Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 86

Well today was raining and wet so us girls borrowed Ed’s car and headed to town. We spent a while in good will haha and then got some groceries and looked around Lows for some good LED reading lights for papa, as well as a stool! For the readers who we haven’t talked to this stool has been under debate for a while. Grama has trouble getting on and off the boat when we’re tied to short floating docks, and really sometimes i have trouble lmao we’re short :P, but the debate is where do we put it? We let Kathy convince us just to go back with it haha.

It was a long day of shopping and when we got back to the boat we just kinda flopped down and had a quiet night.


Captain’s Log

November 15 2008 (Day 71)

We are anchored in Whiteside Creek about 15 miles north of Charleston, S.C. awaiting weather improvement. We arrived here a little past 16:00 Friday after probably our longest, slowest day yet. We made good only 48 statute miles averaging barely 5 knots over 8 hours. Our departure in the morning from Georgetown S.C. was delayed by fog till 8:15. Both wind and current were against us the entire day. Overnight, winds were mostly over 25 knots with gusts into the mid 30’s. This makes for a sleepless night even ‘though the holding was excellent and the worst we could do was drift into shallows and go aground, which we did at low tide around 3:00. No harm no foul, just stopped swinging and actually got some rest. We didn’t drag our anchor but we set it on a rising tide in 8 feet of water and the tidal range in S.C. is upwards of 8 feet. Since our keel is like a mushroom with 2 torpedo like appendages we don’t fall over we just sit upright.

In addition to high winds we had some lightning and a bit of rain after midnight. A bit north of here closer to Beaufort N.C. a tornado touched down causing damage and loss of live. Our friends on Sinn Fein were thankfully tied to a dock at Swansboro N.C. while that whirled around them.

We have made reservations for the Charleston town marina for Sunday and Monday (they were filled up today) so hopefully we can be tourists in the southern ‘low country’ for a bit. From there Beaufort S.C. is 2 days travel, Savannah Geo. another day, then 3 days to the Florida border and another 3 days to Titusville where hopefully we will meet up with Murray and Heather Rand and Don Wilson. Given a few days for sightseeing and weather delays I hope to be in Titusville by December 1.

After experiencing some really cold weather since the lower Chesapeake Bay we have had several days of above average temperatures (70+ F today); hence the unsettled weather. We expect it to get colder overnight till mid week then warm to the mid 60’s later in the week. We ARE anxious to get to Florida.

Since we left Ontario September 7 [Niki insert- it was the 6th :P] this is the first time I’ve actually had a few hours to myself (plus the energy and daylight) to consider reflecting on the record Maxine and Niki keep asking when the fun will begin. But Niki has been working on a DVD presentation of our trip thus far and from the pics and dialog it all looks fun to me. I saw a shirt in Annapolis which summed it succinctly for me. “The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude”. Not to suggest their attitude is not stellar; but with the daily chores of moving a boat, cooking and cleaning, not to mention the Laundromat, they sometimes lose momentary sight of the many smiles, laughs, the beauty and the wondrous sights we’ve experienced each and every day. We live in a beautiful world and we are getting to see parts of it that can only be experienced from the water.

We left Lake Erie as we have often experienced it; rough, cantankerous, showing us how miserable it’s shallow waters can be in stiff headwinds. The trip across New York State through the canal system was work (39 locks in 10 days) but still we saw New York state as few others in this century have; magnificent river systems and mountain ranges connected by man’s ingenuity (and hard labour). Then the mighty Hudson River, in many places far deeper than Lake Erie and our first experience with real tides and currents. And railways !! Rail tracks cover the entire river (both banks). Johnny Cash singing Fulsum Prison Blues ( “I hear the train a coming, coming ‘round the bend”) rang in my ears the entire time along with the train whistles which echoed in our ears all day long (and night). New York !! Niki’s DVD will say it all and I need only add thanks to our friend and tour director Kathy McAuley from Sinn Fein for the New York experience. (Times Square, Central Park, Bubba Gump, the underground, 79th street Marina, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue, Canal Street, all in 24 hours !!).

