NORTHBOUND 2015

“Be careful what you wish”

I advised my Daughter-in-law’s Sister Elise to consider that old saying before joining  the crew for this trip aboard BETTY ANN. But she was game to do it, so on Sunday 10 May we gather at the Southwest gate for the flight to Charleston, South Carolina. But, surprise, we learn the BETTY ANN had put in at Savannah due to tropical storm Ana so a new plan is put in play.

Larry had flown to Charleston the previous day so he rented a car, met us at the airport and we drove to the Isle of Hope Marina located on the Skidaway River portion of the Intracoastal Waterway. We picked up Archie, and with Elise navigating on her phone, headed into the Savannah Riverside Market section for lunch. We ate at Joe’s Crab shack (actually a large full service restaurant- and very good) then return to the marina. Archie and Larry take the car to go provisioning and Elise and I spend time familiarizing her with Betty Ann, stowing our gear and doing final preparations for getting underway in the morning.

The provisioning crew return with three overflowing dock carts. While they begin stowing that Elise and I take the rental car and the marina’s loaner van to National rental at the airport. We fear the worst since neither of us are listed as drivers on the agreement but the agent smiles and says, “You’re returning this for a friend, right” NICE! The two of us then head back to the marina in the van – a true beater – with labels all over the interior indicating what doesn’t work. lol most everything!  On the way back we make a quick stop at The Pirate House Bar and Restaurant to check it out, have a beer and then return to pick up Archie and Larry for dinner.  Unfortunately, the little place Archie had picked out had just closed their kitchen (9:00) , as had the second choice Japanese restaurant. The third try is open, Jalapenos Mexican food, pretty good, perhaps because we were starving by then.

MONDAY 11 MAY

Up early for showers etc. and a quick trip to Walmart for some forgotten items. We’re underway heading down the river for open ocean and have plenty of excitement as a large outbound RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ship and and incoming container ship meet with us at a narrow bend in the channel. Things get back to normal quickly and soon we’re in the Atlantic. We make our turn onto course 060 M; unfurl the main, jib and stays’l, cut the engine and bask in the glory of an 8+ knot broad reach. For Elise the thrill is short lived as she begins to succumb to seasickness. She applies a Scopolimine patch, and through the bright sunny day appears to be making a recovery. The watch bill is set with a four on: four off schedule so at 1600 I go below for a quick snooze before my watch at 2000. My eyes open at 1800, still no diesel engine noise so I lay back,  smile, and enjoy the sounds of the Betty Ann working in the seas.

One of the great things about offshore sailing is dealing with adapting to the watch schedule. You go to sleep with one set of circumstances on the boat, then awaken several hours later and your mind has to catch up to what is now going on.  I spot Elise, she is upright, a bit pale but smiling. What I had missed was her “mal-de-mer” moment of truth that occurred when Larry had handed up a big bag of garbage to stow in the dingy on the aft deck.  She relates her husband Rick’s line to sea sick boaters, “How would you like a Whoopie Pie dipped in an ashtray”? With that she lies back in her rack for some more sleep. We’ll have to wait for 2200 to see how she’s doing.

Tuesday 12 May

Over my many trips aboard the BETTY ANN I’ve come to believe she will always present the crew with a problem to test their worthiness. Our test this trip arrived at around 2 AM. I’m awakened by the sounds of a sail change. Archie and Elise are on watch and I go up to assist. When Archie pulls the throttle back to idle we hear a beeping alarm. Thinking it’s the autopilot he taps the “Auto” button, but at the same time I see the red ignition warning light – the engine has died. Attempts to restart it prove futile, it cranks but won’t fire. I check the Raycor filter bowl and it’s clear, no water. There’s a light breeze so we decide to sail through the night and figure things out in the morning. Some things you just can’t do in a powerboat! Archie and Elise go below and Larry and I take over.

0600 and Archie arrives on deck. We start the generator, make coffee and charge the batteries. The engine still doesn’t start so we ponder the possibilities. There aren’t many on a diesel – fuel, air compression. It ran perfectly immediately prior to stalling and hadn’t overheated or smoked excessively so air and compression aren’t likely issues. We check the filters again and they look fine. We change them anyway and assure there is fuel pressure leaving the secondary filter. While Archie cranks the engine I crack the forward injector nut and very little fuel comes out. Perhaps the fuel shutoff solenoid is faulty.  Larry reads the engine schematic and identifies the solenoid wire color coding. I find the white/brown wire and test it with a meter while Larry works the ignition and stop switches. There is some voltage to the solenoid but not the full 12 volts.  Larry disassembles the control panel in the cockpit, there is some minor corrosion but no major issues. Not much else we can do so we set sail for Southport, NC . With  a fresh breeze pushing us at 7 knots we plan on making the Cape Fear River entrance channel by late afternoon. I go below to get Elise out of her cabin and into the fresh air and sunshine. The news we are heading into Southport does wonders for her.

