Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Almost Home

We left Norfolk at 5 am yesterday morning, hoping to sail 90 miles to Solomon’s. We were able to safely leave the dock, even though the west wind was pinning us against the dock. Once we left Little Creek and entered the Chesapeake Bay the winds were blowing at 20-25 knots and the 2-3 ft waves from the NE were right on the bow. We motored until the sun came up then raised the main sail with a double reef line. The waves had the boat pitching every which way and had caused the main halyard to get caught on a spreader. Before we raised the sail George put on his life jacket and tether and went up on deck to try to get it free. No luck. It appeared to me that the lazy jack line was holding the halyard to I suggested turning the boat so that the boom and lazy jack line would move and release the pressure on the halyard. Hooray, it worked!  The boat was moving slowly with just the main sail so we unfurled the jib, which left us heeling at 30 degrees and way overpowered. So, we furled the jib and motor-sailed with the reefed main. The conditions were just miserable. Breeze On was crashing down many of the steep waves. Slam! Slam!  Slam!  Some of the larger waves crashed over us. The air was cold and the tide was against us. We decided early on that we didn’t want to continue all day under those conditions so we searched for an anchorage. George chose an anchorage in Mobjack Bay on the western shore. The entrance to Mobjack was littered with crab pots buoys.  They were difficult to see due to the choppy water and salt water splattered on the windows. Somehow we managed to get to the anchorage without snagging one and dropped the anchor just before noon. It was discouraging to see how little progress we made since leaving the dock 7 hours before. After we anchored I turned the fresh water pump on and it started running. I turned it off and checked the faucets. They were all turned off so I knew we had a leak somewhere. George discovered a line in the shower had come loose even though it had been double-clamped. It must have been all of the slamming. We were SO grateful that we had remembered to turn the pump off before we left the marina (that is our practice but we don’t always remember). We never would have heard it running and emptying all of our fresh water into the bilge. It was a quick fix & we had water again. 
The weather forecast seems to change by the hour but one thing remains constant, a front bringing high winds is due to come through tomorrow. We want to be home before that arrives. So, we raised anchor at 7 am this morning and began a marathon motoring trip home. The trip is about 112 miles so we won’t get home until the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately the creek where we live is very well-lit at night so we shouldn’t have any problems with visibility. 
Although the wind started out on our nose this morning, at least it is light and the waves are small. The sun is shining and warming up the air inside the enclosed cockpit so we are keeping warm. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Brunswick to Norfolk

Our weather window finally arrived. We left Brunswick Landing before dawn on Thursday morning. The winds were light so we were motoring for several hours. After leaving Brunswick we headed east to catch the Gulf Stream and take advantage of the current. There were residual NE waves, leftover from the last front so we were slamming into them through the day and all night long. Neither one of us was able to sleep much. The wind eventually picked up enough the first night to turn the engine off and sail. By mid-morning on the second day the waves calmed down and the slamming stopped. George took advantage of the calmer conditions and transferred some diesel into the tank. 
Our plan was to take three and a half days to get into the Chesapeake Bay. Yet another cold front was expected Sunday and the timing was tight. We purchased a custom weather route from Chris Parker (weather guru) and he confirmed that we could make it. George plotted out waypoints that indicated where we should be every twelve hours. Our goal was to not fall behind. If it looked like we weren’t going to make it before the front arrived our plan B was to go to Beaufort, NC. If our speed dropped below six knots when we were sailing we would turn the engine on. We made the 580 nautical mile trip in 78.5 hours, averaging 7.4 knots. We motored for 39 hours. Not bad at all. The Gulf Stream helped with our speed, particularly toward the end. As we pulled into Cobb’s Marina at noon on Sunday it was just beginning to rain. 
Our friends, Jean and Michael on Desiderata, were here already and we went out to dinner together to catch up. 
We are planning to leave before dawn tomorrow and sail about 90 miles to Solomon’s, then on to Cambridge the next day. As much as we love Breeze On we are both looking forward to being home. 
Transferring diesel

