Sunday, July 12, 2009

The past few days

Kristen here - Today is Sunday 7/12/09. Right now it is 1 AM and I just came onto night watch after a four hour sleep. We have just made it through Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals. Yea! Why his is so exciting I will explain later. For now let me start at the beginning.

With our repairs mostly done (on a boat, repairs are endless) and the boat back in the water, we were prepared and stocked up to leave for Beaufort, NC on Friday morning. Oh, and let me just tell you how absolutely beautiful Pelican looks! She has had the complete bling bling hull makeover. Who knew she could shine like that. And the shiny metal on the rub rail is like a gold necklace around her. She has never looked so stunning. If my tired arms and hands could hold a tool, I would tackle the few tarnishes left on the topside just so she would be perfect. But that will have to wait till another day.

So on Thursday we provisioned at the Super WalMart and returned our rental car. The rest of the day was spent putting groceries away and cleaning up the living areas of the boat.

It was good to be home again. We had the most awesome time at the Wingloski's house. We definitely needed a break from the boat, and I can't thank them enough for letting us stay there. But with that break done, I am glad to be back.

So with everything ready to go, we set our alarms for 4:30 AM to prepare for a 5AM departure from the boat yard dock. Chris had checked the weather for the next three days and things were looking iffy for Friday but good for Saturday and Sunday. Our plan was to try to leave on Friday, but if it seemed too nasty we would come back and try again on Saturday.

After leaving on Friday morning, we made it to the entrance to Charleston Harbor at 6:30. This was just in time to chat with Chris Parker, our weather forecaster, and get his opinion on our trip. He was against leaving that day and after seeing the seas, we agreed. So we headed back to our favorite place, the Megadock.

I must admit that I did a jump for joy when we turned around. I didn't have a good feeling about the day. You see, this is the passage where we have to round Frying Pan Shoals and Cape Fear. The last time we did this passage in reverse and we ran into the nastiest weather and waves either of us have ever seen. I was more than a little gun shy about this trip. So to tackle it with a forecast of five foot seas and 20 knots of wind was not my ideal situation to say the least!

I handled the helm and brought us to the Megadock. Our hearts sank when we saw the row of sport fishers there. We thought the fishing tournament had been last weekend. We knew they wouldn't allow us to stay, but tried calling them on the radio anyway. After hearing the expected, "No", we headed for a different marina. We had never tried this other marina before because it is a bit more expensive and because we have heard horror stories about the current running through it. The marina is along the banks of a river entrance, and the currents can run up to five knots right through the dock system. A boat like ours would be quite hard pressed to fight 5 knots in skinny dock fairways!

I remembered seeing an outer sock system when we passed the marina that morning, so we decided to give them a shout and see if they had room there for us. This outer dock would be easy to get in and out of and required no skinny fairway maneuvering. They had room, and we headed in.

Chris thought that it was time for me to bone up on my docking skills. This was a pretty easy looking spot to pull up to, so I stayed on the wheel. I lined up the boat with the dock and brought us slowly in. The wind pushed me a bit too close to the dock, but by this time it was too late. We had bumpers out, and the dock had rubber on the edge, so I thought we would just bounce off a bit. What I didn't see was the one inch bolt sticking out just under the rubber. I heard a sickening noise that sounded like sandpaper rubbing together. Chris said, "That took out fiberglass", and jumped off the boat. In the excitement he forgot to loop the lines around a cleat and he tried to stop the boat by pushing on the stanchions. I yelled at him to use the lines and he got the boat stopped just in time. We were nose to nose with the megayacht in front of us. I jumped off the boat, fully expecting to see a smudge of rubber or some minor scratch. When I saw the foot long 1/8" deep gouge, I just went into shock. How could that be? I hit rubber and wood! "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.", I kept saying over and over again. Chris was wonderful and kept completely calm. "It's OK honey." he said. "It could have just as easily been me."

Chris left to check in and probably privately scream. I went and looked at the corner of the dock where I hit. When I pulled up the rubber bumper, I discovered pieces of our boat sitting on the offending bolt. This is when I got mad. When you enter a marina you expect certain things. You expect adequate depth, clean docks, something to tie to on the dock, you know simple things. Oh yea, and NO HIDDEN EXTENDING BOAT HULL DESTROYERS!!!!!! All of the hours of work I just did, the pain still fresh in my arms, and this happens. Normally I take things in stride, but this was going to take some time to get over.

I felt a bit better after Chris came back from talking with the manager. He told Chris to send them the repair estimate and they would see what they can do. I highly doubt they'll do anything for us, but it's consoling to think they might.

Lesson learned...on our boat, we each have things we're good at. If necessary I can dock the boat and Chris can handle the lines. But for the most part we should stick to what we know and do best!

With that disaster behind us, we started out at 5AM once again on Saturday. We called a dockhand to help us off so we wouldn't hit the offending bolt again. When we reached the inlet it was still dark and we were met with calmer waves and wind than the day before. Well, they seemed calm when compared to the 30 or so sport fisher wakes that hit us from all sides on the way out. We thought something was wrong with our engine at first. Then we realized that the funny buzzing sound was the hum of the sport fisher motors racing out of the harbor. We barely had time to turn into their huge wake and then get out of the way of the next boat. Looks like the tournament started at 5AM as well!

