Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Laying Up - AYB

Sunrise - Atlantic Yacht Basin

Yes, we finally escaped the current at Morehead City Yacht Basin and made a short day's run to River Dunes Marina in Oriental, NC — though not without incident. A storm followed us almost all the way and finally caught up just before we pulled into River Dunes. Running from inside a protected pilot house heavy rain is never a problem, however lightning is a different story. Waiting out the blinding rain storm before easing into the skinny little creek that leads to the marina, thunder and lightning soon became the issues to deal with.

In all the years and all the miles of doing this, we've never had any problems with lightning; been in plenty of storms, but suffered nothing worse than the anxiety it brings.
Then - a loud bang, a flash, and we realized we'd been hit or almost anyway.

Sonar, chartplotter, and radar screens blinked then rebooted, I turned to head back out to the Neuse River and deeper water, then started working to bring back some electronics. Luckily, we've redundant nav systems on-board and our computer driven system was not affected. Charts and AIS were still running, but we had no depth info.

After a few minutes I had depth coming from sonar, but oddly enough no sonar screen - just the numbers. That was enough to get into the marina so we turned back to the entry point and headed in.
Things could have definitely been worse and we've heard many stories that were. We slowly motored into River Dunes basin and saw a beautiful marina where Rich, the harbormaster, stood waving at us from our dock.
The rain had stopped and the storm moved on. The rest of the night was quiet as I went about going through all the affected systems.

With all the redundancies aboard I was able to put together a working nav system and we pulled out the next morning, heading for Belhaven, NC and River Forest Marina.

Belhaven's another cool little town. The docks at River Forest are old, but the electricity is stable and the depths are good. The dockmaster's name is Henry Boyd III. He and a group of Belhaven citizens bought the marina out of bankruptcy. They're slowly rebuilding the docks, but the lovely old southern manor next door has already been brought back to mint condition. Henry and his crew are very proud of the project and love to talk about it. They also loaned us a golf cart and directions to town for dinner. Spoon River Art Works and Market is a fine restaurant. The local Black Drum was killer. The place was crowded.

That evening we went through another storm, but other than rolling us around for a few minutes there were no problems. We ended the day with a peaceful sunset

The next morning we made way to Coinjock, NC to spend the night. Coinjock is Coinjock. No, we didn't get the steak, but the soft shell craps were very good.

Then, AYB. We always stop here and throw a bit of money at James Taylor's crew. They do good work and this time we may need to take advantage of that.

All in all, as far as storm damage goes, we did okay.
Our main GPS was acting up, but after a reset it came back for the most part. It now shows us running at .05 knots while at the dock, but it's position seems to be okay. We have several ways to get GPS info so that doesn't stop the show.
One of our depth sounder transducers is dead.
Both Raymarine displays are blinky.
Ironically, the Sirius Weather Receiver was fried and has yet to return.
By far the most expensive damage is the KVH Satellite TV dish. It's toast.

I called our insurance company, and inquired about making a claim. They've since sent out a surveyor who thinks the damages are worse than I do. He explained how lightning causes crazy intermittent problems that usually show up at critical times. He's probably correct.

So, here we are, laying up at AYB, waiting to hear back from several folks.

There's good friends tied up just behind us and it has been nice catching up with them.
We've always liked it here. Always little projects to do and AYB has the essential supplies to get them done. The boats that come out of the lock can be interesting to see and the camaraderie amongst the boaters is always enjoyable

We're thinking The Chesapeake Bay will be our next leg, but news of Sea Nettles (Jelly Fish) may change that. The Bay full of Nettles is not uncommon this time of year. They clog sea strainers and stop air conditioning; not good in 90º heat .

And, as they so often are, our plans are still peculating.

Life's good ~


Friday, August 18, 2017

Tides In Our favor

After a nice couple of days in Georgetown, the weather settled and we continued our trip north.

Leaving Georgetown, SC was a trip. Inside the little harbor things were calm, a bit of current, but as soon as we made it into Winyah Bay the tidal surge grabbed us and slung Istaboa out to the ocean like a sling shot. At times I saw speeds of 13+ knots. (yes, speed is subjective)
Spitting us out into the Atlantic, that same tidal current propelled us toward Southport, NC at a good clip. Approaching Cape Fear, the day's destination, an incoming tide was pulling us into the inlet at almost 11 knots and we arrived at the marina earlier than expected.
Checked in and the boys walked, the seemingly scheduled afternoon thunderstorm arrived.

