Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and our OVNI 395.

15 May 2018 | Fishing Bay Marina, Deltaville, VA, USA
14 May 2018 | Fishing Bay Marina, Deltaville, VA, USA
13 May 2018 | Jackson Creek, Deltaville, VA, USA
10 May 2018 | near Mathew, East River, Mobjack Bay, VA, USA
08 May 2018 | Sarah Creek, VA, USA
06 May 2018 | Dare Marine, Poquoson River, Virginia, USA
04 May 2018 | Norfolk, VA, USA
02 May 2018 | Alligator River, North Carolina, USA
01 May 2018 | Snode Creek, ICW, North Carolina, USA
28 April 2018 | Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, USA
27 April 2018 | 55 SE of Cape Fear
26 April 2018 | 100 miles Offshore - Georgia / South Carolina Border
24 April 2018 | Straits of Florida
23 April 2018 | Old Bahama Bay Marina, Grand Bahama
20 April 2018 | Palm Cay Marina, New Providence, Bahamas
19 April 2018 | Norman's Cay, Bahamas
18 April 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas
17 April 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas

The maintenance blog

15 May 2018 | Fishing Bay Marina, Deltaville, VA, USA
For those wondering what has to happen behind the scenes to keep the boat under way – now’s your chance. We are working our way through an extensive period of maintenance to try to ensure that everything will be in good order when Barracuda returns to the water – probably in late October.

- The engine has done over 500 hours since we left Portugal, so will get a full service.
- The sails have pushed us a long way and will have had a significant amount of UV – they will be removed, thoroughly inspected, possibly re-stitched and reinforced in places, and the UV protection on the both the main and the genoa needs serious attention. The mainsail cover, in particular, needs patches on its patches.
- Once we get the boat out of the water next week, we will service our feathering ‘Kiwi’ propeller (which is making some strange noises whilst in reverse) and also change out the anodes, which protect the hull from galvanic corrosion.
- Our steering system will get a thorough overhaul as it is, not unreasonably, showing some signs of wear after nearly 10 years and many, many miles.
- All of the lines (ropes) that can be taken off the boat easily will get soaked in several changes of fresh water to get the salt out of them.
- All turning blocks get cleaned in warm, fresh water.
- The winches will be dismantled, cleaned and re-greased.
- The standing rigging will get an inspection from head to toe (still need to decide who is going up the mast).
- The heads (loo) pump and associated valves will get a thorough overhaul – nasty job!!
- The water system will be completely drained, cleaned and inspected.
- The fuel tank will be brimmed full to avoid any condensation in the tank, which can lead to water contamination in the fuel. The spare fuel cans (of which there are many) will get cleaned out.
- The existing antifouling has pretty much worn out and in some patches is flaking off, so we need to use this next down time to do a thorough prep and repaint on the bottom. We use a special antifouling for aluminium boats (Trilux 33), which seems to cost an arm and a leg over here.
- And there is yet another round of work on the water maker, to try to get to a place where it reliably makes the rate we require. We are ever hopeful.
- On the domestic side, every cupboard gets emptied and cleaned, every cushion lifted and cleaned, any food that won’t survive till the autumn is thrown out, and everything else well stored to ensure bug- and air-resistance.
- The good news is that our safety gear (life raft, etc) was all replaced or serviced ahead of the ARC and will still be in date for another couple of years, so hopefully there’s nothing major to replace or service there - but it will all get a good inspection anyway just in case.
And then there are always a few improvements that we make based on our experience, and this time is no exception.

Arrived at Deltaville

14 May 2018 | Fishing Bay Marina, Deltaville, VA, USA
Well folks the show's nearly over. That is us in Deltaville where this trip ends. We will be tied up here for about a week before we lift the boat out and wrap her up for the summer. We can't imagine that the wrapping up process is that interesting to our followers but we will summarise what has to happen in a few days. In the meantime we are enjoying a cold beer at the end of 8500 miles and nearly 10 months on the road. Thanks for sticking with us.

Loving Mathews

13 May 2018 | Jackson Creek, Deltaville, VA, USA
We have just finished a three night stop anchored in the East River, off the town of Mathews. This has turned out to be a real highlight of our Chesapeake trip. When we went ashore on Friday evening for dinner, we met a local gentleman by the name of Willis. Willis provided some general information about the town and gave us good advice on where to eat, but also said there was a farmers' market on the Saturday morning, if we were back in town. This was going to be at low water, which made it impossible for us to get to town in Guppy, but Willis said he would pick us up at the deeper public landing at the entrance to Put In Creek if we gave him a call. We were initially thinking of leaving on Saturday, but decided it was a great offer to see some more of the area so went ashore and gave Willis a call. A trip to the farmers' market turned into a wonderful day-long tour of the area. Mathews is a thriving community, with a lot of history (and a fabulous second-hand bookshop). Willis introduced us to many of the locals at the market, including Mairi from Greenock (on the Clyde) who makes and sells very tasty Scottish shortbread (even on a par with Mum W's). After a fine lunch Willis took us on a driving tour of Mathews county and generally showed us around. At the end of the day he drove us back to where we had left Guppy and we headed back to the boat to reflect on what a wonderful part of the world we had stumbled into and the delightful people we had met. Thank you, Willis, for a great day - we hope that we meet again.