We turned out of the entrance channel and headed on course just as the sun was rising. Unfortunately the wind and seas were right on our nose. After an hour or so of pounding through the waves, I started feeling a bit queezy. Chris said he wasn't feeling so hot either and that we should probably put on some patches. I got them out and slapped one on Casey, Chris and myself. Kaitlin is too young for the patches dosage. We were out of Dramamine, so when she started feeling sick, I gave her an Advil, told her it was Dramamine and hoped the placebo effect would work.

It didn't, and I must have put my patch on too late because both of us started throwing up. After putting our new bucket to good use, we decided to give Kaitlin some real seasickness medication. We had purchased some pills in the Bahamas and weren't sure if they were OK for kids. The literature in the box didn't have any warnings, and she is 70 pounds, so we gave her a pill. Within an hour she was doing much better.

Saturday seemed to go on forever. We all slept on and off for most of the day. Seasickness makes you super tired. Casey was feeling the best of all of us, so he made dinner. It was the first meal I felt well enough to try that day. After a cup of homemade chicken soup with tortellini and a few cookies, I felt like a new person! By now the seas had calmed down considerably, and I wasn't so worried about staying awake and non-seasick for my night watch.

With my new found relief, I went below to put away the dishes Casey had washed earlier. Casey followed me down and then yelled, "Oh no!". I turned toward him to see water gushing out of the bottom shelf of the kids room drawers. Casey yelled for towels and I started pulling out drawers filled with water. I immediately tasted it and it was fresh water. Phew! At least we're not sinking!

After removing three shelves of stuff, I found a hose that had become detached from a copper pipe. It was leading to the sink in the kids room. We have been using the pressure water lately, so my guess is that after not being used, the new stress caused the tubes to separate. No damage was done, and after tightening up the hose clamp, we were back in business. Nothing like a little added excitement when you're underway!

At 8:30 we put the kids to bed and got ready for night sailing. The wind and seas were still fairly calm and we were due to round Frying Pan at midnight. Good, I thought, that would be during Chris's watch.

At just around midnight Chris woke me up to let me know that he had decided to take a cut through the shoals called Frying Pan Sloop. At our end it was marked by two unlit buoys. He could see them on our radar, but he wanted help visually spotting them as well. Thank goodness for a bright moon. We spotted the buoys with no problem and headed for the white light marking the other side of the channel. Oh, and did I mention that while I was asleep the wind and waves came completely around to our stern? Now we have nice following seas, and no more pounding. We made it through the channel and left Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals behind us. Yea!

Now it is quarter to four in the morning and my 5-15 knot winds have come up to 15-20 knots. The following seas are rocking us from side to side. I'm chalking it up to the typical night time wind and sea build. I'm not sure if the waves are getting bigger or if my nerves are getting shorter. We just passed a weather buoy that was reporting 7.5 foot seas with a 10 second period. (the period is the distance between the waves. Usually if the period is longer than the height, you're ok) That sounds about right. I checked out the next buoy ahead of us, and it's reporting 2.5 foot seas with a 9 second period. I'm hoping that holds. It figures, because we'll hit that one...err...pass by that one when it is daytime. Why do things always have to pick up at night?!?!!? Grrrrrrr...

About two hours till daylight and eight hours till we get to Beaufort. Go Pelican!

Now it is 9:30 on Sunday night. I'm just entering this blog into the computer. I don't like to bring my computer up top when the seas are high, so everything is written by hand and typed later.

I made it through my night watch and the seas never settled. In fact they continued to build ever so slightly. We were counting every pain staking minute until we reached the Beaufort inlet. Overall the seas weren't bad, but every once in a while we would get a series of short period 10 foot waves that tried to turn the boat parallel to the high seas. I was just tired of dealing with the waves. After reading the buoy report earlier, I was expecting some relief. So when it didn't come, it was all the more disappointing.

Once we reached the channel to the inlet, Chris took us off autopilot and hand steered Pelican. He had to struggle to keep her pointed in the right direction. Luckily there was another sailboat in front of us to follow in. We have come through this inlet once before, but it's always nice to have someone else going first. As soon as we came into the lee of land the waves disappeared. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Except for Kaitlin. She was yelling "Wheeeee", and "Look no hands", every time we went over a big wave. It's funny to think this is the same girl who used to cry every time the boat heeled. She has come a long way.

Once in the harbor we pulled up to the marina and settled in. I ate some lunch and promptly fell asleep in the cockpit. I think my face missed the other half of my sandwich by inches as I started dozing.

Tomorrow Noni and Poppi are due to meet us. I just can't say how excited I am to see them. Casey and Kaitlin are bursting as well as Chris. The last time we saw them was our original stop in Nassau. At dinner tonight Casey said that it was quite a shock to get ripped away from them like we did. "We used to get to see them every weekend", he said. "And now we only get to see them once in a while". He loves them so much, as do the rest of us. Tomorrow can't come soon enough!

No comments: