Archive for June, 2011

Voyage PostScript

June 29, 2011
Oriental NC, June 29.  One of the odd things about a blog is that a Post Script comes before the actual report, so if you haven’t read about the voyage from St. Thomas, USVI, to Morehead City, NC scroll down and read it first.
We have been in Oriental for over a week now, and I have finally started to work on the boat.  One of the things that puzzles me is that the autopilot has a lot more wires coming out the back than I can account for.  I got to looking around to see where they go.  I checked the compass and found two sets of wires coming out of the bottom, which didn’t seem right.  One set of wires went off through the bilge and the other set terminated in a plug that looked similar to the ones used on the old Signet instruments that the previous owner removed from the boat.
I looked at the installation instructions in the manual and found two steps for the compass.  The first step is to connect the cable from the compass electronic unit to the main control unit.  The second step is to connect the other wires to the compass.
Connect them to the compass??  I thought this box was the compass.  It turns out that it is an electronic control for the compass.  I pulled up the floor boards and lo and behold, there was a box that looked like a compass, but had no wires attached to it.  The loose plug  hung over the compass.

The plug (right) should be plugged into the center of the compass (black thing with silver ring on left)

 On closer inspection I found that the ring on the plug used to secure the connection was pretty well worn.  Also, the wire clips to secure the compass wire were not connected to the wire.  I have connected the plug to the into the compass and tied down the wire with the clips.  I’m not celebrating yet, but this would explain why the autopilot failed.

This is the way the plug should look for the autopilot to work

 Next:  Life in Oriental



June 27, 2011


June 11, 10:55 AM .  My brother Dave and I took the dink to shore, put Jackie in a taxi to the airport, made a quick stop at the store, and headed back to the boat.  We stowed the dinghy on deck, raised anchor, and motored out of Honeymoon Bay.  Jackie’s flight left about the same time and she could look down and see us as we motored out.

We started out with light breezes and motorsailed around the west end of St. Thomas.  We tacked to starboard and pointed Little Rosie at Morehead City, NC., some 1200 miles away.  The trip was to have moderate to light winds most of the way, so we tried to sail as much as we could.  We took down the working jib and hoisted the bigger jib.   It turned out that we were able to sail much more than we expected. 

Most of the trip was uneventful.  We had calm seas, so we could make good headway in light air.  We had one day early on where some squalls passed by.  We got hit with one, but it was mild.  It passed through quickly enough that we barely got the main reefed before it was gone.  Usually the daily excitement was just seeing a commercial vessel. 

We saw an average of one commercial ship each day.


Dave and I set up an odd watch schedule.  About 8pm I would take a nap.  Dave would wake me up at 10 and he would take a nap.  He went back on watch at midnight and I relieved him at 3am.  He would wake up between 6 and 7 and take over while I contacted our weather router,  Chris Parker, to update our position and get our strategy for the next few days.  The rest of the time we hung out in the cockpit so if one guy wanted to take a nap he just said so and went below.  It was pretty relaxed and worked well for us.


About halfway through the trip three tropic birds started flying around the boat.  They flew up our wake and acted like they wanted to land on the boat.  I took the flag down for a while to see if it was scaring them off, but they never actually landed.   They stayed with us for about three days and then flew away.

One of the three tropic birds that followed us. They often looked like they wanted to land on the boat.

June 13.  We gybe and are now on port tack, where we will remain for the rest of the trip.

June 15.  We have been carrying two five-gallon cans of fuel on the back deck and we have now run the engine enough that we can empty them into the starboard tank.  I stow the empty cans in their normal place in the engine room.

June 16. 5:45 am.  We are motorsailing and the engine stops.  We are using the smaller of the two fuel filters and it is clogged.  I’m a little suspicious of the fuel in the tank, so I clean the filter, switch to the larger filter, and switch to the port fuel tank.  Hopefully we will not need the fuel left in the starboard tank.

Dave checks the AIS to make sure the cruise ship is not a mirage.

June 18.  I contact Chris during the usual weather net and get our update for the rest of the trip.  We have been in contact with him daily, but the forecast wiggles a little as you get closer to the actual time.  He has been predicting squalls and he talks about winds in the 50-60 knot range.  You can imagine that we are a bit concerned.  We have switched back down to the small jib and put extra lashings on some things stowed on deck, so the boat is ready.  The forecast sounds more ominous than yesterday, but it may just be that it is much closer now to being reality.

Dave and I talk over the notes we made and we are not happy.  Tomorrow is the big weather day and we won’t be able to get any last minute info because Chris takes sunday off.  Chris broadcasts 6 nets each morning and there is one a little later on another frequency we can hear him on.  He gives the forecast, calls for vessels underway, and sounds a bit surprised when we hail him.  We go over our options.  I wonder if we can miss some of the weather if we go a little more west than we have been and then turn north.  He tells us that we can probably miss the storms during the day on Sunday, but we won’t be able to avoid the storms Sunday night.  The wind is due to keep backing to the southwest, so this strategy will provide a better wind angle later in the trip. 

Later in the day we hear urgent marine weather forecasts about thunderstorms coming off the coast of the Carolinas, but they are probably too far away to reach us.

Somewhere in here we hit the Gulf Stream and Rosie kicks up her heels.  Between the rising wind and the push from the Gulf Stream we see up to 10kts over the ground.

June 19, 1:15pm.  The autopilot fails.  This means that someone must steer the boat at all times.  I spend quite a bit of time trying to troubleshoot the unit, but to no avail.  Dave and I go on a 2 hours on, 2 hours off watch schedule.  It looks like we will go into the stretch of strongest wind and biggest waves without the extra rest we planned on getting.  We decide to stop fishing.

