Loss of Starboard Transmission Controls & Some ICW Lemonade….#54

As we continue down south in the Intracoastal Waterways, Our time at Bridgeton Marina in New Bern NC was only planned for 2-3 days, but we ended up staying for a week due to the severe storm came in, we just stayed put. Our end goal for December was to get to Satellite Beach Florida for our Christmas flights back to Portland for the holidays. We had exactly a month to get over 770 miles down the coast and we hate pushing it too fast, we like to experience the locations on our way. We had planned to stop at Wilmington NC because we didn’t hit that spot on the way up the coast. So, our plan for our first leg from New Bern south was to anchor out 1 night and stop at one of the marinas in Wilmington NC the next day.

CRYC Burge

We picked a nice anchorage site along the ICW in Bogue Sound near Moorhead City. It was a short hop and gave us the ability to get to Wilmington in the middle of the second day.

Next morning, we were up and pulling up anchor early to hit Wilmington before dark. We had a great run that day with all the interesting sights along the way.

As we arrived close to the Seapath Marina, we had just one more bridge to open and less than a mile to go. We arrived at Wrightsville Beach bridge 15 mins after the hour and this particular bridge only opens on the hour. We had 45 mins to hold our location. This might not sound too difficult to some, but the ICW is narrow, has lots of shallow spots, the current and wind can push you around and we just happened to have 1 boat in front of us with multiple boats gathering up behind us, also waiting. Dan wasn’t very comfortable with this situation. It can be hard to just try and sit still in water that has current and winds blowing on you. For part of this time, I was at the helm and felt that the Starboard engine was being odd. It didn’t sound or look like it was engaging. So, I said something to Dan. He looked at all the RPM and oil pressure and said all was good and gave the fault to the wind and current.

As the bridge lifted and we headed to our marina there we two guys waiting for us to catch our lines. The wind and current were just so strong it was making the side tie to the dock between two other boats difficult. We had enough room with 150 feet open on the dock for our 80-foot boat and we were going to tie port side to. But when the wind and current are working against you it becomes extremely hard. In the middle of the attempt, Dan decides he wants to put the Starboard side to the dock not the Port side, because of the lack of responsiveness of starboard engine, plus the wind and current. I get really cranky when this happens at the last minute. (as most of you 1st Mates/Admirals know what it’s like) I have to run around the boat untie 3-4 fenders and retie on the other side and move all our mooring lines too. All of this adjustment takes me time and a lot of stress on my end. Once done we did okay docking and Dan seemed to understand that maybe something is wrong with the Starboard engine. HUMMMM….

After we settled in and get all hooked up to shore power etc. Dan makes a call to his buddy Ken, which gives him some ideas to check with the starboard transmission, such as oil pressure, leaks, oil level etc… It turned out that all of those were good and didn’t seem to be the cause. Dan was thinking about taking some covers apart to do some more digging around to find the issue. I just asked the question about the shift lever, that I thought something was wrong with the handle. Dan’s initial thought is, it’s fine and he heads down to the engine room…but then he stops, and he says… “OK, I’m listening to you and what do you think is wrong” After explaining a bit more Dan decided to go look at the linkage where the connection is from the hydraulic shifter to the transmission shift lever, and watch while I moved move port and starboard handles. Guess what? The linkage part was broken off the transmission lever part. With this broken, it was disconnected and of course was not engaging the engines. Problem was now identified. Now just a fix needed until we could get the correct part ordered and shipped someplace. We were incredibly grateful that the issue happened when we were out of gear not in gear. We sent the parts to our friends in Florida which we would pick up on our arrival to Telemar Marina in a week or so.

Yes, I may challenge Dan a bit with pushing on some of my ideas to resolve issues, but in the end “sometimes” I ask the dumb question that finds the correct problem. We make a good team.

Our stay in Wilmington was nice. The next day we took a horse drawn carriage ride through old town and lunch at a river side restaurant.

