Captains log 201611.15

The forecast literally had "abundant Sunshine" written for today. Of course, we woke to heavy fog. I mean really heavy fog. I was motoring into what looked like white haze. I couldn't see any difference between water 10 feet in front of the boat or 30 degrees above the horizon. It was all just uniform white haze. The amended forecast stated, "heavy fog till 9am". They clearly omitted the part about it getting heavier after 9am. I'm not sure if it was the fog that started lifting or that we'd traveled over 50 miles South but by 2pm we had better visibility. No real change in the temperature, of 66f... oh sorry, that was the forecast temperature. The real temperature at 2pm in "abundant Sunshine" was about 52F. The boat and myself were totally soaked from the mist and cold to the bone.

I felt like a bit part actor playing opposite Eric Banner. I saw a fly about today. I was confident it was a sign that warmer weather is coming. Eric Banner: "FLY SIGNS!! You're predicting the weather based on "FLY SIGNS!". I could hear Orlando Bloom saying, "I'll get the fly spray!". In any case, I froze my ass off in wet cold Sunless conditions that were meant to be warm and Sunny for pretty much the entire day. The Sun came out for small patches around 3-5pm and we got a very filtered Sunset. It was like looking at the Sun through a red tint Sun filter. There was no problem looking at it directly it was so dim. The motor fix I did seems to have worked. The engine didn't even hiccup once. It ran flawlessly and as a result we managed to get the best days travel in so far on the trip. We covered 75nm in just over ten hours. We're currently on the hook in a low internet (2G) service site so posting and reading is time consuming. We are currently about 40nm from Charleston SC as the crow flies. So probably about 60-80 nm in reality depending on the curves and anywhere between a day or two out depending on the current.

I managed to time the current perfectly by accident today. I wanted a good start this morning with the rising tide but had no idea that we'd be with the current almost all the way for ten hours. We just passed inlets as the tide shifted and thus stayed with it. Not sure how tomorrow will go but there are so many inlets that I just don't think it's possible to get a fast ride through with the tide all the way. So well probably just get 40-50nm in before Sunset. Speaking of which, this particular trip is the only time I've done it with such limited daylight hours. We get roughly 10.5 hours of light and need at least an hour of that to find a suitable anchorage so we plan on a max of 9.5 hours. I don't stop navigating. I navigate while having breakfast, lunch and only stop at the end of the day to make dinner. I like to make dinner. It means being around the stove and that means warmth. Even with that schedule we can't make the same times as we did previously because we'd had about 13-14 hours of daylight. It's something I hadn't factored for this trip. An obvious flaw but one that was missed none the less.

If any of you remember the woo woo theory of the voltmeter from the last trip, this time we started with the thing dry. After yesterday's rain and cold, it is now all fogged up. We're going South for the Winter and it's getting colder. w.t.f.!!! The "forecast" for tomorrow in Charleston sc is 72F and Sunny. We get about four days of such forecasts which in theory will give us nice warm weather and we'll ride that warm streak to Savannah when there will be a small cold spell which is still warmer than what we had today. We'll let you know how that turns out. Don't hold your breath though. When we finally hit warm weather, I'm not sure what we'll do. probably just stare in disbelief for hour.

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Captains log 201611.17

We got decent weather yesterday. Wasn't warm till about 1pm and then at 2pm it cooled down but it did get to 64F. We must be approaching warmer weather, I had saw many flies today. Fly signs!!! I was having delusions of Achilles. The flies kept biting my ankles. WTF flies! Leave me alone.

We went through a very narrow passage and I looked at the chart plotter, eye balled the red and green markers, checked the GPS accuracy and placed myself in the theoretical deepest part of the channel hoping hurricane Mathew didn't really mess things up too much. I found myself in 3 feet of water. I radioed the trawler behind me that he should be careful as I found 3 foot depth. He chose a different path to me, one that technically should have landed him on a shoal but as I mentioned, Mathew has messed things up around here. We've seen many boats grounded due to new soals/sand banks popping up or moving. For some reason after I initially contacted the boat behind me he took it upon himself to try to educate me in the navigation of the ICW. Not that I mind someone trying to be helpful but I already pointed out that I'm in 20 foot of water and in the middle of the deep portion of the channel according to my chart plotter. His response was don't rely on the GPS, use the buoy's and stay between them.

Sigh, I've been down the ICW now three times and have seen that relying on any single system will lead you into trouble. Some markers are not on the edges, others are in the middle of the channel etc. You need to look at the markers on the chart/chart plotter, confirm position with GPS and by visual cues and then correlate that the depth is also correct. If the depth is different from the soundings (factoring for tides) then the conditions have changed or you are not where you should be. It's not an easy one step process though you can get away with it for a long time by relying on one input source. Anyway, I got fed up with him micro navigating me so I slowed down and let him pass. Once he was well ahead I concentrated on getting the girls internet access in a very remote part of NC.

