Thursday, November 30, 2017

Spanish Wells to Current Cut

We enjoyed our visit to the Spanish Wells museum. We learned a lot about the history of the Bahamas as well as more recent history of Spanish Wells. We found the information about their successful fishing industry, catching crawfish (spiny lobsters), especially interesting. If you eat lobster in Red Lobster it most likely came from here. The crew are all equal owners of their fishing boat and share revenues and expenses equally. If someone retires he puts his share up for sale. If someone is interested in buying it the rest of the crew/owners vote on it. Jean told us a lot of the local businesses are co-owned in a similar way. I forgot to take a photo of one of the fishing boats but I fond one online. They are mostly boats that were former shrimpers.  The outriggers aren’t used for nets anymore when catching lobsters. 

After the museum visit Jean and Tom gave us a ride to the Food Fair grocery store in their golf cart. Then they gave us a ride back to the dinghy. We really appreciated their kindness. If you visit Spanish Wells look them up at Done Reach cottage. It is near their cat boat, also named Done Reach. 
In the afternoon George and I left Spanish Wells and sailed to the western side of Current Cut. Due to very strong currents we are advised to go through the cut 1 3/4 hours after Nassau’s high tide. That would be at 7 am tomorrow morning so we decided to spend the night at anchor near the cut. It is a bit bouncy here but not too bad. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Spanish Wells/Harbour Island

Yesterday rained almost constantly so we stayed on the boat. I barely even stepped out of the cabin. George ventured out a few times to use the hand pump to pump the water out of the dinghy. I was really wishing we had finished making and attaching bungee cords to the awnings I made so that we could use them. We had to keep the hatches closed because of the rain and it got really warm inside. 
Today looked to be a much better day so we went to Harbour Island. It is about 10 miles away and accessible by boat through the Devil’s Backbone, a narrow, winding channel through reefs. It is recommended that you have a guide to help you through but we decided to take a ferry or water taxi. We looked into the large Bahamas Ferry. It would have cost us each $50 round trip. Then we saw that we could take Pinder’s Water Taxi. We see their water taxis coming and going frequently. We stopped at Pinder’s grocery store (there is a reason these are called the “family islands”) to inquire. The cashier said it would be $15 round trip. That would include a water taxi to N. Eleuthera Island, then a van to the other side of the island. From there we would take another water taxi to Harbour Island for $5 each. We decided to choose Pinder’s over the Bahamas Ferry. It was cheaper and provided more local flavor. 
At Harbour Island we first stopped at the Board of Tourism office to get a map and advice. Next we walked to the Lone Tree, a large, dead tree at the edge of sand flats. It was quite a sight. After that we walked over to the Atlantic side of the island to walk along the famous pink beach. It really is a nice shade of pink but the color doesn’t really show in photos. 
We had a terrific lunch at Sip Sip (Bahamian slang for a place to gossip and drink) overlooking the beach. Another squall came through soon after we left the restaurant so we went back to stand under their covered patio for shelter. After it stopped raining we continued to walk around the island and stopped in a few shops. Harbour Island has some modest homes but also quite a few upscale resorts and houses. The prices in the shops were ridiculously expensive. One place had what looked like beach coverups for $250 and $325!  Nevertheless, we had a lovely day and thought the trip was well worth it. After our return water taxi/van/water taxi ride George held out $40 to the driver, expecting $10 change. The driver said we owed another $40. George told him the price we had been quoted but he insisted $20 per person each way is always the price. It makes no sense that they would charge the same price as the larger, faster ferry.  I suspected we were charged the “sucker tourist” price. Oh well. Live and learn. We still had a nice day. 
Before we returned to Breeze On we stopped briefly at Tom and Jean’s house to say hello and exchange boat cards we made arrangements for Jean to show us around the museum tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Passage to Eleuthera

