ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Day 1 thru Day 4:
Sometimes getting there and getting started is the hardest part of any yacht delivery.
We arrived in our rental car at the Nordic Tug 42 ‘New Bearings’ at the Brewer Sakonnet North Marina in Portsmouth RI, after eight stressful hours of driving in blinding rain. White knuckles gripping the wheel, we shared the road with an uncountable number of eighteen wheelers flashing death wish tattoos in their white rooster tails of flying spray and mist.
We began our inspections and preparation for departure early the next morning.
“Wonder where all that water in the pan under the Cummins came from?” A cautious taste determined it to be fresh water, so together we swooshed it to the back of the pan and over into the bilge sump where the pump got rid of it. We wiped the pan dry and moved along to the next task. Some time later we noticed the pan slowly filling up again. At the end of the day we still had no answer as to the origin of the leak.
The next morning we called in reinforcements and the boatyard foreman found the ‘copper tube to nowhere’! An obscure 1/4″ copper tube with a valve on each end, with the hidden valve open, it was slowly draining the fresh water tanks into the bilge. With that mystery solved, we managed some other small repairs and purchased some basic spare parts.
Did we mention it was still raining and blowing? Amid more torrential rain and small craft conditions from the southwest we provisioned and prepared for departure the next morning.
We departed at 0615 with a perfect weather forecast for the next two days. After 35 minutes underway we noticed a faint diesel smell, and a quick inspection of the engine room revealed a fine spray of diesel coming from a pin hole in the supply hose to the injector pump. At this point we were abeam of the Hinckley yard north of Newport, so we called the dock master and were told we could tie up at the fuel dock until Monday morning. It was so rough at the fuel dock from passing wakes, that it threw an empty coffee cup onto the galley sole, and the loud clattering sound on the bridge turned out to be a broken mast step. We contacted our friend Tony Rego who owns Portsmouth Yacht Refit Center, and he promised to be on board before 0700 to organize a new fuel hose and repair of the mast step. Only ten miles made good on our first day!
A fabulous day and a good run considering we had items to repair. Thanks to Tony Rego we got everything done in hyper time. I removed the leaking fuel hose, and had Tony look at the rickety mast step. Before you could say “Jack Robinson,” Tony and his guy Louis had the mast at half mast, and welded up a proper stainless step. Tony handed me a new custom fuel hose and said “install this.” Install this I did, and after a a quick check of all systems, we fired up and were away by 0945. We caught favorable current the entire day and averaged over eleven knots all the way to Cedar Island Marina in Clinton, CT.
Years ago a friend from Long Island said “If the wind on the sound is in the westerly quadrant, and you want to go west, DON’T.” Dave’s prophecy was, and still is correct. We proved it today, one more time. By the time we got to Hell’s Gate on the East River, Hell looked pretty good. We were given our usual warm welcome at the Great Kills Yacht Club on Staten Island, one of our favorite stops. The club was almost completely wiped out by superstorm Sandy and needs all the support we can give them. Their rates are very reasonable and their hospitality warm. A violent squall and electrical storm struck shortly after we tied up.
We slipped away from GKYC at 0530 this morning, and shook hands with the Atlantic In the Sandy Hook Channel. The forecast was surprisingly optimistic after the monsoonal thrashing we received at the end of the day yesterday. We hooked up ‘New Bearings’ mighty Cummins Diesel at 1850 RPM and boogied south at ten knots for twelve hours. Even my fractured math says that’s good for 120 nautical miles. We arrived at Utches Marina in Cape May just before they closed at 1745. We showered and walked over to the Lobster House. It looked like at least an hours wait so we bought some fresh scallops and flounder at the adjacent fish market and fixed a fine dinner on board.
Day 9, 10 and 11:
On the run up the Delaware from Cape May we noticed the acrid smell of H2SO4, caused by the bow thruster batteries going into an accelerated meltdown in the forward bilge compartment, probably indicating the cause of the thruster’s previous anemic performance. During that days run from Cape May to Annapolis we made arrangements for a battery ‘load test’ with David Able who owns and operates Solomons Yachting Center in Solomons, MD. He assured us he and his crew of sinewy young boat yard helpers could remove three hundred pounds of old cooked batteries and replace them with three hundred pounds of new uncooked ones if the load test verified our suspicions. We again had favorable current from Annapolis to Solomons as we ran the 45 miles down the Bay, we topped the fuel tanks, and were tied up on a tee head by 1100. SYC is an unusual marina in that it comprises a marina with modern floating docks, a full service boatyard, a busy pub and pool, and a fuel dock with competitive prices. David also owns another boatyard nearby. The man never sleeps! The photos show the load test results, the batteries were ‘toast.’ That’s yours truly in the hold doing the blocking and electrical hookup, guided by David Able who wisely avoided climbing in the hold. A huge shoutout for David and his boys, for getting us operational in very short order! The old batteries were out and the new single replacement was in the hold by the end of the day. The next morning at 1130, after blocking and completing the electrical hookup, we were on our way to Deltaville, VA.
Today’s run from Deltaville, VA to Coinjock, NC was wonderfully uneventful, even Railroad Bridge 7 remained open and let us pass. Early Sunday morning seems the best time to get through Norfolk. Any other day of the week is crazy with military and commercial traffic.
Day 13 and 14:
Two more long but good days on ‘New Bearings’. Coinjock, NC to Oriental, NC. Then today from Oriental, NC to Wrightsville Beach, NC. Today was divided by the current working both for and against us. Against us when trying to make a timed bridge opening, and for us as we approached an area of doubtful depths. Overall, ‘good cop, bad cop’ currents kinda canceled each other out. We tied up tonight at the Bridge Tender Marina. It’s well named as it’s, you guessed it, right next to the Wrightsville Beach bridge. Well, the aforementioned current was in full ebb at around four knots as we squirted through the venturi affected narrow opening, then we made a TopGun 180 degree turn to approach the dock with that devil current on the bow. All went well, in part because we got the bow thruster operational a few days ago. Readiness is all! Now, the ‘Slave Queen’ and brains of the outfit, and keeper of all the patience available in the universe, is in the galley preparing a wonderful dinner. Life is good!
Day 15 and 16:
We survived another long trip through the Rock Pile in Myrtle Beach yesterday and stopped at Osprey Marina to fuel up. Osprey is one of our favorite stops on the ICW. A well maintained facility with friendly staff, and always the best diesel prices. We were away at dawn, and entered the upper reach of the Waccamaw River. This stretch between Osprey and Georgetown feels like stepping into another dimension. Pristine Cypress trees thickly crowd the waters edge, and until you use Google’s satellite view to discover upscale suburbia and golf courses hiding behind those trees, shattering that dream. We’ll take our grand illusion over reality and continue to indulge our fantasy of wilderness as we pass this way. ‘New Bearings ‘ is headed for the barn today in Charleston. We should be tied up safely this afternoon and begin our cleanup, then depart by rental car back to Mobjack Bay and Zimmerang, who we hope has been waiting patiently for our return.
Total Distance: 962 NM
Total Running Hours: 102
Average Speed: 9.4 Knots @ 1800-1950 RPM