Onward’s Cruise Journal 2009
Cruise S to the Bahamas

October 2009

1-16 Oct 2009; Baltimore

  • It has been a social whirl. It has been neat having my daughter and her husband aboard for the last week during their visit to Baltimore. My son and Amie also flew in for another wedding that I got to attend, too. Joseph flew off to Boston yesterday to begin his new job and Amie moved aboard for the night so I could take her to the airport in the morning. Laura and Kurlen will also leave today for VA and then the flight back to LA. I am really going to miss having my family around!

17 Oct 2009 Baltimore to the Miles River
  • I was up at 0400 and departed the slip at 0700. The only incident being my forgetting the water hose on the pier! There was almost no wind as I left the slip but it grew to 10-15 kts from the N as the morning passed. I motorsailed to the Bay Bridge to be sure I’d make my Corinthians race start time. I made such good speed and the wind picked up enough for me to sail under genoa alone at close to 7 kts.
  • Well as I approached the start line, they announced that we should start whenever we wanted by recording our start time and finish times using our GPS clock. The wind increased to 20-25 kts on the nose. In the very first tack, before I could pull in the lazy sheet as I came on to the new heading, it got loose and hit the stbd fwd dodger window causing a large break in the cold and brittle plastic. After that, while conditions were exciting, it was all quite manageable. Onward was the second boat to finish after Spring Moon.
  • I tried out my new 28-V portable electric drill and WinchBit to run the Harken 66 genoa winches. I love it. The unit has plenty of torque to handle the load sailing close-hauled in >20 kt winds. The charge on the Li Ion battery lasted for the whole race. If I use it as intensely in the future, I will rig up the charger in the companionway so I can recharge the battery between tacks.
  • I tied up alongside the T-head at the Miles River Yacht Club and then was joined by Scrimshaw and Oasis as they rafted up.
  • A great social and dinner at the MRYC followed with most Corinthians joining by car due to the gale warnings. Onward took 3rd place in the race!

  • 18 Oct 2009 Miles River Yacht Club
  • A nasty cold windy day. After buffet breakfast at the MRYC, we adjusted the lines and fenders on the boats and decided the wind was too high and from the wrong direction to attempt to extricate the center boat from the raft so the three are going to spend the day here until the weather improves. It got cold enough that I had to give in and plug in to shore power to run the heatpump.

  • 19 Oct 2009 Miles River to Solomons
  • By 0900 Oasis and Scrimshaw moved from the raft and Onward was free to head S. After rounding Tilghman Pt. I had a great broad reach down Eastern Bay but the wind died as Onward entered the bay. It was a motorsail on a beautiful crisp clear day. I put into Solomons before sunset and went ashore to meet Ron Draper for dinner. I had my last “real” Maryland crab cakes before entering “faux” crab cake land.

  • 20 Oct 2009 Solomons to Fishing Bay
  • I made an almost early start (0830) on a beautiful day like yesterday - but with less wind. Along the way, Onward was on a converging course with a vessel on the starboard side - a very strange vessel as it was moving at 6 kts backwards! It was an old Navy patrol boat. I figured it had to be moving via a tugboat along side -- but I could not see any sign of a vessel. I finally was able to raise someone on the VHF and it turned out there was a tugboat hidden along side. So, I dropped speed and did a 360 to cross his stern. I put into Fishing bay before sunset and did a bit of relaxing.

  • 21 Oct 2009 Fishing Bay to Norfolk
  • Anchor up shortly after sunrise on a beautiful day. Light winds on the nose made for a motorcruise down the Bay. Adverse current kicked in after noon and Onward arrived at ICW STM 0 15 minutes too late to make the 1530 last opening of the Gilmerton Bridge. I anchored off Hospital Point and was soon joined by a dozen other boats. One of them, Osprey, hailed from East Greenwich RI. When I hailed them on VHF it turned out they know Chris Kozak who had told them about the Bahamas Cruisers Guide - small world. After anchoring I got to change back to shorts and a short sleeved shirt because it was WARM! I really have developed a loathing for cold. And me a New England lad...

