Friday, December 13, 2013

Beautiful Beaufort

Still a little too cold for my liking!
Finally our part arrived.  About 3 hours later the engine was fixed and we were ready to resume our trek south…but, as sailing luck would have it, bad weather came in and we had to wait out two days of high wind before venturing into the Albemarle Sound.  
Once we were started again we made excellent progress.  We anchored in most of our usual favorite spots and a few new ones. The engine works great now, except that we need to keep taking oil out of the fresh water reservoir.   
Anchoring on the Pungo River

We docked at a marina in Oriental NC to wait out the huge storm that hit the eastern seaboard on the day before Thanksgiving.  Oriental is a bit of a throwback town that is reminiscent of Mayberry. The people are very friendly and offered us the use of their bikes or rides in their cars as we made our way around town. We decided to stay there and chillax for Thanksgiving Day. Although very cold, it was a beautiful, clear, crisp day. In the morning we wandered about and took some pictures, and then we watched The Sound of Music and enjoyed our own little turkey dinner.  I took the time to reflect on the trip so far and decided I had a lot of reasons to be thankful…not the least of which is the chance to be on another Coyote Adventure…But, most of all I am thankful for our family and friends.
Our Thanksgiving table

The rest of our travels down the ICW were relatively uneventful, with the exception of a few groundings.  But, as one of our sailing friends pointed out…a sailor who says they have never run aground has never left the dock.

Oriental - a quaint little town
Evening on the ICW

The first one occurred just north of Charleston SC as we approached the Ben Sawyer swing bridge. There is a notoriously shallow area and we were travelling at low tide (sometimes that is just out of your control).  Anyway, there was a sailboat already hard aground and actually leaning at about 30 degrees. We approached very cautiously hoping we could feel our way through.  Didn’t work! We gently touched bottom and were stuck there for about three hours till the tide came in.  We very effectively blocked the rest of the channel and three more boats opted to wait out the tide rather than navigate around us.

No way through this channel!

When we finally floated off we missed the last opening of the bridge by six minutes! Aargh!  After hovering for two hours we went through the bridge and had to find our way through Charleston harbor in the dark…a little nerve wracking.  But we made it safely to the anchorage and dropped anchor, which thankfully held immediately; we hit the sack soon after.

Sunrise in Beaufort
The next day was the last stretch for the first part of the journey. We were heading for Beaufort SC where we planned to stay for a visit with Lynn’s brother and his wife (David and Gini). We decided to take a detour from the ICW to avoid another shallow area called the Ashepoo Coosaw Cutoff. Once again we were going to hit it at low tide and didn’t want a repeat of the previous day. So, instead of turning left in the Ashepoo River, we turned right and headed for the St. Helena Sound.  The charts showed deep water the whole way and it was just a few extra miles.  The plan went perfectly till we reached the mouth of the river where, without any warning, we hit bottom in water that was charted at 22 feet!

Docked in Callawassie
Lynn is always called to the helm to get us out of sticky situations…which he deftly did in this case once again. He backed us off and then carefully negotiated the rest of the area that was at least 10 feet more shallow than it was supposed to be.  Once out into the sound we were able to relax in about 40 feet of water.  We were very happy to pull into the Beaufort marina for the night and enjoyed a nice meal with some fellow cruisers we had met on the radio that day!

Another spectacular sunset
After a short, four-hour ride the following day, we arrived at Callawassie Island where we have been staying for the past week.  David arranged for us to dock Coyote at their pier and we have been enjoying comfortable, restful nights on shore in their lovely home.  We have filled the days with some chores and some fun. Our friend Chuck arrived yesterday on his boat, Driven, and is now docked next to us.  It is not often that the community has a big sailboat docked here, let alone two, so I am sure we are getting a lot of attention.

Beaufort Carolers

After we go home for Christmas we will start as soon as possible to go south to Florida and then to the Bahamas.  We are at the point in the journey where we need to hope for good off-shore cruising weather…so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait too long…I’ll keep you posted.  Till then, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year!!             

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Coyote Adventure IV: A New Journey Begins

The Captain and First Mate 

It has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog. About a year and a half to be exact! During that time I was back at work and visited my family in Canada regularly. Lynn was busy with many activities, including completely overhauling and flipping a 44 ft Endeavor, building a deck, working at West Marine, and lots of boat projects on Coyote. I can’t believe how quickly time flew and how much we had to accomplish in the last few weeks to get ready for departure.

