Saturday, January 31, 2009

Land stinks!

Chris here… Sorry about it taking so long to post a new blog entry. Kristen’s parent’s have been around, and between that and a lot of boat maintenance we’ve been fairly tired in the evening. I figured we should start by telling you about our passage from Charleston to Vero Beach, and then we can update you on all of our happenings since we arrived here – including a leak below the waterline on Pelican!

We had a tough time leaving. Charleston was an agreeable city and we were comfortable among friends. All of the people we met along the docks engaged us in pleasant conversation – overall, I’d say Charleston was a great example of what I thought the south would be.

After two and a half weeks, though, it was time to depart. We watched for a weather window but they were few and far between. The number of people at the docks and in the anchorage all planning to depart grew on a daily basis, everyone waiting for some warmth, fair winds and calm seas. It wasn’t meant to be, so our interest turned to weather that would only be uncomfortable as opposed to dangerous, and finally a front passed and we were presented with several days of opportunity.

Preparation for departure actually occurred two days prior to leaving. We deflated our smaller dinghy (the one we used until our RIB with the hole from the oyster patch was repaired), tied everything down on deck, strung the jacklines, filled our tanks with water and fuel, put away all of our shore items and took out all of our passage items.

The forecast called for winds of 10-15kts, from the southwest – right on our nose – and seas of 2-3 feet. The only downside was the cold, with predictions for our first day showing highs in the 30’s and overnight temperatures in the 40’s. It was at this point that Provence told us that they would be leaving a day later, as did Evolution, so the decision was easy – we would wait one more day, until Thursday, with slightly higher temperatures and similar winds. This actually allowed us to have a whole day of rest before our passage, and we think that will become a regular thing each time we plan on being out for more than a day.

Leaving Charleston

Thursday morning rolled around. As usual, our attempt to leave early – 7:30am – was thwarted by a cruiser mentality. Between waiting for Martin from Evolution to drop off the heater we had lent him (and then chatting for 20 minutes), to helping Provence tie up to the dock so they could get water, it was 8:30am before we actually left. With the Megadock behind us and an ebb current pushing us along at 8-9kts, we quickly made our way down the river and out the Charleston Harbor channel. By 9:30am, we were by “Green 15” on the outside of the channel and turning south toward our destination.

We had spent a lot of time before our passage planning our trip. Our original path had us heading directly from Charleston to the Ft. Pierce inlet, some 340 miles in length and almost 90nm offshore at points. I also created an alternate route, closely following the coast at about 10nm offshore. This increased the distance to about 380nm, adding 6-7 hours of time to the trip and requiring us to be much more vigilant about fish havens, buoys and other boats. After it was pointed out that my direct route would take us directly across the Gulf Stream (this can be bad since the Gulf Stream likes to throw big steep waves at you), I came up with our final route – midway between the two at about 35-40nm offshore and 355nm in length.

Dolphins following along

The day was fairly clear and the air was chilled as we headed south. We counted our blessings that I had our full enclosure modified before leaving Annapolis, so the wind was minimal and there was some warmth inside our cockpit. As a matter of fact, by midday we were actually hot, and we took our jackets off the cool down. Sometime around noon we heard two large cracks in the air. Concerned, we darted about looking for a problem, but when it happened again I realized it was the sound of sonic booms from military aircraft accelerating past the sound barrier overhead. They aren’t allowed to break the sound barrier while over the continental US, so they wait until they are several miles offshore before showing their true potential.

We continued on our path, bringing us about 30nm offshore. As I mentioned, wave heights were predicted to be at 2-3 feet. It took me a while to understand this, but reported and predicted wave heights are a best guess of the AVERAGE height of the highest one third of all waves. More information on how wave heights are predicted can be found at, but the point of this is that many waves will be much larger than the predicted wave height, and as the time between waves decreases, the number of times you get hit by a larger wave increases. Unfortunately, the National Weather Service doesn’t usually tell you the predicted time between waves for coastal forecasts (they do for far offshore forecasts).

The motion of the ocean

Anyway, once we were about 30nm offshore, we found ourselves in frequent 6-7 foot waves, very close together. I’m not going to do the math for you, but this basically meant that we would come up over the top of a wave, head down the other side, and another wave would be ready and waiting to sweep across our deck. It was safe but very uncomfortable, and we found that – again – our V-Berth was leaking like a sieve. I decided to head inshore by a few miles to seek a few less bumps.

Cooking underway can be a challenge! By the way,
that's Kristen deep frying hush puppies while at a 20-25
degree heel!

We actually had pretty incredible sailing until we turned. Once we turned, we found the waves were directly on our nose, so we turned some more. We figured we’d see how it worked out. We became pretty frustrated throughout the rest of the day, though, as our speed over ground rapidly decreased and we were only making about 2.5kts at most times. No matter what we did – sailing or motoring – we couldn’t seem to hold out speed above 3kts for long. Our 3 day trip was quickly going out the window, but such is life on passage.

Slow Sailing

The nighttime forecast called for 10-15kts overnight, from the southwest (meaning we would be heading into the wind again), with 2-4 foot seas. Of course, we instead had a consistent 20kt breeze with many gusts to 25kts, and 5-6ft very steep seas. There was plenty of water in the V-Berth, and we found a few new leaks with all of the greenies over the bow. At this point we had only our mainsail up, but the wind was coming from the exact direction we wanted to go. We could head on course, but not be able to use the mainsail for stabilization, or we could turn 35 degrees off course, sail, but have our nose directly in the waves. I chose to zig zag and tack back and forth to make progress, but with our forward speed so low and all of the tacks, we didn’t make much progress overnight.

At midnight, Kristen came up to relieve me on watch. I was exhausted after keeping us on track for just four hours. Our original watch plan had me taking the 8pm-12am shift, but staying up for as long as I could before handing over the controls to Kristen at midnight. Kristen would then take the 12am-4am watch, alone, with her father (Poppi) and Casey taking over for the 4am-8am shift. We figured that Casey knows the boat as well as Kristen and I, so he would be a good teammate for Poppi, running the electronics and helping Poppi find the things he needed while underway.

My shift change couldn’t come soon enough – I was having trouble keeping my eyes open at 10pm, let alone midnight, so I was relieved to see Kristen pop her head up at 12am on the dot to take over. Because of how heavy the seas and wind were, and since Kristen is still becoming comfortable with Pelican, I opted to stay in the cockpit and catch catnaps while she stood watch. I really enjoyed spending the time with her, just the two of us on the sea. Her watch was fairly uneventful, with strong winds and steep seas and many tacks, and Poppi and Casey came up for their watch at 4am. Everything after that was a blur for me as I went below and quickly fell asleep.

Speaking of below, we still needed to find a good storage system for our belongings, as the cabin, again, looked like a hurricane hit it – clothes, jackets, papers and books littered the floor, with the dinette seats covered with, well, stuff. Everything that was on the tables had succumbed to the pounding of the waves and was underfoot, making it difficult to walk below. The head was also a treat to use, and I found myself alternating between being glued to the seat (real sailors sit) and being weightless as we pounded through the seas. Oh well – trying to hold on certainly made for good entertainment!

