Monday, November 20, 2017

Burning Up in Charleston

Our sail to Charleston was one of the most mixed bags of sailing we have encountered and ended up with us rushing into the marina in fear of setting on fire......

We left Beaufort under the 8.30am bridge on Sunday morning, it was cold but the perfect conditions- north wind about force 3 or 4. We set the sails for a downwind sail poling out the genoa for the first time since we arrived in the US. The trip was about 200 miles so should be overnight arriving Monday afternoon.

We were sailing along nicely and the spotted a US warship about 5 miles away - no AIS of course but we could clearly make out the profile, then it came a bit closer and we saw aircraft take off from the deck. There was three in total buzzing around us, they were Ospreys which look like huge drones as they take off vertically. A pretty cool experience to see these state of the art aircraft in action.

Osprey buzzing overhead
Unknown US Warship
The wind strengthen and came around  to the north east so we put the main away and ran just with the genoa on the pole for a bit. Then at 2am it totally died and we were on the foredeck in the middle of the night bringing the pole in - oh joy! The wind came back from a south easterly direction and we sailed closed hauled for a couple of hours before it went strengthen again and we tacked over for a lovely fast reach in northerly wind as we approached Charleston just after mid-day. It was a pretty full on sail but all good practice and we were super excited to arrive in Charleston Harbour.

Charleston Harbour Marina
The current was running really strongly, we had booked into a marina as we had heard a lot of horror stories about boats losing their anchors  in this harbour which has a lot of debris from the last few hurricanes. The marina advised we wait until about 4pm at slack tide so we ventured up river and anchored for a couple of hours and relaxed - we didn't dare set our anchor properly for fear of getting it snagged and I was so relieved when it came up clean - that kind of thing really stresses me!

Then we were heading towards the marina when we noticed a horrendous burning smell coming from the engine room. Temperature looked fine, I quickly emptied out our wet hanging locker and checked fluid levels and looked for smoke or fire. Nothing but this awful smell and thick air in the engine room, then Andrew noticed the house batteries were not charging meaning our secondary alternator wasn't working. We called the marina and demanded an immediate berth allocation and he somehow calmly docked Askari and quickly shut everything down. Once we had cooled everything down Andrew found a loose connection and a bit of play in the belt but otherwise all fine - we started the engine and got charge - yay that was a win! (or so we thought).

The Charleston Harbour Marina is one of the most expensive marinas we have visited, it is however very nice and the staff are great. You get to pay for and use all the resort facilities including the shuttle to town. Our first night we ran into our friends Scott & Kitty from Stamford, who kindly invited us for a drink - perfect as Askari was still a mess. We went off for dinner and then called into the marina bar for a drink and spotted Kim, Simon & Sienna - Vloggers who have an Oyster 56 called Britican. We have mutual friends so said Hi and shared a drink - what a great family!

We had dinner at Poogan's Porch - like being in someone house - excellent
Charleston After Dark

Lovely streets in Charleston

We had sundowners in a roof top bar - stunning
The next day we went into Charleston to explore and check out some of the famous bars and restaurants. Charleston is a really old city and it's narrow cobblestone streets and lovely buildings especially around the french quarter make it a great place to stroll around and shop. King's street is packed with stunning boutiques and antique stores. Tourism is huge and cruise ship passengers offload to be driven around town in horse drawn carriages.

We had another reason to be in Charleston - Selden USA is headquartered here. Remember back in January we had our furler repaired in St Lucia Blog post st-lucia-continued. As the job wasn't carried out exactly to our liking Oyster arranged for the work to be inspected. Jonas arrived and allowed us to  provide feedback and then he had a good look over our rig and furling system, Thankfully he gave it his approval but was disappointed to hear Selden hadn't met our expectations so dropped off a spare tack assembly should we ever have a similar issue - what great service!

