Summer Fun July 2012
15 July 2012 | Whortonsville, NC
We had not been to the coast since late June. This is unusual for us. We are more likely to average at least two trips per month. There were multiple family events, an annual July 4th camping trip and the Stanly County Amateur Radio club’s field day event. All of which kept us at home. This is not a complaint, just a fact. The weather during the July 4th week was brutally hot so we probably would not have made the trip then anyway.
Friday July 13, 2012
We got a bit of a late start on Friday afternoon. We like to leave as soon as I finish work but that does not always work out. We stopped in Siler City for dinner which made arrival even later. We learned long ago to relax and enjoy the ride. We do a lot of talking during our rides to the coast that we may not do if we were at home. The best you can hope for on a 5 hour car ride is an uneventful trip and that is what we had.
I have been reminded multiple times by my sons that when they complained of the July heat I would say’ “it’s summertime, it’s supposed to be hot”. Well summertime has arrived in Pamlico County. The oppressive heat of a week ago is gone and there has been plenty of rain it is plenty warm at Ensign Harbor. We had not shipped the portable air conditioner because we the temp was down into the mid seventies. The AC would have been nice but setting it up is a lot of trouble especially in the dark.
Saturday July 14, 2012
We woke to a beautiful Saturday. The forecast was for South winds at 5-10 knots. Ten knots is plenty for the little 30 footer. We start reducing sail when wind speeds approach 15. Bill and Susan arrived mid morning. They were staying the night and immediately invited us to dinner. We accepted the invitation, which is always a good idea when Susan’s cooking. Cest La Vie’s (their Pearson 35) engine has been running hot of late. Bill knew what was wrong and needed a day to get her cured. We started the hour long process of getting the boat ready to leave the slip, and cast off around 11am. We motored out to the mouth of Broad Creek and found a unusual sight. The Lower Neuse River looked like a mill pond. No wind at all. This condition seldom lasts for long so we set the sails and ran the diesel at idle speed. We turned east toward the Sound thinking there may be more of a breeze in the more open waters. We had lunch and continued on our quest for wind. The puffy white clouds of the morning started to get bigger and develop large dark areas on their undersides. We saw the bottom drop out of one that appeared several miles away. In less than an hour’s time weather conditions went from calm and peaceful to downright scary. This too is typical for the Lower Neuse River. Soon there were nasty little black bottomed clouds marching up river in a line dumping tons of water. It has been our experience that any time our sailboat and a storm are concurrently on any body of water, the boat and the storm will converge. Based on this experience, I furled the jib and main and applied sail covers while Judy helmed the vessel at flank speed (a blistering 6.2 knots) back to the dock. Susan called us on the VHF to make sure we were ok but by then we were back in Broad Creek headed her way.
The storm was on our heels when we landed. I am not sure if this was a factor but the landing was less than perfect. I have backed our boat into her slip dozens of times without so much as touching a piling or dock. It was not to be that simple this time. Looking back there were several problems. First the approaching storm had kicked up a crosswind. Second there was a crab pot square in the middle of my normal path. Dodging the crab pot took me off my normal (backwards) course and into the always present shallow place. Any encounter the keel has with the bottom while going in reverse results in an immediate hard turn to port due to prop walk. After half dozen tries I gave up and we did a brute force landing by simply grabbing the piling to which we tie the forward port side and manually pulling and pushing her into her slip. I think the proper term is “yacht wrestling”. Our landing crew did not abandon us and we finally got tied up properly. Any landing that does not result in damage to the vessel or crew can be considered successful, although this one was not pretty.
Last time we cooked on our 20 year old gas kettle grill the results were not good. The burner was not working properly. It was not cooking evenly and the food actually had a bit of smoke or soot on it. I took it home last time and started taking it apart. When I got to the actual burner device I grabbed it to twist it off and it turned to a pile of rusty dust in my hand. The housing of the old grill is still in good shape and I am all about repairing instead of replacing whenever possible. Internet research quickly revealed that styles have changed in 20 years and many of the old parts are no longer used. The tally for parts replacement was quickly approaching the price of buying new, so I bit the bullet and placed an order with Defender Marine. The new grill of course looks good but I can’t say the quality is as good. I installed it late on Saturday and had trouble lighting it. Upon reading the instructions (foreign concept) I found that turning the valve all the way left like the old grill was actually turning the gas off, not fully on. Go figure. Anyway watch out Spanish mackerel, I will be looking for grill fodder next trip.
We make a quick trip to metropolitan Oriental for supplies and a quick check at the marine consignment shop. You never know, they may have something you can’t do without. After we returned I had a nice chat with Larry, one of our dock mates who we had not seen in a while. Larry was going to Arapahoe to try a restaurant and we were dining with Bill and Susan in the cockpit. Dinner was roast chicken, fresh corn, fresh tomatoes and coleslaw. Eric joined us after an hour or so. There was still plenty of food so Susan invited him to eat. We stayed up way past my bedtime and enjoyed every minute of it. Bill had helped me ship the portable air conditioner for which Judy was very grateful. We left the AC on during dinner and by the time we turned in we enjoyed a cool dry sleep.
Sunday July 15, 2012
We got up a little earlier than usual because we needed to get home in time to attend a wake for an extended family member. Lunch was at King’s in Kinston. They have great baked chicken and vegetables. If you are careful you can get a good meal and not break the calorie, cholesterol bank. We took a few minutes to get educated about coolers at the Neuse Sport Shop. Turns out unless you are willing to spend a boat load of money on a cooler they won’t hold ice any longer than the Wal-Mart model.
This was a great weekend. Just being at the boat is worth the trip and it seldom goes as planned. I mentioned Amateur Radio earlier which is another of my many hobbies. At some point I want to be able to use the ham radio on the boat. Based on my research HF (not to be confused with VHF) radio antennas and sailboats do not play well together because of the low frequency and lack of a grounding counterpoise on the plastic boat. I did some research and I think I can hoist a wire antenna with a seldom used spinnaker halyard to use as an antenna. This will require further research but I do now have a compact HF amateur radio and an automatic tuner. Research continues…
I should mention one true oddity that we noticed this weekend. There were practically no bugs! Pamlico county mosquitoes are huge, plentiful and very friendly at certain times of the year. This is that time of year but I saw only a single puny bug all weekend and he was in the bathhouse. Nick’s theory is that the super hot weather killed them off. He suspects it is a temporary situation.