Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lake Silver - Orcracoke Island

We timed our visit to Ocracoke Island pretty well for a change.  It was Memorial Day Weekend and we actually got there early so we had a good anchorage location and were able to watch all the comings and goings all weekend long.  A nice change of pace.  The harbor is well protected, has a good floating dinghy dock for going to shore and all provisioning requirements were present.  The price of items on the island are interesting to say the least.  We thought we were back in the Bahamas when we saw Saltines were almost $5 bucks ! ......a draft beer is $4.00!  We didn't even want to check out the price of fuel.
A North Carolina dinghy!  Notice also the sailboat...more on that soon!
There were some boats anchored in the bay that appeared to live there and another 15-20 boats came in over the course of the weekend.  There was enough room but it did start to get a little tight towards Saturday night.
Want to guess the home port???  Sackets Harbor
We had enough time to wander around the town and visit a few places.  It is definitely a place to go back to when the winds allow.  The only disappointment was not having a chance to go visit the wild ponies further north on the island.  The corral was 7 miles away and we would have had to rent a car to go there.  I think next time we'll just hitchhike.
Ocracoke Light

Silver Lake waterfront

More waterfront

The jaw bone of a Right Whale

The weather overall was great but we had one late afternoon storm blow through and it was a good one.  No rain but the wind cranked up to 30-35kts from the east and it caught many by surprise.  We were back on Nati with the engines on and about 1/3 of the boats were dragging around the harbor and the Coast Guard had a busy time.  First they had to grab the McGregor from hitting another docked boat and then they raced out of the harbor to assist their helicopter a mile from the harbor entrance.  A Newport 27 got caught with full sails up and was dragged onto the shoal and sunk.  Granted the water was only 5-6 feet deep but when we came out of the entrance on Monday she was not a pretty sight.  Sails in tatters, deck awash and bimini was torn partially off.  Everyone going out that day was saddened.  The people were taken off the vessel safely but one mile was all that separated them from safety.  No pictures to show.......not good luck we say!  ALL the boats that dragged had either  CQR  or danforth anchors that were too small!  We wanted to tell them to call Aqua Tech Marine http://www.aquatechmarineinc.com/index.htm and get a "real" hook!!

See, the McGregor made two photo shots!

Hello, sail maker....I need a repair!

T&E........note that this lighthouse is NOT the "Cat in the Hat" lighthouse!  It has only 86 steps but like we say....."safety is no accident", we could not go up.  The stairs were not even original!!  The light, though working is not original and is a steady white light that is electric.

Ocracoke Lighthouse

Looking up...

We were able to walk through a nature preserve to see some cool growth on the island.  The Maritime forest is one of the few remaining on the outer banks.  The Live Oak trees are really a sight and there are not many around.  They were heavily harvested in the old days for boat building because of the strength of the wood.

anybody home?

Live Oak tree

Maritime forest

nice carving

A very small cemetery

A hiking we will go......


As a side note......this is all that remains of my fishing lures.  The lunkers have all the rest.  I WILL come back with more and better equipment next year.  Gadabout Dick will be a scary thing to see.......
Fishing...not catching equipment!

Black fin tuna on the barbie

On Monday we said goodbye to Orcracoke and continued out travels north.  Next stop.....Roanoke Island and a visit to Manteo Waterfront Marina.  Again, we never have been there so stand by for our update soon.

Bodie Lighthouse on the way to Manteo

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Hit the road, I mean the water Jack! "

Departure....St Augustine that is.......time to head north and at the same time we are trying to remember all the beautiful warm water we saw in the Bahamas.  This brown tea colored water in the ICW is not great to compare.  But, away we go, out the inlet that is well marked and along with Flight Plan we turn left and  we took up a heading of 45 degrees.

Flight Plan heading north
Sailing was a little slow as the wind took its time to fill in but eventually we were moving across the sea with no engine noise and our sorry looking old sails were moving Nati nicely.  New sails are on the  agenda this summer.  Dad, if you want to buy us a new head sail ....??!!!

We had a non-paying passenger for a little while.  Here we are, 60nm offshore and look who shows up very tired....
We think it liked the bounce of the screen
The first night gave us fine sailing.....double reefed head sail with a single reef in the main and we were moving good.  Our only casualty occurred when a wave hit us broadside, we heard a noise but could not figure it out.  In the morning we found our life buoy on the deck.  The stainless mount had broken it's bracket.  The morning brought isolated t-storms and small squalls that we could see on the radar and we changed course a few times to miss them.

