We're Almost Off Again!
10 May 2009 | Beaufort, NC
Yes, I know, it has been ages since I last wrote a blog entry. We've been in Beaufort, North Carolina for just over four months, spent mainly on upgrading our beautiful boat and preparing her for many sailing years ahead. Most of the work we've done will in all likelihood not have to be repeated for a good few years (yay!).
Here's some of what we've accomplished:
� Sanded down, stained and varnished almost the entire interior cabinetry and teak bulkheads.
� Sanded the teak-and-holly cabin sole and stained the teak. We then covered the entire cabin sole with clear epoxy - our floor is now gleaming like a clear lake!
� Lifted the generator out, had it rebuilt, and lifted it back in again - a back-breaking task!
� Installed a watermaker, part by part, underneath the galley sink. We can now produce up to 20 gallons of fresh water per hour (not that we will need this much). This was Ferdi's task, he had to teach himself step by step how to do the installation.
� Made sure both the fridge and the freezer are in working order and added refridgerant.
� Replaced various check valves to ensure everything flows in the right direction (diesel from the bilges bubbling up onto the shower floor was a bit disconcerting....)
� Spray-painted the interior of the coach roof, as well as the ceiling.
� Replaced the ceiling in the master cabin.
� Sanded down the deck and replaced ALL the bungs (around 2000 of them, no jokes) - there is no way our boat can leak now! We also recaulked almost the entire deck.
� Sent our feathering prop to the manufacturers in Maine to be serviced (more about this later).
� Lightly sanded and polished the topsides (the upper part of the hull).
� Upgraded our ground tackle by adding a 73 lbs Rocna anchor - it's definitely the biggest we've seen in Beaufort on a boat of comparable size - unlikely that we will drag anchor again!
� Installed a removable teak cockpit table (another ingenious installation by the captain).
� Purchased a small sewing machine and made fender covers, hatch covers, a padded cover for the cockpit table and various other small protective items.
� Repaired the small microwave oven in the galley.
� Replaced the hatch covers with thick, durable perspex.
� Installed a chart plotter in the cockpit - no more running up and down to the nav station to check our position while underway.
� Ensured we are US Coast Guard compliant in terms of environmental and safety regulations.
� Had the sail cover and spray dodger above the companionway repaired.
� Installed a flat-screen TV with built-in DVD, amp and 2 kick-ass speakers. Anyone who knows the captain will be aware that he can't be without his music for too long.
The list goes on and on....we've also been stocking up on crucial tools and spare parts for the engine, generator, watermaker, heads and other cruising necessities - Ferdi joked that we could open a marine hardware store with all the bits and pieces we have to take with us! We have to cater for almost any eventuality - there's no popping out to the local store if something starts acting up at sea of course.
Until 1 April, we were docked in the marina at Beaufort Docks. On that day, we moved Strider around the corner to the Town Creek Marina, where she was taken out of the water using their travelift, to enable us to have the prop serviced. She was there until about two weeks ago, when we attempted to put her back to water, but it wasn't to be.....a piece of plastic attached to one of the travelift straps got snarled up in the prop the moment Ferdi started the engine, with the result that a local scuba diver had to be called in to untangle the mess. We were promptly hauled out again to estimate the damage, which a local prop shop declared was not too hectic.
While all this has been going on, Ferdi and I have remained in the small apartment we have been renting above Beaufort Docks. We have met the most fabulous people in Beaufort, friends that will remain in our hearts long after we depart these shores. There's Phil and Anne (not forgetting their incredibly cute Jack Russell, Orbit, who literally grew up in front of us!), Rusty and Fifi, Manny and Theresa, and Jim. And all the locals and visitors who shared boating and other stories with us in Taylor's Coffee Shop in Front Street and the quaint Backstreet Bar across the road from our apartment.
The weather has improved markedly, last time I wrote it had been snowing, but we are now well into Spring and are enjoying 26-30 degrees C days. Water traffic in Beaufort has also picked up considerably, with boats of varying sizes coming and going from Beaufort Docks. At this time of year, many boats that had gone down south for the winter season, start migrating north again (here they call them the "snowbirds"). One or two superyachts have also graced our local docks, including a 100ft luxury cruiser which we heard around town belongs to Billy Joel, on its way from the Bahamas to New York. Unfortunately the singer himself was nowhere to be seen (he had obviously sent his cap and crew back with the boat while he used a different mode of transport). We had hopes of him making an impromptu appearance in the Backstreet, but alas....
Our disappointment was short-lived, however, since this past weekend saw the Beaufort Music Festival in the area in front of the docks - we've never seen so many people in this small town. The major attraction was undoubtedly folk singer and guitarist Richie Havens, well-known for his opening performance at Woodstock in 1969. John Lennon once said Havens "plays a pretty funky guitar" - we couldn't agree more. The local bands that took part were also of a very high standard. Ferdi took some video footage - we'll post a link as soon as he has had time to edit it.
We now urgently need to get a move on down south, firstly to Fort Lauderdale in Florida (briefly) and then the Bahamas and Cuba. The hurricane season starts in June, so we then need to be below 10 degrees N. Our current thinking is to spend the season in either Panama (the fabulous San Blas islands are beckoning) or Cartegena in Colombia. The wind is not co-operating at the moment, however, with southerlies most days. But after many weeks of keeping a close eye on weather opportunities, Tuesday seems to be D-Day, so we are now running around organizing last-minute things, getting Wimpie back to SA, seeing to stocking-up, saying goodbye to friends, and a million other odds and ends!
So long, Beaufort.
(See new pics in the album "Regrouping in Beaufort" in the Photo Gallery).