Sunday, October 28, 2018

October 2018: From Edisto Island to St. Augustine

Our Track from Edisto Island to the Hilton Head Area.
The morning of Saturday, 20-October came damned early for us….we set the alarm for 0700 so we could time our departure from Paul and Dee Dee’s Edisto home at a relatively high tide and an outgoing current.  Temps and humidity were both already in the mid-70’s by 0815 when we thrusted away from the dock and spun Ghost Rider around to head further south.  The ride down-river was relatively quick with the pushing current and it was very smooth, but that changed quickly once we got outside and back into the Atlantic waters. 

Winds were brisk out of the southwest at 15+ knots, producing white-capped wind waves of three to four feet on top of dual swells running two to three feet, all at narrow intervals.  And we were punching straight into it all….for about four hours, with frequent salt water spraying over the fly bridge.  We quickly retreated to the pilot house helm. Eventually, around 1300, we reach our turn point for the entry channel into Port Royal sound, and that more northerly vector put the lousy seas more to our beam – the stabilizers got a workout and the autopilot heading control was sloppy, but we were no longer banging the bulbous bow like a judge’s gavel.
Sunset Got Obscured by the Clouds as Showers Moved Through the Area

About an hour later we had ducked in behind the lee of Hilton Head Island and intercepted the ICW for a very smooth run down to Daufuskie Island and the Cooper River, where we turned off into Bull Creek and dropped the anchor around 1615.  We set the hook on the first try and there was only one other boat in the expansive anchorage, making for a stress-free camping arrangement for the night.  (Tides run +/- seven feet here, but Bull Creek has plenty of depth if you plan for the current swings.) A band of moderate rain showers moved through about an hour before sunset as a cold front approached the area, but we were closed up with generator and A/C running in the moist 85F air, and welcomed the free wash down.

Sunset in the Hilton Head / Daufuskie Anchorage on the Second Night There
After checking the updated weather and seas forecast we decided that we would spend an extra day here – six foot seas were on tomorrow’s menu and we decided we would pass on that (and we wanted to avoid most of the “inside” ICW route in this area.)  After dinner Chelle settled in with a video and Rick vegged out with game seven of the NLCS via the satellite TV….with a Goombay Ghost at the ready.  By late evening the rain had moved out and air temps had moderated with a pleasant breeze, so we opened up the boat, shut down the generator and let the house battery bank and inverter do their jobs while we slept comfortably.

It was pretty obvious that a cold front has transited the region on the morning of Sunday, 21-October.  At 0800 the outside air temperature was hovering in the 50’s and a brisk north wind made it feel even cooler.  We cranked up the genset to recharge the batteries and ran the A/C in heat mode with doors and windows still open – which sounds counter intuitive, but that kept us comfy and the generator happily loaded.

Moonrise Over Hilton Head's Harbor Town in the Distance
Around mid-day we launched the dinghy so Chelle could go explore; she was in search of a local rum distillery but that turned out to be closed on Sundays.  Meanwhile, after shutting down the generator, Rick checked the latest weather and worked on alternative routing in case we had to use “inside” ICW options.   For now it appeared that sea conditions would be tolerable on the outside for the next day’s planned route, but after that it was getting iffy depending on which forecast source we looked at.  The portions of the ICW from Hilton Head down to St. Augustine aren’t very attractive to an ocean going vessel that drafts six feet, but we wanted to know our options and risks.

Shortly before sunset we cranked up the genset again, spooled the dinghy back to its perch on the boat deck, gave the batts another charge sequence, and had a quiet dinner aboard.  It would be another cool night, but moderate enough that we did not need to run the generator for heat.

On Monday, 22-October we arose at 0800 and were greeted by sunny skies, cool temps (upper 50’s) and a brisk northeast breeze.  It took us a while to crank in the 200 feet of chain we had deployed, but it came up clean this time, with only a large glob of mud and shells clinging to the anchor itself where it had dug in for a good set.  By 0915 we were underway, cutting across the Bloody Point Range to the Tybee Roads Channel and out into the Atlantic. 

The forecast of two to three feet seas was overly optimistic as it didn’t take long before we were in three to six foot seas. The southeast heading required to exit via the channel gave us considerable spray with waves quartering on the port bow; Rick reworked our planned route so that we could make a turn to the SSW a bit earlier, and after that it was still rolly but at least we were then sledding mostly downhill.  There was no bow banging but you needed at least one hand free to hold on to something when moving about the boat.
From Our Anchorage in Sapelo Sound Looking Back Towards the NE
and the Atlantic....Which Earlier Had Been a Boiling Mess

Later in the afternoon conditions got a bit worse rather than improving as the other part of the (largely inaccurate) forecast had predicted, and we saw an occasional eight footer.  After turning in towards Sapelo Sound one of those big ones broadsided Ghost Rider – things went flying back in the salon, including the weighted pedestal table and Chelle’s laptop….which fortunately landed on the settee cushion instead of the floor.  To top things off, as we got nearer to land and seas started to let up just a bit, directly on the nose about a mile out we saw a churning mess of ripping white water in the middle of the channel – in what was supposed to be 20 to 25 feet of water according to our three sets of charts.  Clearly it wasn’t that deep, as there was a boiling rage of breaking water going on there.

Sunset Partially Obscured in Our Sapelo Sound Anchorage
We saw good water to the south, so we slowed down and took a 40 degree detour in that direction, leaving the churning mess (and the useless red daybeacon #6) a good 200 meters to our north; we corrected back to course shortly thereafter and had an uneventful ride to our chosen anchorage site.  We dropped the hook in 10 feet of water and, given the now 20 knot northeast wind and seven foot tide changes, let out nearly 200 feet of rode; we backed down at a robust 1300 RPM to confirm a good set, attached the anchor snubber and finally were able to relax.  We had a quiet dinner, checked the forecast (in which we now had no confidence) and called it a day.

At just after 0700 on Tuesday, 23-October, Rick checked the forecast and current weather conditions – it looked the same as the day before and the wind was already at 15 knots from the northeast.  We also had a solid overcast and (unpredicted) light scattered showers just off the coast.  In other words we didn’t trust the forecast. We had a high tide coming up and lasting through most of the morning so we decided to head down the inside ICW route towards St. Simons, departing at 0815.
Welcome to the SC / GA Stretch of the AICW

This ICW region is a spider web of interleaving rivers running through flat, low and featureless grassland.  With nearly constant twists and turns you have to be alert the entire way – being vigilant for shoal areas, but also for current flows and turbulence at the intersections that can alter your heading when you really can’t afford much weaving about.  We were happy that we had a healthy tide under us, as we saw as low as three-to-four foot depths under the keel even with a six foot tide.  Initially we had a pushing current in which we averaged eight to nine knots chugging downstream; that switched around late morning and we saw less than six knots SOG for a short spell; and then after passing yet another river feeding into the channel we regained another three knots.

