It had been one of the hottest weeks on record at home, near Charlotte, NC. It was so hot we could barely breathe when we went outdoors. It was almost too hot for me, even with my thin southern blood. Although we have learned from experience not to put too much stock in weather forecasts, we were watching, and hoping for a change. By Friday, a change was in the forecast and the weekend plan decision was made. We didn't have an agenda for the weekend. The weather forecast was not for great weather, just a change from the stifling heat. I did have a couple of small projects in mind if we stayed at the dock.
Friday August 10, 2007
When we left home after work, the car thermometer read 103 degrees, the official predicted high for the day. Needless to say, the weather change had not occurred. We took the northern route through Greenville, NC. We find that this is an easier route during Friday rush hour. We stopped for dinner and for supplies. We still made it in a little over 5 hours, which is about average. We arrived at Ensign Harbor to find there was no electrical power, anywhere. Jeanette came out and told us the power had been off for a couple hours due to a bad storm, and they had no idea when it would be restored. The forecast for a change in the weather was right. Score one for NOAA. Except for the lack of air conditioning, this was not a huge inconvenience. After all, Southern Star is a self-contained cruising sailboat. Shore power is not an absolute requirement. We unpacked and rigged for bad weather. We were almost ready for bed when the power came back on. This welcome event allowed us to make use of a small miracle of modern science, the portable air-conditioner. We slept cool and dry.
Saturday August 11, 2007
The morning's weather was fairly nice. There were plenty of clouds and it was muggy, but not bad. Judy suggested a pancake breakfast at the Deli in Oriental. I should clarify by saying that Judy wanted blueberry pancakes. The fact that the Deli does not serve blueberry pancakes did not deter the very first mate because she had brought her own blueberries from home. After breakfast, we stopped by the local chandlery for supplies for my little projects and returned to the boat.
From mid morning until mid afternoon the weather was really nasty. Thunderstorms marched by, one after the other and we were glad to be tied up to the dock. Judy finished a needlework project and did some reading. We had acquired a new portable refrigerator from friends. We had used it on a few trips and it had really worked well. We needed to find a place other than the cabin sole to store it. This would not be an issue at home, but it's quite a task on a 30-foot sailboat where space is extremely scarce. The only option was the starboard quarter berth just aft of the navigation station. It was a perfect fit. Murphy's law states, "It can't fall off the floor" but the new refrigerator could fall off the quarter berth. When Southern Star picks up her skirts and takes off across the sound, her mast is far from vertical. Most folks would never need a seatbelt for a refrigerator, but ours now has one. It is a handsome white nylon strap with black fasteners that should work quite well for keeping the contents of the fridge off the cabin sole.
The refrigerator runs on either 12 volts or 100 volts shore power. When we are at anchor, we will use 12-volt battery power. We already had a 12-volt receptacle that in the right location, but it was broken. I installed the new receptacle that I had on hand. I soldered the connections rather than using crimped connectors. I prefer solder for all electrical connections because it provides a solid physical and electrical connection when done properly.
The next thing on my list was to finish my lazy jack improvement project. For the uninitiated, lazy jacks are an arrangement of lines that contain the mainsail in top of the boom when it is not in use. I had installed lazy jacks earlier and they work great except they did not reach far enough back on the boom. The improvement was to add a fourth "leg" to the system. Several rope splices were required. Most, I had already done at home but I had picked up some rope at the chandlery to finish up. "Rope" is a term seldom used by a sailor. To the casual observer, there would appear to be hundreds of feet of rope on any old sailboat. That's the problem. There are so many ropes that we need to be a lot more specific so we can tell them apart. "Lines" is the common term for halyards, sheets, rodes and even painters but "rope" is ambiguous term reserved for raw material still in the hardware store. As soon as lands on the deck of a sailboat it is no longer just rope because it has a purpose. Anyway, by the time I got my new lazy jack lines finished the weather was too threatening to uncover the sail and install them. In a fairly unusual move, I took a nice long nap. Sleeping on a sailboat with rain pounding on deck above is very pleasant assuming the deck above is not leaking.
Judy woke me after an hour or so. She was suffering from cabin fever. We needed to get out of the cabin and by then the weather was a little better. We called our friends Bill and Susan and invited them to go out for dinner. We drove to downtown New Bern and had a very pleasant dinner at Captain Ratty's resturant. Back at Ensign Harbor our dock mates were still visiting in the "cockpit" (our screened in room) so we joined them for a while. We turned in and slept well in our dry, cool, air-conditioned cabin.
Sunday August 12, 2007
Sunday's weather was as beautiful as Saturday's was nasty. We woke to blue skies and much cooler, dryer air. It was as if the seasons had changed over night. We had coffee on deck and our usual instant oatmeal. Stefan, our resident U. S. Power Squadron member offered us a free boat safety inspection. We almost passed except for the expiration date on our signal flares. We will correct that as soon as possible. The weather was nice enough to raise the main sail and install the lazy jack improvement. It was so nice in fact that we really did not want to leave. I remembered that I had some bait shrimp so I tried my luck. I shared my shrimp with John and Joey who (big surprise) is a much better fisherman that I. Joey caught two nice croakers and I caught one. This could not be considered a "nice mess o' fish" (a common southern term) but it would make a nice dinner for two. Joey donated his fish to the cause and I cleaned and packed them in the remaining ice for the trip home.
After using up all my excuses for not leaving, we packed the car and left for higher ground around 2 pm. I did stop by the boat yard in Bridgeton to see a little steel schooner that was for sale. She was lovely and would make someone a very handsome little ship with enough effort, time and lots of dollars. The rest of the trip home was uneventful and that is the best you can hope for.
This was not our most fun filled weekend ever but we take time on the water any way we can get it. We spent some quality time with friends and enjoyed relaxing aboard, even if it was raining most of the time. I invite you to leave a comment on the blog page or sign our guest book on the homepage. It makes my day to get a comment.