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Stuffing Box

Near the end of July, I decided to have one more beer, a Bud in a bottle.  I was impatient to find a bottle opener,  so I leveraged the cap on a sharp countertop ledge and smacked down on the cap.  It always worked, only this time the bottle broke and slashed deep into my right thumb, severing my flexor tendon.  I wrapped the gash with gauze and passed out in a bloody bed in the back of an abandoned power boat. The beer had a twist off cap.

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I went to Oregon and swam in the clear waters of the Elk River with salamanders and family.

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Several weeks later crew and I sailed to a VA hospital in Port Royal Sound for an MRI on my thumb. The cut had healed well but I could no longer bend my second joint, and it felt broken when I tried.  The next day, as we motor sailed back to Broad Creek, I heard a squealing sound in my engine compartment. After accessing the engine I traced the sound to the dripless stuffing box where the prop shaft exits the boat.  

A year and a half previous an old cohort and I had reused (my bad) the old shaft seal while installing a rehabbed Yanmar. We also added a gate valve routed from the raw water exhaust that was meant to lube the shaft’s O ring lip seal and flush out the shaft tube.

I opened the gate valve a bit more and ‘POW’, something broke somewhere and water started gushing in, flinging all over. I idled the boat back and tied to the local dock, then stretched a wrap of electrical tape around the wound. The bilge pump first ran every 30 seconds, then every minute, then, after about a week slowed to a trickle. It had silted in from the dense, brackish waters that we lived in. I believe the heavy silt also helped propagate the old shaft seal to loose its cool and fail.20140903_141844

During this time I made arrangements to haul the sloop and wedge it in the adjacent yacht club’s parking lot, where I could keep it for a month free if I was a member. I joined the club, secured some jack stands, then promptly got the runaround within unavoidable, local politics. A week later, and still leaking in the water, I towed Sedna back to my mooring/anchor area with my dinghy. One day I rotated the prop shaft just a bit and it started leaking more again. I couldn’t completely investigate the leak without making it worse, possible catastrophic. Humm. What to do? 

Three weeks passed, more silt slowed the leak, and I learned that the boat yard and yacht club were having a tuss, and that I somehow got dragged into the drama with my broken thumb and boat. I was being used for the prisoner I had become amidst the inmates of the expensive shore. I sat before the warden’s door. For over a month Sedna and I steamed through the ebb and flood of a cyclic current while tethered to the seabed. We went nowhere.

Then if figured it out; I would replace the seal myself in the water while at anchor. No yacht club, no boat yard machine, no marina, nutten.

I poured through as many threads as I could the subject, and I still wasn’t sure what was broken, but I knew I had to replace the leaking shaft seal device. A restricted distance between the transmission coupling and the shaft tube limited options; I couldn’t get rid of the flexible shaft seal and install a longer prop shaft to add length for a PSS shaft seal while in the water. I was unsure about the Volvo shaft seal because of my Yanmar’s low RPM vibration and some spotty shaft pitting.

Careful measurements revealed I could just fit a traditional bronze stuffing box shaft seal that housed strands of compressed, graphite packing flax that created a bearing seal.

I carefully unbolted the flexible coupling from the shaft coupling, unhooked the exhaust, electrical, and mechanical devices, then unbolted the eight motor mount bolts that were threaded into the steel plates below the raised engine beds.DSCN1390

I made a purchase to a jib sheet winch and cranked the motor forward, off the shaft/coupling.DSCN1389

Next I got a ratchet winch and a 4 by 4 beam and jacked the motor up and pulled it into my main salon.IMG_20141020_110343IMG_20141020_115855

I got some toilet base wax and a hack saw blade, then dove below the boat where the prop shaft exits the hull on it’s way the the strut/cutlass bearing. I used the hack saw blade to clear out the space between/around the shaft and shaft tube, which was full of silt, sea monkeys, and barnacles, then I packed the area with the base wax.

