Headed South

Last post I had planned to go north to Maine. Well, I changed my mind again and decided to return south. Bahamas is opening up again so that’s where I want to go. But it has been an eventful few weeks.

I headed northeast at first to Delaware Bay. I had some good sailing in the ocean, with a nice wind at my stern. I was sailing wing and wing, with my jib on one side and main sail on the other, the sails acting as wind catchers, cruising at 4-5 knots. Then I caught a small shark, an Atlantic Sharpnose. I got about a dozen good steaks from this guy and delicious tasting.

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I planned on anchoring one night in Ocean City, MD but when I got there the place was overrun by boats and jet skies. Plus there were shoals and shallow water everywhere, as well as strong currents and wind. I tried to get to the anchorage but there were dozens of boats already there. As I tried to find a spot, I actually ran aground again in 4.8 feet of water. I was stuck for a few seconds but then the winds blew me off the shoal and I was free. I decided then to get the hell out of there. I left the area and anchored north in the ocean near a beach which was rolly but not too bad.

I got to Delaware Bay and stayed a few days waiting for better weather and getting groceries and to refuel.

By the way I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I got a dinghy before I left Jacksonville. It is A Mercury inflatable with a cheap 2.5 hp motor.

I use the dinghy mainly for going ashore to get groceries. I hope to use it to explore islands in the Caribbean when I get down there. But it is not easy. I need to find a place to anchor that is close to a beach or dinghy landing area, which also has to be reasonably close to a grocery store. Then I load my bike with wheels removed, my panniers, life jacket, extra gas, boat hook and oars then motor to the landing point. At Lewes, Delaware I motored about half a mile to a beach. Then I have to tie up the dinghy, remove the bike and assemble it. I leave the dinghy tied up with the motor locked and kill switch removed, but I still fear someone will steal it.

Then I have to ride a couple of miles usually to a grocery store, stock up as much as my panniers will hold, ride back, put it all back in the dinghy, motor back to the boat and haul everything up and put it away. It can take 3-4 hours to get all this done.

Much easier is if I can tie up to a free town dock, which many small towns offer. Then I just have to unload my bike onto the dock and away I go.

I stayed in Lewes harbor a few days waiting out bad weather. Rain and wind 25 knots. Not much to do but sit it out. At least I had a lot of food to eat.

I finally left Lews harbor and right away my autopilot broke. The autopilot is essential because I am alone and I cannot stay at the helm all the time. The autopilot is a simple device that works when I set a direction then engage the clutch. The compass then sends electronic signals to the drive mechanism to keep the boat at the desired heading. With it broken I had to hand steer for a couple days which is really tough. I had to make constant adjustments and if I left the wheel for more than 30 seconds the boat wandered way off course. I made my way back to Fishing Bay near the Piankatank River where I rode out hurricane Isasha. I had to wait four days until my replacement drive mechanism was shipped. Finally I was ready to leave and head out into the ocean. Rather than motor down the ICW I wanted to sail in the ocean for four days from Chesapeake Bay to Beaufort, NC, about 225 miles.

The first day was nice and I caught an Atlantic Needle Fish. Don’t let them bite you with those teeth. That jaw is about 6 inches long.

I was planning on eating it but I could not get to it for a few days then it started to smell too fishy. Plus I read it was oily and had lots of small bones. So I decided to use it for bait instead.

This guy appeared in my cockpit and hung out for a while.

The forecast was a nice day then some wind but waves 3 feet. But when I got to ocean winds were 25 knots and waves up to 9 feet. A rough couple days. I hardly slept. Then I had a problem with my boom so I had to return to Chesapeake Bay and figure out a solution. I had to climb the mast to untangle a loose line. Meanwhile I passed a couple interesting ships.

A Navy Ship in Norfolk , VA
Cargo Ship

I managed to climb the mast using a rock climbing harness and gear but it wasn’t easy. I got fatigued on the way down and lost my grip. I was hanging there unable to move for several minutes. I almost panicked thinking I would not be able to get down, but with a great effort I managed to get control and get down. Never again. I need a better system for climbing the mast.

With my boom fixed I headed back into the ocean after studying weather reports carefully, but seas and winds again were a lot higher than forecasted so I was making slow progress. The forecast was for stronger winds too so, completely frustrated, I returned once again to Chesapeake Bay and am going back down the ICW for a bit. The ocean is not a hospitable place with high winds and heavy seas. the boat gets tossed around and you feel like you are on a roller coaster. Not fun.

So that’s it for now. I am leaving Chesapeake Bay finally, headed to North Carolina.

Here’s another cool ship that passed by one day.

One thought on “Headed South

  1. Greg Snell September 6, 2020 / 10:35 am

    love to read your adventures. Write them more often!

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