Friday, November 6, 2015

Very nervous adventure at sea

Once again we were “ motoring” down to Oriental and then Beaufort, NC, some of our favorite cruising ground.  Of course sailing would have been preferred.  Dick and Judy Giddings met us for lunch in Oriental.  We have been friends with them since 2002 when we first met Dick in Lake Worth on our way to the Bahamas.  They are wonderful people and Dick has been the anchor for the morning Cruiseheimer Net for many years.  It’s a radio station on the single side band for cruisers to keep track of others.  We all report in each AM to where we are so we can connect with each other.  Without Dick, I think it would have failed years ago.  He has spent years helping people connect and have safe voyages wherever they may be going.

This was Dick 3 years ago at a picnic.  I forgot to get a picture of them this time.  I thought people who hear Dick on the radio every day as St. Jude would like to put a picture with a voice.

Then Betty and Wayne on Bright Eyes anchored right behind us.  They are friends of ours from SSCA so we spent late afternoon with them.  We ended up spending more time with them in St. Augustine.  Betty has done wonders with the new SSCA website, finally getting it live.  It would not have happened without her.  It’s a long time coming.  When you have a minute just browse the website

We (motored)  20 miles down the river to Beaufort, where we first bought Sea Schell.  We love that little seaport town.  We had dinner with our Caribbean buddy boat friends, Suzi and Ken who were on Journey.  They sold her and built a beautiful home but we have kept in touch.  It was wonderful to see them again.  We had a great evening with them.  We met some new folks in the anchorage who were heading south like us so that was also fun.  Cruising is just a serious of social events we have found.

So now I will tell you of our adventure.  We left Beaufort on Monday to go 400 KN miles in the ocean down to St. Augustine.  We had a great weather report and were sailing fantastically wing and wing with the wind behind us.  Very comfortable.  Great weather.  Tuesday at 5:30 AM Harry woke me up to say we have a serious problem.  The prop shaft had become disconnected from the back of the engine transmission.  It had slid all the way back to the stuffing box and would have made an exit and gone out to sea but because we have a skaghung rudder it blocked the prop from going any further.  For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, it meant we no longer had any transmission.  As a result of this we had water coming in to the boat in a slow steady stream.  As most of you must realize, it is important to keep the water on the outside of the boat and not the inside.  Our faithful little bilge pump came on about every 20 minutes for 300 miles.  Unfortunately it won’t turn off so we had to keep turning it off but then it would come back when needed, like the little engine that could.

Not a great shot and I forgot to take a picture when the shaft was apart but for those who have no idea what I am talking about, maybe you can see where the black shaft goes into the engine.  That was completely gone.

This is the other end where the shaft come into the boat.  The other end was actually sitting right there at the stuffing box

 At first I was really worried and very nervous.  My stomach was in knots and I had the ditch bag out and ready but as time went on and we were sailing great, the bilge was working and we saw that the shaft was stable; I began to relax a bit.  We decided that we would just sail all the way to St. Augustine and not try to get in somewhere.  First off, we were 50 miles out and it would take 10 hours to just go into a port where we might not be able to find a mechanic.  We knew we would have to be towed in and that would end up in the middle of the night.  So long story short we sailed all the way and except for a couple of changes in the sail and winds we did fine.  We managed the squalls on day 3 and arrived at the entrance to St. Augustine on Thursday at 5:30 where TowBoat US met us to tow us in.  The adventure did not stop at that point.  It was 25 KN winds and very chopping seas; his tow rope broke and left us rocking all over.  After that little episode he finally got us in to safe water but when he went to shorten the 80 feet of rope he got it caught in both his props; so now neither of us has an engine and we were headed straight for a dock head on.  Some man on the dock witness the event and literally flew down the dock so fast I thought he would fly off the end.  He managed to push our 40 thousand lb boat off the dock before it hit the dock and the cement post next to it. I swear I saw him grow his arms longer.

This was the dock we almost hit, right next to the big powerboat on this side at the end.  You can't see the cement piling but it's there
 We missed it by an inch but then we were headed right into the shallow water where we would go a ground.  We dropped an anchor very quickly and all was saved.  The captain on the towboat was busily cutting away rope on the prop and was very thankful we had enough sense to drop an anchor.  He called for another towboat to come and switched out.  They got us safely to a dock and tied up by 8:30.  So what should have taken an hour took 3 hours but finally we were safe.  A beer for Harry and a wine for me was the first order.   A friend asked me later if it was a 3 martini event and I said “Oh, it was a whole bottle of Scotch event”.    But since we had no scotch, the wine was fine.
The mechanic who had been highly recommended by a friend came the next morning with his partner and they had the whole thing put back together in 3 hours.  YEA!!!.  We had seriously thought about Harry trying to put it back together out in the ocean but there were too many cons and not enough pros.
We anchored out in St. Augustine for 2 weeks because we love it there, we were in no hurry and we had a boat load of friends here to see.  We thank Tom and Lori (broker friends of Harry’s who told us about Bo, the mechanic and the excellent marina Oasis).  We spent an evening with them.  Then old friends from South Africa, Holly and John on Shiloh, who we had met in the eastern Caribbean, were here on the hard so we spent an evening catching up with them. 

