Monthly Archives: July 2016

July 18 – A Full Weekend

Friday would prove to be the beginning of a very busy weekend, mainly because the Water Festival happening all around us was a constant presence. The festival opened at noon, and things started happening immediately. We went ashore and walked through the craft fair that had taken over the shore facilities at the marina, then visited the Santa Elena museum, which had exhibits from the earliest Spanish settlements in Port Royal Sound. The museum had opened on the day that we visited Port Royal two months ago when we came up to tour El Galeon (see previous post about that), but we didn’t have time during that trip to tour the museum. Friday night saw the opening ceremonies for the Water Festival, including a fireworks show over the river. Of course, from our vantage point, we had a front row seat. Since we had been so far away from the Saint Marys fireworks on the Fourth of July, we felt like this show helped make up the difference in being able to actually FEEL the concussion as each bomb went off.

IMG_2056On Saturday, we took off on a self-guided walking tour of the town. Beaufort has been around since 1711, and was occupied by Union troops throughout the entire Civil War, so much of the town has remained intact for its whole history. Lots of old churches and old houses to see. A number of years ago, Suzy and I were visiting Beaufort by car at a time when local artists had decorated mermaids and placed them around town. Most are gone now, but we did find one still standing guard over one of the buildings.

The festival events on Saturday included a large gathering on a sandbar out in the Beaufort River. The river was clogged with boats. There was a lot of activity around Madge, because our mooring ball was the closest to the route between the open river and the day dock, where boats were constantly coming and going picking up or dropping off people. Around sundown, the activities shifted to the city’s waterfront park, where a band gave a concert. We couldn’t hear the music, but we could sure feel the heavy thumps of the pumped up bass. Fortunately, the band wrapped up before 2200 and peace and quiet were restored.

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On Sunday, we went to church with our friends, Nancy and Perry. We had been out of pocket on Sunday mornings for the last few weeks, and it felt good to get back into a bit of our old routine and have a little spiritual nourishment. Our friends are Lutheran, and the liturgy is a bit different than what we’re used to, so our old choir sight-reading skills got put to the test as we worked hard to keep up with the order of worship. The sermon was thought-provoking and there were a couple of hymns that we knew, so all in all it was a positive experience. We all had lunch afterward, but thunderstorms began moving into the area, and we had to race back to the boat to make sure we had secured all our hatches. We ended up getting a lot of wind and lightning, but not so much rain. Still, it was enough that we found a couple of leaks in some hatches that we didn’t remember having. The clouds and brief rain kept the temperatures down, and once the showers passed it was a comfortable evening for sitting out in the cockpit.

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Today was a busy day getting ready for our departure tomorrow. Nancy offered for us to do laundry at her house, and Perry volunteered to take us to the grocery store. After those chores were completed, we dismantled the dinghy and prepared to get an early start tomorrow. We have to go into the fuel dock before leaving to fill up with diesel, top off our water tank, and to have our holding tank pumped out. We will anchor out tomorrow night, then have one night in a marina just outside Charleston where we plan to visit with my old college roommate and his wife. We had a great view of the full moon rising over the river from our cockpit as we ate dinner. We will have to be wary of the tides for the next few days.

We have been in Beaufort for a week, and are getting itchy to move on. It’s been great, though, visiting our old friends from M/V Dubhe. Once again, we are reminded that the best part about cruising is meeting people. We have met some truly wonderful folks.