  • 22 Oct 2009 Hospital Pt. to North R.
  • I was underway at sunrise slowly motoring toward the first bridge and it’s 0830 opening - then came the wave of later risers rushing to the bridge where we got to drift around until the opening. Then the lock dance began. I was rigged for a starboard-to docking in the lock when they announced the right side was full so I had to rush around and move fenders and lines to the port side -- all for a 1’ change in water -- at least i got to cruise downhill on the other side. I eventually managed to move Onward out in front of the gaggle of other sail boats and actually got to do a nice motorsail across Currituck Sound. I refueled at Midway Marina in Coinjock - down to only 7 gal of fuel - a bit close. I continued on and anchored in the North River just short of Albemarle Sound. I anchored in 12’ about 0.4 nm off the ICW channel - kinda in the open but my nights on the Bahamas Banks has changed my concept of “open”.
  • I experienced the most beautiful sunset I can remember. What made it so spectacular was how clear the sky was over the horizon where the sun set. This allowed it to continue to light the clouds from a constantly changing angle for a long time. A constant variation of shades of red to orange red combined with a continually changing 3D perspective of the clouds as the lighting angle changed and their texture became more apparent. Wow. It really deserved a time-lapsed photo series but Onward was moving too much as the current set to give me a constant vantage point. Next time!

  • 23 Oct 2009 North R. to Belhaven
  • Onward was underway at 0710 and found Albemarle Sound to be calm - a nice way to cross. As I approached the infamous Long Pt. Shoal at the entrance to the Alligator R I checked to see if there were any changes having received an email warning from Skip Hardy. I talked with the local TowBoatUS captain and he said to follow the markers - not the lines on charts. I also asked The Falcon who had just passed me to report back. By following the marks and ignoring the chart - which included going across a shoal marked 5’ - I found a minimum of 11’. The easiest transit of this area yet. I put in new waypoints to mark my track. I put into Belhaven harbor and anchored for the night.

  • 24 Oct 2009 Belhaven to Cedar Ck
  • Well, it started out as a beautiful morning with light winds just after sunrise. As Onward turned W into the Neuse R, the wind built to > 25 kts on the nose. I was eventually able to bear off and use the furled main on the port tack to make better headway against the short choppy seas. I spent the longest time yet sailing Onward in winds > 30 kts true today. By the time I made it to the entrance to Adams Ck canal, I was concerned that the conditions would be too severe to allow me to anchor in Beaufort NC as I had planned. So I pulled off the iCW and anchored just inside the marker at Cedar Ck and took a well-earned rest.

  • 25 Oct 2009 Cedar Ck to Mile Hammock Bay
  • A first, I arrived at Mile Hammock Bay and found almost it reasonably empty. It was good to be there for the front passage that occurred during the night.

  • 26 Oct 2009 Mile Hammock Bay to Carolina Beach
  • Some day I will learn to time my departure from here to make the bridge opening without having to wait -- this was not the day. The passage through the infamous Shallotte and Lockwood’s Folley inlet areas was uneventful -- good for a change. I put into the anchorage at Carolina Beach - short of Snow’s Cut for the night. This area is a bit off-putting from the charts which have almost no detail. However I found the anchorage area referenced by Skipper Bob and Managing the Waterways to be great. There was ~17’ of water - deeper than the channel needed to get there and a large anchorage. Mahalo followed me in and anchored nearby. I had intended to invite them over but I was too exhausted.

