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Old 15-11-2007, 19:30   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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November 12th - Becalmed, bothered and bewildered (another riff on another song) and

November 12th - Becalmed, bothered and bewildered (another riff
on another song) and other last-ditch efforts

So, we've finished the ditch. We had the usual uneventful ride
down the section of Intra-Coastal Waterway (also known among
cruisers as "The Ditch") which allows boaters to miss going
around Cape Hatteras, the graveyard of the Atlantic. Literally
hundreds of boats have come to grief in that area, and while the
trip can be very nice under the best circumstances, at this time
of year, there's no telling - or at least not with any
reliability - what the weather will be. So, we went inside,
unlike our friends Tim and Linda, who, because of their air and
bottom drafts, both, couldn't go inside. They went outside and
had a marvelous run. Perhaps next year.

Technically, the Chesapeake Bay portion of our trip is also in
the ditch, but it provided the most interesting open water
sailing we've had since we re-entered the ICW. We've tried to
rely on NOAA (National Oceanographic and Aeronautic
Administration) weather reports, obtained not only on VHF radio,
but through weather underground's web site with all of the
coastal, offshore and inland waterway reports.

Unfortunately, we've not been well served. If we've not gone
because it was forecast for too much wind, traveling companions
without the 82 year old passenger have reported glorious
conditions, well below forecast strengths. When we've gone based
on a forecast, it's been low, wrong directions (from where the
wind's coming), or both, and famously, way back when, entirely
missed the major storm which backed up and brought us to grief in

As we were going to go outside (open water), again, we started up
the satellite weather system, to make sure we didn't get any more
surprises than needed. Our reception seems to be less effective
than it was in the past, and one of the NOAA satellites was
decommissioned between now and the last time we used our system,
so we have less to view. However, we got that, really, for when
we were in the open water of the Caribbean, to better track
weather systems during hurricane season, so it's of lesser import
now. I hope that NOAA activates more satellites, though, as the
three that are there now provide pretty sparse coverage.

So, back to the title, the last many days' worth of "sailing" has
mostly been motor-sailing, or directly motoring, as we've been
trying to make an anchorage, or, the last few days, a slip or
berth in order to plug in to get heat. We have had several
segments of a day's trip which were good sailing, we're thankful
to report, even though mid-November sailing in the mid-Atlantic
states can get pretty brisk. Most has been otherwise, as you'll
see below, though.

So, again back to the title, I'm personally bothered, at the
moment, and that's made it so that I'm not much interested in
nearly anything, to my detriment, and to those who hang on my
logs', as well. My apologies for that. The last week has been
very difficult, and I'm still trying to come to grips with it
all; my life is irretrievably changed. I just don't know by how
much, yet. So, my apologies, again, for what may be intermittent
and somewhat disjointed posts for a while. I'm not really on the
top of my game, so to speak, right now.

Not to burden you with my personal challenges, the good news is
that our mechanical excitements have diminished notably in our
recent travels. There are still things to fix - a fact of life on
any liveaboard boat, regardless of age, but in particular on one
where systems are, in some cases, nearing their 30th birthday,
and nearly all of them not original to the boat but not newly put
in by me in the last 3 years are well into their teenage years -
but the emergency stops for repairs seem to have quit, at least
for a while.

So, for that I'm very thankful. Like the engine in Captain Ron,
Perky is thirsty, but not nearly to the degree of that engine. As
we've had to motor for a great deal of time in the last whiles,
and diesels like full throttle better than just mucking along, we've
lately done a lot of hours at pretty fast revolutions. While it
uses some oil, the engine is running very well, and the engine
room, actually, smells better under way than it has for a very
long time. It seems to like the oil I fed it this time better
than the last, as pressure is higher at all speeds, and it seems
to use less than I recall.

We've succeeded in finding good internet at every stop, several
times being good enough to make internet telephone calls (which
require broadband for good quality), and I've used it for
research into all the things we need to do aboard, as well as
finding someplace for Portia to get spayed. Our next stop will be
Charleston, where the entire city is wired for free wifi, so it
will continue once we get there.

About the "once we get there" part.

Back to the title, again, that's the "becalmed" part. Part of
this whole package is our fault, the telling of which requires
that I back up a bit. We had been going to join our friends Roy
and Doon in Cape Lookout's little bay - the one with the turtles
Lydia tried to find on the way up - but the weather on Saturday
was so nasty we passed. Lumpy water, freezing cold, and biting
wind were not on our agenda. That set of conditions proved very
helpful to sailing, under our soon-to-be-replaced genoa alone,
all the way from Oriental to the approach in the middle of the
Adams Creek Canal. Not very nice, though, for open anchoring.