 

 

July 14 – Better in Beaufort

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We arrived in Beaufort, SC, on Tuesday for a long-anticipated visit with our friends from M/V Dubhe, who live near here. The trip up from Daufuskie Island was fairly quick. We transited Skull Creek behind Hilton Head Island at dead low tide, but didn’t have any trouble with the depths in the ICW. We even took it easy, not wanting to get to Beaufort too early in the day, and still made good time, arriving just before one o’clock in the afternoon. The current was behind us most of the way. The trip was not totally without incident, however. Earlier that morning, as I was going through our pre-departure checklist, I discovered a high level of water in the bilge. Normally, the first stage bilge pump would remove this water, and since I had just replaced that pump in Brunswick, finding water in the bilge was unexpected — and quite frustrating, to say the least. As soon as we got settled on a mooring ball at the Beaufort Downtown Marina, I was once again head down in the bilge trying to get the pump working. I removed the pump and put it in a bucket of water — it worked. I put it back in the bilge — it didn’t work. I tried the manual override switch. The pump sounded like the motor was running, but it was not pumping water. At least, testing the second level bilge pump was successful, so the boat wouldn’t sink. And the water seemed to be fresh water — not salt water — which meant we have a leaky water hose, rather than a leak in the hull. Finally, I gave up and decided I would tackle it again tomorrow. We packed our bags, loaded up the dinghy and headed for shore where our friend, Perry, was waiting to pick us up and take us to the air conditioned comfort of his and Nancy’s home on Hunting Island.

We learned upon our check-in at the Beaufort Downtown Marina that our visit coincided with the city’s annual Water Festival, which is a very big deal that goes on for ten days. I had originally intended that we would stay three nights, which would have us leaving on Friday morning, but since I might need to order parts for the bilge pump, I wanted to stay longer so that whatever I might have to order could be delivered here. The cost of a week is discounted to about the cost of five nights, so it would be affordable, and would have us leaving next Tuesday morning. That would give me plenty of time to get parts and install and test them. Because of the festival, though, the clerk in the marina was unsure whether we’d be allowed to stay a full week. The festival starts Friday, so our three night stay would not have interfered if the mooring balls were committed to festival goers. Staying through the weekend was a different matter. The dock master would have to answer that question, and he’d already gone home for the evening. No problem, the clerk said, I could hold off completing my registration until the next day after the dock master made the call on our length of stay. So, leaving another issue unresolved, we took our leave.

After relaxing showers on Tuesday evening, and stuffing ourselves with pizza, we slept in a soft bed in an air conditioned house for the first time in what seemed like ages, even though we’ve only been away from Saint Marys for two weeks. The heat has been nearly unbearable, and we are so sapped of energy that we don’t even feel like eating until after the sun goes down at eight-thirty, so it seems like we’ve been at this cruise for a long time already. A really long time.

Wednesday morning, Nancy and Suzy went off to get haircuts and go shopping. Perry had some commitments in town, so he dropped me off at the marina so I could learn how long we could stay, and check on Madge and try to figure out what to do. Well, the dock master wasn’t in when I arrived. He was meeting with the harbor master to discuss the festival, so I left a message with the dock assistant, fired up the dinghy and went out to check on Madge. Lo and behold, the bilge was dry — or at least as dry as it can get. Apparently, the bilge pump is working. Maybe something I did fixed it, but if so, I have no idea what it was. It always worries me when things mysteriously fix themselves, because they seem to unfix themselves again at the worst possible times. I will have to be very mindful of this new bilge pump. Then, I received a call from the dock master telling me it would be no problem for us to stay a week. Since the marina does not take reservations on mooring balls — they are first come, first served — we can stay as long as we want to. I decided to go ahead and pay for the whole week, even though now it seemed that I wouldn’t have to order any new parts. Besides, I figured it would be interesting to stay through the opening weekend of the festival and see what all the commotion was about. After paying, I walked down Bay Street from the marina to the olive oil store to replenish our supplies, then met the girls and we went home to catch up with Perry and have lunch.

We were lucky that the mooring balls do not take reservations; otherwise, they would probably have all been reserved. As I sit here now, the river is filling up for the beginning of festivities tomorrow. The marina is absolutely full. Look up the Beaufort Water Festival online if you want to see all the stuff that will be going on. It promises to be a lively time here.

