Captains log 201611.13
I haven't had much chance to update the spazcat.com site as internet access has not been convenient for me. If we do get it in passing I'm navigating and when we anchor we usually have limited access and I'm exhausted so go to sleep shortly after Sunset. When I get up I make coffee, pull up the anchor and repeat the process. Today we're at a marina. Not by choice. We've had engine issues again.
Lets back track a bit to Atlantic City Yacht Basin in Va, just South of Norfolk. We fueled up there but couldn't find an anchorage before Sunset. I motored slowly but Hurricane Mathew left a mess that we found. We hit a submerged log that as we found out later broke the fiberglass on the starboard rudder and completely ripped out the starboard skeg which protects said rudder. We found a place to anchor shortly after and continued South. I pulled out the sails and we sailed about 30 miles across the Albermarle sound to get to Manteo. There we stayed in a Marina to get the laundry done and restock fresh veggies and meat. I managed to mess my back up so we stayed on the hook in Manteo another day and night. Leaving early we hoped to cross the pamlico under sail as there was a Nor'Easter meant to blow and we were heading SW. Perfect we thought. Not so much in practice. The Nor"Easter never came but instead we had head winds all the way blowing about 25 knots. There were some nasty gusts probably going to about 45 knots but I can't confirm that. I can say that we saw a tow boat pushing a barge blown into an island in a narrow channel. It was not a fun day for anyone.
I pushed on to get to Hog Island. That was the island Robin and I anchored at a few years ago and we got a good nights sleep even though the wind was howling. History repeated and we woke to screaming wind through the rigging but no waves as we were well protected. In great anticipation I pulled out the spinnaker when we dropped anchor at the island and set up the rigging for the great sailing in the morning which was meant to be a 15 knot Northerly wind. Turns out the forecast changed somewhere in the night to a Southerly 15-25 knot wind. We were literally going into the wind. Again. This time with close to 40 miles worth of fetch so we'll be facing fully developed waves for the wind speed. Naturally, they messed up the wind speed and we got something more like 35-45 knots head wind. The resulting waves were crashing over the boat regularly. Higher than the cabin top and soaking everything from bow to stern. The girls were not having a good time at all. We were making slow progress with the motor really working hard. I decided to make a change in direction when about 15 miles into the trip and diverted to meet up with the Western route at the South end of Alligator river. I got part way there and the wind and waves dropped back a bit. We'd traveled far enough to reduce the fetch to a few miles which drastically cut the wave size. We got the 1-2 feet that was forecast. Since the wind died down greatly I resumed the original course and was met with milder conditions. All up the detour cost us about three hours.
We found anchorage in a reasonably well protected spot but as it turns out not protected enough. It wasn't a particularly bad night but it was a little rocky. We pushed on and got to Beaufort in the morning and fueled up both tanks. The Pamlico really chewed up the fuel. The wind was still howling in Beaufort but was now a North Westerly and we were headed West. About 5 miles from Beaufort where we fueled up is a KFC we enjoyed. This KFC knows how to cook chicken. We were headed there as our "special treat" for the trip. About 3 miles after fueling up, the engine died. Were were going into the wind on a very close reach so I pulled out the sails and kept going. We eventually got there and the KFC did not disappoint. One of the few good times on the trip so far.
I checked the engine and found that we'd just fueled up with water contaminated fuel. I managed to get about 1/2 a pint of water out of the filters and water separator's and hoped that was all the damage. Sadly not We ran aground a mile after leaving the KFC. Engine died and the wind blew us to the shoal quickly as the channel is narrow. We finally got out, headed back to the pier but decided to stay on the hook as there were too many idiots leaving large wakes which would smash the boat on the pier. I managed to get more water out of the system before we left the next morning. From that point on the engine would just randomly die. I'd pull out the filters, drain the water from them and try again. Sometimes that worked, other times I'd need to repeat the process Yesterday was hell day. The engine was being a real pita. We were in narrow channels and passing inlets from the Atlantic so were also dealing with very high tides and fast flowing currents. We were sailing without motor for miles till the wind died and I started the motor and pulled in the sails. Just was I got the sails in, the engine died and I couldn't start it. It took no time at all and we were aground in an inlet with the current flowing about 3 knots. We were stuck good. I got the engine going again and tried everything but couldn't get loose. We hit ground right at low tide and the tide was about 4 feet down. So we could wait till high tide and we'd be out.
We waited. Two hours went by and a guy randomly offers to pull us out. Away we went. Only to have the engine die about 200 yards further down. I repeated the process and we got moving again. By this stage we were really behind schedule and in an area where finding anchorage was difficult. Some people anchor in the channel, I refuse to do that. We found a little spot and as I was out the front getting the anchor, the engine died again. We were now drifting into a private pier at about 4 knots. There was one hell of a current there. We got the engine started and luckily this was one of those times it just had a hiccup and kept going without need to pull the filters out. We dropped anchor and had a good nights sleep till the dreaded wakes of the large power boats hit.
We all were up and I just made coffee for everyone when we saw this asshole planing his huge boat past a bunch of other sail boats shaking them violently. I told everyone to brace themselves and when the wake hit, it literally was throwing stuff around the boat. One thing about catamarans is they have a fast response time or short roll period. A large heavy monohull acts like a filter slowly moving to the waves. A catamaran just follows the wave profile near perfectly. So when a power boat shoots past at 30 knots it leaves a four foot wake traveling at 30 knots that our boat couples to and violently shakes as it follows the wave profile. Great on the ocean where the waves are longer period as it is hard to capsize them. Not so great in choppy conditions but nature rarely produces waves that are so destructive to a catamaran. Humans however seem to do it about 20 times a day and usually smile and wave in complete ignorance to what they have just subjected us to.
So after picking things up and deciding to skip breakfast since more of these boaters will be coming we headed on to Southport NC. No real engine problems today. It ran flawlessly but I can't trust it so will be pulling out the vst and checking that too. The plan was to get to the marina, the mil does laundry while the wife and I walk 3 miles to get supplies and tools and then I work on the engine. As we were walking a guy just pulls up and asks if we were transients. We said yes. He offer's us a ride to the store. So we get the tools I need and shopping done. So many people that are boaters are great. I really love most of the boating community. Always on the look out for each other.
We get back to the boat just in time for the rain to start. It has not stopped since. That was about 7 hours ago. So no fixing the engine. We'll be headed South since the last forecast for here was rain for another two days. It makes no sense to stay in a marina paying to be miserable when I can just do that for free on my own sailing in the rain and cold. Oh, my back is still stuffed. Some days its better, other days I can't sleep. I'm skipping the pain killers as I have a tendency to cause more injury when on them. I did take them the first few days. So far since we left, we've had one decent weather day and that was the day we left. Most have been miserable cold and in your face wind all the way regardless of which way we were going. I looked at the temperatures on the Eastern seaboard. We are in a cold patch that extends 50 miles North and 50 miles South of us. Yes, it's warmer in both the North and the South compared to where we are. That's how this whole trip has felt. I wonder if I am a character in a Douglas Adams book. It's cold and miserable everywhere I go. The damned cold just loves me and follows me. We're hoping that will change shortly.