Friday, August 28, 2009

The Log: August 18 to 28, 2009

The routine log entries from Beaufort NC to Crisfield MD.

August 18: Campbell Creek
Lat/Lon: 35 17 N 76 37.5 W

Leave Bock Marine planning a short day. We are fresh back from 4 months off and are trying a new diesel. It is hot. Mid 90's. Humidity through the roof.

Half an hour out Bob checks the stuffing box to ensure it is cool. The mechanic adjusted the box on the calibration run but we have experience with airplane mechanics and know you have to double check everything. The box is too hot to touch! Connie brings the engine to full stop and Bob loosens the pressure nut taking off all pressure to allow the water to run free through the gland. The water is so hot Bob thinks he has scalded his hands. Adjust stuffing box for cool running. Test in half an hour and all is well.

Spend night at Campbell Creek. We have passed no boat today and there is one boat in the anchorage beside us.

We sleep in separate rooms with the fans on full. Two bodies in one room raise the temperature 15 degrees. No one sleeps well.

August 19: Alligator River Green Marker 43
Lat/Lon: 35 40.5 N 76 03.3W

Another scorcher. No one is peeing. We drink all day and eat small meals to leave room for water. We do not pee.

Connie is getting very angry with all the dirt and small damage she is finding from the mechanic who replaced the diesel. It is becoming abundently clear that this guy covered nothing up in the boat and despite my first impression cleaned up almost nothing after himself. Piles of sawdust and dirt are all over the boat. Grease was dripped into the fridge.

The autopilot is malfunctioning: at unpredictable points it starts to swing the wheel back and forth in a repetitive swing motion. It does this endlessly until someone steadies the wheel by hand. Bob figures the hydraulics, just overhauled, have not been properly bled and he bleeds the system again.

This part of the ICW takes us past Oriental NC, a favourite sailing stop for many but not us. Unsure of our fuel reserves we round the Pungo River bend at Belhaven and pull into at Dowry Creek Marina for fuel.

As we approach the fuel dock Connie is ignored by the old dock hand standing beside the pump who managed only to complain, as she is tying her own bow line, that we had not phoned ahead to let them know we were getting fuel. A bit outraged Connie informed the old fool that we had never phoned ahead for fuel, that no other marina anywhere had suggested such a ludicrous thing and that really we did not need his fuel. As she started to remove the bow line he recanted and played nice. Dowry Creek is off our list.

The new diesel, working fabulously has burned about 1 gallon per hour. Not bad but we hope to do much better.

We complete the Pungo River - Alligator River Canal and tie up at Green Marker 43 in the Pungo River just at a little bight.

August 20: Elizabeth City
Lat/Lon: 36 18 N 76 12.2 W

Easy if very hot transit up the Alligator River and across the Albemarle. Easy transit of the Albemarle - second time in a row. Maybe we need to change our view of this body of water.

Autopilot continues to malfunction. The problem is bearable but frustrating. Bob still figures the problem is in hydraulics and is probably an air bubble. He takes the heavy tools into the lazarette and realigns some hose connections to ensure no hoses are above the pump. The system is bled again.

Hurricane Bill is threatening and we decide to stay in EC for a bit to wait out what could be nasty winds and rain.

Change the transmission fluid at 25 hours. It is dark and contains grindings from the breakin.

Groceries at the Farm Fresh market (they pick us up and drop us off). Bob hides in the library all day reading in the air conditioning.

Temperatures are not abating nor is the humidity. No one is sleeping for the heat. We are still in separate bedrooms each night.

August 23: Deep Creek Lock, Great Dismal Swamp.
Lat/Lon: 36°44.75 N 76°20.3W

The usual wonderful sail up the Pasquotank River. Caught the 7:30 a.m. bridge just north of Elizabeth City and steamed for the Mill Creek Lock to make the 11:00 a.m. locking. We made it with 20 minutes to spare.

Cruised the Dismal Swamp. Stopped at the Visitor Centre which is a waste of time. Bob is worried about water storage and the book says water is available at the Centre. It is but you need a 200 foot hose.

On the North half of the Swamp we touched at least 20 or 30 deadheads - all but one of them submerged and just bouncing on the bottom. Do not recommend the Dismal Swamp for anyone drawing more than our 5 feet. We wonder ourselves if we will do it again - but the allure of La Familia and Elizabeth City is pretty great.

Autopilot still entering its endless loop swinging of the wheel back and forth but it is reduced. Bob is starting to mutter to himself about this problem.

Tie up at the La Familia Restaurant Parking Lot for dinner and the night.

A nice night but still too hot.

August 24: Poquosan River, West Bank Chesapeake
Lat/Lon: 37.17 -75.99

We leave the Dismal Swamp and sail through Norfolk. There are no ships there!! This is a disconcerting comment on the state of world affairs. Virtually every ship in the US Naval Eastern Fleets is at sea, save only 6 aircraft carriers that look mothballed and a couple of destroyers. If it floats the Navy has it working.

