Magic's Adventure

21 April 2009 | Georgetown
17 April 2009 | Mayaguana
11 November 2008 | St Croix
07 November 2008 | St Croix
22 October 2008 | St Croix
21 September 2008 | St Croix
15 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
15 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
14 September 2008 | Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad
07 September 2008 | Scotland Bay, Trinidad
21 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
09 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
06 August 2008 | Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada
06 June 2008 | Bequia
05 June 2008 | Bequia
02 June 2008 | Bequia
28 May 2008 | Bequia
27 May 2008 | Bequia
26 May 2008 | Bequia
25 May 2008 | Guadaloupe

We're underway at last .....

18 November 2007 | ICW, Beaufort NC
November 10, 2007
I think we must have chosen the coldest day of the winter yet as our departure day. Our good friends Mike & Roberta came to see us off, but Dave especially was suffering from severe 'get-going angst' and we almost certainly did not give them the attention they deserved. Sorry M&R!
We pulled away from the dock at just after 7am and made our way into the Bay proper. Our destination for our first night was the Solomon Islands, approximately 45 miles away. The sky was grey & overcast & the wind was from the NNE but initially fickle, blowing anything from 4 to 14 kts. Unfortunately it was also right behind us - probably our least favorite point of sail, running straight downwind. During the morning the wind started to build and we were seeing 19 & 20 kts by noon. It was also painfully apparent that we were far from the organized team we had been by the time we arrived back after our Bahamas trip last year. The cockpit was a melee of sheets, furling lines, charts, cockpit cushions and clothing and we had to do better, and fast. Our lack of togetherness was soon punished when a momentary lack of concentration resulted in a vicious jibe that ripped 3 slugs out of the mainsail. Luckily Dave managed to get hold of someone at Quantum (our sailmaker) who left replacement slugs for us on the steps of their loft that just happens to be located in the Solomon Islands! A fortunate break.
An even more fortunate break for me was the fact that the loft is located at Zahnisers Marina and we made the decision to take a berth for the night so that we could get the mainsail back in order, and thaw out. I was frozen to the bone, although finally warmed up after a hot shower. Even more fortunate for me was the decision to treat ourselves to a wonderful meal in Zahnisers restaurant, The Dry Dock. Thank you John, Kevin & Tom for that recommendation. Finally warm, fed & watered we headed back to Magic. Tomorrow will be better.

November 11, 2007
Day 2 was a definite improvement. We took our time leaving the marina and felt far more prepared for our trip than we had been the previous day. The weather was also much improved. Although cold, the day was bright & sunny and we had an uneventful trip down to Fishing Bay, crossing over the state line between Maryland and Virginia. We even saw our first pelicans for this trip. A good day!

November 12, 2007
We woke to the sound of rain on the deck. Something told us we were going to have a wet ride today! By the time we have hauled the anchor and made our way out of Fishing Bay back to the Chesapeake the rain had stopped but it was another grey & overcast day. The forecast was for SW winds, 10 -15 knots, but almost as soon as we made it out into the Bay we were seeing 26 knots. And there wasn't much W in the SW. It was right on the nose. We could not power in to those seas and so readied ourselves for a series of long tacks to take us down the Bay. Once again, not ready enough! Improvements were being made, the cockpit was well organized this time but down below was a different story. Books took flight from one side of the cabin to the other, the Waeco freezer would have smashed against a galley locker had it not been restrained by the aft cabin door and the DVD case ended up on the salon floor. It's amazing how routines for preparing to be underway that were second nature to us only months ago were so quickly forgotten. Fortunately nothing was damaged and we arrived at Old Point Comfort, Norfolk VA in good time to cook dinner and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine and a movie before bed!

November 13, 2007
We left Old Point Comfort at 7.15am and sailed across Norfolk Harbor heading for Mile 0 on the ICW. This part of the trip is always intriguing as it takes us past the Norfolk US Naval Base and numerous aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines moored at the base at that particular time. Security is tight although low key (if security can be both), and although you're aware that you are being observed the whole way down we've never been approached by any of the security RIB's that patrol the area. It appears that the US Navy no longer regards a British vessel in Norfolk Harbour as a threat!
We reached Mile 0 at around 9.30am, successfully tackled our first low bridges, and headed on to the Great Bridge Lock. Our mast is just shy of 60 feet high, and many of the bridges along the ICW have a vertical clearance of significantly less than that. We therefore have to wait for them to open to let us pass. Some of these bridges open 'on demand' (in other words you speak very nicely to the bridge-master and he or she will raise the bridge for you), others open at specific times and it is a similar exercise to planning a military manoeuvre to time your arrival to within 5 minutes or so of the actual opening. If you don't, and in some worse case scenarios, you could be hanging about for up to an hour trying to keep the boat in place, and trying to avoid other boats who also missed the opening! In the busiest areas you can find yourself dancing around 10 or more other boats who are also waiting to pass, and this is way too stressful an exercise for a cruising boat. So we give ourselves a hearty pat on the back whenever we manage to time our pass to perfection!
The Lock, on the other hand, is a very different animal and it was with some degree of trepidation that we were now approaching said beast. Last year we had touched bottom on our approach to the lock, and our friends Kevin & Karen on Dream Seeker had been forced aground by a dredger blocking the lock entrance. We had also had a bad experience in the lock on our return trip in April when bad direction from the lockmaster left us fending ourselves off of the concrete wall rather than safely tied up against the rubber fenders. However on this occasion our passage through the lock was totally stress-free. We had an easy approach, the lock-master helped us to tie up and we left the lock towards the back of the queue, comfortably making the next bridge where the opening times are planned to coincide with the lock openings.
Although it was only a little after noon, we had already decided that we were going to stay at the free mooring dock just after Great Bridge (assuming there was room for us). There were a few jobs we wanted to tackle on the boat and Dave wanted to find a Napa store as we needed a new fuel pump to (hopefully) solve another engine problem that had reared its head, connected with the fuel delivery system this time! There was room on the dock which we shared with 3 other boats, Mandate, Ambling and, well ..... those of you 'in the know' take a look at the photograph we have posted of the dock and figure it out! By 4pm we had finished our tasks so we cleaned up and treated ourselves to an early dinner at the 'Crazy Wings Cantina' (you had to be there!).

November 14, 2007
Bit of a late start this morning as we had to wait until 8.30am for the first opening of the next bridge we had to pass through. The morning was cool and overcast, but by the afternoon the sky had cleared and it was sunny and warm. We had an uneventful trip and anchored for the evening behind Buck Island. Tomorrow the Albemarle Sound!

November 15, 2007
Up and moving early to head out for the Albemarle Sound, a notorious piece of water with a fierce reputation in bad weather. The forecast was for SW winds, 15 - 20 knots going NW in the afternoon 20 - 25 knots with possible gusts to 35 knots. After some discussion we had decided to 'go for it' despite the poor forecast. If we did not go today the forecast implied that we would be stuck for the next 2 - 3 days and the anchorage we were in was totally exposed to NW winds meaning that to get any shelter we would have to back-track. We also figured that 20 knots or even 25 knots out of the SW would be fine. Magic can quite easily cope in these conditions and although the wind would be right on the nose we could tack across the Sound. We could certainly be across well before the weather deteriorated in the afternoon.
When we reached the Sound at 8.45am the wind was already 22 - 26 knots. We already had a reef in the main and the yankie was flying. The seas were 2 - 3 ft with a short chop, and although the ride was uncomfortable there was no stress. We started our tacks. By the time we were half way across the wind was 29 - 31 knots and we were seeing gusts of 35 knots. We had already put the yankie away and got the staysail (our smaller foresail) out & flying. We debated 'heaving to' to put another reef in the main but decided to press on - (a) Magic still wasn't stressed even though the ride was now very uncomfortable and (b) we wanted to get across as quickly as possible. Gallons of water were pouring over the decks and for the first time ever we had water coming in to the cockpit. We tried not to think about the leaks we would discover down below and pressed on, finally making it to the other side at about 11.30am.
Our main concern was now the bridge on the Alligator River. We had to pass under this bridge to get to a good anchorage and the bridge will not open in wind speeds above 34 knots. We were seeing 34 knots as we approached the bridge. If the bridge would not open we had few alternatives. We certainly did not want to go back across the Sound and the only other anchorage available to us was extremely exposed. We spoke very nicely to Ganesh and kept our fingers crossed.
Fortunately the bridge did open, and we were through. Then the heavens opened. The wind had died a little by the time we reached the anchorage off of Deep Point, but with the rain visibility was almost nil. We crept out of the channel and decided on a spot to drop 'the hook'. The anchor bit immediately and we were in! We finished anchoring and took a look around to check everything was OK. "I think we're still in the channel. We have to move". Dave's proclamation was met with a few seconds of stony silence followed by a reluctant resignation. "OK, I'll start to haul the anchor". No, actually I wouldn't. The windlass would not budge it. Magic had spoken. She wasn't going anywhere! Further examination of the charts showed that we probably were outside the channel, albeit not far. But we didn't think that there would be much traffic moving around in this weather anyway so we should be OK. We headed down below for hot showers and to get into dry clothes. The wet ones were draped around the boat. Magic looked like a Chinese laundry but at least we were finally warm and dry.
The anchor alarm was set and we had a relatively peaceful night. The wind died during the night and the rain finally stopped sometime in the early hours of the morning. Calm at last.

November 16, 2007
What a difference a day makes! We woke to a still cold, but bright morning with hardly a cloud in the sky. We made very good time through the Alligator / Pungo Canal and decided to push on to Broad Creek for the night. This put us only 24 miles from Beaufort. We also saw our first dolphins on this trip which was a nice treat. As was the anchorage where we had our calmest night yet. Tomorrow Beaufort.

November 17, 2007
We had a nice easy run from Broad Creek to Beaufort and by 1pm were moored in the City Dock. We had again decided to treat ourselves to a marina for the night (what sort of cruisers are we becoming??!) and were moored on the outside pontoon alongside 'Sea Angel', a 44' Nauticat we had first met in Norfolk. After topping off with water and diesel we started chatting to Ed and Benia, our new neighbors. Ed had been studying the weather and was planning an offshore run from Beaufort to the St. Mary's River on the Georgia / Florida border the following day. Since the Albemarle Sound we had been quite remiss at checking the weather but after hearing of Ed's plan we headed back to Magic to take a look for ourselves. Sure enough the forecast was for SW winds going NW at 10 - 15 knots for the next few days. Perfect!
We headed for the marina bar to meet with Ed and Benia and break the bad news to them that we had decided to join them on the 55 hour run to St. Mary's. It is always nice to know that there are other boats out there with you, especially on the overnight runs. We then went back to Magic to get some sleep. It would be another 3 days before we got a full nights' rest again.

Vessel Name: Magic
Vessel Make/Model: Baba 40
Hailing Port: Ipswich
Crew: David & Donna Glessing