Kaitlin had gone to sleep in the V-Berth, even with the pounding waves. She woke up when I went down below and felt horrible. Apparently, you can get seasick while sleeping without waking up. She quickly ran to the head to, well, I'll leave it up to your imagination. There definitely wasn't a smile on her face, nor was the head very pretty when she was done. She felt a bit better after heaving, so we set her to bed in the aft berth - with a little less zero-gravity as we bounced around.

The kids happy and eating breakfast

I awoke on Day 2 to slightly better conditions. The wind had shifted to a better heading, so we got the genny out and we were able to do long southbound tacks at 6-7kts. We were finally making some progress! Our angle of heel was steep though, I’m guessing in part due to the added weight of the generator and supplies below. We haven’t added enough to the mast to make a difference – some cable and a couple of antennas – but every little bit of weight aloft does change our heeling.

A morning shot of caffeine

The day was beautiful – warm, fairly gentle waves – some real decent sailing. We put out our handline and quickly caught another Little Tunny (Tuna). Kristen was very excited and did an excellent job filleting the fish. By the way, everyone has told us that some vodka over the gills will quickly kill a fish without creating a huge mess of blood on deck to clean up. We have yet to get this working – I think we’re just getting the fish drunk and into a partying mode. Perhaps we need to use cheaper vodka than the Absolut we have. I know a cheap vodka puts me out quick! Anyway, Kristen cut a piece of the tuna off to try as sashimi, but I wasn’t enthralled with it. As a side note – I mentioned that we had caught some Little Tunny to a salesguy at West Marine. He basically said they were a great baitfish, but not good for eating. I would have to concur.

What kind of Mackerel is this?

Very prehistoric!

Scary mouth!

Small Shark

Keep the hook!

Throughout the day we worked our way offshore again, and by nightfall we were 55-60nm off the coast. Soon after my 8pm watch started, and everyone was below, tucked away, the wind started picking up again and so did the waves. We were once again bouncing through 6ft, VERY short period waves and 20kt+ of wind. We found out later that we had accidentally found the Gulf Stream, but with only our VHF radio for communications at this point (we still haven’t mastered the SSB), we had no idea. I really didn’t enjoy the motion, so I started turning inshore a little, but found myself heading directly into the waves, bouncing like mad again.

I made a more radical turn and ran directly for the coast (must have looked like we were ducking in when watching the SPOT!) until we were only 25-30nm out. I also slowed the boat down to 4-5kts which kept us from plowing into the waves, and we became much more comfortable. Once again, I stayed in the cockpit, napping, when I handed over the watch at midnight, completely exhausted. Why does the weather have to get heavier at night?? I would much prefer nice calm nights and heavier days where I could see the waves we were steering over. At least it didn’t really get chilly until 2:30am or 3am, but when it did we pulled out the cockpit heater to take the edge off.

Catching some zzzzzzzzzzz's

Day three was wonderful! It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and the air temperature was warming up. We must be in Florida! We put on shorts and short sleeve shirts by the early afternoon and enjoyed being free of the cold temperatures of the north. We once again put out the handline, and throughout the day we caught a mackerel and two small sharks. Kristen managed to slice her hand open on the wire leader when retrieving one of the sharks, and I do believe she’ll make sure she’s wearing gloves in the future! We also didn’t have a gaff or a way to safely remove hooks from fish (we were throwing back the sharks), so Kristen was reaching real close to the Shark’s teeth with a pair of needle nosed pliers in order to pull the hook out. I’ve since bought a hook remover with a 3 foot handle to ensure that my wife actually keeps all of her fingers. She argued that we didn’t need it, but I’m putting my foot down on this one – I like her having ten fingers for many reasons . We noticed that the water color was changing as the day progresses, from a deep blue off of Charleston to more of an aquagreen off the coast of Florida.

Celebrating the warmth

As the day wound down the wind started to die, so we ended up motorsailing with both main and genny. Poppi was against keeping our speed up. As a matter of fact, he wanted us to turn around and circle the fishing grounds we were in for two or three days! Normally it costs him $200 per day to go fishing and this was free! I can’t blame him – catching the fish, even on a handline, is a lot of fun. Reeling it in to see what’s on the end is a great way to pass time during the day.

On another note, it was some time during day three that we realized the longer passages are much easier than the shorter ones. Many people had told us this was true, but we couldn’t understand how it could be so. We figured we’d be really exhausted, really quickly, and would have a difficult time after the second day with running the boat. By day three we had settled into a complete rhythm, catching naps and relaxing throughout the day, allowing us to be primed and ready for our watches at night. On day two I had told Kristen that I could never see us doing a circumnavigation due to how tired I was. By day three, I was ready to turn off the motor completely and just take as long as we needed to get to Vero Beach. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as we were meeting Kristen’s Mom – Nonni – in Vero Beach on Monday, and it was already Saturday with over one hundred miles to go.

Keeping Busy

We also discovered that we must have had something on our prop for the past couple of days, or it wasn’t completely unfolding. At one point I put the engine in hard reverse, and when I put us back in forward again our speed over ground increased by close to two knots. I’m not sure what was up with that.

My night watch was amazing. What an incredible night! First off, though, let me point out that land stinks! We had been so far offshore for a few days that we were only used to smelling the sea. As we came within 10-15nm of land, the stench of burning plastic, ozone and garbage filled our nostrils. This is something we’re used to when we live around it on a daily basis, but re-entering the “smell zone” sucked!

On the upside, there was a 10-12kt breeze from the west and almost calm seas. Thirty minutes into my watch I unfurled the genoa, turned off the engine, and cruised at 6-6.5kts at almost no heel. Dolphins were jumping out of the water to my side, there was the sound of water rushing past the hull and bioluminescence illuminating our path. It was almost surreal, and really something quite special. We passed the Kennedy Space Center at around 10:30pm, and the launch towers were lit up like giant torches piercing the skyline.

Kristen came on watch at midnight again, and as had become the norm I stayed in the cockpit and dozed off while she kept an eye on our course and looked out for traffic. By 2am, the wind had swung around to the Northeast and we had to swing around by twenty degrees, off course, to keep it on our aft quarter. If we had stayed on course, the wind would have been from directly behind us, and we would have risked an accidental jibe – the sail would have rapidly and forcefully moved from one side of the boat to the other, risking damage to our rig. We furled (put away) our genoa at this point, sheeted in our mainsail to the centerline of the boat, and sadly turned on the iron genny (motor). After having motorsailed for hundreds of miles over the past month and a half, we had thoroughly enjoyed our opportunity to give our motor a rest and listen to only the wind and the waves.

We continued through the night and the morning to head towards the Ft. Pierce inlet, our entrance back into the hustle and bustle of the real world and the access point to the ICW which would lead us north to Vero Beach. By 12:45 we had the inlet buoy in sight and we lowered our sails to prepare for the entrance. Our timing was terrible – the current was at maximum ebb, or outbound flow, as we headed toward the channel. Because the wind was directly heading toward the current, the possibility existed for large standing waves at the entrance, so I contacted Seatow to make sure we’d be safe. Our engine will only push us at 6.5kts – 7kts if we push it – and the current would be flowing toward us at almost 3kts. This would make our forward speed only 3.5kts, so we didn’t have much margin for error on the approach. Seatow let me know that the inlet was calm, so we were good to go.

Almost There!

