29 November 2011

28 November 2011

Thar She Blows!

Jed (left) and Craig of EMD Fuels
Ok, only about 200 feet or so, but, hey, it's something.  We moved from our dockage at the end of the pier to the prime real estate by the boardwalk, spots usually reserved for boats that go for way north of seven figures.  It's actually only so that Craig and Jed, the mechanics healing our boo-bood engines, can have easier access to them.  But we're closer to the bathrooms for which we are grateful.  If all goes well,  we might be underway once again by early afternoon tomorrow...yeah, what are the odds?

We spent part of the weekend in Savannah (and the rest of it driving to and from Savannah).  To give you a sense of how slowly boats go, Savannah is roughly 400 miles south of Beaufort, NC which is 6 hours by car or 8 days by boat (albeit 8 sun up to sundown days, not 8 24-hour days).

22 November 2011

Thanks, Thanksgiving

We had intended to leave Beaufort on Thanksgiving Day.  Unfortunately, it seems our starboard engine water pump has been fatally wounded and will need to be replaced.  Thanks to Thanksgiving, the new pump probably won't arrive until Monday.  So we will be here for over a week.  This is a setback and makes our arrival at Jane's mom's house by Christmas more questionable than it already had been.  We are frustrated. It seems we just can't go for very long without a problem.  It's tempting to boycott the holiday altogether.  Tempting, but not wise and, more importantly, not appropriate.  Our reality is the dream of many.   We bear this in mind every day.  In the dream nothing ever goes wrong; in reality, it's just like other realities, good realities, even the best realities.  Some days suck.

So it's important, I think, to remind ourselves of some of the things we have for which to be thankful.
  • We are warm.  It's four in the morning and a wind is howling down (or maybe up) the creek. Only a few days and a couple hundred miles ago that would have meant even more frigid air, but I'm comfortable wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  One of our space heaters has been stored away already, the other sits on the floor unplugged.
  • We are at a marina this time where we can borrow a courtesy car to go hunting for a tea kettle.  
  • There is a restaurant in Beaufort (or Morehead City, or Atlantic Beach) serving Thanksgiving Dinner which will be much better than we would have done for ourselves while underway.
  • I have two drink tokens redeemable at the Dock House.
  • Savannah is 8 miles off the ICW. We've both always wanted to visit Savannah, but wouldn't have docked the boat and rented a car to get there.  It's only a 7 hour drive from Beaufort, NC and the boat's already docked, so what the heck?  We'll spend the weekend.
  • We have reason to believe krill are, even as I write, eating growths off our hull.  We can hear the crackling.  Growths on the hull slow a boat down and we definitely do not need to be slowed down. You go, krill!
  • Periodically pods of porpoises synchronously swim past.
  • I've discovered shrimp and grits, possibly the best thing I've ever eaten.
  • Except for  couple of sore spots apiece, Jane and I are both healthy.  The cats are also healthy and, as far as I know, have no sore spots.
  • We are still glad we've chosen this life.
Happy Thanksgiving from your more JOY everywhere crew.

Now That's More Like it

Low on water, concerned about fuel, turning our consumables into recyclables (for which we have extremely limited and awkward space) at an alarming rate, we had only one thought: Beaufort by the end of the day--a very long day with only one engine.  50 (statute) miles with one engine meant about a 10+ hour day.  We questioned whether the marina where we planned to stay would even be open by the time we got there.  There was one possible solution.  A last ditch effort, you might say.  The kind of stunt you only pull when you're desperate, which we were.  If it worked, we stood a good chance of making it to Beaufort in time.  If not, there might be yelling and screaming and hurt feelings all around.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Should we choose to take it, an opportunity would present itself when we reached the Neuse River.  We knew it was then or not at all.

"This is why we wanted this boat," I said to Jane.

She agreed.  It was time.

20 November 2011

Goodbye Frostbite, Hello Malaria

Joy sliding under a bridge
We awoke this morning to a comforting, if somewhat cryptic response.  Steve assured us that at 64 feet, we’d be fine, that it was not a fractional rig, giving us an extra four feet.  But an extra four feet from what, from the underside of a 64 foot bridge or from the original height of the mast?  We decided that was an issue for another day.  Assured that we’d “sail” right under the bridge, we forecasted another incident-free day.

18 November 2011

Hello, North Carolina!

We stayed in Mill Creek near Fort Monroe for three days until a mechanic could come out and look at our port engine.  By then the generator had konked out on us, too.  It turns our that they were related problems.  Without going into details, suffice it to say that low fuel plus churning waters equals crud in the fuel lines.  Crud in the fuel lines equals no go.  Good news, all in all. Our engine (and generator) are both fine and I got quite a lesson in fuel system diagnosis and repair.

Our backyard du nuit
Portsmouth, VA and mile marker "0" of the Intracoastal Waterway, finally, on Wednesday afternoon.  First stop: Tidewater Marina where we took on water and fuel and emptied our holding tank and garbage--all badly needed.  I remarked to Jane that the purpose of our boat is to convert fresh water and diesel into waste water.  "And miles," she added.  "Yes," I agreed, "waste water and miles."  The temperature reached 75 degrees and I got to wear a T-shirt and shorts for the first time since getting underway.  Got all our laundry done and had lunch at the marina's restaurant.  As the sun went down, with a beautiful view of the Norfolk skyline, we sat in the cockpit sipping champagne to celebrate having making it to the ICW.  It was one of those moments, still countable on the fingers of one hand so far, that reminded us of the point to all this madness.