The wind holds and we have a great sail into the channel and up to buoy #15 where a Tow Boat US Captain meets us to take us into the Marina. He’s alone on the boat and hands me a ratty length of 3/4″ line to put on a bow cleat. I’m thinking “this isn’t the way the USCG has us do it” There is a strong current against us and he tells me “I’m going to tow you up to that daymark in front of the marina dock. When we get there drop the line and I’ll drift back to put you in a side tow. Besides being very skilled at what he does he also has a sense of humor. When we get to the daymark and I drop the line Betty Ann is still making about 5 knots. He drifts down the starboard side and calls up to Archie at the helm ” Slow it down Captain, you’re going way too fast”. It takes Archie a few seconds to realize the joke.  He takes us right to the dock which involved making a 180 degree turn against the current which he did by using a spring line from his boat, to the dock and back to our boat. Later, while completing paperwork he asks Archie for his name. “” Archibald Kenyon says Archie. “Now that’s a real name says the captain. “Yeah” replies Archie, “You learn to fight early growing up with it”.

While walking to the marina office a guy passing by asks us if we’re going to his weather briefing. We asked when and where it was and agreed to go later that evening. Being perhaps a bit to casual, Archie and I show up at the marina conference room  with cold Yuenglings in hand. “where’s my beer”? asks Hank, the presenter.  It turns out Hank Pomeranz is a retired US Navy meteorologist, who not only provided an excellent briefing on the upcoming weather  (pretty much guaranteed perfect 10-15 kt SW sailing winds for the next few days. He also convinced us to take the inland route to Masonboro Inlet rather than going back down the river and around Cape fear as we planned. He gave us detailed charts of the route with up-to-date comments from other boaters and explained the shoaled spots had been dredged and we would have no problem. That tip alone would save us 50 miles, or about 7 hours, and we’re anxious to put it to use.

Wednesday 13 May

At 0815 Dave, the mechanic, arrives. He is a classic “Tar Heel” and could have been Tom Hank’s voice coach in Forrest Gump. He talks constantly as he completes the exact same troubleshooting steps Larry and I had, explaining the technical steps he’s following, providing advise to us and relating personal stories as he goes. I only had time to jot down a few notes as I realized he had “good material” Excerpts from Dave’s monologue:

  • “When I was on a commercial fishing boat I had to go below and change fuel filters if I wanted to get home. All those other boys would just stand around watching, saying we don’t know nothing about that stuff”.
  • “If you ever have to go to Dosher Hospital (the local hospital), what you need to do is ask for a ride to Wilmington.”
  • “Look now boys, you came close to solving your one problem but getting yourselves into bigger one.” (he explained how cranking the engine for long time could build up water in the exhaust and back flood the engine. He showed us the drain plug in the exhaust muffler, and said to close the engine seacock to prevent that.
  • “Don’t Armstrong that plug when you put it back in” (plastic plug, steel pipe = be gentle)
  • He also had an offshore fishing boat distress flare story. Hopefully one of the crew can remember that and edit it in because I did not take note of it.

Dave gets the engine running but re-starting it is still a problem. He noticed the same low voltage we did and replaced the starting battery which was bad. (“If they’s big ole batteries I’ll need to get a couple of those yard boys to tote them down here”)  He thinks the alternator may be the problem but acknowledges ” I’m a good mechanic but electrical systems are way over my head”.  So Larry , Elise and I walk along the river into town for lunch while Archie waits for the electrician. Larry returns to the boat and Elise and I explore further having beer and wine and Rum Runner punches at the Flying Fish and Provisioning Co. bars.  Archie texts us that the electrician found a bad fuse in the main electrical panel. If course it is not a stocked item so we’ll have to wait another day. We all go to dinner at Frying Pan Restaurant even though Hank had given it an “interesting” rating. The food is good and the view over the marsh and inlet is spectacular from the 2nd floor dining room.

image-11-1

Thursday 14 May

The waiting to get underway is killing us. The winds are holding as predicted by Hank and we could be making a lot of progress. Elise has to be back to work Monday and we’re starting to run out of time . The fuse arrives via UPS and is installed by Jay, the electrician. The engine fires immediately. Larry drops the spring lines but when I pull the throttle into idle the engine stalls. OOPS! I restart it and go below and find air bubbles in the filter. “Long story short” I install new O rings, and follow all of Dave’s advice about closing the seacock, draining the muffler etc. crank the engine and it starts.  So off we go, North up the ICW to Masonboro Inlet following Hank’s guide sheets. At 1800 we depart the inlet at slack high tide, all of us packed with Larry’s secret recipe Philadelphia Lasagna. Our course of 090M will take us clear of Cape Lookout and  ESE winds at 10 Kts, 2-3′ seas and clear evening sky will make for good motor sailing. We’ll round Cape Hatteras tonight or early tomorrow morning and then decide if we can make Cape May, NJ in time for Elise to make connections home. If not, we’ll head into Norfolk, VA.

