Go-fasts, whomper-wakes, and idiots.

We have taken a slip at Adventure Yacht Marina, in South Daytona Beach, Fl. The great offload will begin in a few days. We have sorted, made both the easy and hard decisions of what to take home and what to keep for the Bahamas. Boxes and bags are stacked higher than Everest in the salon, and now that we are just waiting for our ride, I have a moment to reflect on our last day on the ICW.
We were seeing a lot more boat traffic since reaching the Sunshine State, more cruisers and more local traffic as folks take advantage of the mild days here.
We were coming towards what for us was a memorable opening bridge: the Crescent Beach Bridge. It was here where we met our nemesis, the STORM, last trip north in little Journey. Al took the camera and headed to the foredeck to take pictures of the marker where we put the boat aground, to keep from crashing into the bridge and of course of the bridge itself.
Suddenly, we were assaulted by a go-fast boat. Go-fast boats are not the little fishing skiffs that speed along past us. They don't bother us, as their wakes are inconsequential. These are full size cruiser or cuddy cabin boats that rock us side to side if they don't slow when they pass. And a lot of them don't. They are so fast thet they usually are passing by the time one even knows they are coming. And one passed us, rocking us and making it difficult to keep the boat in the channel with the current I was bucking.
Fortunately, Al was holding on to the furled Genoa, so I didn't have to go back and fish him out of the drink.
He took this picture right after the go-fast passed, as you can see, the guy is already in the next county.
Go-fast boats must not be confused with the Whomper-wake boats. These boats are anomalies in the boat design world. For whatever reason, whomper-wake boats throw a enormous wake whether they are going fast or slow. These poor boat owners are doomed to throwing sailboats side-to-side even when they give a slow courteous pass. You cannot escape the wake from a Whomper-waker. 
I got on the radio to call the bridge tender, and it turned out that he was the same tender that had been so nice and concerned for us after the STORM. We were able to chat a bit about that fateful day and its outcome.
He told me to maintain my current speed so I could pass under the bridge as he opened it and have minimal distruption to the car traffic. I held my speed and was still bucking a real strong current.
When you go under a bridge, you have to stay inside the part that opens, and there are wooden bumpers that form a sort of fencing all along both sides of the channel. These funnel a strong current into the small area and make steering quite difficult to hold a true course at times. I have seen many a photo taken of sailboats that, because of their slower speed and lack of fine maneuverability, have slipped sideways and taken out masts and other vital parts of their boats because of current behavior. Running under a bridge in heavy current or cross-current is a two-hand job and it helps to hold your mouth right also.
Just as I neared the fencing at the approach, two idiots in a 14-16 foot aluminum boat, came towards the opening from behind the fencing to the left. They started to row across the opening. WTF??? A man and woman without so much as a brain between the two of them, was actually going to play "beat the train" with my boat! The bridge had been opened, they knew this because of the loud horn that the bridge tender sounds to warn car and boat traffic to that event. They knew I was barreling towards them at top speed, because I could see the fear in the whites of their eyes. Yet they calmly kept coming. And I could not abort at this point and slowing could have resulted in a loss of control and a real possibility of a contact with the bridge.
I told Al, who was back in the cockpit by then, that this had to be the stupidest stunt I have ever seen on the water, and that they better get a move on, because I was committed to the opening and they had cut in front of me in an area where I had restricted maneuverability. Granted, the comments were a little more raw than that, but for an agonizing few minutes, I think they must have thought of what it might be like to die.
I told Al I just wish I wasn't the one at the helm, because I had to pass under the bridge and give that all my attention, when all I really wanted to do was lean out of the cockpit and ream them a new one with my comments. (comments, in this instance, is a mild version of what actually would have come out of my mouth.)
I just wish we had pictures of this monument to utter stupidity as I can rest assured that I will live a long time before anyone tops their move.

Casting Bubba's



Now we've seen some weird stuff over the years on the water. Heck, we've even done some weird stuff. But this was leading the pack so far for this trip south. There we were, in south Georgia, in the middle of NOWHERE, nothing around for miles and miles. I kept seeing this bunch of dots off on the distance. First I thought they might be stumps, but as we got closer, it became obvious that it was a rather large gathering of Bubba's.
They were generally two to a boat, and not anchored, just bobbing around. Every now and again two boats would bump, and one arm would reach out and push off. No engines could be heard, I was getting a mite nervous as we approached. There were a lot of them, they were right in our path, what were they doing there?
I had been using the binocs to get a better glimpse of the non-action ahead. I could see no fishing rods being used. But then I didn't see any rifles or shotguns either, so that was a good sign. Every now and again, it looked like one would stand up for a minute. Were they watching us as we approached? The Dueling Banjo's theme thrummed in my head.
Finally we got close enough to start threading our way through them. And saw what the Bubba's were up to. Cast-netting! Each Bubba had a cast net between his legs. In turn, one would stand and cast, retrieve, and sit. Then the other boat occupant would stand and take his turn. I'll bet there was over 600 years of cast-netting skill and knowledge in that grouping, and I was sorry that I didn't have the opportunity to stop and learn what I could from them. Funny how I had cast those Bubba's differently from a distance.

Home on the Ranges

Today we went through 12 ranges on our way south down the Intercoastal Waterway. I spoke a bit about ranges on Journey's facebook page, but for our non-sailor friends, a picture is worth a bunch of nonsensical words, so....
 Now, in this first picture you see what looks like a orange sign, with a white stripe running right down the middle, top to bottom. In the second photo, you notice there are actually two signs, and they are not directly over one another because Journey has already begun her turn, and left the range.
The trick is to line the sign posts up so that when you are seeing them like the first pisture or risk running aground. There may be lots of open water around, but it's all shallow outside of the range. Now how do you do this, when some of these ranges are over a mile long and the signs are that far away when you start? Simple: look at the lower photo again. The bottom sign is off to the right. Move the boat to the right until the signs line up again. (you would never want to get this far off of the proper alignment in a real range, you'd be aground.) Al and I are partying on Miss Ruby tonight here in our anchorage, along with Partner Ship, so I will leave you with this navigational "lesson of the day". We are just above Jekyll Creek in Ga. for the night.

