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28 November 2007
Georgetown, SC (ICW Milepost 402)
Trip 46 nm, Total 549 nm, Engine 1412 hrs

I was a bit late getting out of Barefoot Landing this morning. I overslept a bit. I didn't get up until 0645hrs! But the time I'd made coffee and did my map recon of the day's route it was 0715hrs.

So then comes the normal departure process of:
- Put all the needed equipment into the cockpit: binoculars, charts, pad and pencil, camera, GPS, VHF
- Switch on the electronics: Fathometer and autopilot
- Switch off the shore power panel switches
- Disconnect the shore power cable

While doing that I'm looking at the wind and current and how Galena sits relative to both. I'm trying to decide a plan of attack on getting out of here. In this case there was a considerable current on the bow. So the departure process will be:
1. Stern line
2. aft spring
3. bow line
4. loop the fwd spring and jump aboard
5. let the bow swing away from the dock a few yards
6. slip the forward sprint line and power away.

Now, while I'm doing all of this Milan from the boat behind me (s/v Sir William, Fr-Canadian) comes up and asks me about the tides. I'm in 5.2-feet. Her boat draws 6.5-ft. She's hard aground. I looked up the tidal data and found that she would probably be stuck there until 0900hrs. She was bummed. She and her brother, Simone, are taking the boat down to Key West where her boyfriend is joining them before heading over to Cuba. They will be going 'outside' a lot because of their draft. I offered to try to pull them away from the dock, but we agreed that her boat was too heavy for Galena to pull that far through that much mud.

The weather forecast for tomorrow night looks good for an outside run from Georgetown to Charleston, SC. I have to stop calling those planned outside legs "off shore legs." I'm only going to be about 10 miles off shore and that's not really "off shore". It's more Coastal Cruising.
I'm going out only enough to avoid the shoals and to stay inside the effects of the stream. In fact, I want to take advantage of the 1/2-kt counter current along the shore caused by the Gulf Stream.

When I left Barefoot Landing I was making 5.7 kts. That rose to 6.5 kts for a while. Always nice to have a little boost from the current. But once I got into the Waccamaw River my speed dropped to 4.6 kts. Even with the staysail up, catching whatever little gusts of wind found their way down between the trees, I could only make 5.0 kts.

There's not much water in this canal. Must be tough on those with waterfront property.

I see a lot of this. Floating docks sitting on dry ground.

I was standing in the cockpit playing at playing my guitar as I passed the Bucksport Marina. I heard a VHF radio call, "Bucksport Marina to the one-man-band." I smiled and waved. The girl said something about never having had anyone pass their place playing a guitar. Cool to be first.

This place (Georgetown, SC) is kind of a dumpy little anchorage. The town doesn't offer much to transient boaters.

Here's a mosaic shot of the harbor from west to southeast.

(Click on the image for a larger view)

I came in here and found that the private mooring balls are spaced just far enough apart to make anchoring difficult. But not close enough together to efficiently use the space available. I found this spot and set the anchor. Once I got settled in, i saw that the 7.5-ft depth was dropping. I checked the tide charts and, yes, in a couple of hours Galena would be sitting in 4.7-feet of water; I'd be on the bottom. I hope it's soft mud.

At the west end of this anchorage is a scrap metal works. It's always noisy here. But when they are loading a ship with scrap iron the noise is almost intolerable.

I had a nice Mac&Cheeze dinner and now I'm having a little R&CL while I read a bit before heading off to my cozy little bunk.

Fuel status was: stbd-8gal / port-32gal / on deck-13gal.
I transferred and scrubbed 22 gals from port to stbd tanks.
Fuel consumption has been a consistent and respectable 0.63 gal/hr. Or about 8 mpg.

The stuffing box is dripping a bit too much. Up to about 15 drips per minute. Should be something like 5. I have not tightened it since I had the packing replaced three years ago. So I'll have to get down in there and give it a bit of turn to see if that will slow down the leak.

For those who don't know about such things there's a wrapper, if you will, around the prop shaft where it goes through the hull. This wrapper is called a stuffing box, or packing gland. It lives a compromise between keeping the water out and not being so tight around the shaft as to heat it up with friction. In fact, there should be a little bit of water dripping from the shaft all the time; keeps it cool and lubricated. As the packing material wears away, you have to keep tightening the big collar. Eventually you can't tighten it anymore and then you open it all up and put new packing material in. That's what I did in Daytona, FL in December of 2004 (everything broke three years ago). I may have to do that again if I can't control the tripping with a little tightening. Another job for the Charleston, SC stop. I guess I could invest in one of those 'dripless' fittings, but that would require a new shaft (mine's a bit too worn) and a couple of hundred dollars. And I don't know how Galena would react to such a newfangled device. She's a pretty conventional ol' gal.

