Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finally In The Bahamas


Off To Nassau_003 We left Palm Beach at 4am on the 27th and had a relatively straightforward trip across to West End, Grand Bahama.

The wind was a bit on the nose to start with, which combined with the strong north set of the Gulf Stream made us think we would have a hard trip again (3 years ago the trip to Bimini took forever and we were hoping not to repeat it).  But after a few hours the wind came round more to the south and the Gulf Stream died out after about 30 miles and the trip ended up as a simple sail under sunny skies – we even caught a small Mahi Mahi to really spice up the trip.

Bella crossed with us and we were soon tied up at West End, customs formalities complete and cracking open a cold beer to celebrate their first international trip, the culmination of our 1100 mile trip from Annapolis.

The next day we parted company, Bella to the Abacos and us towards Nassau, the first part of the trip was definitely not what we signed up for.    Off To Nassau_014

We were just out of the marina and some squalls turned up, dousing us with heavy rain and killing the wind, we were then shocked to see a water spout about a mile away heading towards us. 

We fired up the engine, and furled the genoa leaving just the main to douse should it get too close.  About 10 minutes later it broke up and a new one formed about 200 metres off our stern, or exactly where we would have been if we hadn’t fired up the engine!  Off To Nassau_020

We don’t have any photos of that one as were too worried about it!  Luckily it went the other way and we were spared the damage – a scary sight indeed.

The rest of the sail to the Berry’s was superb, we averaged 8 knots and romped along, we caught a tuna and dropped anchor in Great Harbour just after dark. 

Next day off to Nassau, bagging a King Mackerel to make it 3 fish in 3 days, another water spout but far enough away to be interesting, finally getting into Nasau at sunset.

We are picking up Josette here for a holiday hence the rush through the Berry Islands, we will have to enjoy them on the way back north.

So another month gone by, and we are hoping that in December we can stop endlessly sailing to the next place and enjoy the Bahamas.

Friday, November 26, 2010


West Palm Beach, FL

Well we have finally made it to Florida and are ready for the trip to the Bahamas.  After the anchor troubles in Charleston we had another excellent overnight sail to Cumberland Island, 163 miles at an average of 7 knots arriving by 1pm and best of all having a warm night at sea.

Cumberland is one of our favourite spots on the US coast, (see our posts from 2007) and we had another great visit.  Since our last trip here the Parks Service have opened up the Plum Orchard estate on the north of the island.  Cumberland Is_023

Unlike Dungeness this one is preserved as was and the tour gives a great insight into the life on the island.  As well as the formal living areas, it takes in the servant quarters, kitchens and machine rooms.

The electrical system was designed by Thomas Edison to showcase his invention of DC electricity to the Carnegies and their wealthy friends – a more appealing marketing strategy than inventing the electric chair, which he did to demonstrate how dangerous Westinghouse’s AC system was!

From Cumberland Island we motored down to Saint Augustine on a flat calm day.  It was our first trip here as with our draft the entrance has always seemed a bit daunting given we always like to leave when it is windy, but this time the weather forecast, tides etc seemed to look good for the in and the out trips.

The entrance has recently shoaled and has some buoys missing so it never promised to be easy, and with the setting sun making visibility even harder, we had a stomach wrenching trip in.  The initial line up was easy, but as we passed the second set of buoys we suddenly found ourselves with no visible markers in front – where the hell is the next set? 

We carried slowly on in as the deep water was reasonably obvious as we had breakers on either side and finally picked up 2 port hand marks off to the left but still could not see the starboard marks, just breakers and a  beach.  The further in we got the more worrying this was, so we headed across to pick up the port marks, but on local advice didn’t want to get too close to them due to the shoaling.  Imagine our surprise as we passed the first port mark to realise it was a starboard one!   A sharp left turn and we were back in the by now very narrow channel and safely in.  We were never in any danger as there was deep water where we were, but still a bit of a scare!

St Augustine_007St Augustine is lovely, it is the oldest inhabited city in North America, having been founded by the Spanish in the 16th Century. 

The town has two sets of attractions the old colonial  bits, including a large fort, plus in the 19th Century Henry Flagler turned the town into a super resort for the rich and famous, building 2 enormous luxury hotels and much of the town infrastructure.

St Augustine_100These old hotels  are now used as a University and the Town Hall, providing useful civic function but maintaining the stunning architecture and interiors.

I am not sure how many University dining halls can boast Tiffany stained glass windows, but I can’t imagine it is many!

We leave St Augustine on a beautiful warm day with gentle easterlies, the trip out is easy as we have better visibility and having been past the markers once it is a bit more obvious what the much altered and somewhat randomly buoyed channel is supposed to be doing.

The forecast is spot on and an hour or so after we clear the channel the wind fills in from the ENE at 20 knots and we have a superb sail down to Palm Beach, 210 miles at an average of 7.5 knots, arriving in Palm Beach early in the morning.

We have had a rather hectic week here as we make the final preparations for departure.  My visa expires at midnight on 26th so we have no choice but to leave by then, and the water maker membrane that survived 12 month pickled while we were in the UK decided to have a melt down during the 6 week pickling after leaving Annapolis, so we needed a new membrane fast.

We got fabulous help from Murray Marine, meeting me at the dinghy dock on a Saturday morning and fitting a new membrane in the housing.  Trouble was that while this solved the problem, the water quality was poor.  I spent 2 days rebuilding and rewiring the system to eliminate lots of little problems like voltage drop, worn feed pumps etc but while each fix improved it slightly the water remained marginal. 

We finally worked out that the problem was a faulty membrane from Spectra, and Dick Murray did a great job of finding another one at very short notice and getting it fitted for us on Thanksgiving Eve, ready for a hurried departure!

Hopefully the next post will be from the Bahamas!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Diving In Charleston Harbour!

Our planned early start quite literally hit a snag today.  We get up and are ready to go, starting to lift the anchor at 0830, but sadly by 0840 we have given up trying to lift the anchor and I am getting out my dive gear! 

We are badly snagged on something very solid and there appears no other option than to explore the depths.  Our friends Mike and Karen from Chapter 2 come over and stand by to help in the dinghy and I head off down the chain into the surprisingly cold water and rushing current of Charleston Harbour.

It's not the diving I am used to and at about 15 feet I lose all visibility and am left groping my way along the chain in the pitch dark, knowing that at some point I will come upon some large and unknown object that is snagging our chain!  I proceed very slowly with one hand out in front and eventually find the chain disappear under a large concrete block, probably an old mooring.  I can see nothing, I know if I let go of the chain or block I will never find it again without returning to the surface some random distance downstream of our boat, possibly under another one, it's cold and the current is strong and it is all a bit scary!

I try to pull the chain loose and out from around the block but can get no slack into the chain as Matsu is pulling back hard on it, so I return to the surface for a think on how to proceed and to escape the gloom and cold. 

The first plan is to let out plenty of chain and then Linda motor forward to remove the tension while I try to release the chain.  Another scary descent and 5 minutes struggling to make headway and then I decide we should wait for another attempt when the tide changes as it will be much easier to do when all is working in the same direction.  I am also very glad of a warm shower and a jumper as I am starting to get very cold!

We then have a frustrating wait, sitting in the cockpit trying to keep amused.  Finally at around lunch time when the water slacks off I drop in for another attempt and a better look round, I want to find the anchor and buoy that, as one option is to detach the anchor from the chain and pull them up separately.  This time I retain some visibility and with no current the whole thing is a lot less scary than before, I successfully navigate the block and find the chain exiting on the other side, and follow this to buoy the anchor.  I then follow it back and start trying to shift the chain from underneath.

It is badly stuck, probably as a consequence of us trying hard to lift it this morning, after much sweat and (almost) tears I start to make some headway and eventually have both ends of the chain in my hand and the mid section trapped beneath the rock.  More tugging and eventually I free it, draping it over the mooring so that we can lift it up.  I return to the surface with 99% of the job done but heart in mouth that we won't get it snagged again, and we immediately start winching in.  All goes smoothly and we are soon free of the bottom and "ready" to leave - just the small matter of me wearing a wet suit, the boat covered in dive gear and odd ends of rope .

