Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Dismal Swamp Welcome Center
36 30.01 N76 20.50 W

Well, we had a great 48 hours anchored at our secret spot on the river.   Indeed, we never saw nor heard another person the whole time.   The weather has been insanely hot, but out there we had a good remedy -- a bucket of cold river water poured over your head every 30 minutes makes life quite bearable.

In the early morning and evening when the sun was low, the temperatures quickly became comfortable. Both Libby and I enjoyed exploration trips in the dinghy.   Libby invented a new way of travel that she says is her new favorite.  She rows the dinghy a half mile away, then allows it to drift back in the current, taking an hour or two to return.  I tried it,  great fun.   Doing that makes you even more aware of the sounds of the swamp.  I heard and identified a pheasant, some Canada geese.  I also heard footsteps and branches breaking in the woods -- it may have been a bear.

I was amazed to learn that there are tides on that river.  I thought that it was too far to any ocean inlet to have any detectable tide.  Not true.  The water level doesn't change noticably but the current in the tiver changes from about +1/4 knot to =1/4 knot every six hours.  That's definitely the signature of tides.  I guess it is easy to underestimate the effects of sieche waves which occur everywhere to some extent.

Today, we moved along here to the welcome center.   Surprise, there were 6 other sailboats who went through the lock with us.  We tied up here around 3 oclock.  By 3:30 all the people from all the boats were sitting here in the air conditioned lounge of the welcome center seeking refuge from the heat.

Bad news: The weather looks uncooperative.  I think we should have left New Bern a week earlier.  Anyhow, it won't be until maybe Saturday that we can go offshore.   We have no desire to motor up the Chesapeake and down the Delaware in this heat wave.   Therefore, we'll kill a day or two here on the canal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My toes

The Pasquotank River
36 23.15 N 076 17.19 W

This picture sums up well the end of a perfect day.
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Morning Scene

The Pasquotank River
36 23.15 N 076 17.19 W

Wouldn't it be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Our Little Heaven

The Pasquotank River
36 23.15 N 076 17.19 W

We've had a whole month of urban living with lots of social and family contact.  Now for a day of solitude, isolation, and nature.  We are anchored at the prettiest spot along the prettiest river on the whole east coast.  At least, so according to our opinion.

Our spot is on a side branch of the river.  Only 1/2 mile from the ICW, yet a place seldom visited.  In all likelihood, we will not see nor hear any other people as long as we stay here.

What we do hear is magic. It is the sound of the swamp.   There is the occasional loud and mysterious splash.   There are familiar bird calls, osprey calls, and owl calls.   Several times we heard what sounded like flocks of geese-like birds, but we saw nothing and the sounds were definitely not Canada geese.  We also hear the distinctive graak of the great blue heron.  There are several of them nearby.

Most interesting is what I call frog outbursts.   It stars with silence.  Then, every 15 minutes or so first one frog starts croaking, then hundreds of frogs join in.  It builds to a deafening catcophony of croaks in about 1 minute, then it dies away to silence once again.  Sometimes, the cut-off is not gradual but abrupt, as if someone called STOP!   Most of the calls are high pitched. I figure those are the females.   Once in a while I hear a distinctly lower croak from a bull frog.   The outbursts vary in location.  It seems that every 100 yards or so forms a frog neighborhood, and each outburst is between one neighborhood and the next.  Once I heard the sound migrate to a third remote neighborhood, then to a fourth even more remote.   Now after dark, the outbursts are gradually being replaced by more-or-less continuous croaking from all frogs in all directions, but now accompanied by crickets.  I figure it's all about sex.  Each of those horny frogs is crying "Over here!"

Very faintly in the distance we can hear some highway noise, so I know we're not in true wilderness.  There is also (obviously) a cell tower that gives me a strong signal, otherwise I couldn't post this.  I looked it up on Google Earth.  See the picture below.  It explains everything.  We are at the X mark. in a wilderness.  This wilderness follows the river, but it is bounded on each side by farm lands.   Perhaps the wilderness' extent is the flood plain.   In any event, we followed the river up here.  Houses became less and less common and for the last several miles we saw none at all. Nevertheless, the picture shows the true situation.  It is the veneer effect in extreme.  Our pristine wilderness is only a few miles wide.   Oh well, we're lucky to be here in any case.   Those people out on the highway never get to see how beautiful it is here.

