Monthly Archives: May 2015

I smell something electrical

5/29/15
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

It has been hot and humid most of the last week here, especially during the day. The sun is very hot. Consequently, we have been running our air conditioners full bore. If you recall from previous posts, we have 2, a larger one and a smaller one. They are set up to service different parts of the boat. We haven’t used the air conditioners very much since we were in heat mode last last fall. When in cooling mode, the moisture in the air condenses on the coils and drips into a collection pan. There is a hose connected to the pan that sucks the water out and pumps it overboard. As we are packing for the beach, we are pulling stuff out of the storage locker below the larger AC unit, and I notice that the hose is not connected to the collection pan….rut row! The storage locker ended up having about 1 1/2 gallons of water in the bottom along with all of the canned goods stored there. So…pull out the several dozen canned goods, wipe them off, wipe out the storage locker and put a fan to dry it out. Did I mention…these lockers are not easy to get to, and oh, we don’t have a lot of room to spread out dozens of canned goods inside the salon, and oh, we need to pack!

After dealing with that surprise (which I am glad we found before leaving the boat for a week), as we are packing, we smell something electrical burning…very much NOT COOL! So now, a mad dash examining everything in the boat…sniffing and searching…nothing. I finally narrowed it down to something in the back of the galley, but couldn’t determine the source. I asked my buddy Matt to see if he smelled it, and together we found the culprit…the shore power connection for the air conditioners. One of the wires (the black one) had melted, destroying the connector in the boat, and the shore power chord.

Matt dropped me off at the local marine store and thankfully they had a replacement part. It was even on sale! Matt loaned us a shore power chord so we could order one cheaper on the internet (thanks again Matt), and we were back in business. We couldn’t figure out what caused the problem to begin with, and everything ran fine until we were ready to head to the beach, so we dodged a bullet (and a potential fire while we were gone). Several people told us they had similar thing happen and it was a single event, so fingers crossed!!! In spite of the fire drills (no pun intended), we are ready to meet the kids at the beach!

Week 1 in Southport

5/29/15
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

We have settled in to Southport. It is really a quaint seaport town. We have been taking daily walks along the waterfront which borders the ICW and the Cape Fear River. Pictures to come in a future post as I haven’t been taking my camera with me. It has been nice to stop moving every day and spend some time in a place that we have wanted to get to know much better. Memorial Day weekend was crazy…the town was packed with tourists, and the marina got really crowded with boat owners coming to enjoy their boats for the weekend. The marina party was fun and the 2 guys playing guitar were very good! The D-dock potluck was the best part of the weekend. We cooked out, pigged out, drank like the sailors we are, and enjoyed hanging with the residents of D-dock…some great people, and loads of fun.

We also started to get the boat in order and work on maintenance projects, something that is always behind schedule. We are also getting ready to go to the beach next week to meet our eldest daughter, our son-in-law, and 4 of our grandkids! Can’t wait.

The work begins

5/21/15
Southport NC
Posted by Bill

Today we slept in a little longer than we have been…no butt crack of dawn…yay. We had a conference call with our financial adviser, someone we have neglected in our travel mode. Then we walked to town with Kurt and Sharon from Byrd Ketcher to get some lunch. After lunch we started working on getting the boat back in decent shape. When in travel mode, normal cleaning and keeping the boat ship shape is put on the back burner. Tricia worked on the inside and I worked on the outside. It took the entire afternoon to get everything that was on deck and in the cockpit, either put away, or temporarily stowed on the dock so that I could wash the boat; and then washing the boat. It really needed it. We have a very long list of projects that need to be done on the boat, and we will focus on getting that done.

This weekend, Memorial Day weekend, is a big one here in Southport. The town is filled with people and there will be lot’s of festivities. The marina has a big party on Saturday, providing food and allowing you to either bring drinks, or buy them at the tiki bar. Then there is live music…some guy that played with Bozz Skaggs. There are over 200 people coming to that party. Then on Sunday is a big pot luck. Should be fun. From what we hear, it is a weekend to walk or ride a bike, but not try to drive anywhere. Tomorrow we’ll get groceries and liquor early, and then just hunker down. I’ll keep blogging as long as there is something interesting going on.