As Linda motors slowly down Charleston Harbour I get showered and changed, pack away the gear, and we are soon shipshape and heading out of the channel to sea, it’s 160 miles to Cumberland Island and I am exhausted already!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We had a superb sail from Cape Lookout across to Wrightsville Beach and then after waiting for another window, had another excellent overnight sail down to Charleston, arriving early morning after another 7 knot average passage.

En route we had an amazing visit from a huge pod of dolphins right at sunset.  To Charleston_045We spotted a couple and then by the time we were at the bow they were coming from all over the area to join in.  We were sailing at 8.5 knots at the time under blue skies, and leaning over the pulpit with 15 dolphins zipping along is a memory that will not fade for a very long time.

Another miracle was actually capturing a good photo of one of them for the first time ever!

We had planned to keep pushing south but Hurricane Tomas and the continued unsettled tropical weather makes that a less sensible plan so we have spent a very enjoyable 10 days here, relaxing, walking round this immensely interesting town and sampling some of the superb food.  It now seems as if the tropical waves are finally coming to an end, plus I need to be out of the USA by 26th November so time to get going again.

You can track our progress more accurately now from the “Where Is Matsu” link below, I have set this up with our radio email to give regular updates of our progress – many thanks to Yotreps.

The weather has been either warm and sunny shorts time, Charleston_010or clear and freezing cold jumpers, jeans etc alternating as the cold fronts come through, but leading to some amazing scenery at sunrise.  With the cold air hitting the warm water, we get a stunning start to the day.

The other land mark while here was yet another birthday for me, celebrated in style with lunch at an excellent French restaurant.  Linda has bought me a Kindle so lots of reading to do as I wade through the books on that plus the still full shelves of old technology!

Anchor up tomorrow morning and off to Cumberland Island, then Florida and the sun.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great Sailing Week

Wrightsville Beach, NC          GPS: 34 12.4N  77 48.0W

Map picture

Well what a productive week, our initial departure plan got delayed as the rain revealed a leak between the forward hatch and the deck, necessitating full removal and reinstallation which took most of the weekend by the time the sealant had dried.

So finally on Monday morning we were off.  We motored/sailed down the Chesapeake in company with Merlin stopping at Solomons and Deltaville before arriving at Old Point Comfort on Wednesday evening, just in time for the weather window to get round Hatteras, we were joined by Bella so we had a convoy of three for the long run outside.

It proved to be a superb sail, we left on Thursday morning and had a cracking sail down the Virginia coast, reaching in a westerly on flat water under warm sunshine.  What a change from 3 years ago when we tucked in sleeping bags and shivering.  Much of the change is due to leaving a couple of weeks earlier, but also the cockpit enclosure Linda has made since then helps to keep the wind off us.

We had a full moon for the night sail and the temperatures remained high, even when the forecast northerly change came through around midnight.  The wind shifted NE at 20-25 knots and the seas began to build a bit, but nothing more than 4-5 feet so comfortable fast downwind sailing.  We rounded the shoals at Hatteras around 0430 by which time it was a bit rougher, but once round we had a comfortable ail as the seas flattened out again.

Cape Lookout_002Sunrise was gorgeous and the rest of the trip uneventful sailing downwind in sunshine and flat water.  We sailed the whole 200 miles to the Lookout shoals buoy averaging 6.6 knots and with no incidents at all to report.  We were joined  by a pod of dolphins for the motor into the anchorage at Cape Lookout arriving tired but very happy in time for a sunset beer and an early night.

Saturday dawned sunny and warm and we had a great walk down the ocean beach at Lookout in the sunshine.  It reminded us of Australia with four wheel drives and surf fishermen on the white sand, the waves rolling in and sun warm on our backs.Cape Lookout_014Cape Lookout_013

Sunday was our last chance to get south for a few days so we upped anchor in the dark and motored out bound for Wrightsville Beach.  The wind filled in once the sun was up and we had another superb sail in calm seas, bright sunshine and at good speeds – it wasn’t like this 3 years ago, we almost don’t trust out luck!