The folks at Seapath Marina in Wilmington were so nice and helpful… I would highly recommend this stop if you are in the area.

With our temporary fix using a bunch of stainless wire to hold on the damaged linkage in place, we were on our way to South Carolina. We again planned on anchoring out one night before reaching the next marina. We have been doing really good with small & short runs, stopping to enjoy an evening at each location. As Dan was looking at his Navionics boating app on his phone for a ½ way between spot to anchor. He found a small marina at Inlet View Bar and Grill located at the Shallotte River on the ICW.  This is a family run business for 3 generations and used to be called Hughes Marina.

This was a rough spot to dock as the river runs extremely hard and fast at this ocean inlet. We had no power or facilities available either. But we had a nice dinner at the restaurant and enjoyed chatting with the locals, we only stayed 1 night.

We arrived at Wacca Wache Marina on Friday night. We planned to visit our friends Andrea, Ted, and their kids. We met them in Portland Oregon in 2014 when they purchased “Golden Eagle” Yacht from a member of our Columbia River Yacht Club. We heard rumors that they were going to take their newly purchased boat through the Panama Canal home to South Carolina, so we purposely wanted to meet them. We were able to follow their adventures on Facebook….now they are watching our adventures. So glad we did, they have become wonderful friends!

Andrea picked us up for a wonderful dinner at their home. We had a great time learning about each other’s trips and how the dream got started for us both. They loaned us a car for provisioning, which allowed me to buy a turkey for our own Thanksgiving dinner on the boat. Andrea also gave us tickets to the “Brookgreen Gardens“, which is a Botanical and Sculpture Gardens. What a wonderful huge garden it is!

On our last day Andrea toured us through the building of their new home. It is a unique structure built with only steel and concrete, right on the water’s edge in the wetlands/lowlands.  They have an amazing view and a unique structure built above the wetlands and some parts filled in, which allows for a driveway and turning platform where they will have parking and fun things like basketball court for kids. This home will last for generations to come. We were so grateful to spend some quality time with them.

Our next stop was to head to Charleston, again with 1-night anchoring along the way. We stopped at South Santee river anchorage and watched dredges working nearby. We had a nice stay anchored out and the next morning we headed out to Charleston but……we didn’t make it.

We were stopped near McClellanville North of ICW markers 35-37 where we saw two boats stuck in the sand. After chatting with them on the VHF radio and listening to them talking to each other they had planned to wait until the high tide came in to give them the lift they needed to get unstuck. We were apprehensive about heading past them. Just as we were creeping that way Dan’s temp fix to the linkage on the engine shifter came loose. He went down to the engine room to fix it and asked me to try and hold us without going aground. I had only one engine, strong winds and currents, it didn’t go well. We got pushed over a bit farther than we wanted while Dan was doing the fix and we eventually got ourselves stuck. We attempted to backup and go forward, but the mud had us pretty tight. We figured we were going to have to wait it out too. Every couple mins we would attempt to break loose with some type of movement and it finally worked. As we backed out about ½ mile to an open area where we made the decision to drop the anchor on the edge of the ICW channel and wait for high tide to make another attempt.

We saw a couple boat’s heading towards us, we reach out to them to tell them the situation. 5 different boats hung back and waited for about 1.5 – 2 hours. Eventually one boat said he was going to attempt it. Well, he made it through and the other boats that were stuck earlier were gone. We couldn’t see them, as they were beyond a bend in the waterways. So, we all headed out one behind each other and we all got through just fine.

Now with this 2-hour delay in our trip we didn’t want to push it hard. We would be arriving in Charleston in the dark, so we decided to find another place to anchor close by. Well, Dan and I somehow made lemonade” with our lemons….because the place we picked was a small creek called Graham Creek. It had a cut through to the ocean, but was too shallow for us, others might make it just fine. But we wanted to just anchor, which is what we did. It was a pretty tight spot but no one else bothered us and we loved it. We ended up staying another night it was so beautiful. We had the most beautiful sunset and the next day I took the kayak out and enjoyed a paddle around the creek. I would go back to that quiet little spot any day!