Holli and John on Shiloh.  Holli is actually Canadian and John is from S. Africa and Harry

Sue Torgensen, a good friend from Connecticut.  They are just starting their adventures to the Caribbean
 Then next night we spent an evening with some other SSCA friends, Sue and Dave, on their boat.

Dave on the left, Sue's husband and another couple, Marcia and Dan on Cutting Class (both retired teachers). I thought that was a great name for their boat.
The big event was the next night with a cruiser gathering at a local bar with very cheap beer and wings.  We were able to connect with John and Shirley on Khaya Moya also from South Africa.  We had become very good friends with them clear thru the Eastern Caribbean.  It was John who had redone our stuffing box where the shaft goes through.  If it had not been for him, we might have been in worse trouble out in the ocean.  We had not seen them for 3 years so that was great fun.  It was great getting together with all of them once again.  The whole group is from South Africa and we have teased them all in fun in the Caribbean that they are the S. African mafia.  There are about 10 boats in Granada that are from there, that we hung out with.  They do like to party.

The cruiser gathering, mostly S. Africans.  At the end of the table next to Harry are John and Shirley.
The group of friends we have here just keeps getting larger with boats arriving from the north and meeting friends of friends.  We partied the first 4 days nonstop.   Then slowed down a bit.  The weather is beautiful and warm.  We did a lot of touring of St. Augustine.  I am including a bunch of pictures of the city for those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit.  It is a beautiful city. 

St. Augustine's statues are obelisks all over town.  I took a picture of 3 of them

The obelisks orginated from the the very large one in the center park in town.  It was built there back in the 1800's as a symbol of the Spanish Constitution.
Beautiful old scenic streets in the downtown area

Just another shot of the streets

This is the city marina right by the Memorial bridge.  It is quite lovely to walk around when you first come ashore

This extremely tall cross was built by the Catholic Church back in the 1800's and is quite a landmark from the water.

Bridge of Lions.  Notice the 2 lions guarding the bridge.  There are 2 others on the other side.

Parked right downtown.  Quite a show piece.  We were unable to figure the date of the Rolls

Also, we toured Flagler College, which is quite unique and really beautiful.  It was built as a very elegant hotel back in 1887 by Henry Flagler.  It was a hotel for the rich and famous.  They arrived “for the season” and stayed 4-5 months.  When they first arrived they paid for the whole season which was about $9000.  Today that would be equivalent to $100,000.  In the 1960’s the hotel had been closed and was reopened as Flagler College for liberal arts.   What a beautiful school for these kids to attend.

Overview of the college which was a very high glass hotel

Not the best shot of the entrance way.  We didn't do a good job there

There were 4 Wooden pillars in the entrance way.  All hand carved
Ceiling dome when you enter.

The dining room where all the kids eat their meals.  My nursing school cafeteria never looked like this

Close up of the murals on the ceilings

The ladies parlor where the women were excorted to wait while the men paid for the reservation.  Women were never to see the men paying.  It was said, if they had known how much the place costs they would never have come.  All very secretive.

Another view of the parlor but check out the clock.  It was one of only a few that was made by Edison.  His signature was the roman numeral 4 on his clocks.  Instead of IV, he put IIII 
This is his other one at the hotel.  Same thing

After our tour we had a wonderful 3 hour lunch with old friends from Palm Coast.  We met the 4 of them cruising back in 3003 and have managed to get together periodically ever since.

Carolee and Jeff on Contessa and Jill and David on Shibumi.  
We just had to stay for Halloween in St. Augustine.  We  heard it’s a big deal here and indeed it was.  Some of the cruisers dressed up but we were boring.  I couldn't get Harry into a dress or green tights.  We did go to town and walked all over to see the fantastic costumes up and down the streets.  There were many pirates and jailbirds and lots of women who liked wearing very skimpy costumes.  The men were enjoying that.  Most of my pictures came out blurry but I did get 3 good ones.