We hadn’t been in here before, but Masonboro Inlet was wide, deep and easy and we are now tucked up in the anchorage riding out 3 days of 20 knot southerlies before the next leg down to Charleston.  We hope to leave Friday on the next cold front getting in 24 hours later to probably our favourite city on the east coast.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To Do List Frenzy

Annapolis, MD

September has been and gone and finally we are ready to head south.   We have been working hard and Matsu now shines and gleams like new and the to do list has gone from 120 to 20 things to do – the truth being the 20 are the sort of things that never ever get done!

We have spent the 6 weeks tied to the dock at our friends Larry & Bev from ChandelleBurley Creek_001 who we first met in the Bahamas in 2007.  They have been so kind allowing us to use the dock and share their superb location in Annapolis, we will be sad to leave!  The dock has an endless supply of blue crab too and we have had some great crab dinners to sustain us.

Linda’s big achievement is to have made a superb dodger, our old one was impossible to see through and leaked like a sieve and the time had come to replace it.  3 years ago we bought a Sailrite machine and Linda has honed her skills on many projects but a dodger is about as hard as it gets.Burley Creek_007

With Larry & Bev’s dock as a work area and her faithful assistant Charlie, Linda has produced a superb dodger - tight, wrinkle free and waterproof; the difference it has made to the boat is incredible.  We will actually be able to look out for boats on night watch from within the dodger rather than having to stand up and stick our heads out – an important improvement in the autumn weather.

We also took delivery of our new mainsail, it looks and sets beautifully, now we have the new one we realise how bad the old one had become.

I meanwhile have been fixing, replacing, troubleshooting etc etc a  multitude of systems and with today’s rebedding of the front hatch we are set for the off.  There is an excellent weather window opening up mid next week for rounding Hatteras and heading south, like all windows it can disappear but we plan to head south down Chesapeake Bay tomorrow and who knows where the next post will be from.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Travels

Annapolis, Montreal, New York, Annapolis, New York, Quebec, Annapolis!

Our good progress on the to do list, the oppressive heat of an Annapolis summer and the need to spend some time with our Canadian family and friends meant a busy 2 months of riding back and forth on our bikes.

In mid July we headed to Montreal on our bikes via Amish country and the Adirondacks, passing 3 excellent days of riding great roads in the sunshine. 

Canada Trip_006I will never forget the wave and look I exchanged with this Amish man as I sat by the side of the road on my FJR1300 looking at him on his horse and cart.  We both thought the other were from outer space, but could also see the good in each others choices.

It’s a fascinating culture, each invention is assessed by the community for it’s likely impact on the community and the family and accepted or rejected accordingly.  So for example a mechanised thresher is OK as it helps the harvest on your land, but it must be pulled by a horse and cart, as a tractor would encourage you to farm more land, thus making you want to buy your neighbours land, hence live further from your other neighbours and thus decrease the sense of community.

Canada Trip_034The Adirondacks were less of a culture shock,  but the mountains, lakes and forests that are so much part of North America never cease to amaze me, much as Linda is blown away by the old villages of England.

The riding was superb too, fast smooth roads and winding curves, no traffic and no speed cameras.

We spent two great weeks in Canada visiting Linda’s parents and friends, lots of laughs and a few beers, and Canada too was experiencing a glorious summer so the sun shone nearly every day. 

It was all too soon time to head south again as we had promised Dave and Donna that we would help them move their new motor boat from Long Island back to Annapolis.  We rode down through the stunning scenery of Vermont and joined them on Long Island for our first ever week on a “stink” boat.

We had a great trip, the weather played along and we had days of no wind and sunshine which is ideal for motoring.  It was odd to set off with no expectation of sailing, resigned to the chug chug of a diesel for the whole day, knowing to the minute what time we would arrive and nothing at all to do other than watch the scenery slip past.

The journey took us back along a route we had done in Matsu in 2007, down Long Island Sound, through the eats river at NYC then down the Jersey coast, up Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal and back into Chesapeake Bay.  We had an excellent time as I hope the photos show, lots of laughs with our great friends, watching Dave’s face as the fuel pump ticked round and around on the dock, and being back at sea cruising gain after all this time.Paule & Louis_013

We arrived back in Annapolis in time for Paule & Louis to stay with us for a week, we went into Washington DC and walked the length and breadth of the National Mall, perfectly sensible on a 104 degree day!

