Saturday, May 31, 2008

All Mariners Seek Refuge Immediately

Mattawoman Creek, Potomac River, MD
N 38 33.867 W 077 11.827

Yesterday we got a phone call from our friend Ken. Ken is a friend of Dean. Both Dean and Ken are fans of this blog. Way back when we were in Florida, Ken contacted us and said that he would like to meet when we get to North Carolina. We said sure. Poor Ken, it never worked out. We tried Beaufort, NC. We tried Oriental and New Bern and Elizabeth City as meeting points. No dice. Finally Ken read the blog and went to the Gangplank Marina in Washington hoping to meet us there. Alas, he got
there on Friday and we're not going to arrive until Sunday.

Last night's anchorage and tonight's are both afflicted with local varmints. I'm referring to Marines from the Quantico, VA marine base near here. These marines all have very small, very powerful, and very fast speed boats. They never seem to move at less than full throttle. They must get only 5 miles per gallon of testosterone. As long as they don't run into us I don't mind, but their close passes keep making us jump.

Our friend Les Pendleton said, "If you listen to NOAA weather reports, you'll never ever leave the dock with any boat." There's a lot of truth in that. Today a cold front is approaching. The weather radio says that there will be some thunderstorms. Some of the storms may be severe with damaging hail, damaging winds and risk of tornadoes. All mariners are warned to seek refuge immediately. So here we sit, at anchor in a refuge, waiting with anxiety for this end of the world event.

The truth is that almost none of those warnings are ever true. The storms are widely scattered, almost always less severe than they say, and not bad for Tarwathie to ride out. One thing -- Tarwathie is not a small craft. Another thing, severe thunderstorms tend to be over in 15 minutes, they are less than a threat than storms with sustained winds. Still $another thing, the weather alert always uses the word "may". Psychology dictates that we hear "will" when they say "may." They could also
say that an asteroid *may* strike the earth and destroy it. That would not be totally incorrect.

Our drill to prepare for severe thunderstorms is:
1) Take the sails down and tie them.
2) Find a place to anchor
3) Anchor securely
4) Take below anything that might blow away
5) Put all easily accessible electronics (computer, phone, radio, GPS) in the oven.
6) Close doors and hatches.
7) Stand by to do anchor watch.

The one thing we can't do, is the one thing that most land lubbers want most to do -- get off the water.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Washington Bound

The Potomac River
N 37 58 W 076 20

Well, I took the plunge and reserved a slip at the Gangplank Marina in downtown Washington D.C. for the whole month of June. It's expensive. Rental for the slip will cost us almost $700 for the month. That's a lot more than we like to spend. On the other hand, we'll get a lot. A hotel room near that location for the month of June would cost $6,000 to $18,000!

So we're looking forward to having a lot of fun. We'll be near a metro station. Between that and the city buses, we can go anywhere in the DC area. It is hard to think of any other place were there are so many things to do. Part of the fun will be a weekend visit from our son John and his family, Cheryl, Nick, Sara, Katelyn and Victoria. Seeing kids and grand-kids is a special treat for us.

Right now though, we're on the first day of a 3 day cruise to get to DC. This morning we sailed down the Rappahonack River, up Chesapeake Bay and in to the Potomac River and the state of Maryland. The weather is excellent, and the forecasts for the next two days call for more fine weather. Life is good.

We just passed a school of rays (sting rays?) in the water. There were 5 of them, swimming close together. I never saw rays before except in the shallow waters close to shore.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Bad But Interesting Video

Urbanna Public Library

Ignore the audio. When I shot the film I didn't understand what we were seeing.

In actuality, it is an Osprey standing in water less than 6 inches deep. The Osprey is using his claws to dig down in to the mud to catch a clam or a mussel for his diner. He uses his wings to keep balance.

We thought it was a pelican caught in a net, but just after shooting this video, the Osprey took off and flew away.

Despite the poor quality and misleading audio, I think it's an interesting video.

The Social Whirl

Urbanna Virginia Public Library

Three nights ago, we had a visit from Rachel (see the picture). Rachel cruised on the Westsail 32 Moonrise. I just added a link to Moonrise's blog in the Other Blogs section on your right.

Libby and Rachel

Two nights ago, we invited Karl and Glen over to have diner on Tarwathie. Both men live alone on their boats, and both are anchored here in Urbanna for a while. Karl has a small vessel (see the picture). I believe it is an Albin 23. He bought it in Malmö, Sweden and sailed over hear. The boat's name is Sjöjungfru, which means mermaid in Swedish. Libby and I enjoyed listening to Karl and Glen. The two of the are as different from each other as can be.

Karl on his boat

Last night, we had diner with Gary and Nell at their house. Gary is building a wonderful wooden sail boat in his garage. We've written about him before. We've had the couple on board Tarwathie for dinner, and once Gary sailed with us and John and Mary Ann to Deltaville. Anyhow, they invited us over for a crabcake and shrimp diner. Mmm mmm boy was it good.

Gary is also making good progress on the boat. See the picture, and compare it with the picture from last year.
Libby and Gary inspect the boat

Tomorrow, Nell leaves for two weeks in Peru as part of a church mission. That sounds like a nice adventure. She can tell us about it when we pass Urbanna sometime in the future.
Gary and Nell

This morning we were supposed to leave for Washington D.C. I got up at 0530 to prepare. The wind was excellent. However, it was cold and it was raining. It just didn't look like fun. I exercised the cruiser's privilege. I changed my mind about leaving and crawled back in to bed to cuddle with Libby.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Urban Urbanna

Urbanna, Virginia
N 37 38.248 W 076 34.146

Boy, this is a place where we could get attached to. Sort of like Velcro (whoops, meant Vero) Beach. We like Urbanna.

Yesterday we had a visit from Rachel. Rachel is a fan of this blog. She first ran across it a few months back. She doesn't exactly remember how she found the blog. In any event, she liked it and over the span of several weeks, she read the whole thing. The whole thing is quite a mouthful nowadays. There are 889 articles posted here.

Anyhow, Rachel has a special interest in our blog because she cruised on a Westsail 32 in the years 2001-2004. She traveled more widely than we have, including Alaska, British Columbia, the west coast, Mexico, Panama, Belize. and the Caribbean.

Rachel lives nearby so she contacted us and arranged to drive to Urbanna for a visit. We had fun, Rachel, Libby and I swapping stories over diner.

Unfortunately one rude man blemished the fine day. At the Compass Quay motel nearby, is a big parking lot that is almost aways empty. There are few or no guests at the motel. Anyhow, Rachel tried to park her car there because she had a dog in the car, and she needed a shady spot. The man on duty at the motel came out and went ballistic; very rudely chasing her and us off the property. There was no need for nastiness. Nevertheless, with that one exception, we find the people in Urbanna to be exceptionally friendly and hospitable.