We pulled up the anchor and left Lynyard Cay at 4:40 am yesterday morning. Why so early?  We wanted to be sure we could make the 60 mile trip to Eleuthera in time to arrive during daylight. We also believed the winds were going to pick up during the day, leading to bigger waves. We were hoping to arrive before that happened. I have to say it was a little creepy for me to be driving out of North Bar Channel between the islands and reefs in the dark. We had a route in the chart plotter that I just had to trust. I also had to trust that there were no big waves coming at us through the channel. There weren’t and everything was fine. There was just a gentle 1-2 ft swell. We motored for about 1 1/2hr until there was enough light to see the sails. We have raised the sails in the dark before, using headlamps and a spot light to see what we are doing, but it is a lot easier during daylight. After the sails were set the ride became much smoother and faster. The winds were stronger than expected, 17-18 kn, and were were sailing at 7 kn, sometimes over 8 kn.  With the stronger winds we also had bigger waves, 3-4 ft on the port aft quarter. It was cloudy and cool all day long. We had to wear long sleeves to stay warm for the first time since arriving in the Bahamas (life is tough!).
We made much better time than expected and arrived at our planned destination, Royal Island, in the early afternoon. We decided to press on to Spanish Wells and pick up a mooring. Shortly after we arrived Jean and Tom, who live on the shore, came by in their small boat and said they often have cruisers over to their house for drinks in the afternoon at around 5 pm. How nice!  We were tired so begged off for yesterday. Today has been squally so far. If the squalls stop we may go to shore, dump the trash, pick up some fresh vegetables and stop by for a drink. We found out from Jean and Tom that there are no places for cruisers to do laundry here anymore.  There used to be one washer and one dryer in the back of a store but that is under new ownership and they are out of the laundry business. Laundry will have to wait. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lynyard Cay/Sandy Cay/Little Harbour

We left Hope Town yesterday just before high tide and zigzagged our way around the shoals down the Sea of Abaco. We anchored off of Lynyard Cay. It is the first time we have anchored in over two months. We were so busy getting ready for the trip that we didn’t sail much in the weeks before we left home. After we left on October 31 we have either been under way, tied up at a marina or on a mooring ball. It is nice to be anchored again.  Lynyard Cay is a lovely spot.  Just as we anchored a large turtle seemed to be very curious about us. It was treading water about 50’ away and kept popping it’s head out of the water.  It is lovely but the anchorage is also a bit challenging. There is quite a bit of grass on the bottom and it is tough to get an anchor to hold in grass. We tried to find the sandiest area to drop the anchor. We thought we had a good one. George snorkeled our to check on the anchor and thought it looked good. However, after he came back he hit his foot on a rock and found that he could actually stand up behind the boat!  Not good. He is 6’1” and our keel and rudder are 5’8” below the surface.  The bottom appears to be very uneven and the wind had shifted to push us closer to land.  Just before sunset we reanchored in deeper water.
This morning we dinghied a few miles north to Sandy Cay to go snorkeling. It is a place we tried to visit last year when we first arrived here with our friend, Ray. We couldn’t get to the reefs because the dinghy motor wasn’t  working. We were happy we could give it another try this year. It really was a nice spot to snorkel. Large, tall reefs with a wide variety of coral (although somewhat bleached, like most coral in the Bahamas these days) and quite a few pretty fish. Before we set out to snorkel we tried out our new system for getting back in the dinghy. Since we have a new type of dinghy our old system wouldn’t work very well. Figuring out something new was on our long “to do” list before we left home.  We got as far as developing a plan but hadn’t yet tried it out - mostly because I didn’t relish the idea of going swimming in the Choptank in October. Anyway, the plan was to buy a Fender Step, tie a loop onto the bottom (there is a place for that on the step), attach the Fender Step to a dinghy seat and let it hang over the side. The lower loop would be used as the first step and the Fender Step would be the next.  I tried it out before we left in the dinghy, with George balancing the other side of the dinghy. I was able to hoist myself in. Hooray!
We wore our short wetsuits for snorkeling and we were very happy to have them. Last year we would have to quit after 15 or 20 minutes because we were cold. This year we should be able to snorkel as long as we want. After we went snorkeling I had much more trouble getting back in the dinghy. I don’t know if I was just tired or some of the lines on the step had shifted making it harder to get up. In any case, George lent me a hand and I was able to eventually get in. We think the system will work well with some more tweaking.  
After returning from snorkeling, rinsing off and putting on dry clothes we got back in the dinghy and headed south to see a blue hole in a mangrove creek. Shirley from St. Michaels (they keep their boat at Yacht Maintenance & we met them for the first time in Hope Town) had mentioned that it was worth seeing. The creek is really shallow and George had read that you should go in and exit just before high tide so you don’t get trapped. We found the blue hole (a sinkhole in the water - dark blue area in the photo) and saw several turtles on our way out. We are always amazed by how fast they swim. After seeing the blue hole we dinghied over to Little Harbour for lunch at Pete’s Pub. Little Harbour is indeed a little harbor. There is a spot in the channel with just 4 feet of water so we would have to enter and leave at high tide with Breeze On. There isn’t much in Little Harbour other than Pete’s Pub and Gallery and a few houses. The gallery is quite nice. It contains numerous large and small sculptures made by the Johnston family, a local family of artists. Lunch at Pete’s Pub was delicious. It was worth the wild 40 minute ride through quite a bit of chop back to Breeze On. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hat Repair