We turned in around the outer buoy and headed toward the opening. Kristen and Casey kept a lookout for boats in front and behind us, while I did my best to keep our nose pointed directly into the current. If our nose started getting sideways to the current, we would be quickly pushed sideways and possibly lose control. Our entrance through the channel was fairly sedate, but we did find that every Floridian resident must own a boat. There must have been a hundred boats zooming past us in both directions! At one point, a kayaker headed directly across the channel, seemingly oblivious to all of the fast running powerboats zooming around them. We had to slow down to let them cross the bow of the boat ahead of us – not a great thing when it takes a significant amount of time to regain our forward momentum. It all worked out, and we made it the ICW channel.

There was only one lift bridge we had to concern ourselves with between us and Vero Beach. We raised them on the radio, and after a little difficulty with clear communications, the bridge was raised as we drew close to it. After passing through, we were quickly reminded as to why we dislike the ICW – long distances between marks, shallow water just outside the channel and power boats with large wakes barging by you in both directions, three abreast, consuming the entire waterway with no way to dodge them. We worked our way up the ICW without incident, passed under two bridges and made an immediate turn after the last bridge to enter Vero Beach.

Must be in Florida!

After four days and 445nm, Pelican was a giant salt lick. There wasn’t supposed to be any dockspace available for three or four days, so we asked permission to tie up to the fuel dock to wash down our deck and everything that was in the path of the waves and spray of our passage. They ended up letting us stay at the fuel dock for the night, so Kristen, Casey, Poppi and Kaitlin took the opportunity to thoroughly rinse off everything in sight while I did laundry, washing off the salt encrusted sheets from our V-Berth. Sleep came quickly to us that night, and in the morning we headed off to a mooring which was intended to be Pelican’s home for the duration of our stay.

With that, I leave you for the moment. I’ll follow up soon with events to date. On Sunday, we leave Poppi on Pelican while the rest of us head to Disney for a few days of fun. I don’t know if I’m looking forward more to the park, or to the king sized bed with a pillow top and down comforter!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Picture Day... Errrr... Night

I haven't found the motivation to write the blog entry about our passage down. It was a hectic day today - moving to the mooring field, showering, having Nonni arrive. That's a lot of stuff in one day! I have a bunch of pictures from Charleston that I never posted, so I thought y'all might like to see them. Once again, click on a picture to see a larger version.

Kaitlin and a science experiment

A closeup of her experiment. I'll send you a big "Good Job"
on the blog if you can figure out what she built!!

I spy Kaitlin - do you?

I Sea Turtle

Is he actually staring me down???

Is he smiling or passing gas?

I love Coast Guard Vessels - especially when they are out
making sure you're safe

A rare picture of ME!

Believe it or not, the dock we tied up to in Charleston
to have our life raft installed was in this mess!

It's good to know they practice!

And keep practicing, and keep practicing...

The Battery - keeps on going, and going and going! (OK - bad joke)

Casey and the Frog Prince

I would love to have equipment like that on Pelican. The
car is like twice the size of my head!

Or I could go for these... (I'd have to mortgage my house AGAIN)

Or just give me the 84' vessel they're all attached to

Sunday, January 25, 2009

We're in FLORIDA!

Chris here... I didn't think we'd ever make it here, but we're in Florida! I know - it's not that exciting, but it's a huge accomplishment to us since we started on Lake Champlain in October, not even planning to be cruising. I'm sorry to tell all of you northeners this, but we're wearing shorts, and it's supposed to be in the mid to upper 70's here all week.

Our passage went well. We'll post a few entries about it over the next few days. It definitely had its ups and downs, including accidentally entering the Gulf Stream. It was supposed to be two and a half days, but ended up being four full days and three nights. We left Charleston on Thursday at 8am and arrived at Vero Beach some time around 4pm-ish today. We originally planned to go 358nm (411 miles) but ended up going 445nm (512 miles) due to weather (wind and waves - not storms). It is what it is, and the good news is that we're not against doing it again - people were right when they said you settle into a rhythm, and that short (single overnight) passages are more difficult and exhausting.

Anyway, I'm off to sleep - perhaps for a full 8 hours tonight as opposed to the 3 hours I'd catch at any one time on passage. Our bed is mostly dry again, our sheets have the salt water washed off of them (yes - our V-Berth still leaks like a sieve) and I'm looking forward to some normalcy for a week or two. I'll be sure to share with you what we hope our plans will include over the next week or two.

By the way, our friends on Provence had to turn back after 3 hours out from Charleston. Apparently, they had a small fire/meltdown in their engine room. It wasn't anything overly serious, but they have to replace some parts and will try to get going soon. Our other friends from Evolution are currently out at sea, approximately 60nm off of St. Augustine. We don't know if they plan to come to Vero Beach, or if they are heading to their original destination of Ft. Lauderdale. Their SPOT track has them angling this way, but it may be just to move closer to shore - the winds and waves are supposed to be picking up where they are. I wish them fair winds and following seas, but they'll probably have the same thing we had - winds in their face and steep waves against them. They were supposed to leave the same day we did, but it looks like they didn't leave until yesterday.

Did I say I was going to sleep? Yep - I know - I talk too much. By the way, we met a couple here at Vero Beach that is from Port Henry, NY, a town on Lake Champlain that is close to where we used to keep our boat. Small world...

OK... off to sleep. We'll update y'all (that's southern speak) tomorrow, or the next day, and Kristen has said she'll get back to writing her good blog entries shortly, so you won't have to read my boring droning for much longer :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We're getting good at this change of plans thing...

Provence and Evolution aren't leaving until tomorrow, plus it's supposed to be twenty-something overnight, so we're waiting until tomorrow morning to leave. The weather window lasts through Monday or Tuesday of next week, so we should be OK, and it will be in the thirties overnight tomorrow, and then fifties to sixties during the day on Friday. We're not in a hurry, so waiting one day isn't an issue. If you're rarin' to watch our SPOT track, you only have to wait one more day!

Leaving a few hours later

Chris here... If you're used to seeing us leave at 7am or 8am, we won't be doing that this time. Due to a strong morning wind, bigger waves and very cold morning temperatures, we're going to be leaving around noon or one. Also, we'll be running about 30-35nm offshore as opposed to going direct from Charleston to Ft. Pierce. If we went direct, we'd probably enter the Gulf Stream, and since the current would be against us that would be a bad thing (not to mention that having a north component to the wind causes some ridiculous seas).

I spent a bunch of time this evening going over our course on our navigation software (RosePoint Navigator's Coastal Explorer 2009 Beta), entering different start times and different speeds trying to figure out when we'd get to the inlet. You know what I figured out? You can't predict anything. I think I'm starting to get this whole cruising thing. In my business, I'm used to being completely in control. Out here, you have to line everything up and let it run its course. What happens, happens, and you just adjust what you're doing accordingly. Funny thing - I always told everyone I worked with that you can't pick your result - you can only follow a process that hopefully achieves the result you're looking for. I can't believe how much passage planning and business are alike.

You can download a Google Earth file with our anticipated path here (if it just shows a page full of "stuff", right click on the link and save it to your computer, and then use Google Earth to open it). We'll have the SPOT going - the link to our tracking page is on the right side of this blog. Also, Poppi arrived here safely and we're looking forward to a passage with him! I'll try to do one more quick post right before we untie our lines tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A slight change in plans

Chris here. We're still heading south, of course, but we're going a bit further than we originally planned, will have one extra crew and we're leaving on Wednesday instead of tomorrow.

