Friday, December 25, 2009
Not really. I am back at Water Island, USVI. The island is about 3/4 of a mile from the St. Thomas cruise docks and as such I get to witness these behemoths arrive and depart. Last week brought the Queen Mary 2 and the largest cruise ship in the world....Oasis of the Seas.
As you can see from the photos both are different. The Oasis has a huge stage in the stern surrounded by rock climbing walls. Have been told by guests on the ship the davit looking devices on the stern are actually moving diving platforms for one of the water oriented shows.
Never been on a cruise ship but must say they are impressive as they steam by in the morning!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
One of the joys of cruising the tropics is the sunshine and warm temperatures. It is a wonderful feeling to arise in the morning and only need a pair of board shorts to keep warm. Unfortunately for most white people there is a cost regarding this lifestyle.......skin cancer!
During my last visit to Portland ,Oregon I visited a dermatologist and after she put circles all over my body with a sharpie, she told me I had several area of basal cell carcinoma(skin cancer). This cancer will not kill but is slow growing and needs to be cut out. If left unchecked it continues to grow and when finally removed the area removed can be extensive.
I first noticed a problem when after showering the tip of my right ear would bleed. So while I have insurance elected for the surgery. They take way more skin than I figured but skin heals quickly so I am way on the road to recovery. They removed four patches of skin roughly 1.5 x 2.25 inches from my back, chest and legs. My ear was done by a procedure called MOHS and is still bandaged after 4 weeks and will be for another 1-2.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
We left the Chesapeake on the 1st of November under cloudy sky's and light rain. The wind was 20 knots gusting to 25 out of the NE. Brisk conditions. We were running a full head sail and 3 reefs in the main doing 8+ knots with a 2-3 meter beam sea. The Gulf Stream was predicted to be 15-20 knots with 2-3 meter seas. Not ideal but there was no window after our departure as conditions were deteriorating due to the Hurricane Ida developing in the Gulf. This was probably the last chance for weeks to get warm!
We were roaring along at 9.5 knots just about out of the effect of the Gulf Stream when I looked in the cabin and a 3 foot high column of water rushed into the boat. Catamarans have escape hatches on the bottom of the boat in case of a capsize. I ran to the Starboard hatch and thought it had come open.....noooooo.......it was gone. A hole in the boat!!!!! We were taking on water and the bilge pumps were going full bore. I had plywood forward for damage control and grabbed screws and screw gun and started screwing down the plywood to the floor of the boat. During this drill I had Dave steer the boat downwind to stop the beam seas from entering the breach in the hull. Needless to say, there were some scary moments!
After I brought the leak under control I had to determine the next course of action. We were just about out of the Gulf Stream and heading back to the Chesapeake was not a good option as into wind and waves. I did not think the repair would last with a pounding to weather. Another option was to head SW and try for the other side of Cape Hatteras. The weather on the East Coast was getting lousier by the hour, so I decided to press on to the Tropics as my weather reports stated conditions would moderate to the 10-15 knot range in 24 hours. Hurricane Ida was to make all weather projections useless.
As we left the Gulf Stream conditions settled down to 20 knots gusting to 25 with wind North. Anytime the boat speed exceeded 6 knots the wave action assaulted my repair and water filled the starboard hull. Bilge pumps easily contained the flow but were on every 15 seconds. Eventually I replaced one of the pumps after it failed.
As conditions were so vigorous I was unable to apply a repair to the outside of the hull, the ocean eventually worked upon the repair until after 100 screws I was able to prevent most water from entering. But, the ocean gets her way eventually, A 17 foot swell came under the boat and slapped my repair and broke the floor loose in the cabin and lifted it about 6 inches. After, removing the stairs that go down to starboard I was able to sea the Atlantic in all her glory! More screws and blocks in the walls to jam the floor and we were off again! BTW I was running out of lumber!