Wednesday afternoon was occupied with chores around the house. I provided some minor assistance to Perry as he reassembled the large outboard motor on his center console sport fisher. It was very educational, even though the motor was much larger than the small outboard on my dinghy. When that was done, it was time for Happy Hour, and we relaxed and waited for the rack of ribs to come off the grill. We ate too much and drank too much, and fell into bed relatively early.

This morning (Thursday), Nancy fixed a big pancake breakfast and we started cleaning up and packing up to go back aboard Madge. Before leaving, though, we had a light lunch — trying to repent of our overindulgence of the night before. Perry then took us to several shops where I picked up the last of our supplies, and dropped us off at the marina. We will probably meet up again over the weekend at the festival. Back aboard Madge, the bilge pump is still behaving itself, and we stowed our gear and settled in. This afternoon, the wind picked up and the clouds moved in as thunderstorms threatened the area. Turns out we didn’t get any rain, but the wind and clouds helped drop the temperature on the boat, and it’s been fairly pleasant for the past few hours. The sun is out again, now, but hopefully it won’t get too hot before the sun goes down.

July 11 — Marsh Mellow (and melting)

Our last day in Brunswick was Friday, and it was a good day. For starters, I was able to fix both the outboard motor and the bilge pump with the new parts that arrived – so Madge is all set for the cruising ahead. We have seen no recurrence of the black stripe on the hull, so it is apparent that the engine repairs fixed the oil leak, and the bilge cleaning got enough of the residual oil out so that we are definitely not pumping anything over the side. Not only does that keep us from getting fined, but we try to be as green as possible when we sail — and most other times, too — and it just wouldn’t do to have a dirty boat.

We also got a lot of chores done during the day, thanks to the helpfulness of some of the live-aboards staying in the marina who had cars. We were able to get rides for supply runs, and also to eat out at least once in a place that actually had air conditioning. While I was working on the boat, Suzy was out gathering supplies. In preparation for our departure, I topped off our fuel tanks, as well as the jerry cans on the rail. We are now at our full complement of fuel. I got a chance to try out my new measuring stick for the diesel tank, and it seems to be marked up pretty close to the actual fuel levels in the tank. When it got too hot to do anything else, we went ashore. I headed for the showers and Suzy went to the laundry – both of which were air conditioned.

We made it to our last Happy Hour a little late, but still found all the friends we had made. We said goodbye to them all since we were leaving early Saturday morning. We traded boat cards and talked about possibilities of meeting up again later. We tried to stay inside until at least the sun went down. Even so, it was too hot to eat when we got back to the boat, so we made do with the big lunch plus the snacks at Happy Hour, and tried our best to stay cool until the temperature dropped enough for us to go to sleep.

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We left early Saturday morning heading for the Duplin River behind Sapelo Island. As it has been since we left on this cruise, our view is mostly of vast expanses of water or salt marshes, backed up by pine and oak trees. At Sapelo, it was just as hot as it was in Brunswick; however, early in the evening some thunderstorms moved through north and south of us. We didn’t get the rain, but we got the wind and the clouds, which helped a lot to knock down the temperatures. We almost had a pleasant evening. We got to see a bunch of stars, and sat out on deck for quite a while before turning in.

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Our next stop after Sapelo Island was Big Tom Creek behind Ossabaw Island. Once again, we were in a secluded area with nothing around us but the marshes. We had the breezes, but absolutely no clouds. Since the sun doesn’t set until around 8:30 pm, and it gets low enough to get under any covers on the boat by about 6:00 pm, it’s nearly impossible to stay on deck for the last two hours before the sun goes down. At eight thirty, we come out from under our damp towels and high-speed fans to quickly put together a light supper, and sit in the cool breeze until we’ve revived enough to realize how the heat has utterly sapped all our strength, and we fall into our bunks.

