finally left Vero Beach on June 12. Procrastination
has its price. If we'd taken care of our projects
earlier when it was still reasonably cool we'd have
been able to leave earlier. Waiting so long meant
that we were trying to do physical work in very
hot humid weather. We had to take frequent breaks
and it took much, much longer to get a project done.
In fact we ended up leaving some things undone for
the time being. We'd already gotten an extension
on our insurance that gave us until June 15 to get
ourselves north of the 32nd parallel.
The "plan" was to travel from Fort Pierce straight
to Morehead City, NC. On a boat, plans are written
in Jello. Sure enough we had to change our destination
to Charleston, SC to avoid a weather front. On June
12, we moved from Vero Beach down the ICW to Fort
Pierce to anchor overnight and head out to sea early
in the morning.
got moving by 7:00 am on the 13th . Saturday during
the day was an easy ride which was good because
I felt awful. Breakfast didn't sit well and I was
uncomfortable all day. That was the good part of
the day. We leave our sailing gloves (used for line
handling) hanging in the cockpit. When we grabbed
our gloves getting ready to pull the genoa out Neal
found the remains of a small wasp nest in one of
his. Luckily it was tiny and abandoned.
got hit by a storm Sat evening with sails up and
had a scary time for a while. I'd gone off watch
at 6 pm with sails sheeted in for relatively close
winds. Suddenly came strong swirling winds that
confused the autopilot so Neal was stuck wrestling
the wheel while I scrambled to get into the cockpit.
Winds were in the mid 30's. The port rail in the
water. I dropped the main and we eased the genoa
and that made a big difference and made the autopilot
happy again, but there was a problem with the genoa
furling line and we couldn't get it to furl. So
we ran mostly downwind until the worst was over.
It was strange; we weren't in the heart of the storm.
We had no rain. There was lots of lightning in the
big black clouds far off starboard but it was so
far away that we couldn't hear the thunder. I guess
I'm grateful that wind was the only thing we had
to contend with.
later, on my 3 - 6 am watch I had problems with
winds in the high 20's because the genoa was still
out. We'd decided that it just wasn't safe enough
for anyone to go forward in the dark to try to figure
out the furling line problem so that big sail was
always a factor. On Sunday morning we managed to
get the genoa furled. Fortunately the rest of the
trip was very boring - and windless enough that
we had the engine on. We managed our speed so that
we'd arrive in Charleston after dawn and were in
Charleston Harbor on Monday morning 48 hours after
we'd left Fort Pierce.
fishing standing on a sand bar in the ICW
low tide at Ft. Pierce, FL
| || || || || |
had such an uncomfortable trip that we opted for
the comfort of a marina and got a slip at the Charleston
Maritime Center. We figured we'd spend a week and
get a couple of chores done. We had to fix the dinghy
air leak and the fridge needs recharging (uses the
same stuff as auto air conditioners). The rest of
the day was rest and recovery. The next day we still
needed to take it slow.
met Steve and Lynn on Celebration in the next slip
and got to talking. They're just beginning their
cruising adventure so we offered them our opinions
on places to see heading north. The four of us went
to dinner at Jestine's Kitchen - great food as always.
we got back to Sea Fox, Neal noticed a huge blister
on his leg so we scheduled the next day for a visit
to a doctor. We were directed to a great Urgent
Care clinic where they spent the better part of
the day trying to diagnose the problem. They were
able to eliminate scary things such as a blood clot,
but never did come up with a real diagnosis. We
did learn more about the Charleston bus system than
we'd known before. They gave Neal a serious antibiotic.
Unfortunately he had a reaction that kept him up
most of the night so the next day was another recovery
day for him.
was hotter in Charleston than it had been in Vero
Beach - temps in the mid to upper 90's. It was brutal.
We spent most of our time sitting in front of fans
and trying to stay hydrated. When it was recommended
that we use a product called Tear-Aid for the dinghy
air leak, I spent hours looking for my supply of
the stuff. Never did find it but in the process,
the aft cabin got re-organized - one of my planned
chores. Too bad sweating doesn't get rid of fat
- I'd be down to what I weighed 30 years ago..
to know the Charleston buses even better by going
to West Maine for the Tear-Aid. There's a sense
of accomplishment when we're successful at negotiating
an unfamiliar transportation system. It's an interesting
part of the whole adventure. Our time at the marina
was limited because it was the site of the Charleston
Maritime Festival and there was no room for us to
stay. We got the dinghy leak fixed (we thought)
and headed out on Wednesday, June 24. Our departure
was unusual because we left in the afternoon instead
of early morning. It was 1:30 p.m. by the time we
got fuel and headed out the channel to the sea.
