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St Augustine

 

I took my time moving down the ICW to Oriental, NC to wait for Rob to arrive on 10/31. Hung out with Erich, who we met in Georgetown on the eclipse trip.  Ate a few meals together, worked on the boat a little and just enjoyed Oriental together.  Rob was curious about real estate in Oriental so we wandered into a real estate office and a lovely agent offered a tour of the town. Very pretty town and everyone was super friendly.  I mean waving at pedestrians from their cars and everything.

Eric

Rob and I sailed from Morehead City to St Augustine, about 400 sea miles mostly through beautiful clear blue water. No wind to start and then a fairly boisterous downwind run.  We motored the last 40 miles or so.  Should have taken our time and sailed as we had to fight the tide in the inlet and it was substantial.  

Bridge of Lions

This guy is guarding the land approach to the Bridge of Lions in St Augustine. 

Castillo de San Marcos

The old Spannish fort.  Massive and quite impressive with a view straight out the inlet.  I’d hate to be on an enemy ship struggling through the inlet with those cannons firing at me.

 

St Augustine light house

Rob rented a bike in town and I rode my folding bike to the St Augustine light house.  Looonnng climb but holy shoals what a view.

 

Lots of stairs

 

View from the lighthouse. Click for a great view.

 

 

Ray Wiley Hubbard

We heard there was a free Ray Wiley Hubbard concert so we Ubered over there.  Wow was that a great time.  Funny guy, amazing presence and terrific music.

 

These guys were cool
Dinner out our first night ashore

 

Flooding carb and broken cord

The carburetor on the outboard was flooding.  The NEW carburetor on the outboard was flooding.   Since the motor then became hard to start, I’d be pulling on the starter cord like a madman and it finally broke at the dinghy dock.  With the tide against us the mighty Rob rowed us home to Skylark.   Go Rob!  When I took the carb apart the next day I discovered a small rubber plug had come out unnoticed.   This wasn’t the cause of the problem but I needed to know where it belonged so we asked Google.  We found a blog entry from a guy with the same problem on the same motor and written around a year ago in the same anchorage we were in.  What’s the chances of that?

Flagler College

 

Skylark at mooring St Augustine

 

Linda is meeting me here on Nov 16.  The marina would only let me stay on a mooring for a week so Skylark is now anchored south of the mooring field.  It’s been super windy here and the tidal current is very strong and I’m still a bit spooked by the experience up near Bellhaven but I’ve got a decent spot and two anchors down.

Dragged in Oriental!

This is the view of Oriental, NC from the Green’ s creek anchorage.  Sure doesn’t look like that tonight.

Never happened before.  I guess I knew it would some day.  Hoped it never would.  Skylark dragged anchor.  In the dark. 

I motored the few miles from Broad Creek to Oriental on a beautiful windless Friday morning.  There was only one boat in the anchorage near town but it’s really tight there and there’s quite a few large commercial fishing boats going in and out all the time, big diesels and bright mercury lights running 24 hours so I decided to go under the 45 foot high bridge (Skylark is 42 feet tall including the radio antennas on top of the mast) and anchor in Green’s Creek.  I don’t like anchoring I tight spots or with a lot of other boats around, I don’t feel comfortable judging the distances correctly and Skylark swings at anchor.  A lot.  More on that later.

Green’s Creek is a nice quiet spot and the days were warm with the nights quite cool.  I met up with Erich, a sailor from Florida I had met on the eclipse trip, we had dinner and did some work on his boat.  Sunday the 29th was windy and very rainy so I stayed on Skylark, made biscuits, read and napped.  There’s a weather system work in up most of the east coast, a combination of a tropical storm and some other lows bringing high winds to the area from Florida to NY.  Winds in Oriental were forecast to be in the 20’s gusts to 30.  Skylark and I had done it before and she always stayed where we anchored.  We might drag back a bit but the anchor was digging deeper when that happened. 