Friday 15 May

Under power and stays’l we pass Cape Lookout during the night and Cape Hatteras in the morning, a distance of 150 NM. Thank you Gulf Stream for the push! The day slips by with only one porpoise and a few flying fish for distractions. Given our progress we now think we can make it to Liberty Island Marina inside New York harbor, a good transportation hub for Elise.

Saturday 16 May

By mid morning it is apparent we can make it to Point Judith if the forecast Southwest winds proves to be true (always a crap shoot as we’ve found out on prior trips).  So we alter course to starboard, set the main with a jibe preventer and motor sail wing-on-wing making just over 8 Kts. Archie announces our decision to go for it to Larry ” Because of your wonderful cooking the crew has approved an award for you, we are sailing directly to Point Judith”.

The conditions hold all day with only one sail adjustment needed. It is warm and sunny, a perfect day for an on board shower.  Minutes later I emerge obviously refreshed and Elise decides to go for it too. She comes out with a big smile and destroys a large bowl of Larry’s chili. As we pronounce her totally cured of seasickness, as if on cue a large pod of porpoise come to the bow to welcome her to Neptune’s kingdom. She heads forward on deck with her camera and a big grin.

If we can continue at this rate we should make P.J. between 8 and 10 PM tomorrow.

Sunday 17 May

Night watches pass without incident and the morning breaks cloudy with the South wind easing to the point the sails aren’t drawing as we motor along. The GPS shows nine hours to the waypoint off Montauk so our ETA still looks good. Smoke and fumes from below indicate the galley master is active and soon a wonderful breakfast of cheese omelettes and grilled English muffins appears. We develop our final Plan-Of-The-Day: motor sail until we are within cellphone range and call Andrew, who is in R.I. for a wedding, hoping he can pick us up at Point Judith Marina, take us to the airport to pick up Larry’s and Elise’s cars, drop off his rental and head home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BETTY ANN – NORTHBOUND 2012

BRAEDONTON, FL TO CHARLESTON, SC

NOTE TO READERS:

It is 05 December 2016 and I’ve waited far to long to transcribe my scribbled journal notes into a cohesive accounting of this trip. So I will capture the highlights I can decipher.  Captain Archie’s crew for this leg include “veterans Jim and Larry, and “greenhorns” Ray and Glen.

Saturday/Sunday

0600 sunrise on Tampa bay. Winds light and variable means 30-40 hours of motoring to Key West.

  • Helm school for the new crew
  • Guiness World Record Blueberry pancakes for breakfast
  • Slab of Prime Rib for lunch
  • Ray eats mostly rice cakes but the brand/style Larry bought are not to his standard. Larry bought “a lot” of them so we spend the day brainstorming possible uses. (Life jackets is the best idea)
  • Ray’s new nickname is “Rice Cakes”

Late afternoon converstion:

Ray  “Where will be be stopping?”

Jim  “Key West”

Ray ” when will be get there?”

Jim “Tomorrow afternoon.”

Ray “I meant where will be stopping tonight?”

Jim “We aren’t”

KEY WEST

  • Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf Bar and dinner at PEPE’s for dinner
  • Ray and Jim find good music, Jameson’s whiskey and West Virginia dance partners at the Hog’s Breath Saloon027

Ray proves to be an excellent liberty “wing man”. On the way back to the boat I tried several directions with no success but kept insisting it was only a couple of block so we should keep walking. Ray hails a cab and tells the driver the marina we’re going to. “But that’s only 2 blocks away”, says the cabbie. “That’s what this guy keeps saying but he doesn’t  know which two”.

  • The main outhaul needs replacing. With splicing, jerry rigging and patience. we manage.
    Archie and Glenn snaking line through boom
    Archie and Glenn snaking line through boom
    Larry's answer to missing boom stop.
    Larry’s answer to missing boom stop.

    Monday

  • We depart into 15-20 Kt Northeast wind with 4-5′ seas. It’s going to be a very long day and night.
  • Archie and i share a 3 on 3 off watch schedule supplemented by Ray, Glen and Larry.
  • 0230, autopilot shuts down and we do a 90 degree turn in a couple of seconds (WOW).
  • Another conversation during middle of the night watch.
Glen "So where did you grow up"?

Jim "New Jersey"

Glen "So did I, what part of the State?
Jim "East Orange, outside of Newark"

Glen "Wow, so did I. What school did you go to"?

Jim "Ashland grammar school and E.O. high"

Glenn "I went to Ashland"

Jim "Is your last name Ramsey"?

Glenn "Yes it is, Hey! You're Jim Beardsley and we were best friends in the 4th grade".