Today we have moved north to Deltaville. We passed the Wolf Trap light, named after a British naval sailor who many years ago got his ship stuck on the sandbank. He contracted with the locals to help him get it off, but once they did get him free he sailed off without making payment - so the story goes.

Thunderbolts & lightening, very very frightening, me, galileo, galileo .....

11 May 2018 | Mathew, East River, VA, USA
Well. The Bruce has done sterling work, so we are very glad indeed that we made the change yesterday. Having anchored at 4pm in brilliant sunshine (so brilliant that needed the bimini for shade), half an hour later the sky grew dark, the clouds massed and within five minutes the wind increased from 3 kts up to the 30s and 40s and thunder rolled in, accompanied by drenching rain - luckily the wind dropped again very quickly. Quite a terrific storm, with lightning too close for our liking, which didn't die down for several hours. Electronics all unplugged, phones and laptops in the oven, and fingers crossed. We were slightly comforted by the fact that we are surrounded by trees which are significantly taller than our mast. Despite the top wind speed of 41kts, the Bruce held and we didn't shift an inch.

But after all that drama, we ended up with a flat calm night, cool air, and a lovely sunlit morning to light up the spotless decks. Once again we are settled in a glorious part of the Chesapeake with move lovely houses and a million crab pots. Still waiting to find the crab shack!

We took the dinghy into look around Mathew only to find that this was not possible at low water. Guppy was firmly stuck in the mud. So we retreated to Barracuda for a couple of hours and let the tide come in whilst we stripped & greased our winches. Once the tide was up we headed into Mathew and negotiated the drainage ditch at the end of the creek to reach a landing place. Mathew is a lovely little town full of antique shops. Trying to decide if we stay for dinner but don't want to be left high and dry in the mud as the tide retreats. Will tell you how that goes tomorrow.

Heading North to the East River??

10 May 2018 | near Mathew, East River, Mobjack Bay, VA, USA
10th May 2018
Position 37 25.0N:76 20.9W

Only two days have passed since our last blog and G is somehow one year older. Sarah Creek and the York River Yacht Haven were a great place to spend a couple of nights and a birthday. It was idyllically calm and quiet. Yesterday we took the dinghy up to the edge of the nearest town, but discovered there was not really a landing place. We rowed our way up what became a drainage ditch until we could go no further, tied the dinghy to a tree and climbed the bank, via the rainwater outflow, to find ourselves in the local ‘strip mall’ (which is not quite what some might think). This provided an opportunity for a haircut (G), shopping (K), essential groceries and lunch. Then it was back down the bank and out the drainage ditch, through the swamp and down the creek.

Because of the general shape of the Chesapeake it has miles and miles of creekside, with a vast number of lovely waterside homes, each with a dock and at least one boat. We chugged around in the dinghy inspecting the area with a bit of green envy. There is virtually no tide here so they use fixed piles to moor their boats. With the very muddy bottom it is relatively simple to bang in some big piles and create a boardwalk and a boat dock - so everyone does it. Many of the docks also feature a couple of Adirondack chairs facing the sunset, a crab pot or fishing line, and sometimes a BBQ or even, in one case, a tiki bar.

Birthday dinner ashore was seafood featuring local crab and oysters – yum. Older, not necessarily wiser …

We have been working on our anchoring techniques. We read yesterday that the Chesapeake Bay is a difficult place to anchor due to the slimy muddy bottom. Probably why we are not seeing any boats at anchor! Some anchor designs that are normally excellent in sand and other materials are very poor here, whilst some that are normally no more than moderate in typical bottom conditions do very well here. So we have officially changed out the Delta for the Bruce as our main anchor (now attached via the windlass), keeping our Danforth as our backup. These are quite heavy beasties, so changing them over on the run is an interesting task involving the spinnaker halyard; G doing the heavy work on the foredeck, while K manages the other end of the halyard on the winch and drives around the crab pots (of which there are millions, BTW).

Tonight we find ourselves anchored in the East River just off Mobjack Bay. The shallows are dotted with crab pots, which makes finding a suitable spot a bit of a challenge.

Anchored in Sarah Creek, VA

08 May 2018 | Sarah Creek, VA, USA
8-May-18
Virginia, USA

Two nights in Dare Marina, with very little to report: some useful jobs done, including sorting out a niggling little fresh water leak, cleaning the alternator, refilling our fuel tanks and pumping out our holding tank. Also, a lovely springtime walk ashore among azaleas and dog roses, and then pizza delivery for supper – yum! (Had no idea how nice it was to dial out for pizza.)

