1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: April 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Time to Get Technical

Fixing outboard in Cuba
If you own a boat, or plan on it (what ARE you thinking?), then at some point you're going to have to fix the thing. This trip, I seem to have had my fair share of things to fix, and am currently sitting at the dock at Golden Isles Marina on St. Simons Island awaiting the repair of my starter motor. This is after having replaced my alternator...after having.....well, you get the idea, I'm sure.
All of this fun costs money, but it doesn't have to cost as much money as many marine businesses would like it to. LiveBloggin' reader James Newsome, whose recently published article on Darien GA was published in Southwinds Magazine, provided me with the name of a company, Genuine Dealz, that provides marine wire and other electrical supplies at a much lower price. Not only that, but they will create custom wiring to your measurements. The cost? An amazing $1 per connector! The labor charge includes cutting, stripping, double crimp & adhesive lined heat shrink applied over the connection if you ordered heat shrink. And the cost, according to James, is close to half that of retail for the wire. That's hard to beat. Then....sit down before I tell you this....they ship it to you free. Yep, anywhere in the US for free, and anywhere else in the world via US Postal Service, which isn't very pricey. James was impressed, and being a Scotsman AND a sailor, and therefore cheap - er, frugal - that's saying something.
James' comments made me realize that there are actually companies in the world whose business plan is other than getting rich on me. Maybe me times 10,000 more sales, but not just on me. So I think we should recognize these companies by building a page listing them here on LiveBloggin', complete with links and other information, so that everyone can save money with them.
For this - I need you. If you know of a company that offers superb service, quality products with great prices and delivery outside of their local area, send it here to me at LiveBloggin' along with your comments and I'll include it in a new page for everyone to see.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go work on the boat... 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blessing of the Fleet


Last Thursday, I decided to check out Darien GA - it's about 8 miles off the ICW, so it's out of the way. My friend James, from St. Simon's Island, had written a piece about it for Southwinds - it's not published yet, but I'll post the link when I have it - and it sounded interesting. Also, there was a nasty storm on its way, so a dock sounded good.
I arrived in the dark, and was helped to tie up by another sailor docked there. He told me that this was the weekend for the Blessing of the Fleet, the 45th annual shrimp boat festival and blessing. Well, that sounded interesting, and since Darien was providing 48 hours free dockage to encourage visitors - why not?
To be honest, Darien is a different sort of place....very down to earth people would be the best way of putting it, and you know, when the first tune from the band is an old Merle Haggart standard, you're going to be hearing a lot of country and very little rap. Not a bad thing, come to think of it, and I'm not a big country fan...
Darien partied on all weekend, I made some great new friends, and Gypsy Wind had a front row center seat for the festivities - as loud as they were. And on Sunday, the big event - the blessing of the fleet.
This video gives you an idea of what it was like....   

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Video - Cruising the ICW with Gypsy Wind

I'm often asked what it's like to cruise the ICW, what do I see, what is it like - and I think the best way to show you is to let you watch this video of my recent passage from Georgetown SC to Charleston SC - sit back, make sure your coffee is hot or your beer is cold, or your wine is just right....and enjoy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Isle of Hope

Isle of Hope Marina seen from the water
Welcome to one of the prettiest small villages on the entire ICW - the Isle of Hope, just outside Savannah Georgia. The last time I stopped here was on Christmas Day a couple of years ago with a friend. We decided to find a church for Christmas service that morning....and, believe it or not, there wasn't a church service going on. It seems that the town's churches all had their Christmas service the night before.
It's something we've laughed about ever since - the irony of no Christmas service on the Isle of HOPE. Here are some photos to show you just what you're missing...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ready? Camera? ROLL 'EM!