29 November 2007
Departing Georgetown, SC
Notes from my deck log

Didn't want to wait anymore. I have 65 nm to go to get to Charleston. But 15 nm of that is just getting down the Waccamaw River to the ocean, and another 7 nm of that is getting into the harbor at Charleston. So it's only 43 nm along the coast.
So off I go. Before even turning down the main river channel, I have the stay and main sails up and I'm ready to go sailing. But there's no wind. None.

The water has that glassy smooth "you'll do no sailing today, buddy" look to it.

I was making about 4.3 kts. The tide should be going to ebb soon. But even at this speed I'm showing a 0300 arrival at Charleston. The sky looks like rain.

Apparent wind is west at 2-kts. Air temp is 67° and I'm motoring down the river at 5-kts.

I experienced a sudden short shower. I scampered about putting things away, getting into my foulies, putting away my ipod, etc. In two minutes the rain stopped. It barely made the deck wet.

I'm still heading down the Waccamaw River toward the ocean. But the tide is ebbing and now Galena is up to 6.4-kts. The apparent wind is zero.

I'm making the finally turn to the east toward the ocean now. Making 7.3-kts with apparent wind of 7-kts on the nose. When your speed equals the wind speed, there's no wind.

As I head out the actual inlet I hit the usual wind-and-waves-against-current mess that you always find in inlets. This makes big standing waves that are hard as hell to fight through. Galena is bucking up and down, left and right, trying to fight her way out to sea. But this will settle down once I turn south away from the out flowing current.

I've given up on sailing. There is no wind. The seas are running about 3-ft on the port quarter and I'm still motoring along. But that little counter-current I spoke of is boosting Galena from her usually motoring speed of 5.5 kts to 6.3 kts.

Getting dark. Motoring in calm seas. The waves are less than 2-feet and the wind is less than 5-kts. Heading is 230 and we're tracking 220. The engine is running at a gentle 2200 rpm and Galena is making 6.0 kts.

Time for a little dinner. I heat up some soup and take it up to the cockpit. I have the ipod playing island music with the speakers on deck turned up loud.

I can already see the loom in the sky from Charleston, some 40 miles to the southwest.

It's cloudy out so there will be no stars.

I still have the main and stay sails up. The catch a little breeze now and then and generally dampen the gentle rolling caused by the following seas.

According to the GPS, I should be passing the Cape Romain shoal buoy. It's an unlighted red buoy at a bearing of 290° at a range of 3/4 nm. So I grab my binoculars with the compass in the stock and a thing to tell time... No, that's another Story. My Nikon 7x50 binoculars are great. They provide a much brighter image than you have with the naked eye. And they have a lighted compass so you can take bearings on things at night. Or, you can look in a specific direction to find things, like Buoys! I hit the button and.... no light. Damn! Wait, I have spare batteries somewhere. I drop below and find the batteries and open the little compartment on the binoculars. It's a little dirty in there. Not actually corroded, but sort of dirty. I pull the old batteries out and swab the area with a damp Q-Tip. Once it's clean I swap it again with a Q-Tip coated with dielectric grease. Dielectric grease is my new favorite stuff. Sea water just eats up electrical connections. Dielectric grease keeps the connections clean and free from corrosion.

Back on deck I look in the correct direction with my binoculars and it's now lit compass and... there it is. A large dark shape sliding by just a half mile off.

OK, so I've confirmed where I am. As if the GPS would be wrong. But still, it's nice to have visual confirmation.

I plot my position, time, speed, heading on the paper chart. Just in case something happens and I loose my GPS (electrical short, lightening strike, whatever).

Since the engine is running and making a lot of electricity, I decide to setup my laptop computer on the nav station. I pop in a DVD and hook up my deck speakers. Sitting in the cockpit I can look into the boat and watch movies while I head southwest at a comfortable 6 kts.
Now that I'm pass that shoal my course turns more to the west; 245° M. I'm heading directly toward Charleston, SC.

Well, not directly toward the inlet.

Charleston harbor is protected by a pair of jetties that jut out over 2 miles into the ocean on either side of the inlet. You can see them on this chart. They are the funnel-looking lines at the upper-left corner. In real life they are much more than lines. The jetties are ' walls' made of rip-rap (large rocks piled up). Hitting them would be fatal. Both to Galena and myself. The protect the harbor and keep the channel clear of silt. These jetties, like most of the ones I've seen, are just about awash at high tide. You'd never see them at night and in the daylight you have to be looking for them or you'll drive right onto them.

So I aim for a spot a mile or so out. When I'm in the channel, I'll turn in to go between the jetties and into the harbor.

You can see my GPS route coming in from the upper-right in the picture above.
You have all those buoys leading out from the jetty. And on the chart they look easy to understand. But that's on the chart.

At night what you see are just a bunch of flashing lights on the horizon. I've been trying to find a way to display what I see as I approach the channel from the side. Without animation, here's what I see (each strip is one second apart).

You have to find a light, then wait for it to flash on again. Then you count; one-thousand and one, one-thousand and two, one-thousand and three, one-thousand and four. Blink! It lights again. So that's a 4-sec flashing, red, let's say.