On the 3rd day we made it to the Charleston city marina where we stayed a couple days and enjoyed Patriot Point Naval & Maritime Museum. We were able to walk to see the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey destroyer, which is the most decorated WW2 era destroyer, the USS Clamagore Submarine, and the huge Vietnam war exhibit, largest in the US. We had fun touring and a great Thanksgiving dinner that night too!

The Atlantic intracoastal waterways are finding a way to make our lives interesting. Whether it is the beautiful spots we happen to trip across with an unexpected outcome of all its beauty, serene waters and wetlands or the adventures of getting stuck and engines issues, or the sights and sounds of the cities we get to visit along the way, we enjoy every minute of it.

Cheers from MV Angelique

Back to “The Ditch” We Go, with Best Prime Rib & Tropical Storm Eta….#53

As most of you know we spent a few months away from our beloved motor yacht Angelique to have some precious time with our family and friends. We were able to spend time with so many folks while we were in Portland and we are grateful for that! We surely had mixed feelings about leaving, as we were enjoying so much quality time with those we love, it was hard to leave. But Angelique is our home and we were glad to be back on her and we were starting to make our plans to go south again.

After arriving back on Angelique, we spent a bit of time talking about the plans for the following week. As always, our plans well layed can change in a moments notice. We are really good at being flexible when something demands change from us, ie; weather, waves in anchorage spot, unsafe situations, mechanical problems, heath issues, etc, etc. This is a key trait when sailing or cruising, folks that have hard dates or plans eventually get themselves in trouble by pushing on with risks looming.

During the first week back aboard Angelique, we spent time cleaning and provisioning, in addition to our planning activities. It is amazing how much dust and grime settles into and the boat when it is just sitting. With those tasks taken care of we welcomed our friend Deb on board on Monday evening. We had invited Deb to join us on our trip south in the ICW. She was interested in learning and traveling along with us to experience the challenges with the ICW.

We had the pleasure of meeting Deb on our way north and kept in touch as the months went by. She has another big Hatteras, “Mad Hatteras” that lives in New Bern NC. She is fairly new to boating and we welcomed the guest and extra crew along.

Tuesday morning we hit the fuel dock at Atlantic Yacht Basin before leaving the marina. This marina sits right on the ICW next to the “Great Bridge” and the park by the locks. After fueling we headed south on “The Ditch”. This is a slang term used to reference the ICW “Intracoastal Waterways” Being that we are from the West Coast, us Pacific Northwesterners don’t really understand the footprint and construction of these valuable waterways. I had to do a bit of research and have had some comments back to me regarding terms I used in previous blog articles.  Thank you Readers!

Here is a link ⇒ ICW Wiki for some good information about the Intracoastal Waterways and below some of my comments regarding this wonderfully, beautiful, complicated and useful waterway.

The IntraCoastal Waterway, also known as ‘America’s oldest highway’ ‘ICW’ or ‘The Ditch.’  This body of water consists of bays, lagoons, rivers, natural inlets, and sounds with canals some man made and lots of bridges. Some bridges are high enough to go under and many requiring you to stop, call on VHF and wait for it to open. (some have scheduled times that you must wait for) This waterway acts as a highway for traveling boaters, commerce and coastal trade. The ICW provides a safe and navigable passage along the Atlantic Coast line without hazards of traveling a long distance in the open ocean. This waterway was no accident and started shortly after the Revolutionary War (early 1800’s). States along the coast began to build canals in order to move goods seamlessly from one city to another. In 1909 Congress passed the Rivers and Harbors Act authorizing the US Army Corps of Engineers to complete a survey for an Intracoastal Waterway System. In 1913 the Corps proposed a plan for the Intercoastal waterway to go from Beaufort NC to Key West Florida. Today, The Army Corps of Engineers are still responsible for maintaining the waterways.

The ICW has nautical mile markers, Norfolk VA at mile 0 to Key West FL at mile 1243 with an average depth of ~10 feet. It is commonly stated amongst boaters travelling these waterways, “that it is not if you will hit bottom, but when”  To not complicate things more with just shallow channels, markings are also complicated. Normally it is said that “Red Right Returning” meaning that you always keep the red marker on your right when returning from sea. The ICW runs parallel with the ocean, so which way is returning? This adds complications with understanding the exact spot to be in the channel. Thank goodness for our electronic charts that mark the channel. (well, kinda — see our mishap later in article)

Here is a snippet I copied from BoatUS Article about how the ICW is maked:

“Here’s what to do: Going south on the ICW from New Jersey to Texas is considered a “return.” In fact, if you consider the ICW going in a clockwise direction (from north along the East Coast all the way south to Brownsville, Texas), the red is on the right. Following the same clockwise direction, boaters going north on the West Coast also keep the red on the right. But there are channel markers and then there are ICW channel markers.

ICW channel markers always have a yellow rectangle or square, and in the event two markers offer conflicting directions, the yellow colors supersede the colors of the actual red or green marker on which they appear. When traveling southbound, markers with a yellow triangle should be passed by keeping it on the right (starboard) of the vessel while markers with a yellow square or rectangle should be passed by keeping it to the left (port side) of the vessel.”

SOOOOO…. with shallow channels, difficult markings, many bridges, and much attention needed for traveling  with its twists and turns. There is still one more item to understand! Passing another boat in the channel or being passed. It can be a very narrow passage in some places, so what is the correct way to pass a slow moving boat? Etiquette is: hail ahead to the boat you would like to pass and ask for “a slow pass”. What is being asking is to do a controlled pass of the other boat.  After notification, as you get close to the stern of his boat you will slow down to not wake him and he will slow down so you can actually pass with some speed. Both boat hug the channel of opposite sides and as soon as the pass is completed, you will both go back to our normal cruising speed.

With all the difficulty of the ICW, It is still an awesome adventure to see the sights and towns along the way! But you must always keep your alertness and attention on your driving and navigation while enjoying the calm water and beautiful sights. We take this knowledge along on our trip south.

Our first stop was a marina on the ICW just about 30 miles south called Coinjock Marina and Restaurant. We picked this location because we heard the Prime Rib was the best! We were not disappointed, though the smallest piece of prime rib was too big for anyone to finish. Leftovers were brought back for sure. We stayed one night.

Map of our stops along the way

Our plan was to anchor out the remainder of our trip towards New Bern. Which is what we did. Our second day we traveled through the Alligator River to anchor at the lower turn of the river. As Dan headed into the river mouth the chart we were following and the buoy’s were not lined up as we would have thought. The channel maker were way off the channel and Dan didn’t follow the buoy’s and we hit bottom… (Not IF, but WHEN was now) Luckily the bottom was mostly sand and silt and easy to back off of. Dan did a couple maneuvers until we realized what we did wrong. The channel had actually moved from what was on our plotter (see Phone Navionics Screen shot of a better chart to the right) and he didn’t notice it…. boy was I glad I wasn’t driving or I might be swimming in that muddy bottom river after a toss overboard of his first mate!

We always have a target in mind of where we might anchor, but we watch as we get close and maybe anchor earlier or further by a few miles as we are able to see the lay of the water/land and other boats anchored. We anchored a few miles early this night… as the sun was going down and we found a nice place where we felt safe. We had a nice dinner and evening and took off for the next location.