We arrived at Morningstar Marina in St. Simons just after 1300, and since the current was still running hot we nosed into it and docked port-side-to at their outside face dock.  Chelle went for a long walk and Rick gave Ghost Rider a much needed wash down, topped off water tanks, took care of some routine maintenance checks and then rested for a spell.

That evening we walked up to the marina restaurant, the Coastal Kitchen, and were glad we did.  Chelle had the blackened Redfish, which she pronounced better than any she’d had in Florida; and Rick devoured a truly gourmet Angus beef cheeseburger; we’d definitely recommend and go back to this place.  We returned to the boat in time to fall asleep watching the first game of the World Series between the Dodgers and Red Sox.

Ghost Rider Tied Alongside at Morningstar Marina Near St. Simons

Because of the nasty sea conditions on the outside (six to eight footers) we were stuck with once again taking the inside route further south.  So once again we rose early on the morning of Wednesday, 24-October to take advantage of the high tide level to compensate for the skinny water in this part of the ICW.  The current wasn’t too hot so we got Ghost Rider off the dock without needing to sound the collision alarm.  Weather was pleasant – mostly sunny, a tad cool with temps in the low 60’s.

Our destination was Fernandina, Florida.  It was less than a 40 nautical mile run but once again involved winding, narrow and shallow waterways in addition to a couple of stretches open to the outside where we could tell the Atlantic waters had to be an absolute mess….we saw three footers crossing Jekyll and St. Andrews Sounds.  By sheer coincidence our timing and path put us about two miles behind another Nordhavn, N40 Kemo Sabe.  We had passed them going in opposite directions back in Chesapeake Bay in mid-September.  Kristin on Kemo Sabe kept us informed about certain depth areas where charts were noted to be inaccurate and where the use of third party tracks was recommended (Bob Sherer, aka Bob423, is the source for guidance in those cases. LINK.)
Passing Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay

Eventually we made our way down the ICW and towards Cumberland Sound, where we passed by the US Navy’s Kings Bay installation, home port to the U.S. Atlantic submarine fleet.  The ICW runs extremely close to that base, and the squids always have at least two patrol boats cruising the perimeter to eyeball passing traffic as a precautionary measure; we proceeded slowly at no wake speeds per their regs and avoided their high caliber attention.  About an hour later we arrived at Fernandina and the Port Consolidated fuel dock, by which time the winds were clocking hard from the northeast at 20 knots and the tide / current was running hard, but now in the opposite direction. 

The fuel dock was exposed to wind, waves and the current but at sub-three dollar pricing for diesel fuel we decided to give it a go; Chelle arranged fenders for a port-side-to approach downwind but into the current, and Rick eased Ghost Rider to an offset position parallel to the tall fixed dock.  Using a combo of engine thrust and opposing thrusters to brake the approach rate we got tied up without event, took on 720 gallons of fuel in about an hour, wrote them a big check, and then got the hell out of there without any fiberglass damage.
Submarine Repair Pen at Kings Bay

During the fueling process we had been eyeballing the local anchorage options and were not impressed – it was an unattractive industrial area, and quite exposed to the brisk north winds.  Since it was still only mid-afternoon we decided to back track a few miles to the north and return to the protected Cumberland Sound area where we had anchored some months before.  By 1530 we had dropped the hook there but were not comfy with its set….Chelle, from her vantage point at the fly bridge helm, thought we were dragging. 

So we winched the chain and anchor back to the boat for a second attempt.  But as the big Manson anchor came back to the bow pulpit the anchor’s shank managed to wedge itself between the roller and anchor guide.  The nut on the end of the big stainless bolt upon which the anchor roller rotates had sheared it cotter pin and partially backed out, creating a perfect space for the anchor shank to wedge between the roller and the guide.  It was stuck and going nowhere.  Shit.

Rick scrambled down to the engine room to grab a handful of tools – including a hammer and crowbar – while Chelle turned Ghost Rider around and kept her in deep water while we noodled a solution.  Eventually Rick managed to dislodge the anchor from its wedgie, removed the mangled cotter pin, over-tightened the bolt/nut on the roller, and we found another nearby spot to drop and set the anchor without shedding any key ground tackle parts.  In the calmer aftermath we determined we had no spare cotter pins aboard (oops), so Rick fashioned a workaround using stainless steel seizing wire to keep the bow roller and pin from backing off and falling into the seas.
A Nice Sunset at the Cumberland Anchorage

So we finally settled in for the day, and while it was a little lumpy in the anchorage with the still-stiff northeast breeze, we relaxed comfortably that evening

We had studied the weather forecast the night before, and on the morning of Thursday, 25-October we confirmed our thoughts – we would not see pleasant conditions inside or outside for the next two days; so we decided to stay right where we were until this next front passed.  Cumberland isn’t a bad place to hang on the hook.  We had a laid back morning tending to some basic boat chores and administrative items, then launched the dinghy.  Chelle took the tender to shore to join Wayne and Kristin (from Kemo Sabe who were anchored nearby) for some walking exercise and beach strolling over on the Atlantic side of Cumberland Island while Rick placed some Amazon orders (including cotter pins) and started his search for the now defunct exhaust motor fan for the master head…with no success after pulling five panels.
Walking the Beach on the Atlantic Side of Cumberland Island

That evening Wayne and Kristin joined us aboard Ghost Rider for an extended happy hour so we could swap sea stories and other lies over good drinks and light snacks.  We also shared our experience at the Port Consolidated fuel dock down in Fernandina since they were hoping to head there tomorrow to top off their tanks as well.  Some light rain moved in that evening, so we closed up the boat but still had a peaceful and comfortable night at anchor.

The morning of Friday, 26-October dawned with weather as predicted – overcast, windy, with light rain.  The winds had finally subsided somewhat so the anchorage was smooth enough for comfort.  We cranked up the generator per our standard routine and gave the house batts a good charge, then checked weather forecasts for the coming days.  Atmospheric conditions were looking good beginning the next morning, but the sea forecast was ever-changing and not in a good way.  It was looking like yet another inside run tomorrow down to St. Augustine.

