After five weeks in Manhattan we departed in the late afternoon for Norfolk. The 40 hour journey a familiar one at this point. The conditions were favorable and I passed the time experimenting with some fashion photography with our friend Anderson who Luke had invited along. It was later in the evening by the time we reached Fort Mason and because of an approaching Tropical Storm named Nestor, we ducked into Mill Creek and dropped the hook.
It was a good spot to weather the heavy winds and rain for the following day with gusts hitting 35 knots. The following morning we were faced with an armada of snowbirds in the intracoastal. The first railroad bridge out of Norfolk there were about 15 boats of various types and sizes all jockeying for position.
When we finally reached the great locks it was a similar pile-up and it wasn’t until the second round of passage that we were able to make our way through. While hovering well in the channel we ran aground for a few moments so for anyone southbound, keep slightly to the port side on approach to the locks – there’s shoaling about 200 yards out. Fortunately great lock is less than two feet drop and it takes less than 15 minutes for the drop, however they have to time it with a subsequent bridge making for a real mess with so much traffic.
Quite a lot of negotiated passings in narrow canals followed until we reached Coinjock where the staff was wonderfully accommodating as usual, getting us fueled up almost immediately. It was so busy boats were rafted up; double-parked yacht-style. The next morning we didn’t bother rushing out and by the time we were up at 8, most of the dock was empty.
We motored all day into the darkness until we were just before the second to last unlit channel where we anchored just a lightning storm grazed us to the north. The next morning was bright and fresh in the North Carolina waters and we passed through Goose Creek and into Beaufort, passing some sailboats and being passed by faster motor yachts. As we approached town we realized conditions had improved on the Atlantic and it made sense to revise our plans and head immediately out to sea and make for Charleston. Fortunately we were able to get a reservation across the bridge at Patriot Point, since the large downtown docks were full up.
Sunset was as glorious as the sunrise as we approached the frying pan shoals. Just after midnight as I stood watch, I made the mistake of assuming the red light in the distance was the shoal channel marker and continued to look for the green light. Upon closer examination of the charts I realized the channel markers are not lit and the red light was a marker much further south. Using the spotlight and radar I was able to locate the green can and erring towards port, slipped through the very narrow passage unscathed.
We dropped Anderson in Charleston and waited again on some heavier winds offshore. An acquaintance from Provincetown was moving an 80 Hatteras and after chatting about the conditions made his way to meet up with us for a drink at the Harbor Club. While we run around 8 knots, burning about a gallon per nautical mile, he moves at around 20 knots, burning 140. We left Charleston in the evening on Sunday, staying close to shore out of the gulf stream and ran the next 50 hours to Fort Lauderdale, non-stop.
Greg ran from Charleston to St. Augustine on Monday, stopped for fuel and a night’s rest and then passed us in the evening on Tuesday as we approached Lauderdale. We weren’t at the dock on the New River until around 3AM, which is fine by me – running the river in the wee hours means less traffic and a very chill arrival.
Now begins some repairs and upgrades. The brightwork (exterior, Mahogany railings and rub-rails) need refinishing, a new WiFi system, batteries and soft-goods are all in the plans.