Saturday 30 Nov, passage Beaufort NC to Charleston SC, day 2: At midnight Cape Fear is behind us and we are on the rhumb line to Charleston channel entrance 120nm ahead, with the 2 mystery boats just in front of us. There is zero wind, mirror-like sea and a starlit sky. It’s chilly in the cockpit but bearable compared to the night on the Chesapeake.
Oana and I continue our 3-on-3-off till breakfast. As soon as the sun is up, the cockpit warms and we strip off thermal layers ending in shorts and tee shirt. Forecast is 20degC in Charleston today. We are certainly getting to the warmth at last.
On the mirrored water we occasionally see a pod of dolphins leisurely pass us by, apparently not interested to play on our bow today.
When just 2 miles away from the channel, one of the mystery yachts ahead finally appears on our AIS. A 79ft sloop called Mischievous. We call them on VHF to let them know their AIS range is very low. But they don’t seem to be too bothered about its performance. As for the other mystery boat, no sign of it.
Whilst we have plenty of power with the engine on, Oana bakes a lemon cake in the bread maker and soon the cabin and cockpit is full of its delicious smells. Her lemon cakes are to die for. They don’t last long 🙂
At 11:30 we are in the channel heading into town. It all seems familiar. Earlier, Oana said “I thought we were going to stop at places we haven’t been to before”. True, that was the plan, but try as I might it’s hard to see any other interesting places to stop where we would not be challenged by water depth, or bridge height, or miles and miles up a muddy river, like Jacksonville or Georgetown. In fact, it looks like we will entirely jump Georgia. No places for us other than Savanna, and as much as we love Savannah, we are certainly not doing that 20 mile inland hike again on the very dirty river. Hopefully things will be better down the Florida coast. Or maybe our readers can make suggestions.
Only 40 minutes of sailing on this passage, the rest of 27 hours was motoring and we are now running low on fuel. Less than half of one tank left, we have to top up before leaving Charleston. It’s cheap here in USA, but we sure have used a lot. Both tanks were full when we laid up – 1000 liters. Well, the diesel heaters have had quite a share these last weeks.
We pass the old town on our way to the anchorage opposite City Marina. Once there, we go in circles for a while before we decide where to anchor. On the face of it there is plenty of room, but the open areas also have warnings on Navionics. Users tell of debris on the bottom which has previously fouled anchors. So for safety we anchor nearer the channel than we maybe would like. The tidal current is running at nearly 2 knots there.
After settling in we decide not to go ashore today. We are a bit pooped after the night sail even if it wasn’t exactly strenuous. By late afternoon the warm sun is back out so I decide to fit the new hydro-wing to the new Suzuki 20HP, before we ding the new propeller on something (as we normally do!). This hydro-shield both gives the outboard lift, making the dinghy plane faster, and also protects the prop from any grounding. We lay the outboard on the swim platform to perform the operation. It’s a relatively quick job as this is the 2nd one I have fitted. The previous one went with the last 20HP outboard that we donated to thrives in Vieques, Puerto Rico 🙁
Balanced on the swim platform with the outboard taking up most of the space it feels a bit precarious. If I happened to fall in, with this current I’d be off down the river like a shot! But for once both me and all my tools manage to stay onboard for the duration.
After it’s fitted we launch the dinghy and put the outboard on. Then to see if the fuel tank still leaks when I plug the hose back onto it. Damn it! Yes, it does! Just what is going on here? We bring the tank and various hoses onto the deck and try to work out what is going on. But it’s getting dark – so a job for tomorrow. Oooph we only just finished 6 weeks of maintenance and it already feels like the list is growing again. Isolation transformer 2 days ago and now this fuel tank leak. Why can’t things just work as they are supposed to on a boat?
The evening we relax with a drink and a book, and try to stay awake till proper bed time. Which we declare will be early tonight. And for once, we don’t have the heaters on. It is just warm enough in the cabins.