When I approached highway 65(65 degrees Longitude) we turned south and with a North wind the floor in the boat actually dried out as the temperature rose and the sun came out. The rest of the trip was mild although we did have 30 knots NW for 30 hours gusting to 40 but from astern so mostly a wild slide down the 15 foot swells. My crew was amazed how much easier conditions were at 30 knots compared to 20 . The bigger wind set up a more consistent swell and wind waves seem to diminish. The last day we were forced to motor sail into Ft Thomas as wind went south at 5-10.
It took us 10 days to reach the Virgins as we had to slow Le Chat Beaute down to 6 knots. Dave Surridge , my crew, had never been on a boat before, I can't say if he will ever get on one again. He stood his watches and was there when needed. Good performance on his part. The trip would have been great and boat speed was acceptable but the leak took all the pleasure out of the passage as my anxiety levels were high. At no time time did conditions prevent us from enjoying meals and we even had the BBQ half the trip. I talked to some mono hull sailors who arrived before us and they lived out of cans and hardly ate. These were 60 foot + boats. So even in the worst conditions life on a cat is OK.
The enclosed sunset picture was as we left the Chesapeake. It looks to me like a hammer. Prophetic!
I have been remiss in publishing the blog and taking photographs after my stop in Annapolis for the boat show. As the weather was deteriorating on the East Coast(getting bloody cold) I was forced to buy a pair of DuBarry sea boots to keep my feet warm and dry! Usually in bare feet and sandals when the Temp dropped below 50 degrees F my feet were turning BLUE.
I left Annapolis on the 23rd of October and stayed in Solomon Island are until Dave Surridge arrived from Portland. Dave was crew to the Virgins. I had hoped the trip would be fairly mild as Dave has never been on a boat before. He was game to go.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
While anchored on the wall of the Naval Academy, believe the guide book when it says it is a shitty anchorage, I was anchored next to When and If an 80 year old or there abouts schooner in great shape. Meant to inquire about here lineage but never got around to it.
Well it appears ,When and If was owned by General George Patton before the war. Named for when and if he came home. Those with a bit of history will know he did not.
The boat was almost broken up a few years ago but a couple of teachers saved her. My picture is of her at sunset in Annapolis. double click on picture for a larger view
Sunday, October 18, 2009
As I arrived a week early for the boat show it was getting to be a bit slow hanging out in Spa Creek. Decided to cross the Bay to the Eastern Shore and visit the town of St. Michaels. It is an easy 5 hour sail in the right conditions.
The town was easy on yachties as the grocery store and the entire town is within walking distance of the dinghy dock. Very picturesque and friendly stop.
Originally a oyster community and home to a great many skipjacks, the boats are mostly tourist rides but a number still rack for oysters. None of the skipjacks have motors as the law only allows harvesting without the use of power. So the boats have these 8-10 ft tug boats with small diesels that push them in and out of the dock and out to the oyster grounds if there is no wind. Once at the beds the tug is shut down and all work done under sail.
Friday, October 16, 2009
One of my major reason for hanging around Annapolis was to attend the US Boat Show. The largest in the water show in the world. It is indeed impressive what was accomplished in a few days to set up this event. Annapolis harbor is an alley in to the downtown area. It is commonly called "ego alley" as it is not uncommon for power boats with big engines to come in and turn around in the basin. Most of these boats are super expensive and usually support a bevy of attractive young women in bathing attire.
For the show, this area is closed off and docks are purpose built around sailboats for the displays. The amount of dock space built is impressive and accomplished in a short period of 2 days. The show itself has every imaginable vendor regarding boats there is. There were even vendors from New Zealand and Australia.
My new purchase from the show was a Sailrite sewing machine and canvas tools.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Finally made it to Annapolis! Got the dates wrong for the boat show, so arrived a week early and have been on the hook in Spa Creek in 6 feet of water. Very exclusive area surrounded by expensive homes. The holding is reputed to be poor but the rocna anchor seems to be holding well.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I joined the SSCA(Seven Seas Cruising Assoc) awhile back and was able to attend their annual get together in the area. A Gam is a get together where sailors share ideas and info. It hark ens back to the days of tall ships and whaling boats. Crews would meet on the high seas and heave to and get together and talk about where the whales were and other pertinent information. Pass on packages or letters or anything the inbound vessels could carry.
