Thursday, May 22, 2014

Old Point Comfort to Deltaville

Last night was not so restful.  At about 3 am, the SW winds kicked up and brought us a long fetch to bounce on at anchor.  The motor vessel anchored behind us pulled up and left about 4 am.  The SW winds were helpful in sailing up the Bay until the winds completely died (if those SW winds could have started about five hours later, it would have been perfect).  No wind, coupled with the Bay’s ebb tide, we really slowed down around Wolf Trap Light.  That is why God gave us a motor.  We both tried to get a bit of rest on the way up here.  Even so, it will be an early night.

Jean is away until tomorrow.  We just got a quick visit in with Floyd, John Melvin and his captain, Jason, for the tug ‘Gram Me.’  We are tied up to Floyd’s dock and the tug is on the dock behind us.  We were given a tour of the engine room to see all the recent work.  One engine was rebuilt and the other is new, new plating on the bottom of the tug and its bulkheads (3/8” or so), new generator, new other stuff that I do not understand but I did not interrupt the guys as they chatted about it.  The crew is off to get groceries as they have a barge due in Norfolk by 3 am tomorrow morning.  Not sure where they go after that. 

Floyd wants to leave for dinner at 5:30 pm.  I better get a shower and get ready.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Visitor's Center to Old Point Comfort

We rest so peacefully at the Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor's Center. It was hard to get up. We managed to tear away in time to make the 11 am bridge opening at Deep Creek. We did not go through the lock, rather tied up to the free dock at the park and walked over for lunch, as well as get some fruit at the Food Lion. Then we were off for the 1:30 pm lock and off to the Gilmerton Bridge. The bridge did not give us trouble this time, but the RR bridge right before it. It stayed down, making boats that arrived before us wait for over an hour. Once we got through that mess, we got stuck behind a cargo ship leaving a yard just after that bridge, it was doing less than three knots and in neutral we kept creeping up on it as well as spinning around in the tug prop wash. Finally we were able to take it on its port side and work into the anchorage at Portsmouth. We tried twice to get a hold, but kept pulling up trash that let the anchor slide. As a result, we moved on to the reliable Old Point Comfort. It was very busy cargo traffic in Norfolk and I cannot express how happy we are to have THAT behind us.

As we entered the anchorage, we were hailed by Sandy and Tom on Anonya. We know through Cruzheimers Net (SSB at 8:30 am) that we have been moving up the coast in close proximity and finally landed in the same anchorage. We have enjoyed meeting new people along the way, yet it was good to hear a familiar voice.

The goal tomorrow is the Ward's at Deltaville. For now, some munchies and zzzz.

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Challenge Update - From Dismal Swamp Visitor's Center

As you may have seen, some followers posted comments on the last post.  We also received emails with suggestions as to what bird visited us.  We went to the bookstore in Elizabeth City,  but they were out of the field guide for eastern birds.  However, while we were in the bookstore, I went through a book dedicated to warblers and I got a pretty good idea what bird charmed us out there.

It was fun to get all the input and we thank everyone for participating.  We are going to have to go with Bob and John's response of a 'Northern Parula Warbler,' and we will add that it was a female.  Here is a link to some pictures:  Northern Parula Warbler - female

We have always enjoyed Elizabeth City, even so the last few days was one of our best stays in E.C.  Thanks to Dan and Kathy (sailing vessel Paloma at Mid-Atlantic Christian University), we got to go to pizza the first night we arrived, and got to meet new people at New Community Church, including Austin and Sheena who also want to go out on a sailboat with their three kids.  Austin brought hot biscuits by this morning and helped us throw off the lines. Our weekend stay there included the Potato Festival - who knew!  We finally got to meet some potato farmers on Saturday, after viewing all the old John Deere's and some pretty fancy new ones.  There was also an eight row potato planter on site.  We did not even know they grew potatoes in this state.  Most of them are used for chips.

