Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Matthews Point to Bearfoot Landing, SC

Matthews Point to Barefoot Landing, SC: 10/21 thru 28/2008:

Why Does It Always Have To Be 2:00 In The Morning?

Mike Doster showed up (as promised) at Matthews Point on Monday the 20th to load the “Island” down with fresh “bambi.” I think even he was impressed with how much deer her freezer would hold - all but 4 packages worth of a whole deer. Now the adventure could start in earnest with the Island properly provisioned. Thanks Mike.

So Tuesday morning bright and early we were off like a heard of turtles headed for Swansboro, NC. We elected to tie the Island to Casper’s dock rather than anchor out. I’ve never liked the anchorage at Swansboro. It is like trying to anchor in concrete - two boats drug anchor while we watched safely tied to the dock. Mike Yount and I visited Casper’s for the first time close to 20 years ago in my old Ranger-29. They were not open when we tied up so we went up to see if they had their hours of operation posted on the door. They did, “Open when we are here. Closed when we are not.” I instantly loved the place.

Next day, we pushed on the next day to Wrightsville Beach and anchored in Banks Channel. There was a bad blow coming and we wanted to be tucked in tight when it hit.

Everyone that know me knows that I love big anchors and am a bit of a fanatic about “stayin’ put” as they say. But sometimes just “stayin’ put” isn’t everything. The blow hit about 1:30 to 2:00 AM on Saturday morning...and it hit with a “crash” and a “boom.” Why is it always 2:00 in the morning when these things hit?

The first blast was a 50 to 60 knot gust. Both Gigi and I looked out to make sure we were holding and we were so back to bed we went (first mistake, should have set an anchor watch). Then the wind piped up and the Island was sailing her “hyknee” off at anchor with the boat laying over about 15 degrees on each tack - no worries mate that big old Rocna anchor is doing her job quite well thank you.

Then what we first thought was a “special” gust came and “everything on the high side” went to the floor.” It was not until later that we discovered “that gust” was really a boat fending off down our side, busting out a piece of our canvas, breaking the roll pin in the grill mount, and taking the rescue horseshoe with them as they left - never did see the boat or find out who it was.
As we were rushing on deck, a horn sounded. A boat had yanked her anchor out of the bottom and was slamming into a dock on the causeway. No one was on deck and another boat in the anchorage was trying to warn them with his horn. I grabbed horn and decided to add to the chaos to try and get the folk on deck - the back blew out of the horn, so much for that idea.

Just about that time a Bristol 45 appeared out of the dark with a bit in her teeth and a determination to hit us mid-ships. I yelled at G to crank the engine and crank it now. She did and we motored ahead just as the Bristol slid off our stern. For the next few hours we played “dodge’m” with the 4 boats that had broken loose and were wandering around the anchorage. It was a wild night but the Island stayed where we ask her to. I could mention the good old USCG and their reaction to a call for help from the boat blown into the causeway but I will not. Those people are worthless. Why do you need to know how old the people are on board when their boat is getting slammed into a wall?

Sunday we made our way down to Southport and met Charlie. G and I had taken the marsh walk to edge of the waterway to watch the sunset and made some new friends. There was a birthday party in progress in the gazebo and, in the southern spirit of Southport, we were invited to join in. It was there we met Charlie and master Rob. Charlie is the “little tyke” pictured in the blog and yes he and his master are now new friends. Cruising is like that - nice people and new friends around every bend if you open your heart and let them in.

The trip from Southport to Barefoot Landing was uneventful..thank god. That strip of real estate is my least favorite on the waterway. There are 2 very shallow and shoaly inlets and then there is the “Rock Pile” - a 5 mile stretch quarried through solid rock. If you wander out of the channel there you will do some damage. We didn’t - no hits, no groundings, no error, Thank you.

We are currently tied to the dock at Barefoot Landing, SC, with another state behind us and 3 more in front. While here we met William Fogarty, headed south, by him self, with the boat of his dreams - a Bristol 30, christened “Booty.” He will be keeping the boat at the Sailing Club at Dinner Key, In the Grove at Miami - with luck we will see him down the way.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chesapeake Bay to Clubfoot Creek

Island Daze: 10/2-22/2008, Deltaville, VA to Wrightsville Beach, NC

On October 2nd Gigi’s Island was as ready as she would ever be. G and I hauled in our docklines at Stingray Point and headed south. The trip south to Wrightsville Beach, NC, was pretty much un-eventful and I will not bore you with the details. Except for a couple of stories.

Just out of mouth of Mobjack Bay an AIS marker appear behind us on the chartplotter. For you non-boating types AIS is sort of a poor man’s radar. All 300 ton and above vessel are required to send a signal that identifies the ship by name, description, speed, location, port of origin & destination, direction and it’s heading. If you have a receiver it will show up on your chartplotter. This mark was moving up behind us like “packman” had haunted the GPS. I got the binoculars out and this thing was throwing a “rooster tail” - remember this is a BIG boat. Turns out the boat is a Navy vessel named the Stiletto, close to 80 feet long and 40 feet wide making 34 knots (we found out later it was capable of 60 knots). Went right by us. We got pictures.

