Moorehead City to Charleston

It’s 2am and I’m at the helm on my first official night watch at sea. The water is calm, the moon is bright, and there’s nothing but open ocean all around me. Pretty cool.

We finally made it out of Moorehead City around noon on Monday, after holing up in our boat for nearly three days being sloths and binge watching the first three seasons of Game of Thrones. We tried to save them for when we got to the Bahamas, but decided that being stuck in a place for a few days waiting for the weather to impove was a just cause to break them out. What a great show. I totally get the hype now. Thanks, Mom!

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I shouldn’t say we were total sloths. We did change the oil and fuel filters in both engines and reprimed the bilge pumps on Sunday. Figured that since we’d be motoring most (if not all) the 220 miles to Charleston, might as well have fresh oil in the engines to start out with.

After he was done, Matt went to start the engines… and nothing happened. Nada. They wouldn’t start. After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting (and a few choice words), he noticed that the kill switch to the starboard engine was just slightly pulled out. No fuel = no start. Rookie mistake. One engine solved and onto the next. Turns out that there was air in the fuel line in the port engine, so he bled it and, surprise!, it started up just fine. Hey, just two more things we know to check for if we ever run into this problem again. Since I’m not the best at troubleshooting engines, I worked on cleaning the boat, happy to be plugged into shore power again so I could vacuum. That was about the highlight of Moorehead City, hence our eagerness to get the hell out of there and on our way.

Just past sunset, about 20 miles out from Moorehead, we were greeted by a pod of dolphins, which just blew our minds! It’s like they we’re welcoming us out into the ocean or something. They started at the bow of our boat and made their way to the back, where they started jumping out of the water and doing all sorts of tricks. One jumped up about six feet, right off the back of our boat! For a split second we were nearly eye to eye with this dolphin. It was sort of like those shows at the aquarium, but about a million times cooler. IMG_3251

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The water is a beautiful neon blue color and so clear, we could see the jellyfish nearly 15 feet down. If the the water of the Bay is the color of tea, then the water out here is the color of blue Gatorade.

 

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So, I’m gonna be honest. Overnighters really suck. We decided to devide the night into four shifts with one of us on watch while the other sleeps: 7-10, 10-1, 1-4, 4-7. During our shifts we passed the time by reading, playing Sudoku, snacking on pistachios, star gazing, playing with the GPS to see how much longer till we get there, all the time scanning the horizon to make sure we won’t hit anything. Thank god for autopilot. You just set it and forget it. Sorta like a crock pot. There’s been no wind, so we can’t even work the sails to pass the time. So. Boring. During your “off” shift, you only get about an hour or so of decent sleep before it’s time for your watch again. I’m predicting that we’ll be spending our first day in Charleston sleeping a deep glorious slumber to bring us back from the zombie like state we’re currently in.

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Surprisingly, we’ve both been feeling a little queasy and popped some Dramamine a few times already. Not the ‘I’m gonna barf all over the back of the boat’ type of sick, just feeling a little unsettled. The ocean is actually pretty calm, but the slow swell is always present and I think that’s what’s been messing with us. So ready to be done with this little offshore trip. Don’t think we’ll be crossing any oceans in our future, that’s for sure.

We approached the Charleston inlet around 4am this morning and had to dodge a few freighters coming in and fought a current of 1.5 knots while making our way up the river, but we’re here! Feels great to not be on the ocean any more 🙂

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Coinjock to Moorehead City

Ah… it’s good to have Internet connection again.

We made it to Coinjock the other day.  Tuesday night, I think.  It’s hard to keep track of what day it is now that we’re not on a schedule. We keep looking at our phones to remind us of the date which is pretty pointless since we really don’t have any place we need to be. I think knowing what the date is helps us keep our sanity while navigating down these boring long stretches of the ICW.  Constantly following that damn magenta line. Ugh.

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Along our stretch from Norfolk to Coinjock, we navigated through twelve bridges and a lock, which helped to keep things interesting for a while.  A few had a fixed height of 65′, which compared to our 63′ mast didn’t give us a whole lot of clearance room.  We didn’t hit any, so I guess that makes us good sailors.  The lock wasn’t as cool as you’d imagine it to be. All of the boats filed in and tied to either side as they closed the gates and raised the water by a foot and a half before opening us up to the other side.  It was all over before we knew it and we were on our way down the next stretch of narrow canal.

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There’s definitely way more traffic on the intercostal this trip than our trip north when we brought the boat back up from NC. We were playing leap frog with four other sailboats, two trollers and a tug pushing a barge for a good stretch. Most of the time we were just motoring since the man made canals connecting the rivers/sounds are so narrow and block the wind.

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When we did get into a place we could sail, Matt was in his glory, tweaking the sails to try and squeeze every ounce of wind he could. Not sure who he was racing, but he was really into it. Guess it’s his way of keeping his sanity. He even tried out a new line configuration to help shape the sail called a barbor haul, something he learned from his old boss, Chris.  Exciting times, aboard Foxfire the past few days, that’s for sure.20141029_165744 copy

I kept my sanity by cleaning and attempting to do some yoga/pilates.  For the record, it’s way harder to do on a moving boat. I’ll be ready for a bikini before you know it!

