Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly... and the good.

Starting with the good: we got our new mainsail! (I couldn't get it in one shot... so you'll have to pretend it's one big sail and not two chopped in half pieces.)

Skip contacted a yacht broker in Oriental who was more than happy to help us out and have our sail drop shipped to his office. We left the mosquito infested anchorage and took the inland waterway to Oriental – passing Isabella on the way. Admiral Cunningham must have been down below curled up and warm and dry, unlike the rest of the crew who were cold and wet on deck.

 We arrived in Oriental Monday night, dropped the anchor and took the dinghy ashore to meet up with our new friend Dave, the broker. He and his wife had done some similar sailing years ago and he shared stories about their travels. He couldn’t have been nicer – offering us rides around town, information and even getting us in to a private marina to do laundry. We were pretty grimy and it’s not out of the question that he may have been hinting that we really ought to do some laundry. Just so happens that there’s a web cam perched on the roof of the marina – here’s a screen shot of us in the dinghy riding back to Saralane with clean clothes. Not only did we have clean clothes in the dinghy, we had a big old sack of oysters!

Saralane at anchor in Oriental

There was a shack across from the club where local fishing boats brought in shrimp and oysters every day. I must confess that we had oysters for dinner for three nights in a row. We intended to just have a few oysters and then have actual food for dinner, but that didn’t happen. We filled up on oysters and only had a little room left for cookies for dessert. It was only on Thanksgiving that we were forced to give up our oysters-for-dinner routine.

We met up with George and Christina aboard Sophie on Wednesday night in the South River where we were the only two boats in sight. 

Saralane in the South River

Thursday was all about cooking for Thanksgiving… the four of us split up the cooking and managed to turn out a pretty tasty dinner! ((We had to bring some oysters…) Our little boat oven is a little temperamental but has turned out some cookies, breads, and even a decent apple cranberry pie. Both Sophie and Saralane left the South River on Friday for Morehead City North Carolina.

Sophie setting sail

Sophie, tiny in the middle, with weather on the way

We passed the ‘kids’ who were headed across the way to Beaufort and found out later they'd been trying to contact us on the radio which we had switched off. We'll have to keep it on from now on. We had one final bridge to go under on the way into the harbor when a call came over the radio for us to please ‘stand down’ to let a 175’ vessel under tow make it’s way under the bridge. There was a big tug pushing from behind and a few little boats with flashing lights in front. And… see anything else in the photo? Anyone? Anyone…? A porpoise! Our first porpoise sighting - very cool. 

The big tug from Wilmington
 George and Christina and one of their two other crew, Francis, waited outside the bridge along with us.

If you're not reading your charts... this is your last chance to know the height of the bridge you're about to go under. By the time you get here it's probably too late. (Saralane needs 57 feet of clearance.)

After we came through the bridge we saw a few fishermen in a tug of war with a pelican over a fish they'd caught that the pelican was intent on eating. It looked like a standoff but we didn't wait around to see the outcome.

Here's one more big crane photo for my sister Leslie who gets a kick out of these... this was as we came around the corner into Morehead City.

For $10 a night, we tied up at the dock at the Sanitary Seafood Restaurant (is there an Unsanitary Seafood Restaurant?) and walked around checking out all the major league sport fishing vessels docked there. I didn’t have my camera with me unfortunately but these boats look like they’re just looking for a fight… big, mean, and fast. Skip did boat chores and I walked the two miles to the grocery store for a few things. The walk there was easier than the walk back and I found myself muttering at the happy people zipping by on bicycles. Note to self: do NOT buy five pound bags of flour if they’re going into the backpack for the hike back to the boat. Did I not realize this in the store?  

There was only room for three boats at the Sanitary Seafood dock (that name just cracks me up) so we invited a boat looking for dock space to raft with us. More kids! Swedes Martin and Johanna, along with George and Christina joined us for pizza on Saralane on Friday night and everyone made plans to leave early for the trip outside to Charleston the next day. We talked about the people we’d seen along the way, and Johanna mentioned a boat along the way whose crew they call ‘the kids’ Turns out it was the same ‘kids’ that Skip and I call ‘the kids’. Now we call Martin and Johanna the ‘Swedish kids’ and we’re just hoping that all these damn kids don’t call us the old fogies.

Here's a photo by guest photographer George....  The Swedish kids on the left, then me, Christina and Skip around the table in Saralane's salon. 

The bad: our autopilot still isn’t working properly. It works fine in easy conditions, when we don’t need it and not in nasty throw-up-over-the-side-shoot-me-if-this-doesn’t-end-soon weather when we do need it. (See: the ugly) A call to autopilot wizard Oliver is back on the to do list.

The ugly: the passage from Morehead City to Charleston, South Carolina. This trip made the Long Island Sound and the Jersey shore look comfy. It was rough, rough, rough. It wasn’t supposed to be as rough as it was – wind was from behind at 20 to 25 knots but the seas were short and the waves were close together which all made for a vicious side to side swing and front to back chop that added up to no good. We were sailing wing and wing with the genoa poled out opposite the main and had anticipated a comfortable passage. Skip clipped in and went up to the foredeck twice so we could jibe the boat in the middle of the night. Until then I felt confident that I could maneuver the boat to pick him up if he went over (not a likely event) but in the dead of night with the boat rocking wildly I wasn’t as sure. Even Skip said in his understated way “It was a violent motion”. I’ll second that. It was 33 nauseating hours of sailing that I hope not to repeat. On the upside, our sails came through intact!

The good: we’re in Charleston and we love it here! Dolphins swam around us in the channel and into Charleston Harbor making the rough trip fade away a little. We're tying up by Sophie for a few days and are looking forward to spending time enjoying Charleston. 

One note: I know people are having trouble putting up comments so I changed a setting for the format for comments - try again and let me know if they still don't post. Seems that signing up as a follower is problematic for some too and what I've read is that some browsers work better than others for this. I'm no computer guru, but hopefully the comments will be easier to work with now.


Cindy Barnard said...

Woo-hoo! You made it just under the gun. At lunch today w/ Mom and Dad I said I didn't care what was going on with you and it was time for a new post! was time for some info. Mom was very sympathetic about you two being busy and having to focus on your boat and all of those trying, difficult things. What???????????? No sympathy here in Melvin Village. Great post today. Just in time, before I emailed you a scathing note DEMANDING communication. No pressure or anything. Whew. I was feeling withdrawal. Charleston sounds great. Have another oyster or 12 for me. xxoo

Leslie said...

Sorry to hear the passage to Charleston was so difficult. Sounds like it was worth it though.

This may be obvious, but what does it mean that another boat rafted with you when there was no dock space? Does it mean they tied up to saralane?

Thanks for the photo of the crane. Tugs are cool too. Let me know when you'll be at Aunt B's. Now that I have time on my hands, maybe I'll take a trip.

Any webcams at the dock in Charleston?


Madeline said...

HI Les - Yes... rafting up is tying up to another boat. Sorry I got the MEGADOCK webcam to you too late to spy on us!!