Our next day we spent traveling  to Belhaven NC up the Pungo River. Dan and I had been there before and really enjoyed the small town. We had stayed at the River Forest Manor and Marina marina. But this time we just anchored out in the bay. It had a nice breakwater so it was very comfortable. We planned on staying two nights so we could visit the town the next day and have dinner at the most marvelous restaurant in town, Spoon River Artworks and Market. We had eaten at this spot on our way north and thought that Deb would enjoy it. Us girls also spent a bit of time walking around town meeting shop owners and learning about what keeps their town afloat. One of the nicest ladies was owner of @dillyjeans ⇒ find her on Instagram! She also sells online! We loved the little town and we got a personalized tour of the River Forest Manor where they hold weddings and events. This manor was built by John Aaron Wilkinson in 1899 who was president of the J.L. Roper lumber company and VP of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad. This 13,000 Sq ft mansion took 5 years to build and it is the most stunning property I have ever seen. We totally enjoyed ourselves in this town.

The last stop was New Bern NC, well actually we stayed across the river in Bridgeton Marina. This is where Deb keeps her Hatteras “Mad Hatteras.” It is a nice marina and a bit quieter than over at the city marina. We planned on staying 2-3 night but the weather got bad and we had the tropical storm Eta move past us. It was a few miles out into the ocean and we were in a very protected area back off the coastline. We just had pouring rain for 2 days and quite a bit of wind. But it settled down quickly and we enjoyed the sun the next couple days.

A few more pics of our travels along the ICW

If you haven’t done the Intracoastal Waterway, We highly recommend it. But take your time and enjoy all the locations along the way!

Down the coast again… to see more of The Ditch!

Cheers ♥

Maintenance, Repairs and So Much More & Does Distance Make the Heart Grow Fonder?? … #52

I left Dan in Norfolk Virginia and headed home to help my daughter with her small outdoor wedding, not exactly what they planned but with the situation with the pandemic it is the best we could do without waiting for 1+yrs for everything to calm down.

Dan stayed back to attend a reunion with his USS Flying Fish buddies. (also smaller than planned.) He spent many, many hours working on the boat making her better. Which is the focus of this blog…. “The many improvements Dan spent his time on”

“53 days, the longest Dan and I have been apart in 14+ years”

Here is Dan, in his words… 

Well, as our cruising season came to a close by 4th of July 2020 in the midst of the Pandemic hassles, Angela needed to go home to help set up daughter’s wedding in Portland, Oregon.  I stayed behind to attend the reunion of my submarine USS Flying Fish, SSN-673 set for 23 August, and to do needed maintenance on the boat. Senior Chief George Perry was a great help and friend during this time – he took Angela to the airport early on, and we shared many fun times before the reunion, on which he had the lead.

Before Angela left we got the boat ready to be tied up for a long time by cleaning it well and getting the holding tanks pumped. She also gave me lists of “to-dos”, and what to eat up out of our freezers.

My biggest projects were in the engine room. After 3 years and over 9000 miles of cruising some work was needed. I made plans but wanted professional advice before I started to make sure I was doing the right things. I hired Tommy Shook, an expert Detroit Diesel mechanic, to stop by and inspect my engines, “grade me” and advise on work to be done. He spent 2 hours with me poking around, starting and running the engines, and advising me.  Long story short, he gave me an “A-“, yay. He told me I needed to bathe the engines in degreaser and pressure wash them, and also to put matching belts on the starboard alternator.

I had some greasy maintenance still to do before I started that project. So, I went for it, changing the oil and filters yet again, and rebuilding all 4 of the main engine Racor Fuel Filters, and the 2 on the Northern Lights generators. The Port main engine Racor had a lot of undesirable tar like debris that could have cut off the fuel flow. But luckily, I caught it before it caused damage and didn’t shut down the engine while underway. I spent a few days doing all this work.

 Tommy Shook also advised I replace the seals on the valve covers. So, I ordered new kits for that from Diesel Pro.  I pulled the all the huge valve covers, one at a time, used rust remover, Barkeepers Helper, degreaser, and greenies to polish up all the chrome on each one, re-assembled and re-installed. Another few days to do this work.

