It is probably best to offer a video summary first, then tell the story.
I could spend a lot of time talking about the storm even though from start to finish was only about 16 minutes – though it surely seems like hours. In a nutshell, I knew there was a tstorm coming, was watching it on radar on the phone which showed it moving north of us. We were only 3 miles from a very safe harbor, had just turned around a light marking a shoal, and had put out about half the Genoa sail as a light breeze was just starting that would help us get in a little faster.
With it beginning to sprinkle, I had just finished putting my rain gear on when the light breeze turned into 70 mph. And it was that fast with no warning. No waves in advance, no wind increasing, no noise, just 70 mph and driving rain. The waves caught up a minute or two later and were at least 5 feet. The wind took the sail and the boat completely out of my control and changed our heading by 90 degrees.
We went from a ENE heading up a channel to a WNW heading straight for the Jaynes Island light and the shoal on the other side. The boat was standing on her beam with the decks under water with water pouring in the hatches below. The noise was deafening.
Within a minute or two it was clear we were not going to be able to make it to deep enough water and the boat needed to change direction – like right now! With about 100 feet left to the shoal, I yelled at Shelly below to hang on and jibed the boat. We went from the starboard rail and deck under water to the port rail and deck under water instantly with a lot of crashing and things breaking and the boat flying through the water heading SSE. The engine is racing, the awning has ripped off the dodger and wrapped around the steering wheel and boat cushions, the cooler, and everything else is trying to go over the side.
The next few minutes are really a blur but I know that somehow I got the sail sheet off the winch which meant it was blowing, flapping like crazy and the sheets were being flung around trying to hurt someone. I know I was able to go up to the bow and let go the anchor. The boat was moving so fast that I just prayed the chain would hold in the windlass and it wouldn’t tear the the windlass right out of the deck.
The chain caught and jumped out of the windlass several times with a sickening crunching noise then seemed to grab and hold. The anchor seemed to hold but I really didn’t take much time to wait and see with the sail above my head making an awful noise and the engine still in gear and running full out. The waves were coming over the bow as well.
I got back to the cockpit and started winching in the Genoa on the roller furling. With the wind and the lines all wrapped up it was very difficult to do. The next thing I remember was feeling the boat give like the anchor had let go. I went back to the bow and saw the anchor, 180 feet of chain and 200 feet of 3/4 inch line was gone. It had obviously jumped out of the windlass and run itself out. (Later we found the line and chain had melted the roller and shredded it where it had to be replaced.)
By now the storm had almost blown past us. We were able to turn the boat with the motor and get into the dock.
Whew. One for the late night stories.
And here we sit making repairs. Shelly has been sewing – the sail, the awning, the dodger and the dinghy cover all needed repairing. We are still dragging a grapnel out in the bay by the shoal looking for our anchor and chain. The wind generator mounting bolts were sheared off. It had to be removed, welded and remounted. And of course, it took most of that afternoon to clean up below. A lot of water came in and soaked all kinds of stuff. There was broken glass, pots and pans, pictures, books etc strewn all over the boat.
But it is all good. We are here and no one was hurt. We have met some great people who have been super friendly and helpful. And we really appreciate the thoughts and prayers from you!
Just remember that if not for the storms we would not be able to really appreciate the sunrises, sunsets and calm beaches like we do! And shoot me if I ever, ever underestimate a thunderstorm’s power again.
Up until “the storm” Shelly and I were quite enjoying a relaxing, leisurely Chesapeake cruise, with short hops to places we have not yet visited like peaceful, remote Back River where we got to watch the new F35s practice landings mornings and afternoons!
We visited Gwynn Island, supposed to be named for the man who saved Pocahontas and whose father gave him the island in reward. Then on to Reedville for the menhaden capital of the bay.
And finally to Smith Island – a real throwback to an earlier time where crabbing and bay men are still the mainstays.
With a few more days here to tidy up, we will be heading back out this weekend and looking forward to getting in some more ‘cruise time’ and maybe even a visitor or two before getting back to work in DC.
Oh – and we got to go see Bruce Hornsby one night in old Williamsburg VA and had a great time out!
We begin in New Bern NC, a beautiful town we liked a lot (highly recommended for a visit!). We played tourists for several days visiting Tryon Palace where the royal governor of the great colony of NC lived, and the governor of the state of NC before they moved the capital further west.
