These last few days since we left Beaufort have not been what we had in mind when we thought of sailing south.  Nicole, the tropical storm has hung on until about the 11th with high winds and seas. We decided to leave the safety of Beaufort and our friends from NS, Gilles and Annik as well as our super ” transatlanticers ” Jean Luc and Janice who decided to wait for better weather before leaving. 



David and I talked about it and decided the winds were not too bad especially if we stayed inside the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway). We knew the seas were too high and not only is it less safe but it’s too uncomfortable with a north wind on our backs and rollers coming from the east.  Neither of us is prone to sea sickness but everyone can get sick if the conditions are just right. We didn’t want to risk it especially with only 2 of us available for watches. 

The canal though, south of Beaufort NC is really narrow and full of shoals. We had to keep our eyes glued to Aqua Map , an excellent Italian chart app that allows input from different sources to identify dangers and shoaling and depths. We also had to watch the buoys and navigation aids as sometimes the charts were not updated . Navionics is wrong a lot so we just use it for creating a route but you can’t follow it as it would take you to the ground. The depths on Navionics are completely wrong as well . 

We passed several boats on shoals reminding us how easy it is to get stuck. One of the sailboats we had passed a few times got stuck in a shoal waiting for a bridge that was in a narrow spot with shoaling, current and wind pushing you to the shoals.  It can be really stressful as you try and avoid hitting other boats who are also waiting for the bridge to open. Boat US was there trying to pull them off but it was a large sailboat and the wind was pushing them onto the shoal.  I felt so bad for the couple and hoped they were able to get off the shoal without damage. 


Boats on shoals..YIKES

Wild spanish ponies on Carrot Island


We anchored at Mile Hammock anchorage , a safe spot with several other boats and discovered our alternator was not charging the batteries.  The alternator for some reason broke a little piece that connected it to the batteries (we have 6 AGM batteries ) David installed the extra alternator we carried but the batteries had been drained and we needed to charge them. Another Canadian couple in a catamaran called Minaki lent us their generator and gas and we charged the batteries! Ken and Lisa are from Alberta! I have learned that the sailing takes care of its own. They refused any payment but allowed us to treat them to some of David’s homemade cappicolo and some spanish olives and wine. 

The next day, we were able to motor to Tina’s Pocket anchorage in Cape Fear. Boy, this place was open to the elements. We bounced around all night.  I’m sure Minaki, beside us had an even bouncier night being a catamaran. The wind was howling but the anchor was stuck in thick mud.  Neither of us slept well. Cape Fear lived up to its name. With the wind and the depth changes from the wide inlet to the open ocean plus the tide it becomes like a washing machine. David and I decided to put on our life jackets and strap on the jack lines just to pull up the anchor! The wind howled at 30kms plus and the waves were bouncing in every direction. 


Tina’s Pocket anchorage in Cape Fear. Calm when we anchored but it turned nasty overnight.

The act of pulling up the anchor was too much for our replacement alternator and it started smoking. Let me say, we were extremely disappointed and beaten.  David though, never a quitter, was able to disengage the alternator from the batteries and we were able to motor 35nm to a marina that had room for us. Many marinas are full at this time so it was a challenge to find one on the way. We landed in the safe hands of Ocean Isle Marina at Ocean Isle Beach NC. 


David is truly amazing. He can fix anything, anywhere.

I can’t say enough about this marina. They are so kind and gave us the outside dock which was long and easy to access. They also helped us get the parts we needed. We were kind of in a slump after the latest breakdown and just needed to lick our wounds.  Well , that night, David made arrangements with Doug our engine mechanic from Kingston to ship us a new alternator and all the parts needed to install it. After that was arranged, I treated David to a Mexican restaurant just a couple of miles walk.  We both were tired after not sleeping at the Cape Fear anchorage and the scary motor to the ICW through the Cape Fear inlet.  So, after a huge feed of  mexican tamales and quesadillas and pina colada and beer, we walked home and slept like logs. 


Safe and docked at an amazing marina. Ocean Isle Marina
A rare night out! David ordered a tall beer but didn’t expect that tall! Authentic mexican food YUM!

Today, we waited for our alternator to arrive from Kingston. David also filled up on diesel, propane and we filled our water tanks in preparation for a long off shore sail.  I tried to bake biscoties but failed miserably as I’m not a baker and I’m trying to bake on cast iron pots and modifying the recipe so it is quasi paleo.. Needless to say, I can barely eat the brownie/paleo/biscotties but we don’t have much choice so I’m sure they will taste ok in a pinch. Our parts arrived at 5, too late for installing in the dusk. We decided to go for a walk and then David would study the alternator instructional manuals and I would update the blog.

Yesterday we went shopping for provisions in the rain. We use a trolley and suitcase strapped. We covered it with a bag to keep it dry.

Sailing (motoring mostly so far) has been a truly humbling experience for me. I never appreciated the security of your city and family and friends:  knowing that should something break down, or your bank card gets frozen (security settings on bank accounts are set off when you use different networks for banking access) you are a call away from relief. Not so much here. 

For the last month and a half, we’ve been travelling in a 37 ft boat, about 220 square feet of living space, through remote places I never knew existed. We are off-grid , with no hot water (unless we boil it) and no plumbing other than foot and hand pumped water.  I can’t control the weather, and I certainly can’t control the fact that we have had several breakdowns which I expected due to the fact we never had a shake down of TC due to the lateness in the season. 

These experiences are changing me. I thought I was done with learning lessons, at 57.  How silly. I am completely at the mercy of the weather and this boat. I can yearn and pray for good weather or that we don’t break down but when the bad storms (that never leave, like Nicole) hit and the shaft or gear shift or alternator break, I am reminded of my powerlessness.  This is extremely frustrating for me, as controlling circumstances is “my specialty”, but it is teaching me to let go.  For my faith friends, they know this lesson:  Let go and let God.  But in reality, few of us really let go. I’m working on being content no matter the circumstances. 

Today, tied up to the marina dock, the alternator taken apart and not knowing whether we can fix it and sail off tomorrow, I decided to bake paleo brownies on a cast iron pot and watch a movie. Letting go –  Maybe there’s hope for me yet . I’m still learning. 


I used a small cast iron upside down over the gas heat and then another one on top to diffuse the heat and create my “oven”. The biscuits need work but I’m getting the hang of “baking”


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