23-Dec-13: Hoping to exit Morehead City, North Carolina early in the morning with the wind shift to the north. With fair winds, Fort Lauderdale is just 5 days away to pick up our Medical Director Dr. Peter Perez.
17-Dec-13: We refitted TANDEMEER in Lewes, Delaware and one of the boaters in Anglers Marina Bob Norton gave us an almost new inflatable dinghy after seeing ours deflating - I hadn't got round to fixing the leaks in the one we had yet (it was a deflatable) - that's when we found out how generous the people are around there. The word got around, and a professor in the local marine institute donated a large Danforth second anchor.
We departed from Lewes last Thursday and just sailed over 200 miles, now getting ready to transit south of Cape Hatteras via the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) - we tried sailing it offshore but got savaged by a southerly gale and a major unforecast thunderstorm and waterspouts while attempting to get into Chesapeake Bay, 45 knots and driving rain. We were driving over 5 knots in the wrong direction on bare poles and up to 18 foot seas. Despite watching the weather forecasts closely, the wind seemed to be in our teeth every time we turned.
We spent a lot of time rebuilding failing pumps underway that I'd already fixed on shore and even the brand new high-capacity electric bilge pump I brought with me failed! Then we had a pretty serious problem during the gale with rapidly rising bilge water that we couldn't get ahead of, but after hand pumping with the old beautiful Whale Gusher hand pump (that I could kiss) we managed to pump the boat out after it had reached the bottom of the engine - when I discovered that the draining locker hose behind the galley sink that was connected to a through-hull scupper fitting had broken off, and the hose went below the waterline behind all the fixed woodwork! It took some sea carpentry to reach the problem, but solve it we did after we'd all taken turns pumping ship for hours while trying to sail the ship, pretty exhausted running 4-hour watches on the wheel. Ryan steered for over 6 hours on one heroic freezing watch while I wrestled with the machinery until we got everything under control.
The genoa roller-furling has been very fickle and gave us a hard time at one point when the gale was blowing and we found the upper furling head was freezing up and the barky over-powered, but we sorted that out too, if temporarily. I think we'll need to get a bearing rebuild kit from Hood... None of this is unusual, by the way - these kind of things happen to new boats and we expect it and were ready to deal with it. As Captain Ron said "Well if anything's going to happen it's going to happen out there."
TANDEMEER came through it all with flying colours, we now know she can handle large seas safely and we have her ship-shape if not Bristol fashion. See the photo below. You'll even see a radar pole on the transom that Sequoia Sun donated and installed, helping us with various projects over days of freezing weather.
It will take us at least two days to get to Beaufort through the ICW then we hope to have a much more comfortable coastal cruise down to Florida to pick up Dr. Peter and do the rounds of hospitals getting expiring medical supplies agreements in place.
More when we reach Florida!