I went to Harbor Freight and bought the biggest three pronged puller I could find then removed the shaft coupling.IMG_20141020_113727IMG_20141020_115205

The next day I enlisted my friend Brian to assist with the transfer; to remove the old composite seal unit and replace it with the bronze one. We removed the hose clamp around the shaft tube and tried to pull off the old seal, but it was stuck on the shaft. Water started to come in.

I took the three prong puller and cranked off the old seal in about four minutes as the sea gushed in my lap and the bilge pump came to life.

The old composite shaft seal tube had broken in half and melted itself around the shaft.DSCN1406

I wet sanded the prop shaft, then we promptly slipped on the pre packed bronze Buck Algonquin stuffing box, using a one inch aluminum short bar I had found beneath the yacht club to smoothly transfer it onto the shaft without distorting the three carefully staggered strands of packing.

The moment we slipped the thick rubber shaft hose over the shaft seal the water stopped coming in the boat, and I knew it was good.DSCN1404

Total cost of parts was about $150. The next day I reinstalled the engine and systems, and I felt like I was being watched. I was; atop the abandoned sloop’s masthead aft of me. DSCN1397

The next day my left knee, back, and thumb hurt. A few days later I scrapped Sedna’s bottom and replaced the missing shaft zinc. I still needed to haul the boat and do a bottom job but it could wait. And now when the engine idled it shook much less due to the robust bronze stuffing box and thick packing hose firmly clamped to shaft tube.  DSCN1403

I went ashore and I had Joe pour me a beer on tap.20141022_155408

I like it, and I also have a new loose footed mainsail I had made last spring.20140517_150226

The boat will sail soon after I return from Oregon (again) on family business. Seeking Creuuuuuuuyuuuuuouuuuuw!

 

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Savannah

Yesterday I tooled around in Savannah, got a haircut, drank beer, and took some pics.

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March

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Winter on Broad Creek

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Burrowed in a Gator’s Mud Den.

Two days in Beaufort, SC. at 75 degrees F. in late November.Beaufort SC 3 Beaufort SC 2 Beaufort, SC Beaufort SC 4

I pressed the tightly wound Campbell Sailor propeller (sleeved to the shaft, bolted to the transmission, geared to the engine, and finally mounted to Sedna via four rumbling rubber motor mounts) against several hours of swift inter coastal current to finally anchor at Hilton Head’s Broad Creek. I’ve been here for about a month.Broad Creek
What have I been up too? Well, within a few days of poking around at the local yacht club I found some work on a dry docked charter boat that was having extensive maintenance performed. Feeling right at home in the bilge I spent the next two weeks cleaning out several chambers full of wet muck, then I went at some electrical re-wiring and engine work. Once the boat launches in a several weeks I may also be one of it’s captains, taking tourists on a 2 hour tour of the local area to see dolphins and such.

Work
The local yacht club and marina have been hospital to me, and there’s a hot shower whenever I need it.   I’ve made friends with a bachelor named Morris and his dog Boomer who live in one of the many gated communities nearby, and I’ve crashed there a few times to thwart the cold heebie jeebies.

Morris and Boomer
He has 30 year’s worth of stuff in his garage and an old Mercedes 240d that hasn’t been started in 16, so I’ve been organizing the place and preparing the car to run again. The first challenge was to unbury it then to get the hood open, and now I’m working on the frozen ignition/wheel lock. The hubs are also locked, and of course I’ll drain all the fuel, change the filters, then I’m going to run pure Seafoam through it and hopefully de-gum the injectors/lines/pump. Vrrroom!

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My goal has been to make and save some money then purchase a new jib and mainsail. I’m doing alright at the first part, and I’m working on the saving up part.
I have no particular plans this winter other than to live well, and so far I’m doing alright with that. I miss some people.
The boat is holding up well considering I’ve stopped sailing and have just lived on it for the last month. My primary Lewmar winches need a serious once over and I’ve purchased some waterproof bearing grease, solvent and light gear oil to service them. It’s time to change the motor oil/filter, and the Raycor as well. There’s a few window leaks I should caulk, but the boat is mainly dry.
I bootlegged an old mooring/ball and interconnected it with a Danforth , while twice a day a rather strong tidal current swings Sedna agains’t her chomped bit.
This evening there’s a high wind and a wind chill warning that’s bobbing us about as the current and wind are at odds with my freeboard and keel.
The Honda 2HP outboard and Zray inflatable have held up well. I’ve dragged the robust dink in some rougher than I should have seas and nothing has torn apart, while the motor continues to start on the first or third pull, depending on how I feel about it.