We also met the crew of Cygnus yesterday. We know them from Vero Beach and from the Bahamas. They were leaving today to sail for Solomons (excellent wind today). I told them about Tangier Island which is along their way. They told me about the pleasures of anchoring on Nantucket Island. We've never been to Nantucket. It might make a good stop this year.

Tonight, we have invited two neighbors for diner. Both are men about our age, who live alone on their boats. I think that both may be real characters. We'll find out.

Today I got an email from Rachel. She read the blog from yesterday about our fiberglass repair to the dinghy. She warned me that bare fiberglass deteriorates rapidly in bright sunlight. I didn't know that. My ignorance about fiberglass is rampant. Anyhow, thanks for the tip Rachel. I hurriedly painted over the repair spots today to protect it from UV. Later, when we're in a spot where we don't use the dinghy daily, I'll paint the whole thing.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wax On Wax Off

Urbanna, Virginia
N 37 38.248 W 076 34.146

One couldn't ask for a nicer day. The sky was blue, the temperature was around 72F (22C), the wind less than 5 knots.

I spent the morning in the dinghy cleaning and waxing the exterior stainless steel parts. Libby spent the afternoon cleaning the brown mustache from around the water line of the hull. That involves cleaning with Slimy Grimy, then waxing.

At the end of the day, we both felt like we came back from Karate practice (wax on wax off)

When we got here on Friday, there were only two other boats with people aboard anchored in the harbor. Yesterday, as the first day of a 3 day weekend, about 40 sailboats arrived in the afternoon. I think that they must have emptied all the marinas and yacht clubs in Deltaville to sail to Urbanna. They looked pretty coming in.

The beautiful motor vessel, Cape Ann leaves Urbanna harbor.

Above is the ship we saw in the Portsmouth, VA ship yard. It is flying Swedish and Finnish flags. Does anybody know what it is?

Our Dinghy Refit

We have a Fatty Knees brand hard dinghy. We like it a lot. It is roomy, and stable, and rows great, moves fine with a 2 hp outboard, and we have a sailing rig for it. Amazingly, almost as many boating people recognize it by her lines as recognize the Westsail. We're used to being hailed, "IS THAT A FATTY KNEES?" It's the only item we own with a brass plate that lists the name, address and phone number of the builders. They must be proud of what they do.

A disadvantage of the Fatty Knees is that it is delicate, and easily damaged. The fiberglass is very thin. This keeps the weight low. However, we carry her up on deck under the boom. She suffers inevitable dings and bashes from launching and retrieving operations, and bumps from other dinghys at the dinghy dock. So far, I've patched a dozen or so small holes and dings in the hull. By the way, JB Weld make a product called Water Weld that is perfect for such jobs. You can even apply it under water!

Lately however, the forward trunk of the dinghy started to show major cracks and separation from the hull. This is much more serious than dings. Repairs and reinforcement were sorely needed.

We did the project at the dock at the Blackbeard Sailing Club because we could take her off Tarwathie's deck without putting it in the water. I prepared for the project by buying epoxy resin, hardener, and fiberglass tape. The major repair was to lay down fiberglass tape over all the parts of the forward trunk that are subject to strain. I also wanted to improve my repair of minor dings by giving them a coat of resin.

The picture collage shows some of the pre-repair cracks, and also our preparations for the project on the dock.

I had never done fiberglass work before, so I was a little nervous about it. I mixed up the resin and hardener according to instructions. I was supposed to have 20-25 minutes of pot life plus 90 minutes of working time before it hardened.

At first, things went smoothly. I painted on the resin, laid down the fiberglass tape, then brushed on more resin on top of that. It worked well for about 10 minutes and I though, "This is easy. No problem." Then, the pot of mixed resin began smoking and got too hot to touch. In less than 90 seconds, the whole thing had hardened in to a solid block of plastic. See the picture below. I suspect, that it happened because the outside temperature was 80 degrees instead of 70 degrees.

Anyhow, I mixed up a new and smaller batch of resin and hardener, and used that to finish the job. This batch took 2 hours to harden, even though the temperature was the same. I'm pretty sure that the ratio of resin to hardener was 5:1 in both batches, so I can't explain the difference in behavior.

By evening, the epoxy had dried hard enough for us to put the dinghy back in her place under the boom on deck. She can have several days to cure before being put to use. If the repair doesn't last, I'll write about it here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Urbanna Once Again

Urbanna, Virginia
N 37 38.248 W 076 34.146

We made a bad choice last night. Just around dark, with 2-3 hours to go to Deltaville, the wind died out. There was a shallow part nearby. We decided to anchor there for the night exposed out on Chesapeake Bay. Well, needless to say, NOAA weather let us down. About the time we went to bed the wind picked up again and it blew around 15 knots. Within an hour or so the waves built up. So we rocked and creaked all night long. I had to get up 5 times to check on strange noises or to find things rolling around. Neither one of us slept. We really regret our choice of anchoring spot.

At 0500, first light, we hoised anchor and continued to Deltaville. We had both wind and current against us so we only made 2 knots using the engine. 3 hours later we made it to Jackson Creek, and guess what --- the wind stopped.

I went to West Marine in Deltaville to buy a new fender to replace the one that exploded on me. This on is a Taylor brand from Gloversville, NY. It has a lifetime guarantee.

We found out that neither Deltaville nor Urbanna have Memorial Day parades. Too bad. We decided to move on to Urbanna to spend the weekend. We really like it here.

One plus, compared to previous visits to Urbanna. Today, I'm picking up WIFI from here on the boat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Snakes In Trees

Deep Creek Virginia
N 36 44.432 W 076 20.698

Nora, our friend in Elizabeth City, gave Libby an interesting bit of local color. She said that tree branches overhanging The Great Dismal Swamp Canal are often brushed by the rigging of sailboats as they pass underneath. (We can attest to that, we've often brushed against branches in the canal.) Well in the spring, Nora says, poisonous snakes (cotton mouth snakes) like to mate in the branches of the trees. Sometimes, the boats brush the branches and knock the snakes off.

Imagine yourself as a snake enjoying a nice nap. Suddenly, you're knocked off your perch and you fall 50 feet to land on something hard. Well if that were me, it would put me in a very foul mood. I expect that it would be the same for the snakes. Yikes! Having an angry poisonous snake fall on your neck could ruin your whole day.

Well, you better believe it, today as we cruised up the canal we had our eyes on the sky. We eyeballed every tree. It turns out that we didn't see any snakes, and that the trees have been trimmed back so that Tarwathie didn't brush against any branches. Nevertheless, we couldn't stop looking.

