Thursday, May 2, 2013

First month on our own

Today marks one full month since we left Shelter Cove on Hilton Head Island.  Ironically, the Sea-Ray 56 Sedan Bridge that was docked right behind us the whole time we were there, Plan B, pulled into Coinjock Marina across the way this afternoon.  We bought the boat in January, so we've had it just over three months.  But given that we weren't allowed to drive it until the end of March, we really consider today the end of our first real month on the water.

In that time, according to our log book, we've covered 475 nautical miles (about 547 statute miles) in 98 engine hours.  We've put 684 nautical miles on the boat in total, which included our training cruise from Savannah to Port Royal Sound and back, as well as a lot of miles (51) and many hours (28) just driving around Hilton Head and docking over and over again.

While more experienced skippers typically cover 50 miles or more per day on the ICW, completing our trip from Hilton Head to Norfolk in just ten days or so, we're taking over a month.  I had originally projected a pace of about 20 miles per day, on average, which would have meant three and a half weeks, and we're a little behind that pace due to two bow thruster failures, bad weather, and the grounding that caused us to leave our anchor behind.

Tonight we are still at Midway Marina in Coinjock.  I am happy to report that our bow thruster is now working, at least as far as I can test it tied to the dock.  The replacement coupling arrived at 10:30 this morning, which was better than I had expected, and I had the thruster back together and tested by 11:00.  We had a short pow-wow and decided that 11:30, the soonest we could realistically cast off, was too late to be starting a 6-7 hour travel day, allowing for fairly high winds.  On top of arriving later than we'd like, after 5pm, we'd be hustling to try to find a spot to tie up in Great Bridge as a late arrival.

Fortunately, we were a full day ahead of ourselves, and so we decided to just pony up for another night here.  Tonight we'll try the restaurant attached to the marina, Crabbie's, as they will be open.  And tomorrow we will get a very early start, to try to beat some of the wind (it's a bit calmer in the morning) and have a chance to find a spot at the free docks in Great Bridge before they fill up.

As long as we had to spend a full day here, we got a few projects done.  Louise ordered new blinds for all the windows to be delivered to us at the boatyard, which inevitably led to a discussion of the pilothouse, which has no inside window coverings at all.  That prompted us to test, for the first time, the very nice outside covers for those windows, which came with the boat.  You can see them in the photo above.  They do make a huge difference in how much heat comes in.  Nevertheless, we will be ordering blinds for the three windshields, and making up a track system for them, because I really want to have sun visors -- it can be brutal in the pilothouse when driving into the sun.

I spent a good part of today working up schematics for the electric power system.  I need to get cracking on finding a 24-volt alternator that can be a drop-in replacement for the 12-volt Leece-Neville we have now.  Unfortunately, the part number has worn off, so I can't simply cross-reference the frame.

Tomorrow night we should be in Great Bridge, just 12 miles from the start of the ICW, and Sunday we are booked at the Waterside Marina in Norfolk, where we hope to connect with several friends.

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