Beaufort Bound

Lily pads, Savannah’s Park, Ft. Pierce

Hard to believe, but its true.  Tivoli is actually on the move.  Yes, after 6 months in Florida we are finally underway again; bound for the Canadian Maritimes.  Our explorations of the south coast of Newfoundland last year instilled in us a desire to return and so we will.  The winter spent in Florida has allowed us to fine-tune Tivoli to an extent we could not imagine when we bought her in 2011.  I have to say one of the many rewards of the cruising lifestyle is the satisfaction that comes with dialing in ones vessel; getting to a point where one gets to work on the nice to have features versus the must do tasks.  We have a 3-page listing of such projects, large and small, completed in the past its time to go and enjoy.

We depart Ft. Pierce at 7 AM with our good friends Clark and Michelle Haley on N47 Roam bound for Beaufort, NC; 550 nautical miles via our coastal route.  Weather suggests hugging the coast for better seas and winds so we rarely venture more than 30 miles out.  We would have much preferred to run out to the Gulf Stream and take advantage of its 5 knot northward push but the good speed would have not been worth the rough ride.  

We soon settle into our 3-hour watch schedule and again grow accustomed to the noises and motion of an offshore run.  Tivoli hums along nicely and all is well.  We pass Cape Canaveral by midnight and reach the St. Johns inlet at Jacksonville by morning.  Surprisingly, we experience very little traffic; we anticipated a healthy stream of northbound snowbirds leaving the hurricane zone by the typical June 1 insurance deadline.  I guess we are behind the crowd.  We also see little commercial traffic.  The miles pass.  We are treated to a spectacular orange sunset followed by an orange full moon rising to the east.  A beautiful night to be underway.

Time itself behaves strangely while cruising.  At times, incongruously, the slow speeds seem to speed up everything.  An hour seems to pass in minutes, a day passes in hours.  Watch changes and engine room checks every three hours soon seem to occur in minutes. At other times, the slow speeds are excruciatingly slow.  For example, when watching the radar at 8 nm range one is, in effect, seeing an hour into the future at our boat speed.  The hour it takes for a target to become close seems like forever.

Im on my 9-12 PM watch when Deanna phones from the master stateroom that the AC has gone off.  Sure enough, I glance at the panel and see the 240V section is dark and the generator has shut off.  Its a bit embarrassing that I did not notice this turn of events the instant it happened but there are no audible or visual alarms of such a circumstance aboard Tivoli.  Im sure there is an expensive Maretron box that would provide the appropriate sensors and warning but I have something much better; my lovely bride.  One might say Deanna has an acute need for a breeze; fully awake or sound asleep.  Nothing short of a full gale seems to do.  Further, she has a sixth sense that can detect minute changes in wind speed; I would estimate she is accurate to a tenth of a knot; or better.  This skill may be akin to the blind person developing a compensatory keen sense of smell.  I wonder to myself if Deanna is blind and Ive failed to notice?  Its possible.  

Anyway, I race down to the 95-degree engine room to see whats up.  The generator panel is dark; most likely an electrical problem I would guess.  I check the water pump belt; its OK.  The impeller is new and should be good.  Fuel supply looks fine.  On to the electrical system.  I hail Clark on the VHF for his learned opinion.  Clark was weaned on boating and always has great insights.  He suggests I start at the battery and work my way through the system.  I dig out my trusty multimeter and check the start battery; its fully charged.  I find the genset electrical schematic and see my next stop is a 15 Amp DC fuse.  It doesnt appear that the fuse has blown.  I remove the enclosure cover and then the cover to the electrical box mounted on top of the generator.  I see immediately that a push-on connector has vibrated off the fuseeureka!  I disconnect the battery and replace the fuse with a spare for good measure, reconnect the battery and start the engine.  All seems good.  Back in business.  Note to self: set aside an Electrical Connection Day to go through all electrical systems and check connections; particularly the push-on spade type.

While dealing with the genset/AC problem we still need to run the boat and monitor the weather.  If weather deteriorates we have several bailout points along the track.  We pass Brunswick, Savannah, Hilton Head, etc. without further issues.  We reach Charleston about an hour before sunrise.  Still dark, I see a dozen or more AIS targets on the chart and radar.  Charleston is always busy but this seems out of the ordinary.    It turns out a dredging operation is underway in the Charleston ship channel and the place is filled with dredges, support boats, pilot boats, ships coming and going, fishing boats, sport fish boats, etc.  We altered course to provide ample clearance and made our way uneventfully across the channel, glad to be past and back into the quiet of the open ocean.

The third night out weather becomes a concern.  Impressive thunderheads are to the west and the lightning show is nonstop for an hour or more.  We didnt anticipate any severe conditions but I like to check all sources of info so I turned on the Sirius/XM weather overlay on one of our chartplotters.  The storms to the west are 80 miles away yet still impressive.  As the night progressed they moved closer.  I turned on the XM wave and wind data and was shocked to find winds predicted to hit 30 knots, heavy seas, and the storms moving east across our path.  I couldnt quite believe it so I tuned into NOAA weather radio on the VHF.  The prediction for the evening was benign; 2-3 foot seas, winds in the 10-20 knot range.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  The NOAA prediction proved correct.  This isnt the first time Ive seen major differences in XM weather from other sources.  Might have to cancel my subscription.

By morning on day 3 we are 20 miles out from our destination.  The entire journey has been in great conditions; couldnt ask for more.  We arrive at Homer Smiths Marina in Beaufort, NC and enjoy walks into town past quaint homes, shady lawns, views of the sea, and cheap burgers and beer at the Royal James Cafe.  Its great to be moving again and exploring new places!

Baby alligator, Savannah Park, Ft. Pierce

Limpet, Savannah Park, Ft. Pierce

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