I have no way to validate Nora's story, but it occurs to me that if she was pulling our legs, then it worked perfectly. Never again will I be able to go through the swamp without looking up. Come to think of it, that is the perfect prank to pull on your friends. You may have to think up different circumstances, perhaps wolverines hiding in garbage cans, but if you succeed it would be great fun.

This morning we got up at 0530 to get underway at first light. It worked. We backed out of the slip 10 minutes before dawn. Unfortunately, the draw bridge at Elizabeth City wouldn't open. The lady bridge tender apologies profusely, and she tried again and again. After four retries and 45 minutes, it finally opened. So much for our early start.

The Posquotank River above Elizabeth City is especially beautiful. It is surrounded everywhere by cypress swamps. In the early morning, mist rises off the still water giving it an ephemeral appearance.

We stopped at the visitor's center on the canal. One of our goals this year was to visit the newly opened swamp museum and nature trails just completed next to the visitor's center. We were a bit disappointed. The ranger warned us that there are ticks on the trails, and we were wearing short pants. We had to settle for a walk on the 300 yard long boardwalk, then to peek in to the exhibits at the museum. We saw everything there was to see in only 20 minutes. Next time, we'll come dressed to
hike on the trails. That would be more fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sampling The Pleasures

Elizabeth City, Mariner's Docks
N 36 17.915 W 76 13.099

Well, we have been sampling the pleasures of Elizabeth City for 3 days. This place has a lot to offer.

  • David and Hilde on Raven told us to visit their friend Earl on Dancing Bear at the nearby marina. I scribbled a note to myself to do that. As I was getting off the boat, I met a woman named Nora. Nora comes to the docks each day to offer rides to the grocery store to cruisers. Nora saw the note, and said, "So, you know Earl huh?" My goodness, the social net strengthens yet again.

  • Another couple came in on a trawler today. They said they remember meeting us at the public dock in Vergennes Vermont. More social net.
  • We had a great buffet dinner at the Coral Restaurant. They had chicken livers on the buffet. Wow! I haven't had chicken livers since Maurice's Restaurant in downtown Schenectady closed down. I went to the new Maurice's Restaurant and asked for chicken livers. They said, "We don't have them any more; all the customers who used to eat them are dead." Down here in the south, they don't have such a fetish about healthy food. Good.

  • Libby went to the laundromat, and Nora gave her a ride back.

  • We went to the Rose Buddies party on Monday and got to meet Steve, the mayor of Elizabeth City. Steve is very upbeat on his town. That's great. Steve told us that they are going to lay a plaque commemorating the Rose Buddies, and Joe Kramer and Fred Fearing who founded it. The plaque will be dedicated September 18, 2008.

  • I've been waiting for more than a year to get our anchor windlass repaired. The nut that releases the clutch was frozen. Elizabeth City is the only place on the East Coast I know that has a real machine shop close to the water front. I dismounted the windlass. That sucker weighs 100 pounds! Nora drove me over to the machine shop with it.

  • We visited the Museum of the Abemarle. Last year we visted the same place and I panned it in a blog article. It was a big beautiful building with almost nothing to display. Well, now that has been cured. They have nice exhibits and we learned a lot about the history of this region. I recommend this free museum if you're in the area.

  • I was able to walk to a hardware store and to an auto parts store to buy some things needed for the boat. Very convenient.

  • I'm able to get free WIFI here at the dock.

  • The machine shop fixed the windlass for only $20. I'll write a separate article about this later. Nora came to drive me back to the boat with the windlass.

  • Libby went to the Fitness Warehouse today for a shower. They have a pool and sauna too. It's very relaxing.

  • Tonight, we went to the diner theater. That's a place where you go to eat diner, then to watch a movie right from the diner table. It is very relaxing and pleasant. There, we met a nice young couple of Coast Guard people. They worked at the Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station (which is the biggest on the east coast). They also just bought a Cape Dory 28 foot cruising boat, and hope to do some real cruising themselves. They had fun picking our brains for cruising knowledge.

    The movie was Narnia. In normal circumstances, neither Libby nor I would choose to see such a movie. It is just not our kind of thing. We went for the diner. Surprise, we both enjoyed the movie immensely. It was great fun.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The hospitality of North Carolinians is great, and the best of the best are found in Elizabeth City. It really earns its nickname as the Hospitality Harbor.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Liz City

Elizabeth City, Mariner's Docks
N 36 17.915 W 76 13.099

Well, this place is sure familiar. I guess this is the 5th time we've stopped here at Elizabeth City in our wanderings. Once, Jennifer met us here to sail with us for a few days. On another occasion, our friends the Undrills sailed with us for a week and the trip terminated here.

The main man of the famous Rose Buddies who welcome cruisers and hosted daily parties, Mr. Fred Fearing, passed away last fall 2 days after we were here last. However, the Rose Buddies tradition lives on, albeit only Monday through Friday.

When we pulled in, we found that the boat right next to us, Ming, is a power cruiser and the home of Neal. Neal remembers us and remembers Don and Margaret on Heron from Vero Beach last December. The boat on the other side of us is a couple we met at West End, Bahamas. The social net continues to get stronger.

I just got an email from my long time buddy, Walt. Walt lives in Raleigh. We like to visit when we pass through NC, but unfortunately, it won't work this time.

There's a machine shop here. Tomorrow I'm going to find out if they can free up the frozen clutch on our anchor windlass.

Light Wind At Sea


I wrote before about how we hate being out at sea when there is no wind. Watch this video and you'll see why.

I took this video during our recent offshore passage from Florida to the Carolinas. The point of the video is to see what happens to our Windex.

For the benefit of land lubbers, a Windex is a very sensitive wind vane that sits at the top of the mast. The arrow points to where the wind is coming from. In today's world, a Windex is perhaps the most ubiquitous bit of sailing gear after sails, a mast, hull and rudder.

In this video, the Windex is seen to spin around and around. Imagine what our sails would do in those conditions. They flog back and forth. If the main sail is up, the boom flogs from side to side. It is very tiresome and it is hard on the equipment. It wears boat things out, and it wears out the crew too.

In reality, what is happening is that as the boat rocks in the waves, the top of the mast is waved back and forth. The waving motion is faster than the wind speed, so the Windex arrow flops like a flag on the end of a waving stick. For Tarwathie, we usually need more than 10 knots of relative wind speed to overcome the rocking action.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Boy Are We Glad We Left Manteo

Abemarle Sound
N 36 10.87 W 076 01.98

This morning we almost stayed for another day in Manteo. For one thing the weather called for 25 knot head winds this morning, when we would be foreced to motor out in the narrow channels and passages, and then nearly zero wind after that. I hate doing that against strong winds. Another thing was that today is the day for the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony. That was to be held at 1100 exactly at the place where we were tied up at the public dock. That sounded somewhat interesting from a local color point of view.

But leave we did, and boy are we glad. By 1030 we were out of the shallows and had entered Abemarle sound. Guess what, the weather report was wrong. We were able to set all sails and proceed close hauled (pointing as close as possible in to the wind) right across the dreaded Abemarle Sound.

We looked ahead and we could see the blimp hanger on the Posquotank River. What a great landmark. We could see it from 17 miles away. It can not be mistaken for anything else, nor can anything else be mistaken for a blimp hanger. Then the wind picked up but didn't change direction. Perfect! Soon we were doing 6.5 knots with main, jib and stay sails. What's more, we were pointing exactly where we wanted to go. Tarwathie was extremely happy with those conditions as so was her crew.

That makes today the nicest sailing day we've had since the Bahamas. As far as sailing to windward, it is possibly the best day ever. 29 nautical miles (33 miles, 54 km), all on port tack and all with almost no adjustments to sails or tiller. Wonderful.

Our first year on Tarwathie, I was very unhappy with her windward performance. I considered hiring an instructor to teach me how to sail her better. By the end of our second year, we learned more about heavy displacement boats. Now, in our third year, we have a new jib. She sails fine to windward. Just fine.

Tonight, we'll be in Elizabeth City. We'll stay there until Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pamlico Sail

Near Roanoke Island
N 35 52.63 W 075 37.43

The passage from Ocracoke to Manteo is about 60 miles long. The first 40 miles traverse open water on Pamlico Sound. We did this part in a very fast passage. The wind was behind us, about 15 knots. We flew only the spinnaker and it worked great. Speed was greater than 6 knots almost all the time. We didn't see any other vessels the whole time.

The last 20 miles of the passage involve moving through narrow dredged channels with shallow water all around us. It is, not unlike the ICW in Florida. As we entered the channels, we dropped the spinnaker. Soon, the wind died, then it started blowing again softly from the north. No problem. We'll just motor on ahead.

I almost ran us aground where the channel markers shifted from green-right red-left, to red-right green-left. I did it despite the fact that I knew we were approaching such a switch. I got confused because there were a lot of markers that weren't on my chart at all. While I was contemplating that, I went on the wrong side of a green. Fortunately, the depth sounder alarm alerted me and I turned back in to the channel.

The Coast Guard is calling PAN PAN EMERGENCY on the radio looking for a 25 foot motor boat with 3 people on board. They say that the people have an electronic failure and that they are lost. They think that they are 25 miles out to sea, either off Ocracoke, of off Hatteras. Tsk tsk, shame on them. I like to think that if we lost all GPS, we would know better where we are. Perhaps some day Libby will pull a surprise drill on me, pulling the plug on all electronics.

Our intention is to tie up at the public dock in Manteo. We'll stay there Friday, and weather permitting, we'll depart on Saturday for Elizabeth City.

It's fun seeing parts of the coast that we never saw before moving up and down the ICW. Our fear of getting blocked by shoal waters was allied by assurances from friends here in North Carolina. There's nothing like local knowledge to build confidence. We talked about using the alternate ICW route to Norfolk after Manteo. That route bypasses Elizabeth City and the Great Dismal Swamp. However, we may be able to meet Ken (a blog fan) in Elizabeth City. We also plan to try out the new nature park
and trail near the visitor's center on the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our WOWO Cruise

Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island
N 35 06.926 W 075 59.168

They call them RORO ferries. That is ferries that are designed for vehicles to roll-on roll-off. When I bought tickets for Libby and I to ride as passengers, the lady said, "WOWO. Walk-on Walk-off." So that's what I call our WOWO cruise.

It was fun. We had a sunny, warm day, with blue sky and no wind. The ferry ride took 2.5 hours. After posting blogs at the coffee shop this morning, we left on the ferry about 10:30. I met some motorcyclists from Glenns Falls, NY on the way. They and others were heading for the big bike meet in Myrtle Beach. More than 200,000 bikers are expected for that. Wow.

At the Cedar Island end, we had a 90 minute layover. We ate lunch in a picnic pavilion, then we walked on the nearby beach. There we saw a very strange sight. It was a bird in the water, about 100 feet out from the beach. The bird appeared to be half submerged, and trying to swim with its wings. But it was almost stationary. At first we thought it was a pelican, perhaps fouled in a fishing net. I took a video of it with the camera. Then, it suddenly lifted up and flew away. It looked like
an eagle. As it took off, it shivered in mid air to shake off water like a wet dog does. It was actually an osprey. Now we understand what it was doing. It was clamming. It was digging in the under water mud with its claws while standing in water less than 6 inches deep. It was digging for clams. Very cool.

On the ride back we encountered a group of 15 bicyclists who were on a tour conducted by Sojourners, a Vermont company. They were on a week long bike tour. That was cool.

We met the 2nd officer of the ferry boat. She admitted to having a dream job, and getting paid to do it. This lady had a knack for finding dream jobs. Before the ferry job, she worked as caretaker at a cabin on one of the outer banks barrier islands. That too sounded like a dream job.

Upon return, I had to do a diving tour. Inspection of the propeller zinc this morning showed it to be missing. Damn. The last time I checked it was in Fernandina Beach. At least, we have been in fresh water 2/3 of the time since then. Anyhow, I had to go diving with mask and snorkel to put the new zinc on and to clean the propeller. After that, I took a sun shower because the water in harbors is not the cleanest. It was much easier to change zincs in the Bahamas where the water is clear.
Here, I had to work mostly by feel. I sure hate that zinc design for Max Props. It sucks.

Tomorrow morning we depart for Manteo at 0600.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothers Day Scenes

Top left: We saw this mother ducking togther with 3 mallards (male) and 37 duckings. Wow! She deserves the Mother's Day tribute. Good thing she can't read. The sign says, "Danger Bombing Range"

Top right: Goslings find a nice sheltered and warm place out of the wind under mother's wing.

Bottom left: Not too bright. As soon as the rain passed, these mallards started swimming in the puddles at the side of the road.

Bottom right: Ruffled. This mother duck is trying to cross the road with her tail pointing at the 40 knot wind. Her feathers sure don't like that.
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Ocracoke Scenes

Howard Street (bottom center) is paved with oyster shells.
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Blow Blew

Ocracoke Coffe Company and Java Books

Yesterday morning I wrote that the gale was less than forecast. Well, after lunch it picked up to more than forecast. I clocked the winds up to 49 knots (56 mph, 25 meters/second). That's plenty of wind. There were only 4 boats anchored out in the harbor. We could see two of them trying to reset their anchors. It made me very glad that we were at the dock rather than at anchor.

Fortunately, I had placed us on the dock so that the wind blew us away from the dock rather than on the dock. One of our three big fenders exploded while tied up to the wall at Blackbead sailing club. I'm going to have to switch brands of fenders. That is the second time we had a fender explode on us. On of the brands has a lifetime guarantee. I'll buy that one.