R.I.P. Pelle

On The Abemarle Sound, NC
36 03.86 N 076 00.58 W

Today we are sailing across The Abemarle Sound in North Carolina.  Thanks to the miracles of modern electroncs, I was able to receive email and to write and post this blog.   The email carried sad news.  Our friends Kenneth and Sonja in Sweden wrote to tell about the funeral of Per Lindgren yesterday.   How sad, that we could not be there to comfort Ingrid, his widow.  Alas, our days of international travel are over.  We travel today by sailboat.  Our typical speed is 10 km/hour.

You see, the name Per Lindgren loomed large in our lives.   Per (known as Pelle to friends) first invited me to come to Sweden in 1972.   He was searching for a consultant for a nuclear power plant training simulator.  I was such a person, but Per was a tough customer.  He wan't about to hire anyone sight unseen.  I responded to his invitation.   It turned out to be an interview.   Actually, interrogation would be an appropriate word.  Never before or since have I been questioned so thoroughly.  For two days, all day each day, Per bombarded me with insightful, probing, questions.  There was nothing hostile or aggressive about it; just very very thorough.   The end result was that I must have won his approval, because Per proposed that ASEA should engage me as a consultant for 2 years, including moving my family to Sweden temporarily.  It was the biggest, longest and most prestigious consulting assignment I ever had.

In 1973-74 I lived in Västerås Sweden with my family and worked on that simulator project under Per's direction.  Per introduced us to Kenneth and Sonja Randén who also became lifelong friends.  In return, I slaved on Per's project. We had very difficult customers to deal with.  The contract was difficult to fulfill.  Nevertheless, we persevered and ultimately succeed.  The end product was cutting edge technology; better than any similar simulator in the world at that time.   All of us, but especially Per had something to be proud of.

Nine years after that, I reached a fork in my career.  It was time to seek a new job. I thought about the possibilities.  There were many.  Most appealing was to return to Sweden and to become a permanent employee of ASEA under Per's direction.   It was not ASEA, not Sweden that was the big appeal, it was the opportunity to work with Pelle's dynamic personality.

Per and I got along great.  We were very much alike.   We loved our work and we worked almost all the time.  Weekday nights until 2030 was our habit, also almost every Saturday and Sunday year round.  Most of the time we had the office to ourselves those odd ours.  Pelle and I used many of those hours engaged in eager discussion, debate and arguments.   Arguments?  Yes we fought a lot.  That's completely normal for high performing intellectual people.  They fight each other and they love it.  I'm afraid that poor Libby and Ingrid had a hard time dealing with it sometimes, but Pelle and I were very satisfied.

In the mid 1980s, Pelle and I and Sten-Örjan Lindahl, had the opportunity to tour the USA by car in a prolonged marketing campaign.   That was a grand adventure.  Per hated American coffee.  It was too weak for him.  Per used to smuggle instant coffee into restaurants.   When nobody was looking, he would slip 2-3 spoonfuls into his cup of restaurant coffee.  Then, to the amazement of everyone within sight, he would add 10-15 cubes of sugar to the cup and drink the coffee through another cube held between his teeth!

One Sunday on the tour, we rented a little sailboat on a lake in Kentucky.  There wasn't much wind but we had fun.   Mid trip, Pelle wanted to light his (foul smelling) pipe.  Sten-Örjan had the main sheet in his hand.  It was so that with a slight jerk of his wrist, he caused a slight puff of wind to spin downward from the sail and blow out the match as Pelle tried to light his pipe.  Pelle tried again and again.  Each time, Sten-Örjan flicked his wrist and the wind blew it out.  Eventually the whole box of matches was gone.  I was aware of what was happening the whole time, and Sten Orjan and I managed to keep straight faces.  We never told Per what we did.

