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Sunday, December 31, 2006

16 DEC thru 31 DEC 06, Current, N. Eleuthera, Bahamas

GPS Position: 25°24'.778N: 76°47'.323W

These past two days have been a maze of stores and shopping. The interior of the boat looks like a Wal-Mart 18 wheeler with stuff packed into every spare storage compartment. Perry and I have all of the stuff for Christmas, his B-day party and the stuff for the boat and our forthcoming guests. There’s no spare room on board.

With everything loaded, we’ve decided to take advantage of a weather window and leave the US around 1630 EST and head across to Bimini. The trip took just shy of eight hours and we spent the first night anchored off of North Bimini.

In the morning, we set out across the Great Bahama Bank toward Chub Cay and had an uneventful trip. We arrived at Chub Cay around 2230 and anchored out until morning, then we went into the harbor, took on fuel and cleared customs and immigration. Having passed inspection, we now have our cruising permit and are legal for up to the next twelve months in the Bahamas.

Leaving Chub Cay, our next destination was Nassau, on the island of New Providence. I have reservations at the Nassau Yacht Haven beginning tomorrowbut we should arrive well before sunset today, so we'll anchor out in the harbour, west of the twin bridges connecting to Paradise Island, until morning.

It's the 20th and we're snug in Nassau Yacht Haven. Perry and I went up Mackey St. and had breakfast at the local Wendy's and then picked up a few things at the Super Value at the top of the hill. Kim arrived from the airport, via cab, at 1730. She has pictures of our new granddaughter, a few things she picked up in Atlanta and her luggage. It's good to have her back on board again.

We spent the 21st shopping for some last minute Christmas items. Bay Street, Mackie Street and all points in between. Kim and I learned that the bus routes are the best, cheapest way to negotiate downtown Nassau. We finished up at 1630 EST and returned to the Yacht Haven. The Dock Master allowed us a late checkout and we finally departed Nassau Harbour at 1700 EST.

We followed the islands between Nassau and N. Eleuthera, staying close on the west side, in the lee of an east wind. We made N. Eleuthera at 2330 EST and anchored off of N. Beach at 25°24'.778N: 77°47'.323W. Tomorrow, we’ll move over to Grants’ Dock and offload the stores from the boat. That should give us a lot more room, and with Kim's sister coming, we'll surely need it..

It is Christmas Eve and we are anchored off of our favorite place in the Bahamas; North Beach, Current, N. Eleuthera. The sky is full of stars, the wind is warm and light and the world seems at peace. The only thing that could make it better is to have all of the kids here with us. Kim’s sister and Grandniece arrive tomorrow, however, and we’re looking forward to having them aboard. At least we'll have some family here over Christmas.

Sonia and Zoey arrived at N. Eleuthera Airport right on schedule. They had a long trip from Oklahoma and are pretty tired. We had celebrated Christmas with Perry and his family in the morning and now we got to open more preasents with Sonia and Zoey in the evening. We were back on the boat and asleep by 2200 hrs as we had to get up early on Boxing Day and help with Perry's 60th birthday party celebration.

We were ashore by 0900 and people were already making preparations for the party. This was a a big deal with the entire town invited (about 117 people) plus at least that many more from down island.

Kim and Sonia worked on pasting sequins and colored paper to the Junkanoo style banner that wished Perry a Happy 60th Birthday, while I helped Perry get the town gazebo set up with decorations, chairs and coolers of ice for the pop and beer.

The party lasted from noon until nearly dark. Believe me when I say that nobody went home hungry. There was music and dancing and a "Rush" put on by the Junkanoo Association from Tarpum Bay. If there was anyone there that didn't have a good time, it was thier own fault.

The day of the 27th, we took the boat to Spanish Wells to get fuel and to do some shopping in town. We docked at Ronald's Service Center, took on about 40 gallons of fuel and spent 4 hours or so shopping in town. Then, it was back to our anchorage off N. Beach, dinner and bed.

The next three days were spent touring Harbour Island and the island of Eleuthera as far south as Rock Sound. We walked beaches, found seabeans, explored old churches and visited many points of intrest on the island. With this much activity, no one had any trouble sleeping each night when we returned to the boat.

On the 31st, we were up early and dinghied ashore to get Sonia and Zoey to the airport. It was a sad parting, but we hope we'll be able to do this kind of thing again sometime soon.