Tied up next to us was the local para sail boat. There was no para sailing yesterday. One could imagine the would be para sailor being lifted to orbit in that wind. After lunch, the ferries also stopped operating for the day. It must be really bad for that to happen. You can see Tarwathie and the para sail boat and the stranded ferry all in this picture.

During the blow, I could see our 5/8 inch dock line all stretching like crazy. I hurried to put on chaffing gear to prevent damage where they feed through the hawse holes. Then the chaffing gear kept creeping up the rope until it didn't protect any more. I sifted through my knowledge of sailing lore from books I read, and recalled a way to secure the chaffing gear with twine so that it didn't creep. It worked.

Actually I shouldn't whine about 49 knots at all. Our friends who go to Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas all report that 50 knot blows pass through Georgetown almost once per week in the winter. They have lots of experience of sitting out at anchor in exposed places with 50 knot winds. Must be that we're just too soft.

This morning, the winds are down to 20 knots again. Probably tomorrow we'll leave for Manteo.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Silver Lake

Ocracoke Coffe Company and Java Books

We are beginning to see why Les and our other friends speak so highly of Ocracoke. It really is a lovely place.

The village in Silver Lake is clearly built up around the tourist industry. Most of the houses around are motels, or inns, or B&Bs, or rentals. There are gift shops, art galleries, coffee shops, fishing charters, bike rentals, and restaurants all around. There is a small grocery store, but only the kind one goes to to fill in forgotten items.

In fact, the description of Silver Lake and Ocracoke is very similar to my description of Hope Town and Elbow Cay in the Abacos, Bahama. Naturally,. the personalities of those two places differ greatly, but the similatiries are also strong. This looks like a great vacation destination.

Yesterday, we walked the nature trail to Springer Point. It was great, but then it started to rain heavily. By the time we got back to the boat, we were soaked. Today however, it is sunny and warm, although very windy.

The storm is proving to be less severe than forecast. (Ha, since when has the weather bureau every been wrong before.) Instead of 30 gusting to 35 it is blowing 20 gusts to 28. There's a very large difference.

Libby is back on the boat baking rasin nut bread for me. Yummy.

I'm thinking that this afternoon or tomorrow we might take a round trip on one of the ferries just for fun. The price per pedestrian for a 2.5 hour ride is only $1. That's a bargain that can hardly be beat.

It reminds me of the poor man's cruise on the Port Kent ferry from Burlington, Vermont. Sunsets in Vermont can be very spectacular with the Adirondack Mountains to the west. For only $2, one can ride the ferry from Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY. Take a lawn chair with you and a cooler with drinks, sit on the forward end of the ferry deck, and you have an outstanding milieu to enjoy the sunset. Then, it only costs another $2 to ride home again after dark.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Test of Our Mettle

Ocracoke Island
N 35 06.928 W 079 59.168

Yesterday, Neptune decided to test our mettle as seamen. After a 10 hours sail from New Bern, across Pamlico sound in light winds, Libby and I were thoroughly relaxed. We loved watching the dolphins, and the sea birds diving for fish. We also enjoyed watching the big ferry boats going back and forth. The winds had been predicted to shift to the NW 15-20 in the afternoon, but we still had NE at 8-10. We had only one obstacle to go. We had to navigate in to the harbor via Big Foot Slough Channel.
We had been warned that this 4 mile long channel was tricky and confusing, and that parts were shoaled in so that grounding was a real possibility if one made the slightest error. No problem. We had a 2 page written instruction on navigating Big Foot Slough channel in Claiborne Young's Cruising Guide.

Off to the west, I could see a front approaching but it seemed to be moving slowly, so I stopped paying attention. Well, wouldn't you know it, but just 1/4 mile from the channel entrance, the winds shifted and freshened drastically. Luckily, we had taken the sails down minutes before. By the time we moved the remaining 1/4 mile to enter the entrance channel, the wind increased to 33 knots. It was a gale, and we had no gale warning from the weather bureau. I think a fast moving front overtook
the slow moving front just as it passed over us, thus sneaking up without warning.

Well you should have seen the sight of Libby and I trying to navigate that channel. Libby sat in the cockpit with me reading the written instructions from the cruising guide. She had to hold the book with both hands to keep it from blowing away and hold a cushion over it to keep it from getting soaked by the salt spray. Then she had to shout the instructions in my ear. The wind was so loud that I couldn't hear her otherwise. Mr Young's instructions I'm afraid were so wordy and verbose, that
she had to repeat each two or three times.

Then I spotted a ferry coming out. Uh Oh. I worried about going off the side of the channel trying to leave room for the ferry. I picked up the hand held radio and called the ferry captain. He was a real gentleman. The captain, said that he was stopping the ferry dead in the water long enough to let us pass without worry. Then he talked me in; advising me to move more left or more right to avoid the shoals. After we passed the ferry, the channel became wider and deeper and much easier to navigate.
Then the ferry Cedar Island, proceeded on its way with our profuse thanks.

On the way in, the wind was on our stern quarter, so we made 7 knots of speed. The final step in navigation was to make a 150 degree turn and traverse a short 1/2 mile channel to the harbor entrance. That leg put us directly in to the wind. When I turned up in to the wind, our speed dropped to 1.5 knots. Uh oh. I boosted the engine to full throttle. We still made only 1.7 knots. Then the wind increased again, and we were down to 1.3 knots and I began to lose steerage way. You see, a boat
has to move through the water to make the rudder effective. If you go too slow, the rudder won't work. If we completely lost steerage we would have been out of control and I would have been forced to anchor in the channel (which is normally a big no no). Luckily, the wind eased off a bit and we recovered speed and we were able to complete the remaining 100 yards to make the turn for the channel entrance. 60 seconds later we were within the confines of a marvelously sheltered harbor. Big sigh
of relief.

Wouldn't you know it, but 10 minutes after we set the anchor and turned off the engine, the gale winds died away and we had relative calm. The whole gale lasted for less than an hour. If we had known that in advance, we could have anchored out in the sound and waited for the gale to pass before entering the channel. That's when I knew that the Gods must be mischievous and that it had just been a test of our mettle.

This morning, we moved in to a slip at the Ocracoke Park Marina. We'll stay tied up here for 3 or more days because there is another gale forecast to come in tonight (Sunday) and continue until Tuesday night. We'll feel much freer to enjoy the island on foot if we're not worried about Tarwathie sitting at anchor in a gale. After securing the boat, we walked up to the village and I bought Libby a most delicious order of eggs benedict for her Mother's Day breakfast. Life is good.

Milton & Jimmie


I neglected to tell the story about Milton & Jimmie who we met in Oriental a little while ago.