One vendor at the festival got all our business:  Homemade Ice Cream.  For me, at first the novelty was the John Deere run dual ice-cream, but after we bought ice cream, all I wanted was more!  Ted and Brenda also want to head out on a sailboat.  Here is a video of their John Deere run ice cream machines:  

There were different bands playing all day.  We took the short walk over to enjoy many of them, including the last band that played some Journey songs.  It was right out of our era and we reminisced about Steve Perry going to our high school and playing in the band Rainbow Bridge at our high school dances.  *SIGH* The old days.

The fireworks were set off from a barge out just a way from our dock. We had front row seats.  It was a great show.  After their grand finale and when the applause ended, I heard a child say "do it again!"

The trip up the Dismal Swamp Canal made us wonder if it was getting more overgrown.  It seems more narrow than before!  The cold water had the turtles out catching some rays for warmth.  Sometimes there is just not enough room on a log.

We are at the Visitor's Center on the Dismal Swamp Canal and the weather is perfect.  There are hardly any  bugs and not very many boats.  Only three of us on the dock and no rafting.  We are coming to the conclusion that it is a good idea to head north this early.  The water is a chilly 64 degrees, and the nights have been pleasantly cool.  We broke out jeans and sweatshirts, but only for the mornings and evenings.

Time to call it a night.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bird Identification Challenge!

Hey all.  As promised, here are some pictures of our mystery visitor that joined us in the Gulf Stream, probably 100 miles offshore of Georgia/South Carolina.  It was hungry and thirsty.  Once we gave it water and food, it was on its way.

I have several shots here, to give you different angles and perspective.  Please put in a comment as to what bird you think this is, noting the very narrow beak and the bars on the wings.  I hope I at least get comments from cousin Lyn and also Bama.

Resting on Myron's head.  It liked Myron's hair!

Here it is eating on half of a grape.  The tether it is standing on is one inch wide.

At the helm:

A good close-up, on Myron's finger:

On Myron's glasses.  Such a friendly and demanding bird!

Let me know if you can identify our special visitor!

The other visitor that day was a barn swallow.  I did not get a picture of him inside the cabin because it was nighttime and I would have had to use a flash, which would have disturbed him substantially.

Love to all,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

South Lake to Elizabeth City

We crossed the Albemarle Sound before the winds got the seas up too much.  It is an opportunity to improve seamanship to have seas and strong winds while trying to dodge crab pots.  We are not complaining, just explaining.  We like crabs!  We had lunch at Quality Seafood and bought a pound of lump crab for $14.99 and a pound of large shrimp (an oxymoron) for $7.99.  Good prices this year.

We tried to get to the other side of the bridge to a long free dock that would be much more comfortable in these strong SSE winds, but the bridge broke and we have no idea when it will be fixed.  When we tried to go through the bridge, the tender put the gates down to stop traffic and a truck broke one of the gates.  As a result, the bridge will not open.  We are on the park dock to the south of the free slips (they are untenable in these winds) and will rock and roll against these pilings during the forecasted winds and thunderstorms for at least the next 24 hours or until the bridge is fixed.  It is what it is.  There is one other sailboat is here with us, Tony on ‘Ida E’ out of Beaufort, NC.  He is part Portuguese and headed to Rhode Island to see family and get a job.

Elizabeth City's Potato Festival begins tomorrow at 5 pm.  Some of the carnival rides are right next to us in the park.  It should be an interesting couple of days.

We plan to meet up with Dan and Kathy about 5 pm.  I need to get ready.

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bellhaven to South Lake

That was our first time staying in Bellhaven and we were pleasantly surprised. The pizza and lasagna were great (we had the leftovers tonight). It was not a bad walk into town at all. After more than three days on the boat, we needed a walk. The only disappointing aspect of staying at the free dock was waking up to discover the port side of the boat covered in dead bugs and droppings from blind mosquitoes. Where are those birds when we need them?

