Thursday, May 26, 2016

We closed the circle

We have closed the circle.  We are now tied up at Matthews Point Marina for a little R&R, projects and visiting.

We pulled out of our slip at Palm Coast Marina early on Monday, stopped at the fuel dock to fill up and started up the ICW.  We were able to catch the 12:30 bridge opening in St. Augustine, raised the mainsail  and headed out the inlet.  We had talked to our weather advisory earlier when we thought we might be leaving and he gave us a set of waypoints to ride the gulf stream.  We set our first waypoint and we were off.  The weather forecast was for light and variable winds all along the coast so we didn't expect to do much sailing.  The problem we ran into was the forecasts we were using were for near shore conditions and we were nowhere near shore, we were heading to the gulf stream.  What we ran into was light winds out of the northeast every day.  Not bad conditions although sometimes the seas would build then lie down again.  At one point we tried sailing but there just wasn't enough wind.  It was going to be a motor boat ride.

About an hour after leaving the inlet Cori caught her first fish, a real nice sized king mackerel.  After that she caught a couple of frigate mackerels and since they are not as good to eat they were thrown back.  We started our four hour shifts and motored along.  Once we hit the gulf stream our speed jumped from 6 knots to 11.  We were screaming along.  As we continued from waypoint to waypoint our speed would fluctuate from 7 to 10 knots.  This is why we wanted to get into the stream, we had 400 miles to go and wanted to make them as fast as we could.  Monday night was uneventful, only seeing a couple of ships, we continued on.

Tuesday was another day for fish.  It started out with Cori hooking the biggest Mahi we had ever caught.  She spent about twenty minutes fighting it to the side of the boat so I could hook it with the gaff.  After gaffing it I tried to get it onboard and it slipped off the gaff.  Fortunately it still had the hook in it's mouth so I gaffed it again and got it onboard.   Fish do not like being on a boat and get real frisky when you pull them up.  This one was frisky enough to not only slip off the gaff, but to throw the hook on it's way back into the ocean.  Pretty disappointing.  A little later another Mahi took the hook and the fight was on again.  This one was a little smaller and when he got alongside I hooked him with the gaff, but again he slipped off as I was bringing it aboard.  This time he also threw the hook and off he swam.  Mahi's 2, gaffer 0.  I was not the most popular person on the boat.  We reviewed my technique and decided what to do differently.  Later in the afternoon when Cori was off watch sleeping another fish took the bait.  I got her up and the fight was on again, another Mahi.  At the end of the battle and when it was alongside I hooked it with the gaff and instead of trying to bring it up on deck we moved it to the cockpit and pulled it in.  This time if it got off the gaff it would not go overboard.  I was not quite as large as the first but measured in at an amazing 48 inches, the largest Cori has caught and gotten onboard.

The rest of the evening was quiet with another awesome sunset and a quiet night,  We came across fewer ships out in the gulf stream then we do when staying closer to shore so it is easier to be on watch.  I spend my time listening to audio books and Cori listens to podcasts she downloaded.

Wednesday morning we altered our course from following the waypoints to steering a straight course for Beaufort Inlet, our final destination.  By changing tactics we would travel a bit shorter route but lose a little speed.  We dropped down to about 7 knots once we eventually got out of the stream.  It is amazing how much of a boost you get riding the gulf stream.  We wanted a shorter coarse because we were running low on fuel.  We had wanted to do some sailing but the winds would not cooperate so we had to motor along.  At this point we added the contents of one of our jerry jugs to the tank and continued.  As we got out of the gulf stream the winds also changed.  Here were the light and variables we had seen forecast.  It kept switching around but never enough to sail.  Later in the afternoon we added the second jerry jug to the tank, our last one.  We carry eighty gallons of diesel and two five-gallon jugs.  This was going to be close.  We estimated we would arrive around six in the evening and were wondering if the fuel docks would still be open.  At mile 398, just 7 miles from the inlet the engine shut down,  We were out of fuel, not dead in the water since we still had a sail up but now down to 2-3 knots.  We have towing insurance in case of an emergency and we gave Tow Boat US a call and requested fuel be brought out to us.  The delivery is covered by the insurance but the fuel is out of pocket, fifty bucks out of pocket, for ten gallons.  We sailed on until the boat delivered, restarted the engine and were off again.  We had sailed about 4 miles.  We came through the inlet with an incoming tide and motored to the spot we had chosen to anchor for the night.  We dropped anchor, relaxed for a bit and watched the sunset.