All in all we had a good trip up to Wrightsville Beach where we and Flight Plan pulled into for the night.  Our plan was to continue to Beaufort but by continuing it would have had us at the harbor entrance at midnight and we had no interest in going into the inlet in the dark.  Instead we dropped the hook and had a great tuna dinner via Vinny & Flight Plan.  He caught a mahi and a black fin tuna on the way north.  We caught another Bonita (little Tunney) that is not great eating.

Our Bonita

Vinny's tuna steak....UMMMM!

The next morning we said our goodbyes to Flight Plan (they are hauling out nearby) and went back out into the ocean heading for Beaufort.  The wind gods were not nice so we had to motor the whole way but at least we covered the distance with no bridges, shoals or motor boats waking us in the ICW.  We caught the current going up Adams Creek so we were able to go all the way to Back Creek for a very peaceful night at anchor.

The next morning we decided the weather was good to make a run to Ocracoke Island and Lake Silver.    We have never been there and heard nice things about it so..............off we go.  The winds cooperated and we blasted out the Neuse River into the Pamlico Sound and we got a taste of how bumpy the Sound can be.  We nosed Nati in Lake Silver by 4pm and now we are sitting in a pretty little harbor for a few days rest.

Heading into Ocracoke Island
Night one in Lake Silver

For a summary:

  •  Since we have been  back in the states we have traveled 586nm in ten days.
  • The trip to Wrightsville Beach was 346 nm and we had two nights and 3 days offshore.
  • We only used 5 gallons of diesel during that leg (69 miles to the gallon!)
  • The second leg of the trip was 83nm long.
  • The third leg was 49nm and now we are saying.......TIME FOR A BREAK!  Stand by for our story of Nati's visit to Ocracoke Island.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Looks good for a few days..

Tomorrow we should be heading out into the Atlantic for a few days of making some good time going north.  Our target will be Beaufort Inlet approximately 350 north of St Augustine.  There are ample inlets along the way if the weather get ugly but right now we should have winds out of the southern quadrant with nothing over 20kts.

Stand by for an update in a few days.  We will try to remember to turn on our AIS.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

All things must end.....time to head west!

We have the fuel, water and enough grub to feed an army.  The weather window isn't perfect but it is still good enough for us to get across the Gulf Stream so we up anchor and turn Nati to the west.

The winter in the Bahamas was a great time and I think we succeeded in our "reconnoiter" year in many ways.  The people we met were one of the highlights.  This was especially true with the local Bahamian people.  They were as friendly as anyone we have met and helped out in any way they could.  Both of us had to go to the dentist while in the islands and it was way more accommodating than in the US.  Appointments didn't have to be made months in advance and the price (yes, US educated dentists) was not expensive.  Combined for both  of us amounted to $85.00!  We saw some really cool things such as the foundry pour and climbing the "Cat-in-the-hat" lighthouse without having to wear helmets or sign our lives away as we would in any U.S. attraction.  Too bad we have become such a litigious country.    We rented a car for $75 and didn't have to sign off on a scratch and dent form.  Besides, where could we take it on a island 50 miles long??!!  I hitchhiked for the first time in over 40 years and didn't get picked up by a pervert....instead the gentleman took me to the store and returned me to Georgetown!  As Pedrin says........"What a country!"  So..............

We left Green Turtle Cay and made it to Great Sale Cay for the night.  We have west winds so we anchor on the east side and we are there with 7 other boats.  They mostly head out the next day but we just go around to  the other side and wait for Flight Plan to pull in later that afternoon.  The next morning we have light ESE winds but at least its behind us.

Heading west

Last sunset in the Bahamas

The "magic water" is leaving but we will be back before you can blink an eye!  For the records:

  • From Miami over to the Bahamas and back to Cape Canaveral Nati took us 1,257nm.
  • We anchored 93 nights.
  • We were at a dock 15 nights (and this includes a week at Rum Cay for free!)
  • Nati was on a mooring for 18 nights.
  • 142 gallons of diesel fuel was used over and back to the states.
  • I found, cleaned and we ate the conch that resided in my new horn!
  • We had 10 guest visit us this year and had a ball!!
Conch salad made by Nati

Herb Albert???  NOT!