It’s cold here. Three days ago we were still in shorts and t-shirts during the day, and now it’s fleeces and woolly hats. Still, this will get us acclimatised to spring in Argyll – which is not far away now.

We’re working our way slowly up this little bit of the Chesapeake, and heading today into the York River. This is a very historical area, with a lot of small creeks and anchorages branching off it. After our experiences of failing to get our big Delta to dig in the other day in slimy mud, we have unbolted our bowsprit to free up the other bow roller, in case we have to try one of the other anchors (backups are a big Bruce and a smaller Fortress). That’s the first time the bowsprit has been off since last May.

It is starting to feel a little strange as we slowly wrap up the boat and prepare for the end of this trip. Any sails now will be short day sails of no more than a few hours. Most of our offshore stuff (spinnaker sheets, preventers, etc…) is all stripped off and the boat looks much simpler. We are also gradually putting together our scope of work for the yard for maintenance and any upgrades we would like them to do. We are just about to make it final by booking our flights home. Big mixed emotions: looking forward to getting home, yet sad to be near the end of an amazing adventure. But then there’s always next year…….

Late day update – anchored in Sarah Creek off the York River Yacht Club.

Spot the pot.

06 May 2018 | Dare Marine, Poquoson River, Virginia, USA
Yesterday was a day of diddling around in the anchorage and doing not very much. We kind of needed time to decompress having finally reached the Chesapeake, which has been our destination for a while. Not that the trip is over, but it felt like a good moment to stop and draw our breath. There was a big music festival with some great bands playing on the shore just opposite where we were parked, so we had some entertainment whilst we were there. It rained big time last night so that saves cleaning the boat.

We left early this morning, in fairly dreich, grey, windless weather, and motored past more grey navy war ships than we have ever seen; Norfolk is a massive naval base. On the way up the ICW we were constantly overflown by warplanes practicing. Big military presence in these parts. Nuff said….

Once out of the Norfolk channel, the trip into the Chesapeake was marked by a massive fog bank - the first one we’ve been in since the Spanish Rias. Radar on, nav lights, etc… It felt strangely good, though, to have cool damp air on our skin again. Then came the poorly marked crab pots – a speciality in these parts. (see photo)

We have made a plan to work our way round to Deltaville (our final destination) in a series of small day sails, and to slowly enjoy our last few miles. Our first stop was a creek off the Poquoson River where we tried a few spots to anchor, but no matter what we did the anchor kept sliding around in the loose (and yet strangely thick and black) slime, so in the end we came up into the tiny haven that is Dare Marine to tie up; quiet, friendly, very helpful. We are getting better at parking in these US slips (a wooden post at each corner, fenders optional). There is nothing round here but rather lovely houses on the opposite shore, calling birds and plenty of the US cousins of our Scottish midges. Could put down roots here if we are not careful.

Very Flat, Norfolk

04 May 2018 | Norfolk, VA, USA
A day with its challenges, but it has seen us end up at Mile Zero - the official end of the ICW, anchored in the river between Norfolk and Portsmouth.

We spent last night with Iroquois at Coinjock (Mile 49) - where you can buy t-shirts saying "whereinthehellisCoinjock" - a little family-owned marina consisting of three little docks along the river side, a large t-shirt shop, two black labs, mallard ducks and southern flags everywhere. Also, a very good restaurant specialising in a 32-ounce prime rib (really??). We ate, and slept, very well.

We were delayed starting off by the fact that the pump-out machine didn't operate until 9am, and we were going nowhere without its services. Now that we are inshore, we have to maintain a log of every pump-out, and we are told that the more officious officials will take a view as to how 'reasonable' the time between pump-outs is. (If this section seems a little opaque, I suggest you wait till after you've eaten to seek clarification.)

Anyway... then we were off, motorsailing off down the ICW. There are some very narrow channels, mostly under 3m, long straight sections between wiggling ones, all requiring quite a lot of concentration especially as the wind was quite gusty. The main excitement was the great stacks of firewood on top of the marker posts, which turned out to be osprey nests - each one with a little face peeking out as we passed. More eagles too, which is always exciting.

Unlike previous days, this one had the challenge of bridges and locks. Some of the bridges will open on request - but only if it is worth while, with say four or five boats requesting an opening. Others open on a fixed schedule, usually on the hour and/or half hour. Well, we did ok on a couple of these but missed one opening by a couple of minutes and had to dawdle for half an hour to the next opening; the worst (after going through a timed lock and a linked bridge) was a bridge that will not open in the rush-hour (3.30 till 5.30) which we reached at 3.40. Fair enough; we tied up on a pontoon owned by a very nice lady and had a cup of tea. But the non-rush-hour-bridge is next to a railway bridge, which had a derailment, so no-one was moving till that was sorted out; so we, another yacht, a tug and a barge just milled around in ever decreasing circles until finally (at 6.30) we were allowed through. This was four miles before our destination - so frustrating. But here we are. The end of the ICW. And G has poured the rum. So that's it for tonight.