The heat has not abated but as we approach the Chesapeake we get some wind. Finally abatement.

Connie reports the anchor washdown pump is nonfunctional.

Autopilot still not working but problem is bearable.

We choose the Poquosan River for anchoring, because it is wide open to wind and waves, not usually a good choice for anchorage. Tonight we want all the wind we can get and we anchor as far from protection as we can. The night is tolerable but we are still in separate rooms.

August 25: Kiptopeke State Park
Lat/Lon: 37.17 -75.99.

Today we sail across the Bay. It is a grand if slow procession. Wind makes only 7 knots and Meredith does a respectable 4.5 knots out of this. Then the wind falls to 5 knots and Meredith to 3.

We do not care. It is only 20 miles to our destination: Kiptopeke State Park and we have all day to get there. It takes until late afternoon but we are heartened by Meredith's light wind sailing.

Kiptopeke is odd: formerly a dock for a ferry the ferry company created a breakwater for its ships by sinking a bunch of pensioned off cement carriers a few hundred yards offshore. It works but man is it ugly.

There is a cool irony here. The ships making up the breakwater were used to haul cement. Now their bilges are full of cement. Funnier yet is that the ships themselves, we discovered while exploring in our dinghy are made out of cement.

We are tired and stay an extra day at Kiptopeke.

A ketch rigged Down Easter joins us and we have a pleasant chat with the fellow who not only single hands his boat but also is restoring it himself. Nice guy who will run to Florida.

Bob plays with the anchor chain washdown pump but no success.

Autopilot still not working but problem is workable.

August 27: Onancock VA
Lat/Lon: 37.7° N 75.8° W

We start out from Kiptopeke with full sails up in 10 knots of wind. We are making a good 5 to 5.5 knots in the water.

The wind falls to 7 knots so we motorsail.

The wind falls to 3 knots and just motor.

Boom Gallows breaks. Breaks right off at the deck on the Port side where it is fixed by a quarter inch thick walled pipe. We hurry to remove the bolt from the Starboard side pipe and lay the boom gallows on deck. Connie uses mitts on the pipe ends to protect the deck from damage.

Entry to Onancock is like an aboriginal dance with many jogs back and forth but once entry is gained the river is pleasant. The banks are populated with very expensive houses and the air is filled with the sound of lawnmowers. There are 3 anchorages in this river: North branch which we did not try, a very small spot with poor holding at Red 37 and a small bight in the river at Red 34. We take Red 34 on a short scope due to its small footprint.

Trying to set up the dinghy we find the outboard is irretrievably locked to the Pushpit. Its two locking screws have frozen solid and will not budge despite repeated application of PB Blaster and taps from the hammer. More solid taps prove to be the answer but PB Blaster will be applied regularly from now on.

The outboard will not start. Forty or fifty pulls produce nothing. We install new sparkplugs, clean the carb, cross our fingers and try again. It runs.

The washdown pump is broken. We need it to clean the mud off the anchor rode as we lift it from muddy river bottoms. Without the cleaning all that mud ends up in the anchor locker which is accessable to the main berth. This mud stinks. Bob removes the washdown pump for repair and Connie empties the entire locker in which the pump resides, removes some very old and stagnant water and disinfects the whole compartment. Bob reinstalls the pump. Slick with sweat we jump naked into the Onancock River and swim for half an hour.

The Onancock River is about 35 degrees Celsius. Word.

Air temp cools to mid 80's and we sleep in the same room for the first time in more than a week. Peeing remains a concern but some function is returning.

Onancock is a bust of a town and not worth the diesel fuel burned to come up the river.

August 28: Crisfield, MD
Lat/Lon: 38.0° N 75.8° W

Leaving Onancock, after a sad breakfast and a walkaround of sorts we had 2 possible destinations, both on the west bank of the Chesapeake: Deltaville and Reedville. We set sail in the 10 knot breeze and discuss options. Hurricane Danny is approaching and weather is forecast to turn quite unpleasant for later today, Saturday and especially Sunday.

We discard Deltaville as we would have to backtrack south. Reedville has a vile smelling fish processing plant that we decide we could not bear for 3 days in a blow.

Casting about we spy Crisfield. It is on the East bank but it has a store and a good anchorage.

Done. Off we go due North with a 10 knot following wind. We motorsail, anxious to get to Crisfield before the anchorage fills.

Autopilot is fixed!!! An adjustment to the electronics increasing the tolerance for off course tracking was the answer - NOT BLEEDING. Problem seems solved.

Meredith is anchored just west of the Coast Guard station and we are the only boat in the anchorage. Again. This is getting dull.

First rain from Danny has already hit us and we are waiting for the wind due tomorrow. This anchorage feels properly secure.

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