The last time I saw Pelle was in 1994.   I had returned to Sweden to go sailing with Sten-Örjan and Kenneth.   It was also the occasion of an office celebration in Per's honor.  I forget the actual occasion.  But I remember enjoying the coffee and cakes in a room full of Pelle's admirers.  There were about 15 of us.  In a way we were all Pelle's children -- sort of an extended family.  Per was the patriarch and leader and we were the followers, me included.   That moment drove home the larger truth.  Per was not only a mentor and major leader for me, he was the same for a whole generation of successful, smart people.

Per Lindgren was and icon of the 20th century businessman and technocrat.   His business and leadership styles reflected those of the age he grew up in, but his technology was always leading edge. His sons I surmise, are men of the 21st century and they may have a hard time understanding how and why their father was so important and so influential.  I hope their dominant memories are proud ones.  Their farther was a great man.

Per Lindren, Rest In Peace


Friday, May 27, 2011

On the Road Again

35 16.58 N 076 36.40 W

Well, we reluctantly left New Bern and we're heading north again. It has been a splendid sailing day today. Tarwathie almost flew down the Neuse River.

Wednesday and Thursday we had another visit from David. The three of us then drove to Fayetteville, NC and there met Cathy. We all then picked up Nick for a farewell dinner. Nick's unit left for the war zone yesterday. We hope for the best. We're also confident that Nick will be a very good soldier. He's very happy at least to be sent to do the job he's been training for so long.

I have to give New Bern very high marks as a stopover place. The city and the New Bern Grand Marina where we stayed are both excellent. Everything we need is within walking or bicycle distance. We got to use the facilities and perqs of the Hilton Hotel. Whenever the weather beckons, the Neuse River is right there for day sailing. It is the only place I know on the east coast where a Waffle House restaurant can be easily reached from the boat. That alone gives it an A. David and I are both big fans of Waffle House.

Our plan is to work up to Elizabeth City, then the Dismal Swamp Canal, then Hampton, VA. The next step depends on the weather. If favorable, we'll go to sea and head for New York. If not, we'll go up the Chesapeake and down the Delaware.

Our ultimate destination this week grows more uncertain every day. Lake Champlain and Vermont sound like disaster areas. Libby had the best idea. We *must* go up the Hudson. We have several important visits to accomplish. After that, we'll choose between Buffalo on the canal, Champlain on the canal, or to reverse course and head for Maine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sounds Nasty

;Fayetteville, NC

we're hear to see Nick off he deploys tomorrow.

Hellishly hot , 97F 39C. Time to move north. The weather up there doesn't sound good either. See below.



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Monday, May 23, 2011

Howard Camping: Forecaster

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Look at this picture I downloaded from sailflow.com this afternoon.

Note especially the ugly dark band that fills the Abemarle Sound, Alligator and Pasquotank Rivers. That color means gale force winds 35-40 knots. The picture was supposed to give the forecast for 1800 today and I captured the picture at 1730.  Cruisers like ourselves have all been regaled with horror stories of how bad Abemarle Sound can be in a gale, so that really got my attention.

But there is something strange.  The shape of the gale seems to exactly fit the shores of the waters.   Yet those waters are too small to support their own micro climate.  Something looked fishy.

I checked current wind observations on the Abemarle.  They said winds 17 knots.  I checked the text version of the marine forecast for the Abemarle.  It said 10-15 knots.   The corroborating evidence for the picture just wasn't there.  I believe that the forecast shown in the picture was somehow horribly wrong.

What the dickens was going on?  I don't know.  I can speculate that Reverend Howard Camping has a new job as a forecaster for sailflow.com after losing his job over the End Of Days fiasco last Friday. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

It has been hot and very quiet here the past few days.   Actually, I found the quiet to be a dissapointment.

First, there was the biker convention.   Well, the days of Hell's Angels style biking have changed (or aged) a lot.   This was a family crowd of Harley bikers.   They brought their children and grandchildren.  They burned a little rubber in the parking lot doing stunts, but otherwise it was very quiet.  By 9 PM they were all in bed with lights out.
Publish Post
Next there was the end of the world with all the debauchery promised to follow.  Well, you know how that turned out.

Turns out that the biggest event for us this weekend was me riding 6 miles away to go to the store and having the chain on my bicycle break when I was out there.  It was a long walk back.  Fortunately, I made it back before the full blast of midday sun.

I've been sitting at the computer, editing and writing articles for the next Westsail newsletter this weekend.  Actually, sitting in the air conditioned lounge is a great way to escape the heat.  By the way, the heat is an urgent reminder that we need to restart our northward migration.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Excuses Excuses

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Earlier, we said that we would be leaving New Bern this week.  The weather has been great.  There is no weather reason why we didn't leave.  Yet here we sit.  Further, I think we'll be here for much of next week also.    What's our excuse for such inaction?   It's not complicated;  we like it too much here.

Every morning this week, we got up and said, "Shall we go?"   "Nah," is the answer, "let's stay another day."   After several days of that we learned that there is a big motorcycle meet here this weekend.  That sounds like fun to see.  Then we learned that Saturday is the beginning of the end of the world and that 170,000 people have pledged to rape, pillage, and burn starting Saturday night.  Gee, a horde of rampaging bikers -- what a sight to see?  We can always leave the dock and drop anchor 100 meters away to watch the show.   Finally, David gets more days off next week to try for one more day sail.  What better place to do it than here?

The real answer is that we don't need any excuse.  The cruiser's privilege is to decide every day, "will I stay or will I go," 365 days every year.

The flooding situation in Champlain is not getting better.  Indeed, it's still raining and the water level is coming up again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Socially Whirling

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

We're socially active even in New Bern.  However, this week we're traveling in known circles rather than new ones.

Last winter in Marathon, George & Carol on Traumeri, and Bob & Sandra on Carpe Diem were our closest neighbors.   We all became a cordial social circle.  It so happens that George and Carol live near New Bern.

Last Friday, George, Carol, Libby and I all drove to Beaufort to meet Bob & Sandra.  Bob & Sandra are on their northward migration; just passing through.  The six of us had a grand time catching up on the news over a leisurely dinner in Beaufort (below).

Yesterday, we spent the day doing lots of things with George and Carol.  Libby got to indulge her green thumb a little helping to choose some new plants and then planting them in George and Carol's yard.  Meanwhile, I used George's woodworking shop to make a new floor cover for the shower pan in Tarwathie; something that has been on my to-do list for years.   

When all that was done, George and I drove off in George's Porsche to the yacht club.  That was my first ride ever in a car like that.   Anyhow, we went out for a brief sail in stiff 20-25 knot winds.   We used a reefed main and reefed jib, and Traumeri behaved fine.  She sails closer to the wind than Tarwathie can.

After a pleasant dinner, George and Carol drove us back to the Hilton.  It was a fine day, thank you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not Quite Ready

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

That was space shuttle Endeavor seen from the ocean side as we sailed past a few weeks ago.  Apparently, she wasn't ready for launch that day but today she (hopefully) is.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

The Beauty of Cumberland Island, Georgia

Cumberland Island above.  Lake Champlain at Burlington below.  That is the fuel pump we used last summer.  The third picture is the site of the dinghy dock we used last summer.   

The lake is about 10 feet above normal.  The level is going down at the rate of about 1.5 feet per month.  After the flood recedes, damage has to be cleaned up.   We are beginning to doubt the wisdom of going up there this summer.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

For Today's Project

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Last week, when out sailing with David, the jib furler suddenly acted up.   It was extremely hard to furl the sail.  We had to use the winch.   Same problem next time I unfurled -- extreme friction.    I made a mental note to take it apart and lubricate the parts, but it seemed strange that friction should appear so suddenly.

In New Bern, we have the unusual privilege of having Tarwathie's bowsprit sticking out over the flat surface of the dock.  I looked when walking by, and I spotted the real problem.  It appears that a screw came loose, allowing some of the plastic parts to come apart.  Actually I can't be 100% sure that was the cause of the problem or a consequence of the problem.

Today's project was to repair that. I took advantage of having the bowsprit stick out over the dock and put out a drop cloth underneath it.  The cloth could catch all the screws and nuts I dropped as I went along.  Usually, those things I drop when working on the furler go straight into the sea.

The three pictures below show my furler in exploded views.  It's a complex apparatus.  My repair was essentially to redo the two steps shown in the third picture.   I also took advantage of having, Mitchel Hardware nearby.  It is an old fashioned hardware store.  I needed three 6mm screws with 1mm pitch and torx heads, and 6mm nylon lock nuts; all in stainless.  I found everything, except that I had to settle for hex heads rather than torx.  Not bad.   The job took two hours.

We have had this furler for 3 years.  I bought the Furlex brand because it is supposed to be the Cadilac of furler brands.  After 40 years of sailing, it is the first furler I ever owned.  I must say that after three years, I have a love-hate relationship to it.  At times, I wish I could go back to the old fashioned hanked-on sail.

I'll confess to being 50% of the problem.  The new jib I ordered with the new furler 3 years ago was specified to be made of 7 ounce cloth.   I though it would last longer.   I didn't reckon with weight and stiffness.  The sail is far too heavy, perhaps 150 pounds.  It is also stiff and hard to roll up requiring lots of force to pull the furler control line.  I suspect that it overloads the Furlex furler's capacity.  

The other half of the problem has to do with the control line that wraps around the drum.  If you wrap too many turns around the drum, the diameter of the roll becomes too thick and it rubs against the outer cover.  Too few turns and you run out of line before the sail is fully wound up.   I added and subtracted turns until I had the right balance.  At least I thought so.  

One day out at sea, I had to furl the sail at night in very heavy wind.   The force on the control line was too much.  I had to use the winch.   That caused the turns around the drum to tighten much more than normal causing me to run out of line before the sail was fully furled.  (20 loose turns could become 17 turns when pulled very tight.)  I couldn't see that because it was dark.   I kept turning the winch and pulled the drum apart in it's two pieces.  (See the assembly diagram above).  It also pulled out the screws that hold the outer covers on.  Miraculously, none of the parts dropped into the ocean.  Nevertheless, that was something I definitely could not repair at sea in heavy weather, so the jib was out of service for the remainder of that passage.  Ever since that day, the furler is even harder to operate.  I think some of the plastic parts got distorted.  Libby needs to use the winch 100% of the time to roll up the jib, even in light conditions.

If I was crossing an ocean, I'm sure I would feel much safer with a hanked-on sail.  The furler is too complicated.  Too easily broken, and impossible to repair under way out at the end of a long bowsprit.  Blue water sailors will recognize the mantra.  KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirty Jobs

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I spent yesterday and today doing some dirty jobs.  Not as dirty as those on the TV show Dirty Jobs, but nasty nonetheless.  

Recently I wrote that one must enjoy working on the boat to be a boat owner.  True, but some jobs are more difficult than others.

These jobs have been on my to-do list for some time.

First, I cleaned the engine compartment.   Most boaters don't have to do this nearly as often as I do.  Why is that?  Because a "feature" of Tarwathie is that access to the engine compartment is easy because  I can lift off the cockpit floor.   Another feature is generous lazarette storage in bins under the cockpit seats.  I've gradually learned that both features provide ways for dirt to get into the compartment.   I ought to be more careful to clean the floor and the recessed lips around the floor before lifting it.  I also ought to think about providing air and water tight liners for the lazarette bins.

Next, I cleaned the engine heat exchanger.   This is something I ought to do every year, but it has been two (three?) years since I did it last.  The reason I avoid it is that it is so difficult to do.  The parts that seal it in to the engine become frozen in place with lime and salt.  They are devilishly hard to work with.   I'm supposed to remove the caps at each end, but this time I tried for two days to remove the forward cap.  It wouldn't budge.  I finally gave up.   That means I can't replace the o-ring on the forward cap as I should.

Anyhow, we noticed that the engine ran 10-15 degrees hotter than normal under load.  That is a sure sign that cleaning the heat exchanger could not be postponed any longer.

The heat exchanger after removal before cleaning.

The procedure is to remove the heat exchanger.   Brush it off.  Soak it in acid.  Then put everything back together.  Above the picture shows it before any cleaning.  Look closely and you can see a 1/4 inch thick coat of crud that covered about 1/3 of the surface.   Also, about 20% of the 60 tubes were blocked with crud.  I think the crud was mostly salt.  (Hmm, if the external crud really is salt, it must mean that the seals aren't tight and salt water contaminates the coolant.  I see no signs of corrosion in there, but I can't think of any other source of crud on the primary side.  Maybe I should have licked the crud to taste it.   Double yuck.)