So we went to work on the route, carefully cross-checking with hazards noted in both Active Captain and the Waterway Guide’s resources (where Bob423 also posts), and made route modifications accordingly.  We also checked tides all along the way, and decided upon a Saturday departure time between 0900 and 0930 to take maximum advantage of the higher tides as further insurance against the many shoaling areas we would be traversing.
An Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Sub Departing Kings Bay for the Open Ocean

Around mid-day Chelle went for a spin in the tender but she had to cut it short due to another approaching line of showers and the potential for thunderstorms.  The rest of the afternoon was spent on administrative items, and between rain showers Chelle did her best to clean up the dinghy which was looking pretty sad after plenty of use over the past month.  We did have one interesting distraction around 1300 when a small flotilla of U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats headed out from Kings Bay to start clearing the area for the imminent departure of a warship.  A short while later we saw an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine rapidly moving down the channel and heading towards the Atlantic,with a pair of USCG escorts leading and trailing.  The Navy calls those boomers “boats” but with a length of 560 feet and a beam of 42 feet, it is definitely not a small vessel.

By 1730 the ugly weather had cleared out so we hopped into the tender and zipped a few hundred meters over to Kemo Sabe for a reciprocal happy hour event.  We had not been on a Nordy 40 before and besides enjoying the company of Wayne and Kristin, who are eminently welcoming and charming, we also got a tour of a classic Nordhavn design.  The N40 circumnavigated the planet back in 2002 as one of Nordhavn’s marketing efforts, so while on the smaller end of the scale, it is a sturdy vessel and capable passage maker.  Its interior layout is also amazingly efficient and spacious.

Wayne & Kristin's Nordhavn 40, Kemo Sabe, at Anchor Off of Cumberland Island
Chelle, Kristin & Wayne Aboard Kemo Sabe Having Some Fun
Just after sunset we returned to Ghost Rider for dinner and a ball game (game three of the World Series) which eventually went eighteen innings and over seven hours….we did not stay up for all of that.

On the morning of Saturday, 27-October we retrieved the dinghy, started engines and after spooling in the anchor got underway just before 0930.  Since it was lumpy again on the outside, our timing was planned so as to ride down the inside ICW route on good tides most of the day to help us negotiate some of the shallower stretches, and there were many.  Using guidance from Active Captain and the Waterway Guide (Bob423) we chugged through the nasty areas without incident.

Passing Fernandina Headed South to St. Augustine....Very Industrial
But the strangest stretch was down near Port Jax as we crossed the St. John’s River; Kemo Sabe had hailed us earlier (they had departed about an hour before us) and warned us to disregard the charts in that area and follow the ATONs visually.  That turned out to be very good advice, as all of our charts were extremely inaccurate in that particular area….at one point indicating we were boating on top of an island.

Crossing the St. John's River....Note Where the Channel is Depicted vs. Where
Our Boat Symbol Ended Up to Stay in the Real Channel
Even though the weather was still cool (low to mid 60’s) and with a stiff westerly wind blowing, you could tell it was a weekend; the Jax area in particular was busy with runabouts, ski craft and fishing skiffs.  But they were all well behaved.  South of Jacksonville the ICW actually sported some scenery, that is if you count rows of one, two and three story docks and big custom homes in that category.  We were also seeing numerous pods of bottlenose dolphin all the way from Cumberland down to St. Augustine.

The ICW is Like a Big Canal Just South of Jacksonville with Some
Nice Homes and Docks
This was the first time we had approached the St. Augustine inlet from the north on the ICW….and it was confusing as hell in a couple of areas.  Just like the Jax area the charts do not match the ATONs, and on top of that we had sailboats making life a little challenging.  First, as we approached the Usina bridge where Kemo Sabe had just warned us 30 minutes before that the depths got a bit skinny, a vessel under sail suddenly angled in to the bridge, crabbing at an odd offset going in the opposite direction and under the bridge span.  Rick quickly backed Ghost Rider down and made a 180 turn to let it have the channel, then re-positioned us for a another approach in the ripping current. 

Shortly thereafter we encountered the St. Augustine inlet area, where constant shoaling is cause for relocating the floating channel markers at frequent intervals: we followed those and what our eyes told us, not the charts....very similar to the St. John's River experience earler.  Then as we came up on the Bridge of Lions yet another sailboat approached from the opposite direction and at the last moment was given right-of-way by the bridge tender; Rick backed Ghost Rider down once again to stand off the bridge, but by this time we were past the inlet and the current was now on our nose, so it was a much easier maneuver.

Ghost Rider Approaching the St. Augustine Municipal Marina Just
South of the Bridge of Lions....Photo Courtesy of Kemo Sabe

After that (just past 1700) we had nearly an hour to burn – we did not want to enter the Municipal Marina with the current running at two to three knots given our tight slip assignment, so we went down-river for a spell, got our WOT run accomplished, then turned back to the marina as slack tide/current approached.  As we approached the marina we passed by Kemo Sabe which was hanging on one of the city's mooring balls.  We got docked up just before 1800 without any issues, and other than accomplishing some basic post-flight tasks we deferred clean-up until the next morning…it was time to relax.

By daybreak on Sunday, 28-October the skies were a clear and crystalline blue with a bright sun but a brisk 55F temperature.  It was a perfect fall day in northeast Florida.  After coffee, donuts, email checks and a depressing news fix, we spent the morning catching up on boat chores.  That included picking up packages, recharging our SpotFree fresh water filter canister, some laundry, topping off water tanks, putting a stainless cotter pin back into the anchor bow roller (from one of our packages), and adding some oil to the main engine to compensate for some of the main seal leakage over the past month.  Kristin and Wayne from Kemo Sabe also stopped by after they had ferried in for a walk through town.
Ghost Rider Sitting Comfortably and Now Cleaner in Her Slip at the Muni Marina
By early afternoon temps had warmed, so for lunch we walked across the street to OC White’s Seafood & Spirits restaurant and enjoyed shrimp melt sandwiches on their open air patio; there’s no shortage of excellent eateries in this charming waterfront town.  After that, though, it was time to head back to the boat and give Ghost Rider a much needed shower followed by a soapy brushing in several areas; she was getting rather gritty in spots.  What she really needed was another detail and wax job, but that would have to wait until we returned to Fort Myers.