  • Tuesday

  • Another long, hot, humid day of motorsailing into big swells
  • The seas cause Larry  to do a pole dance between the two posts in the salon earning him “the stripper” nickname
  • Meat balls A-La Cockpit floor for dinner. “It’s like dog shit” says Larry to Ray, “You’ll track it all over the boat”.
  • Ray “We’re still going to Fort Pierce aren’t we”?  Archie, “No, we’re going straight to Charleston”.  Ray “You’re bullshitting me right”? Archie “No”

Wednesday

  • A perfect day. 10-10,7 Kt beam reach in the gulf stream.
  • I take my first shower while underway in an active sea. To use Andrew’s description of scuba diving “It’s a lot of work for what it is”
  • Ray proves to be a comic with great one liners. Like “I’ve never in my life been with a bunch of guys that sleep so much and drink so much water”
  • During deck rounds I find the jib furling line is nearly parted and we do a temporary repair.
  • Glen hears a US Navy transmission about a warning on the VHF. I get US Warship 42 on the radio and they say we  are 8 miles inside a 25 mile exclusion area and are sailing into a live fire exercise “firebox”. I get instructions to sail East, and coordinates where we can resume our northerly track. When we make the turn the radio comes alive. “Sailing vessel BETTY ANN, this is USN warship Predator,  is it your intention to cross my bow?” We turn to look and see a frigate steaming up our stern. “Predator gives us new instructions which we willingly follow.
  • Big plates of corned beef and cabbage for dinner.
  • Larry's Corned beef and cabbage in the works
    Larry’s Corned beef and cabbage in the works
  • Clear and hot with a 10-12 Kt port quarter wind and ETA at MEGA Dock of 1200. We’re two days early so we hope there’s a spot and there is.051
  • Larry is off to visit his son. We do some work on the boat, have dinner at Fleet Pier and a drink (or two) at Salty Dog bar and turn in for the night.

Thursday

  • I make two attempts at splicing double braided line but can’t get it right so Archie gets it done for $20 at the marina shop. I make a pledge to learn this skill and now splice all the dock lines, mooring lines for friends at our boat club.
  • I talk on the phone to Jake, son of a friend of mine, that is stationed at the USN base attending nuclear school. He’ll meet us tomorrow for dinner and recommends the Blind Tiger Pub. He suggests we try the King St. Grill Sports bar tonight. We do and the appitizers are great but the meal is mediocre. The Pop D.J. that follows drives us from the place.

Saturday

  • We do more cleaning and work on the boat and provision for the next crew.
  • Evening at the Blind Tiger Pub where we meet Jake, and are all taken by the beautiful and entertaining bar maid. It is the day of the Kentucky Derby. She stops at each patron at the bar and asks “Which horse won the race, I missed it” The answer of course is “I’ll Have Another” So she refills your drink and moves on to the next person.
  • Jim, Jake and our waiter
    Jim, Jake and our waiter. Jake can’t take his eyes off the barmaid

 

BETTY ANN – SOUTHBOUND 2013

WEDNESDAY, 23 OCTOBER 

We leave the slip at Belle Viu Marina, in Wakefield, RI bound for Charleston, S.C,. Most likely we will pull into Chesapeake Bay for the inland route around Cape Hatteras, but if Neptune were to grant my wish for favorable wind and seas – unlikely given the forecast – we will round the Cape on the outside, something I have yet to do.

It is a cold, gray morning with an unfavorable wind and the predictions are it will go down hill from here. Joe Hitchery has “signed on” again as has Ray Xavier. Both have done a northbound leg from Tampa to Charleston. Larry and I round out Archie’s crew.

joe     Joe         021   Ray larrys office  Larry
We head out past Montauk Point and down the south shore of Long Island for the 50 hour passage and by the time we finish dinner (the first of Larry’s masterpieces) we encounter rain, increasing west/southwesterly winds and building seas. It continues to slowly build and by the time we are furthest off passing NYC and Delaware Bay we are in 5-7′ beam seas. Larry gets thrown from his windward bunk and covered with an avalanche of books from the shelf. Ray spends most of the night in the navigation station swivel chair but gets little sleep between our 4 on – 6 off watch schedule. As for me, comfortably settled in my sleeping bag on the leeward settee it is sweet dreams. To plagiarize a comment Ray made later – “It was cold, windy and rough all night but there is nowhere else I would rather be.”

008Jerry rigging the canvass seams

Friday morning’s offshore forecast for Hatteras is no better so in we go, up the Elizabeth River, past Norfolk, through the Great Bridge lock and settle in at a rear dock at Atlantic Boat Yard. These are the docks behind the marina, up a short canal where boats are stored in large sheds with metal roofs. No shore power and not much in the way of conveniences but it is quiet and the boat is not rolling. The shower facilities don’t get much in the way of reviews so I shower aboard – no sense wasting all the hot water the engine has been generating.

