From Charleston to Cape Canaveral

Stephen and Roberta Arnold
Thu 11 Nov 2010 20:42

27:39.5808N 080:22.2898W


Thursday November 11, 2010 3PM


We are back in Vero Beach but I want to fill in the details of the offshore trip from Charleston.


I must not have been the only one watching the weather because as we headed out of Charleston harbor I counted 11 other boats ahead of us. We left the anchorage about 8:30 just before high tide and another group left about 30 minutes after us. I was 5 boats in the second group but there were probably more.


The plan was to stop at either Cape Canaveral or continue down to Ft Pierce depending on our progress. The two ports are far enough apart so that if it was dark when we got to Cape Canaveral, we would be at Ft Pierce the next morning. The currents were with us so we pulled in at Cape Canaveral.


The weather called for winds of 15 knots or less for the entire trip and I guess we all believed it. Right at the start of the trip the winds were almost 15 knots forward of the bow which made for a bouncy ride. It didn’t take long before Roberta and the cat changed color and curled up in their respective corners.


As night fell the winds started to build so I decided to take down the main sail. We have a rule that we don’t leave the cockpit without the other person on deck so I dragged Roberta off her death bed into the cockpit. On deck I went, down came the sail – no problems, but when I returned to the cockpit Roberta had her head in the cockpit cooler. By the sounds she was making I knew she wasn’t looking for anything in the cooler, especially since it had been empty.


As it got darker the winds picked up, soon they were 20-25 knots still forward of the bow. The boat and I were doing fine until a wave hit us. A wave traveling 90 degrees to our course passed under us and we slid down the face of the wave coming to an abrupt stop in the wave trough. It was probable just a 2 ft slide but it was the stop that got us as the boat continued to roll. We didn’t roll to a dangerous degree, but combined with sudden stop, much of the stuff we had stored on the high side moved to the low side. One drawer came out and landed on the floor, all the stuff on the shelf in the V-berth found a new home and Roberta’s laptop was drown. Hopefully I can salvage her hard drive.


About 4 AM Roberta finally felt well enough to give me a break and I was able to get about 2 hours of rest. The cat on the other hand needed another 10 hours or so before it started moving again.


That was the worst of it, by morning the winds moved behind us and dropped to the 5-10 knot range so on came the motor which stayed on until we got to Cape Canaveral.


During the second night, Roberta relived me around 2 AM. By now the wind and seas had settled down and we were motoring along without any sails. About 15 minutes after Roberta relieved me I hear her screech. Not a scream like something bad had happened, more like a noise some people make after seeing a mouse.


I’m up immediately and before I can get on deck she screeches again and by the time I get on deck she is telling me to hold the cat while she chased something around the cockpit. The cat, now feeling better, had been out on deck, something we try to prevent at night underway, and had caught a bird and brought back to the cockpit to play with. At first all Roberta saw was the cat with something black in its mouth and thought it was a very big roach - thus the screech. (It was a small bird about the size of a plum.) So now I’m holding a cat that very much wants his bird back and Roberta is chasing the bird around the cockpit floor. Roberta was trying to be gentle in capturing the bird so it took a couple of laps around the cockpit before she grabbed it. Meanwhile the cat was using it’s claws trying to get free of me because he knew he could get that bird in less than one lap – this is the point when I finally asked the question “why are we offshore”. Roberta took the bird to the back of the boat and it flew off.


After that the rest of the trip was uneventful until we ran out of fuel this morning as we motored down the ICW. Actually one tank was empty and the other one was full and I had thought about checking the tank this morning but forgot. Quickly we set the jib to keep some speed on the boat and down to the engine I went. Ten minutes of bleeding the air out of the engine later we were back underway. Refueling I discovered I have only 80 gallons of useable fuel in a tank that holds 85 gallons. I like to think of the incident as a way to learn more about the boat, not how stupid I was to not check.