After that we headed back north, riding through the White Mountains of New Hampshire this time.  More stunning scenery, mountains, forests and lakes again, we camped out at night and even saw a bear, Ride North _0023my first wild one, she had 2 cubs with her who climbed into the skip in search of food while she stood guard.

It was outside a restaurant and we had visions of an unsuspecting bus boy coming out to empty the trash and being ripped to shreds.  An amazing sight, so powerful and dangerous yet cute and cuddly with the Paddington, Teddy Bear etc image they retain!

More fun with family and friends in Canada saw out the rest of the month, we still didn’t get to see everyone we wanted, but as summer passes into autumn it is time to head back to Annapolis and get on with the massive to do list that we have before we can head south.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Heat, Humidity, Repairs & Annapolis

Back Creek, Annapolis, MD

We decided that as we had already motored the whole way from Beaufort we would do the same on the Chesapeake Bay, so we chugged steadily north in three legs from Norfolk VA to Annapolis, rather than waiting on favourable winds.  Previous experiences with the bay are little to no wind at this time of year, and we are keen to arrive and begin getting Matsu in shape.

Map picture

It was all very uneventful except for once more losing our steering, we were coming in to anchor for the night, turned off the autopilot and had no manual steering!  We used the autopilot to anchor uneventfully, and once topped up with oil the steering worked fine again – further investigation found a big leak from one of the copper pipes just where it went round a bulk head, and we have finally found the cause of all our problems – just need to fix it now!

We got into Back Creek Annapolis, said a big hello to our friends from the Caribbean, Dave & Donna on MagicAnnapolis_002 who live here aboard their boat, and then settled in for 3 weeks of trying to get Matsu into some sort of cruising shape so we won’t have to brave the bridges on the way south!  The to do list is long and we are keen to get the major items either done or in progress before heading to Canada to see the family.

For the whole time we have been here the weather has been unbearably hot, our Target ice maker has been a life saver keeping us in iced tea, 100+ degrees most days, and dropping to only 90 at night (apologies for the Farenheit but when in Rome).

Boat wise the priorities were a new main sail, fix the generator and the steering and get some varnish onto the exterior wood work.

Our old North main sail has done 12 years and I would guess nearly 50,000 miles so it is hardly surprising that it is now made of tissue paper after all the UV damage.  We have repaired some small tears, but it is only a matter of time until it blows out permanently so time to bite the bullet.  I hunt around for quotes, and happily North are the best value (half the price of a quote from an independent maker here) and so we can continue the relationship.  It will be built at their loft in Sri Lanka and then shipped to the USA for final finishing, fitting our batten cars etc and then the sail maker will help fit it and test sail it with us.  It’s a nice heavy cruising cloth, 3 reefs and a few extras and should last us well.

Starting the generator should have been easy, I soon isolated the problem to the injectors, so bought 3 new ones and installed them.  Unfortunately while tightening the final bolts I managed to break the fuel return manifold, so had to buy a new one of those.  The only stock in the USA was in Seattle and the 3 day delivery time stretched to a week after a rock fall in Montana – has anyone else seen “Delayed Due to Natural Disaster” on their UPS tracking status?  Finally it arrived and 5 minutes later it was fitted and I was pressing the starter – chugga chugga, vroom, yeah! sound of fridge opening, pssst, slurp, aaaaaah was the sound sequence from then on!

The steering was the only other big ticket item to stop us sailing south, and this was duly fixed after much crawling in lockers, sweating and swearing.  We cut out the troublesome 4’ length of copper tubing and replaced it with a brand new hydraulic hose and hopefully we are done.

Meanwhile Linda braved the heat and did all the exterior varnishing, so Matsu is now shiny and mechanically sound.  We still have a long to do list of little things and improvements, some essential, some desirable and some that I am sure will be on the to do list as long as we own the boat!

