Wednesday, January 13, 2010

At Sea Again

We pulled out of the Charleston Maritime Center right on time. ActiveCaptain user Jim on Arrivederci helped us with our lines. The sea predictions for the next couple of days were unlike any we'd seen – "2 feet and less," all on our starboard beam so the stabilizers should smooth things out to flat calm. We'd decided to take advantage and do a double overnight. I hate them; Jeff finds them challenging. But it did make sense to make use of the conditions. So off we went with two overnight meals prepared and layers of clothing to stay warm.

We experienced perfect conditions coming through the Charleston Harbor and out the inlet. I decided to go ahead and prepare our lunch - chicken burritos. I hadn't found the large wraps I usually used, so I made us each two smaller ones. As I carried lunch onto the pilothouse the boat gave a lurch. Jeff had just come out of the inlet and turned south. We had 2-4 foot seas right on our nose with short periods. My ultimate nemesis.

Experience told us to wait on lunch. Jeff thought maybe it was some effect from the inlet – they hadn't predicted this. Soon my stomach gave that familiar flip. Jeff was also a bit off, partly due to some expected off-gassing from our new exhaust lagging blankets which he got a whiff of with each engine room check.

We decided to try Queasy Drops. Jim McGee from Queasy Drops contacted us several weeks ago interested in supplying a sample for our Captains through our points program. Queasy Drops are sucking candies that use all natural ingredients to calm a queasy stomach. They were developed for kids on chemo and for morning sickness. Now they wanted to promote them for seasickness. I told him they sounded too good to be true but would be willing to try them. He sent samples.

To our delight, they worked. Our stomachs settled almost as soon as we began sucking them. I found it lasted about 30 minutes after the candies were gone. The seas persisted, so we spent the afternoon trying the various flavors. Not wishing to tempt fate, however, we wrapped up lunch waiting for the predictions to prove true. By late afternoon the seas had flattened. We ate one burrito, waited an hour and finally finished lunch.

Over our years of cruising and after many overnights we have developed a routine that works well for us. During the day we switch watch when we feel like it. Jeff takes somewhat more time at the helm as he likes being in control. Around 7 pm we eat half of our prepared dinner – tonight it was chicken fried rice. Then at 8 pm I go below to sleep and Jeff takes watch from 8-10. I take watch from 10-midnight while Jeff sleeps prior to his midnight to 3 am watch. I finish the night with a 3-6 watch because I find it easier to stay awake waiting for the sun to rise. We each finish our dinner at the start of our longer watch. The calories help us stay awake and eating gives us something to do to help the monotony.

The boat runs on autopilot so we mainly watch for other boats. We have MARPA (Mini Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) on our radar which lets us select targets and track their distances from us, the direction they're moving, and how long before we reach our closest distance and what that distance will be. It's mostly entertainment but occasionally there is a “dangerous target” we must hand steer around. On my earlier watch I encountered two shrimp boats, a common site off the coast of South Carolina. One was on a collision course with us. I find these boats particularly creepy. They're large boats with big arms out to the sides that have huge nets hanging from them. At night they display bright deck lights, lighting up the decks like daylight, which send out this eery glow on the water around them. They look like a vampire sent from Neptune. I veered slightly and we passed about a 1/4 mile apart. The lights lit up the pilothouse for a few minutes as we passed.

Daytime temps were fine with the solar heat through the pilothouse windows warming her to the 70's. As night fell it started to get cold. The layers we had shed during the day came back on. The kids complained that it was a three dog night and they were only two dogs. When I awoke for my 3 am watch the boat had a different bounce. The seas had finally turned to our starboard beam as predicted.

As I climbed out of the warm berth I felt the cold – 50 degrees in the pilothouse. The kids were huddled together for warmth. Jeff decided to start the generator so I could have heat during my watch. I love my man. He then informed me that the drip he had noticed on an earlier engine room check had turned into a spray. We were going to have to swap water pumps again.

On our way to Charleston last November, we developed a slow drip on our starboard side raw water pump. Jeff had swapped that with a spare and rebuilt the old one for a new spare. We now needed to use this spare on the port side. No big deal - simple swap - but the port engine runs the stabilizers so shutting down this engine would turn off the stabilizers. And we were in beam-to seas. We decided to see how calm things were at daybreak. Calm seas and we could do the repair while underway, otherwise, we'll head into Fernandina Beach and do the repairs there.

It's 5:22, the end of my watch is in sight. The pilothouse is warm and for now life is good.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Glad to see you made it to sunny Florida....come on down to Stuart, we'd love to see you again. Here till Tuesday (?)