Cruz first bloomed at the end of January and he dropped his last flower the day before we departed Great Sale Cay.  We left the four flowers in the "magic" water.........

Up early we head west in light wind.  Nati flew her chute all day and we went into the Gulf Stream before it got dark.  The trip stateside was uneventful but we were very happy to miss the T-storms that were all around us.  It was eerie to see stars above us and have a "light show" 360 degrees around us.  We only had one hard rain squall hit us but Nati liked the wash.   The next morning we motored into Cape Canaveral and took a dock for a night to clean up the boat and take a long hot shower.  Harbortowne Marina has a couple of new slips for catamarans so it makes docking pretty easy.  We had to do a big cleaning project as when we went through the Canaveral lock we got hit by a swarm of love bugs. We mean "BIG" swarm!

Guess what the bottom of a foot looked like!


After washing Nati we had a really good rinse!

Flight Plan locking through

Right now we are in St Augustine looking at making a run on the "outside" in a day or two.  The winds appear to be staying from the southern quadrant for 4-5 days so we are hoping to run all the way to Beaufort.  That will put the Chesapeake only 200 miles away.

As a side note.....can anyone make out the picture below?  First one to correctly guess what the white building in the center is will win a prize.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cinco de Mayo! OLE!!

Last Sunday was the 5th of May and of course the Bahamas had to celebrate.  So.....off to Snappa's we went for the little party.  It proved to be pretty good until they ran out of most everything for a Latin party......

  • no conch
  • no nachos
  • no quesadillas
  • maybe no tequila!!??
  • and then quit playing Latin music 
Instead we went back to Nati, turned on some Olga Tanon and made up some "Cinco de Mayo pizza" along with a couple of margaritas from Vinny's stash of liquor.  We were however able to keep the fancy necklaces the restaurant had.  Don't we look like real party animals?  Maybe gold chains will be my new look!

Today may be the official start of the trip north.  Up at sunrise with the hope the forecast was going to treat us well.......OK, maybe not great but we did make it past the "Whale".  Instead of going out and around Whale Cay we followed two other cats through "Don't Rock" channel.  High tide was around 0700 and we made it through the shallow channel with nothing less than 6 feet of water.  It saved us a ton of time and also we didn't have to slog across the sloppy seas going around the Cay.  

Don't Rock

Unfortunately the winds picked up to 14-16kts right from the direction we want to go so instead of fighting them all day we elected to go into White Sound at Green Turtle Cay and anchor there for the night.  The winds are supposed to be SSW tomorrow so if, and that is a big "IF" the weather guessers are right we should have a nice ride.....cross your fingers for us!

The stop has enabled us to connect to the Internet, perhaps for the last time in the Bahamas.  At least we are able to update the blog.  If we can make it to Grand Cay they may have coverage but we aren't sure.  From there it's NW to the states.

Not quite time to head north.....a few pictures

Now that company has departed and also because we have almost reached our 180 day time limit in the  Bahamas we are starting to look for windows to cross the Gulf Stream and head north.  BUT.......not so fast!!

Nati is looking pretty nice in these shots taken from Flight Plan

Guess who is on the bow?

These were taken when we headed out of Georgetown with Jim and Jo a while back.  Vinny gave them to us so we thought it would make a nice change of pace.

Also, last week we moved back over to Hope Town because of the forecast for stormy weather and took advantage of hanging out in the harbor by going over to the Cat-in-the-hat lighthouse (CITHLH) for the nightly lighting.  Now that was very cool!
The light & Sam's home

Sam McPhee is one of the two lighthouse keepers and he lives on the premises.  His father was also a lighthouse keeper at the same site.  Now this is a very interesting career that no guidance councilor has in their file.  When it is Sam's night to work the light he has to light the kerosene light at sunset, crank the weights up that turn the light and then go up to the light every two hours to crank the weights up all night long.  We were able to go up and watch the whole process.  We didn't go back to check on him two hours later but the light shines all night long.

Sam is waiting for the light to prime

and it starts!

Sam is cranking the weights for the first time tonight

Heading up 101 stairs, right Teagan!?

Not Sam's first time up to the top!

The Fresnel lenses, beautiful!

Seeing the light go into action was certainly a highlight of the trip over to the Bahamas.  Getting a chance to meet Sam and talk about the process was even better!  THANKS SAM !!!!!!

Sam McPhee, Lighthouse Tender