Our gift from Selden which I hope we never need
 Time for once last trip into Charleston for a fabulous lunch at Cru Cafe and a bit of shopping.... ;-)

Christmas Tree in Charleston

Customs House Charleston

Lovely streets in Charleston - the trees are so cool!
Our last night and we invited all our friends in Charleston Harbour Marina for drinks - we had such a fun night with double circumnavigators and long term live aboard sailors all exchanging stories. The most bizarre thing however was that Andrew and Simon from Britican discovered they went to school together - just one year apart.... what a small world. Kim featured this in her latest video for the nearly 10,000 You Tube subscribers

Simon and Andrew just learn they went to the same school while Sienna enjoys Wifi...

With Scott & Kitty - double circumnavigators from Tamure
Michael, Kim and me
Slack tide the next morning was 6.30am - so we got up early and slipped out of the marina to start our passage to Saint Augustine. First job before we left the harbour was to check the alternator.... nope not working and the burning smell had returned. We found a shallow spot to anchor up while Andrew disconnected the alternator - we would look at that again in Saint Augustine!

It wasn't a problem for this trip as we have a parallel link switch to allow the engine alternator to run the house batteries. We could also run our generator - both part of the redundancy Andrew specified when Askari was built.

Manuals out on passage


Monday, November 13, 2017

Homer's and the Bellamy Mansion

The Bellamy Mansion - Wilmington

We ended up spending 8 fabulous days in Beaufort, NC at Homer Smith’s Docks and Marina. What a great little marina; Tony and Matt who run the place are just fantastic. Not only is it one of the most reasonably priced marinas we have been to, they have a courtesy car, as much free ice as you’d like, free laundry, no additional charge for power and it’s a short 10 minute walk to town. It was also quiet and had far less current than the town dock, plus we had fuel and a pump out at our berth - as we were just inside the fuel dock. The main part of the business is wholesale fish so the fishing boats are coming and going and the guys were all really friendly. Tony said he would happily sell us any fish we wanted – I took 4 IIb of the freshest shrimp and he wouldn’t charge me; we also got a free night as it was easier to charge us the weekly rate……. What a top guy – when the drawbridge is removed next year there will be no stopping these guys as they develop their marina business.

Shrimp Processing
Went to do laundry and got Shrimp too!
Busy day for the Shrimp Boats as storm passed by

You get as much free ice as you'd like at Homer Smith's

We were keen to explore North Carolina and had a bit of shopping to do so we hired a car for a few days. We drove ‘Down East’, stopped for a local lunch at the Fish Hook Grill and then took a ferry to the Outer Banks – it was a beautiful day and we just walked for miles along the inside and ocean beaches. The remoteness really reminded me of Western Australia and then when we started seeing 4wd’s on the beach and big groups of guys fishing we felt very at home. On Shackleford Bank we saw the famous Wild Spanish Mustangs that roam these islands.

Great lunch stop at the Fish Hook

Lunch under a moss covered weathered tree

Cape Look Out Lighthouse

Outer Bank - OBX

We have used this weather station for weeks planning this part of the trip

Looking out on the Atlantic - we sailed by here just a few days ago

Could be in Western Australia

Wild Ponies - actually Spanish Mustangs - they roam free on the banks
 Beaufort is a great destination. The waterfront is just lovely and the homes that surround it all take you to a time gone by. In town beyond the tourist shops there are some really handy stores – particularly a great bookshop and an outdoor gear shop. Then Morehead City, which has every store you ever imagined, is only a short drive away. We stocked up on pilot guides and flags as we settled on our next destinations; Bahamas and Cuba…. Live music plays in many bars especially over the weekend – we just loved it here.

On a really rainy day we drove down to Wilmington – another foodie town where we had an incredible lunch, walked along the river and then had to check out the Bellamy Mansion. We are not sure if they are related to us but the house was worth a look anyway. This Bellamy was one of the richest men in North Carolina, with a large plantation that worked numerous slaves, the house itself was built in 1859 by both free and enslaved black craftsmen. It includes restored slave quarters and is one of only a few preserved urban slave residences in the country. 

Bellamy Mansion
Slave Quarters at the Bellamy Mansion
Bathroom's for slaves..... hmmm!

Looking quite at home Sir!

I think he could get used to this?!?