The concept was brilliant. Put the hotspot in a bag and send it up the mast. Of course the execution of this fantastic plan was sorely lacking. I was tired, in a narrow winding channel and had only a very short time to get up the front and sort things out and made an unspeakable rookie mistake and noticed it to late to recover. The wifi hotspot went up ok. It gave much better reception. The problem was I didn't make a loop when I sent the thing up. So I had one end of the line on deck and the other end was up the top of the mast with the hotspot attached to it. Naturally, the hotspot didn't have enough weight to come down when I gave the line slack.

We finally get to Charleston and go on the hook. I got out the fishing pole and some tackle. I manage to capture the bag and pulled the line but it broke. It was UV damaged. I tried for hours to repeat that cast and recapture the bag but failed to do so. It left me with a migraine from looking up so long. This morning I decided to climb the mast instead. All the rope I had was unsuitable for the task as it had weathered and gotten too stiff. I made a Klemheist, Prusik and rolling hitch to test the loads. Some would hold but would lock up so badly that I could barely move them after loading them. So I tested the difficulty climbing the mast. I got up half way with no lines but the behind the mast furler made getting a good grip difficult. So instead I made a bosun's chair and rigged the system so Lorianne could send me up with the winch. Basically I pulled myself up and she took up the slack with the winch. This gave me the ability to rest and didn't make it too difficult for her to lift me. Sure enough, within 15 minutes I was at the top of the mast and working on getting the hotspot down. Obviously it worked as we are now using it. I am drinking a beer and relaxing a bit as my hands were shacking from the loads. Climbing masts is not really an 51 year old's sport. Lets just say I won't be making that rookie mistake again anytime soon. We do however now have a nice bosun's chair.

 

Oh, remember the guy that wouldn't stop giving me navigation advice? Well, we caught up with him about 3 miles from Charleston. He was completely grounded by staying between the markers. If he had looked at the charts, he'd have known it was a very narrow channel and the only deep water was on the portside and there was not much there anyway. He was going through at low tide and didn't even know he was doing so because he asked me when high tide was due. How embarrassing for him. There was nothing I could do to help, I have a 40hp and he had a huge trawler with a 5 foot draft and was in 3 feet of water. I told him he'd just have to wait till the tide went up. I'll eventually get round to posting pics but there was a lot of damaged vessels and vessels that ran aground doing the winter migration. More than I'd seen on previous trips. In any case, the hotspot is down, we have the internet, the voltmeter has dried up and we have warm weather. Things might be starting to swing in our favor. There's no hurricane's due is there?

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The blue part of the chart means shallow water so you want to not sail into that area. Keep to the white part as that is deeper water. So turn port...you're heading into the shallows. Turn port...Go left. Turn left. Turn the wheel to the left. You're now in the shallows, turn to the left/port side now. Move aside. I take back command of the wheel because clearly I have no command over the mil! lol

We didn't get shoaled. The water depth was over 6 feet in the blue area which is why I didn't take over earlier. Not sure what happened there. I was speaking English since the wife yelled out, "mom, listen to him. Turn left". Didn't seem to register though. We asked her about it later that night and in her memory she thought she was turning left. Her arms however didn't convey that to me. I guess she was overwhelmed with the sensory input. Navigating a narrow channel, watching the buoy's, checking the depth, correlating the red and green markers to the chart plotter and establishing a fix isn't something that can be mastered in a 20 minute trial run. She did pretty well considering.

 

We had a late start to the day. 9am was when I lifted the anchor. We had 30 miles to go to get to Morgan Island SC. Otherwise known as monkey island because it has about 3500 monkeys on it. It's the only island of the USA with an established wild monkey population. The CDC wanted a site to raise monkey's for experiments and SC gave them this island. I'd call it the Island of Dr Morgan personally. Anyway, they abandoned the raising of the population and just left them run wild. You aren't allowed on the island but you can anchor nearby which is what we did. We arrived just before Sunset and got to listen to the calls of the monkeys in the tree's and watch fish jumping out of the water while being chased by dolphins. The wife got out the bait net and caught a shrimp. One lonely shrimp. Instead of making a gourmet shrimp soup for a dwarf, we decided to use it for bait. I pulled out one crab. One lonely crab. instead of cooking a lovely crab soup for two dwarfs on a date, we decided to save it for bait later. I made Mexican chicken fajitas instead. The chilli cooking in the oil pretty much cleared out the boat. All of us were coughing. Particularly with all the smoke from the wildfires that are around at the moment. It tasted good. I put on some yogurt we made on the boat the other day and beans, lettuce with grilled bell pepper (capsicum).

