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Sailing South: Bahamas Bound, Take One

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After one year of preparation, we’re off.  The water, fuel, and propane tanks are topped off and I have enough food to last months, crammed into every space that would accept something as small as a packet of hot chocolate.  One storage cubby behind a cushion is overflowing with potatoes, and a bag above my sink is stuffed with onions.

sailing at night

I’m fairly certain I’ve identified and addressed all issues that might be related to seaworthiness; the others that I haven’t tackled yet are merely cosmetic and related to comfort.  Two weeks ago I went on a four-day shakedown and made a list of things to fix before heading offshore towards the Bahamas.  It was a short and easy list; my preparation while in the boatyard seemed to pay off.  The only big concern from the shakedown that I’ve since rectified was a fuel leak at my engine lift pump.

Dolphins
Dolphins playing in the bow wave off of South Carolina. The one calf of the group is above the left side of my bowsprit platform.

It all still seems very surreal.  I don’t think it’s hit me yet.  I sold my jeep that I had for ten years and packed my whole entire life into an area 27 feet long and 9 feet wide at its widest point.  That’s it.  And now I’m taking it with me on a multi-year trip around South America.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day to depart; the skies were clear and the 10-knot winds gave us a beam reach where my boat sails the quickest. I had been keeping an eye on the low-pressure system developing east of the Gulf Stream and decided to press on south along the coast.

Once offshore, the conditions were, for the most part, great for sailing.  During the second night, after the moon set at around 3am, the dolphins surfaced next to the cockpit like they usually do to let me know that they’re ready to play.  I looked over and noticed something different about them; the stars were the only ambient light but these dolphins were bright.  They were sparkling green and leaving a glowing green trail behind them.  It was the bioluminescence that I had earlier noticed in my wake.  I put on my harness and tether and ran up to the bow where they usually play, and for the next ten minutes they played and criss-crossed in front of my boat in what I can only describe as some kind of special effect from a science fiction movie.

Neuse River
Anchored off of Broad Creek (the Neuse, not the Pamlico) the night before heading offshore through Beaufort Inlet.

The third night and into the fourth day offshore, conditions started to deteriorate and the weather reports that I listened to a couple of times a day informed me that a hurricane was going to pass over my destination and keep going north.  Go figure, right!?

I decided to head inland at South Carolina, and am currently anchored in the South Edisto River waiting for the weather to pass.  I’m keeping myself busy taking on the chores I need to finish, or what I added to the list on the sail down.

On my way through the inlet to the river, waves were starting to build and out of the corner of my eye noticed an eight-foot breaking wave just over the quarter of my stern.  I turned away as quickly as I could and the wave came crashing down in the cockpit, leaving about four inches of water that was quickly drained through my scuppers.  I know this may not seem like much to some of you old experienced sailors, but it was my first time being boarded by a wave so I had to share!  The boat handled it really well, and that instance and the way it handled in the weather the night before confirmed that I had made a wise choice with the Pacific Seacraft Orion.

My only internet access now is through free wi-fi at some of the harbors I might visit and through satellite phone access (not cheap).  Apologies if I’m incommunicado for a while.  That’s what happens when you join the ranks of sailboat cruising blogs.

Scott "Dobs"Stevenson

Saturday 10th of November 2012

Nice posts and great pictures!! Enjoy the slice of paradise you have carved out of life....

MACH Weidner

Thursday 8th of November 2012

Bahama in sight!! So awesome to see the progress. The whole squadron anxiously awaits each post and new photo! Our prayers always. -MACH

Steve & Kathy Lamar

Tuesday 6th of November 2012

John,

We are excited for you as you sail towards Bermuda - and we look forward to seeing your photographs and reading more as your adventure continues. Stay safe and have fun!

Love, Steve & Kathy

Jeanne and Dick

Tuesday 6th of November 2012

Your Mom is forwarding your travelogues to us, and we are already addicted and ready for the next one. We know you will be safe and ready for the next chapter in your life.

Love from Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Dick

Nikki

Tuesday 30th of October 2012

I'm going to stalk you now, I can't wait! I am so proud and in awe of you, my friend! Please take good care of yourself.

lots of love and hugs, Nikki