04 Nov 08, Tuesday
Dismal Swamp Visitor Center, NC; ICW Milepost 28 (Dismal Swamp Route)
After posting to my blog I had Capt Ron over for breakfast. We had eggs and pancakes that were not too bad if I do say so myself. Since the three boats that had been rafted up to Galena had departed we moved LastDance to my port side. That left nine boats still sitting at the center's bulkhead. The weather was still bad for crossing the Albemarle Sound. We had received word that Elizabeth City was packed with boats waiting to cross. So we stayed put. Besides, we were developing a friendly little community here.
I checked my fuel status: 16/33/20 gal. (Stbd, Port, and Deck tanks). I leave the valves setup for the engine to draw from the starboard tank. And for the transfer pump to move fuel from port to starboard tanks. On deck I have four fuel jugs that I use to ferry fuel to Galena when I'm at anchor. I'll run the transfer pump in a day or so to move the fuel from port to starboard tanks. Ron is running a bit low and may have to use some of my deck fuel to make it to Belhaven, NC.
Ron and I took a walk down the nature trail and got a little exercise. We took some more pictures of our boats rafted up at the bulkhead here.
Ron had a different take on the slowdown I was experiencing while driving down the swamp canal. I've mentioned before that when the depth was over eight feet I could motor at my normal 5.7 knots at 2800 rpm. But as the depth decreased to seven feet my speed also decreased. On the occasions when I was in only 6.5 feet (which was rare) I could only make 4.8 knots!? I thought that was because my keel was dragging through some soupy mud on the bottom. Mud that the depth sounder couldn't see. But Ron said it was due to the suction of the canal bottom on the bottom of the boat. The canal is narrow (less that a hundred feet in places) and shallow. A boat, even as small as Galena, displaces a significant portion of the water at the spot she is occupying as she moves along. That, according to Ron, causes significant squat and additional drag. Ron work in the maritime industry after retiring from the navy. So I will defer to his significant wisdom on this. At least until I get the chance to Google "Boat Squat" and "Pressure Drag."
Last night Ron to a terrible fall while moving from his boat, across another enroute to the bulkhead. He fell on a powerboat gunnel right on his chest. He said he heard a rib crack. But he didn't feel any pain when he breathed deeply; although it hurt when he laughed (which he does, often). A few days from now he would say that when he hauled a halyard or sheeted in the main it felt like he had marbles rolling around in his chest. He'll get it looked at later. All day he sat around moaning. I actually felt sorry for the guy. Rich and Meg, whose boat he fell into, also felt a little bad for him. The incident made me more aware that for the past few months I have let myself go to hell, too. My weight is way up. I've got to stop the beer drinking and concentrate on my rum diet. When the larder is down to just Dinty Moore Stew, I'll drop the extra weight.
s/v Oo La La, Westsail 32 #81
Galena and Lastdance rafted up.
On Wednesday, 5 Nov, I woke up with a pain in my throat. I felt like I was catching a cold. I hate having a cold. I took aspirin and drank a lot of hot chocolate. And later in the day I felt fine. I guess I was just sore from snoring too loudly.
Last night it started to rain as the cold front we had been waiting for finally arrived. In the morning it was that nasty winter drizzle that makes everything feel damp and clammy.
Since we're down in the swamp canal, surrounded by trees we don't feel the wind that is reported as 25-30 gusting to 40. I mean we don't feel it at all! We are also in the shade. Together that means my wind generator doesn't spin and my solar panels don't... whatever they do. Galena's batteries are only good for a few days without charging. And I've been watching movies and using the computer to watch the weather. I've not been frugal with the power usage at all. So I've had to run the engine for an hour or so to top up the batteries today.
I had the pleasure to meet Audry and Gion (sp?). A cute French-Canadian couple aboard s/v "Haboob!" enroute to the Exumas and then continuing on south. Gion said his name is french for 'William' and that english-speakers just can't pronounce it correctly. So we called him Willie, much to his liking. Audry asked a lot of questions about crossing from Florida to the Bahamas and the procedures for clearing customs and the like. It's always nice to have the attention of a pretty girl. So I waxed poetic about my many crossings and my lack of adventure with regard to clearing in to the Bahamas.
