Friday, April 12, 2019

Isle of Hope to Beaufort

Another state down as we're officially in South Carolina now. Also, we bump up the anchor stat by one. Technically we're moored, but I say that counts.

Nights anchored: 5

Before we got out of bed this morning we heard rain. We knew this day would be questionable. By the time we walked the dogs, however, the sun was shining and the wind was calm. Various weather apps and info told us that rain was likely, thunderstorms possible, but as the day went on the weather would improve. We decided go!

First we pumped out, which meant leaving our dock only to get on another dock in the marina. A little tricky, but done without incident. Then we backed out, spun around and headed north. We didn't get two miles when we were met with a steady rain.

One of several rain squalls. At least it was warm.
Meanwhile, we dealt with some technical issues. Our new navigation system kept crashing every time Russ tried to plug in a course for Beaufort. Finally he deleted all the previous data, and tried again. With success. That particular system isn't key, per se, since we have three other systems (all with course plots) as back ups. We're big on redundancy. However, that is the only system that allows us to navigate with the auto-pilot. Not crucial, we can steer the boat the old fashioned way (and did while we resolved the problem), but when there are strong currents or winds, the auto-pilot does a much better job of keeping the boat on a straight course, while I tend to zig and zag from being pushed about.

Townhomes on Hilton Head
Once plotted and on auto-pilot, the next two rain squalls were trivial.

Auto-pilot (on our boat, anyway) isn't a "set it and forget it" kind of technology. When you plot a course there are waypoints, that is, points along the way that to boat needs to change course. Given how snaky the ICW is, there can be many in a small distance as the waterways twists and turns. Once you set the auto-pilot, it beeps at every waypoint demanding that you push a button to accept the change of course. So we can't just say "Go to the Bahamas" and go below and take a nap. We have to be present on the bridge the entire time. (Fun note: The auto-pilot only manages the course, not the speed. And if we fail to push the button -- you guessed it -- it maintains a straight line at that speed. So, we're doubly motivated to be on the bridge.)

Parris Island.
The water tower says "We Make Marines"
The biggest risk of the day would be crossing the Port Royal Sound, just beyond Hilton Head. It's a wide open inlet, about two miles across. We'd been warned if the wind is from the east (NE, E, or SE) it can be rough. Today it was SSE. Cautiously, we approached, checking it's activity with binoculars, with a clear understanding that we might just turn around and stay overnight near Hilton Head. Once we got on it, it was swelly, but not choppy. I took the opportunity to open up our Yanmar engines and blaze across as quickly as possible. We got up over 12 knots -- woo hoo! 

Once done we only had to find a mooring ball in Beaufort. Since we'd never moored before I assumed it would be easier than anchoring. I figured wrong. Mainly since the winds (which were supposed to be calmer now, but were reaching speeds of 18 mph) made moving the boat around difficult. I had to keep the boat in a position while Russ grabbed the mooring ball and attached our bridle to it. That was way too long, and we worried we'd hit another boat during a tide swing. So I moved the boat forward while Russ wrapped the bridle lines on t-heads to shorten it. After a while it became apparent even that wasn't ideal. Lastly, he took a line, fastened it to one bow cleat, ran it through the moor, and attached it to another cleat. That worked well.

Cute downtown Beaufort
And just when that was accomplished, of course, the winds died down.

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