We made it to Southport

5/20/15
Southport NC, ICW
Position 33 55.092N, 078 01.734W
Posted by Bill

We left Georgetown (position 33 21.964N, 079 17.428W) yesterday at 7:10 in the morning. We motored until we arrived at Barefoot Landing Marina in North Myrtle Beach at 2:55 PM (position 33 48.078N, 078 44.727W). We walked around Barefoot Landing and hit happy hour at the Flying Fish. Good food and drinks. Afterwards we hung around the boats and drank and socialized. It was fun, especially after such a long couple of days. The trip up was more picturesque than the trip south in the fall as the trees had leaves and there was more activity with the birds. We saw many Osprey in their nests like this one:

This morning we left just before 7 AM and made it to Southport, pulling into the dock just before 3 PM. It was great to reach our destination when we had planned to. The weather the last few days has been very nice, not too hot, and winds were not too bad. We pulled in the dock, turned on the air conditioners, plugged in the cable TV and popped a few hard ciders. Matt and Shirley on Sofia Jeanne reside here and had cars, so all 6 of us jumped in and went to a Mexican restaurant, having a great meal. The next couple of days we will get the boat cleaned up and just chill for the Memorial Day weekend. Southport is going to be crazy for the holiday and the marina is booked full. We are glad we got here early to make sure we got our dock. Next week we will start on some boat projects that we put off while we were traveling and get ready to meet the kids and grand kids for a week at Kure Beach. Really excited about that!!!

Our general plans for the summer are something like this…Southport for June and July (they have one of the best 4th of July celebrations in the country), maybe back to our Lake Erie house and Ohio for August, Southport until mid-October, and then head south again. We also plan to do some 3 or 4 day trips to Wilmington, Carolina Beach, and Myrtle Beach while we are here. We will keep you posted…of course!

Here are some pics of the trip here:
Shallotte Inlet:

Pelicans wallowing on the shores of Lockwoods Folley Inlet:

A pirate ship:

A shrimp boat that has seen better days:

Lockwoods Folley Inlet:

Caswell Beach and light house across from Southport:

Chastown…one of our favorites in the USA

5/18/15
Charleston SC, Charleston Maritime Center
Position:32 47.344N, 79 55.459W
Posted by Bill

2 days ago we had a short day and moved to the Charleston Maritime Center in downtown Charleston.

Photo courtesy of Kurt Byrd.

We stayed here last fall and really liked it. The location is superb. Close to a grocery, liquor store, hardware store, and all the restaurants and bars that are popular in downtown. Over the last 2 days we hit many of our favorites including, Pearlz, Henry’s rooftop bar, The Gin Joint, and many other places we checked out for the first time. We tried to hook up with our friends that live on Isle of Palms, but we didn’t have the liberty of time on our side and Terry had a bad back injury, so we missed them….booooo. We hit the grocery and had a great time with our buddy boats downtown.

Today we left at 7 AM and caught the first bridge opening at Sullivan’s Island at 9. It also aligned with high tide, which was necessary because of the shoaling in the Isle of Palms Channel. (This trip planning is a big puzzle that needs to be worked out every day!) We did good until we hit Mc Clellanville where the shoaling was really bad. As we approached the worst area we saw a sailboat aground:

As we got closer, a power boat came up and said there was only 2 feet of water across the entire river where the sailboat was. We were skeptical and pushed on, and we found 5 feet of water to make our way through. There was still another foot and 1/4 of tide to go down. This part of the ICW is a mess!!! Another near miss with the shoals of the ICW.

Along the way we saw a dead deer floating in the water being feasted upon by a buzzard:

Somehow I just had to post it! lol.

After 12 1/2 hours of motoring, we made it to Georgetown SC to anchor for the night. Once again I am exhausted. I told Tricia that I have mixed feelings…it will be good to get to Southport in a few days and spend some time in one place…resting up…but I am afraid I will get bored being in one place for too long. We shall see. The beauty of our lifestyle is that we can pick up and move in a days notice!

Long day fighting the tides

5/15/15
Charleston SC, ICW
Position:32 45.238N, 080 00.670W
Posted by Bill

We left at 6 AM this morning so that we could get through the Ladies Island Swing Bridge before 6:30. The bridge is closed on weekdays from 6:30 to 9 to accommodate rush hour traffic, and if we waited until after the restricted hours we would 1) not make our destination by dark, and 2) not be able to time the tides to get through the 6 major shoal areas we have to deal with. So, up before the sun and through the bridge we went. We were treated to a nice sunrise:

It was a long day of winding rivers and strong currents that pushed and pulled the boat all over the place, so you had to pay attention or you got in trouble. We had good water depth from the tide until we hit the last shoal area, the Dawho River. Of the 3 boats, we have the deepest draft of 5.5 feet. At the Dawho River a catamaran sail boat that draws 3.75 feet ran aground in front of us. We were in the lead and after asking if they needed assistance, they told us to stay closer to the red buoys than the green to get deeper water. We did and ended up dragging through the mud for about 50 yards, but all 3 of us made it out of the shoal area. We were at dead low tide and most of the 40 minutes of traversing the area we had less than a foot of water beneath us. A couple of boats passed us going south and we heard them on the marine radio saying they had also gone aground.

There are lots of homes with long docks along these rivers, but I think these were the longest I have seen:

I can’t imagine paying for this to be built and for it to be maintained.

