Follow Joe and Leah aboard SENECA

Short trip south – part 1

1-31-11 Myrtle Beach SC
My mom drove us to the boat to see us off. Shawn untied the lines, MarleyDog tried to eat the lines and I backed out of the slip. for the first time in almost two years I was cruising again. We left Hague Marina about 10:30 on an overcast afternoon and motored down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We had a really good run that day and made it all the way to the nice town and great anchorage of Georgetown, SC. We anchored just before dark and took the dinghy, DRIFTWOOD, off the deck and put it together. We strapped on the new outboard engine that is made from a weedwhacker engine, secured Marley into her life jacket and headed for shore. We were just going to walk Marley and grab a beer to warm up, but we found a restaurant that said we could bring Marley in so we sat at the bar and had a nice dinner. Marley laid under the barstool and slept. Great first day.

2-1-11 Georgetown SC
The next morning I fired up the engine and it died a couple seconds later.after a few more attempts we started to dig in and diagnose the problem. I figured it was the fuel filter because after removing the carb there was dirty fuel in the bowl. then it would start fine then die. After taking the the carb apart five times, going to shore to buy a new in line fuel filter, and finally adjusting the richness on the carb, we got it running well. By that time it was not worth leaving so we dug into a few more projects and Shawn cooked a great dinner of chicken and rice and we had a nice night on the boat.

2-2-11 Georgetown, SC
We woke up to the wind blowing pretty hard out of the southwest. Knowing it was supposed to clock around to the north that afternoon I debated staying there and jumping out into the ocean from Georgetown, but then decided to keep on motoring down to Charleston and getting my confidence back in the engine on the waterway. We fueled up and kept motoring south. Thus stretch is one of my favorite parts of the ICW. Shawn had never seen it and he was impressed by how pretty it is. We made a good run and anchored right off the ICW in Price Creek. Very nice anchorage and another nice dinner prepared again by Shawn. I am glad we stayed inside because the wind was still blowing south when we went to sleep. That night we set up my IPad and plugged it into the new stereo aux and watched a movie in the cabin with awesome surround sound. SENECA is getting more and more comfortable.

2-3-11 Price Creek mile 448 ICW
We got up early to a north wind. Our anchorage was a good two hours south of Charleston harbor. We broke the dinghy down and secured it on deck. We motored down to Isle of Palms marina to fuel up and into Charleston harbor. As we went through the harbor I raised the mainsail with a single reef and rolled out 75% of the jib. We were sailing again! We rode the outgoing tide past Ft Sumpter and out into the big blue at 9 knots! Once in deep water we eased up the sails and turned south. The winds were NNE about 15. The heading to St Augustine put us on a nice and fast point of sail. I even shook out the reefs in the sails. Shawn took the first watch and I calmed Marley down and we actually laid down in the cockpit and took a short nap. The winds started building a bit and I rolled in some of the jib because the gusts were pulling us up into them. As the afternoon went on the winds built more and got pretty gusty so I went to reef the main an went ahead and put the double reef in. We were still flying at over seven knots but much more comfortably. How many times must I learn that lesson, reef early – it will not slow you down. The following seas were a bit lumpy and Shawn started to feel nauseous. I had the helm when Shawn started chumming for fish. He would feel fine for a bit after and would even take the helm. I looked down and little Marley was on the floor of the cockpit looking up to me with a strange look. Then I realized she would get sick and she did right in the cockpit, which is fine and where I want her to go, but hat made Shawn dive for the rail. I felt like I was living through the seen in Stan By Me. Eventually Shawn went below to try and sleep and he was getting really seasick.
Then the clouds started rolling in and it got cold as the winds picked up even more and the waves built. We were still on a great heading and moving well when I accidentally jibed when a big wave pushed the stern. On jibing back, I guess it snapped too hard and I looked up to see the mainsail separated from the mast. The plastic slides sewn to the sail that slide up the mast must have snapped. Fortunately this happened before dark. I called Shawn up and he jumped to duty. I had Shawn take the helm and I went forward to drop the mainsail. At this point it was blowing over 30 knots with bigger gusts and seas about 8-10 feet. I was able to muscle the sail down and get it tied off and Shawn toughed it out and held the helm. I then jibed the jib over and sent Shawn below so I could figure out what to do. Sailing on just the jib I had to choose between continuing on to FL with two crew members out of commission and 20+ hours to go or turn towards the nearest land which happened to be Savannah and that was still 48 nmiles away or what I figured would be at least ten hours. I turned toward Savannah and hunkered down for a long cold night. The autopilot was not able to keep up with the following seas and I also realized I had not recalibrated the compass and it was tracking all over. Shawn would continue to get up and check on me throughout the night but I knew he was unable to take the helm. He was able to keep Marley inside and keep her dry ( which was a very important job) because on the new course we were taking spray into the cockpit and it started raining. The trip in was pretty cold and rough, but at least we could hold the heading and speed stayed up near 5 knots. When I got within ten miles of the Savannah river I came on a huge frieghter all lit up (thankfully) and right on my heading. I had to turn up into the wind and beat us up at 1.7 knots until I got around it and got back on course. Then I had to dodge another huge ship on it’s way out of the channel. I had never been into this harbor, but I figured it would be well lit being such a busy port. I approached the harbor at about 2am and got Shawn out to help me figure out the lights and channel markers. I know he was still a bit out of it but he toughed it out in the pouring rain as we entered the harbor still getting pushed around by some big waves. In the channel I rolled the jib in and motored from light to light following the chart plotter the best I could on this very windy channel. The tide was against us as well and at full throttle we were only doing 2 knots. Once we got into the river the waves finally died down and after dodging a couple more ships we were motoring up the calm river. Barely able to keep our eyes open and giving a huge sigh of relief we decided to head up to Savannah and tie up to a dock instead of trying to anchor. We finally pulled up the first dock we saw at 5:30 am and tied up. We were safe! I took Marley for a quick walk and then we all crashed hard.
To be continued

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments