Captains log 201404.15
We fueled up yesterday at the Port Royal Marina where we met a fantastic chef that cooked our meals the last time we were travelling to Virginia. Apparently he no longer works there due to a run in with management. Not sure what the story is but we didn't eat there this time and the marina staff were wonderful just like the last time. Today started off good. It was cloudy but no wind and the current was not flowing...for about 25 minutes. Then all hell broke loose. The current switched against us, the wind switched against us at 30 mph and it started raining. I mean rain. Like solid constant heavy rain. I got soaked even though I was wearing water proof gear. Completely soaked. To give you an idea of the amount of rain, we have a 5 gallon bucket in the cockpit that filled to 1/3 of water. That doesn't sound so bad after a day right? Then you factor that it was under our bimini which is the canvas top that is meant to keep the Sun and the rain out. It was filled by sideways rain and it wasn't always sideways.
Speaking of rain, did you know it kills wave formation? There's a fun little fact for you. We were in 30 mph wind with a pretty good fetch (the distance the wind can blow over the water to create waves) and the water was almost dead flat. It stopped raining and the waves built up. It starts raining and the waves went flat. The surface of the water looked like a billiard table covered in marbles. The marbles being the rain drops. The engine worked today. I guess it felt guilty about messing me around in the rain.
There is one bridge in Georgia that you need to have open for you to pass and we organised the bridge to open and just as I throttled the engine it spluttered. One bridge in Georgia. The engine screwed us around one time all day and that opening was the time it did it. I swear there is someone looking down at us saying, "watch me mess them up this time mwahahaha".
We've pulled over for the night but I'm not sure if we'll stay here as the wind and current has pushed us towards the edge of the swamp. Now I don't mind being bogged in a swamp so much, as George, Adam, Ross etc can tell you because I've done it often enough but being bogged in a swamp that has alligators in it isn't my idea of fun...without a rifle and I don't know where my Buck knife is so I can't even use that to get dinner. I suppose I have rope but convincing the wife that I can take an alligator with 6 feet of rope might take some doing. I am pretty hungry so we'll see how we go with that. Gator burgers. I'm in! Coordinates to be updated later in case we have to move.
Wifey: I'm not half as worried about gators as I am about noseeums, so yes, we're currently on the move and will be anchored away from the swamp in ten minutes. :)
Captains log 201404.17
Today marks one full month that I have now been living on the boat. Technically it's over that since I stayed the night on the 16th of March here as well. So a quick recap so far of that month. Robin and I departed Colonial Beach on the 17 of March. To launch we had shovel about 8 inches of snow off the boat, cut docking lines that were frozen solid and load up the 15hp Yamaha and the tender. That first day we got covered in snow, and freezing rain. We got soaked in the chop as the bow plowed through the waves sending lovely refreshingly cold showers of water over us. We didn't have the bimini fitted as it needed repairs. We got a whole 15 miles before having enough and pulled in at Tall Timbers Marina for a couple of days. We departed there and had much fun getting sprayed with cold water, and generally having a pretty miserable time in a wonderfully warm Virginian Spring (please note the sarcasm as it was generally freezing or below) that pretty much followed us to North Carolina to Terry's place.
There Robin departed and I had a week fixing the boat before the wife arrived...in a storm. We're all getting tired of rain, cold and storms. Almost a month of it with the rare exception. A week after the wife arrived we departed Terry and family and headed South for the Winter but Winter just seemed to like us too much to let go and basically hung around for the duration. Yesterday we found a nice little place that Terry pointed us to. So technically we didn't find it but we got there and true to his word, there were fresh oysters everywhere! Unfortunately we were dealing with a wild current and 30mph winds so could not get to them easily and after 30 minutes and two groundings we decided to call it quits. Lorianne in the mean time tried fishing and caught a crab. One crab. We then moved to find a place that didn't have crazy wind and waves to anchor for the night.
Well, we sort of got no waves but the wind would not let up. We took off in the morning again and it was again miserable. I'm getting tired of getting wet while wearing water proof gear in really cold conditions while cruising through supposedly the warm Southern states. Going through the notorious "Hell gate" in Georgia was interesting as we had severe chop and wind. Now when I say we had some waves and wind and the waves were about three feet it doesn't sound so bad, does it? But when you watch 35 foot blue water sail boats come out high enough to see their keel before smashing into the next wave front and digging the bow in then repeating the process, it doesn't sound that good either. For you non sailing types, a blue water vessel is one that is designed to handle the Oceans of the world rather than inland or coastal areas. They are generally built heavier, have water tight bulk heads and large storage space to hold provisions.
I had the pleasure of seeing the bane of sail boaters everywhere, that being most power boaters, come out from a sheltered water way on full throttle and hit the not so protected waterway we were in. Now that was funny. I watched his boat fly completely out of the water then crash stern first back into the drink and repeat it once more. I'm not sure if his engine stalled, it was a Yamaha after all, or he cut the throttle back, but after that he gently moved towards us instead of doing what he was planing on and flying past at close proximity and sent huge wakes that literally throw things around in our boat. A little payback which made my day.