After all that we cleaned ourselves up, performed some final route checking for the next day’s run down to Daytona, and relaxed with some Goombay Ghosts, wine, and a casual dinner aboard the boat.
Our Track from Edisto Island Down to St. Augustine

Friday, October 19, 2018

October 2018: From Oriental to Edisto Island

On the ICW Between Oriental & Beaufort We Saw Several Homes
with Blue Tarps Covering Roof Damage from TS Michael
On Saturday, 13-October we arose early (for us) and experienced a slight taste of Fall weather – we had slept without air conditioning given the pleasant conditions overnight, and now we saw crystal clear skies, air temperature in the upper 50’s, humidity around 40% and a northerly breeze.  It was jacket weather.  After checking the weather one more time we were underway just before 0830…..according to our plan that would put us in the Beaufort Inlet at a slack current, and also get us into Charleston Harbor before sunset on the following day.

The run down the ICW to the Atlantic Ocean was smooth and mostly uneventful; there was some debris to dodge but nothing difficult.  We did experience a troublesome battery charging issue where the alternators didn’t seem to be keeping up with the DC draw, but we had “bailout” opportunities along the ICW all morning, so we continued with Chelle at the helm while Rick did some troubleshooting down below during the initial inland leg.  
Beaufort Inlet Is Usually Busy, Sometimes with Really
Big Cargo Ships....We Slowed to Let This Guy Pass

After checking that cable connections were still tightened properly, and verifying that no running equipment was drawing excessive current, we were still stumped.  By the time we approached Beaufort Inlet the state-of-charge (SOC) meter had leveled out at 98.4% with a net neutral current flow.  We figured that we could always crank up the generator if the charge state later dropped more, so we decided to press on.

Out in the Atlantic we found mostly benign conditions.  Beaufort Inlet notably was far better than the washing machine conditions we'd encountered back in early August on our way up the coast.  It was far from a flat sea, but even as the wind clocked around to northwesterly at 15 knots all we saw initially was a short two foot chop on top of a long two foot swell, quartering on the starboard bow as we headed southwest down the North Carolina coast.  But the weather remained quite pleasant with a temp in the low-to-mid 70’s and low humidity.  Late that afternoon – about 26 miles offshore – the winds died down a bit and the wide interval swell increased slightly….a fair trade, Ghost Rider seemed quite happy.
We Had Pleasant Sea Conditions and Fair Skies at Sunset for the
Offshore Overnight Run Down to Charleston

We traded off some short nap time to get ready for the overnight helm shifts, then as sunset approached we prepared the pilot house for night running….red flashlights, dimming all displays and controls, turning on the nav lights.  Chelle took the first shift until 2030 then Rick took over until 0100 (Sunday).  We ran the Furuno unit in its night-mode vector chart mode (black background) and configured the Nobeltec big screen to display dual radars – one set at close range (3NM) the other at 12NM.  We’ve been quite pleased with the range, sensitivity, discrimination and precise echo trails of the Furuno DRSX radar array especially when displayed on the Nobeltec PC unit.

While it seemed like the same calendar day to us, technically it was Sunday, 14-October.  Temperatures stayed in the low to mid 70’s so we ran with the boat open to the fresh night air.  We had a sliver of a moon providing some illumination until it set around 2200, but not so much that we couldn’t see thousands of stars above.  We had a couple of other boats running parallel to us about three miles to our east most of the night , but they were running slightly slower and eventually fell back off the radar, so not a factor.
Our Dual Radar Display for Night Running

After the moon set it was the proverbial “boating in a black ink bottle” – it was dark.  Around 0400 the winds shifted to the east and picked up to around 15 knots; a sea change came with it, with the wind waves on top of two different swells that quartered on the port stern and pushed Ghost Rider around quite a bit…the autopilot and stabilizers were working fairly hard, but there was no hull banging – just a lot of weaving and bobbing.  We could see on the XM weather display that a front had stalled out and become stationary, parked across our route about midway between Cape Fear and Charleston, and that likely had churned things up a bit.

Rick relieved Chelle at the helm at 0500.  Sunrise arrived on schedule at 0715, and finally we could actually see the strange ocean swell patterns; they looked a lot more benign than they felt.  But Ghost Rider wallowed dutifully on.  A few hours later, around 1100, that previously stalled front started moving south as a warm front and behind it our sea conditions improved once again, smoothing out considerably as the winds clocked back to the northwest and dropped off to 8 knots with temps already in the low 80’s.
Chugging Up the Ashley River You Get to See the Shoreline of Old Charleston

We finally arrived at the Charleston Harbor inlet entrance around 1400, made our way up the Ashley River and to the Harborage at Ashley Marina by 1515.  It wasn’t the ideal arrival time as the tide and current were running out fairly quickly but we had an alongside tie slip assignment that was easy to manage.  Ghost Rider got a much needed hose-down and then we pretty much collapsed into our easy chairs and called it a day – actually it was two days.

On this leg from Oriental, NC to Charleston, SC we had covered 243 nautical miles in just less than 31 hours, averaging almost 8 knots at a leisurely 1400 RPM on the big Lugger diesel.  The boat ran very well the entire time, with no propulsion hiccups, although we still had a mysterious battery charging issue that required some noodling.  For now, however, it was relax and sleep time.
The Track Capture for This Leg...the Trip Time & Distance Were Actually a Bit Longer as We Had Reset the
Tracking Device Shortly After Departure to Troubleshoot a Tracking Display Issue
The morning of Monday, 15-October, greeted us with sunny skies but also with warmer temps and higher humidity….it felt like late summer once again.  This was a planned “recovery day” so we did not have much on our agendas.  After a lazy morning Chelle rode her e-bike into town for a minor provisioning run while Rick caught up on emails, topped off the boat’s fresh water tanks, and coordinated some planned maintenance for our November return to Old Port Cove and Yacht Tech’s service center.  

Then it was time to noodle the battery charging issue. Rick thinks that he’s figured it out, for those that are curious about that sort of detail, there is a footnote at the end of this posting that summarizes his findings/ theory.  It took a couple of hours of testing spread over two days. That was enough troubleshooting on limited rest, so we called it quits, and that evening we had a quiet dinner on the boat and relaxed with some TV time.
Ghost Rider Moored at Ashley Marina's Long Face Dock

Per his normal daily habit the first thing Rick did the morning of Tuesday, 16-October, was check the battery states – and the voltages all read normal with the Linkpro gauge still showing 100%.  So far, so good.  The remainder of the morning was dedicated to normal maintenance coming due per our Wheelhouse software – checking the A/C and water maker strainers, installing a new charcoal filter for the water maker, cleaning the air handler filters, cleaning the forward thruster compartment and routine checks on the thrusters themselves.  And after running the dishwasher and doing some laundry Chelle reloaded our water tanks in preparation for the next day’s departure.

