A Good and Crazy Sail to Ocracoke

For starters, you know something is going to happen when it starts out like this. There is definitely something happening with the overall system. So resetting the several times apparently solved it but I’m sure it temporary. It’ll be back.

So on to a great sail over, nice wind up to Brant Shoal then it died down a bit so we motorsailed.

But you know what always happens when you pass Royal Shoal and head southeast, the wind picks upgreatly and it didnt disappoint. We had winds in the upper 20’s and I already had the jib in. Flew down Nine Foot Shoal over seven knows with just the main! You know you’re fluing when your speed is greater that your depth.

So get the sail down and as I’m rounding the red/green mark to head up into the Silver Lake channel, an alarm goes off. That’s a horrible sounding alarm on the engine panel. Put in on autopilot and went below real quick to see the engine. Yup, threw a belt, the big belt running the alternator and fresh water pump. With the wind blowing at almost 30kts, being in the the channel and a ferry coming down the channel, had no choice but to back off the RPMs and limp into Silver Lake and get docked as quick as possible.

It was a brand new belt that broke, just a month old. It’s the proper belt, probably just from a bad batch. So tomorrow I’m changing the impeller for the heck of it. Another thing? I’m adding a water temp and oil pressure guage. All I have are the idiot lights right now and when they come on, it’s too late. And so, here’s to chaos, no major damage and ariving safely. Oh, some guys walks up to me and says “Man, you need this…” So there it is.

Logging Some Serious Nautical Miles This Year

It’s been a great year for sailing so far. After a cold and wet winter, kicked off the spring in full stride. Quite a few daysails and have been to Ocracoke three times already. This year’s theme is “30 Days of Ocracoke” and I’m closing in with 18 nights already. I was told I can only count the nights that I’ve stayed there, travel days don’t count. So with 12 days to go, I have two more trips to Ocracoke this year. Definitely earning the VIP status at Anchorage Inn Marina. Spent a week there the end of April and then almost two weeks for the Memorial Day weekend to the following weekend for the Ocrafolk Festival. Will be doing the same next year, great time.


But what’s to talk about at Ocracoke if not food? As usual, I over-provisioned the boat. The thought was that I would just cook adn eat on the boat everyday. In Ocracoke? Really? I came back with 3/4 of the food I brought out there.


I have to say that I am more than blessed to be in the field that I am. I’ve always loved technology and technology is truly an enabler for life. I get to telecommute full-time with just the need for reliable internet and voice. When it comes to connectivity, “Ocracoke does not suck”. Here’s a sample of the bandwidth, my “office” down below and the “on-deck” office with a great inspiring view. It seems like when I’m at Ocracoke or on the hook at Cape Lookout, I get a lot of work done, I just get in that zone. The ideas flow and the pace of cranking things out is amazing.


So that was the two week stint at Ocracoke. But not done yet. This year’s Neuse Sailing Assc. weeklong has to go down in history as one of the best in a long, long time. An entire week, several ports of call and I burned about five gallons for the week. Literally sailed every leg. Left on a Friday afternoon and put the sails up leaving Oriental marker #1 and was fortunate enough to use them entering the Bay River. Up Goose Creek and anchored out for the night in Eastham Creek. A great evening, a brief rain and a great nights sleep. Next morning was a fantastic sunrise.


The next morning it was up and at ’em with the sail to “Little” Washington. Where fate would kick in but that’s a whole other beautiful post. When we left the anchorage going up Goose Creek at 7:30am in the morning, it was already blowing up to ~20kts out of the northeast. As we entered the Pamlico River and turned to head west, sails were raised and it was off to the races, all the way till we hit the channel going into Washington.

I’m having a little ignition switch or solenoid problem where sometimes it won’t engage and it happened as I was entering the channel. Tried a few times but it wouldn’t kick in. So I’m thinking, at least the wind is from the right direction andI’ll be sailing in hot, straight to the docks, hope there’s enough folks to catch lines. But eventually it engaged and started the engine and that was a relief. Oh, note to myself, troubleshoot that this weekend….duh. So upon getting to Washington, the mission was to locate a coffee shop. But first, a wonderful surprise which started with…”Hi Tony”, as I sat on the side of the boat soaking in the day’s sail.


We also got a tour of the Pacific Seacraft factory where I felt the urge to put down a deposit on a PSC40. Got to see Jimmy Buffet’s new boat that’s being built. No pictures were allowed obviously but the tour was great and learned a lot. After a couple of days in Washington (and spending a few hours at the coffee shop Sunday morning) it was off to Bath Creek for anchoring out and a fantastic NSA social. Thanks to Steve and Carol for being such fantastic hosts! An evening of great conversation, beer and local bluecrabs. When I say local, I mean from crabpots off their dock. I’ve had bluecrabs many, many times before but these were definitely the sweetest I’ve ever had. What a fantastic taste. Also, who knew bluecrabs had built-in pull tabs to make it easy to open them.