Friday, April 13, 2018

On Our Way...Finally

We finally had a weather window long enough to enable us to get all the way to the Chesapeake Bay, we hope. We took advantage of the calmer winds and left Brunswick a few hours before dawn yesterday morning. We motored almost due East to catch the Gulf Stream which we found at about 8:30 last evening. I could tell because our boat speed picked up noticeably. Our plan is to stay in the Gulf Stream until we come near to Cape Hatteras, then head north and into the bay. We expect the trip to take three days, eight hours.
Although the winds were rather calm yesterday we were going into wind chop that was leftover from the recent NE winds. All day yesterday and through the night the boat would climb the sharp, steep waves and then slam down the other side several times a minute. Neither one of us got much sleep. The wind has since shifted more to the south so the seas have calmed down, fortunately. While we were slamming through the waves we each independently questioned wisdom of our decision to leave Brunswick. Right now we are in the Gulf Stream motorsailing at 9 knots in light wind. If the weather doesn't hold we can bail out and go to Cape Lookout before reaching Hatteras. Since we have been doing quite a bit of motoring George transferred 10 gallons of diesel into the tank. It wasn't too difficult since the seas are calmer. I did the heavy lifting since George still has a few days to go before it is okay for him to start lifting heavy objects. He is feeling good right now and doesn't want to mess that up.
We saw a few dolphins yesterday but they didn't stop to play. George has his eyes out for whales. We have heard several Coast Guard broadcasts warning mariners to look out for the whales and stay away from them. No luck so far but there is still time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Biding Time in Georgia

We are still at Brunswick Landing Marina, waiting for a weather window to continue moving north. There has been a series of cold fronts moving off of the east coast every few days. They haven’t allowed enough time to safely go offshore and make progress going north. We are anticipating a chance to make it as far as Beaufort, NC later this week. We will most likely have to wait there for another major front to pass. 
In the meantime we have been enjoying ourselves here in Brunswick. On Friday evening we met several other cruisers and walked over to downtown Brunswick’s “First Friday”. It is a lot like Cambridge, MD’s “Second Saturday”. The shops in town stay open late and serve free wine and snacks. In Brunswick there was also a live musician, a car show, a health fair, and a few art exhibits. It was quite nice and they seemed to have a good crowd. On Saturday and Sunday we walked into town to run errands and spend some time off of the boat. 
Yesterday we rented a car and drove up to Savannah for the day. George had made a reservation with Enterprise and asked for a pickup at the marina. Enterprise is apparently the only car rental agency that will pick you up and drop you off. Unfortunately, they did not pick us up. We a few minutes early to wait near the marina office. When they were 19 minutes late picking us up George started calling the local number which kicked him over to the main automated system. Eventually he got an option to be connected to the local office. The phone then rang and rang, then he was put on hold, then the phone and rang again, went to a fax machine and then he was cut off. This happened repeatedly. He eventually called and spoke to someone who makes reservations and asked for help. When that person could not help him, he asked to speak to customer service and was connected to someone in “resolutions”. That person couldn’t reach the local office either. She said she would send a message to the local office and theywould call him back. George said he didn’t believe they would and asked if she would stay on the line until someone did call him. She declined. In the meantime time I started searching for another rental car with a different company. I made a reservation with Hertz but we would have to find a way to get there. After George finished with the Enterprise “resolutions” person we requested a ride with Uber. It took about 15 minutes for the driver to arrive and another 15 minutes to get to Hertz. Just as we were pulling in to the Hertz office a person from the local office of Enterprise called George. He told George that he had a reservation but did not have have the message that we should be picked up. That is odd because George had received two confirmation emails noting that we requested to be picked up. Although the episode was very frustrating we are glad that we didn’t give up and let it ruin our day. 
We drove to Savannah in our Hertz rental car, an hour later than planned. We parked the car in a garage and started our self-guided walking tour. We had purchased an app for our iPhones called “Savannah Walking Tour”. It was very informative but, boy, did it drain our iPhone batteries. By the end of our tour we were using one phone and sharing the earbuds. It was a drizzly, cool and gloomy day but we still found Savannah to be beautiful. So many beautiful buildings and lovely squares. We ate lunch at Huey’s on the river walk. By the time we finished the walking tour we had walked over five miles and were tired so we headed back to Brunswick. My uncle and his partner were passing through Brunswick on their way north so we all went out for dinner at Marshside Grill. There are several good places to eat in Brunswick and we were all happy with our meal at Marshside Grill. 
Today was laundry day at the marina’s free laundry room. I worked on that while George returned the rental car and took an Uber car back to the marina. Tonight and tomorrow I will begin preparing food that we can warm up on our passage to Beaufort. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ft Pierce to Brunswick, GA

Note: This Post is out of order. I thought I had posted it yesterday after we arrived in Brunswick, GA. Chalk it up to sleep deprivation. Or old age. 