That evening we were joined by Ron and Mercedes for an extended happy hour aboard Ghost Rider.  We hadn’t seen them since passing through here on our way north back in July and we enjoyed catching up with them once again.  Both their boats (the 51 Jeanneau sailboat and the Nordhavn 47) had survived Florence and Michael without any damage, so that was worth toasting. 
Mercedes, Rick and Ron Making Toasts Aboard Ghost Rider in Charleston
We got back underway the morning of Wednesday, 17-October, pushing off the dock at 0930 to time our departure for slack current.  Rick got Ghost Rider turned about in the tight fairway and we headed out of the marina basin and down-river towards the Atlantic Ocean once again for the run down to Edisto Island.  We had some low scattered clouds as an early morning fog was still breaking up and burning off in the 80F temperature, with a 10-15 knot breeze from the southwest helping it dissipate.  It was a smooth ride until Ghost Rider departed the protection of the harbor jetties and entered open water….at which point we got a free rodeo ride.  There were two swells varying from two to four feet at interleaved intervals plus whitecaps and wind chop, all generally angled on the nose as we maintained a southwesterly course, paralleling the shoreline anywhere from four to eight miles out. 
Getting a Little Bouncy....the Bow Would Go Way Up....
And Eventually the Bow Would Come Back Down....Occasionally with a Bang
Ghost Rider handled it all well, with the bulbous bow only very occasionally announcing it was still attached with its distinctive re-entry bang.  We were also punching into an oncoming tidal current, so speed was down around 7 knots.  It was only a 50 mile ride to Paul and DeeDee’s house down in Edisto, so we weren’t in any particular hurry and left the throttle at a loping 1420 RPM.  

By early afternoon the winds and seas had subsided some and the ride improved to a mild hobby horse.  (Short video segment HERE.)  As we neared the entrance to the Edisto River we also picked up a helping current and rode that in to more protected waters.  By the time we were snaking our way up the Pierre Creek river branch to Paul and DeeDee’s place, we were also benefitting from a high (six foot) tide, leaving plenty of water under the keel all the way to their dock.
Ghost Rider at the Best Marina in South Carolina....Paul & Dee Dee's Place

By 1630 we were securely tied up with Paul's help; by 1730 had Ghost Rider washed down and post-flighted; and shortly after that were settled in up at the house with drinks and dinner...Dee Dee is an excellent cook and the roasted chicken was delicious.

The predicted cold front passed through the area overnight and the morning of Thursday, 18-October was considerably cooler, drier and breezier.  The low 60’s felt refreshing.  We had a lazy morning catching up on email, news and MLB scores, and sorting through all the packages that were waiting on us here.  Then shortly after lunch we all piled into Paul’s fishing skiff and went touring the local area’s rivers and streams.  It was jacket weather again, but still pleasant and comfortable.

Later that evening we drove over to Edisto Island’s beach front area for dinner at “Ella & Ollie’s” where the shrimp and oysters (locally caught), pork chops and steaks were quite good.  We followed that with watching the final game of the ALCS (congrats to our Red Sox!) back at Paul and Dee Dee’s while sipping on good wine and liquor.  It was, overall, a great day.

On Friday, 19-October we awoke to more cool and refreshing weather and enjoyed a fairly lazy day.  Paul and Rick tended to some home and boat chores, including preps for Ghost Rider’s departure the next day, while Dee Dee and Chelle headed off in the car to tour some of the local plantation properties.  We finished the day with pizza and another MLB playoff game.  Next up:  the weather and sea conditions look good enough to resume our journey south, so we’ll be chugging down towards Hilton Head, St. Simon’s, Cumberland and St. Augustine over the next week or so.

** Footnote on the Battery Charging Issue

In noodling the battery charging conundrum, we already knew Ghost Rider’s twin 130 amp alternators (combined to produce a theoretical 260 amps of output) were inadequate for the size of the house battery bank.  After disconnecting from either shore power or generator output and then depending only on the engine-driven alternators we would always experience a very gradual bleed of the charge state, losing about .1% (one-tenth-of-one-percent) every two hours.  Our house battery bank should have an alternator setup that puts out 350 amps (25% of the battery bank’s total amp hour capacity) to compensate for efficiency and heat losses in the alternator’s rated output.  And even these continuous duty units can’t sustain maximum output for very long without heating up and shortening their lifespans.

Nevertheless, that did not explain what occurred the morning we departed from River Dunes, where we bled off several whole percentage points of capacity in less than 30 minutes.  One possible (self-inflicted) contributing factor was that the parallel charging switch for the wing/generator start battery was in the “on” position, but that could not explain the heavy apparent drain all by itself.  After testing the charge rate several times with each of the two battery chargers onboard Ghost Rider, we observed the same behavior – a charge rate less than one amp while the Linkpro read only 98.4%.  That charge rate – actually anything below .5% of the battery bank’s total amp hour capacity, which for ours would be 7 amps – indicated that both chargers and the batteries considered the batteries were at a full charge state.  Since we didn’t think it likely both chargers would go whacky at the same time, and the house batts were only two years old, we surmised the Linkpro gauge's computer had gotten out of sync.  So we reset (resynchronized) the gauge back to 100% to test that theory over the next few days.  We've had no issues since, but it will require further monitoring.

Touring the Creeks and Rivers in the Edisto Area
One of the Many Historic Homes Around Edisto, SC....This One Still Belongs to the Middleton Family, Whose Family
Tree Includes a Governor of South Carolina and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Our Track from River Dunes in Oriental, NC, to Charleston, SC, to Edisto Island, SC

Friday, October 12, 2018

October 2018: Riding Out Michael at Oriental

A Radar Image of Michael Passing Just to Our West
Right Before We Lost Power and Internet
During the afternoon and evening of Thursday, 11-October, Tropical Storm Michael strafed our area with the expected rain and wind.  Around 1400 we lost power to the marina, but only for about 30 minutes.  But later, between 1900 and 2000 hours, as the low pressure center made its closest approach, we saw winds clocking a steady state around 50 knots with gusts to 60+ knots, and that was more than enough to knock out utility power for an extended period.

So we cranked up the generator and became self-sufficient, a lot like being at anchor, but with the protection of the River Dunes harbor area.  Nonetheless we saw whitecaps and 2 foot waves in the marina.  We were securely tied and adequately fendered, so had no real concerns….with the winds cranking mostly out of the south as Michael passed just to our west, as long as no other boats broke free from the other t-heads then we would remain safe and secure.  We had the typical tornado watches that always go along with the tropical systems but no twisters materialized in our area.
Web Site Weather Capture Taken for Nearby Oriental

The increasing winds did make for some interesting acoustics – there was the usual howl, especially during the gusts, but some odd harmonics set up as the strong southerly blasts sang through the boat’s rigging and gear overhead.  We got used to it.  As far as we could tell everything stayed where it should be, but we didn’t bother to venture outside to verify.  That could wait until morning. 