I spent the day doing little odds and ends of maintenance and cleaning up. I checked the oil in the engine, polished my big brass lamp, organized some of the crap that seems to accumulate on the navigation station. The nav station table top is right at the bottom of the companionway ladder. As such I tend to just throw things there when I'm done with them. And there they sit. For days. Until, finally, when I can no longer stack things on top of one another, I start to put things where they belong.
I napped from 1pm till 4pm (life is rough, isn't it?) then I had a nice dinner of rice and beans. Ron and I have 'movie night' aboard Galena. We watched 'The Whole Nine Yards.' I talked with Sarah of Moonlight Serenade and gave her a few pointers on putting pictures inside of her blog. She and Bill are still planning on a January departure from the Chesapeake Bay. January??? Don't they know how cold it will be? Hopefully I'll be in Miami or crossing the Gulf Stream about then.
06 Nov 08
Elizabeth City, NC. ICW Milepost 50 (Dismal Swamp Route)
Trip: 21nm, Total: 202nm, Engine: 1930hrs
Anchored out at N 36° 17.901' W 076° 12.702'
Lastdance and Galena cast off at about 0930 to make the 1100 opening of the lock at South Mills. We planned on just putting down the canal and that's what we did. It's only about 4 miles and we took all of an hour and a half to make it. That's slow cruising. But it actually felt better than leaving at 1015 and hauling ass.
The bridge is first. They opened at exactly 1100hrs and we had arrived about 20-minutes early. We moved forward toward the locks, which were already open. On our starboard side between the bridge and the lock is a steel bulkhead that has room for 6 or 7 boats. Being right in town, although it's a very small town, it's would have been a better place to hole-up while waiting for weather.
On into the locks with a fairly strong wind from the starboard side. Just as we were casting lines around the bolsters the rain started. We had an uncomfortable wait while we locked down about 10-feet. Then we motored on down the river to here, Elizabeth city. We had heard that there was no room for anymore boats. I had thought that some would have departed since the wind was down to 15-20 kts and from the northeast. Lastdance found a slip at the Pelican Marina. I chose to anchor out. Mostly I was afraid to enter the marina in the wind. Why bother with fighting my way into a slip when I could anchor out? And there was wind, but no fetch. So the anchorage was quite calm.
07 Nov 08
Anchored at Deep Point, Alligator River, ICW Milepost 102
N 35° 40.472' W 076° 03.539'
Trip: 44nm, Total: 246nm, Engine: 1937
We arrived here at 1430hrs. I went over to Lastdance for an early sundowner, or two. The sun was shining brightly and the temperatures were up into the mid-seventies. I sat in the sun with my shirt off for the first time in weeks.
Back on Galena at 1700, a little the worse for wear.
We had a very quiet motorsail across the Albemarle Sound. Dead calm most of the way. I was struck by the fact that the sky, water, and shoreline were all just shades of gray. No other color in sight.
Nothing but gray
The trip down the Pasquatank River out of Elizabeth City was uneventful except for the fact that I counted 19 sailboats in a row from horizon to horizon. Everyone agrees this is the time to go south.
Lastdance on the Pasquatank River
We had only a short delay at the Alligator River swing bridge. I had just missed an opening for a couple of boats about a mile ahead of me. So we sat still for about 5-minutes before the bridge opened again. Mostly I think the bridge tender was waiting for a bunch of boats to catch up from behind. So we went through with a crowd.
Along the way I was passed by Ed and Elaine aboard m/v Bay Ranger. We had met at the Dismal Swamp visitor center. I don't know who makes that boat but it quite the charming little vessel.
Ron and I will depart early tomorrow to make for Belhaven,NC.
