Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Day on the Waterway: Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This morning, Mark, the dogs, and I finally left Thunderbolt Marine. I can’t believe we stayed here for 9 days. That sure caused a big delay for getting south. Especially if you add the two days it took to get there and back on track. The sail drives are fixed and we managed to do a few other projects. We took the emergency exits out and reinstalled them properly. Hopefully that solves the mystery leak in the starboard bilge. We were very happy with the service provided by our project manager Kevin, and everybody was friendly and accommodating, even though we were the “low profile customers”. The bill did turn out to be more expensive than anticipated, but that wasn’t a boat yard issue. Our time spent in Thunderbolt was pretty uncomfortable and filthy (especially for the dogs), but all in all, we feel it was successful and productive.

We planned for an early start, but when we got up, everything was white. The fog was just unbelievably thick and we couldn’t even see across the river. Everything was soaking wet. The huge sailboat Perseus decided to go for it around 8 am. The crew said goodbye to their friends and there they went, using the bow thrusters to take the sharp turn into the ICW. Within seconds the fog had swallowed the massive ship and all we could hear was the loud fog horn at short intervals.

Irie was itching to go and around 10 am, the sky was clear enough. We felt very happy to be on the water again, and moving… in the right direction! For the first time it was even warm enough to drive the boat in shorts and T-shirts! The temperature rose to the upper seventies (upper twenties Celsius). That’s our reward for having to deal with all this fog, I guess.

The trip went smooth and we used our “expertise” from the other two times we passed through this part of the ICW. Because of the late start we wouldn’t get very far. About an hour from our destination for the night, we had to cross St. Catherine’s Sound. The sound was nowhere to be seen, though. All that was ahead of us was a very thick bank of fog. Mark and I looked at each other, Irie slowed down, and the fog horn found its first use. During a nerve wrecking half hour, Mark carefully steered the boat, while I stood up front, scanned the area and blew the horn. We couldn’t see anything and had no sense of direction. The electronic chart and radar were our only help, until the shore line showed up again. What an interesting experience!

I pushed things again, wanting lower water to anchor, which lead to us running aground. Mark had a good reason to be mad at me, this time! He managed to get us off the shoal and a few minutes later we were settled in peaceful Walburg Creek. We had read about and seen a nice beach entering the Creek and hoped to take the dogs there for a little while. First, Mark had to fix the windlass which was acting up again. Luckily “handy man” knew exactly what to do and with the help of his assistant it only took about half an hour. That gave us about an hour to get the dinghy ready, drive the dogs a mile up the river (and back) and take a walk on the foggy beach. Kali and Darwin had a great time. We enjoyed watching them, the funky, dead trees on the sand and the playful dolphins right off the shore. Around 6 pm, we retreated to our cosy, little home, warmed by a small propane heater, escaping the cold, wet night and the millions of biting no-see-ums.

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