The good news was the thing was moving like a freight train and around 2100 the rain bands had cleared out and winds dropped to a steady state in the 20’s with gusts to the mid-30’s.  Around 2300 the marina power came back online so we were able to power down the genset and reconnect to shore power at that point, with winds down to a steady state of 10 knots with gusts to around 20.  So the worst was definitely past, and even at its peak strength the conditions here were nothing compared to the devastating winds and water that the Florida panhandle area just experienced. 

Ghost Rider's Wind Gauge Reading a Steady State of 53 Knots
The local meteorological conditions continued to moderate throughout the night, and by the morning of Friday, 12-October the remnants of Hurricane Michael had accelerated far to the northeast, clobbering Norfolk and the southern Chesapeake in the process, but leaving a relatively calm and sunny day for us in its wake.  The cold front that had chased the tropical system off on its northeast vector also brought us much cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

A walk around and over Ghost Rider revealed no damage or missing components, and we spent an hour or so restoring the boat to its normal ready-to-cruise profile.  According to the River Dunes dockmaster only one boat had any damage, and that was because they were foolish enough to leave their Bimini canvas top up.  We did not get cell phone and Internet service back until mid-afternoon, and at that point you couldn’t tell a hefty storm had just barreled through here.

Ghost Rider in Good Shape After Undoing All the Storm Preps from the Day Before
The rest of our day will be spent making final departure preps and a shopping / provisioning run into town.  We’ll depart here in the morning and make an overnight run on the outside down to Charleston.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sep/Oct 2018: From Baltimore to Oriental

Passing Fort McHenry Just South of Baltimore Harbor....Where During the
War of 1812 the British Navy Was Repulsed & Francis Scott Key
Penned the Words for Our National Anthem
It was time to say goodbye to Baltimore and begin our trek back to our Florida home, so on the morning of Sunday, 30-September, we got back underway.  It was a cool (60F), and cloudy but dry morning, requiring jackets, but winds were generally light, and by 0930 we were off the dock and underway once again.  We encountered plenty of floating debris in the muddy Patapsco River, with a few floaters bigger than telephone poles, but we managed to avoid all that.  Vessel traffic was moderately heavy, as plenty of folks were anxious to take advantage of a dry weekend.

By early afternoon the clouds had cleared and we were treated to another very pleasant day for cruising…..bright sun, light breezes, temps hovering around 80F.  Once we reached Chesapeake Bay and got south of Annapolis the vessel traffic lightened considerably.
A View from Our Anchorage in Broad Creek Looking Back South
Towards Its Entrance at Chesapeake Bay

The trek south to Broad Creek on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake took us about six hours and then at least another hour to backtrack to the northeast and up to the St. Michael’s anchorage area.  But it was worth the detour….the big creek was twisting but wide and with adequate depth, and very quiet, even on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  We dropped the hook about ¾ of a mile south of St. Michaels in a wide curve of the creek in about 10 feet of water, and got a good set on the anchor.  After the sun had set the cool temps allowed us to open up the boat and spend a very pleasant night without running the generator.

Departing Ghost Rider and Heading to St. Michaels
The first day of October greeted us the next morning with more fabulous weather – upper 60’s, clear and sunny, a moderate southerly breeze around 14 knots.  We cranked up the genset to put some juice back into the house batts and Rick took care of some minor boat chores while Chelle went on a scouting mission in the dinghy.

That afternoon we took another dinghy ride up to St. Michaels and walked into town.  We stopped at The Galley for lunch and on their shaded outdoor dining deck munched on a (very good) BLT and some quesadillas accompanied by a Bloody Mary and a white Sangria.  It’s one of those family owned and operated eateries open only for breakfast and lunch, and where you can sense the pride in the preparation and presentation.

Originally settled back in the mid 1600’s this small (population under 2,000) charming harbor town has preserved it history and architecture over the centuries, and beckons many Bay area visitors.  St. Michael's red brick sidewalks are lined with numerous shops and restaurants where just about any type of food fare is available, but of course the locally caught fresh fish, crabs and oysters are featured.
All Residences in St. Michaels are Well-Kept.....and This One Invites All Passersby to Tour Their Back Yard
Garden.  Note the Signage.
Shipbuilding was the town’s first industry and remains a central theme along the waterfront where the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum occupies 15 acres adjacent to the town’s top notch marina.  Straddling Broad Creek on its western side and the Miles River on its eastern side, both providing excellent deep water access to Chesapeake Bay, life on and near the water has always defined and shaped this place.  It still looks a lot like a 19th century seaport.
Just Walking the Streets of Picturesque St. Michael's Can Occupy An Entire Day
The museum grounds can be an all-day experience, although we limited ourselves to a few hours.  From the shipyard – where they are working on restoring several older wooden boats – to the Hooper Strait Lighthouse – another screwpile structure very similar to one we had seen at Solomons – to the extensive displays dedicated to documenting the storied oyster industry, as well as the more recent explosion of recreational uses of the Bay – the museum does a fine job of giving its visitors a real feel for the long and storied history of St. Michaels and its symbiotic connection to this country’s largest estuary.
The Boat Shop Barn at the Maritime Museum Where Numerous Build and Restoration
Projects Are Always Underway
The Hooper Straight Lighthouse Restored & Relocated to the Maritime Museum
By late afternoon we were tiring – especially after stopping for a Margarita and a Chardonnay at The Crab Claw – so we hiked back through town and back to the dinghy dock, returning to Ghost Rider to spend a relaxing evening. We ran the genset for a few hours to recharge the house batteries, then after an excellent steak dinner shut it down and opened up the boat again.  We completed the day on the fly bridge with a drink under a clear and starry sky (and a cigar for Rick), followed by a peaceful and comfortable night’s sleep.

Our excellent weather continued on Tuesday, 02-October, with a perfectly clear and sunny sky, temps in the low 70’s and a light southerly breeze.  After coffee and breakfast Chelle was gone for the day, taking the dinghy back into St. Michaels for a day of browsing and shopping.  Rick stayed aboard, partly to avoid the shopping expedition, but also to tend to various small chores – recharging the batts, updating the blog, and placing orders for some supplies to be delivered at one of our upcoming ports-of-call.  He also spent some time transferring fuel from our two aft fuel tanks to the forward tanks – a slow process given the rather weak flow rate of our fuel transfer pump, so that took most of the afternoon.
Our Final Evening at Anchor Near St. Michaels

Chelle returned to the boat around 1530 – tired but pleased with her shopping finds, one of those being a very nice bottle of dark rum from one of the local St. Michael's distilleries.  Around 1700 we cranked up the generator again, mainly to power up the davit crane so we could retrieve the dinghy and park it back on its boat deck berth, but also to top off the house batts for another night at anchor without running the generator.  We enjoyed another quiet dinner and peaceful night on the hook, but were ready to move on.