Lonely Days and Lonely Nights

12/9/11
I've definitely noticed a trend on this migration south. We are all alone. In marinas, at anchorages, there are really no other cruisers out here. Last time south, we traveled in a pack, lots of us grouped together each day, headed towards warmth. The anchorages were full, as we all jockeyed for our little piece of bottom grabbing.

We are very late this year and it shows. We see a few crabbers and small fishing skiffs out doing what they do, but outside of one or two big power cruisers headed fast towards the sun, we are really bringing up the rear this time around. So as we head south, we are turning out all the lights. We are the last ones in the ICW.

We made it to Southport Marina today around noon. Our batteries are overcharging, and Al has it isolated (we hope) to the internal regulator on the alternator. I figured it would be a lot easier on him to change to our spare alternator in a marina, plus if it turns out we are wrong, we can get parts since we are in town. He changed it out and says it is working fine so far. Here's hoping!

We must be invisible. I say that because the other day we had the kite boarding guy zig-zagging in our path like we weren't there and today it was fishermen. Now here we were, headed down a distinct channel, shallow water to each side. A small john boat type skiff can be seen ahead, far in the distance, barreling towards us. No problem, there is plenty of room to pass us on each side in a small boat like that.

But wait, the guy pulls short a few hundred yards in front of us and his partner tosses out a bouy. They proceed across the channel in front of us (one side of the channel to the other) laying a freaking fishing net! What the Heck?? Then they proceed to signal us that they have a net in the water. Oh yeah, get it deep buddy, 'cause I'm about to go right over your several hundred dollar investment. No way I'm running out of the channel, or coming to a dead stop because you were too lazy or stupid to go 100 yards further and lay it behind me. It's not like there another boat out here for 50 miles. So over it we go, with them mouthing off at me like there's no tomorrow. I play as deaf as they played at being blind. 

I told Al: next time we pull the boat, I am installing one of those line cutter thingies. Nets under the boat, crab pots in the channel, with the line cutter, they will all be fair game.

Finally going the right way

We got away from SailCraft Boatyard this morning at 8:00. At 8:04, I was aground. I was still in the channel, just not where enough water was. We draw 5ft., not 4'7", and that's what the depth meter read. I backed Journey off, and took her real wide, and we were finally underway.
We stopped at SeaGate Marina for fuel and water, great place with nice folks. I had a few reservations about the small turning area and my big hulking boat, but I was able to get in and out with no problems.
We didn't really consider ourselves headed south until we passed the turning basin at Beaufort. Until then, it's all home cruising grounds to us. So as we headed into Bogue Sound, we truly felt the trip had begun.
Down near the south end of the sound, there was a kite surfer cutting back and forth across the channel. Now Bogue Sound is huge, and this guy needs like, what? six inches of water under him? But here he was, as we approached,  weaving back and forth in front of us like an idjit. We decided if he got his kite caught in our rigging, we would drag him until we couldn't hear his pleas for help anymore, then cut the mess loose. We had him pass less than fifty feet in front of us, in a pretty good headwind, then he weaved a scant thirty feet behind the boat. For him: fun-100%, brains-2%. After all, he can ride a kite board, so that's worth something.
Next we kept an eye on the cold front as it bore down on us. Winds kept building during the afternoon, and the dark line of clouds were heading our way from the mainland. It looked as though a good soaking was imminent, but it never materialized. The sun finally peeked out around four PM, and felt good on our wind blown bodies.
Cherry Point had their Harriers out in force. They were landing as we passed, and I swear they all planned their descent path to pass right overhead. What noise! They would come over, slow down, hover and land. Mega decibels for the duration.  I still can't hear right.
As the afternoon waned, we started thinking about an anchorage. Swansboro was the first place within the barest reach of daylight arrival, and that was going to be iffy. We had been running against the current for most of the day. Al read the report on the anchorage: "strong changing currents, two anchors required".
We called Casper's Marina. Yes they could take us. Wait... after dark? No we can't dock boats after dark, it's too dangerous! Shoot Lady, if I can bring it in after dark, the least you can do is help tie me up!
So we called Dudley's. Yes Yes Yes, come on we are here for you! And we are almost half the price of stuffy Casper's. Well alright, I said that, not them, but it's true!
So I am warm, Al is watching TV, and I have power for the computer! Dudley's even delivered us to a local restaurant, where we had a wonderful dinner, and the restaurant brought us back to the marina. Great Day indeed!

We start, we stop.

Well, this morning saw Journey leaving the creek and getting underway. We are finally headed south on our cruise to the Bahamas. Once we reached the Pungo river, we fooled around for an hour and a half setting up the autopilot, Wolley. (That's it's name, thanks Bill) Boy is that one sweet piece of equipment! It (he, because he's like a third crewmember) did most of the steering for the day, and never asked for a thing. Well, except for power, and that was easily given, because we couldn't sail.
Yep, right after we started out, I went to unfurl the genoa (front sail that unrolls) and it was stuck. Al and I managed to unfurl it by hand, roll it back up with much difficulty, and then we decided to see what the problem could be. Al thinks one of the bushings looks worn, broken, and past usefulness. As soon as I could get a cell signal, I made a call to our favorite yard, Sailcraft, in Oriental. We are now sitting in the spillway, waiting for Monday morning.
We counted our blessings all the way to the boatyard, this could have happened down the way, where we didn't know the yards, further down the way, where there are no yards, or worst case scenario.... it could have happened "out there'. Offshore, with no way to furl the sail back up, could have been a real mess! For those of you who are keeping up with the ongoing rib saga, it is now DAY 4, and even with the boat rolling side to side all day, I came through in relative comfort. I had a couple of small pains, and hardly any discomfort today.
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, last Tuesday evening, I broke a rib in a nasty mash-up with a shopping cart at WalMart. On reflection, I should have just maced it. Since I was already at WalMart when this happened, I swung by the Lady's undies dept. and bought one of those waist cincher things... you know a "make you two jeans sizes smaller!" girdle affair. It is something that anyone can use to imobilize a broken rib; much more user friendly and comfortable than ace bandages, so laugh if you will, but I'm mending better for it.
So as we sit tonight, not heading south anymore, but waiting for Monday morning so we can spend $$$ fixing the boat, we are happy, pain free (mostly) and about to be well fed. That is, if I can ride a bike with a bum rib. We are headed to The Silos. Everyone in the Oriental area should come by and see us tomorrow. You know where we are!