Now to the chart. Where's a 4-second flashing red light? OK, it could be Red "10" (Fl R 4s). But it could also be Red "16" (also Fl R 4s).

Ok, look to the right of that light. There! There's another flashing red. Wait for it... Count: one-thousand and one, one-thousand and two .... -six, Blink! So that's a 6-second Red. To the chart. That MUST be Red "12" (Fl R 6s).

So over there to the right, those quick flashing Green and Red lights must be "17" and "18", respectively. And those mark the ends of the jetties. That's what I have to avoid.

Ok, I'm ready to go in. I actually turn a little to port and swing around the outside of R"16" and turn to starboard and take up my new heading of 305°.

But wait! where's those all-important quick flashing red and green lights. I've lost them in the background lights of the harbor. Damn. I'm searching with my binoculars. There's the red, slightly to my right, so that's good. But where's the green should be right over there... That's when I notice, way up in the air, a pair of white lights, in line, with a red and a green, also way up in the air, on either side of them.

A freighter is coming out. Right for me. We're both in the middle of the channel. I turn to starboard to open up the gap. But wait! there's that boat-eating jetty out there somewhere. Where's that quick red again? There it is. Look behind you, the reds are not quite lined up and indicate you're still in the channel, but over to the starboard side.

The freighter is close now. And very big. In the dark it's hard to judge distance. But the light configuration say we'll miss. But not by much. I turn more to starboard. I'm still a quarter of mile from the charted end of the jetty so I should be ok.

I'm threading the needle between a freighter that can kill me, and a jetty that can kill me.

I pass the freighter... way too close! Then I swerve to port to get into the channel center and hit his prop turbulence. Galena bounces and twists. I see the range lights a couple of miles inside the channel and line up on them. The quick flashing red and green are passing by my beam.

OK, everything is OK. Breath now.

An hour and a half more of "Where is that 2.5-second green?" and following range lights and I find myself right in front of the City Marina and there, on my left are a bunch of sailboats lying to anchor.

I turn in and find a comfortable spot. Anchor down and set. Engine off. Quiet. Take a breath. Go to bed.

30 November 2007
Charleston, SC
Trip 71 nm, Total 620 nm, Engine 1426 hrs

Today I did a few chores. I covered the sails, I straightened up the deck. I noticed that the main halyard was frayed near the shackle where it passes over the sheave at the masthead. So I cut that part off and re-spliced the shackle onto the line. Should be good for another few years.



I found that one of the fairleads for the staysail sheet was smashed. I must have done that while moving those house batteries around on deck.

It occurred to me that some may not know what a fairlead is. This is what it looked like after I replaced it.

Now for a little relaxation. Time for a R&CL and then off to bed.

I heard from Tom. He's in Wrightsville Beach and will be leaving there in the morning.
He said he's had a bunch of problems. Nothing like getting away from the dock to point out where the weaknesses of your boat are. He has a new cruising buddy who is heading to Costa Rica. One of my dream destinations! They will be here in 4 or 5 days.

01 December 2007
Charleston, SC

I dinghied into shore today. I went to the City Marina and found a dinghy dock. As I approached a guy advised me that that dock was high and dry at low tide. He pointed out the other dock (the one you're supposed to pay for using) and I went over there. But I didn't see any sign saying to pay so I didn't. I later found out that, yes, you can pay at the main office and they will take your money, but nobody really pays and nobody really minds.

I was heading out of the marina when the same guy I met earlier (Kyle?) was driving out of a parking lot. He asked if I need a ride. I said I didn't know where I was going. He gave me a tour of the town and dropped me off downtown. I walked around a bit and found the place quite interesting. I even happened upon a Peter O'Neill Gallery. I'd seen is work at his gallery in St Augustine. I was at the time quite taken with a painting named "A Night to Remember." It's still available as a small print for $250. While talking with the young lady running the gallery, my eye was caught by a similar painting named "Making the First Move." Again, it captures something special. We'll see.

I stopped as some historic building and asked a role-playing pirate for a map. He gave me one and when I asked where I could get a burger and a beer he, in character, explained that I was a block from the best beef and ale in town. A place called The Blind Tiger. Where was this place? "It separates Church and State," said the pirate. Two streets a block apart.

He was right, it was a good burger. There I met Rob and Susan (s/v Mandate) and Dave (s/v Ambling). It turns out that I had met Rob at Clausons in Beaufort a few weeks ago. We drank a bit and then walked (ambled?) back to the dinks. Both of their boats were anchored near Galena.

02 December 2007
Charleston, SC

Today I walked to the West Marine store to get that replacement fairlead. It didn't look all that far on the map but it took a full hour to walk there. Then a bit more than an hour to walk back (it rained and I was tired).

I was going to change the oil today, but I'm tired and cold. After I get dry and warm and feed I'll either change the oil or go to bed.

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