At this GAM there were speakers discussing SSB installs and Safety at Sea and of interest to all cruisers , good discussion of weather and tactics.
I was very pleased to meet Margaret Roth. She and her husband,Hal, were one of the first cruising couples and did a number of circumnavigations and cruising in the 70s. Hal is deceased but Margaret is going strong. She was selling and signing books the couple had produced over the years. One of the first cruising books I ever read was their book After 50,000 miles.
Passing thru Norfolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake Virginia was an eye opener for this sailor. I have never seen so many factories or ships in all of my travels. This includes Singapore. Have since been told Norfolk is the largest Naval Base in the World. I can believe it! Saw a lot of light carriers and cruisers.
To go from the ICW to the Chesapeake is about a 20 mile trip, fortunately for me I hit the tide spot on and made good time. I did not plan this! I travelled just outside the green buoys in 50 ft of water. Have not seen that much water in a long time. Still because of the heightened security along the Naval Bases I needed to hug the bouys closely or the patrol boats would do the finger wagging thing.
At one point when I was being over taken by a freighter I moved far right and instantly the PBRs raced out to intercept but they soon figured out I had to move in close to their perimeter or be run over.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Circumnavigators Kelly Boy and Kelly Girl have swallowed the anchor. After talking to Kelly B he states they are moving to Phoenix, AZ and purchasing a house. They plan to store Moorea on the hard and travel to AZ. I wish them well and hopefully they will rise like the Phoenix and return to the cruising life style.
My fondest memory of Kelly Waterhouse and Kelly Waterhouse, thus girl and boy moniker, is after arriving in the Marquesas they launched their Walker Bay sailing dinghy after already sailing nonstop for 28 days! It goes without saying they can visit Le Chat Beaute anytime they want.
For the soda pop fans out there New Bern might be known as the birthplace of Brads Drink. Caleb Bradham concocted a brew of coco and other nuts and spices, then mixed with carbonated water. A new name was needed so Pepsi Cola was chosen. Interesting that Coca Cola was first produced in Atlanta , not that far from New Bern.
New Bern is located at the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers. New Bern is the second oldest city in America and was the original capital of North Carolina. Walking around the town which is quite pedestrian friendly reveals a lot of historic buildings and brick churches. I am in the marina in front of the Hilton and plan to move on in time to be at the Annapolis Boat Show.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Here is a picture of Worthington Glacier located adjacent to the GlennAllen Highway.
Valdez is surrounded by mountains except for a narrow channel that empties into Prince William Sound. Very scenic and Beautiful vistas. Would love to return and see it with clear weather. Locals say the sun does shine but I have my doubts.
Took the trip North to visit Colleen and Lynne and their families. They live in Wasilla , about an hours drive north of Anchorage on the Park Highway. The weather was typical for this time of year. Gray. Colleen's husband, Gary , and I drove to Valdez to haul their boat home for the winter.
On the way we stopped and checked out the oil pipeline and a few glaciers. Alaska always amazes me with the enormous vistas. Truly Big Sky! We spent two days in Valdez fishing for silvers and caught three nice fish. The run was just ending but it was a very enjoyable time spent with Gary.
The week before the run was in full swing and everyone was limiting out. Our second day I caught a 4-6 pound fish but released it because I felt it too small. Needless to say that was the last fish we caught!
I needed to get back to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest to visit family and friends. While there I left the boat in New Bern, NC.
I stopped in at the Port of Everett to visit the "Kellys". I have a link to their blog called Moorea. They finished their circumnavigation about 6 weeks ago and are trying to get back into the day to day foolishness that is stateside living. I wish them all the best. I know I struggle when I get behind the wheel of a car and face the horde.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Being on the hard for 3 weeks gave me an opportunity to run in a rural location. I enjoyed the slow turns through this beautiful part of North Carolina. On one run I discovered this "huge Golden Oak" ala Jimmy Buffett. It appears tests were done and it is over 2000 years old. Definitely worth mention!
