Friday, January 18, 2019

Live Firing

I am in Southport, North Carolina, the end of the current voyage. You can see the boat out at the end of the dock in a live feed here. My crew Paul Hamilton and Jim Trolinger headed home today.

Maintaining the strange Krispy Kreme hat
tradition started with my son in the Bahamas.
They have been great company and terrific contributors. Paul fixed the satellite TV and both helped figuring out several other items. Jim was chief cook while Paul was bottle washer. Both were excellent deckhands and we took turns on one-hour shifts at the helm every day. Since Paul is president of our POA and Jim of our club, I had an opportunity to tell them both how they need to run things. I think a good time was had by all, and these two will be gladly welcomed back if they want to help out on another trip. I will stay until tomorrow morning to get some work lined up with the Zimmerman Marine office here. 

This has been a "shakedown cruise" for the new boat. All went well, but we did have a few delays and heart-stopping moments. We found this stretch of waterway to have numerous areas where the depth in the center of the marked channel is too shallow to transit. We would watch the depth finder and slow to a crawl when it became 10 feet or less in our 6-foot draft boat. We softly ran aground three times over the last several days, but in each case we were able to back up and feel our way through.

Tuesday evening was spent at a boatyard near Morehead City where my trusty crew managed to put together various fittings so that we could empty sewage at the marina here that still has its pump out system up and running in the winter. We had about 100 statute miles to cover Wednesday and Thursday to get here, and we planned to cover about 2/3 of that distance on Wednesday to have a short day yesterday. I admit I am out of the habit of checking Notices to Mariners, so we were somewhat shocked at 1:00 pm when we came to an area of the  Intracoastal Waterway that was closed due to live firing exercises at Camp Lejeune, NC.
Checking by radio we found that the entire waterway and an area 15 miles out to sea was closed for the next three hours until 4 pm. There was nothing to do but drop an anchor and wait. Following the delay, we made it to Alligator River Marina, requiring us to travel 65 statute miles yesterday to reach our destination. We arrived here at around 3:30 pm.

I would have to say the strangest incident was when we were maneuvering waiting for the Wrightsville Beach bridge opening and the stern thruster stuck in the on condition, moving our stern to port and spinning us around in the narrow channel. Paul Hamilton was at the helm and remained calm and cool in the unexpected situation. I grabbed the stern thruster joy stick to wiggle it back and forth, and found we could stop it from moving us if the stick was held in the starboard position. The thruster circuit breaker did not turn off the problem but made it impossible to stop ourselves by holding the control, so it needed to remain turned on. Ultimately, we found a big red emergency shutoff button for the stern thruster that stopped the problem until we can get it fixed. I have no idea where the bow thruster shutoff is located, but you can bet I will locate it before casting off again.

So all in, it was a successful shakedown trip, and great fun with two good friends. My crew departed at 8:30 this morning, looking as scraggly as they did upon their arrival in Norfolk in sub-freezing temperatures. Thanks for the help guys, and safe travels.
The Division Belle crew is granted shore leave

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