A Letter from America

02 May 2018 | Alligator River, North Carolina, USA
A pleasant evening, sharing fresh shrimp and flounder from the fish dock with Debi and Jack, learning to play euchre and enjoying the flat calm waters. These are buggy parts of the world though, with huge mosquitos.

Today sees us carrying on up the ICW, counting down the miles to Norfolk. Morehead City was Statute Mile 203, Snode Creek was at Mile 153, today we are heading for Mile 102 and Norfolk, VA is Mile 0. Much of our track today is up the 20+ mile canal between the Pungo and Alligator Rivers, a long, long straight cut between reed and rush beds, and later on through cypress swamps. The edges of the canal (where the Corps of Engineers has no remit) are mined with broken posts and spiky tree stumps, above and below the surface, so we drive firmly down the middle of the channel, creating a lovely brown bow-wave.

There seem to be vast open areas here, much of it forest and swamp, with very little population; so far today we have seen just one person on the shore. Occasionally there are holiday homes scattered along the shore-line �" some modest but some very grand. Nearly every house has its own boat dock, many with a fish-cleaning station. Not very much traffic, not much to see, but we have spotted deer, eagles and giant tortoiseshell(ish) butterflies.

There are some great names here; for example, we are anchored in Alligator River Cove, in the Alligator River, opposite Bear Point, which in turn is across the swamp from Rattlesnake Bay. Our alternative anchorage was Tuckahoe Point. One of the options heading north is a route across the Great Dismal Swamp.

Officially back in the USofA & ICW Day 1 (+ pinch punch etc...)

01 May 2018 | Snode Creek, ICW, North Carolina, USA
The extremely nice Customs and Border Protection staff arrived early Monday morning, and stamped us back into the USA, so that is both us and Barracuda officially in the country for another stint. We did raise the question (amongst ourselves) as to what would have happened if they had turned us away, but thought it best not to take that thought very far. Anyway, our yellow Q flag has been folded away and we are proudly flying the Stars and Stripes.

We have met up again with Debi and Jack on S/Y Iroquois, who we last saw in Portugal. Lovely to see them again and hear about their travels.

We used Morehead City to catch up on domestics. That’s probably its best purpose for us, as it does not score too highly as an outright tourist destination. That said, the marina, its staff and the customs/immigration people were just great, and it’s good to be setting off again fully fuelled, watered, cleaned, laundered, provisioned and showered.

We are now heading up the ICW - " the Intra-Coastal Water Way " - in company with Iroquois. For those of you attentively taking part in the Barracuda world geography lesson, this is a stretch of rivers, lakes, canals, estuaries, barrier islands, etc… that stretches & wiggles over 1,000 miles from Norfolk, Virginia all the way down to Florida. It provides an inshore route for travelling up and down the coast, and is used by lots of snowbirds for moving their boats to and from the warm winter south. For this particular stretch, it helps us avoid Cape Hatteras, a big headland which can be foul in the wrong conditions. And, it is also a really interesting area to drive up in the boat, with shallow water, beautiful waterfront houses, plenty of bird life and alligators (we are told) - " so why would you not do it?

There is a technical issue: the maximum mast height you can get under the many fixed bridges is about 64 feet - luckily, we come in at about 57 feet inc. antenna. But we do find approaching a bridge and looking up as the mast JUST clears the structure a slightly nerve-racking experience. We will photograph it, once we can pass under one with our eyes open.

We will hop our way to Norfolk VA over about five days, and then see how the world turns in the Chesapeake. In the meantime, we are having a bit of adjustment to do; from turquoise water to brown, from frigate birds to seagulls and from endless summer to early spring. Oh, and getting used to wearing fleeces and long trousers again, albeit only in the evenings.

Tonight we are anchored in wilderness in a muddy creek called Snode Creek.
Vessel Name: Barracuda
Vessel Make/Model: OVNI 395
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go....
Extra: Look to this day for it is life...
Barracuda's Photos - The Scottish Trip - 2011
Photos 1 to 12 of 12 | Main
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Barracuda waiting for us in Troon.
Sailing up to Loch Fyne.
In the first lock at the Crinan Canal
The garden gate! The end of the Crinan Canal. Beyond here lies the Western Isles.
Fishing boat in Small Isles Bay - Jura.
Leaving Small Isles Bay - Jura.
CalMac ferry approaching Islay.
Loch Tarbert on Jura.
Loch Tarbert on Jura.
Anchored on the south side of Mull.
G
 
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