Bicycles are very handy allowing us to cover way more ground than walking, and Goose gets lots of exercise. The cemetery in New Bern was amazing.
Some work did get done including finishing up the new dodger and fixing the broken ipad glass (again). As you can see in th picture it does take some nerve-steadying medicinal support to accomplish!
Steve Karr, a friend from US Navy Nuc Sub days (40 years ago), and someone I haven’t seen in 20 years or more, replaced Shelly as crew for 10 days.
As a neophyte sailor he experienced many different aspects of our life aboard, from the flat, mirror-like motoring with no wind to the thunderstorms gusting to 30 kts to the three days of 25 knots at a dock.
Our first day was just 23 miles to Oriental. We got there at 830pm and all four places to eat were closed already!
The following morning we headed out into a strong thunderstorm for the 40 miles to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks. The storms passed on by and we enjoyed a very nice day of sailing and motoring and catching up.
From Ocracoke it was only 18 miles to Hatteras where we docked overnight in the middle of a Blue Marlin fishing tournament fleet (largest of the the day was 650 pounds) and left with some new friends and a whole freshly filleted mahi mahi. (That sure was tasty with Shelly’s mayo and parmesan recipe!)
With winds forecast to go to the NE and blow up to 50 knots (never happened) we beat feet north the 45 miles to Manteo, NC on Roanoke Island where the Lost Colony was – well – lost. Cool downtown area.
We got docked just before it started blowing – and it blew for the next 48 hours or so fairly hard. We were glad to be at a dock!
Yesterday we got underway around 830 to a beautiful clear day for the 55 miles up through Albemarle Sound and into the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal with a nice stop at Coinjock for their famous 32 oz prime rib.
Today we head on into Norfolk and through there to Fort Monroe to finish up this leg. We leave the boat Wednesday to drop Steve in Charlotte for his flight home and then on the Marion to pick up Shelly and see Ryan off to his new home.
After two months of hard work, (and 6 months of preliminary planning), the golf fundraiser and the dog scavenger hunt we have been organizing is all coming together. It all starts Friday May 20 with a shotgun scramble tournament and ends around noon on Saturday when the dogs and their human families come back from their downtown Beaufort scavenger hunt.
We really do not know how many participants will be at either event because it seems no one likes to register until they know what they are doing that day, and what the weather will be. It’s very challenging to plan for events with unknown numbers of people!
All I can do is fall back on the old belief that it is perfect, and all will work out regardless of my emotional state of mind…
Then, on Saturday afternoon we are free until August when we have to be back in DC.
We are ready for some free time. We will likely head north and are talking about the outer banks of North Carolina. We have yet to take that path, and have only passed through in cars long ago. Sounds interesting. Then on up through the Chesapeake and north of Annapolis. We will see!
Yume has been taking care of herself very nicely, allowing both Shelly and I to reach out to the Beaufort community for help with these events. There are a few lessons we have learned. One is that this county has over 1200 non profit that hold events year round so businesses are getting hammered for sponsorships, gifts and participants.
Another is since this is our first year, we have run into the ol’ “come back next year when you have proven yourself” line.
Another is that organizing events is hard work for two people. Throw in that we are not from here, and that we don’t have a car it really gets challenging. Well who said life should be easy anyway right?
People have been absolutely wonderful here. We could see ourselves living here under different circumstances.
Ryan – who turns 18 in July – has temporarily moved in with Grammy in Asheville for the unlimited internet, large refrigerator, flushing toilets and showers you can stand under and let run forever. What a wimp. He actually has a consulting gig making animations. Check out the animations on the YouTube channel named baccaman. He writes and creates all the animations you see on there – and gets paid good money to do it. We are very proud of him. And miss him of course.
Ian is finishing up his Air Force Loadmaster school and thinks he is being sent to Valdosta to work on the AF special ops C130 J planes. Ryan might go stay with him there.
Goose is our hero, getting us in doors that might otherwise be a bit harder to open. We seem to giving two to three presentations every week now and are meeting lots of people.
That’s nice. But it just makes the 21st seem all that much sweeter when it will back to just Yume and the Philips and the water!
Let us know what’s happening out there in the word we left!
March marched on into April. Again. Damn it does that so fast!