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At one point just before Coinjock, we were being chased by a swarm of wasps. We have no clue where the hell they came from, but there were about a dozen of them at one point, attacking us from behind. Matt broke out the hose and fired at them while I took the helm and tried not to run aground in the narrow, shallow canal. Then just as quickly they appeared, they left, and we were wondering what the hell that was all about. No one was stung, but it sure got anxious there for a while. Bizarre.

Anyway, loved the marina we stayed at in Coinjack, aptly named Coinjock Marina. Had a nice dinner, took a hot shower with unlimited water, and hung out with the locals, which were way more interesting to talk to than the other cruisers. The owner even let us borrow his suped up 4×4 to make a grocery store run for some fresh produce. That’s Southern hospitality at its finest, y’all.

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Made it into the tail of the Alligator River just after sunset, and what an amazing sunset it was! The whole sky was lit up like one gigantic fireball. Can’t wait to see more of those on this trip.  Dropped anchor in a small cove, cooked some soup for dinner and crashed by 8:30, exhausted from the long day.

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Woke up a few hours later to howling wind an torrential rain. Uh…. wasn’t expecting this at all. We laid in bed listening to the lines clanking and feeling the boat straining against the anchor. I think both of our anxiety was thru the roof. We checked the GPS about a dozen times to make sure we were still secure before returning to bed praying that we wouldn’t drag anchor. If we were going to drag, this was definitely the night it would happen. We woke up in the morning relieved to see we were still in the same spot, and seriously relieved.  Our GPS shows all of the marks Matt did thru the night…. Looks like a Ring of Fire. The wind was coming at us from every direction, spinning us in a near perfect circle all night. Crazy. I have so much more faith in our anchor now.

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We made it to Moorehead City, where we’ll be at a marina for the next few days waiting out a storm that’s supposed to bring 30mph winds, with gusts up to 40mph.  So far we’ve covered about 320 nautical miles in eleven days.  The next move will be to head offshore once the seas calm down and make our way to Charleston, another 220 miles over a three day trip.

Man, it’s been a long few days.  Right now we’re headed out for a beer and a burger, both of which are most definitely deserved.  Happy Halloween, y’all!

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Norfolk, VA into the ICW

Made it into Norfolk on Sunday after a 70 mile trip down from where were were anchored off the Indian River, in Reedville, VA.  We pulled anchor at 4:30 in the morning and were out on the bay in the pitch black, waiting for the sun to rise at 7:30 so we could see where the hell we were going.  It was pretty eerie out there in the darkness, with nothing to rely on other than our GPS and trusty spot light to make sure we weren’t running over any crab traps or fishing structures.  After two hours of not being able to see more than a few feet in front of us, the sun came up and we were treated to a beautiful morning with great winds down the bay.

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The trip down to Norfolk was probably one of our best yet.  The Bay was wide open and we set our auto pilot and trimmed our sails and settled into another day of sunshine and book reading.

Around 1:00, we entered the mouth of the Bay and things got much more lively.  Thankfully it was a Sunday so commercial traffic was minimal, however, we did pass a HUGE cargo ship headed North which threw a rather large wake.  We saw the monohulls in front of us getting bounced around like toys in front of us.  Eek.  I ran inside and began pulling things down that could fall and braced ourselves for impact.  Nothing like seeing a wall of water in front of you to give you a good rush!  We cut right through with no problems… much smoother than the other sailboats around us.  God, I love having a catamaran.

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It was pretty cool to see all of the Navy ships and cargo yards headed through Norfolk.  I read in our guidebook that Norfolk is home of the world’s largest Naval base, and believe me, it shows.  You get within 500 yards of any of these bad boys and a police boat comes flying out to make sure you don’t get any closer.

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We finally pulled into our marina in downtown Norfolk around 3:00, having made our 70 mile trip in about ten hours.  It was a tight squeeze getting into our slip…. there was a troller on the bulkhead and a finger pier that extended out, leaving us with just about three feet or so on each side to squeeze through.  Matt handled it like a pro though, and even had an old lady walk down after we tied up to compliment him on how well he handled the boat coming in. That was sincerely appreciated, considering how new we feel at all of this.

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We were really excited to hang out in Norfolk for a few days and explore the city.  As soon as we tied off, we discovered that the marina didn’t have a cable hook-up, so we spent the next hour or so desperately trying to hunt down a bar that had AMC so we could watch Walking Dead, Matt’s favorite show. Eventually we found out that Hooters, of all places, would let us hunker down and watch it.  So, we spent the night there, munching on wings and straining to hear our show over the surround sound of the Sunday night football games blaring around us.  Talk about priorities.

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The next morning was Matt’s birthday, and we set out downtown to explore the city and find a good local spot for lunch.  I must say, we were a bit disappointed.  The downtown area was a ghost town, even though it was a Monday, and there were police and security everywhere.  It sorta creeped us out.  Like shit was about to go down as soon as the sun set.  We finally found ourselves at the mall to see Gone Girl, anxious to get back to the boat and get the heck out of there ASAP the next morning.  I did find a Starbucks though, so that was a small win.  We’re both feeling a little antsy to get south and are blowing away our original timeline to be in Charleston by Nov 10th.  Looks like we’ll be about a week early.  Sansbury time stops for no one, not even the Sansbury’s.

This morning we set off early to begin our long day down the ICW.  We have a 50 mile trip to our next stop in Coinjock, NC where we’ll anchor for the night.  We’ve got a few bridges and a lock system to navigate, so that should keep things interesting.  Other than that, it’s a straight, narrow shoot South.

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