Northbound with a Southbound attitude
25 June 2018 | Cape May, NJ
We had great aspirations upon leaving Stuart, planning a big jump north and maybe even all the way to New England, but then reality set in. We had provisioned up, and stopped at the fuel dock for a full load of fuel and water on leaving, and then went up to Ft Peirce to clean the bottom. The boat was in pretty good shape as the rain had kept fresh water flowing out of Lake Okeechobee and so the normal science experiment that occurs on the bottom of the boat wasn’t too bad. A quick wipe down had us in good form. A good omen, right?
We had a good weather window to head north but little wind. We motored out the Ft Pierce inlet and turned north motorsailing aiming to get into the Gulf Stream and ride it north. We were plagued from the start with thunder storms in the afternoon and into the evening. About 14 or 16 hours into the trip, we got hit by a storm in the night unexpectedly and the boat rounded up. The auto pilot started wailing and we started getting an error message that the bypass circuit was overloaded and no amount of fiddling, even switching the auto pilot computer, resolved the issue. On top of everything else, we managed to get an hourglass wrap in the jib and it took me a long time to get that out during which we had a wild gybe and the main boom swung over and hit the forward lower shroud on the mizzen mast and fractured a strand in the cable. For those reading this who are not familiar with the sailing terminology, suffice it to say that things were really screwed up. So with heavy hearts, we hand steered the boat all night and the next day into St Augustine to see if we could remedy the thing. A day of talking to the Simrad technical people, installing a relay and confirming that all the components were working, didn’t yield any joy. Finally I was playing with the thing and it mysteriously started working again. I’m assuming that there is a glitch in the network somewhere that I have to find and sort out. We managed to have some fun and saw the town and had a ride on one of the local tours, something we had wanted to do for some time but had never taken the time to do.
It was still very hot and there were many thunderstorms, so we were ready to continue north to cooler weather. Our original window had evaporated, but we had time to make it to Cape Fear, NC, so off we went. It was a combination of sailing and motor sailing all the way, with thunder storms every afternoon and evening. We were able to use the wind vane when sailing and tried to keep the load off the autopilot as much as possible and it seemed to be OK. We didn’t use the mizzen because of the weakened shroud. We pulled into the Cape Fear River the second morning and motored up to the ICW and then onto Wrightsville Beach. We spent a night and a day there, waiting on weather, during which I shortened the boom extensions to prevent a reoccurrence of the shroud disaster.
With a good forecast, we left late in the day out of Masonboro Inlet, for a sail up to Beaufort. It was a great sail over night and we really needed that. The weather had cleared and for the first time, no thunderstorms. In to the Beaufort Inlet and up the ICW to Adams Creek and one of our most used anchorages. We had another storm that night but managed to sleep well and the next day were up and over to Oriental and found a spot on the free dock there. We rode bikes up to the hardware store and grocery and then I went to work on the broken shroud. I had a spare shroud with the correct fitting at the top, a t ball swaged fitting, although the cable was slightly bigger at ¼ instead of 7/32. It was a lot longer so I needed to shorten it but had all the spare parts for that. I had to jury rig the attachment to the chainplate because of the size discrepancy, but we wound up with a strong replacement. I’ll get a new one for an exact replacement of the original when we get back to Florida in the fall. Molly has even stopped complaining about all the junk I carry around on the boat.
While we were in Oriental, some folks stopped by who we had met there a few years back, and they welcomed us back to Oriental. This is such a friendly place. We were in a rush to get moving, so we couldn’t really get together with them but hopefully we’ll see them again on the way back down. We were off the next morning and stopped in our usual anchorages on the way up to Norfolk, trying to make a weather window to head out of Norfolk to Block Island. We fueled up at Atlantic Yacht Basin in Great Bridge and then moved to Willoughby Bay by the Navy base in Norfolk. We were still getting blasted by strong storms and had two there with winds up to 50 knots.
Our window turned out to be too short to get to Block so we left Norfolk in a brisk southwesterly bound for Cape May. Out the bay and over the bridge tunnel and the wind went light so we were motor sailing and managed to dodge the worst of the thunderstorms coming off the Delmarva peninsula. The good news is overnight it was delightfully cool and we even had to wear our jackets. Morning found us off the mouth of the Delaware Bay and dodging ships headed in and out and then as we closed in on Cape May a shroud of fog suddenly formed and visibility went to zero. We went into the inlet at Cape May with radar and plotter going slow, as there was a great amount of traffic in and out of the inlet. As we got in visibility improved and we found a spot to anchor without problems. I spent the day changing oil and filters on the engine and fixing a couple of other issues, and then we had a shower and a relaxing night.
Now here we sit, planning to enjoy Cape May today and then when the north goes out of the wind tomorrow, we’ll head up to Block Island. So far this has been the cruise of motoring and thunderstorms. Hopefully, things will improve. Look for some pictures in the gallery.