The wind wasn't all that great, so we were motoring
but we put out the genoa to try to get a little
help - it gave us less than a half knot of additional
speed. But some is better than none.
On my 9 - 12pm watch, I thought we'd be in for some
excitement. The Coast Guard issued a weather warning
about a line of intense thunder storms heading right
for us. There was lightning flashing way off in
the distance. I woke Neal so we could get the big
sail furled. That done, he went back to bed and
I waited for the fireworks. Nothing happened. The
wind came up a little, but apparently once the storm
got over the ocean, it fizzled out. Got a few sprinkles
of rain but barely got wet. I figure it was Neptune
testing me to see if I'd be smart enough to take
precautions. I did, so maybe I passed that one.
our way into the channel at Morehead City, we decided
to go to Beaufort instead (they're right next to
one another). We got to Beaufort on the 26th; and
anchored in Taylor Creek downtown. We never got
off the boat until we went to the fuel dock on the
29th .on our way out. It was hot and we just didn't
see a need to get the dinghy down to go ashore.
We did as little work as possible and still sweated
buckets all day every day.
and Rose aboard Camelot, a sister ship to Sea Fox,
came through but anchored in a different area. They
were headed for Oregon Inlet north of Cape Hatteras
to go back out to sea on their way to Connecticut.
We'd never thought that Oregon Inlet would be practical
for us because it is not very deep but Keith has
gone that route and thought we could do it too.
We planned to give it a try. It would enable us
to bypass Norfolk and head directly for Cape May,
NJ. Camelot has a slightly shallower keel than we
do. On Tuesday morning Keith kept us informed by
phone as he navigated the channel toward the inlet.
It sounded good. Until he went hard aground. Luckily
it didn't take to long for them to get free but
he recommended that we not try it. So when we left
Beaufort on Wednesday, we were heading for the long,
slow trip up the ICW to Norfolk. Bridges and power
boats and fishermen and crab pots and the winding
water path through North Carolina and Virginia.
Yes, it is a pretty ride, but takes days and I get
of course it was hot. Trying to stay hydrated meant
that our drinking supplies were rapidly diminishing.
Belhaven, NC seemed like a good place to stop for
a visit to a grocery store. It would also give us
a chance to have fried chicken again at the Fish
We docked at River Forest Marina. Did I mention
that it's hot? I get on the internet and see that
the Great Lakes and Northeast is having a very cool
start to July. We could use a little of that just
now. What is it about Belhaven and Sea Fox? This
is the second time we've been here (First time was
in 2006 at Dowry Creek Marina.) and it's the second
time we've had wind that made docking difficult.
This is probably the last time we'll come here on
River Forest Marina is also an inn in a beautiful
old Southern mansion. It was probably a busy place
at one time, but it seems to have become a bit shabby
-or maybe that's just my impression because the
inn is empty and there's been only one other transient
boat here overnight. Maybe it looks better during
the tourist season.
We walked to downtown for a late lunch only to find
that both restaurants close at 2 in the afternoon.
The Fish Hook Café opens again at five so we had
a couple of hours to kill. It was too hot to consider
walking back to the boat and then downtown again
so we looked for a local tavern. There aren't any.
We did spot the "Rack" which offers pool tables
and beer. It was sort of air conditioned and the
beer was very cold. We were the only customers.
Chatted with the owner over a couple of beers and
then went to the library to try to stay cool until
the restaurant opened. Turns out the Fish Hook has
fried chicken only on its lunch buffet. Had a pretty
good shrimp dinner then walked back to the boat.
marina has a golf cart that we could use to go to
the supermarket. The cart definitely IS shabby.
The dockmaster told us "it drives just like a boat".
What he meant was that the brakes don't work so
in order to stop you have to put it into reverse
gear - just like a boat. I wonder if they've considered
the liability issues of letting people use a vehicle
with no brakes? On the way to the grocery we stopped
for lunch (fried chicken) at Fish Hook. It was a
real adventure taking a golf cart out onto a 2 lane
highway. You can imagine how pleased the drivers
were behind us. We acquired quite a long string
of cars & trucks before we had a reasonable place
to pull off to let them pass. It was a relief to
finally get to the store; and even more of a relief
when we got back to the marina.
Forest Marina, Belhaven, NC
July 2 we left Belhaven headed for the anchorage
at Deep Point where we encountered lots of biting
flies. Nasty. Our next anchorage was Buck Island
where we found lots of crab pots. But we were able
to find a place to spend the night. Didn't touch
bottom and didn't swing into any pots.