Would you like fries with that? Never mind, I forgot the cooking oil...






People write a lot about provisioning a ship, that is of course, the purchasing of edible items that one pre-purchases before a cruise. For all of you readers who haven't had the pleasure of cruising on your own boat, allow me to enlighten you just a bit.

In our case, we cruise to the Bahamas. In the area we sail there, there aren't a lot of grocery stores to be found. Not like the ones we are accustomed to here in the states, at least. Many of the outer islands have no store at all. Others look like a seedy convenience store a week after the aliens have landed and wiped out 7/8ths of the panicked population. There is no way to easily acquire fresh produce, although most of these small stores will have onions, potatoes, and apples in stock on the day the mail boat brings supplies. There are a few staples on the shelves, but not enough to plan on buying all our food in the islands What to do then, about eating?

It's simple really, we bring the store with us. Food in the Bahamas is upwards of double and triple the price of what we can purchase stateside, so it saves us money as well. Now before my cruiser friends disagree, think about what you take for six months in the Bahamas. (It's OK now folks, that alone will keep them busy for a few hours)
In fact, I never thought of it in those terms myself, until this month, when I started provisioning for this years cruise. Last time we went to the Bahamas, we stayed three months. Double the time, triple the food. Well, alright, admit-ably there were a few snack items we really missed, but this year I think I have all the junk food-groups covered.

So we bring lots of food, you say. What's the big deal about that? Keep in mind, dear friends, we are not talking about a mega trip to the grocery, and then lugging loads of grocery bags onto the boat. Oh no, this is a full scale food procurement assault. Each step is planned, like a barrage, and it must flow smoothly or one might find themselves eating meals of green beans, pintos and chick peas for the last two weeks of May. Or worse... nothing. That's right, this is a one shot deal, bring it, or do without, no tap-backs, do-overs or second chances here.

First one needs to decide what to bring. If you want roasted peppers in your spaghetti sauce, you will do without unless you put it on the master list. I plan to make a lot of hummus this year for potlucks and sundowner treats. But it would be a plain, hum-drum hummus indeed if I forget things like pine nuts, hearts of palm, minced garlic or pimentos. So everything, and I mean everything that we will need in the way of food needs to get on the list.


Next comes quantities. Just how many tea bags does one need for six months of sailing? Well, if we figure a gallon of tea per day, x's 180 days; four bags per gallon, 48 bags to the box, it's a hell of a lot of tea bags! I must do this kind of math for everything that goes on the boat, so I don't end up with too much (no place to put it, and wasteful of money )or too little (OMG! We are out of Ruffles!)

We also need to think about how we will store a grocery store full of food on our boat. Many items are packed with "air", Splenda is a perfect example. Open the bag it comes in, pour the Splenda into a food saver bag and re-seal, removing the air during the vacuum process. Now there is a fairly flat, hard plastic pouch, easy to stow, impervious to bugs, moisture and decay. I'll need a lot of food-saver bags for nine bags of Splenda, eight bags of nuts, all that tea, and just about everything else that originally comes not-in-a-vacuum-sealed-bag. Anything that comes in a box is given similar treatment. A box around a small pouch of rice is wasted space. The boxes are all removed.  The food inside might get the food-saver do-over, or as in the case of pouches, the cooking instructions are written on each pouch, and then they all go into a plastic freezer bag.

Glass gets some special treatment also. Glass that bangs together, breaks together and leaves a god-awful smelly, sometimes sticky mess. I use the foam sleeves that are sold at the truck rental places for packing glasses for a move. Each jar gets taped inside one of these, and is labeled so I don't stand there holding it in four months with a "DUH" look on my face.

Of course after I have completed all these tasks, I'm still not done. The food has to be packaged for transport to the boat. Now I'm in Fl. and the boat is in NC, so I won't even get to the fun of fresh meat, dairy and produce until I arrive, I will save that for another lively post. (Besides, the cruiser folks are starting to stir after their contemplation of their own provisioning; we need to hurry this along!) I get those cheap, plastic totes (with lids) from WallyWorld and line the bottom layer with cans. Then I try to distribute, weight-wise, all of the repackaged food until they are full. The bins are easy (-for you to say, says Al) to transport and get onto the boat, where I then begin the real fun: trying to fit 80cu. ft. of food into 40cu.ft. of space.

That, my friends, is an art.

