Wednesday, January 26, 2011
We are leaving Northwest Creek Marina behind. We think we are the last boat to leave this year for the Bahamas.
Sunday morning found the boat covered by up to a foot of snow. Even Bill’s new bell got its share of snow.
This is the inside the boat. Outside it is even colder. There is frost on the portlight frame, frost on the varnished woodwork, and frost creeping up onto the headliner. Dimly through the frosty glass you can see the snow piled up outside over the port.
Our 2011 sailing adventure has begun.
Since I last wrote in this blog lots has happened with the boat. Our oil consumption did not cure itself. After replacing the exhaust mixing elbow with no benefit, we bit the bullet and had the little Japanese diesel engine rebuilt. In August Bill and a mechanic pulled the engine at the marina, put it in our 1978 Chevrolet Blazer – rust holes, 262,000 miles, but reliable – and Bill drove it to Union New Jersey home of the Yanmar distributer, Mac Boring. Bill then went on a 150 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail expecting the engine work to be completed in ten days. Not. Giving up on it, he came home to wait. We both rode in the Blazer back to New Jersey to pick up the engine and brought it to New Bern where Bill and the mechanic reinstalled it in October. To test it out we motored down the river to Oriental and back. Everything was fine for another trip to the Bahamas except the bank account.
If I had to choose one word to describe this year’s trip so far it would be, cold !
We left Kingsport January 13 at noon. It was cold, 18° on the bank’s thermometer, and snow was falling as it had for the entire previous week. A couple of inches of snow lay on the ground. It stopped snowing when we passed through Wytheville. The sky turned from gray to a beautiful blue and the sun was shining when we crossed the mountains into North Carolina. By the time we were on the eastern side of Raleigh the snow on the ground was gone as well. Things were looking up.
Irish Eyes was cold when we opened her up. Our little electric heater ran all night trying to warm up the boat. The low temperature in New Bern that first night was 22°, which while it was 4° warmer than the 18° in Kingsport when we left, didn’t feel like it. When we stepped outside Friday morning we had a real shock, the water in the marina was frozen. The birds were standing on the ice! Sea Monkey, another boat in our marina, left that morning for their trip south. They had to break through several hundred yards of ice to leave both the marina and the creek. While the ice in the marina did melt as the day went on, it was back again the next morning.
It took us a week to buy groceries, get extra boat parts, and do some of Bill’s boat projects. We finally decided that all of his things just weren’t going to get done and untied our dock lines Thursday morning, January 20. The predicted high temperature was in the fifties. It may have been that warm, but we still had on lots of clothes. We spent our first night of the trip anchored in Adams Creek.
Friday morning was clear and cold, but not unbearably cold. We motored south hampered by the wind and current which always seemed to be against us anchoring near the idle Hatteras yacht works in a creek, Factory Creek, just south of Swansboro. The weather forecast for Saturday was for cold with a snow advisory for the coastal areas north of us. In the morning we rolled out of bed and put on our numerous layers of clothing. Being prudent sailors just this one time, we decided to listen to the morning weather forecast. We were now in the Weather Bureau’s snow advisory area. It was gray, dark, and cold with snow forecast to start at 10 am and last till 10 pm – not a good day for traveling in an open cockpit boat. We made the unanimous decision to spend the day anchored; reading and knitting. The snow started at 11 am, and it was still snowing when we went to sleep. It was frigid in the boat, but we were warm as long as we were under our bed covers. Did I say it was cold? It was really cold everywhere in the boat but under our covers.
Sunday morning we could hear lots of groans from Irish Eyes. The creek around us was frozen and the boat was groaning as it swung on its anchor breaking up the ice! The radio said Atlantic Beach had 7 inches of snow and Newport saw a morning low temperature of 10°. The inside of our unheated boat looked like the freezing compartment of a refrigerator with frost on everything from our breath and from the general wetness of being on the water. My comforter even had frost on it just inches from my face. Outside the snow had blown around and was as much as a foot deep on the side decks. As soon as we got up and started the stove for a breakfast of muffins and tea, the inside of the boat warmed, and the frost started melting causing great drips everywhere. I asked Bill if we were having fun. He thought so.
It was a bright and sunny day. After the creek thawed a bit we shoveled the snow from the cockpit with the dust pan, pulled up our anchor, and motored south. We stopped for the night just outside Topsail Beach. It was a much warmer night.
Monday morning the snow was still 6 inches deep on the shady side of the boat. We made great time with the current behind us and nearly flew past Wrightsville Beach and down the Cape Fear River. We anchored in a canal just south of Southport, NC. In the morning the snow was finally gone, washed away by the rain. It was almost warm; just two pairs of long underwear and four shirts with nighttime temperatures now finally above freezing. Whoopee.
In drizzly rain we motored to Little River, docked the boat at the Coquina Yacht Club, and helped the dockmaster hose the pelican poop and cormorant crap off the dock so we could step ashore. With electricity we now have heat, and even though it rains on and off, it is warmer… 70° in the boat. The first night here we had an absolutely delicious dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s house (Elaine and Jean Pierre) with my aunt and uncle (Mary Ellen and Ken). JP took us shopping; me to WalMart for food and still more gloves and Bill to West Marine for boat stuff. I have done the laundry and Bill has changed the engine oil and re-set the engine valves. This evening we went out to dinner with Elaine and JP. Tomorrow we will leave for Georgetown. I’ll miss my electric heater, but we will be another 50 miles farther south and 50 miles closer to warmth.