June 2004
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June 2004 Update

 

6/6/2004 

Well, we made it to Charleston as planned, sort of. As many of you know we had diverted to Cape Canaveral on our first leg out of Ft. Pierce because of navigation computer problems. I thought I found our computer problem when I discovered a bad memory chip that I removed it. Ugne spent her time programming our back-up navigation system just in case we still had problems.

As it turned out, good idea! The Compaq laptops old tricks reappeared, system lock-up, and it was always at a critical moment. We will solve this problem soon. Anyone have an interest in a Compaq Anchoring System. On second thought it would probably fail that test also.  

THE TRIP:  

We left the Cape at 0800 Wednesday a couple of hours earlier than planned because of forecasted bad weather in the Flagler Beach to Jupiter area. We figured that if we got in the Gulf Stream we could get north of the area before the late afternoon storms developed. We were almost right. On leaving the Cape we headed out NE and picked up the stream about 35 miles off shore in line with Titusville. You know when you are there as the Speed Over Ground jumps a couple of knots and gets even better when you get to the middle of the stream. The winds were light sw 5 - 8 mph and the stream was like glass. We had a hard time keeping the head sail filled so we had the engine running to help the progress and we were still doing 8 to 9 knots over ground. We made good progress and were 65 miles offshore of Flagler Beach by 1900. Looking at the horizon and listening to the weather, severe weather had developed along the coast but the range was further north into South Georgia than forecasted. We continued to watch the weather and moved to about 90 miles offshore to give us a better chance of evading any storms that might come our way. The first thing we encountered were 6 - 7 foot swells out of the SW generated by a storm near Daytona Beach that had report 60 mph gusts. It was not to bad as the swells were on our aft quarter about 6 - 7 seconds apart. Vilkas handled them well. We also had shortened sail just in case. Around midnight with a full moon shining between two storms that we had dodged a small squall line developed and freshened our winds to 30 to 35 knots, the problem was that the wind was out of the west blowing across the SW swells and a north flow of the Gulf Stream made for Very Confusing Seas and adding to their height abit. Again Vilkas handled it well, Bill & Ugne? As the morning progressed, not much sleep, the storms up & down the coast made the seas in the Stream and outside the Stream very confused and they did not measure up to the forecast of 2 - 3 ft with SW winds 5 - 10. In many cases, many, we had rollers that would roll us 35 degrees side to side. But even with the confused seas we were making speeds up to 11.2 knots over ground that pushed us way ahead of our schedule. That turned into another problem, we would reach Charleston after dark. We exited the Stream at a waypoint 80 miles off the coast of St. Simons Island at 10am. The seas settled a bit and we decided to just sail around and waste a few hours so we would enter Charleston at first light the following day. The forecast, and I use that term lightly, was for the winds to subside to SW 5 -10 during the night making for a nice smooth entry into Charleston. 

Wrong again. 

A front moved in quicker than expected and the winds stayed in the 15 to 20 range with gusts to 25 out of the SW. This development did not allow the seas to calm down and we decided to end this adventure and enter Charleston harbor before sunrise. What a ride this was.  We hit our waypoint at marker R8 and turned west into the channel. The wind and the rollers from the previous night were something else, 6 - 8 ft, as we moved into shallower water and we wallowed laboriously toward the jetty. From R8 to the jetty is about 7 miles, Fun, Fun. Ops the computer locked up lost navigation. 

The guidebooks say that Charleston is a very difficult channel to enter at night because of all of the background lights make finding the channel markers very hard. Add to this the weather and you will understand why I will never have any hair on top of my head. We started this event about 4 AM. When we finally got to the jetty and calmer water about 0530 we were welcomed by the shrimp boats making their way out the channel some with their nets deployed. Did I mention that we also had a small thunderstorm greet us. Fun Again.  

Once through the jetty we made our way up the Cooper River to the Cooper River Marina and dropped anchor outside the channel at 0630 to await the marinas opening at 9am. Cooper River Marina is a little remote but the price was half the cost ($.70 a foot)of other Charleston marinas. 