Dianne our OCC Port Officer made us feel very welcome in Beaufort and even invited us to her home for a fabulous meal of Creole Shrimp. Then the weather cleared at we set sail for Charleston

Morehead City - Fishing Capital of the USA

Leaving Beaufort - these guys sure like to fish

Sailing downwind - along time since we did that! On our way to Charleston

Cold captain on the way to Charleston

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Sailing Capital of the USA

There's not a sailor in the world who doesn't know of Annapolis: locals proclaim it to be the sailing capital of the USA, therefore no cruise through the Chesapeake would be complete without a stop here. Annapolis is also the Capital city in the State of Maryland and home to the United States Naval Academy.

We had a really gentle sail down the bay in light winds but it was great to get a sail in after so long in the marina. We took a buoy in Spa Creek right in downtown Annapolis, which was a whole lot quieter than when we were last here for the sailboat show. Supertramp had been here a few days in the other creek so we walked over to spy on the newly 'wrapped' Tramp tucked in amongst the gazillion boats that line Back Creek - she looked great. We met up for dinner with Steve and Fi and had a few too many wines while enjoying trick or treating kids walk the local neighbourhood.

Beyond the sailing yachts, Annapolis is a pretty and quaint town with narrow streets and clapperboard cottages that date back to the 1600s. Theres a huge amount of administrative buildings that stretch out from the State circle at the tops of town. Annapolis was even the nations capital for a short period from 1783 to 1784.

We were fortunate enough to have a good friend here from Andrew's days at Austal - Vice Admiral Earner treated us to a tour of the Naval Academy, the town, and a fantastic dinner at his home. What a treat to get such a personalised tour from such a knowledgable host.

Naval Academy Chapel 

Alumni Hall - mainly houses sports tournaments and reunions
We also got to see a stunning display of scale  Model Ships built for the British Admiralty that date back to 1650 - many were used in building the ships in a time when plans could not be read by the shipwrights. Others were created by prisoners of war from bone and demonstrated how the other side viewed the ships in battle.
Bancroft Hall, Rotunda entrance - the residence where all 4,000 Midshipmen live on Campus
Part of the displays in Memorial Hall
A Midshipmen's room in Bancroft Hall

Tomb of John Paul Jones, a Scotsman who is considered father of the US Navy

The Superintendent's House - all decked out for Halloween

After a great couple of days we decided to head down the bay, Supertramp joined us along the way and then Andrew had a changed of plan..... the tide and weather looked good to head around Cape Hatteress with two nights at sea to Beaufort, North Carolina - why not go for it?? The Tramps decided to come too, so both yachts headed out into the Atlantic under a full moon for a lovely calm trip south, arriving at dawn on Saturday morning.

The new posh looking Tramps on the Chesapeake

Askari under a full moon leaving the Chesapeake Bay

We sailed a bit but mostly it was a motor with great current

The clouds show the gulf stream just 10 miles away where the current is going the other way at 5 kts.
The sea temperature got up to 25.9 degrees C

Beautiful sunset off Cape Hatteres

Strong currents at the entrance to the harbour Beaufort, NC
Not having planned to come to Beaufort directly, we called on the help of our OCC Port Officer for advice on anchorage or marinas and entering in the dark. Dianne did not recommend a night entry due to strong currents and moving buoyage; she did suggested an anchorage near Cape Lookout which we could use if need be until daylight. We opted to slow down for a first light arrival, then came through a drawbridge to Town Creek and the fabulous Homer Smith's marina.
Heading into Town Creek - Shrimp Boats galore
Beaufort, NC - waterfront

Andrew helping Steve service a winch before the party
Dianne hunted us down as soon as we arrived and invited us all to the the 'Boat Museum Bash' that night. This was a pirate and caribbean themed party to raise funds for the Maritime Museum - we met actual pirates - yes seriously two guys who lived on pirate ships - one had changed his name officially to Sinbad and the other thought he was Black Beard.

Us with PO Dianne

Pirate City fun
The next morning after a year of hanging out with these guys they set sail for Bermuda - we'll miss you guys!