As we were approaching Thimble Shoal’s light near Norfolk we spotted a helicopter hovering above 3 Navy inflatables dragging a line out of the back of the chopper - thought it was probably search and rescue drills. We continued on toward the mouth of Norfolk harbor when we heard the chopper coming up behind us at speed. The helicopter was dragging a barge at an estimated 30 knots. Ever see an aircraft pulling a boat? Now that is an odd sight.

Turns out we were not the only ones taken unawares, as seagoing container ship was frantically trying to hail the helicopter on the VHF radio and trying to figure out how to dodge a chopper towing a barge at speed. After talking to some friends that work for the Navy about the incident choppers are now used for mine sweepers and what we probably saw was mine sweeper drills.

Fairwinds & Rum Drinks,

Vic & Gigi

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Island Daze: 10/18/2008

Island Daze: October 18, 2008:
Where to start...?
First of all you will note that the "dispatches" have a new title and there is a reason. On June 4th, Genevra Leader and her boat "Gigi’s Island" came into my life. It was a conspiracy from the "get-go." A friend of mine Bill Morris and Gigi’s cousin Tom decided we needed to meet. After careful and secret negotiations they quietly coerced us into contacting each other via e-mail. When Oconee and I reached Matthews Point in early June Gigi "hitched up her big girl britches" and with much trepidation, drove down from Deltaville, Va, (where Gigi’s Island was at the time) and we met for the first time. The rest is history as they say.
To make a long story short we decided to leave Oconee under the care of my best friend Mike Yount and my son Noel for the winter and return to the Bahamas in the fall of 2008 in the "Island." We both are "older and wiser" and realistic when it comes to relationships but nothing ventured nothing gained. And we both saw something in each other that made it worth a try. Wish us luck.
The summer was a whirlwind of visiting friends and working on the "Island" to get her ready for the next stage of her life (and ours). I swore I’d never have another schedule but this summer was nothing but schedules.
I rented a car and took off on a month long trek (read marathon). First, Raleigh to visit my Son and daughter-in-law. Cary to visit Gigi’s Son, Daughter-in-law and Brennan Grace, her 15 month old granddaughter (what a cutie). Asheville to visit Gene Edwards and his new bride. John and Vicki Skemp near Madison. Bill Morris and Donna in Knoxville. Tom and Sheril Spight and his extended family near Atlanta. Charlie and Freddie Nichols in Atlanta. My brother Richard and his family in Birmingham. My aunt and uncle Al and Christine Jenkins in Athens. My cousin Chris Dunn in Columbus (GA). My middle brother Ronnie and his lady Kathy in Stone Mountain. And for the finale Gigi flew into Atlanta for a "brothers" reunion at our place on Lake Sinclair in mid-August.
The rest of the summer was just a blur including 2 trips to Annapolis, MD, to have gear added to the "Island" and constant work to get the her ready to head. The "to do" list never seemed to get shorter - for every item we struck we added 2 more. But we did take time for some fun or sometimes the fun just came to us. Like the "Blues Cab" in Annapolis.
It had been one of those frustrating days so G and I decided to go into Annapolis and treat our selves to a supper that someone else had to cook. After supper we poked our head out of the restaurant and it was raining. There were three cabs just down the block we ambled over to the first cab. He didn’t speak English and did not know where Jabin’s Boat Yard was (Jabins is largest and best know boat yard in Annapolis area). The second cab was no better, as-a-matter-of-fact we left the first and second cab drivers discussing the location of Jabins and wandered back to the third cab in line. It was a beat up old GM something-or-other with "Blues Cab" painted on the side.
George, the owner, was a nice Black man that said, "Shoo I knows where Jabins is." We hopped in and were off. George glanced over his shoulder, welcomed us to Annapolis, and asked, "Do you folks like "The Blues?" "Of course," we said in chorus. George popped in a tape and started singing. George, as it turned out, was from New Orleans and had spent most of his life singing with the likes of BB King. Old Vic was in heaven. The ride was over all too quickly and we left George chewing the fat with the night watchman at Jabins.
Sometimes good times just come to you when you need it most and expect it least. Life is like that and I’ve learned to open my mind and heart and embrace them when they come.
We are currently in Clubfoot Creek near Beaufort, NC. If you would care to follow us on a map I use a program called "Yotreps" to chart the location of the "Island." If you go to "http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/reporter_list.php" and scroll down to my radio call sign, WDD4242 - Oconee, and click on "track" it will bring up a map with "Gigi’s Island’s" last location. The system is not as accurate as I would like. It lops off all but whole minutes of Lat/Long so it will sometimes be as much as a mile off, but it’s close. If you want an exact location I always try to post an exact Lat/Long in the comments. Then you can enter them into any mapping software you like and it should have the "Island" within a few feet of our actual location.
The next post will include a few stories from our trip from Deltaville, VA, to Clubfoot Ck, NC and (with luck) there will be some photos also.
Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,