Yesterday George noticed that there was a rip in my sailing hat. He suggested that I could cover it with a patch.  I thought that was a good idea.  While we were walking around Hope Town we stopped in a gift store and spent $8.00 (gulp) on a patch. This morning I got my sewing machine out and sewed the patch on the hat. When I looked in the mirror to check the results I noticed a small dark spot near the patch. I wiped it with my finger and the spot got bigger. It was another hole! I attempted to zigzag the new hole with the sewing machine but it just kept tearing. The old hat has given up the ghost. Well, as my mother would say, it doesn’t owe me anything. I really like the wide front brim and the neck covering in the back. Oh well, I can replace it after we get home. 
While I was attempting to repair my hat George was transferring diesel from a jerry can into the fuel tank. After that we dinghied over to the marina and filled the jerry can. We went into the marina store and found an anchor to replace the one that was lost yesterday. A 2 lb. anchor cost $49.00 (double gulp). Well, at least we are supporting the local economy. 
This afternoon we went ashore to take a walk on the beach. On the way back we stopped by a boat from St. Michaels, MD. We had a nice chat with Shirley and compared notes about our passages to the Bahamas. Turns out they often bring their beautiful boat to Yacht Maintenance, across from where we live. Small world.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

We were extra cautious and left Green Turtle Cay early this morning to ensure we could get through the Whale before the front came through. We headed for Hope Town, another adorable town that we visited and liked last year. As it turns out our friends Jean and Michael were headed for Green Turtle Cay and arrived there this afternoon. Darn! We knew they were on their way to the Bahamas but weren’t sure where they were going. We will have to meet up with them later on. 
After picking up a mooring in Hope Town we dinghied ashore to see where we might find some Thanksgiving dinner. We saw a sign advertising Thanksgiving dinner outside Cap’n Jack’s, a restaurant on the harbor very close to our boat. We decided to come back later for an early dinner. We had tied up to the main dock in town where there are signs telling boaters to use a stern anchor. That keeps the boats perpendicular to the dock and allows for more boats to tie up. George tossed out our dinghy anchor but didn’t think it was far enough so he hauled it back and tried again. This time, as he pulled the line to tighten it up, the line came back without an anchor attached. Oops!  He went back to the boat to get another small anchor that we have. The water isn’t quite clear enough here to go diving for our lost anchor.  We will shop for a replacement at the local marine store. 
When we returned to Cap’n Jack’s we sat down and asked the waitress for the Thanksgiving dinner. She asked if our names were on the list. Oops again!  We said no and must have looked disappointed.  She said she would check to see if there were two dinners left. After several minutes she came back and said there were!  Hurray!  The dinners were delicious. As we sat on the deck and ate we watched the really unusual clouds from the front moving in. It was quite a sight. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Green Turtle Cay

We left Treasure Cay this morning and motored in light winds to Green Turtle Cay. We traveled through the infamous “Whale” without incident. There are two harbors on Green Turtle Cay, Black Sound in the south and White Sound in the north. We picked up a mooring in White Sound because it has deeper water.  We dinghied 
to shore in the early afternoon and inquired about renting a golf cart to tour the island. We weren’t sure how long to rent it because we weren’t sure how long we were staying. We talked to the dock master at the Green Turtle Club and he said a front is coming and the Whale will get nasty. That was all we needed to hear to make us decide to spend just one night here and get back through the Whale while we could. We rented the golf cart for the afternoon and took a quick tour. We first drove toward the southern end where the town of New Plymouth is located. It is a quirky, adorable town with lots of shops and restaurants. There is quite a bit of housing on Green Turtle Cay and there seemed to be a lot of residents out and about. We found some lovely beaches and finished with a drink at the beach bar at the Bluff House on the northern end of the island. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Treasure Cay