The Alligator/Pungo Canal is a bit of a drain, but we got to see several deer and a little one hop around and kick. It was so cute we both got the giggles watching. We took on some fuel at Alligator River Marina and headed over to South Lake. It took dodging crab pots for about 20 minutes to get over here, but we felt it was worth it. Two other boats finally came in behind us. It is cooling off nicely for a good night's sleep.

Our watch times came back up to haunt us today and we both wanted naps during our previous 'off watch!' Tonight will be another early night. Hopefully the Albemarle Sound will behave itself tomorrow and we will get into Elizabeth City before the bad weather arrives. We called Dan and Kathy in E.C., now they are expecting us. I also called Jean in Deltaville and expect to see her and Floyd within a week.

Time for bed!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Vero Beach, FL to Bellhaven, NC

We had as many projects done as necessary when we realized we had a pretty good window opportunity to make some miles north. I turned in the rental car on Friday, ignoring all the road block signs and driving like I was someone important. I made it to the Hertz return in much better time than I expected. I was back with plenty of time to get a couple loads of laundry done, negotiate a credit for the two nights we did not stay on the mooring, and stow all the provisions we had accumulated in two short days. It was thumbs up for departure Saturday morning.

We left Fort Pierce inlet in about the second hour of an ebb flow. That flow was against a Southeast wind and swell. I do not have such kind words to speak about the inlet after that experience. Our first experience, in the dark, was at slack current. I vote for slack every time. We buried the bow on Hold Fast six times in less than ½ a mile. We were one of four sailboats going out at that time, and we all had a tough time of it. As soon as it was safe, Myron turned north out of the ebb flow and got us on our heading. We had 4 to 5 foot seas in maybe 5 second intervals. Thankfully we were riding them at an angle and the wind was sufficient to keep us from tossing too much. It kept getting better from there. We were able to sail all through our first night. After that, the winds reduced and the motor had to assist the push of the Gulf Stream and the wind.

What a difference the AIS (automatic identification system) transponder made. We have always had the receiver to see other AIS, but now we could be seen. I am so glad Myron installed it. It really takes a lot of stress out of the ocean passages. I could observe the cargo ships and tankers change course to keep at least a mile CPA (closest point of approach). On only one occasion did I need to call a cargo ship named 'Captain Stewart.' I remember the name because I had to discipline myself not to call it Captain Stubbing. When Captain Stewart was only five miles away and our CPA was less than a thousand feet, I called to make sure they saw me. I think I woke him up. He adjusted course and we passed with a .5 mile CPA. Trust me, with a huge cargo ship at night - that looks really close. After he modified course he called me back and asked if it was OK with me. I said it was a half mile and that was better. He asked me again, was I OK with our separation. Once I said yes, he said "Goodnight" and signed off. I found it so odd!

I think Myron mentioned one of our surreal events this trip. We often have some sort of exchange with the wild creatures while on the ocean. This one was personally precious. I was just about to finish my 3 to 6 pm watch when we had a tiny bird (I thought it was a finch, but the beak was much too narrow - like a warbler's beak but warblers are too big). I only have a field guide for western birds and am stumped. When we get decent internet, I will post a picture and you guys can help us figure out what it was. But get this, it was as if it knew it had to befriend us to survive. He (I think) landed on Myron's head, mine too, our shoulders, walked on our hands and across our legs. He looked all over the boat for something. Bugs we guessed. Unfortunately, I had just cleaned my bug collection off the hard top ceiling. I had cleaned the boat too and could not find anything for him. He finally found a dead winged termite and ate it heartily, wings and all. (One night in Hatchet Bay we were covered with these flying insects. Luckily, I missed one!) He was so thirsty too. He would not drink from the bowl I brought. Hold Fast was rocking and rolling on the seas and tipped the water out of the bowl, which he drank off the teak cockpit seats. He drank quite a bit. I gave up looking for more bugs and got a snack of red grapes out for Myron and me. As soon as I set the bowl down, he was in it, drinking the water off the grapes and trying to eat the grapes. Myron opened a grape and was hand feeding it to this precious little bird. After our grape snack, I got an apple out for me and a banana for Myron. After I took my first bite, the little bird flew right over to my hand and picked at the apple as I was putting it to my mouth a second time! He would sit at the helm and Myron could pet him. Too soon it was time for my off-watch and I needed to get some rest. But I did not want to stop interaction with this bird. It was so rare! Sleep is critical though, so I was off to the pilot berth. I popped my head out in the cockpit about 8 pm to check on him. Myron said he would come back to the food, fly around the boat a bit, and come back to the food. He also finally chirped like he was calling a bird or heard another bird. Shortly after that, he went to the back of the boat, looked at Myron and took off for good. He needed to finish his migration. I was happy to have helped him, but sad that he left. I turned to my right and saw a swallow sitting by the galley hatch.