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Today we moved to the Cooper River behind Daufuskie Island in South Carolina. Once again, we are in a secluded spot surrounded by the marsh. On our way, we passed through Hell Gate (appropriately named for some scary shallow water), crossed the Savannah River (ships the size of city blocks have the right of way, so look out!), and had a delightful transit of Walls Cut escorted by a brace of dolphins swimming and jumping right next to the cockpit for about a mile. Unfortunately, between the glare of the water, the sun on the iPhone screen and sunglasses, all we got was a still photo of the water instead of the five minute video of some amazing close-up dolphin action. I don’t care what Steve Jobs said, you can’t read an iPhone screen in bright sunlight, and Suzy and I are both seriously peaved that we don’t have a record of these dolphins. Anyway, once again we are at anchor, waiting for the sun to drop behind the horizon so we can have a little bit of comfort before turning in.

Tomorrow we will arrive at the Downtown Marina in Beaufort, SC, where we will catch a mooring ball for a couple of days and visit our friends from M/V Dubhe, who live nearby.

 

 

July 7 – Oppressive Heat

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Since the part for our outboard would not be arriving until later on Thursday afternoon, we spent our time in the marina working on jobs that are better done with access to shore resources. The first thing I wanted to do was completely clean out the bilge. While our engine was leaking, I kept oil absorbent pads under the engine to soak up the oil, and in the bilge to catch anything that might get into the bilge. In spite of this, we still go some oil in our bilge water, which then got pumped over the side, resulting in the black stripe on the side of the boat. I had to clean and replace the pads frequently. While the engine was being worked on, I had to keep pads under it to catch oil that might escape when parts were removed. Once again, it would’ve been nice to clean the bilge and put in fresh pads while the boat was in the yard, but we needed to get underway as soon as possible if we ever hoped to escape land, so that work got put off. One necessity of cleaning up oil absorbent pads is to have a proper place to dispose of the oily waste. Current environmental rules say that you can’t dispose of used oil just anywhere. Brunswick Landing has an oily waste disposal site, so it’s a good place for me to clean the bilge. I started as early in the morning as I could, because it’s hot, dirty work. We pulled out all the old pads, swabbed out the bilge, and put in clean new pads. When we were finished, I went to turn the bilge pumps back on… and the level one pump came on but didn’t pump and wouldn’t shut off. The level one bilge pump is the one that works most often and removes water that gets in the bilge from anything other than a major hull breach. For instance, our shower drains into the bilge, then the gray water gets pumped over the side. We have a much larger bilge pump that comes on if we get a leak greater than 500 gallons per hour. The long and short of it is, we need a new bilge pump. I checked with the local West Marine, and they didn’t have one in stock, but could have one for me by tomorrow morning. Fine. We’ll stay another day in the marina, and fix the bilge pump on Friday. Our other major task was to wash down our dodger and bimini — the canvas that covers our cockpit — and polish the clear plastic windows in the dodger. We’ve had the canvas for just over six months, and it is to be cleaned about twice a year to keep down salt deposits and extend the life of the UV protection. Likewise, the clear plastic is to be cleaned and polished regularly to keep it from getting cloudy and brittle. This task requires lots of fresh water to rinse and clean the canvas and strataglass (clear plastic), so it’s good to be hooked up to the fresh water supply at the marina dock.

We completed both our tasks by about 1400, then got cleaned up and caught a ride to the other marina in town where my part was being delivered (and where I first thought we might be stopping), and to the grocery store. It had been hot all day, but we were working in a lot of water during the worst of it, so we were cooled off a bit. Then we went to the air conditioned grocery store. By the time we got back to the boat, there was no way we could get around the fact that it was over 96 degrees F in the salon. Not only that, but there was not a breath of a breeze. It was torture for Suzy to pan fry our fish for dinner. Everything else we ate was prepared and served cold — well, not cold, but at least ambient temperature. As I write this tonight, it is just after 2300 and the temperature in the salon is still 89 degrees F. The water temperature under our boat is also 89 degrees F. The water in the marina and in the East River is like glass. There is not the slightest hint of a breeze. With no wind, the mosquitoes descend on you at dusk without mercy. We are closed up in the boat waiting for them to go to bed. Hopefully we will be able to get to some area soon with at least lower water temperatures. Cooler water would help keep the boat cooler. Right now, everything is around 90 degrees F. Our wine. Our fresh water. The floors. The walls. I think the low temperature tonight is supposed to be around 80 degrees F, and tomorrow promises to be another scorcher.