We returned to the boat well after dark and were almost asleep when WW III broke out on the beach. Someone set off rockets and aerial bursts for almost an hour and ended up being one of the best fireworks displays we'd ever seen.


Friday, December 15, 2006

01 DEC thru 15 DEC 06, Miami Beach, FL

GPS Position: 25°6’.156N: 80°08’.341W

After 37 days in Charleston, we are back on the water again. We need to get as far south, as quickly as we can so we can make the Bahamas by Christmas. We're achoring out as much as possible to maximize our float time and minimize our expenses. As we head south, however, we're beginning to have problems on the boat with the alternator, the autopilot motor (again) and the breaker panel blowing breakers at odd times. I spoke with Hunter and they've instructed me to stop at St. Augustine Marine and they'll have someone there to correct the problems.

After passing through the Bridge of Lions, we made a northerly turn up the San Sebastian River to St. Augustine Marine. We'll be staying here until the "laundry list" has been completed to our satisfaction. St. Augustine Marine appears to be well run and very professional in their approach to repair work. We'll see.

On the 7th, we learned that we have our first grandchild. A girl, Havyn Ansley, was born in Atlanta, GA at 2359 EDT, on December 6, 2006. How cool! Kim will be leaving for Atlanta as soon as we hit St. Augustine; me, I'll stay with the boat.

By the end of business on the 8th, the laundry list was complete. A threshold was installed in the aft head shower to prevent water from running out of the shower, onto the main head floor. Hunter Marine sent in a technician who replaced both the AC and DC breaker panels and the AC/DC control panel with upgraded units. The main engine alternator is now working after finding a 10-amp fuse blown in the control circuit. A second Mamba Motor for the Autopilot was installed in the Helm (this one has a new style of clutch that is supposed to cure the motor failure issues.) And lastly, two (2) new zincs were installed on the main prop shaft.

With the repairs finished, it's on to Miami to meet with my Bahamian friend, Perry Neilly, who lives in Current, N. Eleuthera. We paln to do some Christmas shopping here and take everything over to his home in the boat. We'll meet Kim in Nassau and all go to Eleuthera for Christmas.

The first night, I anchored off of the town of Oak Hill, FL. Originally, I intended to anchor just South of the last New Smyrna Beach Bridge. When I got to the site, however, it was packed with boats at anchor. As a result, I had to continue on South until I could find a proper spot to drop the hook. Oak Hill is the last town before the Great Mosquito Lagoon, which is best navigated in the daylight.

The second night, I ended up just off of Palm Bay, FL. I elected to stop early as there’s no other place to anchor along this stretch for another two hours and in two more hours it will be pitch black outside. I’m anchored near “I WANDA,” which is a boat we met in Charleston, SC. The owners are French Canadian and they left Charleston about three days before Kim and me. We chatted on the VHF for a bit and then both hit the hay. In the morning, I was underway at 0630, but I WANDA wasn't leaving until 0700, so we parted company and I continued on south.

It's taken three days to get to the town of Tequesta, FL and shortly before my arrival, the alternator failed again. I replaced the blown fuse, but it blew almost immediately. I got on the radio and arranged to stay at the JIB Yacht Club Marina and when I pulled in to the palce, there was Milano Mist.

Once berthed, I called Hunter and they'll have a new alternator on the way to me in the morning. So, for the short term, I'll have to sit here patiently and wait on my parts. What I can do while waiting, however, is to tear down the alternator and get the new unit ready to be installed. By doing it that way, I can have the new alternator installed and running within 30 minutes after it arrives.

The alternator arrived at 1030 EDT sharp on the 14th. I had the new unit installed, the engine running and power going to the batteries at 1045 hrs. Not too bad! I was underway and heading south by 1055 with all systems go. I'll have to figure a way to send the bad alternator back to Hunter sometime in the future, but for now, it's on to Miami.

I made it to Ft Lauderdale and went past Port Everglades to the Dania Cut-off Canal. Just inside the canal, I anchored in about 10 feet of water and spent a quiet night. In the morning, I Made my way back to Port Everglades, went outside and headed south, parallel to the shore, towards Miami.

I arrived in North Miami Beach around 1330 EDT and called in to the Miami Beach Marina. I was able to get a slip there and was docked by 1430. Once docked, I got on the VHF and made contact with the fishing boat that had given Perry a ride from the Bahamas to the US. The Captain said he'd bring Perry to the marina after they were done with customs and immigration.

