Friday, May 22, 2015

Heading into Southport

In case you missed it, the first part of the trip can be found here.  Continuing on...

During the second full day of sailing, the winds calmed down and we once again made our way using a combination of sailing and motor sailing in order to make reasonable headway.  I guess I can't complain though, if we were in the ditch, we would likely be motoring the whole way and, in addition, we would have to stop at night and that would make the trip take a lot longer. In the afternoon the wind started clocking around to the southwest, dead at our backs.  With the light winds, I decided to put up the spinnaker for a little while.  I do like that asymmetrical spinnaker, it seems to get the boat moving at over 1/2 the wind speed in broad reaches and downwind directions.

Spinnaker on the open ocean

Thus far I've typically planned trips using a speed of about 5 knots unless the trip is forecast to be beating directly into the wind and I want to actually sail it (I haven't figured out what speed I should use then, but am guessing about 2 knots). A good portion of this trip has been in excess of 5 knots, so it looked like we would be making it to Southport around 2am.  As evening arrived, the winds started picking up from the southwest and, a bit unexpected to me, the seas started picking up from the southeast to around 3 foot on a 5 second period.

Checking the weather forecast, it was now calling for scattered thunderstorms offshore in the Cape Fear area.  As night fell, we could see the thunderstorm clouds building to our east.  The lightning would light up the clouds.  It is a nice thing to watch...from a distance. Since the winds were continuing from the southwest and the offshore breezes would also come from the west, it should keep the storms to the east of us.  But since we had time anyway, we decided to turn the boat westward and make our way closer to shore.  We pointed the boat towards Myrtle Beach and made our way from 30 NM off the coast to around 6 NM.  When we got closer to shore, we also found a little calmer seas.

After the detour near Myrtle Beach, we ended up arriving outside of the Cape Fear river inlet at Southport around 6am.  Since we would be heading pretty much into the wind coming into the inlet, We went to start the engiines.  Unfortunately, the starboard engine, which had been just fine up to this point in the trip, decided not to wake up.  The attempt made the clicking sound that is reminiscent of a dead battery.  That same battery just happens to be the one that also starts the generator and the generator started just fine (and the voltages on the batteries seem fine).  My best guess was that there was some corrosion and the starter wasn't getting enough power, so I spent the next hour, as we slowly motored in on a single engine, down in the engine room cleaning all the starter connections.  Unfortunately that didn't help.  So, here we were again, one engine down and needing to navigate to a marina slip.

Another sunrise over the Atlantic

This time, having a bit more experience with the boat, I decided to give the marina a call and see if they have a dock I can get to without a lot of tight maneuvering.  They did, so I was able to bring the boat into the dock and then, using the lines, the crew walked it around the T-head to the slip.  The Southport marina also has a maintenance yard next door and, having just completed a 3 day passage, I was too tired to look into the problem myself.  They were able to send a technician over later that day and found that excessive corrosion inside the ground cable end had caused  the issue.  They cleaned up the cable, crimped on a new end, and added heat shrink to help protect it from future corrosion (the heat shrink on the original cable had failed and that is where the corrosion started).  Since I didn't have the tools or parts, it ended up being a good call to have them come do the work.

Tucker exploring the boat near the start of the trip

I guess I haven't really mentioned our furry crewmembers much.  For the most part, they are doing fine.  They seem to be adjusting to life on a mobile floating house OK.  To them it is probably just like a big car ride where we are taking all our stuff with us.  The one exception is dealing with the "potty mat".  Even though it should have the right smell to them, neither of them are really sure of the thing.  Tucker managed to do his business there after some coaxing, but our older dog Madison could only be convinced to pee there once.  She held her other business until she was back on shore.

Madison resting in the cockpit, tethered of course.

And for Pete, who jokingly mentioned something about eating Spam on passage, here is dinner the second evening...shrimp with a creamy tomato, garlic, and basil sauce freshly prepared en route.

Shrimp and pasta for dinner.

So, now we need to figure out where we are going from here since we still don't have a final destination in mind.  Oh, and I guess we have a couple more repairs to add to the list, so we may be looking for a place to haul out again.  Such is life on a boat.


  1. You might want to consider Pleasure Cove in Pasadena, MD. Not sure about the trades people you need but I know they have an extensive amount of t-head space to accommodate catamarans, AND they have a travel lift that can handle you if the need arises. Kind of far from stores, etc so you will need your car, but there is a bar/restaurant on site as well as a beautiful swimming pool.

    1. Pleasure Cove is one of the places I was considering. Have you had good experiences there? These places are starting to get mixed up in my they allow DIY work?

    2. I live nearby but keep my boat elsewhere. They are under new ownership this year, so it would probably be best to confirm with the management. Most places around here allow DIY as long as you are careful about proper containment of chemicals / pollutants, etc so they don't run afoul of the environmental regulations. I have no direct experience with the yard. When I was shopping around for a slip 3 years ago, they had nothing available for me at the time. Most of my experience with the place has been visits to the restaurant.

    3. Unfortunately, they don't have any room for me for the summer

    4. Unfortunately, they don't have any room for me for the summer


    This electric conductive contact grease might prevent future "click, click, aww shucks". We smear this on battery connections for our 48v battery string assemblies, all over the world. Never used this on a ship or a plane, but I imagine it'd beat heat shrink. It's odd the first time you shine up a battery post and terminal and then smear on conductive grease, seemed counter intuitive. 10 years later that terminal will be corrosion free when the string is replaced. I'd try to clean/cut out any of the compromised material with a file and/or wire brush, once shiny coat generously with no-ox and then apply heat shink over wire not insulated or used in the mechanical connection. No-ox the terminal, mechanical connector...any connective material.

    1. Hi Bill, least when I'm not doing emergency work while underway...I use dielectric grease or corrosion-x to prevent new corrosion on the connections I've cleaned. The problem I've found in the engine room is that greases tend to thin when they get warm from the engines.

      The corrosion on the cable in this case was caused by someone/something piercing the casing/heat shrink and then moisture getting in the cable and slowly corroding. I will likely get a new cable made using good marine grade cable (where each conductor strand is tinned) and then sealed on the ends with heat shrink with glue. Install that with corrosion-x and it should be trouble free for a while. For now, the shop next to the marina was able to clean up the cable and crimp on a new end and apply heat shrink and it is at least working for now.

      Hope the plane is treating you well.


  3. Mike, how cool to see you finally underway. I have been following you for sometime now as we have some things in common. I own a flight school and maintenance facility in which I hope to turn into a cruising cat (Antares 44) in less than 5 years. So keep the post coming and share all the stuff you can with the rest of us land lubbers.

    Tim Goddard

    1. Thanks guys! It feels good for the whole family to be on the boat now and to be on our way. Good luck with your dream of a cruising cat!

      Will keep posting...although I still don't always understand what people find interesting, I really do appreciate the interest and encouragement.