Nasty Business #2

When last you left us, we had just bleached our way out of our wasteful failure. This morning, our new hose arrived and we proceeded to prep ourselves for putting it in. Lots of stretching exercises, since we had to reach impossible to reach areas and cram a rigid 15 ft. hose through holes that were one size too small. We could then blissfully fill our minds with the memory of what stretching felt like and soldier on.
We have been here before.
Back when we had little Journey, we had to re-invent the entire sanitation system on board. We chucked the 33 yr old bladder, I mean would you really want to trust your waste to an untested old plastic bag? We installed a new tank and ran all new hose.
This hose is stiff, thick-walled and I just know they make the inside of the hose about 1/16th of an inch smaller than the the fitting it has to go over. We followed the West Marine guys advice and bought the "hose lube" to make the job of fitting the hose end onto the barbed fitting easier. Well, let me tell you, that doesn't work. It only took us two frustrating hot hours to determine that. Then we used boiling water when we were told that we needed to apply heat and hot water would do the trick. The trick was on us. Two down and we were thinking we would never have a toilet that we could use. Enter another sailor who told us of the wonders of the heat gun. Not a blow dryer, they don't get hot enough, gotta have the big gun.
So as we prepared to install the two ends, I grabbed the heat gun out of the locker and set it on high. 1700 degrees of heat that would make the job possible. We have also found that putting a gob of liquid soap on the fitting will help when the hose is quickly crammed home.
There is one more vital item that we could not forget. Before the hose went on the fitting, we needed to place two hose clamps up on the hose, so we could tighten the hose to the fitting. Forget this, and we would have to start all over. I watched as Al placed the clamps on the first end of the hose.
I hate being the one to hold the heat gun, but I don't have the strength to jam the heated hose onto the fitting, so....
Heat guns are real tricky. I could burn the flesh off my sweetie by just rotating the darn thing the wrong way. Turn it too far in the other direction and I could set fire to the dirty laundry while melting the nylon mesh bag it was inside. Too far forward, and I would be singeing wood and removing varnish. Then there was the carpet on the floor. and yet, the gun needed to be rotated around the hose to heat it evenly.
 It was a tight space and if there was any room for error, it would be in favor of Al. After all, I needed that hose crammed on quick, and he was the only one with the strength to do it.
And when we finished with the first hose, we had to repeat it all over again at the pump out fitting. This was an acrobatic movement which involved both of us standing delicately on the lip of the toilet while hunched into the rear of the locker behind it. And of course, the heat gun had to fit in there too. And rotated around a hose that couldn't be moved. There were some touchy moments while we watched a bundle of wires smoking, before realizing that the smoking was coming from the hose and Al slammed the last hose on. That's when I asked Al if he had remembered to put the two hose clamps on the hose. Yes, he had.

Nasty Business

There are two words that strike dread in the pit of every sailor's stomach. Sanitation Failure. That is to say, finding out part or parts of your toilet/holding tank have stopped doing what they are designed to do. We are feeling dread.
The last couple of days, I have noticed a slight odour de waste emanating from our rear cabin. Our head (bathroom) is adjacent to the cabin, and the holding tank resides below the bunk. The odor was faint, and it has been warm, so I didn't pay too much mind to it. This morning, Al and I removed the mattress, and cover-board to access the steering quadrant and install the rudder indicator there.
The smell was, shall I say rich?  We quickly checked the connection at the holding tank, tight and holding. We started to visually follow the hose back to the pump-out fitting and found a large suspicious bulge. Then we noticed, to put it politely, the ooze flowing forth of a certain brown shade.
Our hose was shot, ruined, kaput! Boys and Girls, can you spell retch?
Al and I locked eyes and uttered the only appropriate curse in unison.
There was only one thing to do and after setting fans up in what seemed like helpful places, we began the fix. First we had to let the tank drain, because the outlet connection is located (naturally) at the bottom of the tank. This involved a disposable container, a disposable wood plug, some smoke and mirrors (ok, not the last two) and teamwork.
Once the tank was drained, we had to cut the hose into pieces to easily get it out of the maze through which the builders decided would be fun to remove 22 years later, when said hose was as stiff as iron.
We measured it, then went to find replacement sanitation hose.
Now you would think that in a village which boasts over 2600 sailboats, that finding 1 1/2 inch waste hose would be a piece of cake. We needed a 15foot continuous run, so we are now waiting on new hose that should be delivered in the morning. We could have installed new hose today, if we had been willing to use high tech, nuclear meltdown proof, guaranteed to never leak, smell or bend to fit back into the boat hose. It was only $15.00 per foot. Ha. Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha. We went with hose that costs $4.35 per foot. Our Sh8t don't stink. Or at least it won't after tomorrow, for a very long time.

Part Six The aftermath

After the storm there were those who were not so fortunate.


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Part Five Slap my face, the backside is here

The last part of the hurricane is said to the worst. Strong winds that come on right after the calm of the eye. I found it to be the most tiring. And then it was over, and the boats began to leave early the next morning.

Don't forget to turn off the music player at right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



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Part Four The eye of the storm

The eye of a hurricane is supposed to be when one recharges their internal batteries
to do battle with the second part of the storm. In the boatyard we were all saving beloved boats.

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Part Three A different perspective

Still in the front part of the hurricane, we are now nearing eye time. We decided to check out the neighborhood around the boatyard a little bit.


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Part Two Before the eye

Still Friday morning, before the arrival of the eye. The water just keeps on coming in.

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Part One. Irene is here, time to get to work.

Irene has arrived, and we tumble off the boat early Saturday morning to greet her. Just like a woman guest to make more work for us (oops, did I type that out loud?)
I always say it, mostly for the first time visitors to the page: Don't forget to turn off the music player to the right>>>>


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Hurricane Irene waiting for the storm

Friday night, waiting on Irene's arrival
Don't forget to turn off the music player at right.
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First in a continuing series of Hurricane Irene.
We are hauled out at SailCraft Boatyard in Oriental NC, and last we hear before losing power is that the eye will pass overhead mid day Saturday as a Cat1 hurricane.

Prepping for Irene

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Visitor to Journey!!!!!



Oh, the excitement! We are expecting our first official guest to stay on the boat tonight! Her name is Irene, and she is a real mover and shaker of a lady. She is very famous, and is known far and wide. I've heard she can be a bit of a bitch though, so I have been extra careful to make sure everything is "just right" for her arrival. (Heard she devastated the Bahamas chain) Not that they weren't ready for her... guess she is one of those house guests that is just hard on the place, breaks things, you know the type.

I was trying to sleep late last night, hot, muggy and the mosquitoes were gnawing at every square inch of exposed flesh, when I had a pleasant thought... "get it while you can suckers, in 24 hours you will all be dead!"  Yes, I would imagine that 90-100+ winds will kill most of the biting nasties off and I get to test the theory tonight and tomorrow.