While waiting, I called and arranged for a rental car for the next couple of days. We'll be able to pick it up in the morning after 0930 hrs. With that done, the Captain dropped Perry off at the marina around 2300 hrs. Both of us were dead tired, so knowing we'll have pleanty of time to catch up on old times, we both hit the hay and prepared to get an early start tomorrow.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

16 NOV thru 30 NOV 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

We're still in Charleston and still with Guy and Marilyn, our dear friends from Ohio. They have to leave here on the 20th, so we've spent the last few days touring Charleston and seeing the sights together. So much history and so little time! But that's a good thing, as there's always a reason to come back.

We had our first meeting today with Keith Callery, of All Star Canvass. Keith came to the boat and took measurements for our new cockpit enclosure. He believes that he'll have it done and installed before the end of the month, and when you consider that we have a Thanksgiving Holiday in there, that's pretty spectacular. In the boating industry, we're not used to that kind of service. It's usually "we'll get to it when we can," so this is quite a pleasant surprise.

With the measuring completed, it was back to our friends and a walk into Charleston for diner. We went to Bocci's Italian Restaurant and had an absolutely fantastic meal. Their menu selection is extensive and they have a very good wine list too. I had the Lasagna Bolognese, which was excellent, and we also had Shellfish Fra Diavlo, Seafood Alfredo and Chicken Conchiglia. Combine these great dishes with a bottle of Trentino and a bottle of Chianti and you have the perfect meal.

After Bocci's, we needed to walk a bit, so we wnet on one of Charleston's famous tours, The Ghosts and Ledgends of Charleston. This tour, which consists of a group of eight or ten people and their guide, winds through Old Charleston for about a mile and a half and visits haunted old buildings, alleys and graveyards.

Taking just a bit more than an hour and a half, the tour is billed as Charleston's most popular walking tour and has been featured on CNN Travel Guide, The Learning Channel, Charleston's Post & Courier Newspaper, Charleston Magazine, and more. We certainly weren’t disappointed.

Our guide was funny, extremely knowledgeable about Charleston and its history and during the tour, we never felt rushed or that the tour was dragging either. We went through all sorts of spooky places and some of us saw (or thought we saw) some pretty strange sights under the cold light from the neighboring streetlights. Needless-to-say, we were not disappointed and it was the perfect way to end the day in Charleston.

The next day was Sunday and it was time to do a bit of sailing. Guy and Marilyn had never been out on a sailboat, just powerboats, so this was going to be a new experience for them.

We departed the Maritime Center on the high tide and went up Wapoo Creek and through a drawbridge for our friends. Then we came back down the Wapoo to the Ashley River South and out to sea for some quiet sailing. Not too much wind, so we didn’t go very fast or very far, but we did see lots of porpoise and went through a school of jellyfish that were as big as cantaloupe. It was really cool!

From there, we came back in the channel, up the Cooper River and passed by the USS Lexington. Then, it was under the Ravenel Bridge for pictures. With that done, it was time to head in so we could make it into the marina on the low slack tide. What a great day to be out on the water.

Our friends left Charleston today and are on the way to meet up with some folks in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. For us, it's back to preventive maintenance and, on the 23rd, our first fitting of the new enclosure. I'm glad Keith is doing it and not me, because from my perspective, it looks like nothing fits (or is ever going to fit.) But Keith is the pro and has assured us we'll be pleased with the final result.

Today is Thanksgiving Day! For the first time in our lives, we have no kids, no family and no relatives to feed, so it’s kinda’ lonely. But, the holiday has been saved!!! A group of boaters, also stuck here for the Holiday, have organized a Potluck Supper, with turkey as the main course.

The maritime Center Marina has been really super and has given us the run of both their kitchen and banquet room. We made an appetizer and a vegetable dish on the boat and carried them, along with a couple bottles of wine, upstairs to the banquet room. Immediately upon entering the room, we were struck with the wonderful smells of roasting turkey and baking pies. It smelled so good that you felt as if you were at home.

The crews of Milano Mist, Merlin, Oz, Caribbean Dream, Puddle Jumper, White Bird and some other boats that I can’t remember were the attendees. The conversation was great and filled with stories of cruising and other holidays spent in far away places, like today, in the good company of perfect strangers. For our first holiday away from home, it was a great time.