This morning, after the squalls had passed and the wind calmed down, we left Marsh Harbour for Treasure Cay. We had wanted to see Treasure Cay and it is on the way to Green Turtle Cay, another place we want to see. To reach Green Turtle Cay you have to exit the Sea of Abaco at Loggerhead Cut, travel a mile in the Atlantic, then re-enter the Sea of Abaco in the Whale Cay Channel. Whale Cay Channel, “The Whale,” is notoriously challenging. It can be very rough, especially after high winds. Sometimes it can form breakers all the way across, known as a “rage.”  When that happens it should be avoided altogether. Since it has been windy for a few days we decided to stop at Treasure Cay for a night and give “The Whale” a chance to calm down. We plan to leave here tomorrow morning and go through Whale Cay Channel to visit Green Turtle Cay. Treasure Cay is a resort with a numerous condos and a large marina. On the way to the marina there is a large, protected harbor with several mooring balls owned by the marina. Just as we were picking up our mooring the skies opened up. We assembled the Porta-Bote on the deck in the rain. We used the spin halyard to drop it over the side. George used the arm on our new arch to lower the outboard onto the Porta-Bote. So much easier than our old method!  We were glad that the motor started right up. We took the dinghy to shore and explored Treasure Cay. It wasn’t quite what we expected. It isn’t as upscale as we thought it would be. There are bars, shops, a pool, a spa, tennis courts and a really nice beach. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy to be Here

I have to admit, there were a few moments when I thought it just wasn’t worth it. Those moments passed quickly. Yesterday, as we were preparing to go for a swim in the pool, I realized I was happy to be here in the Bahamas. We have had two full nights of sleep since we arrived. We spent yesterday cleaning the thick crust of salt off of the boat. I wiped down the enclosure panels and put them away for the winter. We did laundry and put away the long underwear. George was preparing to put the dinghy together and drop it in the water until he realized there isn’t enough room between our boat and the catamaran beside us to drop the dinghy in the water. It will have to wait. 
Today we walked into town and picked up a few fresh foods at the grocery store. Later we walked to a local restaurant, Colors by the Sea, for a good Bahamian lunch. We are ready to move on as soon as the wind subsides. We plan to visit Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay and possibly Hopetown. The timing and order depends on the wind and the tides. If the wind doesn’t subside until tomorrow afternoon it may be too close to low tide to leave the slip. In that case we will wait until the next day to leave. We both feel more patient this year compared to last year since we now realize there is plenty of time to see what we want to see. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Marsh Harbour, Bahamas

We made it. Phew!  It was quite a trip. Parts of it were just fine and parts were downright uncomfortable. We arrived here at Harbour View Marina yesterday at 2:45 pm after traveling 455 nautical miles in 75 hours. The last 100 miles were among the most uncomfortable. We were sailing upwind with waves crashing over the port side of the bow. We were motor sailing because both of us really, REALLY wanted to make it to Marsh Harbour by late afternoon. We didn’t want to take the chance of spending a night killing time waiting for daylight so we could get through Man O War channel. In hindsight, we wish we had gone to West End on Grand Bahama Island instead of Marsh Harbour. It would have been a shorter, easier sail. We chose Marsh Harbour primarily because of the places we wanted to go after we cleared in. The options are much more limited from West End. 
We arrived here 15 minutes after low tide. Not good. We went aground just as the bow was entering the slip. The dock master tied up one line, we turned the engine off and waited 1/2 hour until we were floating again. We cleared in with Customs after we finally tied up but are still waiting for someone from Immigration to stop by. Technically we shouldn’t even get off of the boat until that is complete. I think that is one rule I am willing to break to take a long, hot shower and do a load of laundry. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