Wednesday morning came much too early.  In the form of rolling caused by boats heading out to fish.  They get an early start.  About 8:00 we pulled the anchor and headed to the Morehead Yacht Basin to take on fuel.  Once the tank and the jerry jugs were filled we headed out on the last leg of the trip, back up the ICW to the Neuse River.  Usually on the ICW we get passed a lot and there is a technique to not getting hit with big wakes but this time we only got passed once.  Almost a record.

Once into the Neuse we cut across the the town of Oriental to pick up our new dinghy.  Since we had sold ours we had been shopping in Florida for a replacement and the best price we found was back in NC where we had bought the other one.  They were holding it until we got back.  We tied up at the free dock in Oriental and walked the one block to the store.  Our first time on land, other then the fuel dock, since we left Monday morning.  Once the transaction was complete and the new dinghy was tied on behind us we left for the last short hop to Matthews Point Marina, where we started back on November 2nd.

We had been gone for just short of seven months and traveled 2388 nautical mile on Hi Flite and about 400 miles delivering Release.  A total of 2788 nautical miles or 3208 statute miles.  Almost the distance from New York to London.  We could have crossed an ocean.

Now that we are back we have a couple of projects to complete.  Then we are taking off for Ocracoke Island for the music festival and to celebrate my birthday.  It is real nice of them to have a festival in honor of my birthday.  From there, depending on the weather and project lists we will begin our next adventure.  We will be heading north again hoping to get further then last year.  We hear Maine is beautiful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Getting ready to move again

The mechanic has left.  The only thing yet to do is to pay him.  We are not looking forward to that.  The rebuilt injector pump and injectors are installed and it has changed how the engine is running.  Fortunately the change is for the better.  We now idle much smoother, should have more power and the noises from the v-drive have gone away.  We need to start looking for a weather window to move north.

We have not been idle while we were waiting, at least not all of the time.  We had made some lists of projects that needed to be done when we were back in North Carolina before we headed north again.  We have crossed most of those off.  We replaced the anchor chain; the old one had lost its galvanizing and was beginning to show too much rust.  While working on replacing the chain I got an idea to add an access port from the anchor locker to the chain locker.  We have access to the chain locker from the v-berth but if there is a problem feeding chain in or out we have to move everything in the v-berth to get at it.  Since the v-berth is now storage it involves moving a lot of stuff.  Usually the problem is from how the chain stacks up as it is fed in and since I changed from 150 feet of chain to 200 feet there is the possibility of more problems.  At the time I bought the chain I also bought an 8.5 inch waterproof port.  Borrowing a saw from our neighbor boat I cut out an opening in the anchor locker to give access to the chain below.  It came in real handy when I spliced 100 feet of rope rode to the end of the chain.  We now have the ability to put out 300 feet of rope and chain if necessary.

Our lifeline stanchions have needed to be rebedded for a long time and since it is such a miserable job I have always put it off.  We finally have them rebedded properly and should not have a leak for many years.  Several of our windows were leaking also, so we now know how to take them apart and replace the seal and interior sealer.  Two down six to go.  Our single sideband radio was acting up; we could receive but not transmit a clear signal.  We had it worked on while in the Bahamas but it didn’t get better so we ordered a new one.  We now have a new Icom M802 radio installed along with the connecting cables and all of the other stuff that makes it work.  Running the new copper foil under the floor was a major project in itself.  We also had the bright idea to remove two of the older winches and move the newer self-tailing into their place.  This should help with trimming the sails since it will only take two hands to do it instead of three.

Cori has polished the stainless steel, sealed the exterior teak and has been working on making new sail covers.

There have been a number of smaller projects completed along with the everyday maintenance a boat requires.

Now it is time to go cruising again.  We have been sitting at a dock for too long.  Fortunately, if we had to be stuck at a dock this is not a bad place to be.  We need to catch some good weather to move north since we have plans to be at Ocracoke Island for the music festival and my birthday.