Bright and early on the 27th, we received a call from Keith. He said he was ready to do the final fitting and installation of our new enclosure. He was on the boat within the hour and, panel-by-panel, the enclosure became a reality. Kim and I were both amazed as each panel joined to the original Bimini top and the neighboring panels, as if it had always been there.

Although we couldn't see any problem, Keith wasn't happy with the fit of one panel and said he'd take it away, remake it and be back tomorrow to finish the installation. True to his word, Keith was back in the morning with a new panel, installed it and set all of the snaps and closures in the hull. We are SO happy with the end result and now have the equivalent of and extra room on the boat. Now we can do some traveling!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

01 NOV thru 15 NOV 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

Being back in Charleston, SC is like coming home for us. Both Kim and I feel a connection to this city that is beyond explanation. As far as living in the US is concerned, we've only lived in the north, yet Charleston makes us feel as if we’ve always been here and everything about the city has an eerie sense of familiarity.

We spent the first couple of days here doing the shop and resupply thing. We rented a car from the local Enterprise office and made the usual stops at Sam's Club, Wal-mart and West Marine to restock low inventories of food, household supplies and boat maintenence items.

With our boat resupplied, we spent the next three days cleaning, shining, wiping and waxing the boat. It takes a lot of work to keep Current Jumper looking like new, but the results were worth all of the hard work.

With the boat all in order, we got on the bicycles and began touring the city of Charleston. No visit to the city is complete without a trip along the north shore to see the old row houses. Most of these have been around since the civil war and are held together by long threaded rods that pass through the entire structure
with a star shaped nut on each end. It worked well then and is still working today.

From the Row Homes, we went on to Battery Park. First used as a public park in 1837, Batter Park became a place for artillery placement during the American Civil War to protect the approaches to Charleston. It is also, the site where, on April 12, 1861, the residents of Charleston gathered to watch the bombardment of Ft. Sumter, which marked the beginning of the War.

Today, however, Battery Park is a beautiful public park that still contains many of the original Civil War artillery pieces. Everyone seems to agree that the Battery is the city's best spot for strolling. Maybe it's the live oaks drooping with Spanish moss, the pleasant ocean breezes, or the lovely views of Charleston Harbor. Whatever the reason, Battery Park is definately on the "A" list of places to visit while in Charleston.

Our next stop was the Charleston Market. The market has been at its present location for 220 years and has survived a tumultuous past, out lasting tornadoes, hurricanes, a major earthquake and devastation by fires and bombardment from without and within.

Located near the waterfront in the Ansonborough area, the first actual suburb in America, the property was built on low lying marshland and a small tidal creek which were gradually filled in between 1804 and 1807 and were by then high enough to erect the market stalls.

The main building, Market Hall, was built in 1841 and is an apparent modification of the Grecian-Doric temple of "The Wingless Victory" at Athens. The cornice is ornamented with ram's and bull's heads, a symbol of the ancient Greek custom of hanging the skulls of animals sacrificed to the gods in the temple.

Today, Market Hall is used by the United Daughters of the Confederacy for the preservation of articles of historic interest from the War Between the States.

Below Market Hall is a spacious portico, which was used as a meat and fish market until modern times. For sanitation purposes the three buildings behind Market Hall, which sold fruits and produce, were set apart.

Today when visiting Charleston, the City Market is a must see. There are a total of four buildings spanning from Meeting Street to East Bay Street. Sweet grass basket weavers can be seen in every building, along with, local artists, jewelry, tapestry, souvenirs, church dolls, afghans, rugs, rice, beans, sauces, local candies and cookies and much more.

Well, today started off with great news. We received a call from some old friends of ours from Ohio and found out they’re in Charleston! They travel the highways in a fifth wheel camper and, being retired like us, spend their time traveling and sightseeing in the US.

They are staying at the James Island County Park, which has a huge RV facility in addition to 643 acres of well-manicured public lands. Our friends came and picked us up at the Marina and then we all went to dinner at Melvin’s Barbecue. Melvin’s wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t expensive, but the food sure was FANTASTIC!! I can’t believe we ate so much.

Once diner was done, we got back in the truck and made our way to the James Island County Park. When we arrived at the park, we all got out of the truck and began the walking tour of the Festival of Lights (what a great way to recover from over eating!)