John and Holli who was a "Pink bunny chasing Space Cadet".  She caught her pink bunny

Very spooky

Even spookier

The last night we had another big cruisers gathering of almost 30 of us.  It was a lot of fun but time to exit St. Augustine and be on our way to the SSCA Gam. 

Our last gathering.  I couldn't get all 30 people in

 We “  motored” 9 hours to Daytona.Where we had our sister-in-law’s, sister, Joyce, for dinner in Daytona and then on to Melbourne and the SSCA Gam.  My December blog will cover that.  Everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hopefully will see some of you at the Gam.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Last few weeks in the Chesapeake

Well, it’s been another really surprising busy month when I thought we would have nothing to do.   We did have 10 people for the SSCA luncheon.  It turned out to be lots of fun.  We met 2 new couples who are very excited about taking off cruising.  

SSCA luncheon at Leeward's Market.  Charlie and Sue on the left, were the first owners of our boat.  Amy and Ken on Marry T we met in Isla Mujers and she does documentaries.  The other 2 couples were new to us but we had a great visit with them.
The next day we took off with a very brisk sail (20 Kn) out of the north and went south to Oxford.  Oxford lies 35 miles south east of Annapolis and is a very rich historical village.  You can walk the town in an hour.  We had a ton of anchoring space, calm waters and a great view of the town.  Friends we had met in 2012 while we were cruising Maine, live in Oxford and were delighted to show us around and give us history and information about the town.  Bunny and Gary are very proud of this lovely area but said,  “most of the residents would like to build a fence around so tourists couldn’t come in.”  There are no typical tourist shops or gift shops you see in other towns but; it is definitely a boater’s community with 5 marines, a wooden boat building facility that is 300 + years old named Cutts and Case.  It is one of the oldest wooden boat building facilities in the country.  The town of 570 residents have beautiful “home and garden” type homes all about a block or two from any of the marinas.  It is definitely a place where you can get anything fixed on your boat.  We had a great lunch with our friends in one of about 5 seaside restaurants.  We met a couple briefly on a sailboat in our anchorage called First Edition who are commodores like us.  We all promised to get together at St. Michaels.

Me, freezing to death on the way to Oxford

This Robert Morris Inn is quiet famous and he found the town of Oxford.  Bunny and Gary on Rachel E.

Plaque about Robert Morris.  Not sure you can read it.
The next day we headed for St. Michael's which is an old waterman's town on the eastern shore of Maryland on the Delmarve Peninsula.  It's a beautiful old town with a rich history of crabbing and oystering and very different from Oxford. It is a boating town with tons of touristic type of places including gift shops, lots of restaurants, an ice cream shop ( not to be missed) and a fabulous waterfront museum.  We spent about 4 hours in the museum looking at historical boat building and the history of boating in the Chesapeake.  Lunch was wonderful but expensive at their famous crabhouse restaurant.  We met a lovely couple on a trawler in our anchorage.  As we were leaving First Edition pulled in, so we never did get together.  Example of cruising life.

Not much of a picture but you can see St. Michaels is a boating town

One of 4 screw in lighthouse used in the Chesapeake and now it is part of the museum.

Map of the Chesapeake with all the activities available.  It just looked like a fun map
We sailed back to Annapolis to get ready for Ruth and Jim, good friends to come and go day sailing with us.  We found a super anchorage area in the back of Spa Creek.  Ruth and I went to nursing school together 50 years ago and are still best friends.  She and Jim, who is an Annapolis grad, came for the day to sail.  Well, we really performed as the winds were 20 KN.  It was the first time in ages we had actually day sailed and not sailed to a destination so it was a lot of fun.  It was the last time we would sail on our old mainsail as a new one had been ordered and on its way to Sea Schell.  Ruth and Jim seemed to have a wonderful time.

My good buddy, Ruth and me having a great sail

Ruth and Jim, enjoying a day on the water

While in Annapolis, we visited a very moving war memorial up on a hill.  Something not to be missed

Harry's bar.  Had to take a picture.  

Cruising friends we haven't seen in ages.  So much fun to get together:  Stephanie and Drew on La Vita and Kathy and Kurt on 5 and Dime to the right.
Harry then left that week for a couple of days to finalize a sale on a boat in Brunswick, Ga.   It’s great to know money is coming in!!!   When he returned with a successful sale under his belt we took off for a hurricane hole in the South River, thinking at that time that Joaquin was on his way toward us.

See how secure we were with all those tall trees around.  We had no wind back there and it was blowing 20 KN

Another shot to see how far back in we were.