Then I focused on the engine cleaning by hanging up poly sheets all over the engine room in prep for the washdown of the engines. I sprayed lots of degreaser and pressure washed with as little water as I could until those engines were clean. All that went into the drip pans and bilges (pumps turned off), and had to be shop vacuumed up, then poured into 5-gallon buckets. Once in the buckets, the oil absorb pads could be employed to get all the oil out before the dirty water was disposed of. That took a couple of days to finish. Those engines were clean, but I could see the paint job was about 5 years old and needed help. Luckily some other Detroit Diesel owners on FB had just done the prep and paint work on their engines and shared exactly how it was done. 

“Sanding, Vacuuming, Masking, then Spraying, just that simple” 

Well, maybe not so simple. It took quite some time to accomplish- I would do the work in the morning before it got too hot and humid. As with any paint job the prep was the hardest. I used Rustoleum White appliance epoxy spray paint. It holds up well.  After the engines were done, I had to paint the deck plates too, as they were trashed after all that.  As you can see from the before and after photos all that work made quite a difference! I am a fan of Rustoleum Black and White Appliance Epoxy spray paint.

For mobility around Virgina, Angela and I lifted the Suzuki 250 off the boat. It needed maintenance as well, so it got new special motorcycle oil and filter, rust removal and a wax job. It served me well, taking me down to Virginia Beach, visiting the General MacArthur memorial, and getting parts and groceries.

One of the shower sump bilge pumps failed, so I ordered and replaced that. We have 2 in the master sump, so no capability was lost. I check them when I do maintenance on the sump – cleaning replacing a nylon stocking over where the water comes in, to keep hair goo and lint out of the pumps.

I got to go Flounder Fishing with George one weekend. It was a fun trip and we caught 7 of them out in the ocean off Chesapeake Bay on his fishing boat.

In the afternoons I would do paperwork and warranty work, in the air conditioned salon. I successfully got a new Blink Camera, a new Guardline sensor, and a new Weems and Plath clock.  I also went online and got ordained as a minister…When Kylie asked me to do the honors at her wedding, I wasn’t qualified, but some studying and a bit of work on the internet fixed that!

1.5 years ago when we were back in Oregon we did a fuel tank repair that caused us do a deck cut in the cockpit.  I took this time to have a stainless hatch trim frame built and because sealant alone wasn’t holding up or looking nice.  I followed Ron and Ashley’s, @zephyrnorthwest, advice on symmetrical design! It looks much better than just a sealing line and much more secure too. 

Sometimes I got visitors. There was an 8″ long lizard who visited the bar one afternoon! Being tied up alongside the ICW at Great Bridge, I was able to view an amazing parade of boats, tugs, and barges proceeding up and down the waterway, right past my windows. On 4 August, the remains of a hurricane came through and raised water into the parking lots at the marina, but only minor damages from the 45 knot winds.

I attended a webinar by the Bahamas government, sharing what they are doing to open the Bahamas to yachts, so am confident we will be able to successfully cruise there this winter. They are setting up a Port of Entry in Fort Lauderdale to speed and ease entry into the Bahamas.

I had a great time at the Flying Fish reunion and won a cool, one of a kind, handmade plaque door prize.

After that it was time to clean up messes, vacuum, rig for hurricane and pack for the airport to go get Kylie married! I missed Angela tons and am happy to be with her again, fighting the Covid and smoke in Oregon. 

Thank you Dan for writing this article, I hope you enjoyed it. I of course worked on many items for the wedding such as; painting vases with a terra cotta color and texture for the wedding deco & cake tastings at home with a wonderful Red Velvet cupcake from “A Piece of Cake Bakery ” that was the standout winner! 

AND I did an awesome hike with my son Mitchell on Mt Defiance with Mt Hood in the background!

We will be back on Angelique heading south again at the end of October. If you are local in Portland Oregon and would like to meet up with us, please reach out! 

AND YES, We missed each other tremendously during our 53 days apart! 

We are happy to be back with each other and with our family and friends for a couple months. 

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