The walking tour covers a leisurely 3-mile trek along forest paths illuminated by light-sculptured art. With over 600 displays located throughout the park, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a magical place to be!

Once the light tour is complete, there is still a lot left to be seen. One can visit Santa's Workshop, tour the facility on Santa's Train, ride the Giant Carousel or visit the huge sand sculpture (it takes more than 50 tons of sand to construct) that is specially created each year for the Holiday Festival of Lights

We had a great time at the park and it was great being with our friends again. Tomorrow, we'll see them again and have more adventures together.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

15 OCT thru 31 OCT 06, Charleston, SC

GPS Position: 32°47’.339N: 79°55’.443W

We pulled out of Ocrakoke on 17 OCT 06 at 0630 EST and headed towards Beaufort, NC. The channel is a bit complicated in Ocrakoke, as you have to play "dodge em'" with the Ferry Boats that ply these waters.

Once we left the commercial channel it was a straight shot to Adams Creek and back into the GIWW. We were finally able to sail for 90% of the trip and it was great!

In the channel leading into Beaufort, I got the boat stuck on a sandbar, not once, but TWICE! The bar was across the marked waterway and there was no notice to mariners that an alternate channel was the preferred way to go. Fortunately, a TOW BOATS US boat happened by and gave us the correct new route. We then followed him in part way and were soon back on track.

Fortunately, I had called ahead to make reservations in Beaufort and we arrived there about 1800 EST. The City Marina is Beautiful; pricey, but beautiful. There is fuel at your slip and good power and water. What a place to dock. Tomorrow, we explore the town and surroundings.

I got up around 0530 this morning and began to get the boat ready to sail. Kim got up shortly thereafter and, between the two of us, we were ready to cast off about 0645 hrs. We pulled out from the Beaufort City Docks at 0700 and headed on down the ICW towards Wrightsville Beach, or where ever we can get to tonight.

As we passed Camp Lejeune, the Marines closed the ICW for a live artillery firing exercise. The closing was at marker #59 and commenced at 1000 hrs. When we got to that marker at noon, there were about 13 boats waiting on the waterway to open. I called on the radio and asked the Navy guard what the opening ETA was. The Navy guard asked where my boat was and I told him about 300 yards away and was the sailboat flying the Marine Corps flag.

The guard came back on the radio and asked how fast my boat would go and I told him 7.5 Kts. He came back on and said that there was a short break in the firing and told me to proceed on my way down the ICW. All of the boats that were anchored begin pulling their hooks and hurrying like mad to get going with us. Being a former Marine has its advantages sometimes (lol.)

We arrived at Wrightsville Beach, NC at 1830 and docked at Seapath Yacht Club & Transient Dock. No electric or water, we have to be out by 0700 and it still cost $80.00. God Bless America!

We were up and on the water by 0650 EST this morning. It's a bright, clear morning but chilly. We proceeded down the ICW and went across the New River Inlet and the Cape Fear River Inlet. It’s really pretty, but it’s cold (67°-F) and the wind is brutal at 20+ Kts on the nose.

We passed Pelican Point Marina, the place where we got the blue crabs, and were hailed on the radio by an unknown Captain who wished us “Semper fi.” That was pretty cool.

We made all of the drawbridges in good time and didn’t have to wait more than 20 minutes at any one bridge. It was smooth sailing once we got back in the ICW and the shore blocked the wind. It’s a lot better that way.

We finally arrived at Barefoot Landing, SC and docked at 1645 EST. I ran aground (some more) in sand, right before the dock area. It looked like an approach, but was an unmarked shoal. It took about five minutes to get off of the sand, but all’s well that ends well.

We’ll be here for three nights ($160.00) and plan to restock our food supply at the local Wal-Mart and do some shopping at the outlet mall that lines the ICW here. It should be fun.

Today is 23 Oct 06. We woke up this morning and opened up the boat to find the temperature had dropped to 38 degrees F during the night. Damn that’s cold!

We departed Barefoot Landing around 0700 EST and headed south towards Charleston. We intend to get an enclosure built for the cockpit, have some warranty adjustments made and get Kim's computer fixed during our stay there.

Other than the cold, the trip has been uneventful. The wind has picked up a bit, but not more than 15 knots. There is no way we’ll make Charleston tonight, so I’m going to anchor in the North Santee River, just west of the ICW.