At least with the bulk of the storm arriving during daylight, I will be able to get some video of the worst of it just before the wind driven rain flails the skin from my body. I will be using the GoPro cameras for this, it is wide angle so you, dear reader, will be able to get more the sense of being in the midst of the storm with us. It is also the only waterproof camera I own, so there really isn't another choice. At the wind speeds we are expecting, there would be a few seconds of filming before a conventional camera would be inundated with water and rendered useless. As it is, the wind will be trying to rip the camera out of my hands and tear away the hatch boards when I go out.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a palm tree in camera range. Hurricane videos are useless without the footage of palm fronds tearing themselves apart in high winds. Ah well, we will just have to persevere without that valuable addition and make do with the pine and conifer trees around us. (sigh)

We have tied the bases of the boat stands together, and tied our bow cleats to trees ahead of our boat. Gosh knows, we can't go floating off, we have no rudder to steer with! 

If you haven't already done so, "like" the FB Journey page. (link on right) That is where I will update throughout the storm until we loose signals.

Wish us luck, when we said a while back that we like to stretch our comfort levels when it comes to bad weather and being on the boat, rest assured that this is NOT what I had in mind.

It takes a boatyard to raise a boat

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Don't forget to turn off the music player on the right!

The Blue Tarp Group



Yes. We have lowered ourselves to being THE BLUE TARP BOATYARD PEOPLE. We put up the tarps to  
 a. Keep the sun off the deck and lower the inside temperature, and  
b. To be able to keep the hatches open when it rains, so we don’t melt inside in the closed-up boat.

I will be the first to say that living in the yard really sucks. I should know, just three months ago, we refloated after a six- week stay in a boatyard. However, I am trying to put this in a good light and since I have wanted to do a “top-ten” list on the blog, I figure there’s no better time than the present to combine the two. So here’s

THE TOP TEN REASONS BEING ON THE HARD IS A GOOD THING

10. I don’t have to worry about my anchor dragging.

9. My boat’s not sinking.

8. Barnacles are not attaching themselves to my bottom.

7. My batteries are charging.

6. Getting to shore doesn’t involve a wet dinghy ride.

5. I’m getting my stair stepping exercise every day.

 4. The marina/ yard has potlucks on Sundays.

3. I can ride my bike without the gymnastics of lowering it off the boat and into the dink.

 2. Doing laundry doesn’t involve a bucket or toilet plunger.

And the top reason being on the hard might be a good thing,

1. I haven’t had to call Towboat US because I’ve gone aground!





Our survey video

Don't forget to turn off the music player on the right margin.

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Survey says! we're not going anywhere!

Friday morning Al and I were up early for our insurance survey. The plan was simple, get a "short haul" (they keep you in the travelift slings) and relaunch for the rest of the survey after the surveyor had a look at the bottom.
Well, that was the plan. And it was going well, the surveyor found a small delamination on the rudder, told us we might want to address it when we did our next major haul, no worries. Then he examined the rudder shaft. And what he found was not pretty.
Crevice corrosion is when stainless steel gets deprived of oxygen and sets up steel-eating corrosion that works it's way out from the inside. We had it at both ends (top and bottom) of our rudder shaft. Which meant that the areas inside the rudder itself, where we can't even access because it's all covered in fiberglass, is much worse. So bad in fact, that any self-respecting insurance company would not let the boat be re-launched.
So guess where we are?
Sailcraft Boatyard is a first class operation, very professional, lots of eager and hardworking yard employees. And that's a very good thing, because we need a new rudder. Quick. And because we are going to be in their yard for a little while while they make it.
Of course we will help, got to do our part to keep the costs down, hurry the job along so the yard stay doesn't get too expensive, and because we need to learn a new skill.
I wonder if they will let me feed them lunch while they are still working? You know.." Take a bite, watch out, don't get mayo in the resin!"
Seriously, we are still waiting on the dreaded estimate, and this weekend has been a boat work bust, but we are hoping to be launched in 2 weeks. Any longer and we might have to (gasp) get jobs to pay the yard bill.

"DEAR EDITOR:

"DEAR EDITOR:
Some of my friends say there is no Seagrass Monster.
Please tell me the truth; is there a Seagrass Monster?”
             Virginia (and pretty much the entire east coast)


Virginia, (and pretty much the entire east coast) your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

Yes, Virginia, (and pretty much the entire east coast) there is a Seagrass Monster. It exists as certainly as mud on anchors and dropped dinghy painters exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its greatest scourge and Bain. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Seagrass Monster. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. (and pretty much the entire east coast) There would be no reason to quickly drop anchor then, no cursing, no throwing objects to make tolerable this existence. We should have no frustration, except in port. The eternal light with which engine  lazarettes fill the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Seagrass Monsters! Yes Virginia, (and pretty much the entire east coast)


seagrass monsters DO exist. They live in the bowels of our sea strainer, and cut off our circulation to our pumps. They cause our engine to overheat, and we must lay down our anchor and clear our basket. But the worst plague of mankind is visited upon us when the temperatures soar into the three digit numbers and the seagrass monster comes upon our air conditioning strainers without warning. We are instantly plunged into despair, as temperatures and tempers sour in unison, while struggling to free strainers and capture the seagrass monster before warmness overtakes us.


Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, (and pretty much the entire east coast) in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Seagrass Monster?! It lives, and it lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, (and pretty much the entire east coast) nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, it will continue to plague the heart of boaters.

We still have it

I was in it before I had time to think about it and that was probably the best , since there was no turning back, no pause button and no way to extract myself or the boat from the situation.

The rage. It's been described in cruising guides and magazines; wind against current creating steep, sharp waves, combined with deep troughs, clumped close together, all seeming to conspire together to make one really work at keeping the boat on course and under control.

Ever watch Deadliest Catch? You know the scenes where they show the boats plunging down into the large seas, green water being thrown over the foredeck, spray going across most of the boat? The boat hurls down into the sea, then races up sharply into the sky as it sheds the sea from it's decks, only to plunge headlong back down into the next deep trough.