The swallow (barn swallow according to my western field guide) was not nearly as aggressive and did not look for food or water. He was shaking and, clearly, he was tired. It was getting dark and he seemed to want to roost for the night. I went back to bed. The swallow followed Myron into the cabin, landed on his hand and then perched on the TV, watching Myron. He stayed there until a change in watch, then perched on the wood behind the on-demand water heater. It was a much better perch for him as we rocked and rolled through the seas, and he stayed there for the remainder of the night. At the 6 am change of watch, I was making coffee and Myron went out to the cockpit. The swallow made several shifts between the TV to the water heater, then to my head. He gave a chirp and then flew out of the cabin. I ran up to watch if he would come back. He took a couple of turns, then straightened out and was off. All our visitors were gone. It made me sad. A couple of watches later, another little bird, much like the first, landed on Hold Fast. It was the most skiddish of all. I think it was a female. She was around for only a few hours and then left. We were all alone again and never received additional visits. I knew our third day out we would be too close to land and the birds would fly right by us on their migration. We were no longer needed.

As we approached Beaufort inlet, I could see a dredger's AIS signal on the inlet approach. We would have done the approach in the dark, except for the dredger. We slowed down Hold Fast and went in at first light. Unfortunately, 30 fishing boats and sport fishers had just been released on a fishing tournament and we encountered most of them right at the dredger. The current had us and it was all we could do to keep Hold Fast between the dredger and its markers, much less with on-coming traffic. Obviously we survived it and wrote it off to just being Beaufort inlet.

We pressed on and stayed for the first time in Bellhaven at the free dock. With dinner in our bellies, we are ready for bed. I am tired and I hope this reads decently!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

In at Morehead

We just got in at Morehead City and now headed for Pungo Creek.
Time 6:32

Posted via Ham Radio.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ft Pierce to Morehead 6

Hey all, we are 58 miles from Beaufort Inlet should arrive at 5 am tomorrow. Very nice day on the ocean, lots of sun and crystal clear water.
Time 8:30 pm
Posted via Ham Radio.

Ft Pierce to Morehead 5

Hey all, we had a good night with bright moon and no boat traffic. ETA for Morehead holds should be in around 24 hours or 6 am tomorrow.
ps the swallow spent the night and left this morning.
Time 6:24 am

Posted via Ham Radio.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ft Pierce to Morehead 4

Hey All and Happy Mother's Day! The winds were light today so we motor sail but good for fishing we caught a 53" Mahi!
We also have had a couple of visitors, first a Yellow House Finch he was very hungry and ate all the bugs on the boat then shared a grape with me (very friendly). Second (and he is watching me type this) is a Swallow not quite as friendly but getting there.
We should make landfall on Tuesday morning.
Time 8:35 pm

Posted via Ham Radio.

Ft Pierce to Morehead 3

We had good sail last night in 15 kts of wind but its back to motoring now that the sun is coming up.
time 6 am

Posted via Ham Radio.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ft Pierce to Morehead 2

We motor sailed most of the day until 6 PM then we got under sail with Jib, Mizzen and single reef in the main producing 8 knots with 1.5 knots from the gulf stream.
Time is 9:08 PM

Posted via Ham Radio.