Third, I had to repack and tighten the stuffing box.  That is the part that allows the propeller shaft to penetrate from the dry inside to outside the hull, while not letting water in.   It had been dripping recently, and needed work.  This job is hard to do because I almost have to stand on my head on the transmission to reach the stuffing box and put wrenches to it.  It is very uncomfortable.   

I once helped Ray repack his stuffing box on his trawler.  It was amazing how much room there was in his compartment compared to mine, and how easy that made it to do the job  Spaces are very crowded in a little sailboat; especially the engine compartment in a double-ended boat with a tapered stern.

Fourth I re-plumbed the sea water cooling supply hoses.  Why?  Just because the old hoses were old.  It was a precautionary move.   This job was dirty because it required part of the job to be done in the space under the engine pan.  There is a water tight pan under the engine.  Under that pan there is a two inch thick space to the bottom of the hull.  The space is very tight.  I've never worked in there before.  I felt something loose in there and pulled it out.  It was a stainless clamp and two bolts that must have been meant to clamp something down in place.   It isn't doing it's job now.  I have no idea what it was supposed to be clamping.

One more dirty job to do soon.   I have to remove the toilet and replace the internal parts.  It is working as is but not working to peak efficiency.  While it's apart, I have to clean away the encrusted salt that coats everything.

$1M boat sinks at inle

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

We skipped coming it at St. Augustine Inlet.  Based on the story below, I'm glad.  The story also illustrates some of the politics.

$1M boat sinks at inlet
SOURCE: The St. Augustine Record
DATE: 9 May 2011
LINK:  <http://twurl.nl/5sumkq>

The rapid sinking of a new $1 million, 48-foot sport fishing boat
that ran hard aground in St. Augustine Inlet last week after missing a
temporary buoy adds another blow to the harbor's reputation.

  Last year, two private boats also ran aground in the inlet, causing
expensive damages to both.

  However, St. Augustine's director of general services, Jim Piggott,
said this time there's a solution at hand.

  The Coast Guard has a vessel that installs big buoys. It has recently
been serviced and will be back working by the end of June or early July,
he said. 
  "(This sinking) is not the sort of public relations the city wants,

but the Coast Guard has told us they are coming down Saturday to install
a second temporary buoy," Piggott said Monday. "We're their first
priority when the larger boat is ready. The city is well aware of what
is happening out there and is trying to fix it. When the dredging (of
the inlet) is done, we'll be one of the best harbors on the East Coast."

 The sinking
 The lost boht, named "The Edge," had been home-ported in New Jersey.

  Attempts to raise it and tow it to Camachee Cove Marina failed
because of the high surf. Crew members from the local office of TowBoat
US said they tried several times over the last few days to raise it.

  Jerry Dixon, chairman of St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach
Commission, said the channel's edge is marked by a green temporary buoy,
designated as 5A.

  Dixon explained that 5A is much smaller than the inlet's permanent
outside buoy, which over time has been surrounded by shifting sand. It
now sits in very shallow water, far out of place.

  "The boat's owner didn't see the little buoy but did see the bigger
one," Dixon said. "That boat needs eight to 10 feet. He hit the shoal in
two feet of water going rather fast."

  The grounding forced the propeller and the drive shaft up through the
bottom of the boat.

  The couple aboard issued a Mayday and were rescued by passing
boaters. The Edge sank immediately.

  At high tide, the only part of the boat visible above the surface is
the flying bridge.

  To prevent any more sinkings, the Coast Guard plans a second
temporary buoy, called 5B, near 5A.

The dredging hang up

  Right now, $6 million is waiting to be spent dredging the inlet

  The county, St. Augustine, Port, Waterway District and Florida Inland
Navigation District have all agreed to a multi-party effort to pump
channel sand onto sand-hungry St. Augustine Beach.

  That project was due to begin in the fall, after least tern nesting
season ends.

  The final step involved getting a permit from the Florida Department
of Environmental Protection.

  Dixon said, "Everybody's on board."