Most of our blogging is done on the iPad with a cool little app (Blogsy). Somehow I had cracked the screen a month or so ago and the touchpad starting touching itself whenever it was open. Tabs would open and close, apps would open, the camera would come on and start taking pictures etc. Quite annoying and a great excuse for not posting for a month.
Late last night I finally got the new glass cover (and all 18 of the screws so small I had to borrow Shelly’s glasses to see them) replaced and it works again!
So here we are at a dock in Ladies Island Marina just across the river from Beaufort SC. It is a great place to sit as everything needed for comfortable ‘dock’ life is close. Groceries, laundry, propane, and hardware stores just a short distance away.
Our work now focuses on selling and promoting the golf tournament fundraiser at Parris Island, and the Family/Dog Scavenger Hunt in downtown Beaufort May 20 and May 21.
This is a lot of work! One thing we did not know when we chose Beaufort is that there are many people who retire here from ‘up north’ and then start a nonprofit to ‘give back’. There are over 1250 nonprofits in this county! Can you imagine how many times local store owners get asked for donations or to sponsor this or that charity? A lot!
No one has been rude or anything, in fact just the opposite! Everyone is super friendly and wants to help – it is just that there is no time pressure yet. It is coming up here soon!
If you’ll allow me a quick pitch?
We are hoping to find folks who would think about being a sponsor for this fundraiser who would not be able to attend. These people would sponsor a military player to play for $100 which would also pay for an assistance puppy to have his first vet visit and shots. Or maybe sponsor something more in honor of someone’s birthday, anniversary or even in remembrance of a special person. We really need help finding these people so please keep this in mind and let others know? The link to all the videos etc is available by clicking here. Thanks! We need these people now!
On other topics, you might have seen we have offered Yume for sale. Let me tell you why. First, we think the boat is tip top shape and it is the best time to sell. Second, we are thinking of other options including an RV, a different kind of boat, or maybe just going out to some ski town (Telluride?) for the winter after the DC things over. We are not giving her away for sure, and maybe no one will be looking, but we felt it is good not to get too attached and put it out there for the Universe to sort out.
The last piece is that Ryan turns 18 in July and is itchy. He is actually working with a team as the animator (and almost making more than Shelly and I together). He needs really super fast internet speeds, room for bigger computer power, and a platform that doesn’t move quite so much. The little bird might be ready to fly! His older brother Ian is about to move when the Air Force transfers him from Albuquerque to his next duty station and it might work out for Ryan to go stay with him for while. Who knows?
So that means changes for us too. We would need less room and would be able to travel a bit more than we do even now. These are interesting times!
I wanted to share this picture taken at a dentist’s office last week. While waiting for Shelly, this gentleman came in on his own and sat next to me. In the ensuing conversation I was absolutely amazed to learn I was talking to retired USMC Master Sergeant John T. Collier. He had joined the Corps in 1940. He was in the first battle won by the US in the Pacific at Guadalcanal Aug 1943. He was also in the first wave ashore at Inchon in Korea And fought his way to the Chosin Reservoir and back. If you do not what these places mean, you need to go look them up right now.
He was cheerful, chipper and a super nice guy and it was such an honor to meet and speak with him. He makes me so proud to be an American, and proud to be a veteran though nothing like this hero!
Another interesting story is our friend Cary Corbett here with Shelly and Goose in Hilton Head Island.
Carey is a VP at Sea Pines in HHI and was instrumental in helping us put together the tournament. 40 years ago, Carey worked for Shelly’s parents and Shelly bought her first car from him that she drove out to Aspen CO to meet me!
And that’s all the news fit to print. We will do our best to get another update out before the tournament in May!
Thanks for reading – and please send us your thoughts!
Although it feels good to be moving again, it feels cold! With any luck this last cold front is the last cold cold front. Once temps get down below 60 my old thin blood just doesn’t do too well out here in the cockpit and open air all day long.
We have had the gamut of weather since leaving Marathon last Monday morning. The SE 15 knot breeze made the outside ocean channel a little rough so we went west toward Key West, under the 7 mile bridge, and turned back to the east in Florida Bay to head towards Miami.
As the day wore on the wind shifted with us allowing a nice sail up to Islamorada although by late afternoon it had picked up and was blowing a bit. Our new wind generator was spinning like crazy keeping the batteries full. Nice!
