Friday, April 28, 2017
We returned home this afternoon, exactly 6 months to the day since we left. We traveled 3518 nautical miles. It has been quite an adventure. As we were motoring up the bay from Solomons today we reflected on the mixed feelings we have about our trip ending. We are both happy about returning to our town, friends, condo and conveniences (like dishwasher and washing machine). We are also sad that the adventure is ending. I admit I am happier to be home and George feels more sad that the trip is over. In fact, he joked that we should just keep going.
Two things we didn't miss while we were away: crab traps and biting black flies. While we were sailing to Solomons yesterday we encountered an area of crab traps that seemed to stretch for miles in every direction. We were grateful for the enclosure and the shade screens for keeping the flies from eating us alive.
We spent some time unloading the boat and will finish the job tomorrow. In the coming weeks I will write about what worked, what didn't work and what we wish we had while in the Bahamas.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Saturday, April 22, 2017
After 58 hours of sailing we dropped the anchor in the Rappahannock River. Phew! The passage went well and feels like another accomplishment for both of us. I was quite nervous about going around Cape Hatteras (there are lots of scary stories) but it wasn't bad at all. We didn't experience seas any worse than 4-5 feet.
Now that we are back on the Chesapeake we are going to wait for good conditions before going home. I am writing this as I sit in the cockpit watching the rain.
The enclosure is keeping me warm and dry.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
We spent the afternoon walking around Bald Head Island and touring the "Old Baldy" lighthouse. If we had been there another day we would have rented bicycles or a golf cart to see more of the island. There are a lot of large vacation homes on the island. Other than the golf carts, the only vehicles allowed on the island are service vehicles. They are brought over on a cargo ferry a couple times a day. The passenger ferries come twice an hour from early morning to midnight. We timed our departure for just after the 6 am ferry's departure. We have seen a lot of families on Bald Head Island, including a lovely family from Easton (near our home, Cambridge). It seems like a great place for a family vacation.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
After sailing for over 51 hours we pulled into Bald Head Island Marina at Cape Fear. The longer passage worked quite well and feels like an accomplishment for both of us. Prior to this we have had three on board every time we had spent more than one night at sea. The key for us was to find a watch schedule that enabled us to maximize uninterrupted sleep. For us it meant I am on watch from 8 to midnight while George sleeps. He is on from midnight to 5 am while I sleep. He may or may not go back to bed at 5 am. During the day we alternate 2 hour watches and take naps in the cockpit. We were hoping to do another two-night passage to Norfolk but it looks like the weather window is closed. The photo is Old Baldy, the oldest lighthouse still standing in NC.
Friday, April 14, 2017
We got up early yesterday morning with a plan to sail about 22 miles north to Brunswick, GA. After checking the weather forecast we weren't sure we still wanted to go. The wind was more northerly than had been predicted so we would have to tack if we wanted to sail. We were also concerned about the wave heights. In the end, we chose to give it a try. Because the current was against us it took two hours to get out of the inlet. The sailing was nice, but slow, and the waves weren't bad. By noon we were just halfway there. We turned the engine on, furled the jib and dropped the main and motored on (George's fix on the lazy jacks is working, yay!) It took another two hours to get from the channel outside the inlet to Brunswick Landing Marina. We pulled into the fuel dock just before it closed at 5 pm. Our 22 mile trip ended up being a very long 50 miles.
Brunswick Landing Marina is lovely. Free laundry, free beer and wine, free loaner bikes, nice floating docks and great staff.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
We cleared the waiting list and made it onto one of two Lands and Legacies tour vans. We are so glad we did. The tour was so interesting, covering all 18 miles of the island. Our guide, Mike, provided information about the history of Cumberland since the 1700's. The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney on Cumberland. Mike was our guide through the Plum Orchard mansion where a 19-year-old bride once presided in the manner of Downton Abbey. We also visited the tiny church where JFK Jr. was married in 1996. (Mike took our photo there). We saw more feral horses, armadilloes, an eagle, sand dunes, forests,
marshes and the ruins of the outbuildings of Dungeness.
marshes and the ruins of the outbuildings of Dungeness.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
George climbed the mast and fixed the lazy jacks very quickly this morning. We have our fingers crossed that they will hold! In the afternoon we took the dinghy to shore to explore the island. It is beautiful with thick live oak forests, a wide sandy beach, and wild horses. We rented a couple of bicycles to make it easier to get around the island. We rode down to the southern end of the island and visited the ruins of Dungeness, a former Carnegie "cottage". We hope to be able to participate in the Land and Legacies tour tomorrow, if they have any cancellations. If not, we will ride the bikes to the north end for our own tour. We are enjoying watching a large number of dolphins that come around a few times a day. Some of them really like to like to play.
After over 35 hours of sailing (and motoring) 220 nautical miles from Ft. Pierce we are here at Cumberland Island, GA. Just before the sun set Sunday night we noticed squalls on the horizon as the wind started to pick up into the high teens. We decided to put a reef in the main. The port side lazy jack lines let loose just as George started to lower the main sail. We were on a starboard tack so the port side lines were taking all of the pressure of the main sail. George tied up the loose lines so they wouldn't foul the propeller and we carried on. Without one side of the lazy jack lines we weren't able to reef the main at all. So, we furled the jib until the wind calmed down. Even with the lighter winds we were still overpowered at times with both jib and main. When we tried furling the jib our speed really dropped.
The route we were following from FastSeas said we would be traveling over 9 knots while in the Gulf Stream. That never happened so we were probably not far enough into the Gulf Stream. We didn't want to go any further east, though. Since we were falling behind our schedule we did a lot of motor sailing to keep up our speed. We didn't want to spend two nights at sea.
We revised our watch schedule to two hours during the day and four hours at night. We each got more sleep at night and napped during the day when we were off watch.
George did a great job of tying up the front and back of the stack pack so it could hold the main sail and keep it from flopping down on the deck when he dropped the sail. Now he is working on fixing the lazy jack lines. One of the two plastic rings on the port side broke. He made two (one primary and one backup) rings out of spectra line and they will substitute for the broken ring. I am thinking that replacing them ought to go on the annual maintenance schedule. Once the job is done we will go explore Cumberland Island.
Sunday, April 9, 2017
I also spotted something large and orange with a loop in it. I originally thought it was trash but it drove under water and didn't resurface. I wonder if it was an octopus. Later on George spotted a large sea turtle.
Saturday, April 8, 2017
After a very nice week and a half of visiting family in Florida we are preparing to continue sailing north. We have decided to leave tomorrow morning and sail overnight with Cumberland Island, GA as our destination. We have heard very nice things about Cumberland Island and hope to tour it while we are there. We had wanted to sign up for a guided tour but they were booked for over a week. We don't want to commit to staying there that long.
George found a nice website that will plot a course using wind and current. It is very flexible and allows you to set your preferences including maximum wind, maximum wind gusts, minimum sailing speed (speed at which you will turn motor on). The program is called FastSeas. I have included a photo of tomorrow's course which will be taking us out into the Gulf Stream.