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To and From The Bahamas, 2008

Heading Home
by Mary

The plan was to head straight for Nassau for fuel and groceries and then on to Lake Worth, Florida. When we arrived in Nassau, we headed right for a restaurant that serves cheeseburgers. The next day we went grocery shopping and had pizza for dinner. After being away for several weeks, it was good to have US-type comfort food. In the grocery store, we ran into Roy and Doon from Bold Endeavour, who we last saw in Annapolis last summer. These were the people who we met on the ICW at the Alligator River on our way north last year.. They'd also been cruising the Exumas and were on their way back to the US.

On Monday, May 5, we left Nassau harbor only to discover engine trouble and head right back to the marina. There seemed to be a problem with the throttle linkage - not getting as much power as we should and the sea water cooling seemed to be having a problem. Neal changed the raw water pump impeller which brought the cooling sytem back to normal. The throttle problem remained a mystery but we finally left Nassau again on May 13. This time we were headed directly for the US with no stops; taking the deep water route - the Northwest Providence Channel. Wind and waves were higher than predicted, but we had no storms. This is a very busy route - the cruise ships heading from Florida to Nassau all travel this way, and cargo ships bound for the Bahamas also use this route. We saw more traffic on this passage than on any other we've made.

Back in the USA
by Mary

By 12:30 on the 14th we were tied up at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina just north of Lake Worth. Municipal marinas are a mixed bag. Most of them are pretty marginal on facilities because city budgets are very tight and citizens generally seem to want their tax dollars spent on services for them rather than on visitors. This one had very good laundry facilities, but the showers were the worse for wear. Titusville, FL has a similar facility. On the other hand the St. Augustine municipal marina is first class all the way as is Charleston City Marina; and the Beaufort SC city marina is also very nice. Maybe it's because St. Augustine and Beaufort are significant tourist destinations and the others are just stop-over points. We rented a car for a day and hit Costco, Pubix (supermarket), Carmine's (specialty market) and our favorite used book store. We went to our favorite cheeseburger place.

Riviera Beach, FL

On the 17th we left the marina for the Lake Worth anchorage, and on the 18th headed out into the Atlantic for the trip to St. Augustine. We were expecting winds of 10 - 15 knots and that's what we had for awhile, but then it got a little more blowy and we spent much of the trip at winds over 20 knots. As we were headed right into the wind, sail trim was difficult and the intermittent flogging of the main revealed the weakness of our 10 year old lazy jack lines - the starboard side failed. We saw later that the port side lazy jack line was also close to failure.We got into the St. Augustine inlet on the 18th in time for the 5:30 pm bridge opening and were docked at St. Augustine Municipal Marina by 6:00.pm.

They say that the definition of cruising is: Fixing your boat in exotic places. We haven't been to many exotic places so we fix our boat in un-exotic places.

The marina recommended a rigger who was able to quickly replace our lazy jack lines. Then Neal took another serious look at the throttle linkage problem. He found a broken spring and thought that might be it. The mechanic we called found that the problem was that the bracket holding the throttle cable to the engine had broken. He didn't have another in stock but was able to get the bracket welded and put back in place. He didn't have a replacement return spring either but we're able to operate without it for now. City Marina was fully booked for Memorial Day weekend so on Friday, we moved to Oyster Creek Marina where we stayed on our trip north last June.

Photos from earlier visits to St. Augustine can be found here and here

North from St. Augustine
by Mary

On Memorial Day we headed out for Charleston, SC. We crossed the 32nd parallel at 8:30 on the morning of May 27 - well in time to make the insurance company happy that we're out of the hurricane zone; and we're happy because we won't have to pay an extra insurance premium.

May 27 found us docked at Charleston City Marina. Another problem kept us in Charleston much longer than we'd planned. We'd pulled into City Marina, filled up with fuel and then the engine wouldn't start. The switch that prevents the engine from starting when it is in gear had been giving us intermittent problems for some time so we stayed long enough to get a mechanic to look at it. When the mechanic left, the engine was reliably starting.

Photos from earlier visits to Charleston can be found here and here.

We left Charleston on June 6 with Morehead City, NC our next destination After an easy overnight passage, we tied up on June 7th at the Portside Marina fuel dock in Morehead City and topped off the tanks. And the engine wouldn't start. This time Neal got out the soldering iron and shorted out the %$*& switch.

Portside Marina handles mostly small fishing boats and is a Suzuki dealer so this was a good place to have the outboard motor fixed. It turned out that the problem was simply a broken bushing in the hub of the prop. We got a new prop so it wasn't exactly a cheap fix, but better than having to buy a new motor.

We were pleasantly surprised to run into Doon and Roy of Bold Endeavour in Morehead City. When you're a nomad, it's a great comfort to see familiar friendly faces.

This is an interesting place to stop because it is right next to the commercial port. When we arrived, a huge crane was transferring what appeared to be broken up scrap metal from a sea going barge to a smaller barge using a huge 8 armed claw. Both barges left the next day. Tugs come and go. Fishermen bring their boats in to try their luck along the docks. The evening before we left, a large cargo ship carrying lumber came in to tie up. We could smell the cut lumber as it approached Four tugs - two on each side - eased it gently and delicately into place. During this operation the tugs communicate with whistles as they maneuver the big ship. It's much more interesting than being in a marina full of yachts.

by Mary

We left Morehead City on June 15. I'd been dreading the trip up the ICW to Norfolk, but it turned out to be a relatively easy trip. Once we got through the maze of confusing markers leaving Morehead City and Beaufort, it was beautiful. Everything was lush and green and in the early morning the breeze carries the scent of the pine trees. It is very peaceful. Almost every osprey nest had either a mom screeching at us to stay away from her babies; or a bunch of nestlings calling out for mom to hurry back with more food. We anchored overnight at the Pungo River anchorage with only 3 other boats, and got going again early the next morning..

As we got to the Alligator Pungo Canal we began smelling smoke from the wildfires in North Carolina. At first it smelled mild and sweet and piney. The farther we went, the denser the smoke got. The Coast Guard was issuing warnings about very limited visibility at the Alligator River bridge. Eventually we passed through the smoke plume to clear air.

The anchorage we'd planned on was full of crab traps so we stopped overnight at Coinjock Marina. Continuing on the next day, we encountered smoke again by mid-morning but passed through it pretty quickly. As we approached Great Bridge who should we spot but Bold Endeavor - Doon & Roy at the free dock on the south side of the bridge. We tied up at the free dock on the north side of Great Bridge and our Kiwi friends joined us for a cool beverage..

On June 18 we arrived at Norfolk, staying again at Waterside Marina. Just in time for Bayou Boogaloo. That's an annual event featuring Cajun food, music and artists from New Orleans. By the time we got to Norfolk Neal had the second part of the engine starting problem diagnosed when he notices that the alternator belt was not as tight as it should be. So we weren't getting as much battery charging as we should have gotten with the engine running.

We've got smoke here, too when the wind is from the Southwest. One of the fires is in the Great Dismal Swamp where there's peat burning. Peat burns slowly and is very difficult to extinguish, so this fire could last for several weeks, yet. Our delay here was because my glasses broke. My primary glasses had been "fixed" using super glue after a fall; and now my backup pair have broken. We'll leave here eventually.

Photos from earlier visits to Norfolk can be found here

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