We were left with this big beautiful rainbow after the storm moved offshore. Fortunately, the brief, but torrential squall nicely cleaned the salt spray from the boat. (Bahamian Boat Wash) It seems the natural forces of the universe have been lining up and working in our favor for the last few days.

Yesterday morning, early out of Cape Fear Inlet, a strong tidal current pushed us out pass the long Frying Pan Shoals. Crossing at the Slue, a marked shortcut, we turned north and made way toward Beaufort Inlet and Morehead City, NC.
Arrival at the cut at around 5PM and making it into the Yacht Basin just before closing time, again, the tides were favorable. We rode the current all the way in. Then, like magic, it nearly slacked as we eased down the little canal that leads to the marina. Many know Morehead City Yacht Basin as a difficult marina to negotiate; however, on this day, it was a piece of cake.

Other than leaving the dock this morning, tides will not be a factor for a while. Running the ICW up to The Chesapeake, tidal range is minimal.

We've been quite lucky. Usually we find the current and wind on our nose which almost always makes for long miserable days. This trip, so far, it's been in our favor, all to our back.

Be that as it may, we know, tides turn, they always do.
We'll take what we get... as if we have a choice.


8:30 update:
The tides did turn.  At the present time, we're pressed up against the dock ... thrusters are no match for this current.
We'll be here for a few more hours and make this a short day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Low Country

Well, that didn't take long. Our intentions were to push out of Charleston with a heavy load of fuel and water and run all the way up to Beaufort Inlet. All the weather sites showed doable seas until Tuesday afternoon or later.
But, weather is as weather does, things changed. TS Gert became Hurricane Gert. Though the blow is not a threat to the coastline, the seas were getting crazy and they're predicted to become even more confused.
We looked at Southport as the next stop, but our timing was all wrong. We'd arrive in the dark.
Much closer was either Winyah Bay and Georgetown or Myrtle Beach.

We turned toward Georgetown.

We'd never been here though good things are often said about Georgetown.
Surprisingly, those good things were understated. What a cool little town.

We literally rolled into Winyah Bay Entrance with seas on our tail and made the fairly long run up to Georgetown. It's pretty far inland, 14 miles,  but we found deep water all the way and it's carefully marked.

 We've tied up at Harborwalk Marina where we found a nice long dock. From here it's a block walk into the quaint little downtown area that's neat as a pin. Even though it was Monday and many restaurants were closed, Alfresco Bistro was open; it's fare and service was truly fine. It's a funky little place, the hostess leads you through the kitchen to get to the main dining room, however it's the best dining experience we've had on this trip.

 All of this makes Georgetown a good hang.

Georgetown is a very old, (1500s), and interesting little town. Back in the 1700s their cash crop was the color blue. Really.  Indigo was the crop of choice, more so than rice.,_South_Carolina

So, here we'll stay for another night. There's biz that's needing some attention and another day at rest won't be a waste.  If the seas ease up tomorrow, we'll continue our run up to Beaufort Inlet, if not, it's the freakin' ICW for a while.

A small complication: There may not be a slip anywhere in the Carolinas this weekend. Eclipsemania has taken hold of the area and it's seems everyone want to see it from their boats. All slips are booked.


Sunday, August 13, 2017


Charleston - City Marina

Currently, we're tied up in Charleston

Yes, I know— it's been a long time since anything's been posted on this blog. We've been somewhat busy, but really, that's no reason. Usually it's photographs that inspire me to write something and I really haven't taken any photos that have roused me to open the blog and post.

We're always flattered and somewhat surprised when along the way a stranger speaks fondly of Istaboa and the blog we've done for more than a decade; I really don't know what to say when asked why I've not been writing much. That's happened several times on this trip.

Once again, it's a lazy Sunday morning, I've ingested a sufficient amount of caffeine, and gone through several days of unprocessed pics.
It seems we're always catching up, so ~~~~
Because it's August and we're just now heading north up the coast, this year's cruise has been somewhat different from those of the past. Hoping to avoid the packs of yachtistas at the marinas along the way, we waited till late May to leave for the islands. This strategy worked as we figured it would and most of our favorite marinas have had slips available without reservations.