We Made it through the Gulf Stream

We are just over half way on our passage from Brunswick to the Bahamas. Per Chris Parker's weather routing we entered the Gulf Stream yesterday morning at about 10 am. The conditions were not as "gnarly" as last year but they weren't great. We had 7 ft waves with a 7 second period much of the five and a half hours it took us to transit the Gulf Stream. (For all you non-sailors the period is an indication of the distance between waves.) The waves were hitting us on the port bow. A few broke onto the boat and sent water over the entire length of the boat. Some of the waves would lift Breeze On up and and then let her crash down on the other side of the wave. BLAM! It was so rough that we opted to eat granola bars and nuts for our mid-day meal and put our casserole in the oven after we were through the Gulf Stream. The good news was that we crossed during daylight hours and it was short. It didn't seem short, though. George commented a few times after crashing down over a wave, "OK, I am officially ready to be done with this." If any of you are watching our tracks you may be thinking we are taking a crazy route. After exiting the Gulf Stream we are making some turns that are meant to keep us from fighting the current in the eddies around the Gulf Stream. Last night, after sailing east, we realized we were fighting the current in an eddy. We then turned to sail west to get out of the eddy.
We are keeping our usual 2 hour watches during the day and long watches at night. We are more tired than usual because this passage requires more vigilance and we aren't napping as much as usual.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Heading for the Gulf Stream

Well, we received our email from weather guru, Chris Parker. We have a window to cross the Gulf Stream and make it to the Bahamas sometime Saturday or Sunday. The conditions won’t be ideal but should be less than “gnarly”.  We are making our last minute preparations and plan to leave within the hour. I admit that I am nervous. I am not looking forward to the 5-6 foot seas, especially if they are on the beam. 
Before we leave I just want to mention how much we like Brunswick and Brunswick Landing Marina. The people here are so nice and the marina is focused on providing a good experience for cruisers. The city reminds us of our home, Cambridge, MD. Once a prosperous city with a lot of natural beauty. It fell on hard times but seems to be on the upswing. Great restaurants, a nice little grocery store and a well-stocked old fashioned hardware store are an easy walk from the marina. Yesterday we walked into town to eat lunch at Indigo Coastal Shanty. The food was delicious. I imagine we will be back. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Charleston to Brunswick, GA

We made another coastal hop from Charleston to Brunswick, GA, arriving here yesterday morning. The conditions weren’t the worst we have seen but not the best, either. It was pretty rolly the entire trip with waves hitting the port quarter.  We were both grateful for the full enclosure - it was cold with winds 15 - 20kt.
George spent the morning replacing our fresh water pump while I did a load of laundry. Our pump has been acting up since last winter. When we run water through the Sea Gull water filter the pump tends to shut off after about 15 seconds. If we let the pump rest for a minute it starts working again. We were just letting it limp along but the other day it began to shut off when we ran water through the galley tap. Since this was a new devopment we decided it was time to replace the pump before it shuts down for good at a really unconvenient time. George replaced it with a spare pump we have had on board. Fortunately, Jabsco & Hanse made it very easy. George didn’t even have to empty the water tank. The hose connecting the tank to the pump was long enough that he could quickly lift it up above the level of the water in the tank. Way back in 2014, when we were making our delivery trip from NY to Maryland, one of the fresh water hoses in the forward head became disconnected. As we were motoring down the East River the pump was emptying all of our 80 gallons of water into the bilge. The pump had to work pretty hard and long to do that. It has been noisy since then. I think we are going to be happy with the new pump. 
We are tentatively planning to leave here tomorrow afternoon and head for the Bahamas. We are waiting for more weather information from Chris Parker before we make the decision. If we don’t do that we will most likely make another coastal hop in a few days. If we go to the Bahamas from here is should take about 3 days. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017


