Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 14-15, 2014 Overnight sail to Wrightsville Beach, NC

We had a good weather opportunity to leave today, but Tuesday and Wednesday looked worse.  So we decided to do an overnight sail to Wilmington, NC/Cape Fear area.  We left the marina about 10:30 am, but it takes an hour to get out of the harbor.  We passed Ft Sumter on the way out.  So much history here.  Once we were out of the harbor and heading north, we tried to set the autopilot and it wouldn’t work.  And the boat symbol on the chart was pointing about 120 degrees off course.  Dave had replaced the autopilot drive, but it tested ok while in the marina.  He upgraded the firmware and software for the chart plotter, so maybe they aren’t communicating properly.  He tried recalibrating the autopilot, but no luck.  This made the trip much longer mentally and physically because we had to manually steer the boat for 24 hours. 

We raised our Genniker sail about 12:00 and with the south east wind, we were able to reduce our RPM’s from 2200 to 1200 and still get 6-7 knots.  Saving fuel!

Dave decided to go below to check on the autopilot controls and discovered water on the floor splashing up from between the floor boards.  So he opened the bilge and found about a gallon of fresh water in the bilge-about the same amount of mystery water we had in Charleston.  So he cleaned that up and put it on his list of projects.  After later discussing it, we think it came from our aft water tank.  We have not been using it unless we are in a marina and can fill it with a hose.  The water maker fills our forward water tank.  We have had a poor seal on the tank cap, and if we overfilled the tank, water would then leak into the bilge.  We thought that was taken care of but will follow up on that theory later.

About 3:00 the winds picked up from 10 knots and below to a 12-17 knot range.  That increased the swells from 4 foot average to 6-8 foot swells.  The boat moved smoothly because the waves were behind us (following sea).  But it was a constant struggle to keep the boat on course. 

About 6:30, Dave was below and was able to get the boat symbol to point in the correct direction.  Funny how you can get excited about such a simple adjustment. 

We had unusual watches throughout most of the day because of the work Dave was doing on the boat.  But throughout the evening, we were taking 2 hour watches.  You were physically tired after 2 hours.  And there was quite a bit of rocking motion with the wave action.  During my 1:00-3:00 am watch, our AIS started beeping alerting us of a ship in our area.  It was far enough off to our port side, that we wouldn’t cross paths, but our friend was closer to it’s path.  He was on his boat alone and had an autopilot for the first time.  So we called him on the VHF radio to be sure he was awake and saw the ship.  He did, but he had nodded off a few times, so he appreciated the call.  It was a large cargo ship from the Netherlands (the AIS told us that info).  By 2:30 am I could see the light house at Cape Fear where we would go to anchor and catch up on our sleep.  Always a comforting sight.  I was feeling good, so let Dave nap a little longer so he could bring our boat into the harbor on his watch.  About 4:00 am, we started entering the shipping channel outside Cape Fear and Dave started his watch.  I just stayed awake with him, since we would anchor once we arrived and would both sleep then.  Well, it took us about 2 1/2 hours to get into the Cape Fear River. 

So now it’s 6:30 am, we are getting close to our anchorage, we are tired, and talking about cooking a breakfast and going to sleep.  Gary calls us on the VHF.  He just checked the weather, and the anchorage he had in mind would be exposed to the south winds from this storm moving in.  So he wanted to go another 20 miles to a more protected anchorage in Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Now remember 20 miles by boat on the ICW will take about 4 hours.  We decided if he could keep going, so could we.  So we had cold chicken for breakfast and continued on.  I took over the helm the first two hours and we swapped for the second two.  I really slept hard during my off time.  We anchored about 11:30 am on Tuesday the 15th.  It took about an hour to settle everything and take showers.  Then we crashed. 
Gary's boat mid day

Gary's boat at sunset

Sunrise after we entered Cape Fear River.  That's why there is land to the east of us.  Threw me off for awhile

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor

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