Aside from the boat our other priority was to get some transport, as we want to shuttle back and forth to Canada, as well as do some land travel this summer, and with our hard earned motor bike skills we decided that a couple of bikes would be the way to go.  Much searching later and Linda is the proud owner of a Kawasaki 650R and me a Yamaha FJR1300 – the open road awaits!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

We Made It Through The Wilderness....

Great Bridge, VA
36 43.2N 76 14.3W

We actually made it through the inside route on the ICW, it was stressful, miraculous and we hope to never do it again!

We left Beaufort on Monday with no idea if we could or couldn't make it, I had removed all the aerials, wind indicators and lights from the top of the mast but we still had 64' 9" above us and the 65' bridge clearance is renowned to be touch and go. Plus there is the Wilkerson Bridge at 64' feet an anomaly and a frustrating one, we would need low water levels to make it as there is no real tide there.

Day 1 sees us cover the 66 miles north into Pamlico Sound and then through another cut into the the Pungo River. The first part takes us back up to Core Creek where the boat stayed for the year and then under our first 65' bridge of the day, as we approach I am too focussed on the ridge so we end up losing the channel momentarily and the depth sounder rapidly drops to 8', I try and turn into the channel but she won't respond, has the steering failed again, no I have just not turned off the autopilot (Skipper a bit rusty after a year away!) soon fixed and we are back in the channel with only the lightest touch on the mud!

We crawl under the bridge with Linda on the bow, there are still good tides here so we pass under with maybe 18" spare - one down 6 to go.

The day sees us pass up channels and man made cuts passing hundreds of channel markers, all with a resident Osprey it seems.

Twenty years ago there
were hardly any left but environmental laws and hunting bans
have seen them rebound, but what they lived on before channel markers I have no idea!

The second bridge is in a less tidal area and we still pass beneath with plenty to spare, the water levels do seem low which bodes well for us to get under the Wilkerson tomorrow. We drop anchor just out of the channel in sight of the Wilkerson bridge and settle down for the night, what does tomorrow hold?

We can't sleep and are up and ready to leave at 6am, if we get under we are well on our way north if not we have another longer route we can try but will have big issues with water depth, or we can head back the 66 miles to Beaufort and get Matsu ready for the Hatteras route.

We head at snails pace towards the bridge, the height board says just under 65', now there's a
coincidence, and we edge towards it hearts in mouths.

I have put a dowel rod on the front of the mast as an early warning indicator, there is a nice loud crack as it hits the bridge and snaps and sure enough we touch the bridge and are going nowhere. Linda estimates we need 2" more to get under. We return to the anchorage to assess our plans.

The local wisdom from Tow Boat US and the marina is that the water level will rise today, there is no tide here and winds mean rising water. It is obvious from the banks and the pilings that the water level is low and so we are not all optimistic as we tie a piece of string to a piling to give us a clear indication of water levels.

We decide we will have to try the Roanoake Island route instead another 100 miles and then we may well be turned back by shallow water. It is very frustrating it's a bridge, 2 lanes wide and if it were 2" higher we would be 70 miles nearer Chesapeake Bay rather than 70 miles further away!

In view of our longer trip we decide to bend on the main sail, it takes over an hour so we decide to revisit our string, it's dangling 2.5" clear of the water, the level has fallen. We both say yes let's give it a go and get the anchor up in record time for a second attempt and to see how good Linda's estimation of 2" is! We approach the bridge again at snails pace, Linda is looking like she will be sick at any moment as we approach the first span.

From the helm I can see nothing except Linda's face the top of the mast obscured by the bimini, suddenly I hear the shout we are under the first span, we are crawling through, it seems to take an hour as Linda calls out each span, and suddenly "CLEAR" we are through, the adrenalin hit is unbelievable we shout and scream and hug each other we are on our way no back tracking required. In Linda's opinion we had a razor blade or two of spare room!

As the Wilkerson Bridge recedes in our wake we motor up the Pungo canal in a state of near delirium, neither of us can believe we made it,
how did the water drop that much, that quickly, wow wow wow!!!

It's now well past 10am and we have a long day ahead of us, up this canal, up the long boring Alligator River and then out into Albermarle Sound and across to our anchorage in North River. It's long and boring not much to see and the engine chugs along, but we are still over th
e moon that we are on our way and have no need to back track.

