Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Last ocean hop, for now

We are again under way northbound in the Atlantic, having left St. Simons Sound at sunrise to catch the last of the outgoing tide. This morning found us anchored in a familiar spot, just west of the fancy fishing pier on Jekyll Island (map). With south wind, it was flat calm.

Sunrise over the Atlantic as we make our way out of St. Simons Sound.

We've been in touch with the painter in Richmond Hill, who is going to try to fit us in, so I made reservations starting tomorrow evening at the Fort McAllister Marina on the Ogeechee. That's a stone's throw from the Ford Plantation, where good friends John and Laura Lee live, and, in fact, where Vector spent her years before we bought her. Reaching Ford Plantation, and even Fort McAllister, can only be done with tidal help, and John had to make it a two-day trip, stopping at Fort McAlliser in each direction.

Our evening view. There's a little store at the pier, had we needed anything.

John was kind enough to run the route in his center console to check depths and send me a track file, so we'll have some guidance coming in. There are a few places along the route where it is just three feet deep at low tide, but with a seven foot tide swing, we'll have plenty of water as we pass that section. The water near the marina is deep.

VHF antenna mount. Some soot, and the O-ring melted through.

The remainder of yesterday's cruise was uneventful, but as we made the turn into the Brunswick ship channel, we faced the ebb full-on. At one point we were doing just 3.9 knots, while making turns for 6.8. It took two hours to get from blue water to the anchorage, by which time it was beer o'clock. We had a very nice dinner on the aft deck before turning in early, falling asleep to the sounds of snapping shrimp and drum fish.

Damage is evident in the base of the antenna itself, and the cable blow-out is obvious.

Not wanting to repeat the uphill climb, and with the turn of the tide at the sea buoy being 07:30, we were up before the dawn this morning for a 6:30 departure. I came upstairs to find the monitor for the chartplotter reporting "no input" and hung. I had to power-cycle the monitor, but in the process of fixing it I also rebooted the computer.

The antenna was 48" when installed. 15" are gone. I found one 10.5" fragment.

Of course things are never simple, and the "Windows driver legerdemain" of which I wrote two posts ago did not persist. The computer came back up with no serial ports, and device manager told me the drivers were unsigned and possibly malicious and no way, no how was it going to let me use them. I had to repeat the sleight-of-hand to get Windows to accept them again, and had the plotter back up just a minute before departure time. I will be glad to receive my new four-port adapter with current drivers, coming to Fort McAllister tomorrow.

I put it back up after zip-tying the backup to it.

Yesterday I also went up to the flybridge to bring down the remains of the toasted VHF antenna, check the mount, and see if I could find a way to rig a backup antenna. The mount was in good shape, if a little loose, and can be reused. The antenna was well-fried. With no other good way to mount the emergency backup antenna, I ended up zip-tying it to what was left of the old antenna and running the cable through a locker door.

This giant Ro-Ro was the only ship that passed while we were anchored. He rocked us pretty good, though.

Now that we have completed an overnight passage, a full-day passage, and a couple of days on the ICW, I am happy to report that the new "helm chair" is working well. It's hard to tell from just a short static test at the dock, even though I tried to sit in it for a full day in Fort Lauderdale before sending the old seat on its way. In case you missed it, I bought a take-out second-row seat from a Chrysler mini-van, removed from a brand new van by a converter.

The last of the sunset beyond the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

Tonight we'll be on the hook, somewhere along the Bear River or one of the many creeks that join it. And tomorrow we will weigh anchor with the rising tide for the run to Fort McAllister. John is meeting us at the marina restaurant for dinner, and I should already have a couple of Amazon packages waiting, including the serial adapter and a replacement VHF antenna.

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