As we exited Beaufort inlet, there were the usual large number of small boats along the edges of the channel, fishing and buzzing about. I also noticed the rather large barge being short towed into the inlet by the tug. There was another large freighter that I was watching further out in the channel, well beyond everything else. Was it even moving, and if so, was it getting ready to head into the channel and towards me?

The small insectual boats had my immediate attention as well as the barge/tug combo. And of course keeping an eye to the channel markers and making sure I was still inside it. The water runs deep here if you stay inside the channel, not so much near either shore located not far outside the channel. I would have to keep to the right of the channel and give the tow/barge plenty of room as I went out. I needed to make a turn out of the channel after the second red nun (they were on the left) to make the Cape, and was gauging where he and I would pass. I noticed that the barge seemed quite skewed in relation to it's tow, and I wondered briefly about that...

Then the waves started to get my attention. Because I was getting into them. I mean, surely I had noticed them before, well yes I had thank you very much. It's just that they really hadn't registered.
And they should have, because I have run the rage in this inlet before, in little Journey. With her 13HP engine, it was more of a crap shoot - will we survive? We had, obviously, but it had been an Oh S**t moment for both of us.

So yea, I can be thick about not noticing the rage when it's right in front of me. Kinda like me to be wondering about a freighter over five miles distant instead....

Beaufort inlet is a great inlet with plenty of water and room to maneuver. The deep water of the inlet makes a rapid funnel for the tide receding from the inland waters. This causes waves and turbulence at the narrowest part of the inlet and just beyond, where the water rushes out to meet the ocean. This flow is to the east, into the Atlantic. The waters of the Atlantic, meanwhile have been flowing west towards the eastern US shore. This causes the normal chop and waves that are found at the inlet.

Now throw in an east wind, that is to say wind that originates from the east and is headed west, and things start to get interesting. The winds help push the waves toward shore at the same time the tide is creating waves flowing out of the inlet. These all collide and the wind helps create a chaotic condition of tall, quick seas known as the rage. These large square peaked waves are everywhere, packed close in on top of each other, and the waves and current conspire to make controlling the rudder difficult, much like in a storm at sea.

Into this we found ourselves, where just moment before, visions of gentle sailing through broad reaches were forming, now replaced by riding mechanical bulls. The boat began demanding my full attention, which was a shame, since I was still in a DUH moment concerning this new development, and was just starting to comprehend the skewing of the barge behind the tug. Then it all came together with a BANG - RAGE ON! The tug was having major problems keeping his tow in check, due to the rage we were in. I needed to keep well away from him, keep an eye ON him, stay in the channel, avoid hitting the next green marker (and believe me, this was a major concern now, given conditions and the way the helm was fighting me) oh yeah, and keep the boat from floundering sideways to all this mess.

As soon as my brain caught up, I was fine. Sure it was work, and keeping myself behind the wheel was a constant battle, sort of a combination of mid-auto-wreck that never ends, and free fall space walking... at random. In the midst of it all, was the job of reassuring my grandson Caleb. He is ten and has great sea legs, but I was at fault for not preparing him for an eventuality like a rage, and he needed constant verbal reassuring. He rode best pressed into my right side at the helm, so that's how we did it, side by side through the rage and around the tug and it's barge. After that, I began to breathe a bit, and it got sorta fun watching the green water throw itself up over the front of the boat.

Al was quiet, letting me concentrate on the task at hand, both of us ignoring the things below, rolling around, falling to the floor, crashing wherever. Suddenly Al raced below and stayed below for several minutes. Busy as I was, I couldn't focus on him, but thought perhaps he ws picking up, and I remember thinking that was probably a bit premature.....

And then he was back on deck, and we worked our way across the channel and out into the Atlantic. After around ten minutes more, we were beyond the reach of the rage and things began to settle down a bit. We were still rolling a bit, even with the sails to damper the roll, and most important, Caleb lost much of his fear, and visibly relaxed.

We were on our way finally, to Cape Lookout.

It was only after anchoring that I found out that Al had rushed below to close all the forward portholes. We spent most of the afternoon drying the mattresses sheets and Al and Caleb clothes.
 We are so dense, it's a wonder we float.
And thankfully, we still have adventures to fill a page.

The finer things in life


When I was in the fifth grade, my school changed from having a long Easter weekend to a real spring break. One whole week of freedom. Of course, it was called Easter break, but admittedly, that was a long time ago...
My Mom had other plans for my week off. It was called "spring cleaning." This all invasive ritual had been something she had previously keep all to herself, but Mom was always teaching me, and this year she taught me she knew how to share.
As I was cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, in order to wash the shelves, put in new shelf paper, and then stack everything back onto the shelves, I came across some dinnerware that I had never seen. Way up on the highest shelf; I started removing it and stacking it on the table. To my 9 year old eyes, it was the most beautiful thing in the world, small blue and yellow flowers with a platinum ring around the edge. It looked very delicate and young as I was, even I thought it must have cost a fortune. Mom came into the kitchen, and I asked her about this wonder of wonders. After she gasped a bit, and admonished me to be oh so very careful with it, she told me it was the good china. This was the dinnerware set she and my father had received as wedding presents, many people purchasing a placeware set apiece, to make up the whole service for eight.
I asked her why we weren't using it, and she said it was for "special" occasions only. It was too good for everyday use. My brain started working and I asked her "Do you mean like Thanksgiving?" Yes, she agreed. Well then, can we use it for Thanksgiving dinner? She said we could.
I'm sure she thought I would forget all about it by November, after all this was Spring, but when I was asked to set the Thanksgiving table, I went to get the step stool. She asked why I needed that, and I said I had to reach the top shelf for the good china. No, she said. She had changed her mind, we would use the regular everyday stuff. Well, no one in our household ever questioned or spoke back to a parent, especially right before a Thanksgiving meal. Why risk getting sent to my room without dinner on Thanksgiving? But it gave me a lot for my 9 year old mind to think about, and I decided, probably that very night, that I would never not use my nice things. Sure, as Mom pointed out, they could get broken. But why have something I never use and enjoy?
Fast forward to this April.
I was home sorting kitchen stuff. Making room for my things in my parent's kitchen, figuring out what kitchen items to take to the boat. I came across Mom's good china. What to do with this? It took up shelf space that I needed for my stuff and I had two sets of dinnerware already between my and my Mom's everyday dinnerware. Staring at it, I remembered how it never got used and I decided right there and then to rectify that.
I would take it to the boat. Call me crazy, but here was china that (except for cleaning the cabinets) never saw the outside of the cabinet. Now I would take it to see the world.
Would it get broken? Maybe not, with a little care and planning, I should be able to keep it safe. And it would be USED. If I didn't do this, one of my children would someday be staring at this same china wondering where on earth this china had come from, who did it belong to. Would they put it away for their children to come across and tuck away? How many generations would not use this china before it turned to dust?
As I was pouring through the multitude of treasures in the kitchen, I happened upon some plastic baggies with paper towels wrapped around some items inside. Opening these, I discovered a full service for 12 of good Oneida stainless flatware. I remembered this set, it had belonged to my Grandmother. My Mom had purchased it for her way back in the late fifties with Betty Crocker Coupons. I must have been about seven when she gave it to her. Grandma passed on, and I guess Mom brought the flatware home with her and placed it in these bags for safekeeping. I knew it would be a perfect match for the china. It would go to the boat.
So when I set a table, I'm sure a lot of our cruising friends will see my fine china and flashy flatware and dismiss me as nuts. I mean, most folks have good plastic plates and everyday stainless. They don't break, they don't need babying; it just makes sense.
But every time I set my table, I think of my Grandmother and Mother. I wonder what they would think of my lifestyle and decisions. I silently thank them for making me who I am. I have a piece of both of them with me everyday, and everywhere I roam. I feel like I'm taking them with me, and sharing my life with them. The connection is through hard inanimate objects, but it's a connection of memories. Through them and with them, we are making new memories together.