December Moon

Broad Creek 2

There Be Monkeys!

I pulled the hook at 3:45 AM, bound for Morgan Island where 4000 tattooed Rhesus Monkeys are raised then later sold for medical experiments. A humid December fog enveloped Charleston’s chop while I fussed with Sedna’s tiller pilot, coursing from waypoint to
waypoint as strong currents slapped me off course.

When I entered the harbor a few days previous I noticed several semi-submerged floats just outside the marked channel, so I was careful not to stray from it’s narrow boundaries, least I become entangled. After two diligent hours I finally reached the harbor’s jettied mouth where the narrow inlet juts toward the sea. The local weather vapor reduced visibility to about a quarter mile while I plodded seaward to safe water.

Sharply and without pretense channel 16 crackled ‘to the vessel in the channel outbound, this is the several hundred foot cargo vessel inbound, about to make the turn at marker ‘R 22′, is that you near ‘R 24′ ‘? We switched to a working channel, then I responded that I wasn’t sure of what number marker I was near, but I was confident that I was to the starboard side of the channel heading about 150 degrees with a light house to my port. The captain responded his ship could use more room to his port in order to make the turn into Mount Pleasant Range (where I was). He said his ship should be visible soon. Without delay I changed my course to starboard and veered off course, but I only had so much room between safe water and the shoals off Cummings point less than a quarter mile to my SSE.

Soon after I could first feel then see a huge ship emerge from the fog as it churned along and emerged from the entrance channel. We paralleled safely while I lingered to the south of ‘G 23′, and then I got back on my course and headed out.

The night before (while I was plotting my exit from the pre-dawn harbor) I looked up Charleston’s shipping traffic and did see that a ship was inbound that day, but the time was not specified. We met on the narrowest junction, where it turns, in the fog, in the dark, with a shoal to my starboard. Hah!

Within the hour the fog gave way to both heat and light, and I turned Senda Southwest on a safe offshore track toward ‘C 1′, Saint Helena’s entrance buoy 34 miles away. My goal was to arrive at the safe water mark about a half an hour before high slack then let the currents bring me to my anchorage destination of Morgan Island, still another 3 hours away. I wanted to be safely anchored before dark.

I motor sailed for most of the way and maintained about 5 knots with a diminished following sea.Fishing boat

Once in the Sound I followed the marks and had a nice afternoon by simply warming up. I ate cheese and bread, cleaned off the boat’s deck, and took care of some business (while still three miles offshore, more or less).

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Sedna’s hook was set off Morgan Island’s southern shore around 4PM with no other boats in sight. I had some beers while cooking sausage, turnips, cabbage, onions, and spices, then I played some guitar for the monkeys. While the sun set and the water lapped against Sedna’s hull I could hear Jurassic Park-like sounds nearby then watched while large raptors soaring overhead as they screeched their personal beacons and spied my intrusion. I slept well.

Monkeys

The next morning I woke up late to the sound of crashing brush and breaking limbs. The monkey’s were messing about aloft in a few select trees in chase and ape chaos. After an hour of this they chilled out, and I watched a few of them watching me while they groomed one another. The monkeys assured me they were emotionally and mentally stable, and then they retreated back into their artificially controlled forest.

That’t the last I saw of the monkeys, about 20 of them. Where were the remaining 3980? The island is lined with bold ‘No Trespassing, Federal Government’ and ‘Don’t Feed the Monkeys’ signs.

Don't feed the animals

Our human species butchers millions of animals every day for a multitude of reasons, and we all partake in this global carnivorous endeavor.