We hauled the boat and cleaned off the most barnacles I have ever seen before waxing the hull and painting the bottom, we worked on the engine, did the usual provisioning, and decided a little too late in the season to paint the entire deck. Although it delayed our departure a bit, it was well worth it. Thanks Pete! Our boat is beautiful. And thanks Biscuit for the many hours of entertainment. We also left a little late so we could travel to Canada in October for my Mom’s 90th birthday. That was an awesome party celebrating an incredible women!

Workin' on the Boat

Just a few Barnacles!

In the Boatyard

We finally departed on November 14th on a beautiful morning with a bunch of people around to see us off, including Lee and Paul, Brenda, Pete, Kathy and Jim, and Lynn’s three daughters, Traci, Kari and Jami. It was the usual choked-up farewell. 

As we headed down the Bay it felt wonderful to finally be out on the water. We tend to get so preoccupied with other activities that we never really enjoy the boat when not on one of our Bahamas treks. We chilled, ate and just gazed off to the horizon…that is until after midnight, when a little bit of hell started. Unexpectedly the wind picked up to about 30 knots and the water got really rough in the bottom half of the Bay, south of Solomon’s Island. With the wind out of the South we were crashing into the waves, like a bucking bronco, for a good 4 hours. Of course it was during the most grueling time of an overnighter from about 2-6 AM. I started to feel like I was counting down every minute…I guess I was. Thankfully it was an almost full moon so we had lots of light, which definitely makes a big difference. Then with the sunrise the water calmed down as we reached Norfolk. 

The Beach at Nags Head

We found out that the Great Bridge lock was going to open that day at 11:30 AM so we decided to keep pushing on. Due to a valve problem they were only opening when the conditions were

An Unexpected Vinyard

just right, so we thought we should grab the opportunity and were lucky to be the last boat they let into the lock. After 32 hours (with little to no sleep) we made our first stop at Coinjock NC, which turned out to last much longer than planned or wanted! We did some laundry, had a long, hot shower, ate in the restaurant and then finally hit the sack. I was so tired at that point that I think I was starting to hallucinate…I know I have no recollection of actually going to bed.

Coinjock Marina

Finally on our Way...Before the Waves

We awoke the next morning feeling very excited to get on our way again…but, sadly Lynn discovered oil in our fresh water coolant when he did his usual engine check before starting up. This is a bad thing.

We called a local mechanic who diagnosed a bad oil cooler. Not a big deal, unless you own a Perkins and the part has to come all the way from England. Long story short, it took almost a week to get the part and the engine back in working order, which is actually faster than we expected. A shout out here to Ken Moore, the Yacht Doc, who definitely came to our rescue. If you ever find yourself stuck on a boat in Coinjock, he is the one to call!

Of course, as sailing luck would have it, bad weather came in as soon as the engine was fixed and we have opted to wait another 2 days for it to pass. If this all sounds a bit déjà vu-ish…that’s because it is. We were held up on our last trip for 30 days in Norfolk with generator and transmission problems. We were so happy to get past Norfolk this time…but, only made it 50 miles south!!

Love this Pic of my Man :)

The Wright Brothers Memorial on a Blustery Day -
Probably like the First Flight!

Oh well, we decided to make the best of it and toured the area…we were not far from the Outer Banks so made some visits to Manteo, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. We stopped at a local winery, the Wright Brothers monument (which we particularly enjoyed), and of course had our first glimpse of the ocean.

Anyway, I have been trying to take this delay in stride. Lynn will tell you I have not been without a few frustrated moments…but it has definitely not been so bad. Unfortunately, this means that we will not reach our Thanksgiving destination of Beaufort SC where we planned to spend the holiday with Lynn’s brother’s family…which is the biggest down side of the whole thing. That and the fact that we watched a week of perfect traveling weather pass us by and now the wind has increased and the temperature decreased. From the glass-half-full perspective: (1) our engine didn't give out when we were in the rough Bay in the middle of the night, (2) Lynn found the problem early enough that there was no really serious damage, and (3) we are still happy, healthy and heading south. 

I just need to keep reminding myself that all this effort is to get to this…