Tonight it got really busy around 8 PM.  I had made dinner while it was pretty calm but before I finished eating it was blowing 25kn from the west.  I checked our position visually and on the GPS and we hadn’t moved, just shifted with the wind direction.  Skylark was swinging pretty hard in the gusts and Patch the dinghy was swinging along with her.  I suspect this swinging and jerking puts stress on the anchor and might loosen it’s grip.  

It was gusting hard, over 35kn and in a little while things felt funny.  I wasn’t sure exactly what, but I didn’t like it.  I looked out and Patch was almost alongside.  Hmmmm.  And we were broadside to the wind and waves.  Uh oh.  When that happens while you’re anchored it means you’re not anchored.  The bow is blowing downwind and the anchor isn’t stopping it.  Crap.  It’s dark.  I’m alone.  Feeling afraid and unprepared.   GPS now says we’re 300 feet from our anchored location.  The creek runs close to east-west from where I am with a little tilt south.  The wind is blowing from a tiny bit north of west so I won’t get blow onto a shore or piling right away.  As quickly as I could, I grabbed a jacket, a flashlight, slapped on shoes, turned off the cabin lights so I could see the shore better and ran for the secondary anchor stored at the stern and the bag of anchor rode stored in the lazzerette.   Run back in the cabin for a shackle key to attach rode and anchor.  Dump the drawer, oh here it is.  Start the engine.  Drag anchor and rode forward. Realize that even though i know the bridge must be behind me, the boat is twisting around so much I’m not exactly sure where i am.  Point the boat away from the near shore as best I could.  600 feet dragged now.  Creek is around one thousand feet wide from shore to shore, and it’s definitely not deep enough for Skylark all the way.  Where was that dock that was behind me again?  Run forward.   Remember to feed the rode overboard properly first, then attach it to anchor.  Shackle the anchor to the rode.  Over it goes.  Fall back on the rode and hope I’ve moved south enough to avoid fouling with the primary rode and anchor.  Hold my breath.  It held.  Whew.  I’m leaving the primary down tonight as I still believe it’s holding somewhat so should contribute something.   If I pull it up it will be hard to deploy it again as the secondary is south of the primary and I don’t have much room to the north.  Theyre in something of a Y configuration now so I’m not going to be able to do any better.  There’s a risk the primary is fouled but I’ll leave it be.   

Skylark stayed put after the second anchor went down but was still sailing around quite a lot.  The wind dropped back a few knots as well but I was still anxious so I stayed awake till 2 or 3 am checking for chafe periodically and finally went to bed with my clothes on in case we dragged again.  I didn’t sleep much.  In the morning it was still gusting 25 and I pulled up both anchors, moved to a better spot further from the Lee shore, put both anchors back down, adjusted them and put up the riding sail which I haven’t used much so didn’t want to put up at night.  The riding sail adds windage aft so the boat should weathervane into the wind and be more stable.  As soon as this was all done, secure and I felt satisfied the wind dropped back.  Gusts to 15.  Sigh.  The riding sail helps a bit but Skylark still swings more than I’d like.  Next to try is a long bridle to the rode from each side of the boat.

What happened?  Not sure.  Had close to 100 feet of chain and snubber out in 6′ of water.  Did the jerking motion of sailing at anchor break it free?  Was the soft bottom mud just not enough to hold in 25-30 knot wind?  Did the anchor not reset after the wind shift?  I dunno.  

Being prepared.  I wasn’t terrible but I feel I could be better prepared.  Shackle key in the bag with the rode.  Maybe move the second anchor and it’s rode forward and find a way to stow the rode there?  Mark the lengths better on the spare rode.  Couldn’t see them in the rush and the dark.  Make a written note about orientation of visible features and hazards?  I had trouble with that one.

Before I left home port for my first trip I met a Canadian cruising couple with engine trouble stuck in Haverstraw that said cruising is one of two things: mind blowingly beautiful or it really sucks.  Last night was no fun but could have been a lot worse so I’m very grateful. 

