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Two days in Beaufort, SC. at 75 degrees F. in late November.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
** To follow Natasha and Travis on the rest of their journey, please go to nsteinma.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2013
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.
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
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
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…)
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.
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.
P.S. To follow Natasha and Travis on the rest of their journey, please go to (and follow!) nsteinma.wordpress.com.
** 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
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!
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.
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!
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.
Wrightsville Beach, NC November 20, 2013
The boat and crew have held up well since departing from Marblehead last month.
Items that have functioned well (my $250 and under items off Craigslist and Ebay) include the Simrad TP10 Tiller Pilot that effortlessly guides Sedna along thru varied courses and sea states encountered. A few times with crossing sea’s abaft of the beam we decided to hand steer for more effective control to counter the turbid breaking surf that would rise astern and cause the tiller pilot to over-adjust as the froth boiled beneath the cockpit’s watch.
The Honda 4 stroke 2HP air cooled outboard motor showed up on Craigslist a week before departure and I’m very pleased with my purchase of it. It’s simple modern design and robust yet light construction give a surprisingly good amount of thrust as needed to and from the shore, and it uses very little unmixed fuel. It sounds like the lawnmower I drug over many a childhood lawn, chugging away through the viscous sea.
The 25 pound Manson Supreme Anchor, along with 100 feet of 1/4” G7 chain (both used lightly), plus 200 of 1/2′ of rope (yet to be scoped) have Sedna firmly held to the bottom with no drag of fowl.
We’ve anchored half a dozen times thjus far in 10-20 feet with an average of five to one scope, and I fashioned a double snubber line from a robust SS snap shackle attached to a galvanized anchor shackle, and about 25′ of 3/4” dock line.
The $425 Zray Chinese/Ebay inflatable has held up well since new in July. We tow it in smooth conditions or deflate then roll it up to stash in the Vee Berth.
The two burner Origo 3000 alcohol stove has boiled as needed. It is simple, clean, and has securely held every pot and pan cooked over it as Sedna thrashes along. The housing immediately rotates in its gimbaled housing while the adjustable sliding clamps secure whatever’s being heated upon it.
The $700 Aluminum framed Dodger I ordered from Sweden was a must-have item and has held up well. The Albin Ballad is a popular design in Europe, and the dodger’s design and fit have been refined and shaped to reflect the simple needs of its dry cockpit and my frozen budget. I fastened it securely to the cockpit combing’s forward shape and tightened it well with adjusting straps to secured and some flexable snaps, and so far it’s still taunt with no structural or fabric issues. The crew knows not to stress it; as that aluminum frames and fabric laps are as robust as their expense, though it’s already taken the full brunt of heavy water without complaint. Once the dodger wears out I will use it and the frames for patterns and fashion a more robust version from SS, Sunbrella, Shelter-Rite, and Strataglass.
The $600 Yanmar 2GM (15HP) diesel engine is working well. I had to literally chisel apart and remove in pieces the old Volvo MD7A auxiliary that came with the boat. It had been leaking all manner of defecation throughout every lower orifice of the Ballad, and it took a lot of prep work to prepare the Yanmar for it’s new chamber. After a few errors in linkage and plumbing the engine/boat package has performed well and seems to be burning a bit less that one half of gallon per hour at 1900 rpms. This propels Sedna anywhere from 3 to 5 knots depending on sea conditions and heading.
Motorsailing at 1450 rpms charges the batteries in a few evening hours to continually engergize nav. lights, the tiller pilot, the cigarette lighter/charger and all its embryonic system (laptops, smartphones and cameras), and the Standard Horizon CP300 Chartplotter.
I relocated the two group 27 deep cycle batteries below the port quarter berth behind the chart table. A 40 watt solar panel is mounted above the main hatch’s combing, below the boom, forward of the dodger. This setup, combined with the 35 amp hour stock Yanmar alternator has been totally effective in keeping our power needs satisfied. While on the hook I hardly ever need to run the engine, and I have an extra 10 watt flexible solar panel I can plug into the cig. Receptacle (it’s backwards capable) but haven’t needed to yet. The equatorial sun will grow with our electronic.We’re always checking our batterie’s state with a multimeter. I also purchased a new 400 watt wind generator off Ebay for $250 that another cruiser had bought several years ago but didn’t use, but I’m realizing I don’t need it either. It’s still in the box (a bit unwieldy in the vee berth), but I like to have it aboard for wherever I may roam.
