July 27, 2016

Next Move. Forward.

My house is sold.
The boat is my home.
The stars are my ceiling.
The sea is my highway.
I live outside now.

This feels like Christmas!
5 parcels of new boat goodies awaited me as I returned to a freshly waxed Glory Days near the Cape Fear River inlet of North Carolina.    
Just two days to prep, and then it's "giddy up girl!"

The 60 minute flight from Atlanta to Wilmington, NC brought me back home to my boat in St. James Marina.  For this leg of the journey I'll be cruising solo for the next 2-3 weeks as I slowly make my way north to the cruising grounds of the Chesapeake Bay.

This is an odd marina here because it is part of a huge planned community that just happens to have a marina. It's very clean and modern and all gated but it's a thousand miles to any grocery store and seems somewhat isolated.  Thankfully, they have a small store that sells the basic essential fluids and a pretty good restaurant called Tommy's.  Definitely a senior community so I guess I just blend in.

There's not a lot of "old town charm" here like previous stops, but still, it has been a reasonably priced marina to park her for 3 weeks while I was away closing on my Georgia home.  

From here, it's only 27 miles up the Cape Fear River to Wrightsville Beach which will be my next stop before entering the Atlantic in a matter of days.  I look forward to the sites of North Carolina as I move towards the Virginia border but not before passing through the 
Outer Banks.  Oh. my. 
It's good to be back to the days and ways I've come to love. People ask what I do all day.  But honestly, there's  never a dull moment in my little boat world because there are tons of never ending boat projects, cleaning, prepping, fixing, planning, and organizing.  

I've been here 3 days now and have not had a chance to pick up my new carbon fiber Rainsong guitar.  There is just too much to do in order to set sail soon and I am too stoked to slow down. The Rainsong will be there.

 My first carbon fiber guitar.  No wood in the construction anywhere.  Built to withstand extremes in temperature and temperaments in the owners' moods.  Muse not included.

These summer days of North Carolina have been filled with intense heat but I like it. I face a grueling engine maintenance routine I have come to enjoy even tho I cuss at it.  Sometimes I like to think I'm kicking the engine's ass with all this preventative maintenance so she won't let me down. Actually it's more like I'm pampering and coddling her so she will keep on keeping on what she does best... getting me there safely.

A long list was checked off.  New oil, new fluid in the tranny, new belts, new hoses, all 4 batteries serviced, interior fans installed, new USB ports installed, stove repair, and topsides scrubbed.  Sometimes I'll spend 30 minutes or so just fiddling through one of three little tubs searching for the perfect size screw to mount something like the new low voltage fans, etc.  Or maybe another 15 minutes trying to fish out a washer or a bolt I dropped into a deep crevice. Space is tight, so quite often it requires some creative contortionist yoga moves to retrieve.

It's all part of the cruising zen.  Constantly getting her ready for the next round, the next passage or the next port.  Sometimes I get a little anal with the details ensuring all the elements are in perfect place so I can maximize the travel experience, arrive safely, while seeking the perfect next anchorage.   Plus there's a unique satisfaction in knowing you figured it out yourself and you are the only one responsible. 

And who woulda thunk it... the fuel line for the propane stove decided to die today right after my first cup of coffee. So that took another hour or two trouble shooting, researching Youtube, and finally deciding to bypass the solenoid valve until I can locate the parts  needed.  It'll be fine, I just have to remember to manually turn on/off the gas valve except during cooking.  Adapt. 

And did I tell you I bought new dock lines too?  And did I say I finally spent the $$$ for not one, but two, PLBs (personal locater beacons) to attach to life jackets for the Capt. and First Mate.  I hope I never have to use them.  It's better to be safe than a sorry man overboard in the night when nobody knows you're out there.  Not good.

When activated, the PLB sends out an emergency mayday signal with your GPS coordinates to the U.S. Coast Guard. Hopefully they will come and save your ass before you expire.  Here's a pic of the device I hope I never have to use.

I'm thrilled with all the new upgrades and relish the joy of knowing I have completed almost every single detail to ensure a safe and comfortable trip for me and my crew if I had one this round. 

I'm a gear geek and I just enjoy the whole learning process of high tech sailing blended with old school values. Suddenly small luxuries like a cool shower on a hot day or fish tacos with my laptop on the marina deck are simply "out of this world fine." I haven't slowed down since 5 a.m. this morning.

It will be good to leave here tomorrow.  It was a nice stop for parking Glory Days, and I enjoyed a few days here in this artificial planned community for transients like me.

Next stop will be short  6 mile jaunt to Southport in the morning. I hear it's a coastal town worth lingering in for a day or so.  Then I'll move 25 miles north to the Marlsboro Inlet near Wrightsville Beach on Friday.  At that point, I'll be staged to tackle a night sail across 70 miles of open Atlantic Ocean to Beaufort, North Carolina come Saturday, weather and God permitting of course.  
I am pumped. 

Some Parting Thoughts...
Oh the joy of new dock lines.  
They will never be this white again. 
 Essential reading.
 More essential reading.

Nestled beneath the steps of the companionway is my dear little Yanmar 16 HP diesel (model 2GM-20F.)  She's been such a dependable sweet engine for the past three years. No complaints whatsoever.   I stay on top of her tho.

  Suddenly I became an accidental student in propane technology today in order to get the 2 burner stove back up and working.

Well that's it for now!

I still need to post the pics and stories from last month's sailing from Charleston with my buddy Jay Scholfield. It's in the works.

l'll backtrack and post those pics and tales later! 
Gotta go !

Onward to The Chesapeake Bay!!!!!