I'm often asked what the ICW is really like, and what it's like to cruise south. I've put together a video (six minutes, so make sure your coffee is hot, or your beer is cold!), sit back, and enjoy these views of what cruising south from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas via the ICW is all about.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

No Skill Required

I’ve often said I’d rather be lucky than good - because you can learn to be good, you can’t learn to be lucky.
That was proven in spades the other evening as I prepared to leave the dock at the Charleston Maritime Center. The winds, at 17 knots were blowing Gypsy Wind off the dock, and the outgoing tide was heading in the opposite direction. Standing by to assist were Joe and James, two friends from Georgia, and Tony, a local boater docked beside them.
At Jame’s urging, I put the boat into forward and reverse to check the transmission, something I rarely do. There was no problem, so I began to back out, with James keeping a line cleated to the dock. The plan was to let the wind push the boat into position facing the harbour entrance so I could simple drive out without a lot of drama. Good plan. Lousy execution on my part...
I was a bit too far over so I put the boat into reverse, initiating a prop walk that took me in the wrong direction. I had anticipated that, and once far enough back, put the boat into forward to turn the bow, then reverse again to move back a bit further, then forward again.....oh oh....was that ‘snap’ I heard the cable linkage breaking?
It was. The transmission was now in neutral and I was floating 20 feet off the dock with the wind set to blow me into Joe’s boat - or worse yet, Tony's even more expensive boat beside it.
Everyone scrambled to Joe’s boat to bring out fenders and prepare to catch me with a minimum of fibreglass crunching. Things were as under control as they could be given the situation - the military refers to this sort of situaton as FUBAR.
Then - inexplicably - Gypsy Wind slowly started to move, not towards Joe’s boat, the logical place to go given the strong winds but....towards the dock we had just left. Against the wind.
Joe and James hustled back to their original positions, Tony stayed by his boat just in case.
I stood at the helm, not sure whether to try and guide the boat or just let the fates take her as they wished. And ever so slowly, Gypsy Wind drifted close enough that I was able to throw bow and stern lines to the guys standing, jaws hanging as they watched, on the dock.
Now, if you think that was lucky, consider this...had I not checked the transmission as I usually don’t, I would have gotten out of the harbour with just two more ‘shifts’ left on that transmission cable. The winds were quite strong. When I got to the anchorage I was heading for, the cable would have snapped while I was backing down and left me unable to anchor properly, likely to go aground on a falling tide.
Or, had I managed to get past that one and the cable not failed until the next day’s anchorage, I would have been miles from any assistance, out in the marshes and rivers of South Carolina.
So folks, when I’ve furled my last sail and you put me in the ground, let my headstone read “I’d rather be lucky than good”.

Somedays you simply might as well sleep in. Today would have been a good day for that, and when the alarm went off at half past six, I thought about it. Today appears to be the last day of the winter that just won’t end - cold, dreary, drizzley with a cold and biting wind out of the north. Tomorrow’s forecast is sunny and high 60s. I headed out for Elliot Cut, naturally at the very height of the ebbtide. Elliot Cut is a difficult cut at the best of times if the current isn’t with you, and the current today was between 3.5 and four knots. My boat speed was down to .9 knots at one point - and hovered between 1 and 1.4 knots for almost the entire cut.
Waiting till the tide switched wasn’t really an option if I wanted to make any distance, as it didn’t reverse itself until nearly 1 pm. I’d lose half the day, so onward I struggled, making three boat lengths a minute. To put that into perspective, normal would be 15 to 18 boat lengths per minute.
Slowly, oh so slowly, Gypsy Wind struggled...I was grateful that this cut is fairly short, less than a half mile...and finally, we came through into the Stono River. Now the wind that I hadn’t felt inside the cut bore down. It was brisk - a Canadian word meaning ‘really damn cold!’
The tide was still against me but less strong so I was now making about 4.5 knots while watching the wind push mist along the water. This wasn’t fun. Then I noticed poor Aduana shivering and that decided me - I turned around, the speed shot up to 6 knots even as I dropped the engine speed to idle, and we returned to the anchorage to spend the day sensibly, rather than struggle in the cold and wet.
Cruising is supposed to be fun, and sometimes we forget that in the rush to get somewhere. So, excuse me while I take the pup ashore and we play ball and she chases some squirrels. After that, I’m going to put together a video about what an average day cruising the ICW is like, so those of you who haven’t done this yet can get an idea of how good it can be.
Do I know how to have fun or what?