July 4 - a holiday and a weekend. Once we got north
of Coinjock, NC, the water was teeming with small
power boats pulling kids on inflatables plus a few
jet-skis. These boats seem to have no concept of
a larger boat's need to stay within the channel
which is often pretty narrow. In some places the
channel is less than 11 feet deep and quickly goes
to 5 feet or less outside the dredged channel. A
few of these drivers seemed miffed that they had
to get out of our path, and some of them make tight
little curves ahead of us pulling their kids on
a little inflatable of some sort. Apparently they
don't understand that if the rope lets go or if
the kid falls off, it takes us a long time to bring
our boat to stop. And some of the kids aren't wearing
life jackets. What are these morons thinking?!?!?!?!!!
we encountered the water skiers - again in the channel.
The Chesapeake & Albermarle canal is narrow. Near
the edges are lots of tree stumps. So the ski boats
can't drag their skiers through the scattered stumps,
and we must stay well within the channel so we're
all trying to fit into the same space. And when
a skier falls, they wave their yellow flag to indicate
that someone is in the water. Again, we can't just
stop - and we can't get out of the channel. Makes
for frustration all around.
the afternoon wore on we eventually came to the
Centerville Bridge - a swing bridge that only opens
at scheduled times. During the wait boats accumulated.
There were a couple of motor yachts on our side
plus about a dozen little ski boats. The ski boats
moved in right up to the bridge. Once the bridge
opened it was like a Chinese fire drill - with the
little boats giving no quarter to the larger boats
that need more maneuvering room. So a bunch of small
boats started through the bridge and everyone else
began slowly moving forward. Then, just on the other
side of the bridge, one of the little boats stopped
- he was trying to figure out where to get into
the little marina there. The miracle is that there
were no serious collisions. The small boats were
able to scoot around the idiot and the rest of us
just slammed into reverse and hoped not to get hit
from behind. Lesson learned: stay put on holiday
to Great Bridge about 4:00 pm and tied up at the
free dock. There were several people on the dock
crabbing. One guy had a crab pot. But mostly it
was just bait tied to the end of a string and dropped
in the water. The guy with the crab pot had been
there for a while and had got nothing. A couple
of hours later when we went ashore, his place had
been taken by a woman who already had caught 3 crabs.
Maybe it's just timing. We stayed a couple of days
did some grocery shopping and relaxed. We got ready
to leave, left the dock and were waiting for the
bridge to open when we heard terrible noise from
the engine room. So we tied up to the dock again.
When Neal opened the engine compartment he found
that the high-output alternator had broken loose
and was hitting against the fly wheel. Apparently
a weld had failed on one side of the frame that
held the alternator in place and bolts had vibrated
out of their holes on the other side of the frame.
Neal was able to remove it without too much trouble.
That alternator hadn't been used for a couple of
years because it was out of alignment so it wasn't
a real loss to us. By the time the work was done
and we were sure the engine was ok, it was getting
late enough that we stayed another night.
July 9 we finally got to Norfolk, got fuel & water
and anchored in Mill Creek at Hampton Roads. It
was here that we finally discovered the source of
the leak in our fresh water system. We'd had this
mysterious leak for some time but hadn't been able
to find it. We'd thought it would be somewhere near
the pump, but it turned out to be in the forward
head. When Neal removed the little under-sink cabinet
he found a hose connection that just spewed water.
We didn't have the right parts to fix it, but at
least we'd found it and knew what to do. We still
had to be careful with water, but it was a relief
to have found the problem.
north from Norfolk.
plan was to head directly to Mystic, CT from Norfolk,
VA - it would be two overnights and we'd arrive
on the third day. Didn't happen that way. Winds
that had been forecast to come from the West actually
came from the Northeast - right on out nose. The
forecast also said that the wind would shift so
I thought it would be a temporary situation. Wasn't.
Just to add to the fun we also encountered an opposing
current. This had not happened on our previous trips
out of Norfolk, so it surprised us and it took us
a while to realize that it wasn't just a localized
phenomenon but something we were going to have to
cope with for quite a stretch. Engine on - using
fuel - going very slowly. Problem was that if we
got to Long Island Sound a day later than planned,
we'd face a cold front with its attendant storms.
So we decided to make a stop in New Jersey; either
Atlantic City or Cape May. The anchorage at Atlantic
City is in a strong current, but fueling is easy.
Cape May's anchorage is very nice but getting fuel
is hampered by current. Pick your poison. We picked
Cape May and probably should have gone on to Atlantic
City. Only one marina is deep enough for us but
it has a hellacious current and very little room
to maneuver. What a pain!
the 14th we finally headed out again and arrived
in Mystic by 4:00 p.m. on the 15th. Again this year
we're on a mooring arranged for us by Keith on Camelot.