Departed Ft Pierce

We went out Ft Pierce inlet about 9 am headed for Morehead City.
Will try to do a report in the morning and evening depending on Band conditions.

Posted via Ham Radio.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Great Sale Cay to Vero Beach, via Fort Pierce

We tried not to get up early at Great Sale Cay because we wanted to resist the urge of an early departure.  Old habits die hard and we were up at 6:30 am, having coffee and listening to weather.  I noticed a beautiful vessel with freedom masts over a half mile away and wondered if it was ‘Kera Bela’ from OYCM, Jacksonville.  We kept an eye on them as all the other boats emptied out of the anchorage.  Finally it was just the two of us.  We pulled up anchor and motored out of our way to go by them.  Sure enough, I saw David moving around in the cockpit and Jackie shortly thereafter.  I hollered at them to get dressed for company.  David got a kick out of seeing us and said “you meet the nicest people in far away anchorages!”  They had arrived at 2:30 am and were just about rested up enough to press on.  We were on opposite headings, leaving us time only to shout greetings and well wishes as we passed by.  I hope we see them again in the fall.

This was our shortest trip back to the states yet.  We normally head north for a couple nights out and ride a little in the Gulf Stream, but this time we wanted to get some maintenance and provisioning completed in Vero Beach, therefore we came across to the Fort Pierce inlet.  We did not want to enter Fort Pierce in the dark, so we kept slowing down Hold Fast.  Once the current gets you though, it is hard to reduce speed.  We turned south a bit, which helped, but we still ended up at the inlet at 5 am.  It was my watch and I woke up Myron just before we entered.  Fort Pierce inlet is well marked and deep.  That was not the problem, it was how work around on the ICW and find a place to anchor in the dark.  Our original plan was to anchor north of the entrance and just south of the Fort Pierce North Bridge (the one that opens), however we were blinded by the bright lights of the dredger parked on the ICW that direction and could not ascertain which side of the dredger was open.  We opted to go under the fixed bridge to the south of the inlet, work our way down the ICW and take a left into the anchorage area.  We anchored as soon as we were sufficiently off the ICW.

Once anchored, our next immediate task was to check in to the U.S.  We have the LBO (local boaters option) and can typically call in our numbers and location and get an arrival number to complete the process, eliminating the need to report to Customs Border Protection in person.  Myron purchased a month on our prepaid phone to make sure we were all set to make the call.  However, when we arrived the actual phone (hardware) completely crashed.  We pulled out the old Verizon phone, but our number had been recycled and I needed to go through an activation process.  Myron tried using our Google Talk number to make a call because we were getting free wi-fi in the anchorage.  Google Talk failed as well.  We were running through other options, like waiting for Fort Pierce City Marina to open, go get diesel there and use their phone to check in.  We were finally able to complete the check in process via Skype.  We were now free to move about the country.

Our next task was to move to Vero Beach City Marina for fuel and to take a mooring.  They let us chose between mooring 10 or mooring 1 in the south field.  We tried mooring 10, but it was too protected from any breeze and we were burning up.  Sometime after the marina’s closing time we concluded that we MUST change moorings.  There was no one on #1 yet and we went for it.  They are pretty relaxed here in the off season.  There are a number of moorings open and there is no need to raft two and three boats to one mooring.  I sent the office an email about our new location and have not heard a peep.  This is the first mooring on the entrance to the marina.  We could see all boats coming and going, if we were not so busy with projects. 

When we arrived, we picked up our package from the marina office and Myron got right to work on installing the AIS.  It was up and running before we even got in a nap.  A nap was needed.  I wondered why I was so tired.  Myron reminded me that I never got an off-watch rest after coming on watch at 3 am.  We did our best to sweat through a couple hours of sleep.  I tried for more, but Myron got up and did some trouble-shooting on the old refrigerator.  He found a leak and recharged the unit.  Maybe that will solve it for now.  Last night the temperature finally cooled off and we were able to sleep well.