And then that night, the strawberry moon and was also the summer solstice. What a great day and night. Then there was a long conversation with a mermaid that made it even more special.


Then leaving Bath and Bath Creek and off to Dowry Creek Marina. Two nights there and had a nice relaxing time.


The first night, brought a bit of Jamaica with me. oxtails, curry goat, rice and peas.


The second night, instead of going to Spoon River for dinner with the fleet, Mike, Brenda and myself stayed behind and decided to grill out. Adding to the evening, Nancy accepted the invite and joined us and we had a wonderful evening.



And that’s how that segment ended. Later that evening there was a discussion if we should head to Ocracoke because of the high winds in the afternoon. Was supposed to hit 40kt gusts by 4pm. So we decided that the next morning, 5am, we’d all have our power disconnected and engines running and meet to make the decision. At 5am, we did. Let’s roll. It was already blowing significantly when we left under the cover of darkness before the full sunrise. Got the sails up and we were off again. I had a reef in but the wind lightened up so like the genius I am, fully raised the main. WRONG!!! The wind picked right back up and I was over powered even with letting out the mainsheet. And with all that, I happened to have picked up a crab pot. That is the worst feeling and sound as you hear it thumping on the bottom of the boat, praying that it’s not around the propshaft. Did a few 360’s in each direction to try and free it but no luck. It wasn’t until I hove-to to reef the main that it fell off. Glad it did because the only other option would have been to put on the harness, run the backline and tether in to dive over. In the middle of the Pamlico in 3 to 4ft waves and high winds, to free the pot. Glad it didn’t come to that. But what a fantastic sail over.


Well, back in Ocracoke. One of my favorite places. First things first, soon as you tie up, you go straight to SmackNally’s for a burger, fries and beer and that’s exactly what we did. Took the wings out the freezer before leaving Dowry Creek so we could deep-fry them for the social. Got the vhf call to check that they were defrosting properly, all was good so “back to 16”. Continuing on the theme of “Ocracoke does not suck”, it was a fantastic three days. Everything from great food to great social events to even picking up a mermaid for the sail back to Oriental. Sometimes, single-handing can be exhausting and having a first mate really helps. Thank you Nancy for making it a great sail back.


Well that was Ocracoke and the weeklong. What a wonderful time, just fantastic and memorable. We’ll see what happens for next years weeklong, will be hard to beat but we’ll try.


Waiting for an Ocracoke Bus

Well, not happening within the next week anyway. So what’s an Ocracoke Bus? I first heard it from Jim Gay. Basically, favorable winds to go from Oriental to Ocracoke then favorable winds to take you back home with a day or two in between to spend on the island. Or even an overnighter which in turn becomes the $100 Sailor’s Burger (SmackNally’s burger and one nights slip at Anchorage Inn Marina).

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And With One Click…Hemispheres Stays

Well, the battle and inner turbulence of either keeping Hemispheres or upgrading to a new boat is over. For the last couple of years, as she is now 15 years old adn reaching that point where major upgrades happen, I’ve been struggling between a newer boar vs. doing upgrades. Well this week, I guess I made that decision with the purchase of the MarinAire 16BTU Heat-A/C. After reading many reviews on their support, ease of installation, and pricing, decided to give them a try. Currently Hemispheres has a Curisair SX16 which is not as efficient, is an amps hog and loud, did I say loud? I looked at the newer Cruisair turbo series, but wow, comments were not friendly.

The MarinAir comes with a sound suppressor for the compressor, which CruisAir charges almost $500 additionally for it. that sealed the deal. So Hemispheres gets a new lease on life, not that she was anywhere end of life. Also helping the decision was not finding a 40 footer in the configuration I’m looking for (see previous posts). So for the rest of the year, new sails, new water heater, new plotter and possibly a below deck autopilot over the existing wheel pilot. Need something stronger for quartering seas.

I’ll post some more photos of pre and post installation later this weekend after we’re done. These are the stock photos.

O2 Single-handed sailing video

Rough going out, nice coming back. Almost dead on the nose in 20kts of wind and five foot seas. Being on the Pamlico Sound, the wave intervals are about one second apart as the energy builds up and there’s no where for it to dissipate as it does in the open ocean. Made for a bumpy and pounding ride. I should have just kept the sails up and reefed and fell off the wind, but the weather was already unpredictable and I didn’t want to struggle with taking down the sails if it got really bad. The challenges on single-handing.

The return trip was great. Off the port beam with about 10kts of wind. But that soon built up when I reached NR1 and it was consistent in the teens. That’s the second part of the video.