Be thankful for your air conditioning.

July 6 – On to Brunswick

The Fourth of July was a nice day — no rain, which was nice, but the tradeoff was that we didn’t get any relief from the heat, either. We had temperature readings in the salon of around 89 degrees F in the mid to late afternoon. We killed time much of the day doing chores on the boat since we couldn’t go ashore, or lounging in the cockpit trying to get some relief from the heat. We grilled some really good hamburgers for dinner and waited for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to begin. While waiting, we were entertained with several amateur displays all around the waterfront. The sun didn’t set until 2030, and it didn’t really get dark until 2130. The real show started at 2130, and we had a great view from the anchorage, but it took about 30 seconds for the sounds of the explosions to reach us.

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We had originally planned to leave Cumberland Island on Tuesday morning, but since our part wouldn’t arrive in Brunswick until Thursday, there was no reason to leave early and sit at anchor in Brunswick. We spent another day doing chores on the boat, including doing some fine wet-sanding on the hull to remove the final traces of the oil stain caused by the leak in the engine. The main reason we went to so much trouble to fix the oil leak — aside from wanting the engine to work properly — was because the ugly black stripe on the side of our boat was a big red flag drawing attention to us as potential polluters. We, of course, would rather stay as inconspicuous as possible to the regulatory authorities. So, now that our oil leak was fixed, we could get rid of the stain and be fairly certain it would not return. It stayed very hot all day, reaching 93 degrees F in the salon in the afternoon. The only way we could stay in the boat was to have all our fans running flat out, but it was still uncomfortable. Finally, after dinner, we had a thundershower come through, which cooled us down a little. I stayed up reading my iPad in the cockpit until about midnight, when it was finally cool enough for me to go to bed. I don’t know how Suzy managed to go to bed earlier.

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I won’t say we got tired of Cumberland Island, but it’s a lot less interesting when you can’t go ashore, so we weighed anchor about 0800 on Wednesday morning and headed north to Brunswick. We made good time, even when we were running against the current. At one point, we reached 8 kts. The highlight of my day was when we overtook and passed a catamaran. We’ve never passed at cat before. Usually, they pass us — easily. Cats are always faster than monohulls of the same length. But with the way Madge’s engine is running these days, we’re making some really good speeds. We passed under the Sidney Lanier Bridge in Brunswick — which we call the “see-it-from-everywhere bridge” because you can see it literally from Saint Andrews Sound to Doboy Sound — and got to Brunswick Landing Marina at about 1400. I didn’t really want to stay in a marina, but it would give us an opportunity to do some work on the boat that couldn’t be done at anchor, and if I couldn’t get the outboard started there was a better possibility of getting some help. While Suzy cooled off and got some rest in the air conditioned marina lounge, I drained and refilled our fresh water tank with Brunswick water, which is a little better than what we got at the boatyard. We took showers later (wonderful!) and attended a free marina Happy Hour. There, we met the folks on the catamaran we passed earlier (some real nice Australians named John and Sue). I had a good time razzing them about passing their cat with my monohull, until they burst my bubble by telling me they were having some power plant issues.  Now here’s something amazing. I randomly fell into a conversation with a fellow at the chips and mango salsa bowl. As we talked, I learned he was a Canadian named Bruce. I started telling him of our good Canadian friends that we had met in January in Titusville, when we almost literally ran into them at the fuel dock, and Bruce already knew the story! Seems that Gerry and Marggie from Wind Song II are best friends with Bruce and Jo from Solana, and they are all from London, Ontario, had their home port at the same marina in Bayfield, Ontario, and even have the same model boats. Wind Song and Solana had met up in Vero Beach and again in Brunswick on their way north, and Gerry had told Bruce about the American couple that almost ran into them in Titusville. As our new friend Bill from Kindred Spirit III would say, “The cruising community is only as large as the waterway is wide.” You will always meet someone who knows the same people you do… so you better mind your Ps and Qs. Anyway, we had a great time, and by the time we left the Happy Hour, several hours later, the temperatures had cooled enough for it to be an almost pleasant evening.

