Off To Warmer Climates

It has been a long time since we posted and a lot has happened. We came back to the boat and rented a car for Thanksgiving so we could be with our family in Virginia, but due to a snafu we lost the car and we were stuck without any way to travel. So we made the best of it, went to the store and got a turkey breast and Melanie made stuffing and all the fixings; homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling without the crust and we grilled the turkey breast on the grill. It was a chilly day, but we stayed warm and dry. We had a great meal but really missed being with family.

We left Norfolk the next morning around 11 after picking up some ice. The wind was very light so we motored all day. We passed through the Norfolk Naval base and saw numerous ships; aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, the display of power was very impressive. As we approached the southern end of the bay we started to see a lot of trawlers and sailboats converging on the river, all heading down to the Waterway. We motored until about 4:30 and then dropped anchor right on the intracoastal waterway (ICW) about 2 miles from the lock that takes you into the Chesapeake Canal. While searching for an anchorage we managed to run aground, but we got out of that quickly by doing a 180 and heading back where we came from.

It was very calm at the Anchorage, but quite cold. The temperature got down into the upper 20s. We all slept in the salon with hot packs in our socks. Between the three of us, Melanie, the dog and me, we were able to stay warm through the night.

In the morning we woke at 7, hauled anchor to a beautiful sunrise and headed off to the first lock. We went through the lock with five or six power boats and then motored down the Chesapeake Albemarle canal towards the Pocaty River. Although it was chilly, with the sun, dark clothing and little wind to speak of, we warmed up nicely through the day. We continued down the ICW and it eventually widened, allowing us to motor with both jibs up. We passed through Coinjock and anchored just south of there in the North River. It was very very calm. We saw one other sailboat who had run aground, and while trying to help them we ran aground as well. They did have a swing keel, so they lifted up their keel, took their sails down and anchored for the night where they were stuck until the tide came in.

Sunday morning we awoke to a glorious cloudless sky, ate breakfast, hauled anchor and were on our way. We motor sailed for a few hours, then decided to go to Manteo. We changed course and headed over towards the channel into Manteo where it got quite shadow, only six feet and in one case we even ran aground in the middle of the channel! We were thinking that we would have to avoid going there and head back, but we were able to make it in and dock safely at a free dock for the night.

We went to the Manteo Christmas shop and then went to Stripers for dinner where we had a good plate of mussels along with a fish taco dinner, a big salad and a pretty decent bottle of wine, not too expensive. Then we headed back to the boat and watched TV and went to bed. We went to Piggly Wiggly’s on the way home for some groceries and met a wonderful lady named Ann. We talked to her for quite a while before heading back. She came over to the boat the next morning and we gave her a bottle of Walleye White as she is a white wine lover.

We headed south from Manteo under the bridge to Nags Head and just beyond there ran aground AGAIN! We were in the channel so it took us by surprise, but we were able to do a 180 and motor off, third time since we left Norfolk. Thank goodness for sandy bottoms! The wind did not cooperate for most of the day, so we motor sailed the whole time and ended the day by anchoring in open water just south of Engelhard. It was very very calm and not as cold, but around 4 a.m. the wind picked up and it started to get a little unruly.

We hauled anchor at 7 and took off again, and by 9am we were motoring again due to a complete lack of wind. We crossed Pamlico sound and headed towards the canal for Beaufort. We saw lots of birds, and a dolphin swam alongside the boat for a while which was very exciting. Later in the afternoon we saw what appeared to be the Marines doing military live-fire exercises with helicopters. We could hear the 50 cal machine guns rattling off from quite a distance, probably five or six miles.

Once out of Pamlico Sound, we found the ICW again and ahead of us there was a line of boats all going in the same direction – South. We motored until about 4:30, and dropped anchor about a mile inside of Adams Creek which is the entrance to the canal down to Beaufort. We ate dinner and then went to bed.


Adams Creek

Next morning we woke up very early around 6:15, and headed out towards Beaufort. Our goal was to fuel up and do a load of laundry. It was an uneventful trip down the canal with beautiful scenery and huge homes. On the way we encountered a pod of dolphins and they swam with us for a little while. There are a lot of tannins in the water, so the water is very murky and you can’t see anything under the surface. We managed to get a few pictures of the dolphins as they surfaced but it was very very difficult because you had no idea where they were going to come up.

