Cape Fear to Cape Caneveral

Cape Fear to Cape Caneveral

Southport, North Carolina to Melbourne, Florida

 

As we continued in a souwesterly direction out into Long Bay to be 30 to 40 miles off shore the temperature slowly began to rise. It was 7°C as we went past Bald Head Island at 6pm and up to 11°C by first light, a little after 6am. It was about this time that we again had dolphin company, 30 or 40 playing all around Ednbal especially around and under the bow. They stayed with us for a several hours. At one point as I was walking back from the bow one whacked its tail right next to me and even got some water up onto the deck. I'd swear the dolphin was playing up to me.

 

I had to capture it as a video clip. You'll have to downlaod an AVI file from the Download page to experience the exclusive watch of Dolphin play et the bow of Ednbal.

 

 

Sasha had a nap and spent much of the day familiarising and evaluating navigation software packages on the PC.  She had Maxsea, Raytheon and Maptech Offshore Navigator as either full or demo versions and as right into weather integration with route planning. I just watched dolphins and slacked around! As we started to haul in the degrees of latitude we were able to shed our thermal gear with the rising temperature. By mid afternoon we were showering on the swim platform in 18°C. By now we had been motoring for over 24 hours since our fuel top up in Wrightsville. Although all the valves, fittings and pipework were in place, I had not connected power to the fuel transfer pump so with the main tank now only half full it was time to try it out. I selected a spare breaker on the DC distribution panel and made the final connection.

 

 

Commissioning such a system at sea is not exactly idea, but I was fairly confident I had it all correct. I had it such that fuel could be pumped from either of the 2 new 11.5 US gallon (40 litre) to the main tank via a 3 way transfer valve, leaving one port spare in case we ever decided to put in additional flexible fuel bladder for any long ocean crossings. I set the transfer valve to draw from the spare tank and started the pump. Since I had not yet bought gauges for the 2 new tanks the only way to know whether it would work was by the main tank gauge. Sasha flicked the switch and the little diaphragm pump sprang into action. After 20 minutes of constant checking connections for any leaks the main tank gauge had risen from 1/2 to over  3/4!

 

Since early morning we had a light North Easterly wind right behind us but not enough to really help, now in the evening, it strengthened to 12 to 15kn directly astern but we decided to leave sails down until our next way point that would see a change over course by 050° degrees to head dead South. At about 11pm on 10 December we had sails up, engine off and sailing at 5kn in 12kn of wind off the aft port quarter - oh what a feeling after so much motoring.

 

The breeze varied from 8 to 16kn as we enjoyed sailing about 60 miles offshore through Sunday night and Monday as the forecasts continued to be 15kn North East. In the early afternoon a US aircraft carrier was heading our way off the port bow. At a couple of miles away he dispatched a helicopter that flew around us then the captain called on VHF 16. He was going across in front of us then to take a port turn and head 085° degrees at 20kn for aircraft manoeuvres. He requested we change course to head North. I replied that we are heading South and did he want us to turn around. He replied that he just wanted us to be astern of him. Given he was at least a mile ahead I did not think there would be much risk in that, but offered to alter course to the West just in case. He thanked us for cooperation and with the helicopter still above altered course until the carrier had executed his turn and was heading away from us. The helicopter left us and planes started taking off as the carrier headed away.

 

The next little excitement occurred in the early evening well after dark. I was asleep and Sasha was in the cockpit, standing in the companionway. With the wind now gusting to 25kn we had earlier shortened sail. Still, every now and the Ednbal would head up and Ric the autopilot would bring her back on course. There was a larger than normal gust, Ednbal rounded up to port a little more than normal but something happened with Ric. He swung the wheel hard to starboard and before Sasha could avoid it, Ednbal was in an uncontrolled jibe with the headsail backed. By the time I got out, Sasha was at the wheel with the autopilot off. I stated the engine in case we needed any extra help to correct the situation. We control jibed back again and were soon stabilised. Sasha noticed that the boom vang rope was loose and when she went to tighten it saw that its snatch block at the base of the mast had broken away. With safety harness on I clambered up on deck to investigate the damage. Seeing that we had one spare halyard, I pulled it out of its block, removed the damaged block from the boom vang line, pulled out the spare halyard and fed the vang line through back to the cockpit. We tightened the vang and were soon back on course. Question is what happened to the autopilot? Was it just Ric playing up?

 

As the night went on the wind continued to build, up to over 30kn with gusts at 35. In addition, the swell was also up to around 8 feet according to weather forecasts. The swells were very short and steep, typical of the area, caused by a northern Gulf Stream current against a wind almost opposite in direction, North East.  The swell was coming to us from the east and the seas from the North East, it all made for a very bumpy and uncomfortable night. In the morning Sasha considered making breakfast but Ednbal was being thrown all over the place and she gave the idea away for cornflakes and muesli bars. By around midday of Tuesday 12 December 2006, we were in the shelter of Port Canaveral. As we approached the Canaveral lock, I called to enquire about being locked through. Another vessel well behind us then called us. It was “Freedom Star” saying they had a solid fuel booster rocket strapped to their hip and would take the next lock, requesting we stand off to wait for the following locking.

 

 

 

It was after 2:30 pm by the time we got through the lock and the lock master informed us that the next bridge at State Road 3, had a 3 till 6 o’clock curfew for the evening sushi hour so we decided to drop anchor off the side of the barge canal just west of the lock. A quiet beer in 22° degrees Celsius of humid Florida weather, fantastic. An early dinner, where I fell asleep at the table  before Sasha had it finished, and into bed at 6:30 and not waking until 6 the next morning. We were tired!

 

We caught the 9am opening of the State road bridge and with virtually no wind we motored the next 3 hours to Melbourne, dropping anchor at the Western side of the Eau Gallie bridge. It was the time to trial our outboard lift for the first time.

 

 

 

We had contacted a good friend from work days at GE, Gary Killian, a member of the Melbourne Yacht Club to enquire about the possibility of spending some time there. Gary made arrangements with the dock master, House Commodore and various others for us to stay longer than the normal 3 day transient limit while I went back to Australia for a doctor’s appointment. On Thursday we moved the Tee Head at the end of the Melbourne Yacht Club dock. The evidence of Christmas festive season was all around us.