It's an easy dinghy ride to the dock in town. We
rested. Keith and Rose put us up for one night at
their home so that we could have real showers. We
rented a car for the weekend to get some shopping
done and to visit Neal's son Mark and his family
in Groton. We sure enjoy seeing them. We got the
plumbing problem fixed.
We also wanted to get some stainless steel repairs
done. A weld had broken on stern rail and we thought
we'd also get a couple of bent stanchions straightened.
But the metal repairs never happened. Keith introduced
us to a guy who does great stainless work. Problem
is that he's unreliable. He was going to come to
look at the boat but never did. Didn't respond to
phone messages. It was frustrating.
Camelot left for Maine, we moved onto her mooring
for a couple of days. Ladyslipper who has the nearest
mooring to Camelot had temporarily moved to another
mooring. We woke up one morning to find that we'd
floated over Ladyslipper's empty mooring and the
pennant (line) from the pickup stick had gotten
hooked onto our rudder and was stuck between the
hull and the top of the rudder. We spent a lot of
time trying to free it. Problem was that Keith had
promised Camelot's mooring to someone else so we
had to get back to our original mooring We had no
choice but to untie the pickup stick from the mooring
and drag it along with us, We ended up hiring a
diver to free the line from the rudder. We had him
clean the bottom, too.
ended up spending 6 weeks at Mystic. In those 6
weeks, we never got a response from the guy we'd
hoped would fix our stern rail and bent stanchions.
His first priority is work needed on commercial
fishing boats; second comes fishing; and maybe he
services some other customers in between but we
weren't lucky enough to be one of those.
good side of that was that we got to spend more
time with Mark and his family. We also did some
sightseeing and went to a local winery. We'd never
had a Connecticut wine so we were curious. Unlike
the tasting rooms we'd visited in California these
folks charge for tasting. (Maybe they do now in
Calif, too.) White wines were good but the red was
pretty poor. We didn't even finish our samples of
the red... Reds seem to need a longer warm growing
season. We bought a couple of bottles of whites
and wished later that we'd gotten more. We drove
into Rhode Island and visited some seaside towns.
New England is truly beautiful in summer.
also went to the Submarine Service Museum in Groton.
And by chance we met Mark and Melissa just outside
the museum. They were there to attend a retirement
ceremony for one of Mark's former shipmates. Got
a great photo of Mark in uniform wearing most of
his ribbons and medals.
sub museum was great. The highlight of the museum
is the USS Nautilus - the first nuclear powered
submarine. We took the self-guided tour of the sub.
The museum building houses excellent exhibits chronicling
the history of the submarine service; the evolution
of the subs over time; and their exploits during
wars and in peacetime. We were delighted to see
the battle flag from USS Sea Fox.
was a classic boat rondezvous one weekend at the
Mystic Shipyard, On Sunday they had a boat parade
down the river. Several of them had crew in costume
and a few had musicians on board. They were fun
evening the swans came to visit the boat. We'd seen
them farther up the river but never near the mooring
field. There was a mother and 4 young. They gobbled
down all the bread we tossed into the water but
they weren't at all interested in lettuce. Before
long gulls came to see if there were any leftovers
but they mostly kept their distance. When one or
two got too close, the swans would chase them away.
Mama swan came right up to the boat and stretched
her neck up to the toe rail. She pecked and snapped
at us if we came anywhere near. The young ones also
came near and pecked at us if we tried to reach
food out to them. Swans are beautiful but not exactly
length of time spent in Mystic meant that we wouldn't
get to Maine this year. I was sorry to miss gathering
and feasting on mussels, but I did NOT miss dodging
masses of lobster pots.
long last we left Mystic on September 3 and got
to Salem, MA on the 8th. We had appointments for
our annual physicals on the 11th. It took some time
to get all the ancillary appointments made but we
were finally finished with doctors on the 21.st
In the meantime I got to spend some time with Jim
and Nathan. Nathan's in first grade this year. It's
always great to see them. When I win the lottery,
we'll be able to travel to visit kids and grandkids
spent time at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.
It has mostly Asian art and celebrates Salem's history
as a major port in East-West trade in the past.
A highlight is Yin Yu Tang, a 200 year old house
that was dismantled in its rural village in China
and reassembled at the museum. Eight generations
of one family occupied the house and it is presented
with its furnishings as it was last inhabited in
were surprised to see another Saga 43, No Se', being
hauled at Hawthorne Cove Marina. We'd forgotten
that her owners, Pat and Duane, live in Marblehead
in summer. We got in contact with them and were
able to get together a couple of time. Great fun.
finally headed back south on September 30.