November 7, 1999
Hello to All, It is Monday afternoon as I am writing this from the upper end of the Wando River which empties into Charleston Harbor. We left Beaufort on Saturday at 11AM. Having listened to the SSB weather guru: Herb, (if some of you would be interested in what Herb does for fun, let me know) for the previous three days, we were aware of the probablity of a tropical storm passing through the Carolinas on Monday night and Tuesday. I had figured that the approximate 200 nautical miles would take us about 48 hours to cover and we knew that we had that window of opportunity to make it.
We had to use the engine combined with the sails for the whole run. The winds were from behind us and very light the whole way. The weather was very comfortable but the wave action was very rolly and always quartering from behind. That means that you roll up sideways onto the wave and then down the other side. Both of us were fighting that queasy feeling the first day and night...very little sleep that first night for either of us. The wave motion, noise of the slapping sails and the general excitement of being underway throw ones rythmns all off key.
By the second night we were used to it all but extremely tired. Now we are at anchor and will go through the same adjustments once we start again. The highlight of the trip were a group of four dolphins that accompanied us the whole way. They would leave us for a few hours and then were back. One might say that it could have been different ones each time, but we both feel that they were the same. Dolphins love to play in the wake caused at the bow of a sailboat. They race along just in front of the bow and then swerve to one side or the other. It did not seem to bother them at all that we were running the engine. What a joy there were to us!!! I took moving pictures of them and still photos. The water offshore was the bluest that I have ever seen. They should be great pictures if they are not a total blur. We know that they were even with us in the dark both nights as we could hear them blowing and jumping. During the dark of night their movements cause irridescent green foam as the sea phosphorescents are disturbed.
The nights were a lovely temperature. We had to steer the whole way because the auto pilot is not working. It will work for a while and then decide to take us on a merry chase to the left or the right. The wind vane steering also could not be activated. It is difficult to use the wind vane steering with a following wind and we just have not conquered that technique yet. Jane is even beginning to wonder if that purchase was not a waste of $.
We arrived in Charleston this morning about nine and then it took several hours to work our way into port and then up the river. We hope that we have come far enough inland and chosen a good location to be ready for the storm. We are on the bend of the river with a huge drydock ship repair station to the south of us. They are currently working on a navy vessel. They should offer some protection from the winds which start SE and move to SW. The unsettling issue here is the current of the river. We will swing four times in a 24 hour period due just to the currents. We got somewhat used to this unnerving situation while at anchor in Beaufort as explained in our last e mail message. Because there are 4 tidal changes each 24 hours the water will be changing its direction each time. Any of these current changes could trip the anchor.
***I have just edited this section of the message because Sander was confused. Now he says that tripping of the anchor does not bother him at all. One of the lessons that we have encountered in cruising is the ease of miscommunication between the two of us. We have to work very diligently on this skill in order to preserve the relationship i.e. to keep from throttling each other. Since Sander is color blind he depends a lot on me to help him find needed channel markers while in a busy harbor. I will try to tell him verbally that the next marker is 'just to the left of the big tower ahead'... only to discover later that there are actually two towers ahead and he was looking at the "other" tower. It just occurred to me that, if we keep working on this communication thing, pretty soon he can just read my mind! Sander is taking a nap now while I keep an eye on things from the pilot house.
We plan to stay here until the weather turns. That should be sometime during the night on Tuesday. Then we would like to spend a day in Charleston seeing the sights. That may not be possible unless we can find an anchorage closer to the city. Will probably leave on Wednesday morning and go straight to the Cape Canaveral inlet. Any space ships due to be launched this weekend? That would be nice. It should take us about 60 hours to do that trip with arrival expected on Friday afternoon. (**added note: did not leave til Thursday morning but did make into Canaveral on Saturday evening.)
Thanks for the many notes received from you folks. We do enjoy hearing from all of you. Some of you ask some really good questions too. It gives me an idea of what to write about. Jane and Sander Update Tuesday morning As predicted the weather came through at 2 AM - not too bad - winds about 20 knots. The skies are clear today with 20 knot winds steady out of the southwest. Wednesday evening We decided that it was wiser to wait out the weather system another 24 hours before proceeding south. We would have liked to get into Charleston to do a little sight seeing but this anchorage is way out in the boonies. We have not even taken the dinghy off deck to go anywhere. The anchor has held very nicely so we got a wonderful sound night's sleep last night.
Sander has completed several chores today. One very important one was to try find the problem developing with the steering. As we progressed down to Charleston it seemed to bind up more and more often. He decided to tighten the steering cable and found another problem. Due to a lack of lubrication in the steering column the wheel shaft was binding up. Now she works as smooth as a baby's bottom. Also did some jury rigging on the wind steering vane system and hope that it works better too. We had some problems with the auto pilot and have a suspicion that the steering bind-up may have caused that one. If so, we should have an easy transit tomorrow.
We will head southwest tomorrow with the thought of going to Jekyll Island. Micky will remember that great place as will Rammy and Violet. May decide to go right on to Cape Canaveral if the conditions are good. We'll see. This has actually been a fun anchorage for Sander. We are directly across from a huge dry dock installation. If I have not seen him for a few minutes, I know that I can find him aft in the cockpit with the binoculars up to his eyes. He tells me what is going on over there all the time. Viva La Difference in the sexes - I say, "Boring!!" We'll talk to you later when we arrive somewhere. Sunday afternoon It took us four hours to get back out of Charleston and underway.
The first day we ran with the engine at 1000 RPM and the head sail out. During the early morning of Friday we got lovely winds off the beam and ran all day Friday with sails alone. We know that is the way it's suppose to be with a cruising vessel; however, it has not happened so often for us in our schooner. Decided that day to go right on through to Canaveral rather than stopping at Jekyll.
The one doubt in both of our minds was the continued failure to get any help from either the auto pilot (still wanted to quit after about 7-8 minutes) or the wind steering. That means that we hand steer all the way. From Friday morning through our arrival on Saturday evening, we steered Satori through 10-20 knot winds. Great speed but tough on the 50 year old bodies. WE figure that we will get huge muscles and look like body builders soon. We were tired! The seas around Cape Canaveral were 10-12' and we had to run with just a reefed main sail. What a big piece of property that cape is! We were so tired that we both forgot to raise the centerboard - first time that that has happened. We anchored on Canaveral Peninsula and thought it was very strange for the boat to be hardly moving. With our exhausted minds we both thought that there must be some wicked currents in the river so Sander just gave it more throttle. Ground that centerboard right into the bottom. We figured it out after we had stopped and then worried about it a lot before we went to bed. The morning always looks a little brighter but the problem had (of course) not gone away. We took the Fortress anchor out in the dinghy about 50 yards and kedged her back into the channel. We were very lucky that it worked and the centerboard had not been harmed. WE hope that it taught us a lesson.
We are anchored off Melbourne now. This is where we will be anchored for at least a week. A party for Seven Seas members will be held here this coming weekend. We were the second cruising boat to arrive and one more has come in this afternoon. We imagine that there may be 30-40 boats here before the end of the week. Have called Mary Anne Cookson who lives in Palm Bay which just down the road. She is a friend from Maine. Hope to be able to connect to a telephone line and get our messages out today. The trip was tiring but tremendously exciting to us both. We are finally under way and have made it safely through our first offshore passages. We both feel more comfortable with Satori now and have a whole new list of projects that we would like to complete.
Oh well, now we have all the time in the world to do it. LIFE IS GOOD. Our best to you all,
Jane & Sander Aboard Satori