We pulled into a marina in Moorehead City, fueled up, then did a load of laundry and departed. We motored out of Beaufort Inlet and headed towards Wrightsville Beach. Just South of Beaufort our trip meter clicked over to 3000! There was a light wind and very calm seas with gently undulating swells about 2 to 3 ft. We saw lots of bird life, and the Coast Guard announced on the radio that there were whales off Wrightsville Beach. We saw a beautiful gorgeous sunset with a purple band. The sunset lasted forever, and the sky and the water were painted with oranges and reds for a good hour or so. The wind died down near sunset until the water was almost glassy. Melanie made us a wonderful dinner of sauerkraut, collard greens and pork chops. We ate just as the sun set and enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

We motored through the night on mirror like seas with gentle swells until we reached Wrightsville Beach around 1 am in the morning and then slept after anchoring behind the beach in a narrow channel. Next morning we headed out and motored up and down the beach so that Melanie could take a look at it; she has fond memories of visiting friends there with her children. Then we headed south towards Frying Pan Shoals off of Cape Fear. It was very very calm, no wind to speak of. We put up the main and the staysail to help us try and catch any wind that might be there to help us along our way, but they were of little help.

The wind pretty much stayed away. It was quite calm all night and when it did pick up it picked up from the wrong direction. We saw two or three pods of dolphins, and later in the afternoon a single dolphin left one of the pods we saw and came over to the boats and surfed the bow wave for a few minutes. It was quite spectacular to see another animal enjoying itself. The night was calm and slowly became overcast. Around 4 a.m. the clouds moved out to the East and the skies cleared and we saw a spectacular sunrise. When the sun came up we were about 25 miles from Charleston. The water was completely calm they were almost no swells. No ripples on the water, dead calm, so we continued motoring until we got to Charleston.

We anchored there off of Patriots Point. There is a battleship and an aircraft carrier museum just north of the marina we anchored near, we will have to give it a visit on the way back. The anchorage was well-protected, but close to the channel so it was a little rolly until dark. We slept very well, the temperature only went down to about 60, but we woke next morning to fog, ate breakfast hoisted the sails and motored out of the harbor. The tide was going out so our speed was 7 to 8 knots. Once outside the harbor we set a course for St Augustine’s and put the Spinnaker up.

We were able to turn the motor off for a change and average around 5 to 5.2 knots. We were very happy to have a nice quiet sailing ride for a change. We have motored all the way from Norfolk. Skies were partly cloudy and temperatures were in the low 60s climbing into the low 70s. It still felt a little chilly on the water but very comfortable. Looks like our winter travels might be finally coming to an end.

Of course the wind gradually died and we eventually ended up running wing on wing with the spinnaker so that it would stay filled and not get collapsed by the main. We were making a good 4 and to 4.5 knots. The swells were much bigger than the one to two foot that they said in the weather forecast; we saw some swells 6 to 8 feet high! We flew the spinnaker until sunset and then doused it and put the 2 jibs up. During the day a catamaran gradually caught up with us and then slowed down to sail with us. The wind slowly died until we were forced around 7 p.m. to turn on the motor. We motored all night until 7 a.m., when the wind finally woke up again. So we put the spinnaker up again and were off between five and six knots.

Right at sunrise a pod of dolphins visited us. What a beautiful sight! It seems they like surfing the wake of the boat and are much more likely to do it when we are sailing and not motoring. They played in our bow wave for almost 40 minutes before disappearing into the ocean. The water now has changed from the browns of the ICW to deep blue and now is a turquoise color. It is also getting clearer, we can now see 15 to 20 feet under the surface!

The wind gradually increased until we were forced to take the spinnaker down. Its only good up to 10 knots and once the wind started hitting 14 to 15 I decided it was time to get it down. We struggled to get it down and then unrolled the Yankee. We were still able to maintain between 5 and 6 knots. We had a few visitors during the day, pods of dolphins would swim up and play in the bow wave before pushing on. It was cloudy with patches of sunshine sparkling on the water. Temperatures were quite nice and I think that we have a finally broken through to warmer weather and won’t have to worry about freezing anymore. Good thing because our little heater packs are all used up!

The wind gradually died during the afternoon, and we realized that we would not be able to make it to St Augustine’s before the tide turned. Outgoing tide against a North East Wind creates a very ugly breaking wave situation at the entrance. Looking at the charts we decided that Jacksonville would be the next best alternative. It was only 30 miles instead of 50 to get to Jacksonville, so we changed course and headed there. By 5:30 we were anchored and settled in for the night. We spent a day and two relaxing nights there. Sun was out pretty much all the time except for a little bit of morning fog and we had numerous visits from pods of dolphins.