Yesterday, not so much...

13 November 2011

It Was a Helluva Night

Jane is sleeping, comfortably, I hope.  She is probably warm, at least, what with a down comforter and an electric throw.  I think she'll sleep in late.  I slept well for a few hours and fitfully for another one or two.  We may not even get underway today at all and that would be fine with me.  We are exhausted, sore, shaken and deeply chastened.  We came far too close to doing severe damage to Joy several times last night.  Our misadventure was the perfect storm of naivete, hubris, and bad luck.  A combination that costs people their ways of life if not their very lives.  We are lucky to have gotten off as easily as we did.

10 November 2011

We Met Virginia

The enveloping fog we woke up to, the fog that was supposed to lift by noon never did, or if it did, it was so overcast that it didn’t much matter.  Undaunted (or, more accurately, not overly daunted) we hoisted the anchor and ventured forth, albeit at a prudent 3.2 knots at first.  We had less than three tenths of a mile of visibility; our lives were in the hands of our instruments.  Jane set the multifunction display to chart plotter on the left and radar on the right so we knew where we were-- exactly and we knew who and what else was out there as well.  Blind in the real world, making way by on one’s instrumentation is an odd sensation.  

Still the crab pots to contend with, but the fog was ironically helpful with that.  “If you can’t see ‘em, you can’t hit ‘em,” I reported to Jane.  She is our captain and so is on the helm most of the time.  I am line handler, watchman, deck hand, etc.  I like this arrangement; I don’t sit in one place for long well and this crew configuration allows me to move around more.  I’ve taken to sitting watch on the port side of the coach roof, binoculars at the ready.  Jane has an eagle eye and can usually see a buoy or crab pot with her naked eye before I see them with the binocs.  I know she’s got the starboard side covered.  I take the port side where her view is obstructed by the rigging.

Pea Soup, Anyone?

We weened ourselves off dockside life, yesterday by dropping the hook for the first time.   Between needing an anchorage near enough to our then-current position, one that would enable us settle in well before dusk in case it took us numerous tries to get the anchor set, and a thick fog that didn't clear until 10:00 our time underway was barely more than an hour--not much southerly progress, basically just across the Patuxent River.

Jast after the near miss.
Our decision to wait out the fog was confirmed when we saw two sailboats nearly bash into each other right in front of us.  For reasons we don't understand, neither had navigational lights lit, nor were they sounding their horns, which is more understandable--it was just past dawn--so it's not surprising that they nearly collided.

Precisely because we gave ourselves so much time to set the anchor, we got it on the second try.  Our traveling day was over by 12:30.  So what to do?  I decided to try out the oven by baking fresh bread.  It was not a huge success, but I credit its underperformance to bad yeast that didn't proof well.  Still quite edible, at least we thought so.  Jane made more successful use of her spare time by mixing up our first onboard batch of "Joy Juice."  It's our own sundowner drink recipe, but one, we've decided, which adapts itself to whatever we have on hand whenever we're inspired to whip up a batch.  That took three tries to "perfect."  Warmed by the heat of the oven, the bright sun, and significant quantities of Joy Juice, we barely minded that we were anchored by a naval air station carrying out training runs every few minutes.

Today, we are again blanketed by fog, but are thinking about maybe pushing our envelope.  We are very anxious to finally be out of Maryland and there's an anchorage we've chosen that we can get to before some bad weather sets in if we leave soon.  Otherwise, it will be somewhere much closer, still somewhere in Maryland to hunker down and wait out the blow.

07 November 2011

Escape to St. Michaels!

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum
Well...we're still at Hartge's, or back, rather.  They just couldn't get everything done by Friday, though they did try.  We would have settled up with them and left anyway, but one of the things they didn't finish was installing our new multifunction unit.  So, we agreed to give them one more day--today.

The thought of spending the weekend here was too depressing to even contemplate, so we decided to fire up our engines and our $10 chart plotter app from Navionics and head across the Chesapeake to stay at the St. Michaels Marina in the town of St. Michaels, both of which we highly recommend.

03 November 2011

Isabel, don't jump!

But she did, apparently.  And I'm not sure I can blame her.  We're still here at the boat yard.  No propane (they're installing a new tank locker), no holding tank (they're installing a new one), no tv (new antenna being installed), almost no internet (we're using my phone's hotspot which gets one bar at best).  The overnight low has been in the high 30s and low 40s (we have two small space heaters, one of which we can't turn up all the way because it draws too many amps and blows the circuit, the other one of which has been, hopefully temporarily, repurposed (see below)) And did I mention we're living in a boat yard in Galesville, MD, pop 363.  We returned our rental car yesterday and now are for all intents and purposes stranded in this quintessentially small town America town.  Not to disparage Galesville; it seems like a nice place to live, but...

Jane and I are more determined than ever to leave tomorrow.  I guess Isabel decided that was too long and opted to take matters into her own paws.  Percy, our highly intelligent but equally highly strung ragdoll, has found a different way to cope with the stress of it all: he's developed a bedwetting problem--ours, that is.  So he'll be confined to his own quarters (the starboard aft cabin) at night, with his own food, water, litterbox, and heater in the hopes of retraining him.  We're augmenting his training by flooding his environment with calming pheromones: a calming collar, spray, treats, and plug-in diffusers.  It's too early to tell if it's helping Percy, but I think our already laid-back Tucker is becoming...eh...catatonic.

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