Blackthorn stayed in Portsmouth through December into the New Year as we kept Hannah company, drove Mick to his various medical appointments and sorted some problems of our own. As ever we were so well looked after by Cary and Linda. Also by Shirley and Sandy, particularly for lending us their truck.
The abnormally cold winter continued and we were snowed on over Christmas.
When we finally set off in early January heading down the Intracoastal Waterway, passing mile marker Zero at Norfolk, it was very chilly.
|Seeing us off the premises|
The first stretch of 12 miles has 4 bridges that have to open so it takes time and cooperation as they only open at certain times. We made it with only one bridge altercation and spent the first night on a free dock at the head of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. That night, there was a hard frost and the waterway had a solid sheet of ice over it. We had to wait for a tug to break it up before we could get moving. There was ice for the next three days although less thick.
We had a calm crossing of Albemarle Sound and kept moving as fast as we could, around 40-50 miles a day. We anchored off the waterway and in one creek anchored next to Night Cloud (Patrick& Megan), who had just set off from Annapolis on a long but delayed cruise south. Both boats set off for Oriental and sailed across Pamlico Sound on a sparkling day. We were too slow to get to Oriental in one day and came in next morning (mile 180) as the snow started to fall. We put on glasses so we could at least see ahead and entered the very shallow Whittaker Creek next to Oriental with snow on the deck.
In Oriental we were able to spend time with Patrick Megan as well as meeting Bill and Lara on Sunrise. Sunrise was in the same yard as Blackthorn having repairs to her hull following a grounding in Oregon Sound, a hairy story (http://www.sailblogs.com/member/beherenowii/).
Another reason to come out of the water was to check the propeller and shaft which had become very noisy. The shaft turned out to be bent and the folding propeller possibly twisted. We fitted the original prop, had the shaft straightened and relaunched to commission the engine with the help of the yard’s expert Darryl. He encouraged us to run the engine as hard as we could and we were amazed when we got over 7 knots motoring, just what we needed with so much motoring ahead of us.
Next stop was Beaufort then off again with snow forecast for later in the day. By eleven it was snowing hard so we stopped at Swansboro. By the next morning, there was six inches on deck. Three lots of snow so far this winter, three too many.
We decided to stop at Wrightsville to wait for Hannah who were by now hurrying south to meet friends in Florida. They turned up after some serious adventures (http://gafferhannah.blogspot.com/) and both boats continued on to Southport, NC, a very neat anchorage. We were rafting up to Hannah, selfishly cutting down our anchoring.
A good forecast allowed us to cover 140 miles offshore to Charleston, a reasonable passage but a bit bumpy towards the end with a strong adverse current coming in to Charleston Harbour. Blackthorn and Hannah anchored in Wappoo Creek on the waterway while all hands tried to fix Hannah’s Taylors kerosene cooker. This had been playing up for a while as they always do and finally after several transplants, coffee was brewing again.
|Taylors addicts find no relief|
The time had come for a parting of the ways. We had decided to go to a yard in Georgia to leave Blackthorn for the summer and visit Charleston and Savannah on the way down. Hannah were still pressing on south so with heavy hearts, not knowing when we see each other again, we left them in Wappoo Creek. We have had an amazing three years cruising together.