Without cause and in curiosity I spent the afternoon online researching Morgan Island’s monkey’s and concluded that I had nothing new to add, no shocking revelation or clever insight. So I made one up.

I will share the links I’ve saved at the end of this blog and let you make your own conclusions. Maybe I just want to write a horror movie.

Eagle profile

Around 9AM after the monkeys cleared out I noticed a large bird atop a high dead tree overlook, and my camera’s zoom revealed that it was a Bald Eagle. To it’s south I saw another one perched along it’s tree crevassed nest. Cool.

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About 20 minutes later the first bird launched itself offshore and gave me a warning glance before flying toward a nearby island.Eagle flyEagle look

Within the hour it returned to join it’s partner along the nest and fed the secure chicks below as the first sentinel kept watch.Eagles nest

Imagine that; a pair of bald eagles and their young on Morgan Island. I also noticed dozens of large vultures and ravens regularing circling near the island’s southern end. One of my links refers to a dead monkey’s end.

Later that afternoon Sedna started to heal a bit, and I went on deck to see the tide well out and her keel aground. We were stuck for about 40 minutes before moving a bit further offshore, and I could hear the monkeys making fun of me.

The next morning I noticed a large white animal jumping about at the opposite end to where I’d previously seen the monkeys. My zoom reveled what looked like a large goat, and it was busy playing with several deer.

Around 8AM I decided to leave and headed for Beaufort, SC, only 16 miles away through the calm ICW. I did my best to time the currents to either in my favor, slack, or not to much against me, and I chugged along between 3.9 and 6.2 knots, 1900 rpms.

It was a comfortable 77 degrees beneath Beaufort’s Live Oak and Spanish Moss while I hunted up a bacon cheese burger, fries, and a beer.

Today I’m going to Hilton Head Island as sort of a final destination for at least a few days. I’m almost broke and running out of food, so basically I need a job. The current challenge is to humbly re-enter some social structure and adapt to it. No one’s gonna feed this monkey.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2780958

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Carolina_Department_of_Natural_Resources

http://www.thorninpaw.com/mt/archives/000260.html

The Conservation of Heat

The conservation of heat

When I go to sleep in one of Sedna’s berths (knowing that it is either cold already or going to become so while I’m sleeping) I pretend to take counter measures; but they always fall short.

For example, on the eve of a predetermined fore-night I will often cover myself with three blankets; the well worn bedspread Gretchen gave me, a Pendleton wool blanket from my mom that ought to be warmer than it is, and a smallish and well-snuggled down blanket that’s warmer than its weight. Warped in memories of love one would think. But no.

While asleep I tend to toss from left to right while my bones readjust to a worn cushion’s crevice, and in doing so I inevitably uncover myself from the blanket sandwich I carefully designed while awake. Once asleep my subconscious controls the night, and when I start to become aware that I’m cold my instinct is to conserve what heat remains rather than gather and rewrap the fallen layers that once held me warm. I prefer to reluctantly freeze until chill’s discomfort stings my dreams shakes me awake enough to recover and re cover. Sometimes I fail to wake up and instead freeze a limb or entire slab of me.ice

This is how it was on Thanksgiving morning when I awoke in Georgetown, SC. It was about 29 degrees with wind. Ice had collected along Sedna’s deck where the water doesn’t drain as it should. My left side ached for no reason and I was determined to do something about it. I fussed up, make some shotgun coffee, over -layered with wool socks, sweat pants, jeans, two long sleeve shirts, a hoodie, a vest, a jacket, gloves, and a beanie.

My short term plan was to use Georgetown’s public restroom then sit in the local coffee shop (with free refills) and absorb their heat while our sun warmed up my hull’s interior a bit. The restrooms was open, and upon looking at my puffy-eyed self in the mirror I decided to take a brisk sink face rinse. I found to my delight that the electric hand dryer also blew heat (on the second punch and more on the third). Finally I was a bit cleaner, warmer, and more presentable for coffee. Did I smell? How can one tell after crawling out from under a bridge or from the waterline of a boat?