We didn’t have enough daylight to get into Charleston, so we took a slip at St Johns Yacht Harbor west of Charleston. As we were getting close to Charleston, we heard about a sailboat that caught on fire, anchored across from the city marina. We listened to the drama unfold on the marine radio as it exploded and sunk. Thankfully no one was on board, and no one was hurt.

It was a long day…several long days this last week, and I am exhausted. Tomorrow we will go into Charleston for a few days and then make the final push to Southport NC, where we plan to dock for the summer months. Southport has long been one of our target areas to some day live, and we want to experience living there for a few months to get a feel for it. This is a good way to do that. We need to get into Southport before Memorial Day weekend to make sure we get our slip there, and we are also meeting kids and grand kids for a week at the beach there, so we will continue the long days to make our schedule.

Stono River anchorage just outside our marina:

And today’s Ass Captain award goes to ….

5/14/15
Beaufort SC, ICW
Position: 32 25.775N, 080 40.595W
Posted by Bill

Yesterday we started at the butt crack of dawn yet again. We pushed off the dock at 6:30 in the morning, pushing to make a 7:00 bridge opening around 3 miles away. We had to make it to our last shoal area for the day, Fields Cut, by at least mid-tide, and if we missed the bridge opening at 7 we would be waiting for high tide again late in the day, and it would put us a day behind.

We made it to the bridge with minutes to spare, and then made Fields Cut with plenty of water beneath the keel…thank goodness. We got the latest local knowledge from Boat US about transiting Fields Cut, and they told us to ignore the nautical charts (maps) and navigate the visual center of the channel, then hug the last buoy. I was in the lead as the other 2 boats we are traveling with, Byrd Ketcher and Sofia Jeanne, followed. I was so intent on following the visual center, as well as making notes about the depth so I could report the conditions for others benefit, that when I came to the last red buoy I went left of it. Since we are traveling north, red buoys are supposed to be left to port (pass them on the right). Matt on Sofia Jeanne calls me on the radio as I approached the buoy and says “Hey Bill, isn’t that a red buoy you are coming close to?” I say “Yes, I think it is the one we need to pass close to.” He says “Aren’t you supposed to be to the right of it?” As I pass the buoy on the wrong side I say “Why yes, I should be!” I held my breath as I watched the depth sounder drop to 1 foot below our keel! Thank goodness we made good time and had some tide under us!!! Even licensed captains can make stupid mistakes, and that one could have cost us precious time while we waited for the tide to rise or a tow boat to pull us off. Ass Captain of the day! See…I told you I would be the recipient of most of those…lol.

We cruised past Dufauski Island and into Calibouge Sound next to Hilton Head Island. It is a pretty part of the trip. Since we had the space of the sound to traverse, I re-calibrated the auto pilot and it seems to be working again…check…another one off the list (fingers crossed).

Hope Town light house at Hilton Head:

We took a mooring ball at the downtown Beaufort docks and did some bar hopping along the waterfront. Last year we docked at Port Royal Landing which was several miles from downtown Beaufort, so we didn’t spend a whole lot of time downtown. This time we are checking it all out from the downtown area. Today we had a great breakfast at Blackstone’s, hit some more waterfront bars, and then had happy hour at Emily’s. Emily’s was really good and a good value. Check it out if you come here.

The winds kicked up in the afternoon and kicked our ass in the mooring field. Despite that it was a good day.

Pics of Beaufort from the mooring:


Georgia…the horse fly state

5/12/15
Thunderbolt GA, ICW
Position: 32 01.501N, 081 02.823W
Posted by Bill

Yesterday we left Fernandina Beach at the butt crack of dawn (again…sigh) and motored to the Duplin River in Georgia, position: 31 25.278N, 081 17.775W. If you read the blog last fall when we came through Georgia, you remember that the ICW funding was cut in South Carolina and Georgia and there are many parts of the waterway that are shoaled over and too shallow for us to transit at low tide. There are 4 primary areas that need to be traversed at mid-tide or higher. Yesterday we pulled a 69 statute mile day and went through 2 of them, Jekyll Creek and Little Mud River. The tides worked well for us, but the winds kicked our ass in the afternoon, especially transiting the open sounds that lead to the ocean. We saw winds to 30 knots.

Today made it through Hell Gate, another problem shoal area, and we did another grueling 66 statute mile trip to Thunderbolt, Georgia, taking a dock at Thunderbolt Marine. As soon as we left Florida we started to get swarmed by horse flies, and we killed hundreds of them in the course of 2 days. I have a sore arm from swatting (no joke) and had to take an Alieve to cut the pain. Tricia joined in on the kill the second day and she is much better than I am. Of course. We renamed Georgia as The Horsefly State. We expected it to take several more days to get through Georgia, but with any luck we will be in South Carolina tomorrow…a couple of days ahead of schedule. That is good because we need to be back in Southport NC by the 3rd week in May so that we can meet some of the kids and grand kids for a week at the beach. No way we can miss that!

