After eight months of searching, travelling up and down the east coast, switching from looking for a monohull to a catamaran, we finally found the right boat- a Fountaine Pajot Belize! While I stayed home to handle the details of selling our home, Pete was checking out what would be our new boat in BVI. We had a very busy end of May, with selling our house, buying our condo and buying Delphinus! A week after moving homes, we take off for Fort Lauderdale to bring her back to the Chesapeake Bay.
If you notice the dolphins painted on the hulls, they are the inspiration for the name Delphinus, which is the name of a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere shaped like a dolphin.
We had already planned to have her hauled out to get some work done, but uncovered more problems than we planned for (isn’t that the way things work on boats?) The generator starts, but isn’t passing cooling water, so we can’t use it until we can get it fixed in Norfolk. On different days, the port and starboard engines take turns not starting. A rudder bearing is replaced but we discover the bearing housing needs to be replaced soon too. The large burner on the stove won’t work. The list seems endless, but in the end we decide to through off the lines to begin our adventure.
Our crew consists of Pete (the skipper), myself, our son Brendan, and an invaluable crew member, Jim Underwood. Jim has a wealth of experience in offshore sailing and was very generous in sharing that knowledge with us. After leaving on Tuesday evening, we settle into our routines of watches and meals. No one has a problem with motion sickness and the weather is generally very nice.
From Fort Lauderdale, we are quickly out in the Gulf Stream. The winds are light and we are forced to motor, but we are making 11 knots. We see dolphins and flying fish every day and continue to marvel at how blue the water is. Beautiful sunsets and a full and nearly full moon every evening.
On Wednesday evening we have our only injury of the trip. Pete slips in the cockpit and hits his back on the edge of a seat. It’s obvious he’s in a lot of pain and can’t move for quite a while. After some Naproxen and ice, he’s able to move a bit, but very restricted in his range of motion.
Along the way we caught a beautiful Mahi-mahi and Brendan reeled it in. Dinner that night was mahi burritos and mahi fried rice a couple of nights later. Yum!
By Thursday evening we’re reviewing our plans. Because we’ve been motoring the whole way, and will likely have to continue motoring, it is decided to hop off the ocean into Beaufort, NC for fuel and to spend Friday night. It’s a pretty little town with a bustling waterfront. We even saw a couple of their wild horses on the beach opposite the marina.
I take Pete to the local hospital to have his back checked out. The marina offered us the use of one of their cars to get there. The dockmaster explained where the car was parked and that it is a “very vintage Buick Station wagon.” He wasn’t kidding. A traffic cone is used to block the space when you pull out, so it will be available when you get back. Diagnosis – nothing broken, just deep bruising. Muscle relaxers to help with the spasms.
The Saturday weather forecast looks it will be difficult getting around Cape Hatteras, so the decision is made to complete the trip on the ICW. More motoring, but in some fairly narrow channels with tree stumps poking out of the water. Instead of the crystal clear blue water of the oceans, we now have the dark, tannin stained waters (picture strong tea).
Delphinus is listed as having a 63 foot mast and the Wilkerson Bridge (near Belhaven, NC) is listed as having a 64 foot clearance. As we pass under it, we find out that one of those numbers is wrong. The anchor light and wind vane at the top of the mast are knocked off by the bridge and bits of glass fly all around us. No injuries and no damage to the mast itself, but a close call.
At the end of my watch, I check the fuel guage and see that we are already down to half a tank. We anchor for the night near Bear Point (MM 103) and Jim notices a bit of fuel in the water on the starboard side. He climbs into the engine compartment and finds over 5 gallons of fuel on the floor because of a fuel leak. After a big clean up job, he finds the source of the leak and fixes it. Seems we made the right decision to finish the trip on the inside. This could have been a much bigger problem on the ocean.
Monday is pretty uneventful (which is nice). We stop in Coinjock, NC to replenish the fuel and continue on into the Elizabeth River and anchor at Hospital Point. The next morning we are up and underway early.
When we left Fort Lauderdale, we planned to make the whole trip on the outside and arrive home on Saturday. Instead, we split the trip between the ocean and the ICW, and arrived at our home slip on Tuesday morning. As with most things in life, you have to adapt to the changing circumstances. I think we all did a good job of doing just that, with our system malfunctions, unfavorable winds and injuries.
We pull into our new slip at about 10:00 am on Tuesday and are glad to be back. Now, where will the next adventure take us????