The forecast for tomorrow is for snow. Apparently, it's only snowed in Charleston like twice - ever. Of course it's going to snow while we're here. We picked a great year to head south - everyone keeps telling us it's been the coldest, stormiest season they ever remember. Thanks! That helps! You know what though? It's been incredible, stormy or not, and I'd do the same thing over again in a heartbeat. Anyway, as a result of the forecast, our plan is to leave on Wednesday. I'm not too interested in having to wear ski goggles to navigate (funny fact - I actually did pack my ski goggles, but they were supposed to be for use in high wind or heavy rain, not actually skiing).

So I was talking to Kristen yesterday and suggested that we head farther south than St. Augustine. "It's only an extra day or two, " I said. "Absolutely not!" was her response. Apparently, she's not excited to do a longer passage after passage number two being 30kt+ winds and 10ft+ seas, and passage number three being in the dense fog (passage number one being our trip down the Chesapeake, which was cold but uneventful). What gives? Seriously, though, I can understand. After my trip from CT to Annapolis, I was hesitant to do another passage, but I know they are a necessity of our trip. What's going to happen when we have to do 5 day, 7 day or even 12-14 day passages? Do you ever get used to them? I've been told that the shorter passages are tougher since you never settle into a rhythm, and that your brain knows you're only out for a short time. I'm hoping that's the case. I'm still really looking forward to being out on a dark night, away from all light pollution, the water reflecting a million fireflies from the stars burning holes in the black sky, the milky way readily apparent to my eye.

Let's see, where was I? Oh yes - "Absolutely not!". "Well, hon, the forecast for Tuesday is for snow and rain, and it's going to stay cold for a few more days after that," I responded. She ruminated on this for about a half day, and then came back, "Maybe we should head a bit farther south so we can get to the Bahamas sooner." "Good idea!" I told her. I'm glad she thought of it.

I also suggested to her that we consider taking a third adult crewmember on board during passages. This would allow us to get a bit more sleep at night and share the responsibility. Kristen wasn't immediately for the idea, and then realized there was no reason NOT to do it, so we called Poppi up (Kristen's Dad) and he's flying down tomorrow to help us bring the boat south.

So where are we going next? Well, we're skipping St. Augustine. Instead, we're going to head to Ft. Pierce inlet and Vero Beach. It's a 320nm - 370nm trip (depending on inshore vs. offshore) vs. a 210nm trip, but we're bringing an extra person so I don't see it being an issue. Once at Vero Beach, and once rested, we'll probably take a few days to go visit Disney and elsewhere. Also, Kristen's Mom should be flying down to visit too! We're really excited to see her parents and have visitors.

Speaking of visitors and other people, it seems as if a lot of people here are waiting until Wednesday to head south. We'll be in the company (hopefully) of Evolution, Provence (a boat we met here in Charleston with two 9 year old boys) and a couple of other cruisers. The nice thing is that Provence sails and motors at pretty much the same speed we do, so we'll be able to stay within VHF communications range of each other for a good portion of the trip. Provence will be joining us in Vero Beach, and we're hoping that Evolution will too.

The weather is looking pretty good, although a bit lighter than we had hoped. It looks like we'll be able to take a direct route from Charleston to Ft. Pierce. It may be a little bumpy at the start, but it will clear up along the way.

Just a side story. We met George and Kim from s/v/ Indecent, a Super Maramu, while here at the Megadock. They are heading to the Keys and then to the Bahamas, and were planning on leaving this morning. As a matter of fact, I went over to their slip this morning to wish them well, and they were just about to leave. This afternoon I saw that they were still in their slip, so I wandered by to see why they didn't leave. Like us, they've been here in Charleston for over two weeks, and while they love it they are also ready to head south. They were especially interested in leaving before the snow tomorrow. I was very curious as to why they were still here.

They weren't on their boat, but their neighbor was out and shared with me that, as they were untying their docklines, Kim was having problems seeing and that one of her eyes was far more dilated than the other. She also felt a bit strange - off balance I believe. Worried, they called their physician who told them to go immediately to the Emergency Room. Upon arriving at the Emergency Room, Kim suffered through a series of tests before they told her that they had no idea what was going on. Since everything seemed to be related to her eyes, they had her see an opthamologist. The opthamologist spoke with her for a couple of minutes, and then asked her if she had used scopolamine at all. Scopolamine is a prescription drug that is used to minimize motion sickness and is commonly used by sailors to ward off seasickness. It is usually provided in a "patch" form which is stuck behind your ear and lasts for three days. Kim had just put on a patch that morning. One of the side effects of Scopolamine is that it will dilate your pupils. Kim must have touched the patch with her fingers and then rubbed her eyes, causing stroke-like symptoms and initiating panicked-husband syndrome. Anyway, she's doing fine now and they also plan to head out on Wednesday. True story!

We'll do a blog entry before we leave to let you know our definite plans.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When the heck are we going to move???

Chris here... I'm sure you're all wondering when and where we'll be heading next. I mean, this is supposed to be a cruising blog, right? I'd hate to read someone's blog every day and have them say "So we did the same thing yesterday and we're doing the same thing tomorrow." Actually, I think I read a blog like that once.

Well, we're enjoying it so much here in Charleston we decided to stay. Just kidding! It's actually been great here (excepting the anchorage), but we're starting to keep an eye out for the next weather window. There are actually about 5 or 6 boats here all looking for the next window.

The next hop we're making will be to St. Augustine, FL. That's almost 1,000 miles, as the crow flies, from our house in upstate NY, and almost 800 miles by water from Annapolis. Add in my trip from Connecticut to Annapolis, and we might have broken 1,000 miles by water! Everyone keeps telling us that St. Augustine is a neat place to visit, so we're looking forward to seeing if it lives up to all the hype!

The passage will be about 220nm (about 250 "normal" miles). If we can keep up a speed of 7kts, we'll get there in a day and a half. If we slow down to 6kts, we'd arrive at night. I have no interest in arriving at an unknown channel in the dark, so we'll either push to keep up 7kts and get there in a day and a half, or slow down to 5kts, leave a bit later and get there in 2 days as dawn breaks.

The weather, right now - and it does change quickly - is showing that, as long as we stay close to shore, the wind will be blowing 10-15 or 15-20 from the Northwest during the majority of the passage. The waves should be around 2-4ft, which really means 4-8ft, but reasonable. It will be chilly overnight (in the 30's and windy), but dry, and we can put our full enclosure on and use the propane cockpit heater. Hopefully, with the wind from the Northwest, we'll be able to actually sail most of the way there and enjoy the trip!

We're not sure where we're going after St. Augustine yet. The kids want to go to Orlando/Disney, which is a bit hard to visit by boat, so we'll probably look for a cheap spot (or if anyone in reasonable range of Orlando wants to graciously donate a slip? Just thought I'd ask :)) to leave Pelican for a few days. We'll probably hop down to Fort Pierce/Vero Beach, and then Ft. Lauderdale. From there I expect we'll hop off to the Bahamas, and who knows from there. Everything above is subject to change, perhaps even by the next blog posting. We'll let you know what we're doing as we get closer to Tuesday.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's never a dull day!