It's for the birds!

Ahh, spring is in the air.
 I can tell that because the birds are nesting at the marina. Little starlings and purple martins and some larger black birds.
The starlings and purple martins took an instant liking to the hole at the end of my boom. I immediately removed their pitiful attempt at building a condo in there and sealed it closed with plastic wrap. Problem solved.
Three days ago, I was awakened by pine needles fluttering down through he rear overhead hatch. Bummer. I went topside to see that they had figured out that my sail cover was open enough to climb inside and had started building a nest on my sail. Eviction was swift. I went below and returned with some clips to hold the cover closed. It hasn't worked as well as I thought it would.
The starlings moved to the front of the main, near the mast. This is higher up. For me to reach it involves climbing some steps we have there, and then onto the winches, hanging on to the mast as I go. Then I have to remove one arm from the death grip on the mast and reach inside to clear out the nest. It must be done however, or the little Bastards darlings will lay eggs in the mainsail. This would be a disaster of the Nth degree, since we plan to go sailing this weekend. Having those broken eggs frying on the deck might raise my emotional ire a few points. I like birds, but not when their future offspring are superglueing their remains to my boat deck.
 I have had to remain vigilant; these little guys (guess I should say gals) have been creating mess for me to run around and clean out on about an every two hours schedule. They have found a way into the rear of the mainsail cover now as well, the creative little devils.
Tuesday we went to Washington, a four hour trip. I went to clean the nests out as soon as we returned. Two eggs fell out onto the deck. Now my husband thinks I'm a baby bird murderer.
 I ran for the hose to get rid of the evidence mess. I had the windows open on the boat. Now I am aware that all water seeks the interior of my boat.That was kind of a bonus I didn't much appreciate.
I am going to wrap the plastic wrap around the rear of the sail cover today and see if I can at least have one "off-limits" area that works. This morning I woke to the usual falling of the pine needles on the overhead hatch. I went up and evicted the nest. This bird didn't get the memo that I was coming. I saw the sail cover fluttering madly. The culprit was still inside! I lightly patted the cover to see which way she would exit. This could be insight for how and where to encapsulate the cover against future attacks. It squeezed through between two of the clips I had put up. I couldn't fit a piece of paper between those clips.
 Now I knew that these creatures would stop at nothing to provide their offspring with the best in nesting accommodations. It's my boat, so they declared war first. Gosh I hope the plastic wrap works. The only other thing I can think of involves removing the main for nesting season.

Wow! We could actually go out sailing now! We have THE ZONE.

If Journey had wings, I could fly this thing!
Al has been working steady for the last week on getting all the instruments and wires connected and installed in what we will now refer to as "The Zone".
I was able to do little custom things, like constructing these cute little spacers to hide the wires as they traverse between the guard pole and the instrument pod. They were made out of the left over spacers in the guard kit in case your guard pipe is a different diameter. But.... they are the ones supplying us with said guard kit and spacers, so... don't they know what they're shipping to us? If you can figure that one out, you're better than me!
Here we see the wires exposed, large hole yelling"YO! Wasps/ Muddubers! Flophouse right in here!
Here we see the same area with spacer shown below at right, covering the holes.
spacer at left was artistically Dremeled into shape to fit snugly.


Close up of the technologically advanced design in use
.
 Of course it was all possible because of the heavy duty work that Al has done to get it to this stage. He had to build this whole thing from scratch. Speaking of that, we must see The Zone as it looks all new finished and shiny. I like shiny.
THE ZONE

Kinda like piloting a 747. Well, maybe not, but it looks cool!
And of course I got to add my touch to the front of the pods as well. Notice the small instrument bottom right?
Our autopilot, Wolley (pronounced Wally)

Raising the mast

video
And don't forget to turn off the music player in the right hand margin.