I've been playing with my new radar. Trying to develop an understanding of how the real world corresponds to what I see on the screen. Here's a picture of the chart and the radar screen. Pretty good comparison, huh?
Every time I anchor here I have to get sunset and sunrise pictures. For some reason they both look wonderful here.
So, here are the pictures for this year:
Sunset with Lastdance in the foreground
And sunrise the next day with Galena in the foreground. Always inspirational.
08 Nov 08
Belhaven, NC, ICW Milepost 138
Anchored in the river just west of R'8'
Holding sucked with the CQR. Nothing but soft mud here. So I left that anchor down and motored up to drop the Bruce. It set immediately. There was a forecast for high winds from the West tonight. So two hooks are not ridiculous. It's just that hauling up two anchors in the morning will be much harder than hauling up one.
On the way here I had a nasty encounter with a jerk aboard a large, new-looking sailboat. He was passing everyone in the canal without so much as a howdy-do. As he approached Galena, on her port side, I was approaching a bridge. There was no way he could squeeze between me and the bridge fenders. But he was coming fast, just off to my port. Finally when he was about 75' behind me I blew five toots on my horn and signaled him to stay back. At the point he backed off and slowed and fell in behind me; about 25 feet behind me! As soon as I was past the bridge he started around. Again, he was very close. I held course and as he came by I shouted some comments about his lack of understanding of the navigation rules. He said I should look behind me and just get out of his way. We had a few more words as he rapidly pulled ahead. The boat name was "Living the Dream." If you see him somewhere give him a wide berth. He's not just an ass, he's dangerous!
Ron went into the marina here. He needed fuel and he likes the comforts of being in a slip: Shore power, Cable TV, etc.
As I prepared to dinghy in to see Ron, I was shocked to find that I had not filled my gasoline can when I had fueled up with diesel. I only had about a gallon of gas in the small tank that goes into the dinghy. So I tossed the big deck jug into the dink.
I dinghied in to the marina and joined Ron for a walk to town and a drink at the local watering hole. I think it was called The Rack Room. It is just to the right at the first light in town. We had a few beers and chatted-up the locals. The bartender was a lovely lass; very attentive with a great smile. The locals were fun. The place was a pool hall and bar. And, what luck, we were there on Karaoke night!. We had to go back to the marina so that Ron could settle his account for slip and fuel. When we got there the bar was open. It didn't open until 7pm. Isn't that odd?. So we had a couple of beers and chatted with the other boaters. To give you a feel for the place, Ron and I were the only ones drinking beer. Everyone else was having martinis, Manhattans, and Merlot. Yeah, it was that kind of crowd. So we walked back to the Rack Room. Ron left at about 11pm while I stayed till 1am. I had an interesting walk home. I also had fun getting into my dinghy which I had left tied to the stern of Lastdance. Once out of the marina I hit full throttle and my little dink came up on plane. I scooted across the river at 16kts literally laughing out loud at the moon.
I didn't buy gas. Damn!
09 Nov 08
Anchored in Adams Creek, 4 miles south of Oriental, NC, ICW Milepost 187
Trip: 43nm, Total: 320nm, Engine: 1952hs
NE of R'6' at N 34° 57.026' W 076° 40.009'
Ok, this will go down as the worse day of the trip... so far.
I overslept and Ron woke me up by circling Galena and shouting to me from Lastdance. So I'm up and in a hurry. I get the motor of the dinghy, I put coffee on to boil, I clear the deck for travel. I start to haul up the anchors. First the Bruce. No problem. Then the CQR. It stops coming up and the chain is tight back toward the stern. And my anchor trip line/ball is nowhere to be seen. I think maybe there's a current I don't know about. So I put the engine in gentle reverse. Bang! What was that? I still can't find the trip line or the ball. It's a large hard plastic ball about 10" in diameter. I'm in the dinghy and checking the prop shaft. Nope, no rope there. I get a boat hook and run it down the rudder slot over the pintles and to the bottom of the keel. I feel the line tight along the bottom of the keel. It won't budge.
