1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: March 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ok, it's Poll Time...

For those of you planning on cruising south, I'm planning on doing a series of webinars, using Google Hangout. I'd like to understand YOUR concerns and bring on guests who can address them informatively.
If you could give me about 90 seconds of your time to fill out the poll I've set up, it would be very appreciated.
Here's the link... Click here to take survey 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hanging Out!

This will bring memories back to at least one reader here...
For those of you who caught it, this afternoon's Google Hangout was a +10 winner. The topic was "Preparing to Cruise", and the guests were quite knowledgeable, I learned some new things myself. That's what's great about sailing, there is always something new to learn... and sailors are always willing to share what they know - well, other than a really private anchorage that is!
I have been planning a series of webinars for some time myself, so participating in today's webinar was very useful for me. I learned some must do things, intuited more, and learned a couple of things that can create problems, things I'll know to avoid.
Stay tuned folks, I'll be announcing the first webinar in the near future - I think you'll find the topics and the speakers to be very exciting, and very helpful to your own sailing plans. 
In the meantime, for those who'd like to watch it, here's 'Preparing to Cruise' from its current home on YouTube. For those wondering about my 'disappearing' act during the show, there were some technical glitches, which made up part of what I learned about putting on a Hangout.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stay Tuned...News at 11!

ok, so what's THIS all about? This surely isn't the ICW...
You've likely heard of Google Hangouts, which are fast becoming the most popular way to conduct online seminars, otherwise known as webinars. I've been looking into them myself and plan to have some news for you soon about a series of seminars on the ICW, cruising and sailing in general
In the meantime, I've been asked to participate as a speaker in a Hangout being hosted by Teresa Carey, the creator of the ocean sailing video 'One Simple Question'.
 For those interested in attending, or in having your question answered for later viewing, here is the link to the Google Hangout, Preparing to Cruise.
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tanks, everyone!

Yep....that's what it says!
In case you missed the sign...
Yes, that sign says what you think it does... although I've not yet seen one crossing yet in over 15 visits, I'm ever hopeful. So far, the closest I've gotten was seeing tank treads in the mud, and once watched several tanks cross over the Onslow Beach bridge a few miles north.
I was at Camp Lejeune, the military base south of Beaufort NC. And although I've yet to see any tanks, I have seen all sorts of other military gear - lots of helicopters, jets, VTOL aircraft, big inflatable boats with 50 cal machine guns...oh, and once they had live fire exercises going on. All boats were stopped at Swansboro, and even from 15 miles away, you could hear the thunder of the cannons. It was awe inspiring and gave me a new appreciation for what men like my father faced during WW2.

So what else is unique on this segment of the trip? Well, there's also the 'pinkest' house in, I suspect, the entire world.... this house is seriously pink. But dahling, the owner needs lessons in colour co-ordination - his pickup is bright red, simply NOT the best colour with pink....scandalous, we shriek!

Some other neat stuff - well, here's what's probably one of the more unique pieces of yard art you'll ever see... a life size giraffe.

Now you gotta realize, we're in North Carolina, still more than 1000 miles from Key Weird - er, West. What's it going to be like in another 5 or 600 miles? 

Ok, I admit it, I'm getting cabin fever today - it was pouring rain and the winds were howling as a front moved in, and I'm staying here on the boat, trying to work and being way more successful at playing here.
Tomorrow, weather permitting and that's looking doubtful, we'll be off to journey down the Cape Fear River to Southport. I'll hang there for a day or so, as I'm doing a Google hangout on Wednesday, and then on into South Carolina the following day.  Here's the link for the Google Hangout - there will be five or six speakers all told, and we'll be discussing what it takes to get ready to cruise. The formal title is "Preparing To Voyage Google+ Hangout with Teresa Carey and Guests" and Teresa is a well known sailor and videographer who along with her husband did 'One Simple Question', a video about icebergs. 
There will be a lot of great information for all, and the opportunity to pose your own questions via skype, facebook, etc. Check out the page - Preparing to Cruise and I'll look forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dolphins on the Port Side

Who doesn't love dolphins? As usual, I saw my first dolphins coming in to Beaufort NC, as happens almost every year. I've heard of them as far north as the Neuse River, near Oriental, but I've never seen them there. So I always approach Beaufort with a sense of anticipation, and I've yet to be disappointed in the last ten visits.
From here on, dolphins will be a regular sight on the ICW, feeding in the shallows. Most people think of dolphins as peaceful creatures, and by and large they are - but they ARE a carnivore and to see them on the hunt is actually quite fearsome.
A group of dolphins will occasionally corner a school of fish, circling it to keep in under their control and then suddenly, they start attacking the school. The first time I saw this, I thought it was sharks in a frenzy - teeth flashing, splashing everywhere as they dove and surfaced over and over again.
Let me tell  you, I have a great deal more respect for dolphins now.
Even more fascinating is the intelligence of dolphins. One pod of dolphins has developed a unique method of hunting - trapping their prey within a ring of muddy water. Rather than tell you about it, watch this video - it's absolutely amazing...
Tomorrow, I leave Beaufort, destination Mile Hammock, an anchorage beside Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base. It's not unusual to see tanks roaming around, and aircraft of all types flying above the anchorage. An interesting stop.
Stay tuned... 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Wanna be a Weatherman!

