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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!