 

Nothing really unusual or spectacular happened today. The engine ran flawlessly as it has since I got rid of the stupid membrane filter. We went into high current so managed to only get a bit over 30 miles in 8 hours. We did consume about 8 gallons of fuel as the fuel rate is about a gallon per hour at the rpm we run it at. So mileage was down. Typically we get about 5.5 knots at that rate. Not much fun when fuel is being charged at $2.70-$3.70 per gallon. It keeps going p as we go South too. I'd sail more but the wind is light and we need to get established in Florida asap. Oh well.

 

I'm hoping tomorrow we can get some pictures of the monkeys here. Then the plan is to take the Atlantic and go South via the Ocean instead of the ICW. We can go all day and then ave to pull back in so we won't get that far. There is a cold spell coming and I'm not about to make the mil completely lose it by being on the coast during a gale. The wife and I seen worse but subjecting someone that's not really having a good time to a storm at sea is not the way to improve things for them. So we're basically going to go out to sea and back inland in the afternoon, probably somewhere around Savannah or a little further South if things go well. I'm hoping to get to Georgia where we took three days in a sheltered spot while a gale blow over. It was one of the good times of the last trip down this way. Who know's maybe it will be again. It's only 60 miles from here so we could be there by the end of the day. If you don't hear from us, we're probably there as the internet connection there is very poor.

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Captains log 201611.20

The temperature today for Southern South Carolina, Savannah and the Eastern Empire of Georgia is around 80 degrees F.
The temperature at Savannah airport is 79 degrees.
Thus proclaims the robotic voice of the NOAA radio service.

Well, we're about 5 miles from Savannah and I haven't seen the temperature go above 60F. The wind is howling from the West. Most of our travel is Westward but it seems the larger sounds we cross we get that Westerly on the beam much of the time as we head South as well. Apart from the wind the waves in the sounds spry the deck with water. It's an awesome experience...

The day started with us anchored at Morgan Island SC, where the wild population of Rhesus monkeys are flourishing...deep in the woods as none were visible from the water. I tried with binoculars but saw nothing. We did hear them at night when we anchored. So I randomly took pictures of the area in the hope that one of them I might find a monkey in it. We'll see how that worked out later.

I initially wanted to bypass the majority of these tight windy area's by cutting across the coastline of SC as Morgan Island is right on an inlet to the Atlantic. It would have meant heading directly into the Westerly wind and about 2 foot chop. None of us were particularly feeling like doing that. The forecast the night before was 1 foot waves and 5-10 mph Westerly winds. The amended forecast in the morning was 2 foot waves and 15-20 mph winds gusting to 25-30 mph. There was also a 4pm small craft advisory in effect. As it turns out, that 4pm figure was optimistic and it hit far earlier than they predicted.

So far I'm not impressed with weather forecasts. They have consistently been wrong, often by huge amounts and they get updated regularly with large changed which kind of defeats the purpose of forecasting 24hrs in advance.

The plan for today is to get to Hogans marina in Savannah. There is access to shopping there so we can get supplies, water which we ran out of this morning, fuel which we had to resort to refueling in flight during gale winds via jerry cans and some meat since try as I might, the wife hates the freeze dried meats. I made Sheppard's pie last night which the mil and I loved but the wife didn't. The texture of the meat is the problem. The flavour was good apparently. She like many people has had a long term sinus infection so her taste has changed which makes cooking for her hard. She eats very little as well. All this combines to making it harder to beat this bug.

The wild fires across South Carolina and the "Empire" of Georgia have not helped the wife or any of us either. Why the hell does Georgia refer to itself as the Empire of Georgia anyway? That just sounds so weird when you hear it on a national radio broadcast. If I was working for NOAA I'd change that robotic voice a bit and have it do some deep breathing. Make if sound like Darth Vader giving a weather prediction. At least it would make sense. He is evil so he'd lie about the forecasts. Just before a Nor'Easter hits he could say, "South Carolina is expecting abundant Sunshine with highs in the mid 80's with very light winds and small waves. Please take your boats out rebels, and enjoy this day of truce. We promise not to attack you today. *heavy breath*". After the mike break, the Emperor says, "We don't need to attack. The storm shall wipe out your fleet. Kill the prisoners, in celebration of the rebels impending defeat".

We're hoping to get to the spot where we had great success fishing last time we were here but I can't really say if we will get that far. It's near St Catherine's Sound and a good 50 miles from here and at 10am, still to refuel and shop, I'm figuring we have no hope unless we get flowing with the current all the way which is not going to happen. So I'll look for a spot where we get 4G, update the website and relax. 
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