After a round of beers, and a couple of rums, we grab a ride to a new restaurant with the bartender they sent for us. She is a hot ticket, and gives us her suggested favorites on the way. The place is called the Court House Restaurant and the menu is formatted as a Subpoena – much to the delight of our two lawyers Archie and Joe – and also to Larry who it seems has been on the receiving end of perhaps one or two

Anyway, the food (I had fried oysters, prime rib with beans and greens) was outstanding. When our waitress Channa “You can call me Donna” asked if she could get us anything else I said “Sure, the recipe for those greens”. Five minutes later there it was nicely written out on a scrap piece of paper. So – well fed and happy we were driven back to the boat for a nightcap and a long, uninterrupted sleep – well except for Ray who can’t seem to get settled.

Saturday, 26 October

I wake up early and go on deck with my camera. The sun is just about to rise and there is fog rolling up the canal and I anticipate getting a picture Andrew will covet. As I walk to the bow I suddenly find my feet zipping out from under me. WTF?? there is ice on deck!  The old adage “one hand for you  and one for the boat”  served me well and I swing back up using my grip on the stay.   But I grabbed the shot, and several others in the ground fog as we make our way down the ICW passing some rowing teams out for practice.

009 Atlantic Yacht Basin 012 016

Referring now to my 2 year old notes it appears Joe’s Lone Ranger joke was the only excitement of the day. I don’t recall the complete telling of it but remember the Lone Ranger and Tonto make camp and Tonto wakes him up in the middle of the night and asks the meaning of what he sees. The Ranger waxes eloquently about the multitude of stars and infinite space to which Tonto replies “No dumbass, someone steal our tent”.  The other excitement is that the chart plotter decided to take the day off.

 

SUNDAY 27 October

My notes are really sketchy now but I assume we made it to Coinjock, N.C. The following morning we depart and take the route around Roanoke Island comforted by the information I obtained from the Oregon Inlet Coast Guard Station that the channel had not silted in. Larry provided additional narrative on channel depths that he miraculously obtained from Google Earth images on his I-pad.  We anchored in Adams Creek at 0200 with a full moon rising while we dined on Larry’s Chile and a rum chaser (for me).

MONDAY 28 OCTOBER

007 adams creek sunrise Larry makes breakfast while the sun rises over Adams Creek

We awake to a wonderful sunrise, and make our way to the Moorehead City. I text Andrew and find out he’s leaving for work in Austin, TX as we we  head out the inlet to sea.

NOTE: anyone who wants to complete this log is welcome to since I have no notes on the offshore trip to Charleston.

BETTY ANN – 2014 NORTHBOUND

The journal for this trip really begins shortly after last year’s fall run to Charleston. Eric Baruzzi (Officer in Charge, USCG Station Point Judith) mentioned he hadn’t seen my journal (still haven’t finished it) and while talking about the trip Eric commented he’d really like to join the crew. I figured it would probably never happen but lo-and-behold June 2nd rolls around and the two of us are on a Southwest flight from RI to Baltimore and then on to Charleston, SC.

Our B 50&51 boarding passes produce two seats in the last row of the plane and the flight is uneventful. On the connecting flight we have slightly better passes and as we walk up the isle I spot a row with an attractive woman in a window seat with the isle and center seats open. “How about here Eric” I say. “Let’s just go to those same seats in the back” says he. As we settle in we realize there are a total of 5 babies/toddlers surrounding us. “Want to go back”? Eric remarks. But the seats have been grabbed so we hope for the best. Turns out not one of those kids cried, screamed, whined, coughed, needed changing or sneezed. Totally amazing.

We make it to the Betty Ann at the far end of the Charleston City Marina  Mega Dock before noon, meet Archie, stow our gear and I take Eric on a tour of the boat.  Salty Mike’s bar is closed so we have lunch at the restaurant above then return to finish preparations for getting underway the next morning. By 3 PM we are ready for liberty in Charleston and, as is our habit, start at The Blind Tiger Pub. After a couple of rounds the rest of the crew arrive (Jim Geib and his daughter Stephanie) and we finish a few more rounds along with some fried green tomatoes, fritters and artichoke dip appetizers, then head off for a quick tour of downtown.

Eric recalls a prior visit, while on liberty from a USCG cutter, and a place where the back wall of the bar was a row of slurpy machines that served up different flavor margaritas. We happen to be right in front of Wet Willies bar, look inside, and that is the place! We did a quick tour of downtown then walked back to the now open Salty Mikes for dinner and drinks.  A group of ‘locals’ provides some good eavesdropping entertainment. One guy is explaining that he can’t brush his teeth in the morning without gagging and the female in the group bursts out with some serious trash talk. All-in-all a good liberty call.

TUESDAY 03 JUNE

bettyann2014N 027

We are underway at 0700  with a full USCG sendoff!! (well I did have this great photo sitting around so why not push the truth a bit) Our destination is Point Judith R.I. and the plan is to go well off shore for a non-stop passage. This will be my third chance to round Cape Hatteras so I am psyched. The forecast is for a hot sunny day with light southerly winds; enough to fill the sails for motor sailing but nothing more. Eric starts an hourly plot of our progress which each subsequent watch faithfully maintains. Larry is not with us this trip, nor has he provisioned us with his frozen rib, chili, chicken and lasagna entrees. So what’s for supper? Archie pops open the freezer (which is struggling to maintain 22 degrees F during the hot day)  and explains he bought a tray of chicken breasts, a bag of shrimp, a pork loin, two Willow Tree Farms chicken pot pies and some frozen mixed vegetables – the kind where you cook the bag in a microwave or pot of water. This is going to be like those cooking shows where the chefs are given a basket of ingredients and challenged to create a meal. I’m thinking Chinese chicken and vegetables on rice but there is no soy sauce. End up making a Thai type of sauce with milk, peanut butter, coconut rum and hot peppers.

WEDNESDAY 04 JUNE

bettyann2014N 048

Another hot day like yesterday with variable southerly winds. Jim G. tweaks the sail trim and we maintain about an 8 knot motor sail. Archie has acquired an asymmetrical jib and we’re all dying to try it but given the forecast we’ll be using the iron jenny instead.  We dine on Archie’s sandwiches for lunch and then Eric and I break out fishing gear. There are only two lures in the tackle box so we put the small Kastmaster on the spinning rod and a tuna squid lure on the larger bait casting rod. Amid a bit of heckling we settle down behind the cockpit. Music from Eric’s phone, and even a cold beer, complete the setting.  An hour or so goes by with no fish so we switch rods to change our luck but the fish are not cooperating and the heckling intensifies a bit. Eventually we reel in the spinning rig and secure the other rod to the inflatable.

bettyann2014N 039

I take the helm and while Jim and Stephanie are enjoying a dolphin show at the bow I spot a weather “super buoy” charted several miles ahead on the chart plotter. Hmmmm, a good spot for Mahi Mahi, so I alter course three degrees to port and after a bit tell Eric to man the rod. We take the buoy close aboard and after we pass Eric calls out “fish on”. I slow the boat while Eric fights the fish.

 

Even the doubters are on board now – they are even suggesting ways to cook it. But it is not to be. Eric gets it to within 50′ of the boat, it is a good sized Mahi, but it surfs down thebettyann2014N 040 face of the large following swell, spits out the hook and disappears.  We try again at a large abandoned light tower off Hatteras. It is an imposing structure and Archie, who is at the helm, maintains separation and I come up empty so frozen shrimp replaces fresh fish on the dinner menu. But on the bright side I have now made it around the Cape. We should have implemented some sort of recognition ritual – a minor version of King Neptune’s Court for those that cross the equator.

THURSDAY 05 JUNE

As dawn beaks it is apparent the NOAA’s predicted west wind  has not materialized and we continue to motor sail along our 038 M track with the same following  breeze at 7-8 knots.  A front was forecast to pass our area but we are now so far offshore the VHF weather stations are quiet. Out comes the users manual for the single side band radio.  Hmmmm – complicated stuff – multiple daytime and night time frequencies to choose from, weather only broadcast at certain times (like the system we experienced sailing off the coast of France). Lots of squealing/howling type sounds but nothing useful.

Late in the afternoon I suggest we kill the engine for at least a bit of sailing and for one hour we do glide along quietly enjoying nature’s free power. But then the front comes through. Wind goes calm, fire up the engine, reef the main, wind and seas pick up, oops – Jim and Eric deal with a parted mainsail outhaul.

bettyann2014N 044

Then a truly insane experience cooking dinner. I’d planned pan seared pork loin with peach salsa and mashed potatoes and managed to pull it off. But while rocking and rolling, slipping and sliding in the galley with a pot of boiling potatoes and a sizzling frying pan next to me as I’m dicing peaches and vegetables I was thinking P&J sandwiches would have been a wiser menu. Stephanie wasn’t feeling up to a full meal but chowed down on some mashed potatoes. Jim also passed so there was more than plenty for Archie, Eric and me.

The rest of the night was reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. When I came on watch at 0200 Eric asked me to check his last two hourly plots. I plotted the two GPS fixes on the chart and came up with near identical positions as his. “Then we have a problem” says Eric, “we’re heading straight toward Jones Beach”.  The chart plotter showed our heading parallel to the coast,  compass course was fine and we were well offshore so we weren’t concerned, just very puzzled. Throw in a couple of 180 degree wind shifts and a missing sea buoy and the hairs started rising on the back of our necks. We agrees we were too fatigued to figure out the plots so put that off to tomorrow.

FRIDAY 06 JUNE

My favorite way to wake up – “Anyone want egg sandwiches”? asks Stephanie.  And she delivers some excellent ones on grilled English muffins. Eric and I return to the plotting question and conclude since the only chart we could use that far offshore was the small scale chart covering Cape May to Cape Cod, our plots had been skewed.