As I said before, the public dock in Oriental is a great place to meet people. Many of them come around and open a conversation with the line, "Nice Westsail." Well, last night an older couple came up and they said, "Nice Westsail."

We introduced ourselves. They are Milton & Jimmie. It turns out that they know Westsails very well because they owned one for 26 years. We invited them to come aboard and go below so that they could see Tarwathie. It's always fun to see other Westsails, because they're all so similar but no two are alike.

Well it was an emotional scene, especially for Jimmie. I thought she was going to cry. Three years ago, they sold her and bought a trawler. Trawlers are more suitable for seniors who aren't up to the strain of sailing any more. The truth is however that they dearly missed their Westsail, and seeing Tarwathie brought back a flood of those memories. You see Milton & Jimmie dearly loved their Westsail.

Now, Milton & Jimmie are doing The Great Loop in their Eagle 40 trawler Our Way. Keep your eye out for them as they go by.
p.s. I'm testing a new feature on Blogger that lets me write posts in advance, and submit them for posting in the future. That makes certain things easier for me, but it might subtract from the contemporary flavor of my posts. I'll set all advance posts with the location byline saying "somewhere" and set the post time to at 01:01 AM, so you can tell. If you think these advance posts superior or inferior than others please let me know.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pamlico Sound

Pamlico Sound
35 14 N 075 45 W

This is the first time we've ever sailed out in Pamlico Sound. It's like an enormous lagoon here, comparable in size to the Bahamian Grand Bank. We're en route to Ocracoke Island. That's yet another paradise location. It is reachable only by water. No cell phones, no ships. It is said to have a quaint little village populated by artists. I'll write more after we look around.

Yesterday, at Blackbeard Sailing Club, some of the members started showing up for the weekend. We had lunch with Ed on Tarwathie. Ed told us about the grandson he is so proud of. Ed's grandson is a professional crew on Americas Cup yachts. Wow! That's about as high as you can get in sailing heirarchy.

We also got to meet Les and Suzzane from Last Dance, our hosts. We also met Charlie and Terry. Dave and Leigh were there also tending to their Gulfstar 44 that they just bought. So what did we do? We did what boaters always do when hanging around the docks, we sat around with a few drinks, and we swapped stories. We also got in to a little mischief, which is completely typical of dockside behavior.

The mischief involved a bike that Charlie had borrowed. He rode it out on the dock and parked it next to Tarwathie, as we sat in the cockpit and told stories. Wouldn't you know it, a gust of wind came along, it toppled the bike and splash down it fell into the water. Time for a Chinese fire drill, one would think. I rummaged around to find the small Danforth anchor that we use on the dinghy. I thought that we could use it as a grappling hook. Before I got it though, Terry fetched a double
boat hook. Someone else had lashed together two 12 foot boat hooks to make a single 20 foot long hook. It worked like magic. In less than a minute, they hooked the bike and pulled it up. In two more minutes of fishing they also hooked and retrieved the bike's basket which had fallen off. It made a good afternoon and a source for yet another story to tell on yet another day. Such stories tend to improve with each telling, so that after a number of years, they are truly amazing.

We're likely to stay at Ocracoke for several days because high winds are expected to come Monday and Tuesday. After leaving Ocracoke, we'll head for Manteo and perhaps spend a couple of days there. We probably won't get to Elizabeth City until next weekend. That's fine. We're in no hurry, and we're exploring places we haven't been before.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blackbeard Sailing Club, (see map)
N 35 03.766 W 076 56.912

There's more than enough wind today. We are tied up on a T wall at the end of the docks, and the wind is blowing at 29 knots directly on our beam. We couldn't leave right now even if we wanted to. Of course, we're not ready to leave yet. We have yet to meet Les, our host.

The people here at the sailing club and other friends in North Carolina continue to be very helpful. We always wanted to take a side trip to Ocracoke and Manteo but various vague warnings about shoaling scared us away. We are really chicken when it comes to venturing places where we might find our way blocked by shallow water. In such cases, local knowledge is the only cure. In this case, we've heard from local people that yes we can go to Ocracoke and Manteo without depth problems.

We're looking forward to the side trip. We've done the ICW in North Carolina several times. Long stretches of it are featureless and boring. Ocracoke sounds anything but boring.

Yesterday, we assisted two very big yachts come in to their slips in heavy wind conditions. Even for experienced sailors, accomplishing that simple task is a real gut clincher. It is like landing an airplane in a forest. In these two cases, the dockings were successful with only minor mishaps, but disaster seemed only a hair's breadth away all the time.

Last November, I went to a lecture by Captain Jack Klang about docking techniques. I recommend it to everybody. There's a DVD that he sells. Captain Jack's docking techniques are excellent. Hardly anybody I've seen uses them. They would have worked very well in both cases I saw at Blackbeard.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My Borscht Belt Story

North Carolina

I love telling stories. Perhaps you noticed. Anyhow, yesterday a man named Jim chatted with me in The Bean about the Borscht Belt. For those of you who don't know what that means, here is a definition. In the Catskill Mountains of NY, about 50 miles from Manhattan, there were several big and famous resort hotels, including Grossinger's, The Concord, and The Nevele. They catered to New York Jewish customers. Read more about it here.

Once, I was hired to teach a 3 day course at the Concord Hotel, so for the first and only time, I went to the Borscht Belt. What I learned there was amazing. The first thing I noticed was that my hotel room had a walk in closet bigger than my living room at home. Then, I went down to eat breakfast in the dining room. I was there in off season so there were not many guests. I was seated alone at a table for 8. There was a mountain of food on the table for me to eat. I ate about 3 times what I normally do. Then the waiter came around and started shoveling more food on my plate. He was pressuring me. "You can do it. Come on eat more." I was a bit shocked.

Later, I realized the real truth about this place. It must have been that the Jews from Manhattan had their own unique idea about how to go out in style. When they got very old, they would move permanently in to one of the Borscht Belt hotels. That's why their closets were so big. Then they would eat and drink and entertain themselves to death. Even the Wikepedia article about the Borscht Belt doesn't mention that. I think that I discovered a hidden truth that people don't talk about.

Today, all the famous Borscht Belt hotels are gone. Wikipedia blames it on changes in demographics and travel patterns. With them went a singularly unique piece of Americana.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Surprise Invitation

Blackbeard Sailing Club, (see map)
N 35 03.766 W 076 56.912

We were just about to leave the public dock at Oriental yesterday when one last email arrive in my in box. It was from Les. Les is a fan of this blog and he wanted to meet us. Les very kindly invited us to come here to Blackbeard Sailing Club and to stay free for a few days. What a great offer! We accepted.

Blackbeard is located on Broad Creek off the Neuse River between Oriental and New Bern. It was an easy sail to get up here. The sailing club is large. I guess there must be room for 130 sailing vessels here. I don't see any power boats. The sailing club is also full of cruisers with interesting stories to tell. I hope we can add a few of our own.

