Thursday, May 26, 2022

No rest for the weary

We are under way northbound in the Atlantic Ocean, crossing the Camp LeJeune firing range and headed for Beaufort Inlet. We should be anchored just after sunset; this notwithstanding the fact that I was up at 3:15 this morning to catch a 5am flight out of Tampa. Louise has already relieved me once while I went below to sleep.

After last I posted here, we did indeed press on all the way to Charleston Harbor, dropping the hook near Commercial Anchorage B in our usual spot (map) at 8:20, right around sunset. We had a favorable tide coming in, although I was driving right into the sun. We enjoyed the view of the city from afar, knowing we would not be going ashore.

Sunset over The Battery, Charleston, SC, from our anchorage.

As much as we would have liked to go right back outside for the run to Winyah Bay in the morning, the tide cycle would have us pushing against a heavy flood to get out. That same tide cycle meant, however, that we'd have good water through all the major trouble spots on the ICW north of Charleston, and so in the morning we instead headed to Winyah Bay on the inside. We had the hook down in a familiar spot on the Western Channel just off the ICW (map) before dinner time, and after dinner I changed the main engine oil, somewhat overdue on account of tweaking my shoulder and getting COVID.

In the morning we rode the tail of the flood the rest of the way into Georgetown, where high tide let us run right into the harbor and tie up at one of the city's free day docks (map). It was a surgical strike; I had two eBay packages to drop in the mailbox, and then I rode the e-bike down to the Piggly Wiggly for sorely needed provisions. It's a lousy store, but they had most of what we needed. We were back off the dock an hour and a half later and making our way back out of the harbor. We had forgotten from our first visit what a fun stop this is, and made note to come back again when we're not in a rush.

Vector at the free public dock on the Georgetown Harborwalk.

The morning provisioning stop meant we had to make a somewhat early end to the day, dropping the hook before 4pm at an oxbow of the Waccamaw River near Enterprise Landing (map), the last decent anchorage for many miles. We had a favorable tide the entire day. The river here is idyllic, if too buggy to eat outdoors, and we had a pleasant night.

Peaceful anchorage at Enterprise Landing.

Friday we made our way through Myrtle Beach and Little River, where we would have preferred to go right back outside. Sea conditions were unfavorable and so we continued our slog up the ICW, ending the day at an anchorage called Tina's Pocket (map), that looks like it's smack in the middle of the Cape Fear River but is actually surrounded by shoals. In 30-40mph winds, the river was a bit choppy, but we had a nice dinner on board and a mostly comfortable night.

A large but fairly empty container ship headed upriver to Wilmington, from our anchorage on the Cape Fear.

Saturday I was hoping to stop at the state park just north of there for what was reported to be $4.50 diesel, only to learn that the pumps were inoperative, and the price had jumped more than a buck, to $5.70, just a day earlier. COVID really threw off our timing to get any kind of break on fuel, and I am bracing myself to pay $6 in Chesapeake when we get there. Instead we passed by the park and continued to Wrightsville Beach, where we dropped the hook in our usual spot in Banks Channel (map).

We had the anchor down before 3:30, and splashed the tender. We went ashore for an early dinner at Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill, one of our long-time favorites. We knew it would be packed on a Saturday and were seated before 5. This was our first dinner out since Pass-a-Grille, three and a half weeks earlier, although I did pick up three take-out meals along the way. We took advantage of our new (but likely short-lived) "super immunity" to eat indoors with the maskless hordes. It felt good to finally be out and enjoying ourselves.

Starlink satellite terminal, perched temporarily atop the dinghy on the boat deck.

Sunday and Monday were sheer downtime. I had ambitions to maybe knock off a couple of projects, and to be fair I did make progress on fabricating a mount for our new Starlink satellite terminal. But we were both exhausted after three weeks of nonstop running and the effects of the virus, and apparently I needed the downtime. The boat, of course, always has ideas of its own, and I did end up replacing a generator impeller that failed when we ran it in the morning. I'm glad it failed while I was still on board and not while I was away. Mostly we relaxed with our laptops, watching videos on our new lightning-fast Internet.