Chris here... Alright, I know nobody wants to hear from me. "Stop typing, " you say. "Get Kristen writing the blog entry!"

Well, sorry to disappoint. Just kidding! I'm never sorry. Well, sometimes I'm sorry. If Kristen reads this, I'm going to be sorry. OK... I'm rambling... moving along...

This morning we were still at Charleston Boatworks. Yesterday they drilled the holes in our deck to mount our new liferaft. It's always a bit nerve wracking watching someone drill holes in your mostly watertight boat, but it would be kind of difficult to mount something on the deck without drilling holes. Epoxy was poured into the holes to make sure there was a watertight seal all the way through to the cabin when the bolts were put into place, and it took the epoxy 24 hours to set. We awoke at around 8am and I mentioned to Kristen that the workers would be on Pelican soon. A few minutes later we heard the sound of feet on our deck, and Kristen gathered the kids books and headed off to the Boatworks office for homeschooling.

Everything was going great. The new holes got drilled through the epoxy. The bolts got put in place. The washers fit in no problem. Everything was done with the liferaft install except for some finish work on the interior. John from Charleston Boatworks headed back to his shop to make some teak plugs to fit over the bolt holes.

It was at this point that I started hearing an intermittent clicking noise. I poked around some, lifting a cushion here, looking behind a panel there and couldn't find anything wrong. The noise went away for a few minutes. At this point, I started smelling something weird - a slightly noxious odor. I attributed it to the smell from the work going on all around us at the various yards. The clicking started again, becoming louder and stronger. I was finally able to trace it to our V-berth. The only mechanical items in, or rather under, our V-Berth is the air conditioning/reverse cycle heater, but it seemed to be running fine, pumping out glorious heat to keep the edge off from the 45 degree outside air.

I quickly dug through the layers that cover the storage area under our berth - sheets, memory foam, cushions, insulation and finally the wood covers hiding the compartment. When I ripped off the covers, a puff of smoke was released and a strong burning smell emerged. "Hmmmm... smoke... that doesn't seem normal," I calmly told myself. Well, OK... perhaps I wasn't that calm. Fine. The smoke came out and I quickly jumped on the phone and called the marina office where Kristen was working with the kids. The yard manager answered, and I yelled into the phone - "Please ask Kristen to come down to Pelican RIGHT AWAY - there's smoke in the cabin!" I swear I hadn't even hit the "End Call" button by the time she was bounding down the companionway - "What's going on????"

I turned off the heater and traced the clicking and smoke to a control box mounted inside our V-Berth storage. I popped the top off to find a slightly scorched interior and several melted wires, but fortunately there was no longer any burning after I turned off the heater.

By this time the person who was working on our boat was back, things were under control, and I calmly (this time I was actually calm) called the person who installed our CruiseAir in Annapolis. "Ummm... we had a small problem with our new air conditioning/heating unit." "What's up?" he asked. "Yeah, well, we had electrical fire on our boat from the control unit. Would you know who I can call for warranty repair?" "You what?" Once I explained the situation we ended the call so he could track down who could do the repair. At this point, our liferaft installer spoke up and mentioned that he used to work for an authorized CruiseAir dealer locally. He made a call, and within 45 minutes they had not only re-arranged their schedule, but they were actually on Pelican fixing the problem! This never happens. When was the last time you called a repair shop and had them at your place within 45 minutes???

He took a look at the control unit and determined that the wires were pulled too tight when the unit was wired at the factory. It appeared as if two of the ends came into contact with each other, shorted out and caused the meltdown. He rewired the unit, and less than an hour later was on his way.

We also had a visit from our friend and blog follower Ken today. He dropped off the new storage unit that he made up for us. It's absolutely amazing - we'll take pictures soon. In addition, he had made photocopies of a number of charts and notes regarding the Bahamas for us, and spent time reviewing them. He also showed us a type of flashlight made by a company called Surefire that was substantially more powerful than our huge Maglite, yet a fraction of its size. As a matter of fact, he didn't just tell us about them - he actually gave us one! I never thought much about flashlights, but these things seem pretty amazing. I'll let y'all know how the other models are since I can see myself ordering two or three of them. Ken also shared with us a couple of photobooks of his family and their travels to Florida and the Bahamas. He's an amazing guy, and we really appreciate all of his input and help. He never asked for anything in return except for us to continue our blog. If you ever see Ken and Ruth from m/v/ Semper Fi, make sure to say hi and to help them out!

This afternoon we headed back to the anchorage on the Ashley River. It was an uneventful trip back, and we were looking forward to seeing our friends from Evolution who made the passage down from Beaufort a couple of days ago. The kids wanted to launch the dinghy before we had even dropped the hook - they were so excited to see their friends Merit and Olaf again. We found a good spot, set the anchor and unloaded the dinghy. Within minutes we had a bunch of giggling kids down below on Pelican. It was great to see them all with such big grins on their faces! Karin from Evolution, their Mom, wasn't feeling great so we kept Merit and Olaf on board for dinner.

While we were having fun, our new friends from Provence (perhaps you recall Kristen talking about Yael who gave us a ride from the mall to the fabric store and then back to Pelican) arrived back at the anchorage. They had gone to a boatyard today to get hauled out so they could install a part for their SSB radio (a type of two way radio that, much like a ham radio, can reach over long distances). They anchored close to us, but we talked and just said we'd keep an eye on our distance from each other as the currents changed. I joked that if we got too close we'd just pass a drink over and figure out what to do.

Around 10pm I looked out the side window of Pelican and saw that we were perpindicular to Provence. Because of the way the currents are on the Ashley River, we should have both been facing in the same direction, with the current on our nose. Things didn't seem right. We continued to watch, and found that Pelican would pull sideways, then Provence would move forward, very close to Pelican, and then they would turn sideways while we straightened out. In addition to this, we found ourselves moving closer and closer to the City Marina during our dance - obviously something wasn't right.

We quickly grabbed the airhorn and floodlight. I didn't want to wake up the whole anchorage, so we tried shining the floodlight through their windows in an effort to wake them up. Everything remained silent on Provence. After a few minutes with no respite, I suggested that Kristen get in the dinghy and go over there to knock on their hull. Kristen prefers to leave the motoring of Pelican to me, so we felt it would be better to leave it up to her to go over there. As she was starting to climb in the dinghy, Antoine and Yael appeared on deck. We communicated over the radio and explained that we thought their anchor chain may be twisted with ours. They agreed to raise their anchor and we continued to drift closer and closer to the marina, their dock and shallow water.

Finally they had their anchor up, and they didn't have any of our anchor rode attached to theirs. I'm guessing that the rodes were twisted, but came free as they raised their anchor. As the wind pushed us around, we would pull their boat towards us, and our boat would move sideways from the forces. They proceeded to find another spot to drop their hook while we, too, looked for a new home for the night.

Casey had come on deck about a half hour earlier without a jacket. At this point it's close to 30 degrees out, so he's shivering like you wouldn't believe from the cold. Kristen had just pulled up 150' of anchor rode plus a 55lb anchor and was fairly exhausted. Kaitlin was also very tired, and here we were circling an anchorage in the dark, trying to figure out where to drop our anchor so that we wouldn't hit anyone when the currents shifted. The winds were fairly strong, as was the current, and boats were turned in all sorts of directions in the anchorage - it was near impossible to tell where people would land once everything was normal. I had given Kristen our handheld GPS to try to navigate us to the location we had originally dropped our anchor earlier, but she wasn't familiar with how to use it. What's the opposite of happy? That's pretty much the mood everyone was in. At that point I made the executive decision that we would tie up to the Megadock for the night and figure everything out tomorrow. Everyone was pretty happy with the choice.