Cruise ship coming into Jacksonville – actually its a “condo ship” – you buy your cabin and its yours forever.

Windsor has become very very interested and now knows the word dolphin. When you say the word he gets up and scans the water immediately looking for that tell tail fin. Tuesday morning we hauled up the anchor and motored over to a marina to refuel and re provision. Then we were off once again. We motor sailed for about 2 hours, and then turned the motor off and sailed. Our destination was Cape Canaveral. It was just over 120 miles and we figured it would take about a day and a half. Of course the wind was blowing exactly from where we wanted to go, so ended up beating, tacking back and forth to get us to the destination.

The motor was acting up again and it looked like we may have to replace the raw water pump. So while the wind was blowing we decided we would run it as little as possible and try to rely on the wind which will take us longer to get to our destination because we are zigzagging instead of sailing a straight line. The full moon rose around 8 p.m. and it was just beautiful in a cloudless sky with a myriad of stars. The shoreline was lined with lights and it was a beautiful sight with gentle winds and we made good progress towards our destination.

We sailed all night, and early in the morning the wind pooped again. So we went back to motor sailing. We did not make a lot of progress during the night because we were tacking. Our previous trips saw lots of bird and sea life; the trip to Cape Canaveral was almost devoid. We saw one turtle and a few birds and a single dolphin and that was all. It was quite a contrast.
We had three stoppages due to engine problems. After the third stoppage we realized that there was a water supply issue. I took the raw water system apart and found that the impeller was burned up. We had sucked in some seaweed which clogged the strainer and that cut off the water supply. The impeller lubricates with water so it burned out and that was our issue. After messing with it three times and losing about two hours or so trying to find the problem, I had issue fixed and we were on our way again.

This delayed us so that our arrival to Cape Canaveral wasn’t until almost 11 pm. We tied up and went to sleep. Next morning we moved our boat into its proper a slip and then spent a weekend with friends who visited from out of town. Saturday was cold and miserable so we went to the Kennedy Space Center. What an experience! Going through and seeing all the history and then seeing the physical accomplishments of this country was quite inspiring. Their next adventure is to Mars. We’ll see how that goes.

We left on Tuesday morning, the wind was very strong, almost 40 miles per hour. We decided that we would take the ICW and headed through the lock at Cape Canaveral and into the canal towards the waterway. We were stopped at a bridge which was closed between 3 and 6 p.m. and so we anchored and watched nature. We saw numerous different water bird species, some Dolphins which really interested Windsor, and just marveled at the nature around us. When looking at the weather forecast we realized that it had changed drastically and that Wednesday would be a better day for sailing offshore.

By the time Bridge opened it would be dark and we did not want motor on the ICW, so we headed back to the lock and anchored for the night. Next morning we passed through, fueled up and popped out and we were on our way. Winds were light at first but increased and switched to a favorable direction and soon we were doing 6 to 7 knots. After sunset both Melanie and I were treated to a glorious meteor shower.

Meteors fell from a cloudless sky on and off all night long. Some were just faint, others put on a huge show streaking across the sky before fading just before it looked as though they were going to hit land. Around 4 a.m. on my watch we were pulled over by the sheriff patrol boat! I guess its odd for boats to be out sailing in the middle of the night, and so all southbound boats were being pulled over and inspected by the local sheriff right around Port St Lucie. Quite understandable since this area is rife with drug running in all manner of boats. When the moon came up it was a quarter crescent waning, and right as it came above the Horizon it was an intense orange color, it looked quite spectacular on the water but In the beginning it took awhile for me to figure out what it was, it looked almost like two devil horns sticking out of the water at first.

The wind gradually pooped, so by 9 am we had to fire up the old motor again, and that is where our troubles began. The batteries were flat and the motor would not start. We fought for a good 20 minutes and when it did start, it ran for about 30 seconds and you could tell it was going to stop. White smoke poured out of the exhaust, it stopped, burped a half cup of oil into the bilge pan, gurgled and died. I suspected a blown head gasket. We called the towboat and they towed us into West Palm Beach to Riviera Beach Marina. It was sunny and 80 degrees and we were really stuck, but that story is for another time….

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