The only thing to do is to dive down and clear it. The whole situation just doesn't make sense to me. So I dig out my snorkel, mask, and fins. Over the side I go. Did I mention that this is November!!!!????!!! Talk about cold water. I dive down and there's the problem: the trip line is wedged behind the batten I installed at the bottom of the rudder to protect the slot between it and the keel. It's hard to explain but I'll try. Galena has a full keel and an aft hung rudder. But there's a slot about two inches wide between the rudder and the back edge of the keel. When I sail over crab pots or other lines, they tend to slide along the keel, which is fine. But then they come to that slot and they move up and get caught there. So years ago I installed a batten about 12" long and attached to the keel even with the bottom of the rudder, extending over the slot, and sprung against the side of the rudder. Works great for any line sliding along the bottom of Galena's keel. As long as it's going from fore to aft. The trip line, with float was pulled from aft to forward. And it slipped behind the batten. and it was caught. and the float had been up near the prop and had been hit. So I pulled the line aft and cleared it. Then I scampered back on board Galena and dried off as fast as possible. Man it was cold!
OK, words don't describe it well, here's a picture of the drawings from my actual logbook:
Altogether I spent over an hour getting the anchor cleared and up. Oh and the prop had punched a hole in the float ball so it was trashed.
As I was drying off in the cockpit, Ron had the courtesy to take a picture
Me as I dry off after my little trip over the side
Anchor up and off we go.
You can see the line of boats heading down the channel ahead of and behind Galena
In the clear morning sun the Pamlico River was calm and beautiful. As the Albemarle was all just shades of gray, this river today is just shades of blue. I know, the water just reflects the sky. But still, it's quite striking.
When we turned down the Neuse River to the west heading toward Oriental we were pounding directly into a brisk breeze and a 3' chop. Our speed was down to 4.4 kts. We decided we would skip Oriental. The marina was expensive and the anchorage out in front was full. So we continued on down to here on Adams Creek. I was going to try to get into Cedar Creek at ICW Milepost 187. But I could see that that spot was pretty full. So we stopped here.
As I was turning off the marked channel and heading into the anchorage area I was called by a local who advised me I was heading into a shoal. He was right! I turned and he directed me to a spot well off the channel and in 7-ft of water. Ron and I anchored there. The guy who called and advised us came sailing past and chatted. In fact I invited him to raft up and have a drink.
His name is Wayne and he's a retired fire fighter from Edison, NJ. He sails his Tartan 37 around Adams Creek an over to the Neuse River just about every day. He loves to chat with the transients each spring and fall. Someday he'll also head south. Just not right now. Ron rowed over to Galena and during the gam we found that Wayne and Ron actually know some of the same people in New Jersey. Small world.
Just after dark Wayne cast of and Ron rowed back to Lastdance. I had a quiet dinner and was early to bed.
10 Nov 08
Anchored in Town Creek, Beaufort, NC, ICW Milepost 204
N 34° 43.495' W 076° 39.971'
A gentle down-current run from Adams Creek. At times we were motoring at 7.5 kts!
OK, another bad day aboard the good ship Galena.
Ron has a slip here for Lastdance. In fact he may stay here for a month while visiting with his son, Chris.
I'm coming into the creek and looking for a place to anchor. Usually I continue south, through the bridge and over to the anchorage right in front of the Beaufort Town Docks. But the current there is terrible and the moorings are filling the anchorage. And there are just so many boats that finding a place to anchor is a challenge.
As we left the Adams Creek Canal, we were passed by four navy go-fast boats the likes of which I had never seen before.
Anyone know anything about these boats?