We prepped the boat for docking, pulled in nice and snugly, and here we lie awaiting a new day. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at some point in time we'll actually be able to anchor without incident, but in the meantime we'll take advantage of the amenities the City Marina has to offer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Boat project time!

Kristen here - Today is Wednesday the 14th. I'm feeling much better after a full nights sleep. Yesterday, after pulling night watches, we had to move the boat to Charleston Boat Works. It's up the Cooper River, which is a 1 hour boat ride from where we were anchored. We decided to take a shortcut to get here, only to be faced with a bridge whose height wasn't marked on the charts, and didn't look high enough for us to fit under. We *might* have made it, but that just isn't something you want to play around with. We turned around and took the longer route under the Arundel bridge. After about 5 phone calls to the Charleston Boat Works office (a huge thanks to the amazingly nice lady who talked to us from there) we found where we were supposed to dock our boat. The CBW was going to be installing a new life raft (the thing you throw overboard and live in if your boat sinks) for us on Wednesday.

We docked the boat with no problem. It's very interesting here. The air has the distinct smell of sulfur. We're surrounded by huge container ships and tugboats. Aside from the smell, it's actually kind of neat seeing all the shipping activity. Right next to us, a huge container ship has its folding hatch doors open. These six sets of doors which fold accordion style are each about the size of 12 garage doors. They've been either loading it, or working on it for the past 2 days at all hours of the night and day. In fact right now (10:30pm) 2 tugboats just pulled up with a barge with a crane on top of it. The crane is lifting a dredging scoop up and down. It seems like they're either teaching someone how to use the crane, or someone has their kid up there and is showing off. Either way, it's fun to watch.

After we docked the boat, Chris was eager to hit the hay, but the guys here said they needed to have the life raft right away. So, Chris went out to buy the raft. I attempted to school the kids at 11:00 AM and promptly fell asleep while reading science to Casey. "Mom", he said "It's really hard to learn when you keep falling asleep". Looks like the sandman got the best of me.

I hopped into bed around noon, and didn't wake up 'till 5 PM last night. We ate dinner and went off to sleep again.

Today we got up early because the workers were coming to install the raft. I cooked some yummy sausage and french toast for breakfast and then the kids and I headed off to the CBW office conference room to do school. We got to meet the lady who talked to us on the radio when we docked here. I thanked her profusely for being so nice. Both kids got through a whole chapter of math (that's about 10 daily lessons) and some reading. We finished up with school just as the workers were done on the boat. They cut four holes in our deck and filled them with epoxy. Tomorrow they will re-drill the holes and attach the life raft. There are several materials between the top of the deck and the roof inside the boat. By using the epoxy and then re-drilling the holes, it gives us a better chance that no water will seep between those layers.

Now it was noon and we were starving. I made roast beef sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for lunch. Once we were fueled up again, it was on to boat projects. We had three major ones to tackle, all of which I have been dreading to start.

First on the list was the new boat cushions. We have been wedging ourselves past the two 50"x70" pieces of foam stored between the couch and our table for the past two days, and it's getting old fast. I figured it was now or never, because they had to be cut on a large flat surface and tomorrow we were away from the dock and back at anchorage. I pulled the foam onto the dock and proceeded to carefully mark all of my measurements. We only had one shot at this. The foam, when cut in half, fit our space exactly, with no margin for error. And, you already heard about the hassle of getting it in the first place!

I measured everything three times, and cautiously sawed through the foam with a hand held saw. Once cut, all 14 pieces measured perfectly. Then we brought all of them down and fit them onto the couches. Once again everything fit sung as a bug in a rug. Only all of the bottom cushions were turned the opposite direction from how they were originally measured. Well, as long as everything fits, who cares! The next step was to create the pattern for the cloth covers.

By this time it was about an hour from getting dark, so I decided to tackle some other projects. The second on the list was attaching a metal piece I created the other day. You see, a while ago when the boat was on Lake Champlain I decided to handle raising the mainsail by myself, just to see if I could do it. Well, I did, but in the process the halyard (line that pulls the sail up) got caught on a piece of trim and ripped it off. This piece of trim happens to hold down the bottom of our front windshield. We didn't loose the whole trim, just about 5 inches of it. In Annapolis, MD we found the same metal piece that had ripped off, and Poppi made the wood part of it. The straight metal part had to be notched and curved to fit the curve of the boat, and the wood could just be bent naturally. Oh, and then there was the epoxy.

The holes that the trim was screwed into were worn and had to be epoxied and re-drilled. I'm beginning to see the value of epoxy on a boat. I actually started this project a while ago. I mixed the 2 part epoxy with a ratio of 5-1 and spread it into the holes. After letting it cure for the required 24 hours, it was still sticky. Oops...turns out it was a 1-1 mixture. Today, 5 days later it was hard enough to drill. Well, at least it hardened at all! Boat projects are never quick or easy. To make a long story short, the trim piece finally got attached today.

After the trim came the dreaded dinghy. Drumroll please! It was time to see if yet another 2-part epoxy applied with questionable mixing ratios in the dark had held. We pumped up the dinghy, applied soapy water to the patch and so far so good. No bubbles appeared. YAY! The true test comes tomorrow morning. If it is still in good standing at that time, then it's OK. I will utter a huge sigh of relief when that's over!

It was quite a day of accomplishments. We celebrated with a yummy whole chicken dinner, rice and roasted green beans. While eating we watched the movie 10,000 BC. It was heaven. As my tush falls asleep on these rock hard old cushions, my eyes are soon following. I will dream of finishing up the new soft foam cushions quickly, maybe even without incident, and having nice soft couches to sit on.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anchor watch...

Kristen here - It's 8:00 AM after starting my anchor watch at 6:30. I have found that these night watches are much more pleasant when they're planned. So to alleviate my grumpiness I figured I would update you all on the rest of yesterday.

After school in the morning we met up with John from the boat Marilyn, and Karen from the boat Evolution. Karen helped John bring his boat from Beaufort, NC to Charleston. Karen was then going to rent a car, drive back to Beaufort and bring Evolution and the rest of her family to Charleston. We used our internet to figure out where to rent a car, and then we all headed for the mall. The car rental was there, and we needed to get a few things so we all went together. The fabric store was nearby down the road as well. We sent Karen and John off in their rental car, and headed for....THE MALL!!!!

As we were walking around, someone stops and asks if we're boaters. Now you have to picture us. I'm carrying a backpack and an inflatable life jacket, Chris is wearing a heavy raincoat, Casey is carrying a rolling cart and his inflatable as well, and for some reason Kaitlin looks normal. We look a bit odd in the mall. As we turn around, Chris immediately recognizes the woman he met earlier from the boat anchored behind us, along with her 9 year old son. She was talking on the phone with her mother in Israel. She was very worried about her because of the fighting going on there.