If you click on the tree it will enlarge the photo and in the middle you can see where a cactus that is quite old is growing in the tree!
Been awhile since decent access has been available so here goes the update. There is a section of the ICW called "the Rock Pile". Avoid at all costs or have a good lookout and travel at low tide. I was in what was supposed to be the channel on a falling tide and STRUCK! Hard I might add. As the water in the ICW is colored by tannin from the cypress trees, visibility is about 2 inches.
I moored at Barefoot Landing Marina and tried to survey the damage to the keel but even with a diving light it was sketchy at best. I arranged to be hauled at Tripp Marine in Shallotte. It was the only travelift wide enough to take a 23 foot cat. I had intended to haul and do work in the Chesapeake so this moved the schedule forward four weeks.
Damage was not as severe as I imagined so decisions were made to repair damage and paint the bottom , new zincs, cutlass bearings and dyna plates. As the boat had sat in the tropics the gelcoat did not have that shiny look so I was prepared to sand the hulls with 1200-1400 grit to polish the gelcoat. Fortunately, BJ turned me onto this polishing product that acts like 1200 without the sanding and a lot less work. All in all I was on the hard for 22 days. It was a good experience as I did the best bottom job I have ever done and the boat is in much better shape than prior to the crash.
Shallotte is fairly isolated and the yard was 6 miles from town and that presented some challenges. BJ who runs Tripp was a real find. He helped me by ordering all materials and driving me to town when I needed provisions. He also let me use any tools I needed!!! Fantastic.
The site on the hard overlooked a wetland and as I was the only person staying overnight it was not your usual yard experience with the dirt noise and other problems. The view from the back of the boat as the sun went down over Dark and Stormys was excellent.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
It is difficult for most sailboats to make more than 50 miles a day on parts of the ICW. As you can imagine there are numerous bridges connecting the outer islands with the mainland. As most were built in the 1930s -1950s they tend to be the swing variety. They open on the hour and sometimes the half hour and stick tightly to the schedule.
Just as you leave South Carolina heading North at Sunset Beach there is a floating bridge that opens on the hour. The main span is on pontoons and every hour if there is boat traffic they swing this bridge open. It will be gone in a year as they are building a new concrete bridge next to it.
The new bridges are concrete permanent fixtures with a 65 ft clearance. It is spooky going under them around high tide it looks as though the top of the mast is going to strike. Le Chat Beaute, like many cats, is 62 ft above water at the top of the mast. Add 2 ft for antenna and lights and it becomes close.
Most of the waterway in South Carolina is wild and protected. It was not unusual to see chains across small creeks abutting the waterway designed to prevent boats from entering the wetlands. The only way to travel is by small boat as the surrounding wetland is almost impenetrable.
During the War between the States the Union forces tried to take the Carolinas from the sea by using the wetlands. From the picture you can see this would be very difficult. Think malaria, bugs, and venomous snakes not to mention being up to your knees in the muck all the time.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Moving through South Carolina the ICW is a wild place with an abundance of wild life and solitude. As you approach the small towns people become evident. Usually the jet ski is the first thing you hear/see. But, it is between the civilized spots where this place is really marvelous. I anchored just off the main channel one night and could here what I believe are baby ospreys begging to be fed. It is common to see the nest as part of the navigation aids all along the waterway.
As you pass a town , people have made their nests as well.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
After leaving Charleston I set sail in light winds for points north. The winds were light (10kts) SW so it was a very comfortable sail with a one foot swell. The gribs forecast the wind to go northerly so I decided to duck into the ICW for a day or two to continue my way north.