The morning of Wednesday, 03-October greeted us with perfect weather – clear skies, pleasant temps in the low 70’s with light and variable breezes.  We retrieved the anchor and by 0915 we were underway once again, headed to the other side of the Bay and a bit further south to the St. Mary’s River.  The Bay waters were glass-flat….one could have gone water skiing out there.  It was a fine day to take helm duties on the fly bridge, it couldn’t have been a smoother ride.

Another Nice Sunset, This One in a Protected Bay
Just to the West of the St. Marys River
We ran the water maker for several hours as we had depleted the tanks quite a bit, using an unusual amount to wash off the mud from the chain and anchor as we retrieved it – we probably should have had a dredging permit given the amount of muck that came up stuck to our ground tackle.  During one of our engine room checks Rick noted that one of the water maker’s small hoses was dripping water in the area of its quick-connector; we couldn’t thwart the minor leak with any of our adjustments, so Rick wrapped it with some Rescue Tape as a temporary measure.

We reached the entrance to St. Mary’s River around 1600, had the anchor set by 1630 and the dinghy splashed by 1700.  Chelle went to shore for some walking exercise while Rick handled the usual engine room and lazarette post-flight checks.  Around 1900 we jumped in the tender and zipped across St. George Creek to the nearby Ruddy Duck Brewery and Grill for a casual dinner ashore.
A View of Ghost Rider at Anchor Just After Sunset as We Departed in the
Dinghy to Grab a Meal at the Ruddy Duck Restaurant

When we returned to the boat we ran the genset and kept Ghost Rider closed up for a while….temps were mild enough, but we had bugs in droves – gnats, flies, noseeums and mosquitos.  We’re not campers, so we turned on the A/C and stayed comfy.  A couple of hours later as temps lowered a bit more we powered down but only opened windows and portals that had screens, and had a mostly bug-less experience.  Rick fell asleep watching the MLB wildcard game between the Yanks and the A’s….it was a good night.

We slept in a bit the morning of Thursday, 04-October since we had a fairly short run to make – under 50 nautical miles.  After Chelle returned from another trip to shore for her morning walk we winched the dinghy back up to the boat deck, retrieved the anchor (much cleaner than the previous day) and got underway around 1030.  We had starting weather and sea conditions identical to the day before – just about perfect.  It was a bit humid but nothing to complain about once we got the boat-induced sea breeze going. 

The southerly breeze picked up to around 12 knots later in the afternoon giving us a one to two foot chop on the nose with the attendant whitecaps, but the ride remained comfortable.  And the air temps continued to warm as well, finally getting back into the low 90’s by day’s end.
Our Peaceful Anchorage Site Near Cherry Point

We entered the mouth of the Piankatak River just before 1600, turned south around Cherry Point and dropped the anchor in Hills Bay.  By 1630 we had Ghost Rider secured for the evening.  It was quite warm down below so we cranked up the generator and A/C and closed up the boat to cool things down.  With a decent breeze the bugs were at a minimum so we slept comfortably without the A/C.

Friday, 05-October brought us another good weather morning….clear with a northeast breeze and temperature in the mid 70’s.  We had a longer day in front of us for the run to Atlantic Yacht Basin, along with a couple of bridges and a lock to negotiate, so we got an earlier start, pulling up the anchor by 0830 (fairly clean this time) and pointing Ghost Rider south once again.

Passing Through the Norfolk Area....Quite a Few Arleigh Burke Class
Guided Missile Destroyers Moored Along This Stretch
Bay waters presented only a light wind chop to our stern so it was a smooth ride in the open waters.  Unfortunately our forward speed matched the following wind velocity, so we did not have much of a comforting breeze as the temps climbed back into the 80’s.  Likewise that dead zone on and in the boat created a favored gathering place for flies – lots of them, and the kind that bite.  And none of our bug sprays seemed to be any deterrent.

Eventually we departed Chesapeake Bay turning to the west into the James River and then down towards Norfolk and the beginning of the AICW, getting a bit more breeze going over the boat in the process….and somewhat fewer flying bugs as the winds clocked around to the east. 

Locking Through Great Bridge
Eventually we came to the Great Bridge lock and bridge and managed – with a long and fairly aggressive wide open throttle run – to hit the next lock-through at exactly the right time so we didn’t have to dawdle in a holding pattern.  After passing through the lock and then under the opened bascule bridge we arrived at Atlantic Yacht Basin at 1630, then docked up, cleaned up, and retrieved packages from the AYB office.  Chelle rode her e-bike into town to pick up a few needed provisions while Rick completed the wash-down and post-flight checklists.  And then we relaxed with a quiet dinner aboard Ghost Rider.

We had a short run the next day, Saturday, 06-October, so we weren’t in a big hurry to get moving.  The day started with clear skies, mild but humid, and a light northeast breeze.  Rick took advantage of the AYB marina’s nearby fuel dock and good prices to fill the dinghy’s two five gallon reserve gas cans, while Chelle hauled one of our empty LPG tanks up the road to get that refilled.

At high noon we pushed off from the dock and continued the trek down the ICW towards Coinjock, NC.  We had two bridges to negotiate in the first hour but timed those fairly well, encountering only nominal loiter time.  By midafternoon the temps were in the low 80’s, still humid, and we had a broken cloud cover that filtered the sun with only occasional glimpses of blue patches.  But it was a comfortable day on the fly bridge.
Chelle at the Fly Bridge Helm Taking Ghost Rider Through One of the Bridges Between AYB and Coinjock
Chelle handled most of the helm duties this day, taking Ghost Rider away from the dock at AYB and docking us up at Coinjock, all of which went without any stress.  By 1640 we were all tucked in.  We enjoyed a variety of shrimp, clams and fresh Tilefish for dinner at the marina’s restaurant, watched some playoff baseball and called it a night. 

