Sunday, October 14, 2018

Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

Bock Marine is up and running
The winds were supposed to be less than 8 kts out of the northeast by they were actually 15 kts out of the east. It seems that you can always just double the wind prediction for the Neuse and Albemarle. The predictions are never right, they always seem to under estimate the wind. This statement includes PreidictWind, NOAA, PocketGrib, Windy, etc.

Some houses were damaged, most were not
Fortunately for us, the wind was behind us once we turned the corner to head down the Neuse. It was very rocky before that. One thing you never want to do is to go against a 15 kt or higher winds on the Neuse. It's shallow and the waves tend to be very short period and build up nicely.

We didn't see any debris except for one lone piece just north of Adams Creek. The creek itself was completely free of debris. I was surprised at the lack of damage by Florence. I had expected to see many houses badly damaged or destroyed, not so. The houses showing damage were in the minority. I would bet that a TV crew would focus on the damaged houses as opposed to giving a balanced overview of the effects of hurricane Florence.

Always a sunset
Here we will do doing a wash and pay a visit to the nearest supermarket to provision for the rest of the trip to Titusville. We are out of everything fresh. The marina here has a free courtesy car which we'll take advantage of on Monday. The next day we'll see how ground zero fared as we head down the ICW.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

RE Mayo - at their dock

This was RE Mayo during hurricane Florence - not a good hurricane hole
After a quiet night's sleep, we got up at our leisure and weighed anchor around 8:30. It was a beautiful day but the wind started to pipe up more than what was predicted (what else is new?) Nevertheless, it was out of a good direction for going south so it wasn't so bad. We put up the sail and bounced along with the northwest winds.

In getting down the dock, you had to avoid a few obstacles! 
Our planned stop for the night was at RE Mayo to have dinner with friends of many years who live in the area. The usual dock there was taken up by another huge shrimp boat so we docked farther down. Our 75 ft electrical cord barely reached the outlet. 

And also avoid a few missing planks
The attraction of RE Mayo is not the low price dockage ($0.40/ft) or the free electricity. It's the seafood. We were able to pick up 1.5 lbs of fresh shrimp (never frozen) for $8.00. They still had the heads on but I got them ready for Ann later that day. Ann also bought frozen scallops and a couple of small flounders. There was a lot more available but it was enough for us. They even had alligator meat available. 

The path to land is not obvious
The docks are in poor shape with some planks missing. This is not a marina, it's just a working facedock for shrimp boats. As I said, we stop for the seafood.

 But it was all worth it for the shrimp!
On Sunday we're headed for Homer Smith in Beauford, NC. We need to provision and do a wash. Home Smith has a free courtesy car and free laundry facilities plus excellent WiFi. We will stay one or two days before moving on. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pungo Anchorage - what a night!

The Coast Guard was busy removing debris and logs from the Alligator - Pungo Canal
The wind howled like a banshee! The night was dark, the boat shook from side to side, the wind made a roaring sound (hard to describe), at times the boat would lead over from the force of the wind on the mast. We would get sustained gusts in the 40's. The wind peaked at 48 kts in one gust which pushes four times as much as a 25 kt wind. The boat responded to the pressure by heeling over. I had 12 lines securing the boat to the dock via the pilings, no cleats although I would not have trusted them anyway.

This is the famous Wilkerson Bridge with a low height for an ICW bridge which are supposed to all be 65 ft.
A quiz, what's the height? Do you read the middle of the number, the bottom? We really do not know.
The wind started out off the port side and gradually clocked around to the aft. I had added an aft line just for that eventuality and it did its job. The most amazing thing is being in a boat, even at a dock, and listening to that wind! I cannot imagine what the residents of Panama City heard when Michael came ashore with 155 mph winds! I wouldn't want to be in anything greater than 50 kts.

It's not that we were unsafe. The boat was secure, the pilings were well made, there was no wave action so we were relatively calm compared to someone anchored out in higher winds. Nevertheless, it was some experience. The combination of roaring winds and nighttime in a rocking boat is hard to describe. The winds suddenly calmed around 2:00 am confounding predictions of higher winds.

We were rewarded with a nice sunset at our anchorage tonight
There was no damage to the boat, it rode out the storm fine, it was the occupants that needed to recover. So we left Friday morning to reach the Alligator Swing Bridge before they started working on it again with the attendant delays in openings. We got through without delay and headed south. The winds freshened up again to 20 kts was they were out of the north, directly behind us, no problem.

We reached the Pungo anchorage and collapsed. Time to rest and get a good night's sleep. I was up every few hours last night.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Alligator River Marina - Michael passes to the west of us

The blue fender is the inflatable one, 12 inches in diameter and 5 ft long
It was a dark and stormy night... So goes the start of one of Snoopy's novels. It's the same here but we hope for a good ending the next day. It's blowing like stink outside with the highest gust so far at 48.2 kts. The wind is still out of the south so we are being pushed off the dock which is good for us. I put out a few lines, then some more and then some more again. I ask myself, are the lines better in the locker or attached to the boat and land? I always wind up with the same answer so out I go to attach just one more line...

