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.

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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.

Nancy

 

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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She’s Dead Jim…

Well, this was a weekend of ups and downs.

First, the start battery on bank one has gone to that big electroplate heaven in the sky. Turn off the battery charger and bank two, flip on a load and it drops to nine volts. Damn. Well, battery replacement was simple enough, just awkward putting it in. Anything over twenty pounds that needs to be placed somewhere in a boat crevice ends up being awkward. So out with the old Interstate Group27 start battery, in with the new Duracell…Duracell? Yeah, had a 10% off coupon from Batteries Plus, got it at the Oriental Boat show.

 

Then there’s “She’s Dead Jim…Part Deux”

We’re not done because it’s a boat. Did  you think I was getting off that easy? That cheap? Not! What else could possibly happen? Well, how about the fridge going kaput. You know, the thing that holds the beer and unused salsa and bean dip. Yup, the compressor failed and while I have my suspicions, stupid is as stupid does. I’ll leave it htere. Hint, DC electric motors do like low voltage. So this failure falls within the proper range of boat failures. Cost? A boat buck. Of course you can’t just order a compressor motor, Nope, gotta get the unit. Cool thing is I won’t be needed a new evaporator will just have it evacuated and there’s an adapter fitting for the new connection. So with Amex in hand (or on file), quickly went to Defender to offer my tithe to the patron saint of boat repairs  with another boat buck.

 

But there’s a lighter side. As I’m planing on doing more anchoring out and discovering this year, along with being a temporary resident of Ocracoke by accumulating a month on the island this year, I felt I needed a better dingly. So….(drumroll), kind of fell into a new AB 9.5AL. This thing is sweet. Aluminum floor, hypalon, high bow. Will keep me dry in the chop. Much nicer than my other two inflatable floor dinghys (which are for sale btw). This thing can take up to a 15hp outboard and it’s just begging for more than my current 6hp Tohatsu. Besides, I need something to zip me back and forth from Ocracoke to Portsmith Island. Tohatsu 9.8 with the optional external battery start is in my eye. I’m also interested in teh Lehr 9.9hp propane outboard, just still a bit concerned about getting the talk filled wherever I’m at, also concerned about having that big cylinder tank in the dinghy.

 

And did still get on water though we didn’t go too far 😉

NSA Anniversary Race 2016

What a fun time on the water Saturday for the Neuse Sailing Association’s anniversary race. Pretty decent winds for the 3pm start from Oriental marker #1 to Garbacon Shoal marker to the Adams Creek marker then back to O-Town. About an hour and fourty minutes later we had a winner. Had an excellent crew menber and fantastic helmsman, Bill Lovelace. Don’t let his proper and mild-manner terperment fool you, he’s like Wolverine on the water. “SHEET IT IN, SHEET IT IN!!!”.

Mike always says that racing makes you a better overall sailer and that is definitely true. I learned much this past Saturday like “how in the heck did you guys point so high?” Pointing definitely helped us as we didn’t have to tack to the Garbacon marker. But on the downwind, it convinced me that I now need a whisker pole to keep that headsail out. Though after rounding Adams Creek marker, we dug in for the stretch to Oriental #1. Inteesting about racing makes you a better sailer as we had to ease out the main because we were heeled over way too much, too much wetted surface. As soon as we eased it out we picked up speed. Next challenge was trying to spot the marker that’s coverd birds nests in grey.

Oh, thouse sounds, those worrying aweful sounds of things creeking and popping as you’re tightening up on everything, trying to eek out a 1/4 knot more. Everything is spring tight, nothing left to winch. It’s amazing the stresses that the standing and running rigging takes. Just a thought as I reflect on those popping sounds.

We won’t talk about the protests or start times for a pursuit race though as I have a bottle of rum ready to share at Ocracoke for me penalty 😉

Hemispheres Splashed

Hemispheres is back in the water. Almost ready, just a few more things and taking her back to Pecan Grove via South River on Wednesday. Then a whole lot of interior cleaning as you know it needs to be detailed inside.

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An Excellent February Weekend for Sailing

Well, we’ve gone from sailing in 35 degrees of weather to the following weekend being in the upper 60s. Two great daysail days. Winds were light when we started each day, then it got up there.

Yesterday we hit winds that topped 25kts before we even realized it. We were all just in that zone moving along when it came up on us. Figured it was time to reef. Of course we had the boat on her ear, topping 22 degrees heel, enough to put the lower port window under water so it looked like an aquarium.

One thing’s for sure, it’s time for new sails. Couldn’t point as high anymore, both the main and genoa are stretched out. Well those are the original sails on the boat, so they’re sixteen years old. Looking at a few sail lofts now, some local and some online.

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.

 

Sailing to Ocracoke

Wow, talk about a trip. Our annual Memorial weekend cruise is eventful in one form or another every year. This year is the story of a missed forecast, wind on the nose and five foot rollers at one second intervals. The last two+ hours was wearing me out. All my single handed skills were put to the test.

The bow was breaking waves, first seeing sky, then walls of water, then sky, then water. Even with the dodger, connector and bimini, I still got soaked, completely drenched. The inevitable “what the hell am I doing here?” question did pop into my mind from time to time, but was well past the point of no return. The thought of turning around was tempting but I would then have those waves on the starboard quarter and I’d be rolling like hell. No worse feeling. The last time I felt this bad on a crossing was when we brought the boat down from Noank, CT while crossing Delaware Bay. That didn’t work out to well, lost it all.

I kept my lunch down this time (because I didn’t eat much). But when we got to the top of the channel headed down to Ocracoke, the wind was coming from the northeast, we’re headed south and then we were rolling.

So here’s some photos including Seaglass, the boat I paired up with doing the crossing, starting off with the course, finishing with a fantastic omelet the next morning at Dajio’s.