For a sense of security (false?) I purchased a Winslow emergency liferaft off Ebay for $200. Unused, with a canopy, 2-3 person, not certified since a while ago. I’ve read up on many of the issues associated with used, self inflating,emergency liferafts and their associated certifications. Self inspections, inflation cylinders,nozzles, gas mixes, rot, etc. are all concerns. They mostly will inflate far beyond their re-certification expiration date, and mine is small enough the pump up manually if needed. I’m slack in that I’ve yet to unroll it for a visual inspection, but it does look new.
I also failed to consider the need for sails in good condition. I tested the Ballad locally in the Marblehead/Salem MA waters all summer but never paid much attention to how worn out her sails were. The boat performed well in her local element but wasn’t ready for the big screen in her worn, comfortable shoes.
The other problem with the mainsail is that it’s attached to the original roller reefing boom and has no reefing points added. The Ballad’s high aspect ratio gives the main little drive, and to compensate the sail has a lot of roach (belly) at the foot for more lift, but this lends to an ineffective shape when roller reefed, as I’ve found out now twice. I had to reef it for stability and control in adverse conditions, but the old sailcloth combined with the belly in it put uneven pressure along the leech, and I’ve torn it twice horizontally (I then just kept rolling the boom until the rip was also wrapped up to prevent all hell). I just can’t roller reef it again, and it’s too worn out to add any reefing points for a simple slab reef conversion.
I’ve found a few Hong Kong sailmakers that will cut me a new main, with two reef point for about $700. The furling jib is hanging in there, but it too is mostly worn and I can see thru some of it’s threads. About $800 from Hong Kong. I fixed up the car but forgot about the tires. I’m working on it.
The boat has never been out of our control and has behaved exceptionally well. Our redundant navigation systems and techniques have equally kept us on a safe and efficient course while remaining flexible with the ever-changing conditions we’ve thus encountered. The nav. table mounted Standard Horizon chart plotter is visible from the cockpit beneath the dodger, and each watch can easily view our rhumb line’s route, location, and speed while spying the horizon, sails, sea, rpm’s and perform incremental adjustments with the tiller pilot and sheets as needed. We also have two Samsung Galley phones loaded with chart piloting software, one Mac laptop with MacENC raster and vector, and my Optimus V phone with raster charts and software. I also downloaded all the pertinent Coastal Pilot PDF’s, and I also have been using the ActiveCaptain online program that has been an invaluable cruising guide. I have a Virgin Mobile account that gives me unlimited internet access for $25 a month (grandfathered plan) and 300 minutes talk time. It’s worked for me well for several years now.
The space available aboard is enough, and we’ve not run dry of fuel, food, or water so far. When we departed Marblehead I filled up the 7.5 gallon diesel fuel tank and supplemented that with four-five gallon portable tanks (more on refilling techniques later). I’m finding that three extra five gallon tanks should be more than enough for the practicable future’s coastal cruising needs.
The 13 gallon fresh water tank beneath the vee berth is supported with two five gallon water jugs, and once the fresh water pump runs dry we simply fill the main tank, ferry the jugs a shore, and refill (same with the diesel). We use maybe three gallons of fresh water a day, sometimes less, between the three of us.
Fishing-I’ll get to this subject later when I actually catch something, but I do occasionally try. Live or frozen bait will undoubtedly help.
Our food supplies and cooking have been adequate but not spectacular, though both my crew members have managed to rustle some favorable grub that’s kept us all fueled enough to carry on. Cooking has never been a strong point for me but if pressed I can do it, and I do my part by cleaning up afterward. Natasha is a vegetarian and shares her healthy eating habits with Travis and I who have no complaints, though every so often we feel the carnal need to go ashore and gorge a cheeseburger drowned in a local IPA. I would love to stock Sedna with all manner of ready made eats but our budget at the moment can’t allow it.
This broke captain in currently seeking work/$ for food, sails, and diesel, but is also living well aboard Sedna and brite company.
I soon write about all those who have enabled this boat to be where it currently is; Untied from the dock/untethered from the mooring, adrift and somewhat under control.
Her sail’s aloft in somber air
Sedna slips amidst the inviolate sea
Her bear skinned crew affronts November wind’s wail
Wrapped o’er seal skinned layers
Fat as a determined fall crane
hoping to spring from each new winter’s front
Only to fly south toward a sun that is suddenly too hot
Sedna, the Inuit Goddess of the sea, has been chosen as the name of this vessel, an Albin Ballad 30 foot sloop designed and build by the Swedish around four decades ago.
Her sustained spirit, nestled beneath a thousand fridge d fathoms, has been conjured to contest and negate the effects of the human species as they stir her oceanic slumber.
Sedna is from the north and dwells beneath turbid sea ice. She has laid dormant until her cool migration is requested upon the transom of such a worthy vessel, as this Ballad weights anchor.