The anchorage at Wynah just east of the ICW was beautiful and serene..........until sun down then the mozzies attacked with a vengence. Coils and spray were hardly effective as I must have been the first fresh meat in awhile. Eventually the sun went down and the majority left me in peace for the night.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
This story would not be proper without including a picture of the Spirit of Charleston. It was a light wind day(10 kts) and I asked the skipper why all the sails were not deployed as it would have made a great sight on the river. They had paying guests on board for the Harbor Fest and tacking would have been problematic with all the extra people on board.
My last post stated one of the tall ships had carried away the foremast above the trucks. It was a Russian four masted Barque. A beautiful vessel. In order to turn through the wind when they returned to Europe repairs to the attachment of jib sails would need to be made. It also appears some damage to the courses happened when the portion of the mast carried away. Here are some pictures of the repair process. In the above photo you can see a man working on attachment of the stays.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I had planned to leave Charleston a couple of days ago but heard about the Charleston Sail Fest so decided to stay another four or five days and watch the tall ships. The Festival featured the ships and a period village held by the Maritime Center. A number of the Tall Ships have been involved in the Atlantic Challenge, a friendly race from Europe via Bermuda. One of the ships lost it's foremast above the trucks and another carried away her jib. From what I gather, they failed to shorten sail in time and were struck by a squall.
I have been here for almost a month and find Charleston a great city to live and hang on the hook. I had spent two weeks in the marina while back in the NW for a funeral. Very expensive but am now safely back on the hook opposite the marina.
The major part of the city is on a peninsula that connects with the other quarters via a series of new and very old bridges. There has been a major attempt to keep the peninsula part of the city as historic as possible. A feature I find appealing is a lot of the waterfront is actually wetland! So plenty of bird life is evident throughout the city.
After, the Great Depression a lot of American cities started developing the downtown areas clearing most of the old houses that were over a hundred years old. Renovation came very late to Charleston and buy the time it did there was intelligent thought that realized the neighborhoods should be preserved. So as you walk around Charleston's downtown area there are many houses 200-250 years old. It goes without saying they did not save the small houses although there are instances of less than mansion quality. It is easy to spend an entire day walking through the neighborhoods admiring the architecture and the gardens.
There are four colleges/universities in town so a big need for housing . Before the major renovations a lot of the owners could no longer afford the upkeep and the taxes so many of the houses were divide into apartments with the owner usually living on the top floor. This arrangement is still common so many of the houses have been in the sames families for generations.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Well, After 12 days from the Virgins we made landfall at Charleston, South Carolina. The sail here was fairly slow as we never travelled more than 120 per day. Mostly right around a 100 per day. We sailed almost the entire way except for the last 6 hours coming into Charleston. We used the spinnaker for 5 days straight!! As I do not have an asymmetrical we could only make the spinnaker work well downwind. We flew the spinnaker about 9 out of 12 days.
I had forgotten that Ft. Sumpter is in Charleston, so was pleasantly surprised to see the fort as we approached the harbor. For those a little light on history...First shot of the Civil War took place here.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When John Glenn splashed down in the Carribean about the Friendship 7 capsule in 1962 his first landfall after being plucked out of the ocean was Gran Turk. Most of the flights in the early days of the Space Program ended here. There is a replica(?) of Friendship 7 that appears to be the real thing. It is amazing how tiny the capsule was.
Set sail from St Thomas on May 26th for the Eastern Seaboard. On board was your truly and a 32 year old woman named Rebbecca. She had never done an ocean passage but was keen to give it a go.
Winds were forecast to be light and they were all the way to our first stop at the Turks and Caicos. We stopped at Gran Turk and anchored off the dock on the SW side of the island. We arrived after 1700 so would have to clear customs in the morning.
Our experience at customs was one of a kind. After customs and immigration the custom officer offered to drive us around the island. Never had that happen before. Everyone we met in town was helpful and glad to have us there. Great experience!
There is a controversy here. Many say Columbus landed on San Salvador an island about 100 miles west of the Turks. Gran Turk maintains he landed here. Their claim has about as much merit as the San Salvador claim so who knows. Anyway the time spent was short and we departed the next day. Plan to return next season if possible