Identify the enemy

Ever since Al and I started with sailboats, we have heard the dreaded tales of the cruisers who weren't. For whatever reason, these poor souls had fully intended to spend their days at anchor in gorgeous island settings, and then "POOF", something happened to their plan and there they are, to this day, tied up in yonder slip over there. Reckon they will never leave.
I know what happened.
It was the air conditioning.
Yep, pluggin' into the dock, and experiencing the cool, dehumidified blissful sleep that can only come from the air conditioning did them in.
I am currently in that same state of satisfied nirvana that has grabbed the gonads of many a sailor and laid them low.
Of course, I tell myself, We are still working on the boat and couldn't go anywhere if we wanted to right now; I mean, the instrument pods are dancing all over the cockpit floor, the giant chartplotter box has yet to have us miscut the template, sending us into sure panic and subsequently in search of a restaurant.
But then I think, "This is how the air conditioning works." It lulls you into a sense of false security, slowly, sensually, seductively weaving its icy tendrils around your sweat glands until you don't know if you were even ever meant to leave the dock.
I must remain vigilant.
But that is so hard to do when I step below into a chilled environment that any self-respecting southern boat-dweller would give up her Bahamas chartbooks for.

My ice cup runneth over

For the first time in my sailing life, I have refrigeration.  Smugly, I can say “I made a load of ice today.”
I can keep fresh milk and crisp veggies.
I no longer have to raise an eyebrow at the mayonnaise jar, as I wonder if it’s going to lay us down if I make a sandwich with it. I can now follow the recommendations to refrigerate after opening. No more scraping the mold off the top of the jam and hoping Al didn’t notice.
 My ice tea is COLD. Cold ice tea is very refreshing. Of course I do have some issues. I took the frozen vertical ice trays out of the freezer and stared at them this afternoon. How to get the ice out? First I tried the old standby, run it under water. Soon it loosened, and I had a big wad of ice encasing a plastic tray divider. Try as I might, this would not give up its treasure. I finally watered it down until I could get it to start breaking loose. Al stepped in to help, and soon we had a large bin of watery ice that is sure to re freeze into a mass that only an ice pick can separate. It’s a new bin, so I’m looking into other options. All advice will be welcome. It’s just that, with our history, I’m sure we are going about this all wrong. 
We went to the store tonight and I bought milk and fruit and broccoli. I remember feeling like this when I first moved out into my own place and had purchased my first fridge. I went to the store
and bought my first food that I had picked by myself. I brought it home and unpacked it. I only had money for soup, cheese and bread. I put the cheese in the fridge. It looked lonely. For the first six months or so, all I could afford was cheese. I had a full size fridge with a pack of American cheese in
it.
Today I bought cheese. But I also bought other stuff to keep it company.

The Transformation

Don't forget to turn off the music player on the right hand margin of the page!
It's been a month and a half in the making, thank you all for being so patient. Now we can let you all see the changes we made to turn Journey into our home on the water. Enjoy! video

Turds away!

When we brought the boat to the yard last month, we hauled
the portable pump-out from the neighboring boatyard (with permission) to the
slipway when we tied up.  Long walk and it was heavy.
We hooked everything up and pumped, pumped, till we realized the
dang thing was broke.  We hauled it all the way back to the neighboring boatyard, and hauled Journey with two full waste tanks.  Since then, Al has started to notice an odor emanating from the forward head.
Yep, we were starting to smell like shyte.  There’s only one way to fix that…. Pump. So we went over to examine the portable pump out again. Eureka, it had “stuff” in it! That meant that it had worked for someone else recently.
There was hope. So we pumped out the left over shyte into the shyte pipe in the ground and hauled the portable pump out over to the boat.
We hooked it up and pumped, pumped, till we realized that the dang thing was broke.  Great.
Then we remembered Messy Nessie.
Al built a pump out hose for us to use when we are offshore. Sorta looks like the Loch Ness Monster, hence the name. I’ll leave you to figure out how the Messy works into the equation. We hooked up Ms. Ness to the boat pipe and I placed the other business end into the hole in the portable pump out.
We pumped, pumped, and words cannot describe the stench that erupted from the confines of
that hose, but suffice to say, that effluent was transferred, Messy Nessie got a thorough washing out and we are empty, disinfected and smelling like mint, according to the label on the bottle of tank treatment. We emptied both tanks, then hauled the portable pump out back to the neighboring boatyard, and dropped the hose in the pipe and found it was still broke.
We left this recurrent theme for someone else to solve.

Xanthophobia

Definition
FEAR OF THE COLOR YELLOW: (xanthophobia, fear of the color
yellow, and fear of the word yellow)
1: fear of the color yellow: a persistent, abnormal, and
unwarranted fear of yellow, despite conscious understanding by the phobic
individual and reassurance by others that there is no danger. 2: fear of the
color yellow: an extreme unwarranted fear and/or physical aversion to yellow.
So if any of the above seems to describe you, you probably
will want to hit the “back” key right now.
You have stumbled into a yellow zone. 
Al and I had to replace the canvas on our last boat,
Journey. Not this boat, the other boat. I know, it’s confusing, but try to keep
up, will ya? Where was I? Oh yeah, Al was all for doing the normal thing, blue
or green, but I was holding out for… you guessed it, yellow.
Why, you ask? It’s different. I like different. I thrive on
different. I just needed to convince my husband to embrace his wild side.
I finally hooked him with the fact that bright yellow would
make us very visible. Visibility is good, I pointed out. He agreed, and
proceeded to pick out the loudest brightest gaudiest yellow in the Sunbrella
collection.
“Your Honor, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, one can only
look at the photographs of the wreckage to know that the defendant is lying
when he stated that he didn’t see my clients. No one could miss that much
yellow.”
And I do feel safe with a boat that emulates the lines down
the center of the highway.
Having a yellow boat has been a great icebreaker as well. People
flock to it like flies to honey, cameras in hand. Probably figure no one will
believe them. “No, really, it was the same color as Leroy’s school bus!”
And yes, she does get compliments. In fact, lots of them, so
either people respond favorably to yellow boats, or cruisers are just really
nice people. Well, they ARE really nice, but you know what I mean.
So yellow became OUR color. Our trademark, if you will. And
there was never any question that our new boat had to be yellow too.  People have been stopping their cars on the
little road for the last few days as the paint has finally been being put on
and saying how they love her color.
We do too. It’s such a fun color!