  But in April, the South Ponte Vedra-Vilano Beach Restoration
Association asked DEP for a 30-day period to file a petition challenging
the permit.

  "We are in the process of retaining an attorney to counsel, instruct
and inform us the proper procedures in filing this petition," their
letter to DEP said.

  Tom Turnage, president of that group, was unavailable for comment

  Previously, the association said dredging in the ebb shoal, a sand
donation area in the ocean outside the inlet, had caused erosion on
their properties.

  The Corps of Engineers spent $1 million on scientific studies
disproving that notion.

  Dixon said this delay could push the channel dredging into 2012.

 The assessment

  Florida Inland Navigation District Commission Carl Blow, who
represents St. Johns County on FIND, took his own boat out Sunday to
shoot photos of the sunken boat.

  "This is the most expensive damage we've seen yet," he said. "When I
was there, a large number of bigger vessels who had visited St.
Augustine headed out of the channel. Everyone was taking photographs."

  Blow is afraid some corporate boat owners will place restrictions on
their vessels coming here.

  "That would be bad, especially because a lot of yachts come here and
spend a lot of money," he said. "It appears to be a fairly new boat with
all state-of-the-art electronics. I can't imagine it not being a total

  However, he said, there's no legal liability attached to the city,
county, Port, FIND or Corps.

  "The captain of the vessel has total responsibility. But the buoy is
hard to see," he said.

  Dixon agreed.

  "The captain made an error in navigation," he said. "But in reality,
that buoy was in the wrong place. With reports like this, insurance
companies are going to say, 'We're not going to insure you if you go in

  Blow said the vessel went down in a hurry.

  "If it stays there, it will break up in pieces," he said. "Eventually
we'll find those pieces -- maybe even its gas tank -- on Anastasia State

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Eye of The Needle

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

The news from Vermont and New York is sobering.  Lake Champlain is flooding at record high levels.  It is about 11 feet higher than its normal summer level.   Not only that, it is very stormy up there and high winds continue to churn the lake into a tempest.

The rivers and creeks are also very inhospitable to boats right now.  Swelled with flood waters, the currents rage, the high levels prevent docks from deployment and the waters are full of floating debris.

Even here in the Carolinas, we arrived a mere week after the passage of one of the most destructive spring cold fronts ever that spawned many hundreds of tornadoes. Hopefully, we've seen that last of those as spring weather transitions to summer weather..

On the southern end of our sandbox, hurricane season starts in just three weeks.   It is yet to be seen what that brings.

While all this is going on to the north and south, we continue to enjoy splendid balmy weather.  Not violent, not cold, not hot.

I've blogged before about how we pace our migrations so as to avoid bad weather to the north and the south.  This year seems to illustrate that point to the extreme.   We are threading the eye of the needle weather wise.  It reminds me of what my friend Bob on Carpe Diem says, "We don't live in a boat, we live on a boat."  That expresses it very well.  

Part of the great pleasures of this life style is that we live out in the weather than "ordinary" people.  When it is nice, we enjoy it more.  We avoid bad weather, but when it comes we live more at risk.  I'm pretty sure that gets to the core of the attractive appeal of cruising to some people, and to the fear and repulsion of other people.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Master Of His Domain

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Today we were out day sailing on the Neuse River with Nick.  At one point we passed by a day marker on a piling.  On top of the piling was an osprey nest.  Earlier in the week Dave and I passed the same nest and the mother osprey screamed at us for being too close to her nest.

We love ospreys.  They are grand birds of prey and marvelous fishermen.  We see them all over from Vermont and Maine down to southern Florida.    Of course they are most numerous in Chesapeake Bay where every piling in the water seems to have an osprey nest on board.

Back to the story.  A few minutes later I saw the father osprey.   He was flying just inches above the surface and he was carrying a huge fish.   I yelled at Nick to look.  We both watched the rest of the story.

The fish was really big.  It might have weighed more than 10 pounds.  The osprey was large but he proabaly didn't weigh more than a pound or two.   The fish probably weighed more than the osprey's whole family.   Several times before I've seen osprey trying to fly with too big a fish and being forced to drop the fish to keep from crashing.  That's what I thought would happen this time.