Day 3 should be easy, three 65' bridges and a few opening ones, the first bridge comes early and we are through with plenty to spare, we motor on to the Pungo Ferry Bridge blissfully unaware of the stress that lies ahead. We pass under the bridge with probably 2" spare, there is current with us in a non tidal part of the ICW and water levels have obviously risen dramatically. The rest of the day is stressful we motor another 40 miles through swamps and canals with nowhere to stop pushed by this current knowing that every hour that passes the clearance under the final fixed bridge is getting less and less.

We stop just short of the bridge and buy fuel and water to get us as low as possible and then nudge slowly under the bridge, it's very tight, I can tell from Linda's face, but we are through, we have arrived in Great Bridge, VA no more 65' bridges, we are in the Chesapeake.

We tie up to the dock and reflect on the miracle of the 64' bridge, and the fact that once we have Matsu back in full sailing trim how it will need to be a very bad night round Hatteras before we would have a more stressful time. The other thing that surprised us was how little there was to see, we had expected more houses and people but too much of it is in 6' deep 5 mile wide sounds.
We did it, we are pleased we did it but we won't be doing it again on Matsu, as you can see from the photo boats with our mast don't do it very often!!

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back On Matsu

Beaufort, NC
34 43.5N 76 40.0W

We have been back for over 2 weeks now and idyllic restful cruising it hasn't been! We arrived at the boat yard with hearts in mouths, but on
the whole Matsu is doing well for her year ashore, no mould or damp just a musty smell that soon went and a big list of things to do.

Our main worry was the engine, it's 23 years old and we weren't sure how it would enjoy a year of idleness, but it started first time and has purred ever since - sadly our 5 year old generator doesn't share it's resilience and has taken 2 full days of work already with no obvious improvement!

The unexpected one was that as soon as we turned on the water supply all the pipe connections let go, a year dried out seems to have destroyed all the rubber seals, I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few hours crawling round in cupboards replacing them, 12 months of steak and kidney pies seems to have made the cupboards smaller!

We have done the anti fouling, cleaned her from top to bottom, fixed the steering problem we had last year, rewired the anchor windlass, stitched the main and generally put her back into some sort of sailing boat, finally splashing back into the water on Wednesday. Our first trip was into 2 knots of current and 30 knots of wind so some things seem to be working as normal!

We also found time to head up to Philadelphia to pick up ships cat Charlie, he seems to be adjusting well from chipmunk killing hunting machine to lazy old boat cat, here's hoping the Wilsons don't get overrun with vermin now he is gone!

There is still a huge list of maintenance needed, we like to be ahead of the game and know how she is working before we do big passages, and north from here round Cape Hatteras qualifies as one. So to get moving sooner, our current plan is to try the Intracoastal Waterway route up the inside, we have never done it before as our mast is too high for the bridges - however by my calculations if I take all the superfluous stuff off the mast we have 3" to spare so later today I am heading up there with my screwdriver to see what I can do.

Wish us luck an keep an eye out on the news for some idiots stuck under a bridge!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Heading Back To The Boat

Where Are We: Warwick, UK

We leave today to head back to Matsu after a roller coaster year ashore.

My father passed away at the end of January, peacefully at home with the
family around, leaving us all sad he had gone, but happy we had done everything we could to make his last
months as good as they could be.

He remained full of his usual good humour and sense of fun right to the end, got one last Christmas with the family and is now sadly missed by us all.

The past months have been filled with helping Mum sort out her new life and trying to organise our own and enjoying our remaining time in the UK with friends and family. We fostered a dog called Robbie who brought a lot of much needed smiles into our lives, learned to ride big motor bikes and rode up to Hadrians Wall and the Lake District, and spent some great times with our UK friends who we must now wave goodbye to as we head home.

Robbie The Wonder Dog

Motor Bike Touring
Our minds have now turned to Matsu, what sort of state will she be in after 12 months ashore, what will work, what won't work, how many months of repairs lie ahead, is she easily sailable - so many questions answers to follow.