Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12, 2006 - Urbanna, Virginia

Hi everyone. This is Rick on the blog. Lynnie indicated in her last posting that we’d had an exciting day on the water. Well, that about sums it up. You know, some things are learned easily, and others require a trial by fire.

We spent the night of August 9th at anchor in the East River off Mobjack Bay, VA. We awoke to a very overcast sky, and it began to drizzle. NOAA weather indicated it wouldn’t amount to much, and the seas would be calm, so we headed out, bound for Gwynn Island about 25 miles north with mild precipitation showing on the radar.

We’d just rounded New Point Comfort lighthouse and started heading north with a slow rain, in 25 – 30 feet of water. About 3 miles offshore, the port engine began to lose RPM, and everything seemed to point to a clogged primary fuel filter. So … Rick decided we had better switch over to the backup primary filter, and headed into the engine room to execute this “simple” procedure.

To make a long story short … in a matter of a few minutes our ‘first’ worst nightmare unfolded. The fuel filter swap process wasn’t at all what I’d learned in diesel school. I got it all undone, and the new one installed, but for some reason, could not fill the filter housing with fuel from the normal supply line. Bottom line … in very short order both engines got an air lock and shut down cold … we were adrift, now in heavy rain with reduced visibility! We’d been dodging crab pots all the way out into open water, and began to drift back toward Mobjack.

We were in no immediate danger and could always drop anchor and call TowBoatUS to come get us. So, I took a deep breath, and began to try to figure it all out. Luckily we had cell phone coverage, and a quick call to my good friend and mechanic, Roger Brake, helped to ease the fear factor. He gave me a few simple things to diagnose, and in about an hour I was able to restart the port engine by bleeding the air out of the injector fuel line. The starboard engine also cranked up with a few coughs, and we again had normal RPM.

We breathed a very big sigh of relief, high-fived, opened a beer, and headed north once again. We decided to bypass Gwynn Island and go on into Urbanna, VA on the Rappahannock River, about a 44 mile day. That turned out to be a good decision, as it is a really neat place. It is an historic port town and the ‘downtown’ area is wonderful. Today we wandered through the farmers market and stopped in at the Urbanna Republic store and bought some new clothes.

Yesterday, we spent doing chores. Lynnie did laundry, washed the boat, and Rick spent most of the day doing a 100 hour engine service. We’ve met some fun people, had some good meals in town, and tomorrow will head up to Smith Creek, just inside the mouth of the Potomac River.
So, our first encounter with fear turned out to be a very good teacher, and we’ve both learned a lot about ourselves, the boat, and dealing with the unknown. And I will never make that same mistake again! So far we have logged 380 nautical miles since leaving Morehead City, NC.

Scenes from the back of the boat in Urbanna.

August 11, 2006 Urbanna, VA

We have had an exciting few days on the water and Rick will be updating the blog about that. In the meantime, we have been asked what the boat looks like. It is such a great boat and we are really comfortable.

We spend most of our time on the upper helm when we are under way. To the right of the captain's chair you see a PC display. It is connected to Rick's PC in the lower helm station and runs our navigation software. There is a freezer on the left side, OK port side for you mariners, which holds a ton of food!

Here is Captain Rick at the lower helm station. We don't usually run the boat from here unless the weather is really bad or if we are in Georgia and the black flies are attacking!

This is the salon with the galley in the background. The sofa is a fold-out double bed so plenty of room for guests. The yellow placemats are on top of the cold plate refrigerator which also holds lots of food. The ice maker is below the lamp.

The master stateroom has a full size queen bed. Lots of hanging space and drawers. We were surprised that we could fit all of our 'stuff' into it. The head includes a nice shower. There is also a combo washer/dryer.