This section of 1-1/4" PVC pipe will become the permanent mount. You can see where I "machined" a detent inside using my Dremel to engage the latch; the acorn nut secures a bolt whose head fits the slot that will keep it from rotating.

Sunday we had hoped to tender ashore for another dinner out, but the weather became suddenly uncooperative, and I ran ashore for a pizza from Vito's and a six-pack from the market, making it back on board just as the heavens opened. We did make it to the Bluewater Grill on Monday, a long tender ride but a nice change of scenery. Also, it's near the post office and I needed to drop off another package.

Another pizza atop our pandemic insulated carrier.

Our reason for being in Wrightsville Beach for several days was my need to fly to Tampa, and Tuesday after lunch Louise dropped me at the dinghy dock where I got a Lyft to the diminutive Wilmington International Airport, just nine miles away. I had an uneventful pair of flights, even if I had to to the OJ-Simpson (can we even say that any more?) through the terminal in Charlotte to make my connection, between gates that felt a mile apart.

Good friends Ben and Karen picked me up at the terminal in their swoopy Tesla and whisked me away to Seasons 52 nearby, for dinner and a couple of much-needed glasses of wine. They also put me up (and put up with me) for two nights, and lent me their Mini Cooper again to get around to my appointments on Wednesday.

Ought to be enough for video streaming.

I'm happy to report that my crown replacement went well, even though the temporary proved a bit difficult to remove. And while I was in town I also scheduled an appointment with the eye doctor I had seen just two months earlier, at Costco. My vision has changed rapidly in just those two months, which I am attributing to prednisone side-effects, and I was worried it might mean something serious. The good news: no serious medical issues with the eyes. The bad news: the vision change is likely permanent. On the plus side, I no longer need reading glasses, at the expense of some distance vision in my right eye.

Karen served up a fantastic dinner of home-made pasta with home-made tomato sauce, of which I had too many helpings. This along with the home-made sourdough that she first brought out at breakfast time. There was also way too much wine involved, and I forced myself to go to bed at midnight to get at least a few winks before my 3:20am Uber to the airport.

Eating chez Karen is a lot like dining in a fine restaurant.

Meanwhile, Louise has been holding down the fort here aboard Vector, and, among other things, keeping an eye on the weather. Yesterday and today were the two good days for an outside passage, with the seas becoming untenable tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Together we decided it would be preferable, with my scheduled early morning arrival, to get under way as soon as I was home and grab today's window to Beaufort, rather than take two days to slog up the inside.

We very nearly had to wave off when my flight from Tampa was late enough that I again had to do a mile-long sprint through Charlotte to make my flight to Wilmington. I made it on the plane just a few minutes before they closed the door. Everything in Tampa had been closed when I boarded my flight (even the TSA did not open until 4am), and I was hoping for coffee in Charlotte; I had to be content with with the few ounces of airline coffee I got on the flight.

This enormous flamingo sculpture is being installed at TPA. When finished it will look like you are under water with it; the shimmer on the floor from the "water" is already working.

My Lyft back to the dock involved a quick stop at the Amazon locker, where parts for the Starlink project were waiting, and Louise met me on the dock with a backpack full of provisions she picked up at the market. We had the tender decked and were under way at 9:35, which was impressive considering my plane was wheels down just an hour earlier.

Pushing to get outside was the right decision. Conditions are great and we've having a nice ride, and being outside meant I could get some shut-eye even under way. We'll be anchored in a familiar spot off the Coast Guard station tonight, well-positioned to make our commitments in New York three weeks hence. We're going to keep up the pace, because we can end up waiting in Cape May or Atlantic City for several days waiting on weather to make New York Harbor.


  1. Great report. Your ship’s log may be more entertaining than most. Enjoy!


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