July 3 – Not A Good Day

There was no reason to expect that Sunday was going to be a bad day. We had had a fairly cool night. It was a sunny, breezy morning. We were not going to be travelling, because we wanted to see the Saint Marys fireworks on the Fourth of July, knowing they would be visible from our anchorage at Cumberland Island. It seemed like a good day to go ashore on the island and walk around enjoying nature. First, though, I needed to change the oil in the outboard motor. I had intended to do this while Madge was in the boatyard, but we were placed very close to the boat behind us, and there wasn’t room to tilt the outboard so the old oil could drain out. When not mounted on the back of the dinghy, the outboard is attached to a mounting block on the stern rail of Madge, which is a more secure location while traveling, since we’re usually towing the dinghy behind us. In the yard, we were stern-to-stern with the boat behind us, and some equipment on the other boat hung over into the swinging space needed to tilt the outboard. Since changing the oil is not a big deal, and can be done on the water, I wasn’t concerned about not getting it done. As expected, I didn’t have any trouble changing the oil with the motor on the back rail. We then lowered the motor down onto the dinghy, loaded all of our necessary gear into the dinghy, and prepared to go ashore. The motor started on the first pull, but when I tried to turn the throttle down to idle speed, the motor stalled. This situation repeated itself several times. I could start the engine, but I couldn’t get it to stay running at idle speed. I called a friend who knows more about outboards than I do, and after we discussed the situation for awhile, he figured that the problem seemed to be with either water or foreign matter in the carbutetor. He suggested I remove and clean the carburetor, which is something I had never done with a 4-stroke engine before. So, I got on YouTube (isn’t it amazing?) and found a video of a guy removing and cleaning the carburetor of a motor like mine. It didn’t look too difficult, so I decided to give it a shot. We pulled the motor off the dinghy and put it back on the stern rail so I could work on it from the cockpit.

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I didn’t have any trouble removing or disassembling the carburetor. I was very careful taking it off the motor, because I had to lean out over the water to do so. When I opened the carburetor up, it appeared to still be very clean — the motor is not quite a year old — but I sprayed it out anyway. I didn’t have any problem putting it back together. Once again, I was very careful putting the carburetor back on the motor — but not quite careful enough. As I held the pieces of the carburetor in my left hand, and used my right hand to reattach the fuel line to the carburetor, the little insulator piece in the bottom right of the picture worked its way loose and decided to go for a swim. As I posted on Facebook, many sailor expletives ensued. I thought I was being as careful as I could be, but apparently not. I could have tied the dinghy close to the back of the boat so that if anything fell, it might fall into the dinghy instead of the water. I could have used a piece of tape to hold the insulator in place while positioning the carburetor, and then removed the tape once everything was in place. Coulda woulda. In any event, for the lack of a three dollar piece of plastic, we don’t have a functioning outboard motor. So no getting off the boat, unless I want to row. The tides around Saint Marys and Cumberland Island are in the seven to eight foot range, so the currents are severe. It’s very difficult to row against the current, so we were pretty much confined to the boat.

By the time all this had transpired, it was fairly late in the afternoon. The thunderstorms moved in and we battened down the boat. The showers lasted for less than an hour, though we had some very strong winds and some lightning not too far away from us. At least the rain helped knock the temperatures down a bit. While waiting for the last of the rains to end, I got online and ordered a replacement part. This was on Sunday, and Monday was a holiday, so the best I could hope for in getting a part was to have it ship on Tuesday for arrival on Wednesday; however, overnight shipping for the three dollar part was close to $100. I could get second day shipping for just under $30, with arrival of the part at best by Thursday. Since we were on our way north, I figured I could have the part shipped to a marina in Brunswick, and I could pick up the part there. I called a marina, and they allowed me to ship to them. I completed the order online, so my little mishap with the part cost about $30 total, for now.