Here are some pictures of what it is like transiting the Georgia ICW:



Last stop in Florida

5/10/15
Fernandina Beach FL, ICW
Position: 30 40.343N, 081 28.132W
Posted by Bill

Yesterday we got up at the butt crack of dawn again and left St Augustine. We had a good 3 days there waiting out weather and working on boat problems. It was nice to be tied up to a dock with shore power for a few days, especially because I found the problem with the larger air conditioner…yay!!! It was pretty muggy while we were there and with the air on we were able to close the boat up to the bugs, which are getting really bad. The culprit on the air conditioner turned out to be a wire connection that had melted (I think when we were running the heat non-stop in Beaufort last November for the cold spell) and corroded:

It was not easy to see, but after a call to Mermaid Air (the maker of the air conditioner), they led me to more intensive poking around, which resulted in finding the fault. I spliced in new connections and viola…both air conditioners now work!

While in St Augustine we hit some good happy hours at Pizzally (the best in the city), had dinner at a few places, visited the winery and distillery for tours and free drinks, got some groceries and some spare parts for the boat. It was a good time as always, and nobody got hurt…yay again.

Leaving at the butt crack of dawn we made our way past downtown St Augustine. Pics:
Butt crack of dawn:

Flamingos (say it Maddox):

A pirate ship:

Downtown:


It was a long day of driving the ICW…just under 65 statute miles, and a good 11 hour day. Along the way we saw some dolphins:


We have been seeing them every day. It is funny because we never saw a dolphin in the Bahamas, and on the way south last fall, we saw them frequently, but not as many as we see now. We also saw a turtle swim by the boat as we were moored in Fernandina:

This may be the first turtle we saw in the ICW, but we saw tons of them in the Bahamas.

We didn’t sleep well in Fernandina. When the tide changed, the boat shifted and the mooring ball was pinned to the boat by the wind, and banged half the night against the hull. At the same time, the smoke from the neighboring factories was blowing into the boat with the stench of fresh dog shit all night. Not good folks!!! We did get to go to some of our favorite establishments there, including Tastys…great burger and fries, and The Salty Pelican…shrimp, tuna and fried cheese curds. It is hard to believe that this is our last night in Florida until the return next fall.

St Augustine…watching the weather

5/6/15
St Augustine FL, ICW
Position: 29 53.136N, 081 19.345W
Posted by Bill


(Map courtesy of The Weather Channel)

You may have heard that there is a tropical system brewing in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. It has been bringing stronger winds and some rain showers, but not much rain. Yesterday we pulled in to River’s Edge Marina in St Augustine and took a slip to wait out the high winds that are forecasted for a few days. Some models have been showing winds over 30 knots and others have just been showing mid teens to mid twenties. It is now mid afternoon and we are seing 15-20 knots. Most of the activity from the system is off shore and it looks like it will be headed for the Carolinas this weekend before moving ashore. We don’t want to get ahead of it, and will stay here in St Augustine in our protected river anchorage for a few more days until we see where it is heading. We have some friends that are still in the Bahamas waiting for a weather window to cross over, and we are glad we crossed when we did. It was looking like we would be stuck in the Bahamas for up to 2 weeks if we didn’t cross, and I think we were pretty close in that prediction.

This marina is in a good spot in St Augustine. There is a West Marine, Publix, ABC Liquor Store, Sailors consignment shop, and auto parts store all within a 15 minute walk. Downtown is also about a 20 minute walk. To get here, we needed to time the tide to have enough water depth to get out of Marineland and then arrive at the marina during slack high tide to avoid the strong current while docking. We got out of Marineland without a hitch, and made it to the marina just before high tide. The current was only about 1/2 knot at the slip which was good because the slips are very narrow. It was tricky getting the boat in there, but we made it with the help of our friends and the marina staff. We did a mini pub crawl downtown, hitting Mi Casa with a great solo guitar player, Pizza Alley for great pizza and 2 for 1 happy hour, and Hurricane Patty’s at our marina. Today we went to the sailors consignment shop and the ABC Liquor store and started working on boat maintenance.

We have been having some weird intermittent problems over the last week. One day the AIS system is working, and the next day it isn’t. Same with the radar. The auto pilot stopped holding a course and is showing the boat going different directions than it is. In addition, the larger air conditioning unit is not working, and the rivets on several of the cabin hatches have failed (leaving us to prop open the hatches with sticks or bungee chords). Such is life on a boat. Today we are trouble shooting some of these problems and defrosting the freezer.

If the weather doesn’t change for the worse, we’ll make a 2 day run to Fernandina Beach, stay there a couple of days and then day hop across Georgia to Charleston, SC.