New this year is an inflatable fender I first saw in Titusville that a neighbor had. They can be rolled up and stored without taking up much room and can be absolutely essential in a storm. The one I bought was 12 inches in diameter and 5 feet long. It was the heavy duty version. If you're cruising the ICW, get one of these fenders! The other ones I have look flimsy by comparison. Practical Sailor rated them number 1. Don't think about it, buy one.

Here's the video
It's going to be a long night. I think we're secure and with the wind predicted to clock around from the south to the west and then out of the north, it's the best direction we can have. We are only exposed to a small area to the east. There are two long jetties leading into the marina and not much gets in from the river. I'll monitor the wind change tonight but we ought to be okay.

Our next stop is RE Mayo but we don't know yet our day of arrival. It could be Saturday or Sunday, depending upon the weather. The winds are due to abate by noon Friday but that may be too late to leave Alligator River, we'll see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Alligator River Marina - waiting for Michael

You know you're in the south when you see a line up like this and the cars are all white! (cooler)
They are still working on the Alligator River Bridge so there's one lane traffic for the cars. 
It was another hot day with a high of 89 here. We are still in Alligator River Marina waiting for the remnants of hurricane Michael to arrive. We are secure, tied to a facedock with winds out of the south that will push us off the dock. Two more boats came in today to weather the coming storm. South Carolina closed most of its swing bridges today in expectation of high winds. They don't open in high winds anyway and the winds from Michael are expected to be in that range.

A tranquil eventing, for now
So here we sit. It's been a slow trip south so far. We lost five days at Atlantic City and now four days here. On top of that, we started late anyway due to Florence. We'll see what happens with the 5 to 6 additional inches of rain expected and the water levels at our "favorite" bridge in Socastee. Maybe they will have to close again due to high water.

I finished installing the charger/inverter. The major task today was running wires from the remote control panel to the main unit in the cockpit starboard locker. It only took five hours. I would go broke as a repairman. No one would pay me $500 to run one wire. If you ask how it could possibly take that long to run one wire, well you're invited to join me the next time I pull wires on Fleetwing.

Here it comes, headed right for us!
The winds and rain are due to start tonight around 1:00 am. No doubt, we'll hear it when it starts, at least Ann will.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Alligator River Marina - at a dock

All by ourselves there in Alligator River Marina
Michael is on the way. It will hit our area on Thursday with high winds and 5 or more inches of rain. With that prediction, we started looking for a place to weather the storm. The winds will be out of the south and then the north as what's left of Michael passes by. So we selected this marina since it is protected from those directions.

Along the way, I'm taking photos of the bridges
noted for not meeting the 65 ft
height requirement.
This one is of the Coinjock Bridge, it's okay
The ride over was a little more bouncy than predicted but tolerable. We put the sail out and it helped steady the boat. The trip from Coinjock was uneventful. We never saw anything less than 10 ft and my track can be downloaded at Bob423 Tracks. I plan on continuing to add to the list as I move south.

There are only three boats here tonight. I had expected more. The boat aft of us will also be staying through the storm so we'll have company. Wednesday sounds like a good time to put more waterproofing on the bimini. I use the only brand approved by Sunbrella since it's the exact same formulation used for the original waterproofing by Sunbrella.

We will be watching the weather reports in the morning but we will probably be staying for four days. Our move south has really been interrupted by hurricanes in the last two years.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Coinjock Marina - at a dock after a rib steak dinner

The 165 ft Jordan Bridge seem too thin and slender to stand so tall
It was a beautiful day for a ride past Norfolk. As usual, ships were lined up for repairs or refurbishment. I wondered at the time what the average age is of all the naval warships. I would bet that many date from WWII.

So many ships being refitted, every year I see the same number it seems
We made it through the gauntlet of bridges and locks without much of a wait until we reached the last bridge which we missed by 5 minutes. Oh well, you have to expect such things. We still reached Coinjock by 4 pm. Along the way, I followed my guide and didn't see anything under 10 feet with most depths in the 11 to 13 ft range. SonarChart from Navionics was also helpful in finding the deepest path.

As word spread of our plans for a steak dinner, more and more cruisers joined us
We all had a great time, nobody left hungry
Cruisers we met before also stopped in Coinjock and we all decided to enjoy the rib steak that the Coinjock restaurant is famous for. We were not disappointed and most of us had lunch in hand when we returned to our boats. The servings were very large.

Ann had enough left for her
famous steak sandwich lunch
All of us are paying close attention to the hurricane about to hit the Florida panhandle. It will come ashore and then be over land as it nears North Carolina. It should lose a lot of strength from being over land and turn into mostly a rain event. That's bad enough since the area has received so much rain already from hurricane Florence. The forecast is from a fast-moving storm so it shouldn't linger like Florence.  With that, we'll move on to Alligator River Marina and then decide if we have enough fair weather to reach RE Mayo or should be just still out the rain event at Alligator River. We will decide that on Tuesday night when we should have a better idea of what the new hurricane will do.