We anchored at GPS coordinates 33°10’.419N: 79°18’.219W. There, we found superb anchoring about 100 yards west of the ICW. We had 12 ft. of water, wide places to swing about and shelter from NE and SW windstorms. The anchor set in soft sand on the first attempt. We should be in Charleston tomorrow by early afternoon.

We were on the go fairly early and made a relaxed run into Charleston, SC. Once again, we're staying at the Charleston Maritime Center Marina and are within easy walking distance of downtown. We prepaid a month's worth of dockage, which should give us enough time to get our "laundry list" completed, and will wait here until the insurance company says hurricane season is officially over and it's O.K. to travel south and off-shore.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

01 OCT thru 15 OCT 06, Ocracoke Island, NC

GPS Position: 35°06’.867N: 75°59’.084W

Knowing we'd be pulling an all-nighter, we departed Norfolk at 1215 EST on 3 October 06 and made our way across the channel to the Portsmouth Boat Yard to take on fuel. We took on 20 gallons of fuel and were on our way by 1300 hours to the thundering roar of eight Navy helicoptors flying overhead.

The weather has been fair for most of the day, the wind has been good at 15 Kts and, once we turned north, we were able to furl out the sails. Our speed has averaged 8.6 Kts over ground, so were making great time up the Chesapeake Bay. The point of the wind has begun to shift around to the North, however, so we’ll soon have to strike the sails and go the rest of the way by engine alone. If we keep on at anywhere close to our current speed, we’ll better the 20 hours estimated transit time by quite a bit.

The Chesapeake is absoultely georgeous at night! The water is dead flat calm and there's not even a ripple except those caused by our own boat. From all we've heard about the Bay at this time of year, this must be a very rare weather occourance. But, we'll take it, not complain one bit and enjoy this beautiful night crossing.It was 0712 EST when we arrived off of Annapolis, MD. The 160-mile trip took us 18.2 hours and our average speed was 7.6 knots. We're actually a day early and we're both pretty tired after the run up here, so we dropped anchor just outside of Annapolis Harbor, off of the US Naval Academy, and went to sleep until 1230 hrs.

I called into the Yacht Basin Marina and found that they could take us a day early, so we motored into the harbor and prepared to dock in our slip.

This place is a madhouse. There are people trying to sail boats and drive powerboats EVERYWHERE! We were almost hit by a two masted yawl that didn’t see we were anchored until it was less than 20 yards from our boat on a collision course. We finally made it to our slip unscathed, however, and tied up without further incident.

We washed down the boat, secured all equipment and then went out for an early dinner in town. Then, after a short walk around town and a vist to the gates of the Naval Academy, we’ve retired early so we can get up tomorrow, tour the area and take in all that the town of Annapolis has to offer. We can hardly wait!

We spent Thursday walking all over Annapolis, visiting the State Capitol and taking a walking tour of the United States Naval Academy. The Naval Academy has to be the most awe inspiring place in America and it's great to know that there are still young men and women in this country of the calibre exhibited at the Academy.

Friday, the weather changed for the worse and cold, wind and rain moved into the area. The first N'oreaster of the year disrupted the boat show and made for a wet and soggy visit. Then, on Sunday, the tide was extra high and most of the display areas and temporary piers were underwater. In addition to the show proper, many of the surrounding businesses were flodded out by the high water. So, if you could find a dry, warm restaurant or bar serving Hot Toddies or Hot Buttered Rum, you could count on it being crowded and their being a long wait to get inside.

Even with all of the bad weather and flooding, the boat show turned out to be pretty cool. We puechased a wind generator for the boat and a lot of small convenience items to make life aboard somewhat easier.

We're supposed to have another weather window beginning the 9th, so we'll probably take advantage of it and head back down the east coast and points south

We pulled out of Annapolis at 1055 EST and circled around the perimeter of the show, so Kim could get some final pictures of the harbor and a couple of the boats that had come in for the show. Then it was back down the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, VA.

We arrived in Norfolk early on 10 Oct 06 and anchored off of Hospital Point at 0600 EST exactly. We'll wait here until morning and make all of the bridges and locks heading south.

From Norfolk, we made Coinjock, VA in a single day of sailing. From Coinjock it was one more day back to Manteo, NC and a visit with some of the people we met on our last visit here.

After checking with several sailors, we learned that the Outer banks Channel is open all the way to Ocracoke, NC. And at a depth of 12’ minimum. So, we decided to give it a whirl and visit Ocrakoke Island.