We chatted with her for a while, about the chances of meeting like this, her husband who was from France, her twin boys, and their whole story. They are heading south as well. They have been trying to go to the Bahamas for many years, but personal and medical problems kept getting in the way. She was very nice and straightforward. She mentioned that they still had their car and offered us a ride. We graciously accepted, and exchanged names and phone numbers. We both still had shopping to do, so we agreed to meet in 1/2 hour. We rushed to finish our shopping, and then got a ride to Hancock fabrics.

Once again our new friend offered to pick us up from Hancock after she finished her shopping at Costco. Knowing we might be buying more than the bus would let us carry on, we accepted her offer. Thank goodness we did, because as I mentioned below, we had a TON!!

After we met her at the mall, we sat and ate lunch and pondered the size of the world. Here we just bumped into someone anchored right behind us who is from half way around the world. It made me wonder just how many people you see walking around have some sort of fascinating story to tell. Probably more than you think!

After finishing lunch, we had to get ice cream while the gettin' was good. Things were pretty slow at the ice cream place, so we chatted with the attendant for a bit. Chris asked him where he was from, because he had a bit of a NY accent. He said he was from Westchester, and was glad to not be there anymore. I explained that Chris was from around there as well, and asked him why he didn't like it there. He said the people were much nicer in Charleston, and he and his wife were much happier. The funny thing was that his wife was from Cobleskill, NY which is right near where I grew up. We talked for quite a while once again about the small world syndrome.

Oh, and I can't leave you hanging about the dinghy either. A couple of days ago, when Marilyn arrived we tossed the dinghy into the water to visit a nearby island, and welcome Marilyn to Charleston. John and Karen weren't up yet, so Casey, Kaitlin and I headed for the island first. I was hoping to find some nice fresh oysters to steam up. Well, we found the oysters. We pulled up to shore and proceeded to drag the boat further onto shore to tie it up. As I was pulling I hear the dreaded *pftftftftftfsssssssssssss*. I look over to the side of the boat and see an outcropping of oysters sticking into our dinghy. It immediately starts to go limp. My heart sank.

I called Chris on the radio and he went to the marina office to see if anyone could help us. It was at this point in time that we realized the island was nothing but a bug infested swamp. I looked at the dinghy and noticed that only the front sections had deflated. The back end was just fine. I think we would still float. Chris didn't sound too encouraging on the radio, and we were getting eaten alive. The current was pretty strong, but the dinghy looked mostly seaworthy. I told the kids to get in, and radioed Chris that were were going to make a run for it while we still had some air left. The kids were quite nervous, and my side of the rear was getting soft as we pushed off.

I took it at a moderate pace. Not so fast that we swamped the boat, but not so slow that we would get carried away in the current or deflate before we reached our boat. We made it safely to the boat, hoisted the engine off, and hoisted the dinghy onto the deck. The gash, thankfully, was only 1 1/2 inches long.

We got out the repair kit that came with the dinghy. The directions were in Italian, and poorly translated English. They said something like apply one layer, and then apply with another hand. We were pretty sure they meant apply another layer, but you don't want to mess with two part epoxy, and your brand new dinghy. We decided to call Martin, our Dutch friend who also speaks Italian. He confirmed the bad translation. No luck there.

I decided to try using another dinghy repair kit we had on board, but on getting that one set to go we discovered the epoxy had the consistency of greasy snot. It was a brown ball of goo that wouldn't stick to anything. Back to kit #1. I took my best guess at the directions and sanded, mixed, pasted and glued. The patch has to cure for three days, which I believe ends this afternoon. Everyone say big prayers that I mixed the epoxy correctly and our dinghy will hold air!!!!

That has been all of the major excitement lately. It's now 8:46, time for me to call the yard that is installing our life raft tomorrow. I'm going to give them our anchors away sob story, and plea that they let us stay at their dock a day early. We had a great anchor spot here, but when we got snagged, another boat got pulled as well, right into our anchor spot. Last night a new sailboat dropped hook too, so its getting crowded here. Thanks for helping me pass the time, and wish me luck!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Anchors away!

Kristen here - Jared, your boredom with our blog inactivity has been alieved, and no I didn't spell away (aweigh) in the title wrong. Let me explain. A lot of interesting things happened today, but I'll start with this evening.

After a grueling 3 hours of school, we decided to go to the mall, and the fabric store to buy some fabric and foam for some new, more butt friendly cushions. At 7:00 at night, after 4 dinghy trips in a heavy current from the dock to the boat to deliver the aforementioned 70 x 50" pieces of foam, 30 yards of 54" fabric and various other butt cushioning materials, I made a late dinner and settled in with a yummy sweet tea vodka to celebrate our cushion material acquiring success.

With the kids snugly in bed at 9:3o , we heard a strange low pitched scraping noise. "What was that?", Chris said. It sounded like something scraping against our boat, or maybe the anchor chain rubbing against the bow. Chris headed to the bow of the boat to investigate, and I stood in the cockpit listening for the noise again. He found nothing out of place and we didn't hear the noise again for a few minutes. Then we both went below and into our bedroom at the bow of the boat. "The noise seemed to come from here, see there it is again!" Chris said. I heard it again too. This was definitely an unusual noise. Then I went up top to listen, and saw a trawler passing by. "Oh, maybe it was just this big trawler (large ocean going motor yacht) that caused the noise", I said as it passed right next to us.

Then as Chris came up to check out the trawler, now about 50 feet in front of us, we started rapidly moving forward right between two other anchored sailboats. "What's going on", I said. "We must be getting propelled forward by the trawlers wake (disturbance of the water put out by a moving vessel). But as we waited for our anchor to catch us, and started moving even faster past the two other anchored vessels. At this point in time we started reacting...RAPIDLY.

"Start the engine!", Chris yelled. Casey was already up. I attempted to start the engine, and of course at the most opportune moment, it wouldn't start. We yelled below to start the generator. Thank goodness for Casey. He started the generator, and after a minute the engine started. (We have now learned that this is a glow plug issue, and the engine doesn't like to start in cold weather.) As instructed, Casey also grabbed the air horn which we immediately sounded to alert the rest of the anchored boats to our situation.

I must at this point in the story give kudos to Casey. In a tense moment he kept his cool, and remembered how to do everything, and was a huge help. Thanks buddy! Kaitlin did well too. She got really worried about our situation, but did everything we told her to and was an excellent listener. Good job sweetie pie!

Once we were past the other anchored boats things calmed down a bit, and we realized that something of ours was caught on something of the trawlers. The trawler, now about 10 feet away from us, had stopped and suggested we raft to them (tie up to their boat, side by side) while they anchor and we all figure out what is going on. Smart choice on their part.

We did just that, and while they dropped their anchor, we pulled up our anchor to find out that they were caught on our anchor buoy. An anchor buoy is a line attached directly to the anchor with a float on the end of it. It lets us and others know where our anchor is sitting, and if the anchor gets caught on anything, we have a second way to pull it up. They were roaming around looking for a place to anchor, and snagged our buoy on their boat.

Once we were safely rafted I yelled to them, "Hay, you caught a sailboat!". They were very nice, and tried to rescue our buoy from under their boat. We told them it was no great loss (the buoy came with our boat and was quite ancient) and when they didn't have success in freeing the buoy, we told them to just cut the line.

