Thursday, November 4, 2010

So much for that plan

There was a plan when we departed....Then....?
Our plan was to travel from Morehead City/Beaufort NC to Wrightsville Beach via the ICW. On this day that meant four bridges whose timed openings are, hmmm shall we say, difficult, two at the half hour and two on the hour. The problem is we can never and have never been able to time our arrivals well, and end up waiting, which adds a lot of time to the trip.

From there onto Myrtle Beach, Georgetown and then Isle of Palms Marina where we will keep the boat for the month of November.

As we were pulling away from the dock;

He the weather looks great and the near shore and off shore forecast seem really fine
Why don't we run off shore to Masonboro Inlet at Wrightsville and skip all of the bridge hassles.

She says; agreeably, sure.

We headed out Beaufort Inlet, pass the markers to Beaufort and out the channel to the ocean.

There was a steady line of boats headed out because of the good weather forecast. In front of us was a Kadey Krogen named Steadfast and a sports fisher.

This is a popular exit point for boats heading south via the ocean with many running to Fla. or the Bahamas. Once past the inlet I reworked the route to Wrightsville Beach via Masonboro inlet.

We are out in the ocean for about and hour and...

She says: It is so nice out here why don't we travel all the way to Charleston Harbor and cut out Wrightsville Beach, Myrtle Beach and Georgetown SC. It will only take 26 hrs or so......

He says; nothing, in the background he is.....

(editors note; In the boating community it is not uncommon for him to be referred to as Captain and her, to be referred to as the Admiral. I, however, never use these terms because I think they are contrite and condescending. However it is important to look at t the actions and not the words in this case.)

....on the cell phone (we are still close enough to get a signal) ...yes we can get a slip at Isle of Palms Marina but don't show up before 10-11am (yikes)and yes we can cancel our reservations to the three marinas along the ICW without any problems.
Time on phone 10 min.

He sets about to calculating the route (distance) to speeds get to the correct arrival time (distance = speed x time). There are actually three different speeds and segments that need to be calculated.

First; We will go through Frying Pan Shoals, well named,we would like to do that in the light, from our starting point to the exit way point at the of the shoal, we will go 9.3kts burning 10g/hr.

Second; From Frying Pan Shoals to the first entry buoy to Charleston Harbor traveling at 7.0kts burning 4g/hr.

Third; From Charleston harbor, adjusting for current, to Isle of Palms Marina but not adjusting for the Ben Sawyer Bridge.

She smiles; as he is totally geeked out with his gizmos, programs and calculations

Total trip 200nm and 30 hours

Time spent calculating it 20min

We had a bug hitching a ride and he was quite happy with the notion. But this does not address the ADD issues with the time spent taking the picture vs working on the navigational problems; add 5 min.

He thinks: why that would be great, we would save buckets of $$ by not staying at three marinas, use less fuel and get there a couple of days sooner. What is not to like?
He says finally: Sure that makes sense.

She says, smiling; fine let's do it

Total time  elapsed; 35 min, way geeked out and in his own world at this point. Those USCG Captains course sure came in handy he concludes.

We begin our first off shore cruise of the season without the usual pre-trip planning of the most anal retentive type. But truth be told all of our maintenance and safety work is current and complete. We have enough fuel to go over 2,500 nm. With the exception of a Float Plan that we usually let our family know of our course and way points lat and long we are now too far off shore for cell phones to work but we are in great shape, plus we have our Spot tracker on and broadcasting ( ) note this will give only our current position.

We had heard on the marine radio several boats talking about going overnight to Charleston Harbor to take advantage of the weather window so we hailed them and joined into the group. Steadfast, Summer Ski's, Oasis, Almost Perfect and Seabright for a total of five boats making an overnight run to Charleston Harbor. We have gone overnight many times before but never with others and never in a long train. So we all coordinated our way points and communications and lined up and took off.

After all of the hub-bub is done I recall why I do not like these.

Boring! I did not plan on this so I did not have my usual audio book and I cannot read a book, ohh motion sickness, I will try to busy myself as best I can for a long run of 30 hours.More on this later...

We share watches of 3hrs on 3hrs off and at night 2hrs on 2hrs off.....but in reality I do not sleep well.I have a hard time staying away form the pilot house or fly bridge, depending on where we are running from and as a result I have a hard time turning it off when it is time to sleep.

A comment about motion sickness, if the seas kick up I can be affected. I can take medicine but do not like to do so because the side effects can be worse than the cure. What I have found is staying busy and occupied is better than just watching the instrument panel and letting my sight drift around. One of the best ways to do this especially in a dark pilot house at 3am is to listen to an audio book. This somehow keeps me focused on the book and my attention stays focused. For most people it takes about 3 days for your brain and inner ear to reorient itself to the motion. After some time on the boat going ashore still gives you the sense of motion for a time.

Jeannie however is not affected at all! Truth be told there was one episode when we were traveling to Bermuda and were in 8-10 ft seas on the bow, she was sitting in the pilot house doing a crossword puzzle and had a momentary pang of discomfort. She put the puzzle aside and immediately felt better, poor baby. By the way she is a purist and only does these puzzles in ink.

Last time I had a great audio book and was very entertained during a late night run. Jeannie lent me her IPad and I listened to Car talk with the Tappert Brothers, Click and Clack pod casts, through out my night watches...turned out to be really quite entertaining.

A brief comment on Seabright; we have an active fin stabilization system that is hydraulically driven with power take offs from each engine so the system has built in redundancy. This system also powers our bow & stern thrusters as well as the anchor windlass. At sea the active fins  move to counter roll and as a result about 96% of the roll is dampened. Quite comfortable, it is made by ABT Track ( ) . On her own Seabright is very stable, dry and handles the waves well. Less pitching and dryer than our last boat.

The way the shore line curves away from our straight line course way point to way point we end up off shore by 70-80nm and well out of cell range and most other things for that matter.
The color of the water is quite different and we tried to capture the clear blue color in the prop wash
We arrived at the channel right on time and began our entry. We followed a shrimp boat returning with it's catch along with hundreds of birds. On the background you can see Fort Sumter.

We turned north from the Charleston Harbor to go up the ICW Isle of Palms Marina which is another 5 statute miles. Saying goodbye to our new friends from the overnight run.

We have a bridge clearance of 45ft with our antenna up and 30 feet with them down. The Ben Sawyer Bridge  has a clearance of 32 ft which we can clear with my antennae down and they will not lift if it is only your antenna which prevent you from going through. So we have a bit of work to do. We stopped a half mile short of the bridge and I shimmied out on the sides near the boat deck and dropped the antenna while Jeannie piloted the boat keeping her straight in the channel with a 2 kt current.

We arrived at 10:30am and backed into our slip. A bit of a current was running so I needed to go in, turn and come at the slip against the current for better control, but essentially without problems.

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