For the most part power boaters don't seem to care and often deliberately make large wakes to shake up a sail boat. There are names I can use for people like this but I won't and I don't want to insult assholes by comparing them. We found another place to anchor for the night again hopeful that it was not too windy or choppy. Again, no luck to be found. While there Lorianne tried fishing again. Much excitement was to be had as she caught something big. It took a while to reel in a 1.5 foot...hammer head shark. Well damn. I take the hook out and let it go. It's took cold and blowy out there so Lorianne calls it a night and I re-bait the line and leaving it. Then the familiar squeal of the reel and we have something big again. Pull it out in the dark and find we caught a beautiful 2.5 foot...hammer head shark. Well..shit. Take the hook out and release that one too and we call it a night, eat the one crab we had in a crab soup that was meant to be a sea food soup. We'll try again another time.
So off we go this morning. The wind advisory is sustained 20-25mph winds with gusts 35-39 mph. Now far be it for me to suggest something to the weather bureau but I really think they should re-write it to: Wind advisory, sustained 35-39 mph winds with lulls of 20-25mph. A subtle yet surprisingly significant change that more reflects the reality of the situation we find ourselves in. Given all the trouble we had finding good moorings along the ICW I am really looking forward to the Pacific. I mean with 3700 miles between places on one leg surely they would put out regular mooring points or people would just have to sail through the night and that would be weird.
Captains log supplemental 20104.17
Today I wish to discuss waves. Little waves, chop, swell and big waves. Little waves are like ripples in a pond. Fascinating to look at as the expand when you throw a pebble in. On a boat like the SpazCat, you don't feel these at all but you hear them. It sound's like you are living in a bathtub. Then there is chop. This is the result of waves produced while in the wind they are produced in but haven't yet earned the right to call themselves waves. I'm quite sure but not 100% that they are called chop because that's the sound it makes when it hits your boat. A bone jarring thud, thud over and over. Nothing dangerous but annoying as hell. After that we get waves.
Waves have two speeds. I bet most people didn't know that. They have a wave speed and a group speed. The wave speed is the speed of the individual wave within a group. The group speed is half of the wave speed. So when you are watching it as I was today travelling in the same direction and almost the same speed as the group speed you see a wave overtake and then die out while another forms right behind it and repeats the process. Wonderful to watch. Sometimes those waves get pretty big. Today we had the fun experience of traveling across St Andrews Sound. I don't know why they call it that because it's anything but saintly. The sound is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and waves generated in the ocean come into the sound and the shallow water and do what waves do when they hit shallow water. They slow down and grow higher. The result is really big waves very close together. How big? Well in this case they were between 6-8 feet. How close? Well, in this case about 8 feet. Now 6-8 foot waves that are far apart are smooth and easy going. Breaking 6 footers about 8 feet apart are rough. Add to that we had over 40 mph winds and sideways rain. The wind was screaming and reminded me of when we got caught in an 80mph storm in Florida. The difference being this was cold rain and not as fast. Either way it was not much fun. To add to the lack of fun, the wonderful motor decided to start up it's antics. So I've got screaming cold rain pounding me, waves crashing over the boat soaking me further, I'm trying to keep the boat pointed away from a 3 foot sand bar in the area that both the waves and the wind naturally wanted me to visit and having to prime the stupid engine every 30 seconds. I wondered at this point what the wife and cats thought about all this being thrown around up and down and sideways.
I find out later that the wife wasn't too happy about it. I can't imagine why. The cat's however are a totally different story. Spaz, our nutty ginger cat thought it was all just way too boring so slept through it. Gracie, the 17 year old cat decided it was a good time to come out of a nap and go eat and pee. It's like they just don't care that we went through nasty weather and waves. It looks like Gracie actually enjoys it. Weird cats. To think we we worried about what they would think and if they would be uncomfortable. They didn't even blink an eye of concern. So much for this day. Wild wind, wild waves. There's nothing like looking to the port side while at the helm and watching a wave higher than the cabin roll on by. In all that the casualty was one beer bottle (empty) that fell over. That was it. This boat takes nasty conditions and just smooths it out. Having been a monohull owner only prior to this I'm amazed at the difference in ride. Any of my old boats would have had things thrown everywhere. I could literally have put a coffee on the helm station and it wouldn't have been knocked over even though we had the keels up in the air regularly and were heeling wildly. It's like everything on the boat is glued in place.
Other wave types are swells. These are waves that have traveled past their formation zone. So you can get high waves generated by storms hundreds of miles away and they are gentle sloped long period waves. Then there are storm waves. The nastiest of the nasty. Big, breaking often and travelling fast with short periods relative to their height. To deal with those we have the series drogue but the plan is not to be in the areas to begin with. I just like backups. So that was our fun day. Some nasty waves in just gale strength winds.
Today we were in gale force winds, Beaufort scale 8. Catalac's have been in all wind conditions and survived. In Florida we were in Hurricane strength winds but only for about 30 minutes. That was some really nasty stuff but the boat handled it easily. We've been in every wind scale there is so far but only for short duration's. I'm hoping we've clocked up the crappy weather quota now and the on average then must mean we will have great weather for almost the rest of the trip! Lets hope the weather likes maths. Thus ends the day and now it's time to cook dinner and hopefully get a fish or two to go with it. Tomorrow we deal with the thunder storms that are expected to hit here then two days of rain. Happy happy joy joy...