They were hesitant to move, with the prospect of having a line wrapped around their prop. Chris took a look at the GPS and discovered that we were about 20 feet away from a 1 foot depth. We told them we had to move or we would be grounded when the tide changed, and mutually decided that we should shove off. When we came back to the anchorage, it appeared that another boat moved as well, and our original spot was not there anymore. We re-anchored in a much less desirable spot, just off the nose of two other boats. We will have to get up at 3AM when the tide changes direction to make sure we don't hit the boats currently just off our stern (rear).

Looking back at the situation, we realize that we were very lucky. We didn't hit any other boats. We handled everything calmly and smoothly. The other boat handled everything calmly, and we narrowly missed grounding both of our boats. It's like I told Casey the other day when we snagged our brand new dingy on a bed of oysters and cut a 1 1/2" gash in the side. Stuff is going to happen in life. That is inevitable. It's how you deal with it that makes you stronger, wiser and a better person. We laughed about the dragging situation and counted our blessings.

Now I'm going to settle back into my sweet tea, and set my alarm for 3AM. I will have to tell you about the rest of the day later.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Slowin' down in Charleston

Chris here. We're still here in Charleston and will probably be staying until sometime next week. Nope - nothing is wrong. We're just taking the opportunity to get some stuff done to Pelican when there are skilled people around.

We last left you the night before we were going to be sold on a timeshare. We did indeed visit with the company and listen to their 90 minute presentation. We actually spent close to 2 1/2 hours with them! It was interesting to hear about the concept, and if we weren't cruising and trying to save our money we might have seriously considered it. The people there were very nice, not overly pushy and good at what they do. Alas, though, it was not meant to be, so we told them no and collected a bunch of free tickets to the aquarium and Fort Sumter for our troubles.

Writing this blog seems to make people happy. Before we arrived in Charleston, we received an e-mail from one of our readers, Ken, who offered us a free slip at a local marina. Unfortunately, it is just past a 55' high bridge, and our mast and antennas are about 57', so we couldn't take him up on his gracious offer. While here at the Megadock, Ken stopped by to say hello. It's great to meet people who are interested in our adventures! He's hoping to follow a similar path in a couple of years. While we were giving him a tour of Pelican, we mentioned that we were hoping to build a storage area on our dining table. He just finished a project for a family member and had some extra pieces of teak, so he offered to give them to us if they would be useful. Later that evening, he gave us a call to let us know that he found a place that sold teak in the appropriate size, and that he would build us the storage unit and drop it off later in the week! What a kind and selfless act. I asked how we could repay him, and he said that being able to follow along in our adventures was enough payment. His kindness is greatly appreciated, and we'll be sure to do the same for others as we find people in need.

We met up with the Wingloski's, a family that used to live in our home town - East Greenbush. Above is a picture of, left to right, Casey, Greg W, Kevin W, Allie W and Kaitlin. On Monday night we went to Red's, a restaurant across the river from Charleston on Shem Creek. Shem Creek seems like a fairly near place with lots of restaurants lining its banks. On Tuesday we went to the W's house and enjoyed some wonderful hospitality and great steaks! The kids all enjoyed hanging out with each other. We forgot how much space you have in a house, and still wonder how we used all of the space in our own! We have made the transition from living in 2500 sq. ft. plus another 800 sq. ft. in an unfinished (but toy strewn) basement to a boat with around 300 sq. ft. total. Funny how that happens. We're planning on getting together with the W's again before we head south, and would love to get them out for a sail on Pelican.

Wednesday was an interesting day. The winds were forecasted to increase to 25-30kts and the seas, in the harbor, were supposed to grow to 2-3ft. With this in mind, we asked to be moved from the river side of the Megadock to the, more protected, inside of the Megadock. There wasn't much space available, but they found a 60' spot about a 1/4 of the way from the end. Keep in mind that Pelican is 40', so basically they were asking us to parallel park a single screw sailboat with 10' in front of us and 10' behind. For those of you that haven't piloted a single screw sailboat, this is like trying to parallel park a 1960's Cadillac without power steering and a double clutch with 3 inches behind and in front of you. As we pulled into the fairway, the wind started blowing around 20kts, broadside to us. This basically pushes you away from the dock - hard - as you are trying to pull into your spot. Two tries later, one where we almost t-boned a piling on the far side of the marina while trying to turn around for a second attempt, we took a slightly larger spot almost at the end of the dock. This meant that we had close to a 1/2 mile walk to shore. By the end of the day, after experiencing constant 35kt-40kt winds (40-46mph) with a couple of sustained gusts at around 44kts (50.6mph), we were glad we made the move. The river was angry, and the boats on the side of the dock where we used to be were pummeling themselves against the side of the dock. One boat in the anchorage dragged their anchor and ended up pinned against the side of the dock. While all of this was going on, the kids enjoyed watching TV on our free cable connection.

Can you find the flounder in this picture?

Today was field trip day, and we headed into town to check out the South Carolina Aquarium. It was a pretty cool place with a very large central tank. Kristen kept staring hungrily at the Sea Bass in the tank, commenting on how she needed to pick up some wasabe and miso paste. Casey and Kaitlin were running from exhibit to exhibit with big grins on their faces, thoroughly enjoying everything they were seeing.

They had some amazing sights, including a young bald eagle - we never realized how huge and impressive these creatures are. This particular female bald eagle is only 4 years old and has not fully matured. Apparently, bald eagles are found in several areas around South Carolina.

Tomorrow morning we have a rigging company coming over to Pelican to tune our rig. In other words, they are going to make sure that all of the wires that hold our mast up are tensioned correctly and that the mast is centered. I'm still not convinced that everything went back up correctly after we put our mast back up in Catskill, NY, just after transiting the Champlain Canal. If your rig tensions aren't right, you risk failure of your mast. I don't think that would be a good thing. After our ordeal after rounding Cape Fear, this moved higher up on my priority list. Our life raft should be arriving tomorrow, and Charleston Boatworks should be over on Monday or Tuesday to start the install. It won't be an easy one, but very little is easy on a bluewater boat like Pelican (other than loving her - we love you Pelican!). Actually, we did have one easy thing - we replaced the 24 year old pressure water pump yesterday. The company that manufactured the original one was sold to another company, and I was actually able to track them down and they still manufactured the same exact pump! It was a drop in replacement, and the nice thing is that the pressure is a bit higher and the noise level when it's going is MUCH quieter. Our old one would only run for 15-20 seconds before tripping the circuit breaker.

Tomorrow we're planning on heading to the anchorage just off of the Megadock. Unfortunately, Charleston is not the most boat friendly city. There are no dinghy docks for us to tie up to downtown, and the only free dinghy dock near the anchorage dries out at low tide. The City Marina where we are right now charges to use their dinghy dock due to some abuse by liveaboards in the anchorage. Apparently, they like to drop off their trash at the marina (and when I say drop off, I don't necessarily mean in trash cans). They also trashed the bathrooms and showers and showed no respect for the facilities. As a result, we all lose out. I'm hoping the marina lets us use their dinghy docks for no charge due to the fact that we've paid for 4 days of space.

Over the next few days we hope to visit Fort Sumter, visit the W's again, get our rig tuned and get our liferaft. After that, we'll start looking for a weather window to head further south. We've enjoyed all of the e-mails everyone has sent to us, so keep them coming!