We woke up this morning to temperatures of 57 inside the cabin and 52 in the cockpit. It could have been worse, it was 43 outside the enclosure. Brrrrr. We fired up our little propane heater and warmed up the cabin. Later on the sun warmed the cockpit inside the enclosure to almost 80. We wanted to retain all of that heat to help keep us warm tonight. 
Yesterday morning we took the shuttle to the grocery store and picked up a few fresh foods. The casseroles I prepared and froze at home to be heated and consumed on passages thawed long ago. We have been eating them before they go bad. We picked up a few frozen entrees at the store that we hope will last until we do get the opportunity to cross over to the Bahamas. After the grocery store we rode the shuttle to downtown again. This time with our friends Jean and Michael. Jean bought a Charleston walking tour guide and we used that to explore on foot. It was a gorgeous day and we saw a lot more of this beautiful city. 
When we checked into Charleston Harbor Marina 5 days ago we opted not to hook up to shore power. We wanted to see how our new batteries and solar panels would do on their own. The first day the solar panels charged the batteries right up. The next 2 days were cloudy so the charge on the batteries dropped. By yesterday morning they were 25% charged. Since they are lithium ion batteries that isn’t a problem. Yesterday was a sunny day and the batteries charged up to 65%. This morning they had dropped to 45%. By late this afternoon (another sunny day) they were back up to 85%. Not bad!
The stiff NE winds that we have had for the past few days are supposed to ease up a bit by tomorrow morning. We decided to take the opportunity to make another coastal hop down to Brunswick, GA. The conditions will be more “gnarly” than we have had on our recent passages but not as bad as our passage to the Bahamas last fall. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Patriots Point

Today was a raw, drizzly day. We decided to spend it visiting the ships and exhibits at nearby Patriots Point. We toured a submarine, Navy destroyer and an aircraft carrier. In addition, we visited an exhibit called the Vietnam Experience. It is an area set up to resemble Vietnam complete with huts, a small river, a boat, several helicopters, trucks, and a tank. The amount of information at the exhibits at Patriot Point is really overwhelming. We spent a few hours in the morning, came back to the boat for lunch, then returned for a few hours in the afternoon. We saw a lot but didn’t take the time to read everything. That would have taken days. The tours are all self-led and we were really grateful for the arrows leading the way. If it weren’t for those arrows we would still be wandering around lost in the huge aircraft carrier. 
When we made the choice to stay in Charleston, and not take advantage of the last weather window on Tuesday, we knew it might be a while before we had another weather window. As it looks now, we will be here another three days (and hope the marina doesn’t throw us out). We will then most likely sail further south. It will probably be a while longer before the conditions to cross the Gulf Stream are reasonable. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Touring Charleston

Yesterday morning we took the free shuttle from the marina over to downtown Charleston. We started our exploration with a horse-drawn carriage ride. Although we did learn quite a few things about this historic city, we were a bit disappointed in the tour. I think our expectations were too high. After the carriage ride we walked over to Magnolia’s restaurant for lunch. The food was unique and delicious. After lunch George found a self-guided walking tour website that we used as a guide. It was an absolutely gorgeous day to walk around and see the beautiful architecture and lovely parks of Charleston. One of our last stops was Mother Immanuel Church, site of one of the recent all-too-frequent mass shootings. We weren’t able to go inside but I am glad we found this pretty church. One of the things we learned on our carriage rides is that Charleston has over 170 churches. I think if averages out to one church for every 14 residents. By late afternoon we were really tired. We found a spot to sit and rest while we waited for the shuttle to take us back to the marina. We were very glad we made the choice to stay to see Charleston and hope that we don’t have to wait too long for a weather window to go to the Bahamas. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cape Fear to Charleston

We do not have a good weather window for traveling to the Bahamas just yet so we are continuing to hop down the coast.  We calculated our departure time from Cape Fear with the goal of getting to Charleston at slack tide. There are swift currents in Charleston harbor and it can make pulling into a slip an even bigger challenge than usual. We had to slow down the last few hours so as not to get there before slack tide. It turned out well and we are safely tucked into our slip at Charleston Harbor Marina. We sailed, then motored, then sailed again over the 26 hours it took to make the trip. 
We took on an extra crew member for a while yesterday. A little yellow bird. It looks very much like the one we had in our cockpit last spring. In fact I think we were in the same place when the bird came and sat in our cockpit. Same bird?!?  We had all of the enclosure panels up so there were only a few small places where the bird could enter. Both times it found its way in to the cockpit it landed first on my head. Was it trying to tell me that my hair is like a birds nest?  At one  point it landed on the steering wheel. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a photo. It eventually got bored with us and moved on. Too bad, I would have loved for it to take my night watch. 