The osprey pounded his wings furiously.   He was so low that the fish's tail dragged in the water and the osprey's wing tips touched the water each flap. He was taking advantage of ground effect.  Flying for a plane or a bird is easier when flying lower than one wing's span to the ground. He'll never be able to fly higher I though.  Wrong.  As he came within 50 feet of the nest, the osprey reared back, stopped flapping and flared his wings.  He lifted.  The nest was only 8 feet above the water.   Up up he glided, losing speed every second.   Finally, he soared just above the nest at the same time his wings stalled and the father and the fish dropped neatly into the nest.

What a master of his domain.  That osprey knew exactly what he was doing and how to go about it and he executed that delicate maneuver perfectly.   We were honored to have witnessed it.

Andrea Ross captured an award winning photo of what I'm talking about (except that the fish we saw was much bigger)  See it here.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Climate Change

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

We have been asked if we've seen the effects of climate change in the last six years of cruising. The short answer is no.

A more thoughtful answer is that it takes many years to become completely acclimated to the climate variations of a single location.  (Interesting word acclimated huh?)   Now we travel so much that I don't think we'll ever again be able to claim expertise in the climate of any location at all.

So what notable changes have we seen?   We've experienced fewer gales in recent years. I suspect though that is because we've learned to avoid migration mid-October to November, abd March to mid-April.  Not global warming.

2005, our first year cuising was a really big year for hurricanes (including Katrina and Wilma).  Since then there have been almost none on the east coast.  I doubt that is due to climate change.

In 2009/2010 we experienced a really frigid winter in Florida.   However, I'm told that such winters occur there once every 20-25 years.  It's unusual but nothing new and not a sign of climate change.

I saw a Canada Goose in southern Florida for the first time this year, but a single goose can not prove global trends.

So, the long answer is no.  We can't claim to have observed any climate change.   Most notable is how we've changed our habits to adapt to the climate in our cruising areas.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Wind In Her Teeth

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I ran across this picture. I don't think it has ever been on the blog before. The picture was taken from the deck of a Westsail 43 sailing beside us off the coast of Florida, April 26, 2010. It happened to be the start of Tarwathie's finest day so far -- 180 nautical miles in 24 hours. She does indeed look happy and splendid.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Back In The Saddle

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Well we had a good week.   For five days, we hung out with family in Fayetteville, NC (Fort Bragg) and at Dave & Cathy's new house in Zebulon, NC.  We never did get in to Raleigh.  

Monday/Tuesday this week, Dave brought us back to New Bern.  Then, we let Libby take Dave's car while Dave and I enjoyed day sailing on the Nuese River.  We made it a short course on sailing and boat operations.   I think that Dave is ready to take Tarwathie out on his own with friends or family whenever he wants to.

Tuesday was an outstanding day for sailing.  We had 15-20 knots on the beam.  It was ideal.  We practiced with several sail combinations, both too much and too little sail for conditions.  Still, we were able to do up to 7 knots with all those combinations.  It was an excellent demonstration that more sail does not make you go faster.  

We pulled into Hancock Creek and dropped the hook for lunch.  By coincidence we were right next to Calpyso, the W32 that belongs to our friends Jeff & Wendy.  They weren't there, too bad.   We had a nice lunch and planned to have a nice nap, when extremely noisy Harrier jets started flying over low.  Well, Hancock Creek happens to be on the property of Cherry Point Marine Air Station.  That makes it nice to visit, but not nice for napping.

What now?  Well, there are more opportunities for family contacts this month.  Well, we'll learn more about the New Bern area, which seems very nice.  In addition, I have engine maintenance projects, and interior varnish, and repainting the interior of the dinghy, projects to do.  (This rare hiatus with a whole month at the dock, provides the ideal situation to work on the dinghy.)

Anybody who thinks that cruising is nothing other than enjoyment and fun, think again.   The list of maintenance projects is never ending.   After all, we use the few things we have intensely, so it should be expected that we wear them out fast.   Long before cruising, I recall telling friends, "If you don't enjoy working on the boat, you have the wrong hobby."   That's very true.  Fortunately, we don't mind doing our maintenance work at all.