We will be here a couple of days to visit with our son and try to solve our navigation problems. Vilkas needs a good bath she looks like a salt shaker. 

Ops again, just spilt a beer on the Compaq, guess I will have to buy a new one. 

A great adventure, one I know we can handle when we meet it again in the future. Onto Beaufort, NC sometime next week, on the outside.  

June 7 July 4 

The weather extended our stay in Charleston to two weeks so we got to spend additional time with our son. He let us use on of his cars on the weekends so we could get out to re-supply our stores. One purchase we did make was a new laptop a Toshiba Satellite. It then took me almost a week to get all the software loaded. So far we have been very pleased. 

As I stated above the weather extended our Charleston stay. A cold front had pushed in and hung around for several days. Each day we got up early planning on leaving and heavy rain would move in canceling our departure. Our plan was to go outside directly to Beaufort, NC. However the weather was not cooperating so we decided to take the inside route and head up the ICW. We are not fans of the ICW as you cannot make more than 50 60 miles a day. The first day we pushed it arriving in Georgetown around 1800, a very long tiring day. Georgetown is a great little town that is in the process of rebuilding the downtown area. We stayed 2 nights so we could take in the sights.  

We left Georgetown June 20 and headed to Little River, SC. The first part of the trip was up the Waccamaw River and it was delightful with a lot of wildlife including Bald Headed Eagles. From Enterprise Landing to Little River the ICW runs 26 miles through the Pine Island Cut. A narrow man made cut with steep banks and kind of boring. Fortunately we did not meet any barge traffic. We stayed at the Coquina Marina for two nights for a weather window so we could go outside to Beaufort.   

On June 23 we headed out the Little River outlet for the trip to Beaufort. Going north out the Little River outlet forces you to sail SE to get around the Cape Fear shoals. We had winds out of the south so the first part of the trip was kind of rough. Once we got past the shoals and turned north the seas were aft of beam the ride got a lot smoother. We arrive at the Beaufort Inlet around 11 am on June 24 and took a slip at the Beaufort City Marina. 

Beaufort is a great stop and the city caters to the cruising sailor. They even have courtesy cars available for shopping trips. We stayed 5 days visiting the sights and performing some boat maintenance.  

We enjoyed our Beaufort stay but were ready to move on. June 29 we left Beaufort for an anchorage in Broad Creek off of the Neuse River north of Oriental, NC. We arrived around 1430 and anchored just outside the crab pots that lined the shore. It was a great anchorage with little traffic. The next morning we hauled anchor at 0700 for a trip to Belhaven on the Pungo River and anchored at the back of the harbor near the bridge. Once the wind settled down it was a nice anchorage. 

The next day we motored up the Alligator River-Pungo River Canal to an anchorage at the foot of the Alligator River mile marker 101. Again this canal was like the last one narrow and straight but this time we did meet a barge coming at us. Of course we passed each other at one of the narrowest parts even touching bottom a little bit. About half way up the canal Dear Flies attacked us. We fought them the rest of the trip. Once anchored we were able to put up our netting to keep them away. 

On July 2 we left the anchorage at 0630 for the long ride up the Alligator River across Albemarle Sound and up the North River to Coinjock, NC. The winds were very light so we were looking for a smooth ride across the sound however we were not counting on a million crab pots be scattered all over the place. The three hours across the sound were very tiring. There is no place to anchor in this area so we tied to the wall at Coinjock Marina. The marina is one of the neatest we have been at with great people. The food at their restaurant was very good. We stayed an extra night so I could change the oil in the engine. 

July 4 we left Coinjock at 0615 for the final leg on the ICW arriving at Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth, Va. Mile marker zero at 1600. This leg had quite a few bridges and a lock to go through. The day was uneventful until we got to the last bridge, the Gilberton Bridge. It had broke down in a half opened position so we had to circle for about an hour waiting for the repair. Once we were settled in our slip at Tidewater we were treated to the Norfolk July forth fireworks that fired from a barge in front of the marina. We spent 4 days in Portsmouth touring the old city as well as crossing over to Norfolk to visit the USS Wisconsin.

        USS Wisconsin

            Helo Carrier in Dry Dock