We had a number of challenges to address today.  One was getting the rental car.  Hertz has free pick up at this location, but they could not call our broken phone to tell us they had no drivers, that they would reimburse us for the cost of a cab, well a $15 Klubcar ride anyway.  While we waited an hour for the ride, the Blue Angels started their practice runs.  They have an air show here this weekend and Hold Fast is moored very close to the flight path.  It will be good fun to watch from our boat, except for one thing:  I must return the rental car on Saturday…at the airport…during an air show.  We will try to figure out some alternative to me getting stuck in air show traffic for an entire day. 

We are doing well on our list of tasks.  Today we provisioned, bought a new starter battery and, also very important, got a phone going.  Myron just installed the new starter battery and it cranks the Lehman over just fine.  It is nice to have that off the list and to give the house batteries a rest.  A few more tasks and we should be ready to head offshore.  We are watching for a weather window and will let you know when we slip the mooring.

I had add that we just saw Debbie and Richard on 'At Last' from OYCM, Jacksonville, come in to the marina.  You never know who you will see out here!

Love to all,

Posted via wifi.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ft Pierce

We are in at Ft Pierce temporarily anchored south of the bridge.

Posted via wifi.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Great Sale to Ft Pierce

Hello All we had a nice stay at Great Sale last night and good run today a little breeze out of the northeast. Should arrive at Ft Pierce around 5 am tomorrow. I will send another update around midnight.
Posted via Ham Radio.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Man-O-War Cay to Great Sale Cay

We have never had a disappointing stay at Man-O-War Cay. Great church, great friends, great mooring, great food, and there is always something to do when Jay needs help! Barb also shared more nuggets of sewing tips with me. About 15 more years of that and she should have me out of the amateur sewing class. We were also blessed with some time with Uncle Willard. He and Myron went conching last fall. It did not work out for Myron to go conching last week with Uncle Willard, but he brought us conch salad anyway! All the benefits without the work. It is who you know, and we know some pretty good people.

With the extra time in MOW, we worked on projects slated for our time in Vero Beach, at least the ones we could do with current supplies on board. We were still working on projects at 10 pm Saturday night, when we stopped for dinner (conch salad of course!). A short night sleep, church, a combined birthday party for Jay, Thomas and Sue on Sunday, and back to the boat to wrap-up projects. At 10:30 pm when we thought we had it all buttoned up and could sneak in some shut-eye, I recognized the signs of our old refrigerator going out again. It went out on us when we crossed the Exuma Sound to Eleuthera Island. Myron recharged it and we thought it would be good for another two years. More like three weeks. This is the type of problem that needs to be analyzed before anyone is going to get any sleep. We finally worked our way through about three different options and felt like we had several viable game plans. So it was to bed about midnight, robbed of sleep another night. Not the way we wanted to start off a long trip. We were up and going before 5:30 am today and out the cut about two minutes after 6 am, trying to beat the falling tide.

Thankfully, today's winds were better for sailing than forecast and we enjoyed close reaching in winds from 10 to 15. All sails were out in full. Sailing on the banks is just yippie kind of fun! Once the winds got down to 10 and under, we had to turn on the engine. It was easy moving regardless and nice to drop anchor just after 5:30 pm. We had plenty of company in route today. There are eleven other boats at Great Sale Cay. Several boats continued on and did not stop at the anchorage. As you could imagine, we are both glad to stop. We will take a long rest tonight and leave about 10 or 11 am Tuesday, which should put us at the Fort Pierce entrance at around 7 am on Wednesday.

Those are the plans. God's may be different. Myron said he will post a position report in route if he can get HAM service going.

Must go, my turn for the shower. Then something to eat, maybe an NCIS show and then rest…rest…zzzz!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

(no subject)

Hello all we are underway to Great Sail then on to Ft Pierce tomorrow.

Posted via 3G.