So this trip I figured I'll look for something here in Town Creek. I motor in and in just a few boat-lengths I'm in trouble. I look to run behind a boat anchored in 'the channel' and I see 7.2-ft on the depth sounder. Within a boat-length I feel Galena's bow rocket upward and feel the sickening lurch as a shoal slide under the keel toward the stern. I hit full throttle and hope to power off the hump. No luck. I'm up a foot in the air at the stern. The depth sounder reads 3.9-ft. I draw 5. The prop is half out of the water. Ron agrees to pull me laterally from the bow. The couple from s/v Brilliant, who knew ron from Norfolk were passing by in their dinghy and they took a line over to Lastdance. He pulled and Galena's bow swung to port but I was still high and dry by the stern. I re-rigged the tow line to the starboard side and Ron gave another pull and with a lot of twisting back-and-forth of my rudder I was able to wiggle Galena free from the bottom.
Here's a chart view of my route (starts at upper-left) and the shoals that I didn't know about.
Ron continues on into his slip in the marina and I head out to the river to make another approach attempt. I come in and find a spot. I drop the hook in 10-ft of water and have Galena drifting back while I let out rode. The yachtie in the boat to my port side says, "You know there's a shallow spot right behind you?" "No, I didn't," I say at the precise moment that Galena backs onto this shoal of which he spoke. Well I had already paid out 60-ft of rode so I just winched myself forward and moved another 60-ft to the north. There I anchored without additional incident. But now I'm in the middle of the channel. But I just light up Galena like a Christmas tree at night and don't worry about it.
Ron and I went to the SandBar (the bar here in the marina) for a beer. The news is on the TV. Some bar stool ass next to me makes some nasty comment about Bush robbing the country blind. I turned to him and said something to the effect of, "Hey, Fuck you!" Which I thought set the tone of the forthcoming conversation quite well. I asked what, exactly Bush had done to cause the current financial crisis. He had no answer. I asked what actions Bush had not stopped that caused the problems. He had no answer. What an ass! First of all, you don't bring up politics in a bar full of strangers and just expect everyone to agree with you. Secondly one shouldn't spout bullshit rhetoric without having given it any thought. All that and I had had a not very fun day to that point.
I went back to Galena and finished putting her to bed. I was going to be here a few days and I wanted everything just really put away. That, and an early dinner took a few hours.
I talked with Dean, of s/v Briar Patch. He was rowing by and we chatted for a bit. He built Briar Patch himself 20 years ago. He's sailing off shore down to Wilmington tonight. Seems like kindred spirit. Maybe I'll bump into him again down the road.
Ron's son was coming down to visit with his two grandchildren. I went over to Ron's boat and met Chis for the first time. Chatted for a couple of minutes and then headed over to the bar again.
A few beers later I was joined by Holly. She was a Canadian who was crewing on a sailboat headed for the Dominican Republic. Her skipper, Capt Bob, was a competent man with 60,000 ocean miles under his keel. But he was getting old and wanted some help on this run. So she had answered his add and he, she, and another guy, were on their way. Holly and I talked for a couple of hours when suddenly I hear, "Holly! What are you doing here? Why didn't you call?" It was Capt Bob. He was pissed. He had dropped her off and was waiting on board his boat to come pick her up. He didn't know she would be stopping for a few beers. He said to me, "You got a boat?" I thought, hell, I talk to the girl and now I have to keep her? He clarified the question with, "You got a dinghy to take her back to the boat?" Sure, no problem. He storms off. We finish our beers and I take her home to her boat.
Today, the 11th of November (Happy Veterans Day, btw) I get a knock on my hull. It's Capt Bob. Two things on his mind: I hope you didn't think I was upset with you last night. And, by the way, you want to take her off my hands? NO and Hell NO!
Bob Dudley and I chatted for about half an hour. I really like the guy. At 75 he feels he might use a little help on the longer passages (he's heading directly from here to Dominican Republic) but feels that Holly, with her inexperience and being as out-of-shape as she is will just not do. He's trying to find a nice way to put her off here in Beaufort. Bob's been sailing his boat, s/v Cheezeburger in Paradise, for 20 years now. He was in the Pathfinders, a special army unit, and has over 60 jumps to his credit. We share a lot of the same values, likes, and dislikes. I really like meeting people like him. People I can talk to and even learn things from.