No matter, coffee shop was closed, so I piled along Front Street seeking any available door that would accept me. No shop was open (of course), but then as I neared the block’s end in frozen defeat I spied activity inside a local diner and opened it’s door. Several people were busy preparing food, and though I was told the cafe was closed for business on this sacred day, if I returned after 11AM they were serving up a free meal for the entire community. That warmed me right up. The place is called Aunty’s. ww.auntys.com

The previous day an anchor-out named Leo hailed me over to bum a ride shore later that evening, but when I went to collect him he was not quite ready, so we made tentative plans for a Thanksgiving meeting of some sort. I looked forward to collecting him this mid morning for our humble meal.

Upon returning to Sedna’s slightly warmer interior I checked the marine forecast (I should leave this afternoon), then I plotted my course.

I weighed my black, mud coated anchor and left it dangling, then motored over to the nearby town dock to prepare this vessel for her overnight journey south.

After I un-caked the ground tackle and made a final trip to the public head I collected Leo.

We arrived at Aunty’s around noon and were served up all the fixen’s of a proper southern Baptist meal. I over-ate, took a slice of apple pie to go, then basked in my cockpit while Leo dusted a fine cigar while lounging on the dock’s finger next to me. We swapped stories, shared boat details ,and re-embraced our collective paths, then I took him back to his robust Alberg 30 pocket cruiser and wished him well.

I untied from the dock at 2:30 PM and motored out into Winyah Bay with the intent to meet it’s Atlantic mouth at both slack tide and dusk.

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The inland waterway between Georgetown and Charleston had unpredictable shoaling of 3 feet at low tide, and I didn’t want to get stuck in ‘the ditch’, so I chose the offshore route.

This was my first overnight solo sail, and I was going southeast about 60 miles to Charleston. The forecast was for 10-15 knots from the north moving northeast with 3-5 foot swells, then increasing to small craft warnings of 20-25 knots and 5-7 feet for Friday day and Saturday.

I was well fed and overdressed as the sun set on Thanksgiving night, secure within my self inflating PDF and harnessed with a short leash to Sedna’s interior. By 6:30 I had navigated east to the safe water buoy then pointed the tiller pilot south toward a waypoint about a mile east of Cape Roman Shoals. My next plotted waypoint was toward Charleston’s harbor entrance about a mile east of Rattlesnake Shoals then into Charleston”s large bay. I had two anchorages plotted; one at Fort Johnson closer to the entrance but less protected from northerlies and remote, and one near the Coast Guard Station near a large marina/downtown.

It took me all night to get to Charleston’s Harbor entrance and there was plenty of shipping traffic to deal with, but about 9 AM I set the hook near the Coast Guard Station and sacked out. My brain took about a day to recover (Friday), and yesterday I finally did some laundry and a bit of food shopping with my dwindling reserves.

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This morning I woke up early and went for a run around quiet old city while contemplating staying for a while to seek work and once again attempt to legitimize myself, but I later thought better of it. I must forge on, at least to Hilton Head for a visit with my cousin and family.

So just now I’ve concocted my next move; a 3AM departure with the current’s blessing back into the sea, then 35 miles southwest to St. Helena Sound where I will anchor along Morgan (monkey) Island. Yes, there’s a colony of over 3000 Rhesus Monkeys that were relocated there about 35 years ago. After I consult with them I will have a better understanding as to what my next move should be…

A Sudden Parting of Ways

** To follow Natasha and Travis on the rest of their journey, please go to nsteinma.wordpress.com

November 24th, 2013

Georgetown, SC

33° 21.934′ N, 79° 17.048′ W

Our next passage, from Tina’s Pocket/Cut, NC to Georgetown, SC, was a calm 22 hours of motoring, drifting (when we realized we had no more fuel reserve – see Clay’s previous post), and sailing. We motored out of the ICW, past Southport, and into the open ocean, which was relatively calm most of the morning. The wind was very minimal for most of the day, and by dusk it had dropped away completely. The water was as placid as I’ve ever seen it… and the sky was eerily beautiful.