People keep stopping by to ask if we need anything or if we need a ride anywhere. North Carolina hospitality is really tops.

Today, Libby and I took advantage of being tied up to a dock the first time in a year or so to do some projects. We moved the dinghy on to the dock, and we used fiberglass and resin to repair and reinforce structural parts of the dinghy that have been showing cracks. That chore needed to be done someplace where we could get the dinghy off Tarwathie's deck, and not put in in the water and a place where we didn't need the dinghy immediately to get back on board.

I also carried ashore the Danforth anchor that we fished out of the river in Beaufort, SC. There I painted it with a coat of so-called "instant galvanizing" from a spray can. I don't have much confidence that this coating will last long with the anchor in use. On the other hand, I don't have anything to lose by trying. After the coating dried, I attached it to the rode in place of our other Danforth anchor. We'll see how long it lasts rust free.

Later today or tomorrow, I want to go up the mast. I have a new anchor light to install, and a steaming light bulb to replace, and I need to lubricate the sail track. Thanks to Blackbeard's hospitality, we can get these chores done.

Yesterday we met Dave and Lee. Dave works as a yacht broker in Oriental. It's possible that Libby and I met Dave in 2005 when we traveled the country looking at 14 Westsail 32s.

I also met Ed on the vessel Esperance. Esperance is a 41 foot boat built in Formosa (Taiwan). She has lovely carvings in the woodwork below. She must also need a tremendous amount of work to keep up with the varnishing and bright work. Ed is a widower, and he has time to spend on her.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Oriental Life

Oriental, NC
N 35 01.491 W 076 41.70

There's a reason that we like Oriental so much; life is good here.

On Sunday, I walked to a nearby park where I could have a view out over the Neuse River. It was a lovely day, sunny with a nice 15 knot breeze. One could not have asked for a better day to sail. Oriental is said to be the sailing capital of NC, with 3 sailboats per person. Inexplicably, on this day there were 2,000 sailboats to my left tied up at the dock and only 3 out on the river sailling.

At the public dock, there is a constant stream of sailors and ex sailors who like to hang around docks and talk about cruising. Many of them recognize the W32 immediately and are anxious to question us about the cruising life. It's good for one's ego.

In the afternoon, our great friends Penny and Richard sailed in to Oriental on Viking Rose. We last saw them in Marathon, and it was they who prompted us to get off our butts and sail to the Bahamas. It was great to see them again.

Last night we had dinner at the Steamer, a local restaurant. That's a rare treat for Libby and I. Generally we have dinner in restaurants only once or twice per year. Last night, we wound up in the middle of a Rotary Club meeting, so the entertainment was listening to 100 elderly men singing The Old Folks At Home.

This morning, we were invited to have breakfast with Viking Rose, but we got up too late. Instead, I went to The Bean, a coffee shop only 50 feet away from the dock. There, I met a delightful guy named Jim. Jim was a sailor from Puget Sound, and he once had workd on a merchant ship that sailed up the Hudson. We talked about the beauty of the Hudson Valley. He also mentioned that he worked in the Borsch Belt in the Catskills. That reminded me of my own story. I'll put that in tomorrow's post.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Radios On Board

Oriental, NC
N 35 01.491 W 076 41.70

We don't have a TV on board, nor do we miss it. We get to watch a DVD on the computer once in a while, but otherwise no TV is a big part of the life style change when cruising. On the other hand, we have lots of radios for several purposes. Here are the ones we use on Tarwathie in random order.

  • VHF fixed radio. The VHF is used for short distance communications, boat to boat or boat to shore. It also receives NOAA weather radio reports. At the 25 watt high power setting, it works for up to 25 miles away. We can hear Coast Guard calls from more than 200 miles away.

  • VHF hand-held radio. This is a small version of the fixed VHF. We use it in the cockpit to talk to nearby boats and to draw bridges. It's maximum transmit range is less than 5 miles. We have to recharge it after 10 hours of use. It also gets NOAA weather.

  • GMRS/FRS walkie talkies. Libby and I use these to talk to each other up to 2 miles away. They are small and light and use AA batteries. Actually, now that Libby has her own cell phone, we probably don't need these radios any more. They also get NOAA weather.

  • The SSB radio. We have and ICOM 710 single sideband radio for long distance communications. With this radio we communicate with people hundreds of miles away. I think the furtherst is about 1, 000 miles. Our main use of the SSB however is for email.

    We have a Pactor modem that connects the SSB to the laptop computer. We use the setup with the service called Winlink that is run by HAM radio amateurs all over the world. We send and receive text email; about 4 K bytes of mail per day. I use the SSB to post blogs whenever we do not have WIFI. I also use it to receive weather reports by email. That email weather service is great. I can request reports for any place on Earth, and I can subscribe to a report to be sent automatically every day.

  • We have a pocket size AM/FM clock radio that we use as an alarm clock. Yes, even us salty types find that it is much more pleasant to be woken by a radio program than by a buzzer. No, we don't use it every day, only when we have to get up early.

  • We have a Sirius satellite radio. Sirius Radio is a service that we have to pay $13 per month to get. I love it because we can get news all day every day, no matter where we are. It even works at sea. It even gets NPR. I confess to being a news junkie, and I use the Sirius radio to feed that addiction.

    The Sirius does get music also. Actually it has 130 channels of ad-free music. We listen to music once in a while.

    Having the Sirius radio eliminates the need to have a AM/FM radio/CD player with big speakers on board. We have a small amplifier/stereo speaker system that uses AA batteries that plugs in to the Sirius. It is the kind of speakers meant to use with an IPOD. We also use those speakers with the laptop computer when watching a movie.

    The Sirius radio uses a tiny antenna, about the size of a quarter, that is designed to attach to the roof of a car. We have it taped to a ventilator, and it works fine. Even when Tarwathie is tossed violently by waves at sea, the Sirius radio keeps working 100%.

  • I have an MP3 player. Like an IPOD, but brand X. I use it to listen to podcasts. It also has a FM radio. Since the Sirius re-broadcasts low power FM for your car radio, I use it to broadcast to the MP3 player in my pocket. That way, I can listen to Sirius when up on deck and when standing watch. That's very convenient. In fact, I even have a remote clicker for the Sirius, so that I can change channels while standing at the tiller. What decadence.

  • Many people don't think about it, but a GPS is a radio receiver also. We have a fixed Lowrance GPS/chart plotter. We also have a hand-held Garmin GPS in our ditch kit. We use GPS for navigation.

  • We have an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) that we carry in our ditch kit. Its purpose is to call for help if the boat sinks, and we are adrift at sea in our life raft. The EPIRB is something that we have never used and hopefully never will use. It is just a precaution. Our EPIRB is one of the newer fancy kinds that has a built in GPS. If you dunk it in water, it automatically begins transmitting an emergency signal, complete with our GPS position. That way, rescuers can find us quickly.