Atlantic Highlands on the Jersey side of New York is a quiet, friendly contrast to a bustling harbour that greets the entire world. Did you know the Atlantic ocean can be less than 10 feet deep for a mile or more off the coast of New Jersey? You can’t imagine Atlantic City (yes, the Donald !) from the water at night ‘till you see Niki’s pics. Cape May is both picturesque and a treacherous point of land to get round entering Delaware Bay. You learn about tides and currents quickly here. We did it right. The current here changes direction about 2 hours after the tide turns. The tide and current turn at different times as you work inland up an estuary. Leaving Cape May at low tide shortly after 6:00 and struggling for 3 hours to get around the Cape and into Delaware Bay (there is a canal that allows you to transit from the Atlantic to the Bay without rounding the Cape but our rig is too high to pass under the 55’ bridge), we caught the change in current immediately and carried speeds over the ground of 7 to 10 knots the entire passage up the Bay, Delaware River, C&D canal and into the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay where we anchored in the Bohemia River at 19:00 hours. It was mid afternoon that day in the canal our cell ‘phone rang to tell us of Mom’s death. The timing afforded me several hours of quiet reflection on a life well lived and a generation now gone.

We have sailed the Bay before and on this trip did little new except we finally got to the bottom of the Bay. Cold weather discouraged us from tarrying and exploring the Bay properly. We simply wanted south, only to find that the cold weather followed us. Nevertheless we enjoyed Annapolis, toured the Naval Academy for the first time and slowed our pace a bit to enjoy anchoring and becoming better acquainted with the fellow sailors trekking south that we previously saw from afar on the waterway and heard conversing via VHF radio. The folks cruising these waterways are as diverse as any group imaginable yet our common bond is a great equalizer. In jeans and sweat shirt executives, mechanics, artists, retired FBI, you name it, share conversation, advice, a hand with docking, and an occasional cool brew. The people we meet, and meet again and again as we travel on are rapidly becoming folks whose acquaintance we will savour all our lives. This is one of the great joys of cruising

The display of naval might at Norfolk was both exhilarating and chilling. But it’s definitely neat to hear warship number 39 talking to warship # 74 on the VHF, less so when it’s yelling at you. The dismal swamp is anything but dismal; the folks at Elizabeth City really do host a wine and cheese every night for cruisers. The mayor even comes round to say hello. The Sounds of North Carolina (Arblemarl and Pamlico) are huge and intimidating as is the Cape Fear River so named because it is the gateway to the ‘graveyard of the Atlantic, a very treacherous coastal stretch. We were fortunate to catch an ebb tide coming down the Cape Fear River and maintained speeds over the ground of 9 and 10 knots for several hours (This means the current gave us a 3+ knots advantage).

November 30 2008 (Day 86)

My idle reflections were interrupted by dinghy visitors and this is my first opportunity to resume my musings. We are in St Mary’s Georgia where we came for Thanksgiving, and to visit Cumberland Is. And now we are waiting out adverse weather again, this time tied to a dock. Maxine and Niki have gone shopping, it’s raining and blowing meaning it’s hard to get at any outside ‘boat chores’, and so I have another moment to myself.

We have toured Charleston and Beaufort S.C. and chosen to blow by Savannah. At St Mary’s we are just a few miles from the Florida border so our next stopover will be historic St Augustine which is 2 days from here. From practically no tides in North Carolina we immediately were faced with 8 foot tides in South Carolina and Georgia where the ICW winds mostly through grassy swamps and marshes. They call it ‘the low country’. For much of the route only the marsh and sand dunes separate us from the Atlantic and there are many openings to the ocean which make for a lot of shifting sand and shoaling (i.e. read difficult navigation and many opportunities to go aground). It feels like we have finally broken the ‘weather barrier’. For the past week we have had the weather we expected at these latitudes. There will be cold fronts still but hopefully they will be short lived. For Niki she felt like things were finally ‘as expected’ when she waded into the Atlantic on Cumberland Is. on a magnificent 20 mile sand beach. The Atlantic that day was a mill pond.

We aren’t as far south as we planned because we stayed longer than planned here as well as in Charleston but all in all we are content with our progress. Following a schedule is not what cruising is about. I think we are starting to get the hang of this way of life and are enjoying most of it. At Thanksgiving dinner we chatted with a couple who returned to land after 5 years of continuous cruising. They sold their boat last year and now have an offer in on another boat. Another couple from Fenelon Falls have been out for 18 months and say they will give it another 6 months before they make a final decision to abandon Ontario. I think we’ll last till next summer!! And that’s all I have to say about that (for now).


1 comment:

Sammeh said...

Niki your Papa is a bit behind :D

Yay for shopping, you do that quite often :p
and short people hold alot of love♥