Last post I was just preparing to sail on my first ocean passage from South Carolina to Cape Fear, North Carolina. As you may recall I had been dealing with a strange squealing noise from my engine. I adjusted a few things and took off the next morning. Almost immediately, the squealing returned, louder than ever. I tried throttling down, reversing, idle, but it kept returning. Afraid I might seriously damage something I had to change plans again and head for another marina. So I just basically drifted with the current for 3 hours and got to a marina. But of course it was Saturday and no mechanics were working. I got advice from people there and on some internet forums and the advice was all over the place. Everyone had an opinion.
It never ceases to amaze me how someone can speak with total confidence about something and not have a clue what they are talking about. Actually, I can. I used to do that as a consultant. We used to joke that the key to being a successful management consultant is being able to speak to your client with absolute confidence about something you know nothing about. It makes you a bit paranoid. That’s really a thing, its called the imposter syndrome. The fear that someday someone is going to tap you on the shoulder and say, “we found you out, you’ve been faking it all these years.”
Anyway, I did follow one person’s advice to check the bolts that connect the gearbox shaft to the propeller shaft. Sure enough, they were loose. I tightened them and she purrs like a kitten now. Problem solved.
So I continued north and east into North Carolina. I tried an ocean passage one day but there was no wind so I had to to motor which was not pleasant, plus it was very hot and humid. But I anchored several times in mostly nice places with great sunsets.
There have also been lots of bugs. One of my favorite activities now is killing horseflies. They fly into my cockpit and I swat them with my swatter. Sometimes they attack in groups so I have to be quick. I usually get them, but sometimes they get me first, when I have to concentrate on the helm for example. But as I discussed in previous posts, I am at war with the insect community and although I have not had to resort to a bug suit yet, I do have an assortment of sprays and thermal repellent cloud devices, as well as the good old fly swatter. Here I am in attack mode and the resultant corpses of executed horseflies.
Here’s one up close. my avowed enemey.
The Longest Day
I finally did a long overnight ocean passage in North Carolina. The weather forecast was perfect. I left at 8 am and set a northeast course. The wind was steady in my favor so I sailed from 8 am to about 11 pm and hardly touched my sails or helm. It was great. I caught a fish, a Spanish mackerel and cooked him for dinner.
Here I am enjoying the sail.
I found that putting on my life jacket and tethering myself to the boat is a bit of a pain when the seas are not rough, so I have been going out on the deck without them, but it makes me very nervous. So one solution I had was to let out a 70 foot floating line behind the boat. If I do fall over I can swim to the line and drag myself back onto the boat. I’ve got to be quick though: I timed it and at 5 knots I have 11 seconds before the line is out of my reach. but the boat is only 12 feet wide so I think I can manage it. Here’s the line.
In rough seas or at night I always wear my life jacket and harness.
Sunset on the ocean.
I dozed off at 10:30 pm only to be awaked at 11 with sails flapping. The wind had shifted. I adjusted my sails but it was variable and I could not get a steady course. So finally I packed up everything and just drifted while I slept for two hours. At about 3 am I tried again but the wind was not cooperating so eventually I had to fire up the engines and motor the remaining 3 hours. I got to an inlet just after sunrise, found an anchorage and crashed out. Sleep is a luxury when sailing solo.
Besides that I have been swimming, which I decided will be my form of exercise now, I tested my overboard tether, and tried to snorkel but the water here is too dark.
So what’s next? I decided I will sail as far as Norfolk, Virginia then turn around and head straight for the Bahamas, which opened up to foreign tourists on July 1. There are more than 700 islands to explore, with crystal clear waters and lots of fish and lobster waiting for me to eat. Here is my route and current location.