Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Off to the Bahamas!

Happy Valentine's Day! Also, the 5 year anniversary of the acceptance of our offer on SeaClearly. Hardly seems possible but what great adventures we have had with this great boat.

Christmas Day at the beach - Sullivan's Island
SeaClearly is underway again and headed south! We have been parked in St John's Yacht Harbor, on John's Island just south of Charleston SC, since late September. It has been an enjoyable time, a productive time and a memorable time. Daughter Emily and son-law Tyler recently relocated to the Charleston area so we got to spend a lot of time with them. It was nice to be able to drop by and have dinner, go see the Christmas lights, help with their new house projects or just sit around. Tilly loves to visit 'the cousins', their dogs Buddy and Elphie. We will miss being so close to them but we intend to be back in the fall.

Tilly - Boat Dog

St John's Yacht Harbor was also very good to us. It has an eclectic mix of people so, of course, we fit right in. There are a number of live-aboards so it has a family feel much like an apartment complex. There are the long-term residents, the short-term people with bigger plans and the transients that pass through and plant the seeds of discontent among the locals. For our stay, we fell somewhere between the short-term and transients. We actually bought a car when we first arrived at the marina so we could hardly claim to be 'just passing through'.

We met many great people at SJYH and are now chasing some of them south. (Note to Ron and Phebe on Jiibay Na Noodin: Your radio call from Warderick Wells made us jealous. We are headed south!)
Path at the marina

Check out all of the bikes along the rail.
And, the number of kids' bikes.

The long walk to the parking lot...

...under the bridge back to James Island.

New Mom and Dad with baby Lily.
We were a little slow starting this season because we were waiting for Lily - the first child of son Jeffrey and daughter-in-law Alyssa, the third grand-daughter! We took our new little car, a Ford Focus, and made the roadtrip to Denver to be there for the event. We had clear weather, good audio books and no issues the entire trip. We were happy to be hanging out in the waiting room with Alyssa's Mom and Dad when Lily arrived. We stayed for a few more days after the birthday and then headed back across the plains to the marina. And started the countdown to the Bahamas.
Proud Dad.

We have not been lazy while hanging out at John's Island. We had a bunch of boat chores lined up for ourselves to fill the idle hours.

  • Recovered cockpit cushions
  • Sail repairs - batten pockets, various stitching
  • Oh yeah, that hurricane - that visited both SJYH and the house in the Outer Banks
    • So, we had to strip SeaClearly and prep for extreme weather and potential damage
    • Tie her down and then leave - not pleasant
    • Drive to the Outer Banks (which was not supposed to get hit)
    • Arrange to have the roof repaired (because it did hit)
  • Refinish teak (an on-going process but it looks so pretty)
    • BTW, we took off all of the stainless steel rub rail to refinish the teak, backed it with butyl tape and replaced all of the screws - many, many screws
  • Trained Tilly (didn't work)
  • Made new fender covers
  • Endless polishing, treating, waxing
  • Re-plumbed the watermaker
  • Dental work, physicals, haircuts (yes, my ponytail is gone), and a perm for Junie

Despite having spent quite a bit of time on boat tasks and maintenance, we still had a crash list to wrap up before we could leave the slip. But, eventually, the list items were crossed off, every locker was full, the weather gave us a break and we were ready to go. We left the slip at almost slack tide on Saturday, February 11 - not a real graceful exit but I don't even count bouncing off a piling anymore. Our dock friends were there to see us off and wave us good-bye. Added bonus - dolphins came to meet us in the first 5 minutes of the trip.

We had decided that, since we hadn't moved for a while, we would take our first leg down the ICW to Beaufort, SC rather than immediately jump out of Charleston Harbor into the ocean. It turned out to be a good idea so we could come up to speed slowly.

We only traveled a few hours on Day One. The tides in this area are big and the margin of error in some stretches of the ICW is small. Consequently, timing the tides is crucial. For us, on this day, that meant stopping early and waiting for the next day to avoid running aground. We anchored in Steamboat Creek which is really nowhere. It was comforably deep, well protected, had vicious current but was a great stop. Tilly was forced to deal with the reality of peeing on the fake grass on the bow again but she adjusted well.

Tilly - not seeing land in her future.
Steamboat Creek is - well - a creek. With 7 foot tides.

We started out early Sunday and made a high-water run through all of the skinny spots and arrived in Beaufort in the afternoon. Beaufort is a cute little town with a nice waterfront park and a welcoming attitude towards boaters. Since the weather looks to be keeping us out of the ocean until Thursday, this is a good place to sit.
Dog-friendly restaurants...

...moss in the trees.

The swing bridge that opened for us when we arrived
coming from the north.

Every where we go, gelato.

However, equipment failure on a boat is a constant fear. It is why you are performing endless maintenance tasks, carrying spares and monitoring systems. But none of that effort will eliminate the possibility of the eventual failure of a critical component that leaves you in dire straits. This morning, our coffee press cracked. This, to me, is a show-stopper. There were no coffee presses, percolators or anything in the immediate downtown area. So, today, we walked three miles to a hardware store that was rumored to have such things and, indeed, scored their last coffee press.

And, in the interest of actually buying hardware, picked up a length of sturdy hose to use as a bobstay protector. Here in Beaufort (not just Beaufort) a strong current running against an opposing wind will leave you running up over your anchor chain. Having that chain rub on the bobstay (a steel cable that connects the bowsprit to the lower bow at the waterline) is bad. And noisy.

That's where we are. We are anxious to get back in the ocean. We expect to ride the tide down to Port Royal Inlet on Thursday afternoon and head for Florida. Can't wait.

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