Sunday, May 6, 2012

From the Depths of Hell Straight to Heaven


Jeff has this theory that doing an overnight every so often is good for keeping our skills sharp. He's probably right but even in the best of conditions I find it wearing. It usually takes a day after we get in to get back to normal.

So our habit is to simply drop the hook after an overnight and crash. We catch up on sleep, shower, put on clean clothes, and ready ourselves to re-enter civilization.

This trip we would be stopping in at Dowry Creek Marina, ActiveCaptain's number one most consistently highly rated marina. We wanted to be at our best when we met Mary and her crew.

Our plan was to anchor off the Neuse River relax, nap, catchup on emails, have a quiet dinner, sleep in, have a good breakfast, cleanup, and be at Dowry Creek by early afternoon. Well that was the plan.

Our offshore travel gave us an extra push of current throughout the entire 24 hours. When we arrived onshore we realized that we could go another 40 miles and reach Belhaven to reduce our travel on Saturday (notoriously bad due to weekend small boaters). Anchoring in Belhaven would put us less than an hour away from Dowry Creek and even with sleeping in and a leisurely breakfast, we'd be there before noon. It was the perfect plan. Well, almost...

We pulled into Belhaven just before 5 pm having been underway for 36 hours. It's a good anchorage and we had no problem securing the boat in for the night. Right away the heat surrounded us. We looked forward to it cooling off when the sun went down.

By 8 pm the temperature had barely budged below 90 degrees and the mosquitoes began to converge due to the lack of even the slightest breeze. The mosquitoes were tiny, bigger than no-see-ums but smaller than the Maine variety. There were hundreds that left huge welts with each bite and caused a deafening buzz. Our night of hell had begun.

We quickly closed the doors above and retreated below where we had screens on the hatches and tried to settle in for the night. None of the crew was sleeping. Dyna lasted until midnight and then demanded to go above and out on the cockpit looking for relief. The heat was unbearable so we threw open all the doors certain the monsters would eventually recede with the night. We were so naive.

We alternated between huddling under a sheet to avoid the mosquitoes and enduring the bites to cool off. And through it all was the constant buzz. I don't know which was worse the bites or the sound.

By 2 am we were using every tool we could find to waste those little blood suckers - flyswatters, hands, even the vacuum cleaner.

My twin brother is the sort who believes in killing no living thing and will carry spiders, ants, and other creatures out of the house rather than swatting them. I am fairly certain even he would have been swatting and yelling, "Die sucker!"

At some point we all fell asleep from pure exhaustion. Sunrise had never looked better. We hastily ate some cereal and gulped some coffee and prepared to haul the anchor.

So much for arriving at Dowry Creek refreshed and cheerful. 

Fortunately, we were greeted at the dock by very experienced dockhands who knew which way to walk when I asked for a forward spring line. We were quickly snugged into the dock, met Mary, and heard about the Cinco De Mayo dinner that evening.

We've been here 24 hours and it's clear to see why boaters love this place. There's a strong boating community led by Mary and her crew. We've met so many terrific folks. Every night is a party, tonight the boaters are meeting for take out Chinese. We're happy to stay for a few days while we wait for the winds to die and the Norfolk Railroad bridge to open again.

Right now it's heaven on earth!

7 comments:

Pam and Dave said...

See, you should have just stayed at Isle of Hope. Insects are illegal here. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has a trap and release program. They trap them at Isle of Hope and release them in Belhaven.

ActiveCaptain said...

Ha! We've got a good Georgia fly story from this trip too. Let's just say I was taking a single swing and watching 5 giant horseflies hit the deck with a thud.

I have to say that the North Carolina mosquitoes were worse. Us Mainers shouldn't ever have to be in 90 degree weather either. We can't cope...

MarkJ said...

Doesn't that big ole trawler have a/c????

ActiveCaptain said...

We haven't ever left the generator running overnight - I don't like the idea of doing it. And in Belhaven there wasn't a hint of a breeze. It just wouldn't have been safe for all the other boats anchored around us to spew carbon monoxide along the water's surface for hours on end.

Ron Rogers said...

With all due respect, your concern about CO is illogical. Cars emit CO 24/7 and it is dissipated in the atmosphere as is your vessels engine exhaust. If you installed the below waterline exhaust system, you would lower the noise and airborne CO.

Your position is unique as most people are concerned with disturbing others with noise. Are you positive that no one around you was using their generator?

BTW, a box fan over a screened hatch would create some breeze below deck and could be run on your inverter.

ActiveCaptain said...

Cars emit CO as they're moving, not standing still. When cars are standing still, their engines are at idle and putting out little CO although still enough to suffocate someone in a garage.

A boat's generator at full load will put out CO right at the water's surface. CO is heavier than air so it stays along the water surface. With little breeze, it'll accumulate around my boat and the boats around me all of which had their portholes open that night. And boat portholes are always pretty close to the water's surface. I'm not interested in testing my CO detector (did I change the batteries this year?) and definitely not looking to read headlines about 4 boaters found dead in the Belhaven anchorage.

If there was a good breeze, I would have probably run the generator. But given the tradeoff between safety and discomfort, I'll go toward discomfort.

John said...

Jeff,

It was a pleasure meeting you and Karen at Dowry Creek. We made it through the RR bridge in Portsmouth at 0530 Weds., and headed out of the Ches. Bay for our overnighter to Cape May. We should have waited an extra day, as we were pounding into a Norther by early Thurs morning, and my bow roller plate broke loose from the deck, knocking my pulpit, anchor, and furling jib loose. Mitch and I wrestled the rig down to the deck and lashed it to the forepeak, but my jib had by then ballooned out at the top.

We were about 15 miles out of Cape May, and beating ourselves silly trying to get north into port. Fortunately, my fifty-foot long furler and jib halyard finally broke free and swung gracefully down to the deck. We lashed it down and motored humbly into Cape May (great inlet in 25 kt winds!). We felt fortunate that no one was injured, and that I have a free-standing mast (carbon fibre), so no forestay issues. I'm also glad my jib came down with minimal damage. Definitely one of those "I need to trade for a motor yacht" days....

Anyway, Elizabeth now swings peacefully on her mooring just inside the New Bedford hurricane gate.
Hope to see you guys up in Maine some time.

John,
S/V Elizabeth