After the rains moved through and the temperatures dropped, Suzy and I had wine in the cockpit, then a nice salad with grilled chicken on top for dinner. As she cleaned up the galley, I lay down on a settee in the main salon and fell fast asleep.

It had not been a very good day.

July 2 – Underway Again

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After 77 days on land, we are finally back on the water. We spent a frantic couple of days putting everything (hopefully) back on the boat that we had taken off, loading all the new provisions, and getting the final coat of paint on the bottom – but we managed to get off right on schedule this morning at the 0800 high tide. We carried our diesel mechanic, Jack, with us for a sea trial of the engine repairs, which Madge passed with flying colors. We dropped Jack off at the Saint Marys dock shortly before 0900, and made a quick sprint to the anchorage at Cumberland Island, where we’ll settle in for a few days before continuing our journey north. When I say “sprint,” I mean it. Madge is a fast boat now. Our new heat exchanger keeps the engine cool even when we’re running at 2900 rpm, and with a fresh, clean bottom and prop, she was making over 7 kts at slack tide (no current). When we later turned against the tide to head over to Cumberland, she maintained over 5 kts against a 2-2.5 kt current. Before the engine work, we could only run at about 2000 rpm, even though we made pretty good speed sometimes under those conditions; but, anything over 2000 rpm and the engine would overheat. So, we’re pretty happy to be able to run comfortably at 2500 rpm, and pick up an extra knot of speed. I wish we’d had that extra speed when we were racing against the bridges in south Florida.

We dropped the hook in hot, breezy conditions at Cumberland at around 1000. The first task was to clear the deck of all the leaves and pine straw that had accumulated after two months in the boatyard. That accomplished, we put up some awnings (tarps) to try to help keep the boat cooler. It was 88 degrees in the salon! That didn’t do much good, but with the breezes, we were able to work below, and stowed all the final items that we had thrown into the boat at the last minute. In the early afternoon, a line of thunderstorms moved through the area, with winds up to about 20 kts and some rain, but there was less lightning than we feared, so it was mainly a period of heavy rain. Fortunately, the rain helped drop the temperature a few degrees, but after the showers moved through, the wind dropped for awhile. During the calm period, we managed to inflate the dinghy and move it from the foredeck into the water, and tied it astern of the boat where it will stay floating behind Madge most of the time for the next four months.

We napped in the cockpit for a bit, and the breezes finally returned. Even so, the temperatures stayed way above the tolerable zone until well after sunset. I’m pretty sure the heat will be our biggest challenge this summer. The fridge isn’t big enough to keep filled with cold drinks, and even if it were, we could run through cases of water, sodas and beer with no way of replenishing our supplies. It’s not like we can jump in the car and zip over to the Winn Dixie whenever we feel like it. We won’t be in range of a grocery store for at least another three or four days. Fortunately, the filtration system on Madge is pretty good, and our freshwater tank is a good size, so we have plenty of lukewarm fresh water to keep us hydrated. It makes those two or three cold drinks we can have each day that much more special.

Right now, we’re trying to figure out what’s up with the fridge. It’s been running for much longer periods of time than it was before we put the boat back in the water, and I’m worried that it will drain the batteries overnight if it won’t shut off. I don’t think it’s just the heat, because it’s been hot for days now, and the fridge was running or the last week in the boatyard, and was only running about 20 minutes out of each hour. Now, it seems to be running continuously. During the day, the wind turbine (which seems to be working fine now, thank goodness) and the solar panels generate enough power to keep everything fully operational. But with the winds dying down at night, and no sun, we have nothing but the batteries to run the fridge. If I can’t get the system properly balanced, it’s going to be a long, HOT summer.