Picture of Quiet Waters Park where we hiked 4 miles.  It was right next to the anchorage and a gorgeous park.  A very upscale place.
 We were so comfortable in this hidy- hole but the next day when the threat was over we left in pouring down rain, 20KN north winds and motored to the Rhode River for our annual SSCA Annapolis Gam.  We thought ourselves a little nuts to venture out when we were so comfortable but being the social animals we are, it was a must that we go.  It was bitter cold, and continued to rain for 2 days.  We were freezing on the boat to the point that I got my flannel pajamas out.  Why I even have them on board, I don’t know and haven’t worn them for 13 years but boy did they feel good.  We were in our full foul weather gear to dinghy into Camp Letts where the Gam was being held.  Of course every other cruiser  looked just like us with all their foulies and boots on. 
A selfy before we left the cockpit to get into cold windy rain.
The Gam (old whaling term for social gatherings in the 1700’s) was wonderful.  We had over 200 cruisers there for 3 days of education, fun and comraderie.  We saw cruisers we haven’t seen in years and met many new people who were there to learn and met other sailors.
Herb Weiss celebrating his 97th birthday at the Gam.  You would never know he was 97.  He and Ruth are still cruising the eastern US.  What a guy.
Harry and I did a presentation on Sunday about different passages to the Caribbean.  By Sunday the weather had cleared but still fairly chilly.  Rich on Kelly Rae, who we had met in Colombia and hung out with in Panama and Guatemala suddenly pulled his boat up right next to ours and anchored.  We were shocked.  We had lost track of him when we left the Rio Dulce.  It was great to see him and after the Gam we spent a great pizza night on his boat getting caught up.
We said our good-byes and took off the next day, very excited about using our new mainsail.  We put it up first thing planning to sail down the Chesapeake all day.  Rich even took a picture of the sail.

Our new mainsail with the Tayana logo at the top.  We never had that before.
Well, much to our chagrin, no wind all day.  It just sat there looking pretty but doing nothing.  Talk about disappointment.  So the next day, we tried again but once again, no wind.  In the meantime, friends of ours on “I Wanda”, were a day ahead of us and kept texting me that they had great wind.  Were we on the same planet?  Don’t think so.
So day 3, same thing, no wind but there she hangs.  What’s the saying:  Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  We call the sail Mildred, after Harry’s departed Mother who left us enough money to pay for her.  Mildred looks great but not doing anything.
We really wanted to take the boat outside around Cape Hatteras, but the weather is not cooperating so we will motor inside on the ICW to Beaufort, NC.  We anchored at hospital Point in Norfolk.
This container ship was only about 100 fee from us.  Pretty intimidating.  That's like the one that sunk in Joaquin.

As you enter Norfolk, it is pretty scarry with all the ships coming in and out.  These are typical ships anchored there.  We had a huge war ship announcing his entrance into the harbor but never did see him.
Norfolk picked mermaids for their sculptures or whatever you call these things.
 A  very frequent anchorage for cruisers.  We decided to stay a couple of days and get off the boat so we walked all over Portsmouth.  It is a beautiful historical town with huge big old homes built pre civil war.  Tons of naval history there both Am. Revolutionary and Civil War.  Had lunch had the best German restaurant called “Bier Garden”.  All German menu.  A German couple came over in the 1960’s and then the husband and son started up the restaurant 20 years ago.  It is so cute and so German.  I felt like we had stepped into Europe.
We took a ferry to Norfolk and walked all over the waterfront and area.  It is also very pretty and renovated.  We spent 6.5 hours exploring the Nauticus Naval Museum.  The first 2 hours we walked from stem to stern on the USS Wisconsin, commissioned in 1944 and fought in WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm.  It is one of the 4 Iowa class battleships built and is really magnificent.  If you ever get to Norfolk, do not miss it.  We walked 3 levels of the museum including aquatics, sharks, fighting battles and watching videos.  We only left because they were closing.  It is a fantastic place.
A view of the waterfront in Norfolk as you get off the ferry
One shot of the USS Wisconsin.  It's hard to get the whole ship at once

One of 3 turrets with these enormous guns starring right at you.

The next day we did 50 miles motoring to Coinjock, North Carolina and treated ourselves to a slip and fantastic steak dinner at the Coinjock restaurant.  We have been going past their off and on for many years and never stopped.  People rave about the restaurant and the food, so we decided since this is probably our last hurrah, let’s treat ourselves and we did.  It was great. 

On we go down the ICW through NC.  It’s a long trip with several stops.  We will visit friends in Oriental and then in Beaufort and then go outside to Florida.  Stay tuned for the next chapter.