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After a long night waiting for the wind, and then tacking back and forth along our rhumb line towards Georgetown, we finally arrived at the Winyah Bay Entrance at flood tide which pulled us into and up through the Winyah Bay to Georgetown. We arrived in some eerie but beautiful fog, and got soaked in a steady drizzle as we set the anchor in the muddy-looking Sampit River. Welcome to Georgetown.

Navigating up Winyah Bay to Georgetown

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As Clay is planning to write more details about the little town of Georgetown, I will suffice it to say that it is a quaint little place, with true southern hospitality and a historic downtown business community that has rallied a positive revitalization of a 7-building string of businesses that were recently burned down in a tragic fire. It has become a central point for the community to focus, rebuild, and grow stronger. What an inspiration!

An artist’s rendition of the storefronts that were lost in the September 2013 fire

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After arriving in Georgetown on the morning of the 23rd and spending some time chatting about our journey thus far and our current positions, we came to the sudden conclusion that we would be parting ways. Clay needs to stay put to gather money for new sails, diesel, and additional food, and doesn’t know how long that will take. Travis and I are determined to make it to the Caribbean and felt that it would be best to try to move onwards. After about two whole days of researching alternatives and reaching out to contacts, Travis found a friend that is planning on leaving from Fort Myers, FL in the next week and a half bound for the USVI. As I needed to get to the Savannah-Hilton Head airport anyway (my mother convinced me to join the family Thanksgiving gathering in Wisconsin for a few days), we made the quick decision to hire a rental car and go inland for the first time in a month to get to Savannah. So, on Monday November 25th, Travis and I packed our awkward square bags back up, and disembarked the beautiful goddess, Sedna, with teary eyes. (But not before I stupidly dropped my wallet into the harbor while climbing into the dinghy… which Travis then dove in after and rescued! It only happened to be the coldest day of the year yet…)IMG_20131125_123048

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Thank you Sedna for bringing us safely to our current location; for abidingly serving as the vessel for our adventures; and for teaching us the high standard of sturdiness needed for small ocean-going vessels such as you. We will miss you terribly.

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And most of all, thank you Clay, for taking us greenhorns aboard and for teaching us about sailing, Yanmar engines, navigation, scrappiness, and maybe even how to love the sea. Thank you too for guiding us safely through the New England waters, and for all the many adventures we’ve enjoyed together. Best of luck in the rest of your journey, and we hope to see you again soon! Cheers Captain Clay!… or perhaps we should say, Captain Bootleg! Thanks again.

~ Natasha

P.S. To follow Natasha and Travis on the rest of their journey, please go to (and follow!) nsteinma.wordpress.com.

Pleasurable Cruising

** This is slightly out of order, as I’ve been slacking on posting, but imagine this came before the most recent entry.

November 21st, 2013

Masonboro Sound, South of Wilmington, NC on the ICW ~mile marker 139

34° 08.587′ N, 77° 51.604′ W

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This is the kind of sailing my friends imagine I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. The sun is shining strong & warm, the wind is cool & firm at our backs, and the scenery surrounding us inspires adventure, exploration, discovery & peace of mind. We are cruising on the ICW for the first time… from Wrightsville Beach, NC to Southport, NC (or rather just north of Southport to a tiny anchorage called Tina’s Pocket). I’m sitting happily on the bow of the boat basking in the sun & rocking out to the blues/rock radio we are blaring from below. I am rested, happy, and our galley is freshly stocked with food from a real grocery store.