SSB test with position report

Hello world!
This post was made by short wave radio or SSB for Single Side Band. That’s a ham radio for boats. I bought a used Icom M700 Pro radio and tuner from a scallop fisherman in Massachusetts and he sweetened the deal when he threw in a huge bag of scallops. I had installed it for my first trip but never used it and it never worked great. I redid the install (the way it’s specified) with heavier power cables, better grounding, a balun, ferrites and a more accessible location for the tuner. I use the backstay for an antenna. It worked great so I purchased a Pactor 4 high frequency modem from Dockside Radio (Gary is awesome) and Linda gave me an old laptop to run the Sailmail software. After the install it worked great on the first try. It’s a neat system, there are a number of land based stations around the world that I can send email and get weather information and grib files through. And no high monthly fee like satellite has although Sailmail cost is $250 per year. If you have a ham license you can use the ham data network for free. When not using the radio for data it’s used like a party line connection to listen and participate in cruiser nets providing social interaction for nerds like me and great local information.

ICW Norfolk to Bellhaven, NC

After all the work and stress and rush to get going….I’m here.  Wow.

I stayed two nights in Norfolk to rest up and then did a 30 mile day to Blackwater creek, a small waterway off the ICW, nicely protected and quiet.  a couple other boats in the creek but except for the masts they were out of sight.

Mist in Blackwater Creek
Canal Lock

The Dismal Swamp canal is the preferred route for sailboats.  It’s a little longer than the other canal but beautiful and nice places to stop.  unfortunately it’s closed for dredging and clearing of downed trees caused by a hurricane last year.

Backup at the Bridge

That’s me there.

Got a chance to sail today, it was blowing 15-20 from the SE.  Since the ICW winds around you head in every direction at some point but sort of trend south.  I was heading SW, for Bellhaven to anchor.  I did anchor there but the breakwater is ineffective and the harbor was very rough so I moved to cozy Pungo Creek.  I may stay here a couple days to wait on weather as it’s blowing hard from the south and I’ll be heading that way in open water, down the Pungo River and the Pamlico so I’d rather wait it out.

 

Norfolk!

Skipper Tom

 

We finally left Haverstraw Sunday 10/15 after waiting for weather about two weeks.  We chose to ride a front down with it’s north wind, motoring down the Hudson through the preceding southerly to wait out the switch in Gravesend bay, just south of the Veranzano bridge.   And switch it did.  We saw 30 knot gusts in Gravesend Bay.
We headed south Monday with the wind from the north 15-20 and not much of a following sea.  By Monday night it was blowing 15-20 then would blow 25-30 for a while then back down to 20.  We saw 39 knot gusts.  We passed Cape May, NJ around the time the waves were 6-8 foot.  Skylark’s CPT autopilot had trouble in the varying conditions and the gusts when we had a partial jib out so we raised the staysail and flew that alone.  This cut our speed to 4.5 knots in the lulls but we were doing 6 at the higher wind speed.  Seemed prudent but I hated to give up the speed.  Good thing we did it was rough enough as it was.   We saw 45 foot boats doing only one knot faster so I guess we weren’t doing too bad.  We couldn’t sleep and were pretty miserable by Tuesday morning when we found a tuna on our drag line.

Fresh Sushi!

By Tuesday night the wind had slackened to 5-7 and the waves laid down so we hoisted full sail and ran downwind slower and slower until we were a ways North of Cape Charles and doing under 2 knots so we started up the diesel and motored to Norfolk.

Early Tuesday morning this guy landed on the boat and hung around for a while.  He wasn’t at all bashful and he made a dash for my bunk but reluctantly left when I chased him.

We arrived in the dark Wednesday night and found our way to an Anchorage.  I hate driving in the dark.  Tom Left on Thursday and I went back to anchor for a nap.  

Thank you Tom for your help, awesome good humor and especially for catching that tuna!