About midday on Tuesday as we twisted our way through the canals leading through the mangroves, Shelly noticed a lot of mud and sand coming from the bottom a ways behind us like we had run aground or something. I could not tell her why but figured it out easily enough when we stopped into Gilbert’s Marina in Key Largo for fuel and water and hour or so later. In addition to topping up the tanks, we needed a calm place so Ryan could haul me up the mizzenmast to unwrap the safety line that had gotten wrapped around the generator. Oops. I guess I made it a little too long…
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to match the lobster pot rope easily seen streaming out behind the rudder to the sand kicked up earlier in the day. What Shelly saw was the lobster pot banging on the bottom as we drug it along behind us. Poor lobsters! Too bad the pot couldn’t hang on until we got to the marina so we could at least have eaten the lobsters!
So at Gilbert’s, first I had to get in the water and cut the line off the rudder and shaft, then climb the mast to untangle the safety line. Isn’t there some saying about things come in threes? The third is coming tomorrow and it is going to be bad.
After a night in No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne, we left at sunrise out the channel to the open ocean hoping that the seas had calmed down somewhat. Fat chance.
After pounding and rolling our way north we jumped back inside into Ft Lauderdale 35 miles and 5 hours later. Our goal was to reach Palm Beach so Shelly could meet up with her good friends Sue and Kathy.
There are 18 opening bridges in the 40 miles between Ft Lauderdale and Palm Beach which is why we hate going inside. About 2 pm between two bridges the engine overheated and the alarm went off. Sometimes this is an easy fix, and since there is not a lot of room to anchor I had Shelly steer the boat while floating towards the bridge and I tried to find the problem. There was water coming out the thruhull, and the outlet of the salt water pump was cool, so I thought I would just take it off to see if there was flow to the engine. With the line off I had Shelly start the engine which immediately blasted my left thigh and groin with steamy, scalding hot salt water. Third event complete.
(For the curious – the problem turned out to be a plastic baggie sucked up and stuck in the thruhull. It was letting some water in but not enough. I fixed it before starting to go into shock!)
Suffice to say that four days later I can tell you that 2nd and 3rd degree blistering burns on your leg and groin are fairly painful. Don’t do it.
But we weren’t done yet. Ryan helped me steer through the remaining bridges while I tried to get through the pain. Towards late afternoon the forecast was strong thunderstorms as a cold front passed through. With nowhere to anchor someone had to stand out in the 30 mph, wind-driven rain and steer. At least the water was warm and soothed my leg some.
The last hour in the dark (and rain storms) Ryan used a spotlight to help find the channel to Lake Worth and an anchorage. They took Goose in for his well appreciated walk while I crashed.
The good thing is I am going to be sitting down in the cockpit all day for the next 7 or 8 days it takes to get to Beaufort and that will give my leg time to start healing!
Of course, while all this was going on, Shelly developed an infection in her jaw so she quickly began looking like a very greedy squirrel in the fall and feels almost as bad as I do. Oh boy. Not good.
We only had to go about 20 miles on Wednesday to Palm Beach where we found a dentist and a dock close enough for us both to hobble there and trade him cash for antibiotics. It’s all good.
Thursday moved us up to Ft Pierce and a few beers with our crazy Australian friend Gary, then the next day to Sebastian to meet Joe and Sue. All who got a great laugh out of our pain of course. We are here to please.
Sebastian to Titusville where we found out SpaceX was launching a satellite off a rocket and we had a front row seat! Unfortunately, the countdown was stopped at T-1.33 minutes for some reason. It made me remember watching the launches from Cape Canaveral to the moon in the sixties on a black and white TV. Remember?
Then today it is a beautiful, sunny, 70s, clear sky, no wind kinda day as we make our way up through Daytona Beach. Although I’m hobbling (I’ll spare you a picture of my leg) it is improving, and Shelly is doing much better today as well.
One of the most often asked questions we get about living on a boat is “What about storms?”
And this is what we always say. If you had calm seas and perfect weather all the time how would you know how good you had it? We need storms in our life to appreciate the calms.
I look at my crispy leg and thank God it wasn’t worse and also for reminding me how truly healthy I am.
Life is good and we are looking forward to seeing old friends in Hilton Head Island soon.
And here is Goose looking for Shelly. He loves this game!