We struck out at 0800 EST on the 15th and headed south. As promised by our informants, the transit was smooth and the scenery beautiful. The inner banks are full of Porpoise and birds of all kinds; all feeding off of the fish that fill these waters.

After a peaceful trip down the inside of the Outer Banks, we finally made Ocracoke Island at 1830 EST. After waiting for an incoming ferry to dock and clear the harbor, we tied up at the dock, just in time to watch a SUPER sunset. Life is so good!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


GPS Position: 30° 50’ .220 N. 86° 44’ .270 W.

We’ve spent the better part of these past two weeks working with the sub-contractor, who is doing the warranty work for Hunter, and testing the various systems on the boat. Testing requires lots of time going over the various manuals, testing and retesting the electronics and taking the boat out on the water for field trials. Every spare minute that we’re not working is spent with the boat. If we’re not on the boat, we’re doing something that’s boat related. It’s like being back in college and cramming for a final exam.

Choctawhatchee Bay is where all of the field trials were conducted. It’s the perfect place to make the trial runs, as it has several miles of protected water, no current and, if required, emergency assistance. As each trial was completed, we'd bring the boat back into the marina and make any necessary adjustments or changes in the rigging.

The Hunter 45CC sails well under most conditions. It’s very light under the helm, turns on a dime and heels as if it had a full keel, instead of a finned, bulb keel. It’s ¾ rig makes handling the sails a dream and all aspects of sailing can be easily performed, single handed, from within the cockpit. Under full sails, and in 17 knots of breeze, we’ve had the boat making 7.8 Kts over ground. That's really good for a boat that’s only 39’ at the water line. We’re very fortunate to have a super group of people helping us with getting the boat set-up correctly. Walter and Greg, from Bluewater Bay Yachts, and Joe Ederer, who’s sailing experience spans some six decades, have spent many hours with us on the water. Having been a power boater up until now, it’s been great to have the benefit of their combined knowledge.

With each excursion on the Bay, we can feel our confidence growing. Yet, at the same time, it becomes more and more clear that the sea is unforgiving of mistakes or too much bravado on the part of the sailor. Hopefully, we are learning our lessons well and combining our old powerboat knowledge with our newly learned sailing skills.

Soon, we’ll be at the point where we can take the boat out unassisted and run her through her paces alone. Until then, it’s practice, practice, practice and getting ready for retirement and life on the sea.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


GPS Position: 30° 50’ .220 N 86° 44’ .270 W

Over the past two weeks or so, we’ve given the boat a thorough inspection, both inside and out. We’ve covered the interior with a fine-toothed comb and looked inside, underneath, overhead and anywhere else we could find looking for warranty issues. On the exterior, we gone over the hull with a microscope and even went diving to inspect the hull and bottom paint in a search for things that need addressing.

What we’ve ended up with is a list of fifty (50) issues that need addressing. (To see a .pdf file listing of these items, please click the following link Issues.pdf.)

At this point, we’d like to state the following: ALL new vehicles, no matter what Make, Model or Type, have warranty issues and Hunter is no exception. What makes Hunter stand out from other marine manufacturers, so far, is how quickly they’ve reacted to correct all of the issues we’ve uncovered. They’ve even adjusted certain points of their manufacturing processes to ensure those issues are NOT repeated. Since we were only the fifteenth (15th) vessel off of the assembly line, we imagine we were very much a part of the learning curve at Hunter Marine.

In our case, HUNTER MARINE has exceeded our expectations regarding our warranty issues. Without getting gushy here, we’d especially like to recognize and thank Mr. Eddie Breeden, who is the Customer Service Manager for Hunter Marine Systems, at Alachua, FL. Mr. Breeden is always available, always accessible and never fails to act promptly to ensure that our vessel’s issues were resolved immediately.

On the flip side of that coin, however, are the sub-contracting companies who actually perform warranty work in the field. While most any mechanically inclined person can attend, with proper sponsorship, the various manufacturer’s training classes and pass with flying colors, it’s the work habits and professionalism of the individual sub-contractor that controls how well warranty and improvement work is performed. In our short time as a boat owner, we've met some real dip-shits!

Before letting ANYONE perform ANY kind of work on your vessel, we strongly suggest you take the time to get references for the proposed company from local marinas and boaters and find out how they rate their work and professionalism.