Monday, December 7, 2015

First trip south

Zoe is in Cocoa Beach.  We moved her in August from Anapolis to Deltaville and had the engine serviced, the chart plotter replaced and the bottom paint redone.  Keith and Valotta accompanied me, Keith on the boat and Valotta in my truck on the move.  We stopped in the Solomans night one and on to Deltaville the next day. Was a pretty uneventful trip.  

I enlisted the help of a local sailboat Captain, for the jump South as my experience with offshore sailing is limited. I will leave out his name as he was a very nice guy and helpful but a few of his decisions were questionable.  

Day one had captain myself and first mate Kathy up and moving with the high tide to escape Deltaville. We has a nice downwind motorsail maintaining 6 to 7 knots to the great bridge lock below Norfolk.  We had intended to stop in Norfolk at a marina chosen by the captain.  Unfortunately, I assumed he knew where he was going and he was expecting me to direct him there. I learned that he was not on top of the situation 12 miles past the mark. In his defense my iPad that I was using as a backup to the new chart plotter he was using had stop functioning properly.  I believe that was the point that I stopped deferring to his judgement.  We also lost the front running lights in the rain late in the day.

 We started day two with dead batteries.  I hooked up the generator to crank the engine and it started then stalled.  After cranking for a bit it took hold but showed pressure on the fuel filters. We stopped early in Coinjock to see if we could get some mechanical help. I did some trouble shooting with Keith on the phone and determined that we had a valve left closed from the service in Deltaville restricting flow.  We also found the alternator was not charging and a small fuel leak. 

Day three.  We received excellent service from the mechanic at Coinjock.  Captain proved himself useless for diagnosing engine problems and to have no understanding of deisel engines. 
Day three 10:00 found our captain afraid to cross Abermarle sound in 10 knot winds.  After researching the forcasts and assuring the captain we could handle 3 ft water, we decided to go. The day proved to be a good down wind sail through the sound and down the alligator river.  We anchored in 25 knot winds for the night with 30 plus gusts.  Captain again showed questionable judgement and went to bed without any thought to an anchor watch. I spent the evening in the cockpit with my portable heater and a drag alarm. The wind died around 1 so I retired below for the remainder of the night.  

Day 4. Captain awoke and proclaimed himself well rested. (Easier to do I guess when it's not your boat) we headed down the Aligator river and stopped for the day in Belhaven.  Nice small town.  No real services. 

Day 5.  Motor sailed to Orient uneventful day. 

Day 6. Motored to Moorehead City where we took on fuel and pumped out. 
Continued on to swansboro had to dock in 30 knot winds pushing us back and in. I handled the boat as Captain had shown that he had no experience handling a full keel. Unfortunately Captain didn't handle the fenders properly as he was to busy spouting docking orders that made no sense.  We ended up damaging the rub rail against the dock where a fender should have been placed. That was ok though " no real damage". I think he said If that is all we tear up on this trip we will be in good shape. Again, not his boat. 

Day 7. We motored on to Wrightsville Beach and found the last open dock to leave Zoe for a couple days while I took Kat to the Airport and picked up Keith for the open water leg of the trip. Captain top off to visit with friends and was nice enough to only charge half his rate for leaving the boat unattended. Not sure what is proper but I am not accustomed to paying someone to visit with friends. 

Day 8. While Capt enjoyed his visit with friends I found batteries and switched them out. Then headed to Charleston.  

Day 9. Captain still off fishing with friends for half price. I dropped Kat at the airport and picked up Keith.  Headed back to the boat to prepare for an early departure. 

Day 10. We headed out with the tide. Forcasts called for north winds 10 knots clocking east and building to 20 knots the next day. Plan was to head south and stop in Charleston.  We took on fuel in Carolina beach. Seas were calm as we exited the Cape fear River. We motorsailed into the night.  We decided on three hour watches.  The autopilot was not effective with the following seas so hand stearing was required. The captain suggested raising the main to help stabilize the boat.    The seas built to around 10 ft on the beam which made everything difficult.  I hit the bunk at midnight leaving Keith and the Captain in charge. I woke around 3 to the sound of the boom banging on the gallows and went up to see what was happening. The main was jibeing and banging in the wind and the Captain had added a full head sail.  The wind had clocked around on the port quarter and the captain informed me that we were overpowered. I told him we needed to get the main in and reduce the head sail.  He thought we should just ride it out until light.  Again not his boat getting beat up. I rolled up the jib and worked my way up front as Capt showed no interest in fixing the problem he had caused. We pulled the main in tight turned directly down wind and I dropped the main. He told me later he regretted not reeling the main. I regretted going to sleep and leaving him in charge. We weren't expecting the 20 knot winds until the next day but Zoe reefs easily and should have been done long before we got to that point. 

Day 11. The seas were still 10 feet and confused. The wind was 20 knots gusting to 25. We chose to bypass Charleston as Parker's weather suggested the east winds would hold another day then clock south which would have stuck us in Charleston for several days. We ended up spending 40 hours in those conditions and arriving at St Mary's river inlet at dawn. 

Day 12. We decided to dump the Captain in Fernandina and head to Cocoa Beach on the inside as the winds had clocked south at 20 knots.  We rested for a couple hours took on fuel and pumped out. Then Keith and I headed on to Jacksonville.  We stopped for the night at Beach Marine. 

Day 13. We rose early and headed out for Datona beach.  We bumped in St Augustine cutting a corner to sharp but was able to make it back to the channel without hanging up. We went through the bridge with Earl's Girls who later gave us some good advice about some serious shouling.  We ran aground in the middle of the channel but powered through the sand and ended the day at loggerhead marina.  

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