It is obvious to all that the weather has kept us from making a hoped for stop at Block Island so we settle down motor sailing in a pleasant Northwest breeze and plan for a late arrival at Point Judith. Stephanie has had enough for one trip and makes arrangements for a pickup when we tie up. The rest of the crew celebrates another successful trip with beer, rum and whatever else is found in the Captains liquor locker.

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Betty Ann Southbound 2011

BETTY ANN

It is late in the summer and Pete calls.

Heard from Archie yet? I need to get back on the water!

Timing is everything,  Archie had called earlier to confirm his crew so I told Pete the BETTY ANN would be leaving Point Judith October 9th. He immediately signed on so I called Archie to let him know, unfortunately, I also had to tell him Andrew would not be making this trip. His new job in Austin, TX started earlier in the summer and he has no vacation accrued. So me, Pete and Archie will make up a shorthanded crew, Hmmmm,  not good for the watch standing schedule. Continue reading “Betty Ann Southbound 2011”

Betty Ann – Southbound 2011 (part 2)

 

Surprise, surprise!  I normally do only one leg of the delivery trips but this year Archie called to ask if I could do the final leg from Miami to Tamp Bay since someone else had to cancel.  Not one to decline an opportunity to sail, particularly this leg which would include a stop in sunny Key West in the middle of November, I readily agreed! The crew would be Archie, Larry, and me.

The flight to Miami was uneventful, and we stepped out into 80 degree plus warm humid air, Ahhh I love doing that, and hopped a cab to the downtown marina where BETTY ANN was awaiting. I checked out the boat, including the cold beer storage, while Archie and Larry went provisioning. I should go on that trip to the market some time to see Larry in action. I imagine it to be like a mother shopping with an active child.

“Look Archie, these steaks are prime grade!”

“But do we really need 5 pounds for the three of us?”

“Hey Archie, bacon is on sale – four pounds for the price of three!”

“But we are only at sea for four days, wouldn’t one pound do it?”

Anyway, they came back heavily laden with top grade supplies which were stowed away and off we went for dinner in South Beach. With memories of $14 drinks in mind we went one block back from Ocean Drive, and found the Puerto Saqua cuban restaurant on Collins St. that looked interesting (and inexpensive). This was not to be Larry’s favorite place to eat. He ordered a non-alcoholic Becks but got the regular kind, he is still waiting for his lobster long after Archie and I are served, his meal is judged mediocre while ours is delicious. Maybe he said something that unknowingly pissed off the waitress?  It is obviously a very popular place with lines out the door and everyone else seemes to be having a good dinner.

Whatever, we walk back to the boat and turn in.  Good to be back on board!

Day One

We depart 0630 at first light and motor out the inlet into an easterly breeze, unfurl the sails and turn towards the south.  We are motor sailing at 8 knots when BETTY ANN decides to spring her surprise on us to see if we are worthy to continue. ( She seems to do this each trip lately (snapped halyard, parted jib outhaul, loose propeller shaft coupling, snapped main reefing line etc)  The engine temperature alarm sounds!  No real problem here, we can maintain our course while sailing and sort this out.  Archie goes below to check the raw water strainer and finds it has a bit of weed in it, but more worrisome is the fact the bottom of the screen has corroded off so it is basically useless, and we wonder what might have passed into the raw water pump or beyond. We decide to cannibalize the screen from the A/C unit since it is basically the same size, just needs to have an indent in the bottom drilled out to fit. This done we refire the engine but find the problem remains. Time for McGiver!   I configure the the valves to use the emergency bilge suction that works off the engine raw water pump. Nice, the alarm goes off so we know the pump is good and the system clear. Next I run the hose we use to shift fresh water between tanks and use it to back flush the intake. When everything is reconnected the problem is gone.

It is a really hot day with pretty good swells and Larry doesn’t fare well trying to work in the galley so breakfast and lunch are light.

We have used up a lot of time poking along while making repairs so the kinder, gentler Captain Archie decides we will be forced  to pull into Key Largo instead of making an night time entry into Marathon. Damn!  As we head in the Largo Canal there is a tight 90 degree bend known locally as Crash Corner.  A blind corner which requires a Sécurité transmission. Archie makes it and another boater answers with  Which crash corner? How many are there? answers Archie.

By 1500 we are docked and Arch and Larry have jumped in the pool. Funny thing about that pool. When I got there for some reason I read the large blue Pool and Spa Rules signs posted nearby; the rules were the same for each. My attention is drawn to Rule # 8 and I wonder what happened, and when, to make that rule necessary.  Swim call is over at 1700, we shower and head for dinner at Sharpies Pub, not more than 100 steps from the boat. The food is good, the beer is cold and there is live entertainment. The  first set is pretty good but the singer has a  female vocalist from N.Y.C. that joins him for the second set and she belts out jazz tunes in a really loud, high voice. Good thing a day at sea makes you very tired because she keeps singing long after we have turned in.