We saw no squalls during the day, sunday, so Chris’s advice was good, but sunday night the person off watch slept in the cockpit so the person on watch would be able to wake him if needed.

Okay, so we didn't see a green flash, but....

Monday Morning.  The sun rises.  We make it through the night without seeing a sign of a squall.  I talk to Chris and it turns out that the coverage was much less than it looked like it would be when he broadcast on saturday morning.

Dave hand steers the boat.

About 15 miles out of Morehead City the wind drops and swings to the north as predicted.  But unexpectedly it picks up into the high teens and we motor into it the rest of the way.  We enter the Beaufort Cut in the dark and motor through the Morehead City turning basin.  There is a large, open area just beyond it, but most is shallow water.  Our chart shows an area out of the channel with a comfortable anchoring depth.  We have a charting program running on the computer and the GPS gives it our position so we can see where we are on the chart.  Between that, the big spotlight, and the depth gauge we are able to find our spot and get the hook down.  Rosie floats absolutely motionless.

We have just traveled 1230.7 miles in almost exactly 9 1/2 days and put just over 50 hours on the engine, including the last 4 motoring into the wind.  We call Customs to check in, but they aren’t home at 10:30 at night.

We have a couple cold beers and get some sleep.

Tuesday.  Jackie calls us.  She has a ride down to Beaufort (next to Morehead City).  We call Customs only to find out we don’t have to check in because we did not touch a foreign land since we left St. Thomas.  We pick Jackie up off the Beaufort City Dock without even stopping and motor to Oriental.  Jackie has been scouting the town dock and word is both slips will be open.  We motor into Oriental only to find that it is shallow on the left and there are two boats at the dock.   We wiggle back out and check in to Whittaker Pointe Marina for the night.  The showers and swimming pool help ease the pain of not getting to style at the town dock.

The next day we moved to Sailcraft Marina.  This will be Compass Rose’s home for the next few months.

We entered the states flying the courtesy flags for all the countries we visited.

So that’s the trip.  But what about the important stuff, you ask?  Here’s the skinny.  We dragged two fishing lines behind the boat during daylight hours from the time we left St. Thomas until the autopilot failed.  Dave got a strike on a line one morning just as I was waking up from a nap.  At first I thought he was checking the line for the Sargasso weed that we were constantly catching.  I came out of the head and realized he was hauling in a fish.  Just as I got to the back deck the fish dove and the hook came loose.  The fish was long and thin like a wahoo or mackeral, but that’s all Dave could tell. 

Another morning I found a flying fish on deck.  I rigged him on a hook, but never used him because the weather was due to get bad.  Finally yesterday, six days after we arrived, I found another somewhat dessicated flying fish in one of the cubbys in the cockpit.  It’s a sad story, but we were essentially skunked despite trolling for about 1000 miles.

The second of two flying fish we "caught". This on stayed hidden for about a week.

Next:  Hanging out in North Carolina

Catching Up/Moving On

June 9, 2011

(posted from Honeymoon Bay, St. Thomas, USVI)

Our last post was a bit hurried, so here’s a little catching up.

St. Lucia

We bounced around St. Lucia quite a bit, but the two great expeditions took place when we were anchored in Rodney Bay.  The first was a visit to Pigeon Island where we hiked up to Fort Rodney.  As on most islands, the fort guarded the bay.  Pigeon Island is no longer an island.  The reef between it and the mainland was covered and a couple hotels were built on the land.

View of Fort Rodney from the lookout station on Signal Hill

Rodney Bay

The other expedition was a hike across to the windward side of the island to a small beach, with the obligitory beach bar.  We got there late on a Sunday morning.  Right next to one of the buildings is part of a booster rocket that washed ashore. 

Beach bar. Booster rocket is in front of building on left.

Secluded beach

Inside we found a fellow tuning up his guitar.  We didn’t know it at the time, but he as getting ready to play for a group of tourists who were about to arrive on horseback.  So what does this local bard lead off with?  Frank Sinatra, New York, New York

Old Blue Eyes, Lucian style.

Lucian cowboy. One of the guides for the tourists on horseback.


May 26, we leave St. Lucia and sail to St. Pierre, Martinique.


May 27, we sail Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica.


May 28, we sail through the middle of the Saints and anchor in Anse a La Barque, Guadeloupe.  The next day we take it easy and sail to the Jacques Cousteau water park where we do some snorkeling before sailing to Deshais.

St. Kitts

May 29, 11:20 pm we leave Guadeloupe for the long haul to St. Kitts.  We arrive late the next afternoon.  We originaly planned to stop at Nevis, but we made good time and pushed on to Basseterre, St. Kitts.  This is where Jackie and I honeymooned seven years ago and it was the first time we went back.  We needed to take a break so we took a slip in the marina.

Basseterre Harbor, St. Kitts.


Sorting out freshly caught bait fish

We took an island tour the next day led by a local woman named Buleah.  What energy and knowledge of the island.

Buleah points out where the next big housing development will be.

St. Thomas, USVI

June 1, we left St. Kitts.  Twenty four hours later, after a lot of engine running, we arrived at Christmas Cove, Great St. James Island, St. Thomas, USVI.

We weren’t there very long when a dinghy pulled up alongside.  It was the crew of Singing Frog.  We hadn’t seen them in many months.

The Froggies (l to r) Austin, Aiden, Aaron, and Carla (Sky was hiding)

After a couple days we moved to Charlotte Amalie and anchored there overnight.  The next day we moved to Crown Bay Marina.  The weather was going to get ugly and we needed to do laundry, provision, and fuel up.

Aaron loves Jackie's chocolate cake.

After a couple days there we moved to Honeymoon Bay.  Singing Frog stayed with us.  They will depart for Florida about the same time we will head for NC.

Next: USA