  • 27 Oct 2009 Carolina Beach to Bucksport
  • I departed at first light and made it thorough the Myrtle Beach area by early afternoon. I pressed on to the beginning of the Wacamaw R so I go through that beautiful area in the morning. While looking for an anchorage, Moon Dance called as they had heard someone call me on the VHF. They put into the Bucksport Marina for the night so I headed there. The marina operator kindly volunteered to go out to Moon Dance when he heard me calling them on the VHF I told him it wasn’t necessary as I was close enough to use the loud hailer. I ended up tying up to the pier for the night and Harriet invited me over for a great salad for dinner.
  • 27-30 Oct 2009 Bucksport to Georgetown; Georgetown
  • Moon Dance departed early while Onward’s skipper enjoyed a lazy morning because I had a short distance to go. It wasn’t so lazy really because during the night we had a torrential rain. I listed to it and thought how nice it was for nature to be washing the decks. I awoke to find I had been tied up downwind of a live oak tree that was shedding. This was my first encounter with live oak fronds and they are formidable: they are very light and flexible and they have small barbs that catch on everything. It took more than an hour to clean off the decks.
  • I enjoyed as always the cruise down the Wacamaw River - a journey through the wilds. At Georgetown, I was able to find an anchorage at the far end near the steel mill which is now closed again. I put the dinghy down and was going to go into town for lunch but the engine stalled. I then found out I had water in the fuel so the afternoon was spent cleaning the fuel tank and disassembling the fuel pump and filter. Even after this it would not run properly so I took the rest of the afternoon off to relax
  • On Thursday, I got an early start on maintenance and I changed the oil and filter on the Yanmar. I still don’t have a good way of getting the filter off without letting oil drip under the engine - sometimes I do it without a drop - but not today. I then had to remove the pipe nipples that supply the hoses that send hot water to and from the water heater because one of them had developed a small leak that I had been trying to find the source of for months. As with most boat tasks, the cleanup took 3 times longer than the work. I then called the Yamaha outboard dealer where I had purchased the engine last December and talked to the service manager. He advised me to disassemble and clean the carburetor and fuel system. I did this and replaced the fuel with new fuel from the deck jerry can. Wonders! It began to run normally! As I was on a roll, I took a closer look at my water heater leak and realized there was nothing to it but to replace the unit. The leak had gotten worse so I decided I needed to put a shut off valve in its feed line so I could at least use the cold water system.
  • Friday. High Priority came in to Georgetown and berthed at the Dock Marina. I took my now normally running outboard in to say hello to Ron and Ingred. The owner of the marina, Rob, was really helpful and agreed to get rid of my waste oil and gasoline. I then took a walk into town to visit the hardware store and buy the shut-off valve I needed for the hot water heater. After a nice late lunch at Big Tuna’s, I did some shopping at the gourmet food store and returned to Onward to rest.
  • 31 Oct 2009 Georgetown to Isle of Palms
  • Onward and High Priority left Georgetown at first light and headed toward Isle of Palms where I planned to anchor for the night before meeting up with Moon Dance at Isle of Palms before moving on to Charleston on Sunday. It was a good day with sufficient tide that no shoals were encountered. However, at the worst section of the ICW here at marker 47, I encountered the first idiot power boat of the trip. At 47, the channel is narrow, it is shoaled, and the turn to starboard after the mark is very sharp. An @#%$#@ driving a Grand Banks decides to pass me at this turn, come around my port side, and before I’ve gotten to where it was safe for me to make the turn to starboard, he cuts across my bow so that there was < 10’ between boats. When I commented to him on VHF that it would have been nice for him to wait a minute or two for me to complete the tight turn, he responds that “I’m a professional and I’m sorry you can’t take it”. What a fool! It started me thinking about having a wide-view video camera ready for me to switch on to capture such event.
  • Onward and High Priority anchored in late afternoon in the Dewee Ck just N of Isle of Palms, beautiful area in the flats. I took the opportunity to install the shutoff valve in the hot water tank feed line. As I was testing it before I tightened the hose clamps, one of the lines popped off and sprayed the salon with water. Another example of the lesson I don’t seem to be able to learn: take the extra minute to make sure everything is done right in order to saver the hour of extra work that results when I don’t. Ah well, something to work on...
  • After the water-hose-gone-postal cleanup, I was famished because I was too busy piloting to make lunch today. I needed comfort food so I turned to the wild mushroom fettucini pasta and arabata sauce that I bought at the gourmet store in Georgetown. I invited Ingred and Ron to join me and we had a fine time. Delicious pasta, good wine, good company; what more can one want.