However, they clued us to a place they'd stopped the night
before, the Key West Seafood Company restaurant in Morehead City.
They have a dock where, if you buy your dinner there, you can
power and water (and I saw a TV feed, but didn't ask, as we don't
do TV) as well as tie up, for free. We called and confirmed that
we could do that, and with a falling tide offsetting our
off-pushing wind, we did a feather-light docking there at a
little after noon.

A delightful afternoon and evening ensued, as we got to know the
fishermen whose place we took (they rafted up to us after they
went to fuel, leaving early in the morning making it better for
them to be outside) as well as another who was working on his
boat in another slip there. That second fisherman had just caught
a tuna, and we had a marvelous dinner of that fish along with the
other very-well prepared side dishes, artistically presented
(Thank you, again, Louise! We'd never eat out if it weren't for
you! On the other hand, we wouldn't tie up in order to get power
to heat, either!) We can highly recommend this for dinner, as
they specialize in stuff literally right off the boat. Simply

Both that night and the following Sunday Brunch, there was a
self-taught Grenadian guitarist, with a wide repertoire and
lovely tenor voice, providing entertainment. We learned of the
brunch as we were leaving, casually inquiring if they did
breakfast. That proved to be our undoing, or at least a fray, so
to speak.

Their brunch starts at 11:30, and with the free water available,
Lydia can't resist washing the boat, topsides, deck and house,
every chance she gets. This was no exception, and unfortunately,
neither was the arising hour. As a result we made it into the
restaurant about noon.

Before then, we've had a call from Roy and Doon, who were already
under way. They left the anchorage at about 8, and were doing
7.5-8 knots in 15-20 knots of wind, on a perfect beam reach. The
weather forecast was for this to continue, though only as 10-15,
so, again, NOAA got it wrong. It happened to be in their favor,
this time, though, and they had a great head start. Presumably
they got into some of the same weather you'll see below, however,
but none the less they got a nice sail and a nice jump.

Back to the undoing, as we are having our (unfortunately)
pedestrian brunch, not enhanced by there being only one server
for the entire restaurant, a suggestion is made that we might
like some sandwiches to take with us. A little reflection and we
agree and set up for the sandwiches to come with us.

Well, between the delay in staying for brunch (we could have left
at the same time as Roy and Doon), and the delay in not only
preparation of the sandwiches but the delay in finally getting a
bill, we didn't get out of there until after 2PM. Worse, our
advantage of a freebie dock disappeared with the $85 bill for
brunch and sandwiches - we didn't know that three sandwiches
would come to $30 - we could have stayed for pay for less than
that in our last several places we've pulled in to get power, and
have left early to catch the wind.

That irritation aside, the prevailing winds all night (15-20)
were right on our beam, and kept us off the dock, and our
rafted-up neighbors off us as well. By noon, they'd diminished to
10-15 (just like the forecast, but being inside, I figured it
would be stronger offshore), and with the outgoing tide and beam
wind, just holding the stern line swung the bow out smartly, and
we were off. The outgoing tide added nearly 2 knots to our motor
out - very promising, and right on schedule to make Charleston

Oops. No sooner do we get out of the channel and head toward our
first turn, than the wind drops. We'd originally thought we'd
have a lovely beam reach, but instead we put out the spinnaker.
Barely drifting along, eventually the wind died, and we put it on
deck awaiting the next puffs, put up the anchor lights, and
turned in.

Lots of rock and roll left over from the wind, combined with a
lot of swell from the east, I wasn't very comfortable, and couldn't
sleep for all the tossing about. In desperation, I got up and
started watching; finally, at about 3AM we got a tiny breath of
wind, and I hoisted the spinnaker again to eke out the benefit of
the 1-4 knots flaky breeze.

Even that died, and as I type, the swell aside, it's like a mill
pond out here. No wind, so, I figure, if I'm going to run the
engine at a fast idle to make electricity and hot water, I may as
well put it into gear. So, with the main up to help minimize
rocking (only minimally successful, that), we're inching along
toward our first turn. If this continues, or if NOAA's current
forecast (immediate conditions excepted, because they're still
calling for 10-15N wind) of light, west winds, is correct, we may
not get there until Thursday. Of course, being offshore, you'll
see this when we get there, so the date will be a clue.

As it's now 4 pages again, as my good friend George says, it's
time to save the rest for another day.

Stay tuned.



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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