  • We have two cell phones on board. Most people forget that they are actually radio transceivers

  • Our 2 laptop computers have bluetooth radio transceivers as do our 2 cell phones. Those we have never used.

  • My wrist watch has a radio receiver that detects time calibration signals from station WWV in Fort Collins Colorado. That way, it adjusts itself to the correct time every day or so.

  • What about our radar, is that a radio? One could argue yes, but I would prefer to say no.

So, adding up all of the above, I count 19 radios on board Tarwathie that I can think of. That's a lot.

In the near future, I expect that almost all instruments will send their signals via radio rather than by wires. Perhaps bluetooth radio, or some other protocal. I'm thinking of wind speed and direction, depth, speed, radar, engine RPM and temperature, oil pressure and the like. All of those are information processing applications. I could foresee another 50 radio transceivers on board. Some of them may even be medical devices implanted under the skin.

Boat systems will become considerably more complex, but boat wiring may become considerably simplified by use of wireless signals. Complexity makes things unreliable. Wiring in a marine environment is also a constant source of trouble. Therefore, the net change in reliability could be a toss up if it were not for lightning. A lightning strike on the boat would probably fry all wireless electronic devices on board in an instant. Therefore, I predict that inland day sailors will love wireless boats. They'll do more things for much less money and less hassle. But offshore cruisers will stick with the old-fashioned technology because they can't afford to lose everything in the blink of an eye.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Pictures from along the way

Oriental, NC
N 35 01.491 W 076 41.70

We're back at one of our favorite places, the public docks at Oriental. You may be able to see us on the web cam. We are the rightmost of two sailboats.

Above: Flowers in St. Mary's GA
Above: A warning sign in Beaufort, SC. It seems inappropriate to warn the cars, but not the boats.

Above: After three years, Dick finally figured out the most comfortable way to do the ICW. He rigged a sling to suspend a folding chair in the air in the stern above the tiller. From this perch he has a good view over the dodger to see where we're going and he can rest his feet on the tiller while steering. The only thing missing now is a rear view mirror. Oh life is good.

Above, you see the source of our great amusement yesterday when entering Beaufort Inlet. It looks like a warship but it isn't. According to the Coast Guard special broadcast, she is the tug McCormack and she is aground. Libby thought it was very uplifting to see that even big vessels, and warship-like vessels can run aground too.

According to my charts, there is no place near by that site with less than 51 feet of water at low tide. So how did she go aground? My theory is that the tug is not aground, but her cargo is. If you peer closely at the picture, you can see something behind her just barely protruding above the water. It could be a part of an oil platform that she was towing to see that ran aground. A worse possibility is that it is the bow of a barge that sunk while being towed. That would be a big mess to straighten out.

p.s. Last night, as we anchored in Adams Creek, across the river from Oriental, Libby looked back in the ships log. She said, "We anchored in this same place exactly one year ago to the day. Oh my. We are in a rut. Such a nice rut to be in.

At the Submarine Museum

Oriental, NC Public Dock
N 35 01.491 W 076 41.70

Below are a few pictures from the Submarine Museum in St. Mary's Georgia.

Above: Amazing. We have a clock identical to this one on board Tarwathie. It comes from a Russian nuclear submarine. Our clock is the one memento we have left from my father's gigantic collection of clocks. It hangs in our V-berth.

This telegram is probably one of the most tragic and frightening icons of the 20th century. Take the time to read it if you can. In today's world, soldiers still die but there are no telegrams. What do they do, send an email or a text message? That's too aweful to imagine.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

What Was I Thinking

At Sea
N 34 32 W 076 48

Blogging is an interesting media. Sometimes it acts like a diary, capturing shifting opinions and feelings as they change day by day.

Two days ago, I blogged about skipping Beaufort and sailing right through to the Chesapeake this weekend. Ha!

Yesterday, I blogged about "relax, we'll get there." About the same time I wrote that, the winds started diminishing, and so did our speed. The forecast saying that the wind would pick up at night failed. By around 0300 this morning, our speed was down to one knot. I changed my mind. I said, "Relax, hell. I'm going to start the motor." We've been motoring ever since. I hate motoring at sea, but my (our) patience does have limits. All together, we sailed 156 miles and motored 60 miles on
this passage.

Oh well, we should make it to Oriental around sunset tonight, and we'll get a good sleep. Tomorrow, I'll check to see if the amateur theater in Oriental (which we love) has any performances scheduled.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Relax, We'll Get There

At Sea
N 33 46 W 077 43

It's slow going. We've had the spinnaker up all day, but there is so little wind that we often make only 2 knots of speed. On the other hand, it's sunny, it's warm, and the sea is calm, so it's very pleasant out here. We have until Sunday until the wind turns around, so we'll make it eventually.

Last night for about 5 hours the wind came up and we made very fast progress. The forecast calls for the same thing tonight. If so, then we ought to make it to Beaufort tomorrow (Saturday), if not perhaps the next day.

We had to motor for 4 hours to make sure that we crossed Frying Pan Shoals during daylight. If necessary, I'll use the motor again to make sure we don't arrive in Beaufort in the dark.

So, my watchword for today is sit back and relax. There's no hurry.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

EZ Sailing

At Sea
N 32 42 W 079 41

We had a wonderful evening on Steamboat Creek last night. What a beatiful spot that is. We anchored near the shore, and we were treated to the sight of a family of bob whites sunning themselves in the grass. A bob white is a bird that mostly walks around on the ground. I'm not sure if they ever fly, but they mostly don't fly. Above us and the bob whites sat a big bald eagle. It was unclear whether the eagle was daydreaming of bob whites or of fish for dinner. For us though, we boiled those
fresh shrimp that we bought at B&B Seafood. They were delicious.

WE had no trouble exiting via the North Edisto River. There was a cluster of vacation homes right at the exact mouth of the river, but otherwise, the river banks and beaches were mostly wild and very pretty.

The winds have been very light. We only moved 25 miles north all day long since exiting the river. Hopefully, tonight or tomorrow the wind will freshen. Actually, this SE wind weather window will last for four days. We could bypass North Carolina entirely and head around Cape Hatteras to the Chesapeake. Hmmmm; we'll ponder that for a while.

It seems that we can't go anywhere now without meeting acquaintances. As we passed the Charleston channel this afternoon, I recognized the sailboat next to us as Mon Ami. A call on the radio confirmed it. Mon Ami must be a lot faster than Tarwathie because they left Beaufort 12 hours ago, whereas we left 36 hours ago. Anyhow, it is a fortunate coincidence. Mon Ami is also heading for Beaufort (the NC one).