 Day 2

We are off early for Key West and enjoy 12 hours of a beam reach motor sail at 8-9 knots. Larry is back in the galley and serves a huge lunch.  As we approach the marina we are directed to a slip on the western side of the pier where we are met by Diane, the dock mistress. As Archie backs into the slip Diane steps to the very end to receive my bow line and the board gives way beneath her. This is not going to work she shouts, and we are directed to dock alongside the easternmost pier, opposite a spectacular 87 foot custom build Jim Smith Sportfisher named PATSEA. More about that later.

PATSEA our dock neighbor

Once secured, and after we spliced the mainbrace (I leave it to you to check the meaning of that salty phrase) we were off the The Schooner Bar.  Too late for Michael McCloud but Greg Walther, a good cover artist was taking requests so of course I asked for some John Prine and he sang Paradise, and Angel from Montgomery – wow – two of my favorites. He also had a really funny original song about a weather channel reporter sent to Key West to cover Irene. There was no wind or storm when he got there so the crew rigged a huge fan on the beach to get the effect.

Back at our slip we met the crew of PATSEA and got some particulars about the boat, but not a tour since the owners were due to arrive shortly for a birthday party. Anyway, power is twin 2400 HP MTU diesels which give a top speed of  45 knots, while burning close to 125 gallons of fuel per hour!

Day 3

After delicious breakfast waffles at Two Friends patio restaurant we head to the marine hardware store for replacement strainers and a repair parts kit for the broken safety line gate snap hook. (To get the part number, which was written upside down on the strainer I got so far into the compartment under the cabin floor that Larry had to pull me out by grabbing onto my shorts) Once the maintenance is completed it is back to the Schooner Bar for lunch, and a full afternoon of drinks and Michael McCloud music.  He puts on a good show with some new patter between songs, and a new, at least to me song about his dog Cinderella. Lyrics something like

I’m  going to grow old and die

I may not know just how, when or why.

Since my memory faded due to Captain and Coke consumption here is the YouTube link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi2FvnnDry8

Michael McCloud, and The Professor

A woman sat down at a table in front of the stage and dropped some bread crumbs for the pigeons. McCloud stops in the middle of his song and explains how hard they work to keep the pigeons away because when one person feeds them they fly over someone else and shit on their head. “So what I am saying mam is don’t feed the fucking pigeons!”

About this time a crowd of people from a cruise ship pour into the bar and one of them is about fifty, overweight wearing cutoffs and a sleeveless t shirt, and adorned with unattractive tattoos over most of her body. Archie leans over and says, “She is someones Grandmother!”  How does he come up with these great one liners?

Manatee at the water bubbla

Back at the dock we notice a manatee had come to drink water from the hose PATSEAS crew were using to wash down the boat after returning from brief fishing excursion. Man, they are really strange creatures -live in the ocean but need fresh water to drink.

The forecast is for high winds to the north so we decide to hold off for a day!

Day 4

We get to enjoy another day in Key West and put it to good use. The bilge pump has been coming on but can not locate where the water is coming from, all the compartments except the one in the salon were dry, and we assumed that water was a result of opening the strainer the day before. However, after I bailed it out completely the cause is clear. I must have just cracked open the valve for the emergency bilge pump when trying to extricate myself  the day before and water was trickling in.

Larry and I wash down BETTY ANN and decide to get a coat of wax on the port side. The captain of the impeccable, mirror finished PATSEA, who wipes off every drop of dew with  a chamois cloth remarks on what a good job we are doing. I am sure he is thinking he would be fired on the spot if he ever did a job like it.

We head out for a great dinner at Pepe’s and turn in early  – back to sea tomorrow at first light.

I would be delinquent in my reporting if I didn’t mention that, as usual, whenever we have been within cell phone coverage Larry has been involved in several business negotiations. One of the highlights this trip is that a proposal he submitted to the Town Of Charlestown had not been acted on within the required time so was approved by default. (On visits to Town hall he had seen the box sitting under a desk).  So we expect to hear complaints about what I call “Larry’s Loophole” when we return.

Day 5

0630 and we are underway for Brayeton, the end of the line. We enjoy Northeast wind of 12-15 knots on the beam all day with the same forecast for all night. Bets are made between Larry and Archie regarding arrival time – 0800 and 0900 respectively.  I know the wager between a seasoned business man and  country lawyer who have worked together for years will be debated and justified no mater when we arrive. Was it when we hit the waypoint off Tampa Bay or when we docked at the marina? etc.  But BETTY ANN has her own ideas and we sail and motor sail (to charge the batteries) at 7-9 knots the entire way. At our rate of advance we arrive at our waypoint before sunrise and head into Tampa bay under power at 3 knots. We stop for fuel and arrive at twin Dolphins Marina at 0900.

With time on our hands Larry and I finish the wax job on the starboard side.

All shiny again

We go to the marina restaurant for dinner and the appetizers, cocktails and conversation are so good we forget to order our entrees.  Oh well, a taxi is coming for us way before the sun comes up so time to hit the sack.