After a direct, but rolling motor across Onslow Bay from Beaufort (where the fumes carried on the following wind finally prompted me to join the sailor’s seasick club), we have spent the last several days anchored just inside Masonboro Inlet by the bridge to Wrightsville Beach. It’s another anomaly of a town, as strange as Beaufort was but just as different. Travis pointed out that had he been dropped there without knowing where he was, he would have presumed he was in southern California. Wrightsville Beach is a Bohemian little surfer spit with resorts and summer homes galore. We were walking back to the boat one night in the pouring rain, and passed at least 10 people jogging. And about as many biking home with their surfboards under their arms or their fishing poles dangling in the street. It has a beautiful beach though. I thoroughly enjoyed walking barefoot through the cool surf inspecting the shell selection. And, it was even hot enough one day (~78°F) for me to suit up and go for a brief swim next to our boat. The guise was that someone needed to check our propeller shaft and sacrificial zinc, but I also just wanted to cool off after an hour of sitting in the sun sanding and recoating the wood handrails with teak oil. The challenge was to dip in the water between the giant jellyfish that were drifting by. (Clay commented after I got out that he’d now go research whether or not they could have killed me… before he himself jumped in for a cool off.) It was a beautiful taste of warm weather, and we got some good work done on the boat – Clay cleaning and replacing our starboard (green) running light, and Travis & I sanding and recoating all of Sedna’s exterior wood with teak oil. We did lots of repair work in Beaufort too. Travis hoisted Clay up the mast to check things out, and we of course did a routine check on the Yanmar engine. I spent SEVERAL hours repairing/patching our sails – a big patch on our jib and a smaller one on the mainsail that the folks at Omar’s overlooked. That labor has now made me feel especially protective of our delicate and very worn sails. We must baby them in their old age!

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It is truly lovely to keep meeting so many wonderful people along the way here, serving to completely restore my faith in humanity. A million thanks to MaryAnn Eisenstein and her lovely dog Ginger, who took us all in to her home and treated us to an incredibly relished night’s sleep in a real bed, home-coked meal, and access to a real grocery store. We greatly enjoyed your company both at your home, and aboard our humble vessel, Sedna! Keep on smiling, MaryAnn, you are a gem! Thanks a bundle AGAIN.

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We also met a sweet cruising couple, Lawrence and Kelly, who left Beaufort with us and seem to be on a similar schedule. Perhaps we can be cruising buddies on the sea – both for companionship and safety. Fair winds to you both; see you soon hopefully!

~ Natasha

From North Carolina to South Carolina

From Beaufort, NC to Georgetown, SC

We left about 2 PM from Beaufort and headed toward Wrightsville Beach, NC to work favorable currents. It was about 70 miles with little wind and a beam swell, so we motored most of the way, arriving at the entrance to Masonboro Inlet about 5AM. A thick fog arrived about an hour later, but by then we were securely anchored within our dreams.

For the next few days we hung out with our respective dwindling budgets amidst the ‘closing for the season’ surf town of Wrightsville Beach. I looked up an old friend named Mary Ann (via Ella) that I knew from the Caribbean some 15 years ago, and she treated me to a natural southern hospitality that I remembered of her the last time we were together. Even though she was as broke as I was she still managed to put me up for the night and served up a great meal. The next day we toured downtown Wilmington then she drove me a half hour north to meet a sailing contact along the Inter Coastal Waterway named Peter (his pic’s in the last post with his large wooden ketch in the background). The next evening she hosted my two crew members to an overnight stay (while I stayed aboard) and treated them to a meal, showers, and a shopping run.

Mary Ann you are the best, thank’s very much, and you are welcomed aboard anytime.

Leaving Wrightsville Beach we decided to try a bit of the ICW and skirt Cape Fear’s shoaling that extends seaward over 15 miles below its SE Atlantic prominence.

Sedna loped effortless with a broad reach to her flank as the afternoon’s current rode beneath her. With a whisker poled jib she almost sailed herself. Next we motored through Snows Cut and into the Cape Fear River, then anchored for the night at ‘Tina’s Cut’ just off the shipping channel near a power plant and ferry crossing.

At dawn we powered south and back into the Atlantic to cross Long Bay and toward the protected Winyah Bay where we planned to duck in for an overnight anchor before proceeding further, weather ever a concern.

Our morning course of 240 degrees took the wind from the atmosphere, so we just kept motoring at 3.5 knots with a decreasing sea to our back. I previously topped off Sedna’s 7.5 gallon internal fuel tank in Wrightsville Beach, and my crew filled up an extra five gallon jug as needed. Since Marblehead we’d been calculating how much fuel the Yanmar consumed and at what speed/RPM, and although I installed a working fuel gauge it was inaccurate because of the tapered and wedged shape of the small tank.