This container ship overtook us in the channel. The channel has jetties on both sides so I could only move over so far to get out of its way. A little nerve-wracking. George used his nifty new range finder to determine that the channel was much wide than it appeared with plenty of room for both of us. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Coastal Hopping

Our passage from Norfolk to Cape Fear was uneventful. It took 50 hours, 42 of which we were motoring due to light winds. On the plus side, rounding Cape Hatteras with light wind and relatively calm seas was a piece of cake. We were running very low on diesel fuel. George decided to add a few gallons from a jerry can when we were just 1/2 mile from the marina.  We added 40 gallons of fuel to our 40 gallon tank (a few of those gallons went into the jerry can).  We definitely can’t make it the Bahamas from here if we have to motor most of the way. So, since the winds are predicted to be light for most of the week, we will be coastal hopping. We plan to leave for Charleston tomorrow and spend few days sightseeing while waiting for a good weather window. 
We are in the same spot at Bald Head Island Marina that we were in last spring. While here we showered, did a load of laundry and bought ice cream since we could. Ice cream in the Bahamas is not readily available. When we did find it it had a lot of ice crystal due to thawing and refreezing. 
Just as we were about to enter the channel this morning we saw a container ship on its way out. We stopped and waited for it to pass. The ship was accompanied by a police boat, a Coast Guard cutter and a small Coast Guard boat with a machine gun on the foredeck. The police boat came over to us as we waited and said we were okay where we were but should not get any closer to the ship.  We don’t usually see that level of security around ships. The man who tied us up at the dock said it is typical for here. The ship had most likely come from the munitions depot a few miles up the river. I prefer to be nowhere near munitions depots, container shops carrying munitions and Navy Ships practicing with live munitions, thank you very much. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Little Creek to Cape Fear

We left Little Creek yesterday morning with a plan to sail to Cape Fear, NC. We decided not to press on to the Bahamas just yet. The main reason is we would have to motor most of the way and we have enough diesel fuel to motor just halfway to the Bahamas.
We had to motor almost 24 hours straight. The wind picked up just after we rounded Cape Hatteras so we were able to sail for 8 hours. The wind dropped again so we are now motoring. George had noticed a tiny tear in the mainsail. He just repaired it with sail tape. We are hoping that will keep it from enlarging.
All afternoon we have been hearing calls from a US Naval Warship giving coordinates and saying they are going to be firing live ordnance. They want boats to stay at least 15 miles away. It appears that the ship is located not far from where we are headed. I think we will be altering course! Speaking of the Navy, as we were leaving Little Creek yesterday morning we heard very loud noises that sounded like jet engines. They went on and on. George used the binoculars to see that there were a few really large air boats practicing maneuvers. Each boat had 2 huge fans on the back, like an air boat but much larger. We also saw several pods of dolphins as we were leaving the Chesapeake.
We are about 90 miles from our destination. We will sail overnight again and should arrive in the morning. We tried to make reservations at a marina in Southport, NC but they couldn't accommodate us. We have reservations at Bald Head Island Marina. It is the same place we stayed on our way back home in the spring. After that we I'll decide whether to sail south to the Bahamas or make another hop along the coast.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Little Creek, Norfolk

We sailed all night and arrived in Norfolk, VA just after sunrise. The winds were light so we motorsailed all day. Then, just as the sun was setting, the wind picked up and we turned off the engine and sailed through the night. We were planning to arrive at around 8 am so that we could buy diesel and tie up at a marina. As the wind reached the mid-teens we were sailing over 7 knots on a beam reach. We put a reef in the main to slow us down. Even with the reefed main and no jib we often traveled at over 6 knots. I took the first watch from 7 pm to 1 am. George took the next watch from 1 am to 7 am. Neither one of us slept very well. It was very choppy on the bay and Breeze On was slamming into the waves. A pod of dolphins greeted us as were entered Little Creek. There were 8 or 10 of them in a row swimming right toward our bow and then under the boat. Have I mentioned how much I love dolphins?
We are docked at Vinings Landing in Little Creek. It is conveniently located very close to the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel. We had hoped to dock at Cobb’s marina next door but they are full. Vinings is rundown but the people are nice and it will do for one night. 

Sunrise on the Chesapeake.