Our last post was at the beginning of our run up the East Coast so I'll pick up there.

Leaving Old Port Cove we made a short run out in the ocean to Ft Pierce where we waited out an almost continuous line of thunderstorms. Storms have been the daily deciding factor for this whole trip.

After Ft Pierce, the seas had picked up so we ran the ICW all the way to Vero Beach. 15 miles.

Then out of nowhere Tropical Storm Emily popped up. We had just left Vero Beach Municipal Marina in the rain, (not realizing it was the outter bands of a tropical disturbance), and made way to Titusville.

Happily, TS Emily was a flop, just rain. We had a peaceful night at Titusville Marina streaming movies and fell asleep to the sound of raindrops falling on the boat. The next day we shoved off and motored to Daytona.

We stayed at Daytona Marina and Boatworks. We like this little marina with it's easy in, side tie docks, plenty of water, and there's a Charthouse restaurant onsite that's excellent. Happy Hour is great; small plates of gourmet appetizers, happy hour prices, and all just feet away from the boat. 

Our next stop was Palm Coast Marina. A nice/quiet little marina where we always stop for a night and to buy fuel.  Best prices in Florida, easy in and out.

The next day was a short run to St Augustine and Camachee Cove Marina. We pulled into Camachee Cove on a low/low tide and had to try several slips before we found one deep enough for us.
As you see from the above picture, storms are following us pretty much all the time, however we keep on running the ICW and manage to avoid most of them.

I hate the ICW - Mel likes it. After a day of negotiating the ICW, I'm exhausted. It's not just shallow water, actually it's not that shallow in Florida, it's the constant attention one must maintain to successfully make it to your next stop.
At last we to make it to Jacksonville and back out to the ocean. St Augustine to St Simons was the day's leg. No storms and relatively flat seas.

 There's a reason they call this area, Golden Isles

Saint Simons/Brunswick is Mel's hometown and here she had family waiting. I took this time to do a little business and catch up with chores on the boat. Mel visited the farmers market and brought home a few pounds of Georgia shrimp and fresh vegetables.

Next stop: Hilton Head. We've never been into Hilton Head, always passing it by saying that someday we should stop and check it out. We'll, we did and it really is a nice place.
We choose Harbour Town Yacht Basin to tie up. It's a great marina, though last year's Hurricane did extensive damage that they are still working through. We took a few days off and explored the island a bit, though the storms were back in full force giving up only half days before running us back in the boat. Still, we liked the area and we'll be back.

After a few days we chose a time to run out Calibogue Sound with good tide and pointed north toward Charleston.
Another fairly easy run with calm seas ended where we are now. Charleston City Marina.
We couldn't have timed it better. We eased in and called the marina, they asked us to turn around in the basin and back down about 500 feet on the inside of the Megadock. Slack tide allowed this to happen without incident.

We've done a bit of sightseeing while here. Took a buggy ride through downtown to see all the historic sights, a young fellow narrated the tour, and did a nice job of it.

Of course, we passed by Ft Sumter on the way in.

As we entered Charleston Harbor, in my mind (as there often is), a song played over and over again.  I've heard Randy Newman's Sail Away many times and always liked the melody and the hook, but I never really listened to it until I heard Etta James bring it home, as only Etta James can do.

On this day, the lyrics are painfully ironic:

In America you'll get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You'll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American

Ain't no lions or tigers ain't no mamba snake
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cake
Everybody is as happy as a man can be
Climb aboard little wog sail away with me

In America every man is free
To take care of his home and his family
You'll be as happy as a monkey in a monkey tree
You're all gonna be an American

Sail away sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay
Sail away-sail away
We will cross the mighty ocean into Charleston Bay

We'll be leaving soon, maybe tomorrow, depends on weather. We've realized that time aboard is good for us no matter where we are. We're still heading north, maybe the Chesapeake, maybe not. Point A and Point B is the same place to us and that would be Jupiter.

We'll be back when we get there.

One thing for sure, Istaboa is a happy boat.