More prominent conjures have little power to counteract the global rise in human temperature: Their power and prowess command dominance over the turbid elements that contain and engulf various offshore leviathans, while Sedna’s power lie’s in harbor with the saline water’s still.
She awakes in a cold blanket to reluctantly trudge equatorial along with her captor’s trite quest; opposing a gulf’s stream to affront ever warmer currents that have no business in the horse latitudes where Neptune’s naked horse run’s wild and keeps southern serpents and bay. Sedna cares nothing for the Roman’s narrow sea.
She envelopes all northern trenches with her Narwhale’s twisted staff to channel the flow of heat that has, thus far, clamed the planet’s restless core. Mid-Atlantic ridged canyons must retain equilibrium or an unbalanced tumult with ensue like hardened boils over fevered skin.
Sailing south, Sedna’s menthol blanket tucks in a grumbling volcanic tumult who’s nightmare no ocean will soon be able to rest, as the oceanic depths finite ability to cool our crusted path lingers. Fissures of fire might soon fracture cold depths to unleash the unstoppable Venetian-like heat that will challenge all wonder.
With the choice of a name, The Albin Ballad sailboat ‘Sedna’ had inadvertently awakened the dormant Inuit Goddess ‘Sedna’ then gave her a seagoing chamber to dwell within. As she piles to southern waters her cold slumber trails behind, slowing black carbon’s melt, methane’s belch, and ozone’s refractory demise.
If she awakens no sleep will remain.
**More pictures on Travis’s Instagram: @cunning_fox_smile **
November 12th through likely the 16th, 2013
Beaufort, North Carolina
34° 42.741’ N, 76° 39.413’ W
With the end of our maelstrom-afflicted passage in sight, we found that we had one more minor obstacle to overcome, the U.S. Navy. Anchored directly outside the Beaufort channel were a warship and an aircraft carrier running flight ops. Over the VHF came frequent hailings, politely yet firmly telling the bedraggled pod of sailing vessels limping in to shelter to give the metal behemoths a 3 nautical mile berth. Despite the pleas that crackled over the radio informing the Navy of various hardships, ranging from engine trouble to mass seasickness, the Warship stuck to their orders and wrangled us on to a less than direct course into the harbor. As we converged on the entrance to safe waters, we hailed each other and traded stories of our war-wounds, laughing with the giddiness and familiarity capable by those who can only be described as survivors of a shared experience. (We would later find out that three of these sailing vessels had contacted the Coast Guard for assistance during the previous day’s storm, but not the plucky Sedna!)
Immediately after setting anchor in Taylor Creek across from the docks at Beaufort, we began dragging the contents of the interior of the boat out on deck to dry in the warm, Southern air. The calm waters of the harbor felt almost surreal in comparison to the incessant pitching of the seas between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout that so mercilessly buffeted poor Sedna and her crew. While Clay busied himself on the boat drying things out, Natasha and Travis went ashore in search of ice cream and beer. All endeavors were a success and, after food and a few beers, much needed sleep was had by all.
In the morning, Captain Clay took the first opportunity to go to shore to try to find showers, desperately needed by the entire crew. Meanwhile, Natasha and Travis began damage control, attempting to turn Sedna’s belly from a war-zone back into a livable space. Another gale was expected to blow through from the north beginning on Tuesday evening (the 12th), so after a day spent idling in town and more thoroughly cleaning the boat, we stocked up and retreated to our unheated cabin as the temperatures dropped. Although we were able to relax knowing that our Manson Supreme anchor would hold well all night, we had to keep diligent watch because our neighbors, “the Frenchies” from Montreal, were quite close with very little scope let out on their own anchor. Natasha made an evening trek across the creek for more beer (Captain’s orders), and realized just how frigid it had become. It felt like January at a mile high in Colorado… where did that gloriously warm Southern weather go?
Sedna and her trusty anchor held up well to the cold front that passed through, and her crew is now patiently waiting for the cold to pass and the sail to be repaired (again) so that they can be on their way again. Yesterday while Clay sought out sail repair service, Natasha and Travis explored the adjacent Carrot Island with its supposed wild horses. A lovely walk along Bird Shoals over exquisitely fine sand, and across some grassy knolls brought the rather rugged-looking herd into view. We took our time getting back to the proper spit of sand for a pick up from Clay, and upon arriving realized that the tide had risen above part of the island so that we had to make a detour to get anywhere that would be feasible for the dinghy to reach. Later that night, all three of us jetted to shore for hot chocolate to warm us up. We’re hoping the temperature rises again soon, and that our newly mended, pitiful sails hold fast for the next journey.
~Travis (& Natasha)