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.

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