At about the half way point across Long Bay, nearing sunset, the ocean became almost flat and reflected an ominous sheen skyward as the center of our high pressure system gathered herself overhead and prepared to give way to the next afternoon’s westward approaching gale. The wind was supposed to build later that night in our face from the SW to 5-10, swing to the west, and increase, and the strong flood out of Winyah Bay’s mouth would work against us if we arrived before 7:30, but I didn’t care because the Georgetown Light Anchorage was only a few miles in and I didn’t want to be dealing with the forecasted worsening conditions later that day. After motoring for about 5 hours at 1850 rpms and 10 hours at 1450 rpms (with another 10 hours to go) we proceeded to add the extra five gallons of diesel.

But wait! It was gasoline, not diesel that found its way into the spare fuel container. We could smell it a fowl, and as the sun set I re-calculated Sedna’s thirst to realize we might just almost might or might not make it under power, and there was not wind. Fortunately no diesel found it’s way into the tank.

But wait! We now had all this gas, a fuel sipping 2HP Honda four stroke, and the inflatable (which we quickly re-inflated). Worst case scenario; if we had to motor all the way to Winyah Bay, into it’s mouth, then west to north several miles to seek fuel (Georgetown) I could deploy the inflatable, raft it alongside with the 2HP and control our course as the flood carried us to OPEC’s salvation.

I would have to shut off the Yanmar before I determined it would run dry (or else bleed it, change the Raycor secondary fuel filter, inspect the small and worn primary fuel filter housing to get at the primary fuel filter, loosen the banjo washers I’d just replaced, torture the well worn fuel pipes/nuts, etc. I just got everything working well/no leaks, and I wasn’t going to run her dry). I was confident that motoring Sedna with a rafted outboard in the flat water conditions of the Bay would work fine.

The trick was to arrive at the mouth of Winyah Bay at slack water or just after the flood, and that was 12 hours away.

If we’d have kept our earlier motoring pace our mouth’s arrival would have been bout max ebb with an adverse current of 1.6 knots (which I earlier intended to do for about two miles then drop the hook and get some rest). But now it was critical we met the inlet as it accepted us.

For the next few hours I motored slowly onward, intending a few hours of controlled drift a few miles shy of the mouth until it swallowed us. And then there was wind.

Yes, slight at first then building, and straight in our face, but we had time to burn. Over the next 10 hours we sharply beat to windward and managed perhaps 25 miles of forward progress along our rhumb line. Once in the mouth the dolphins and current guided us within a well marked channel, and we even sailed for another half hour before relenting to our well earned fuel reserve.

Once in Georgetown we secured a spot off Front Street and I’ve been here ever since.

I had to make the decision to put on the brakes of Sedna’s forward progress for the next week, partly because of the weather (this Thanksgiving Storm), partly because our intended route back into the ICW has too many shoals, and mostly because I need to gather up some more cash to proceed (fuel, food, beer, maybe sails, that’s about it).

My good crew set off for further adventures; Natasha flew to a Thanksgiving reunion and Travis is off to Florida to hone his sailing skills aboard a friend’s newly purchased trimaran, will Natasha join?  I encourage you all to follow their blogs now that they’ve departed Sailpony and Sedna.

They are great people and crew. We managed to live aboard this diminutive, robust Albin Ballad for a month and bring her along the East Coast as winter chased us south. They always did what I asked of them and never gave me any crap, they are both good navigators and sailors, everyone stood their watch, and they fed me. Yes, good crew for sure, and I hope to sail with them again…

I would like to thank the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s boat shop in in Beaufort for making me two Ash Battens for my mail sail (with extra wood), and Omar Sails and Rigging of Beaufort (Craig Beavers, new owner), for giving me the ‘local rate’ on Sedna’s 2nd (Cape Hatteras) main sail repair.

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