If there is one thing we’ve learned so far from the little bit of sailing/ motoring we’ve done so far, it’s to pay attention to the weather windows. Granted we stayed a few extra days at the outset of our journey in Solomons Island (Patuxent River Naval Station Marina) because of bad weather. However, once we set out from Norfolk down the ICW, we didn’t really look at the weather reports… because we were “inside.”
Because we did not transit the Dismal Swamp Canal the first [or second time] we transited the VA-NC ICW, we had to transit the Albermarle and Currituck Sounds. Honestly, we lucked out on our way down the ICW at the end of September. The weather was good. We left Coinjock, NC on the 1st of October heading for Manteo, NC and the trip across the Albermarle Sound that day was a pleasant ride.
On the 2nd of October when we headed back north from Manteo, once we found out that Hurricane Matthew was now heading for the Carolinas, it was a much different story. Wow, what a difference 24 hours can make.
We beat back across Albermarle Sound in confused seas. It had to be 3-4 ft seas, which might not sound like much, but in Albermarle sound it is bad. It is so shallow that the amplitude of the waves is very short, leading to chop, as opposed to waves. We had a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 circling overhead a few times an hour. We obviously were on their “paper route” that day. There weren’t many boats out on the sound, so they came by every so often to check on us.
The conditions sucked. We drove into the waves for a few hours, and everything inside the boat was rattling. We can laugh about it now, but that day totally sucked.
It started when Dr. No’s paddle board came loose on the bow. James had to go forward to tie it back down, which was easier said than done. The waves were over the bow and soaking him, and I took the helm as he did that. And as he was repositioning the board, he was holding it horizontally as a huge wave hit. The paddle board redirected the wave right into my face at the helm, and soaked me head to toe.
While this was going on topsides, Dr. No was down below in the head because everything from our medicine chest decided to dump into the sink, onto the floor, and even a few choice items decided to fall into the toilet. [As a note, Dr. No decided that part of his underway checkoff list is now ensuring that the toilet lid is down : ) so this type of thing doesn't happen again!]
So, as I was trying to fold my eyelashes out from under my eyelids because of the wave that hit me in the face, Dr. No came up from below and said, “There’s water on the floor in the head. Water must have come in a hatch, but there’s a bunch of it.” I knew that wasn’t possible. That meant only one thing…. water was coming in from somewhere…. potentially BELOW the waterline.
At this point, James got the paddle board secured, and realized that Dr. No was at the helm.
James: ”Where’s mom?”
Dr. No: ”There’s a through-hull leak in the head. Mom’s down below”
James runs down to take over from me. He gets the “damage control” turn over, and where I’ve looked, and I go back up to take the helm. Dr. No goes below to assist as needed. And, throughout this time, the USCG is still circling overhead, the waves are still kicking our asses, and there’s no relief in sight because it will be at least four hours until we can get far enough into the North River before the insanity would subside.
So, we figured it out: it was the output side of the pump for our electric head. The coupling came loose, so when we were flushing the toilet, the pump was pumping… into the boat, as well as the toilet. The weather was so bad, when we went to the bathroom, we weren’t paying attention to the amount of flushing water [or lack thereof] that was getting into the toilet.
Getting back north, and out of Hurricane Matthew’s way, we did not have the luxury of waiting for the right weather window. We just had to get as far north, as soon as we could. We sucked it up for three days to get back to Norfolk, and it was not easy. Getting to Manteo was a long day, and we did it in anticipation that we’d stay there for a couple of days and see Kitty Hawk, Roanoke, and the Outer Banks. So, when we had to turn around, do it again, and then travel two more days on top of that, by the time we got back to Norfolk, we were all exhausted. So. Exhausted.
This time, however, we’re waiting for weather. We’ve learned. We have the time, and we are now looking and paying attention. Granted, this is a process. We had so many other things we were overwhelmed with, we barely thought to look at the weather forecast. I MEAN we DID, but we didn’t look at the detailed marine forecasts for the area we were going to. We just took it for granted that we were inland and on the ICW…. what could go wrong?
However, now we’re going offshore. After sitting on Norfolk for a month, we’ve given up on the ICW. We’re going sailing! We’re not going straight to the Virgin Islands as I mentioned earlier this month, we’ll hop down the east coast. But we realized that it would take us five days on the ICW to get to Morehead City, and we can get there in a day + sailing outside. We’re sick of being cold. We’ve been running the heat for the past week, and it’s been in the 40s at night. It was time to go a week ago, but we had stuff to do that kept us here this past week.
So, here we go! We’ll see you on the flip side! We’ll let you know how all of us fare after our first offshore experience. James and I have done this before, but not together…. and not on Octopussy. We haven’t done this with a child and two dogs in tow.
We’re excited to get out there, and do it! We’re actually happy to be leaving the ICW behind, and go sailing.