We left Ft. Pierce at around noon on Easter Sunday, heading for Brunswick, GA. As I mentioned in my last post, we had hoped to get as far as possible but the timing between weather windows didn’t allow us to get as far as Cape Fear. This was our first overnight passage since George’s illness and surgery. The winds were fairly light and mostly behind us so we did a lot of motoring. We both agreed that the light conditions and shorter distance were probably a good thing since George is still recovering. He is feeling good but doesn’t want to risk a hernia if he can avoid it. 
We were happy to have a full moon for our trip. The first night, after George went to bed, the sun had set, the moon wasn’t yet up and the sky was very dark, I had the thought, “I have to do this for the next five hours?”  “Really??”  Then, after I queued up my podcasts, kindle and snacks, the five hours didn’t seem so bad. 
We were passed by four cruise ships leaving Port Canaveral on Sunday evening.  The Coast Guard made announcements throughout the day on Monday warning mariners to avoid a restricted area around Cape Canaveral due to a launch. We were well past the area but looked for the launch all afternoon and evening. Apparently we were too far away to see it. George just looked online and learned that a Space X missile launched just before 5 pm. 
We did see pods of dolphins several times, although they didn’t come to play with us. Last night we had enough wind to sail for most of my watch but not so much wind to kick up a lot of waves. It was some of the easiest offshore sailing that we have had. Before the moon rose I watched the bioluminescence in the water off of the stern of the boat. Some were as big as dinner plates. I might actually learn to enjoy night watches if they were all like this. 
We approached Brunswick shortly before dawn this morning. The current was with us and we had to slow down so that we didn’t get to the marina before it opened. 
We don’t know how long we will be here. It looks as if there is more winter weather coming to the East coast and we have to work around it. As usual, we are considering a few different options and we will be flexible. 

Sunrise at Brunswick

Shrimp  boats, Brunswick, GA

We Met Some Celebrities!

Note:  This post was written after we arrived in Brunswick, GA. We are now staying at Brunswick Landing Marina. The post I had written about our passage from Ft. Pierce didn’t post yesterday and follows this post. 

Early yesterday evening we met a couple of celebrities here in the marina. Well...celebrities in the cruising world anyway. Sara and Monty Lewis, authors of the Explorer Chartbooks, came in the slip right next to ours. I heard George chatting with them not long after they had tied up their boat. I joined him on the deck and we made our introductions. When Sara gave me her first name and Monty’s I paused and asked if they were the authors of the Explorer books. She modestly said “yes”.  I was practically speechless. The Explorer Chartbooks are known as the “Bibles” of the Bahamas. They have the most accurate charts and are full of information about all of the anchorages, marinas and settlements. In fact, Garmin Blue Charts for the Bahamas that are on George’s iPad are based on information from the Explorer Chartbooks and are the charts we use while in the Bahamas. We ignore the less accurate Navionics charts on our chart plotter. Sara and Monty had guests arriving so we didn’t chat long. I hope we meet them again so we can learn more about them and how they gathered the information for the books. 
Later in the evening we heard a clicking noise that sounded like it was coming from the deck. The wind had picked up and we thought it might be a line banging on something. I went up on the foredeck and pulled on one line after another while George told me he could still hear the noise. I eventually gave up. Later on George went out and looked and was listening near the water line. Jim, from the boat on the other side of ours, came out and told George the noise was caused by shrimp. We have heard noises from shrimp before and it sounded a lot like the “snap, crackle, pop” of Rice Krispies. This was louder and more like a click. There was another intermittent, lower pitched noise as well. While we were at the happy hour this evening Jim told us that the lower pitched noise was caused by Toad Fish that eat the shrimp. Well, we all tend to think there is something wrong with the boat when we hear strange noises and are relieved when we learn that there isn’t.