Our planned route for Sunday, 07-October would take us further south into the Alligator River for another night at anchor.  We started out with broken cloud cover again but no precipitation and a pleasant breeze from the east with temps in the low 80’s.  After Chelle returned from her walk and Rick had replaced some burned out deck courtesy lights we got underway, thrusting away from the dock just before 1030. 
Our Alligator River Anchorage Looking at the Eastern Shoreline.  That
Black Ball on the Bow Pulpit is Our Anchor Day Shape.

We had only one bridge to wait on and saw very little ICW vessel traffic along the way.  By 1630 we had reached our planned anchorage, set the hook, engaged the snubber, and cranked up the generator and A/C units.  It had warmed into the mid-to-upper 80’s as the cloud cover broke up some and it was humid, so the air conditioning felt good.  Our chosen anchorage site in a bend of the Alligator River was in the lee of the eastern shoreline, so even with the stiffening breeze we rode smoothly on the anchor – and there was little to no passing traffic on the nearby ICW.

We enjoyed an evening winding down on the fly bridge with our favorite drinks (and a cigar for Rick), bid adieu to the sun as it set behind a low line of low clouds to the west, then went below for a quiet dinner and some book / TV time.
Sunset Was a Bit Obscured at the Alligator River Anchorage But Still Picturesque from Our Fly Bridge Perch
The morning of Monday, 08-October, dawned clear, humid and with temps in the mid 70’s with a light breeze out of the east, and we were actually awake and already in the pilot house to see the sunrise.  We wanted to get an early start for the longer run to River Dunes in Oriental.  We had enjoyed a very calm night hanging on the hook with the boat open to the outside air, and Ghost Rider had remained firmly planted, swinging only slightly.

By 0800 we had completed pre-flights, had our wake up coffee and had pulled up the anchor and were underway.  We continued to keep a close eye on a tropical system spooling up in the Caribbean and heading for the Gulf of Mexico….destined to be Hurricane Michael.  The forecast track wasn’t looking good for the panhandle of Florida, where they were looking at the distinct probability of being whacked by a Cat-4 storm.  Our attention was on the forecast for the days following landfall, where NHC was predicting a path right over us and winds still at tropical storm strength.  We had certainly been though worse, but we still wanted to be in a sheltered place, and River Dunes fit the bill well with its inland location, enclosed basin and floating docks.
The USCG Station on the ICW at Hobucken, NC....Gives You An Idea
of Just How Boring This Stretch of Water Is

Likewise, by the time we would make Oriental, Ghost Rider would be due for some scheduled care and feeding – primarily oil and filter changes on both the main engine and the generator.  That’s always less of a hassle when docked up in a secure area where we could take our time and also dispose of the waste oil.

The ride down this stretch of the ICW was as expected….smooth, comfy, boring.  For our boating friends in Florida, this ribbon of water is very much like transiting Lake Okeechobee and the ditch on either side of that pond…..mostly canal-like straightaways interrupted by occasional river bends and intermittent lake-like expanses.  And the water depths are similar, too.  We did start to encounter some of the debris expected from the Hurricane Florence flooding and runoff, but most were easy to spot and it certainly wasn’t a case of numerous dodges.

Becky, Billy & Rick at the Toucan Grill
About the time we hit the wide expanse of the Pamlico River the winds had picked up to around 15-20 knots out of the southeast, and with its 35 mile exposure to the fetch we suddenly went from a smooth and protected ride to punching into three foot rollers at one second intervals quartering on the bow.  In a smaller boat it was the kind of washboard surface that would make your eyeballs juggle and teeth rattle.  Ghost Rider didn’t much care but we did take considerable spray.  When we finally turned in towards Cedar Point and the entrance to River Dunes around 1615 we were able to put the chop to our stern.

Chelle handled the docking duties at the helm again and brought us in to the alongside tie at the transient floating t-head dock around 1630.  After our post-flight checks the boat got a much needed wash down and so did we.  Then it was social and relaxation time with our good friends, Billy and Becky Edge, who had driven down from Raleigh for a visit.  We piled into their car and had a casual dinner on the outside deck at the Toucan Grill, then enjoyed a late happy hour at the cabin they had rented at River Dunes. 

Mike, Rick, Mari, Chelle, Becky & Billy at The Silos Pizza Joint
Most of the day Tuesday, 09-October, was boat chore day.  In addition to A/C and water maker strainer cleaning, both the generator and the main engine were due for their respective 200 and 250 hour oil and filter changes.  Billy came over to assist and that certainly made it easier, but those along with the genset Racor filter change still took us until 1400 to complete.  Afterwards Billy, Becky and Chelle drove into town to check out storm damage from the previous hurricane (Florence) while Rick continued to finish some more boat chores – cleaning throttle linkages and transferring more fuel from the aft tanks to the forward tanks. 

That evening we got back together with Billy and Becky and joined Mike and Mari Zimet, owners of the Nordhavn 47 Mari Mi, for a pizza party at The Silos restaurant.  Afterwards we all headed back to Ghost Rider for drinks, watched the Red Sox eliminate the Yankees, and ended up partying until just past midnight as the alcohol flowed freely.
Mari, Chelle and Becky Partying on Ghost Rider
We started off Wednesday, 10-October with breakfast at the marina’s Yawl’s CafĂ©, where the coffee, French toast and omelets helped everyone recover from the night before.  Afterwards it was time for Billy and Becky to return to their home in Raleigh so they could prepare their place for the coming storm.  Mike and Mari, having just completed cleanups to their boat and home after Hurricane Florence had recently pounded and flooded this area, needed to do the same for their home.
Ghost Rider at the Transient T-Head with All Storm Preps Completed

We returned to the boat to make our own storm preps.  While we were expecting only tropical storm wind speeds, we still doubled up our lines, put out extra fenders, rolled up and taped the Bimini top, covered the fly bridge and dinghy, then lowered and secured all the antennae.  After stowing and securing all other loose deck items, we were ready to deal with whatever came our way courtesy of Hurricane Michael.  

Late that afternoon Rick and Chelle hopped aboard N47 Mari Mi to help Mike move his boat to a more secure dock; one of the pilings at his original slip had been damaged in Hurricane Florence, and nobody wanted to test its holding power in this next blow.  After helping Mike double-tie and fender his boat we retreated back to Ghost Rider for a quiet evening and to watch more of the storm coverage.  The GFS and Euro weather models were coming into agreement and predicting arrival here Thursday afternoon, so we still had the next morning to make any final adjustments.  We'll tack on an update to this blog posting once the storm passes.

Our Track Capture From Baltimore, MD South to Oriental, NC
One of the Tasks Billy & Becky Had in Preparing Their Home for the Storm was Securing Halloween
Decorations....Here Their Skeleton is a Bit More Secure Sitting in the Audi