Seriously, I do. What other job is there that allows you to be 100% wrong as often as you wish, without being penalized? Ok, outside of working for the government, or being Mitt Romney's political adviser in last fall's US election that is? And I suppose some of you are sitting here chuckling again at my election night prognostications, aren't you? Well, I didn't get paid for that one so it doesn't count!
Yesterday's winds were, to be kind, schizophrenic. The forecast was for 15 - 20 N, changing to 10-15 NW in the afternoon. So leaving Belhaven at 8 am, there was a light NW wind that quickly died off. Then making the turn towards Goose Creek, they went into the SE at about 10 with an occasional gust to around 15. Then entering Goose Creek, they went north, then west, then died
Several hours later, entering Pamlico Sound, the winds went from nothing, to east, to west, back to north, briefly into the south, died, west, east, back to north and then, two miles from Maw Point Shoal light, they went into the SE with a vengeance. 
So can you guess what direction I was headed? Got it in one, didn't you?
Of course, making the turn at Maw Point put the SE winds onto the beam and made for great sailing....for about an hour, and then the winds went flukey again, finally dying off to nothing....and then, FINALLY, the forecasters get it right - NW, 10 - 15. 
Care to guess what direction I was headed? Yep, I can see you're paying attention.
So - I wanna be a weatherman. Where do I apply?

Today's update - I'm in Oriental NC, a very attractive town with a free dock - have to like that. It seems that my alternator may be acting up, so today's mission is to check it out and, if necessary, replace it.
If you'd like to watch me - or see where Gypsy Wind is tied up today, go to the Oriental Harbour Cam and check it out - make sure you click on the button to get the slide show rather than a static image. And since the other boat at the dock is also red, GW is the one on the right. I'll stand on the foredeck and wave.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Music from the Space Station....

Ok, so this has nothing to do with sailing whatsoever, but if you've got three or four minutes to space - er, spare - during lunch, this video features Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield playing along with the Chieftains Orchestra - now Chris happens to be on the Space Shuttle, and the Chieftains are in Texas...a very cool video.
Enjoy your lunch.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I'll huff, and I'll puff....

Oh man - the winds they are a blowin'....fortunately, I'm nicely tied up to a dock in Great Bridge, VA, rather than out on the hook. That's three days of 20 knot+ winds - they're supposed to die down tomorrow, and I'll head for Coinjock - if anyone wants more information on that, check out the Southbound Escapees Association webpage for my post and a chartlet there.
I'm sure you've noticed a couple of changes on the blog - like, ahem.....advertising. Yes, we've gone commercial in an effort to purchase a 68 foot Swan and hire a crew of HooterGirls so that I can sit back and drink wine in comfort. Here's the deal: I'll give a free download of Sailing South - First Timer's Guide to the ICW to the first person who can identify why that comment is BS - this ought to be interesting...leave your answer in the comment box below.
Seriously however, a number of people have asked me to find deals and discounts and that's what I'm hoping to do for all - so if you shop at West Marine online, linking from here at BloggingtheICW - you get $15 off on a $200 purchase and, let's face it, it's not hard to spend $200 on your boat.
Also, be watching for the opportunity to save money on your Boat US tow package and on Boat US boat insurance, coming soon.
Since most of you with boats have a towing package, this ought to be a no brainer for you! Save money, promote LiveBlogging, help Wally get his new boat (ahem!)....
Also, new posts will have a twitter and facebook share link on them - if you're too frugal to buy something from West Marine (or you don't own a boat!), you can help out by sharing the blog to others...
Tomorrow, it's back underway, to Coinjock (where to they GET these names) and from there, onto the Albermarle Sound and on to Belhaven. The temperatures are picking up and will be into the mid to high 60s this weekend, making for a nice sail to Oriental, and then Beaufort NC.
Remember, tell me what's bogus about the second paragraph up above, and win a copy of Sailing South. 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Where's Wally?

Hello everyone - did you miss me? Sorry to have been out of touch, it's been a busy two weeks, finishing off my writing chores and getting some work done on the boat. I now have a lovely new anchor roller (I know, real exciting stuff)....the fun part to installing it was that I'm too big to fit into the forepeak and so had to find someone tiny enough to do that part of the job. A friend of a friend, nicknamed 'Half Pint', helped me out. I am not kidding - Half Pint. And that's about the size he was.
So - where am I? Tonight I'm in Chesapeake City VA, at Great Bridge Bridge, right beside Great Bridge Lock. This is the Virginia Cut, which runs parallel to the Dismal Swamp Route, and is north of Currituck Sound and Albermarle Sound.
Tug moving naval warship in Norfolk Harbour
Had a great sail out of Hampton today, blew by the Norfolk Naval Base at around 5 - 6 knots, bright sunny day, but cold. It's been a while since I actually sailed the boat rather than powered, or motorsailed, it was a great feeling - especially as the waves were down, so the boat was really able to move along.
Faithful readers (and I don't mean those who went to church on Sunday, bless you!) will remember all the complaining I did about the weather coming through the Great Lakes - getting held up for two weeks in Tobermory with high winds, four days in Goderich, four more in Sarnia, then Hurricane Sandy....I've never had this much bad weather coming south ever.
So tell me why the weather, which has been pretty benign the last month or so, takes a turn for the nasty now that I'm underway again. Predictions for the day after tomorrow are 28 - 40 - and that's not the wind, it's the wave heights offshore. The wind, you just don't wanna know. I'll try to record the forecast tomorrow and post it for you, just so you can get an idea of what it's going to be like on the ocean.
It won't be like that here on the ICW of course, but it's still going to be cold and unpleasant, so rather than move on tomorrow, which would leave me holed up in a distant anchorage 20 miles from the nearest town for three days with 20 - 30 knot winds and gusts to 40, I'm going to remain here, tied to a nice solid dock, with internet and grocery stores, and wine stores, a convenient place to walk the puppy....  and heat! And protection from the wind, did I mention that?
For those who want more details on doing the ICW, check out my new Facebook page, SouthboundEscapeesAssociation, which is being written for those interested in taking their boats south from the Great Lakes. It's somewhat more technical than this blog, i.e. more detail oriented on the actual trip, but with my trademark® humour and wit! Did you expect any less?
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