going to do and I don't? I heard this (I'm sure it was the same captain) ferry blowing at other boats for the three days we spent on Ocracoke. Once I heard FIVE blasts! Bet he ran that sucker flat dab over. Poor Al had to listen to me rant and rave about the ferry captain the entire time. Thanks a lot, Mr. Ferry captain! Now when we get to the Big Foot Slough channel to Ocracoke, I always call a securite'. Stuff like that stays with ya.
Whenever we go to Bath or Washington (the original, in NC) there's the Bayview ferry. It stays docked for a little while before it loads up and heads back across river again. I keep a sharp eye out, because it always leaves when we are approaching its path, like a bloodhound who's just caught a scent. I've turned around on several occasions because I don't want to end up as a ferry maidenhead. I'm luckier with this ferry, in that even though it locks on the target, and comes out to get me, I have some room to maneuver, and maneuver I do. When a ferry gets me in its kill-zone I know enough to run for cover!
We have the usual assortment of lines onboard our boat. A lot of them are doing their job; as jib sheets, halyards, sail control lines. Some of them stay attached to the boat only when needed, like the dock lines. There is a small bag with the ropes we use to dock the boat when we visit many of the free and low cost transient dockage around our cruising grounds.
I can accept this; we need all these ropes. Necessary equipment. What I can't fathom is why it is crucial for us to schlep another two bags full of ropes around with us. These aren't little bags with a few ropes. There are two duffle bags stuffed to the brim with lines of all shapes, sizes and lengths.
The bags are so full, the zippers protest when we try to cram them all in and close the bags. Of course, this is only when we inventory the ropes. Other than that, we never open the bags. Safer, since they explode all over the sole when the ropes are freed from their prison. Why do we have these? Where did they come from?
One bag resides under the v berth, good for adding twenty extra pounds to the bow, where we don't want extra weight. The other lives under the quarter berth, just hanging out, getting removed and replaced every time we need something further back in that locker, where it won't fit, cause it's too big. Each weighs a good twenty pounds, and pulling and dragging them out and back into their "homes" is a chore in itself. They are crammed into the most inaccessible regions of the boat.
Every now and then I insist that we inventory the ropes. My hope is that we will decide that we don't need them all, and get some of them off my boat. I see them as dead weight, taking up space that we could use for other better things. Hopefully lighter things. Al insists all these "extra" ropes are needed, for our cruising. He can't explain why.
From our last inventory, (which is where I will hold up a particular rope and ask, "why?",) I counted twenty-seven ropes crammed into two bags. I was checking the last inventory against the previous one done about a year ago, and found something very disturbing. We now have six more ropes than we had last year. Disturbing because neither of us have added any more rope to the bags. There's only one explanation.... They're breeding. I've heard of this phenomenon in home closets, with wire hangers. I should have guessed, when it occurred to me that a lot of the rope was extraordinarily long. How had we acquired so many 100ft long ropes? Simple, they were getting ready to spawn. I also noticed we had a lot more tiny ropes; line really. "Small stuff" Al said. "Juvenile delinquents" I thought. Of course, I didn't put it all together right away. It was only after we had come home, which is why I'm a little worried right now. You see, before we left, Al moved all the "small stuff" to the top drawer under the v berth, thinking he can get to it easier there than in the bags. From there, these little cretins have access to my whole boat. There's a finger hole in the drawer. This weekend, I may be walking into a giant cat's cradle.
Now, I'm sure there's some simple explanation for all of this. To suggest that my rope is breeding is, well, a little ludicrous. On the other hand, if the rope companies ever come out with an ad for " the world's first intelligent rope" you can be sure it won't find a home on MY boat.
A word about my canvas. It's yellow. Not that light, clean, fresh lemon yellow. Think school bus. My canvas is the color of the centerline down the highway. It's a very imposing yellow.
I've heard comments. "Was there a sale on yellow sunbrella?" "I hope you really like that color, it's too late now." And my favorite, overheard while we were sitting at the window table of the Bean in Oriental, gazing across to our beauty at the town dock. " It's a nice looking boat, so what I can't figure is why anyone would do THAT to it."
Don't get me wrong, people are entitled to their opinions and I realize that sunflower yellow canvas isn't everyone's cup of tea. (Or in this case, glass of lemonade) But here's a news flash: I did it for ME, not for anyone else.
No, I'm not a yellow "nut", and other than a few yellow t-shirts, and my bright yellow Crocs, I don't run around living life exclusively for the color yellow. Ok, maybe the Crocs say otherwise. I actually think it looks sharp to have the dark blue hull set off by the bright yellow that is my canvas.
I had a hard time convincing Al. He wanted it to stay blue, like our dilapidated sail cover. I pointed out that there was too much blue in the canvas world, I wanted DIFFERENT. "Let's go with green," he said. "Second most popular." I countered.
I wanted something that said WE'RE HAVING FUN ON THIS BOAT.... NA-NA-NA-BOO-BOO! A color that was happy, and light-hearted, and told the world we don't take ourselves too seriously. We don't, we know we're a joke.
I've owned the boat for five years, three with the old white bimini/pacific blue sail cover, and two with the new yellow. There are a lot of advantages to the yellow.
Once you see us, you will remember our boat forever, and "know" it every time you see it anywhere. ("Quick, bear off! It's that dammed yellow boat again!")
We hardly ever had anyone come up to us and chat, introduce themselves, or come to check out the boat when we docked in various towns with the old canvas. Now it's like a dock party everywhere we go. (People generally gravitate toward the train wrecks. There have been studies to show this.)
We stand out like caution tape ensuring that other boats will notice us. Given our sailing abilities (we're still convinced sailing in a straight line is mostly luck) that is a good thing. ("Hey what's that glow on the far shore? Oh, jeez, it's the reflection off the canvas on that boat!")
It's easy for our first time visitors to find us in a crowded marina. ("Just go to the most outrageous looking boat you see, ya can't miss it.")
I finally wore Al down on my choice of yellow, and I think I've created a monster. There was leftover sunbrella. He's had me fashion lifeline covers, sun shades for the cockpit, replacement covers for our tired inflatable fenders, covers for the deck tanks, and the outboard and tiller. All in yellow.
He is waiting fir me to make some yellow sheet bags, and a pouch for the Magma grill. In yellow. I think I'm going to buy him some bright yellow Crocs and let him walk it off.