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Mile Zero

October 25, 2013

by Greg

Marking the anchor chain

We have finally "left".  We left our house some time ago (and left mentally some time before that), but we finally left the dock in Deale, Maryland.  There were many small and medium things to do on the boat before we left, and some big things. Examples of small things are marking the depth on the anchor chain. Examples of medium things are making the autopilot work, fixing the instruments at the top of the
520# of ballast
mast that measure wind speed and direction, and fixing the manual bilge pump (for when taking on water while having no power), and having sails repaired. An example of a big thing is that the boat had a diesel generator to recharge batteries. This seized. Meaning it changed from a combusting, rotating, electricity-generating motor into an inert 520 pound chunk of deadweight iron.

Sometimes you just have to
stick your head in an engine

But small and large  problems aside, the truth is that days pass magically fast living on a boat, even at the dock. There are of course day sails and weekend cruises.  But beyond that there are plenty of interesting  people to talk with, people who actually have time to talk. And there are plenty of interesting projects to occupy time. And on boats, at least on older ones, any given project will cause you to discover another important project that you should do first or at the same time,  and then this again and sometimes again, so you end up with three or four projects going on at once.  And if you're living on the boat, you're constantly stepping through, climbing around, and eating with these projects until you can't stand it, and you put away all the parts and tools and start over some other day with none of projects completed.

The to-do list on a cruising boat is endless, but eventually one must tear up the list and go. We left with
many things undone.  (The deadweight generator is still with us and working fine as ballast.)  We are now at Mile 0 of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), which is in Norfolk. (Mile 0 is a cool concept, and our kids have seen the museum there by land, so we wanted to connect them to it by sea.) 

We had an interesting run down the bay to get here.  We had winds on the quarter one day that had us surfing down waves at 8.2 knots (faster than our hull speed).  We had winds exceeding 30 knots one night in a small anchorage in Solomons Island.  I was up for several hours, making sure we didn't drag our anchor (and hit the shore or another anchored boat), and I watched two other boats around us drag past.

We spent a couple nights in the southeastern bay at Tangier Island, an island remote enough that the residents still speak a brogue that is close to what was spoken in 17th century England. They are mostly watermen, and a hearty, self-reliant breed they are, making several trips out per day to check crab traps regardless of whatever nasty weather is blowing, and repairing their own boats, gear and houses.  As for the island's physical appearance, I have never seen anything like it outside of a movie or video game. The streets and houses currently in use on solid land are mostly pretty well-kept,  but all over the waterways through the island are abandoned houses and fishing shacks, dilapidated docks, and sunken boats.  There is an entire portion of the island (Uppards) that's been abandoned due to rising water. The island has a forlorn feel to it, and this underscores the toughness of those who live there. It has a very closed-in feel - this is a very small island - but also a serenity that is very appealing. (More Tangier pictures below).

Breakfast going down the ICW in '98, "Chuck" steering
From here, our first offshore goal is the Bahamas, so of course we are heading south.  We are taking the Intracoastal Waterway at least as far as Beaufort, North Carolina.  This is to avoid a trip "outside" around Cape Hatteras, which is is not only long, but carries a lot of weather risk.  In Beaufort, we'll tackle more of "the list" and then possibly jump offshore straight to the Bahamas.  However, the ICW is quite enjoyable down to St. Augustine, and includes places like Charleston, Savannah and numerous small charming towns, so it's possible we'll take that route down and then east to the Bahamas. 

More Tangier Island Pictures:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Greg and crew. Reading this post tonight, 10/30. Hope Southing progresses. If you end up in Charleston, remember that our friends from Northeast Harbor live there. Tom & Linda

x said...

Thanks Guys. I had forgotten their southern location.

Southing has taken a little northeastern detour, but all is under control. Cash is writing a post about it so I won't steal his thunder here. Hope things are going well.