The aft deck is where we hang out when we finally get somewhere. This is where we say 'This is what it is all about' as evidenced by the next picture, taken at anchor just off the Jamestown Settlement on the James River in Virginia.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. We are on our way to the Potomac River tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 9. 2006 Mobjack Bay, VA

OK, OK, OK, so we have been derelict in our blogging duties! We just want to make sure you know that we haven’t sunk the boat and neither of us has fallen over the side. We’ll try to catch up. Above you see a very happy camper on the boat in the Norfolk, VA. Waterside Marina, which is in downtown Norfolk. It was a nice place but HOT. Here is someone who is having a grand time. The picture below is of Rickshaw in the harbor marina.

While we were in Norfolk we took a harbor cruise around the Navy Shipyard. It was so cool. We were told that the Nimitz class air craft carrier is the size of the Statue of Liberty but can pass us going at 60 MPH!
We left Norfolk to go up the James River, home of many historic sites. We anchored for two nights in the Pagan River opposite Smithfield, VA, famous for Smithfield Hams. We are learning lots about anchoring, like how to make sure the anchor is actually holding on the bottom (...which it wasn’t on the Pagan...). Small things!

On our way up the James River, we saw what is called the ‘Reserve Fleet’. It is a collection of old ships that, we assume, would be used in the case of an emergency. It was so eerie. There were probably 75 or so old, rusting ships tethered together. We just saw the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie and it gave us both the willies!

We spent two rolly nights in an anchorage just north of the ferry terminal next to the Jamestown settlement. Before it got too hot we put the dingy in the water and journeyed about 2.5 miles back east thru a really neat creek, and tied up to a floating dilapidated dock at the “Jamestown Yacht Basin” … not exactly, but it worked. We walked up to the Jamestown visitors’ center, and spent the morning going thru the movie, and then the outside exhibits. We couldn’t help but be a bit whelmed (slightly over that is) when we cruised up the James. I bet it hasn’t changed much since 1607 when the first settlers landed, and it was really cool to arrive by boat just as they had done ... wonder how they avoided the shoals. Anyway, we visited the settlement, and got lots of pictures … one of which is attached for your enjoyment. The guy in the picture below must be about 435 years old, as he spoke with a heavy English accent and kept referring to Lynnie as “a most amazingly beautiful woman.” What a hoot … we later saw him in the air conditioned cafeteria.

We had a real exciting day leaving Jamestown for Hampton, VA. Our cruising software had a hiccup and we couldn’t use it as we approached the James River bridge. After the bridge it becomes pretty congested with BIG ships. Being trained by IBM we are, of course, ultra prepared. So we weren’t too very concerned as we have a backup Global Positioning System (GPS) and another copy of the navigation software on a different PC, which we had tested the day before. But, it is a boat, and Murphy lives on it with us, so of course the backup didn’t work. We both know how to use paper charts but have gotten lazy. Needless to say, as we were about to go under a part of the bridge that we weren’t supposed to be going under, we realized our mistake and quickly turned around and found the right entrance. (We can hear Lenny Beck laughing!) So much for our relaxing cruise!

Anyway, we made it to the Hampton Downtown Public Piers ... a marina ... and spent three nights there (...for the price of two as an incentive ...). It was pretty hot, and we ambled about the boat doing chores and laundry. Rick spent the best part of one morning gathering the piece parts to do a needed engine (...all four of them ...) oil change, and convinced NAPA Hampton to deliver 12 gallons of oil and a few oil filters to the boat. We wandered the waterfront by foot until we could sweat no more and then headed back to the AC on board. Had a great crab cake dinner aboard on Tuesday evening, crashing early.

This morning we left Hampton to start going north. It was a beautiful morning at 80 degrees, 69% humidity, so we turned off the genset and AC, opened the doors and ran the boat on the inverter. Finally got into the Chesapeake Bay heading north. We are now at anchor in a lovely spot on the East River off Mobjack Bay, on the eastern shore of VA, arriving about 2:00PM. On average, we've been travelling at the lightening pace of about 25 - 40 miles/day. Some friends have been asking what the boat looks like so those pictures will follow. Cheers...