Thursday, June 27, 2013

To hell and back (or just from Charleston to Wilmington)

A local Charleston fishermen gave us
some blue crabs as thanks for watching his pots
 to see if we could spot whoever is poaching his traps.
We picked up our friends (Pete and his teens Emma and Liam) in Charleston. Pete had wanted to help sail the boat back from Freeport when we first bought it, but got shut out when we couldn't get things fixed quickly enough.  This time he signed up to help us sail the boat up to Wilmington, North Carolina. After delaying a day to see if the winds would improve, we left Charleston with continued light winds.  If it had been just us, we might have stayed put, but we had to get to Wilmington in time for their flight home.

Emma and Liam are great kids and it was really fun spending time with friends. However, they were pretty obviously miserable at times during the trip.

It took two long days of sailing and one short one to get to Wilmington. This was a scaled back plan from our original destination of Beaufort (another 2 days of sailing).  Clearly, it was still too much, too soon for kids whose only other experience at sea was on a cruise in the Bahamas. This seems to be a bit of a recurring issue with us. Matt has a history of overestimating what other people are willing and/or able to put up with (other notable incidents of dragging friends in over their heads include a trip to the Boundary Waters and a climb up Mt. Shasta--sorry Dave, Charlotte and Tisch!).

Combine seasickness, too much "quality" time with young children, and deprivation from the internet, and you have a recipe for mild torture. Although our visitors spent a good amount of the time at sea napping, even that was challenging because the closed hatches made the interior unbearably hot. That meant seven people crammed into the cockpit much of the time. Having two little kids yelling and stepping on your head while you are trying to nap does not help the situation. Topping it off was only 2 chargers for about 4 electronic was musical iPods as everyone jockeyed to keep the devices charged.

Stopping for the night was equally uncivilized for cruising newbies. They were introduced to transom showers with unheated water. No air conditioning, with only certain windows that could be opened because they had bug screens. And of course, while anchored the first night, we had the worst mosquito and deer fly invasion of our short cruising career.

Then to give our visitors even more of a taste of the pitfalls of the cruising life, as we approached the anchorage in the Cape Fear river after the second long day of sailing, the windlass failed while we tried to anchor. We spent several tense moments trying to fix it while motoring against an extremely strong current. If we hadn't needed to be at the airport on Wednesday, we would have put the anchor chain down manually. However, since we couldn't guarantee that we would be able to raise it again the next day, we found a marina that was still open and parked there for the night.  A huge thanks to Bill who stayed open late to accommodate us (note to other cruisers--all the other Southport marinas shut down their operations around 6 p.m. No one answers the radio or phone calls after that).

We finally made it to Wilmington the next day, to everyone's relief.  A dinner of several large pizzas followed by ice cream helped restore spirits (fun fact: Wilmington has one of the highest number of restaurants per capita in the US).

Hopefully, our friends will visit us again when we are not doing a passage and are at a place where we can actually swim and relax. And, while it wasn't rainbows and unicorns the whole time, we did have quite a bit of fun.  Did I mention that Pete brought spices and frozen monster Iowa pork chops in his carry-on to make a fabulous dinner for us? And that he kept sneaking away and paying the restaurant tab?

Our visitors have returned home. We are here for a few days awaiting a part for our broken freezer. The windlass started working on its own again. Matt thinks it could be the switch connections flaking out in wet conditions so he sealed it and will see how it behaves. He bought some new wire in case he needs to rewire it. In other words, back to our normal life.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing that Wilmington has such great restaurants. Had a memorable dinner there at a restaurant that would rival any found in a big city. Beaufort also has some really good eating places right along the water. Bring your wallet.


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