So far the return trip has been challenging to say the least. It would seem that Delphinus does not really want to return to the Chesapeake Bay. We expected to be back home in late May or early June and as I write this we are in Southport, NC awaiting another round of repairs. More on that later.
On our way back we spent a few more days in Key West and had more fun exploring, eating and drinking. This time we were there for 32nd celebration of the Conch Republic. On Saturday afternoon we caught the Annual Red Ribbon Bed Race which entails outrageously decorated beds on wheels and costumed racers. It provided a good excuse for us to sit on a restaurant’s second floor balcony and enjoy the festivities.
We continued the journey along the Florida Keys, including another visit to the nice folks at White Marlin Marina in Marathon Key and then on to Key Largo. Somewhere along the way we noticed that Delphinus was just not handling well in terms of steering. She was just not as responsive to changes in course and the auto pilot needed to make wide corrections. We speculated that it could be a problem with the sails, the current or the auto pilot.
We sailed from Marathon Key with Bruce & Rhonda on Lila Jane, and anchored off the Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. Pete lost another pair of prescription glasses overboard and rented dive gear to look for them. He did not find his glasses but did discover the reason for the steering issues … the starboard rudder was missing! After several phone calls we made arrangements to have a new rudder manufactured and installed in Fort Lauderdale.
Once in Fort Lauderdale, divers went below to remove the remaining rudder to use as a mold to make the new one. They also removed what was left of the rudder shaft on the starboard side. It appears that corrosion worked its way through the shaft until it just fell off.
We had already planned to leave Delphinus in Fort Lauderdale for a week while we traveled home and then to Massachusetts for Brendan’s graduation from UMass Amherst. As planned we flew back to Norfolk and then drove to Amherst, MA for the graduation. It was a wonderful weekend and we’re so proud to see Brendan realize this goal. My Dad was also able to join us there for the celebration.
Pete stayed in communication with the folks making the rudder and it looked like it was going to take more than a couple of weeks to complete the job. He decided to return to Fort Lauderdale as planned and I opted to stay home and enjoy the shore based luxuries for a little while longer. Pete steadily worked through his summer project list for Delphinus and I returned to Fort Lauderdale at the end of May.
Finally the new shaft and rudder are ready for installation. Delphinus was towed from the slip to the haul out well on June 3. After all of the delays to date it was refreshing to see the installation go smoothly and we splashed on June 5 as planned. Our two week planned stay turned into five weeks and we were both ready to resume our journey. Because of the height of our mast we are unable to use the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), so we planned to travel in the Atlantic but close enough to shore to pull into a marina or anchorage most nights.
Our stops in Florida included Riviera Beach, St. Lucie Inlet, Fort Pierce, Port Canaveral, Ponce de Leon Inlet and St. Augustine. Our trip off the ocean into Port Canaveral was during an intense thunderstorm with 40+ knots of wind, thunder and lightening causing very limited visibility. Once the storm let up we docked at Port Canaveral Yacht Club with a sigh of relief. A good friend of mine from my IBM days, Denise Brannigan, met us at the yacht club where we caught up on old times. It was great to see her again!
While in St. Augustine, Pete’s brother Bob and his wife Peggy joined us for a day on Delphinus and dinner in town at Columbia. We spent a few days there enjoying the old city’s sites and restaurants. As we were preparing to leave St. Augustine, we spotted friends on the catamaran Shampagne pulling into the harbor. We first met Richard and Marsha in the Bahamas. We were able to visit with them for a short while before it was time for us to depart for Charleston, SC.
We had planned the trip to Charleston for an overnight passage. This was my first solo night watch and was a bit scary. Pete and I took turns standing watch and the night passed uneventfully. We arrived in Charleston early the next afternoon and took the rest of the day to rest. The next day we spent exploring the city, but the extreme heat drove us back to the air conditioned boat.
We are nearing the end of this journey and looking forward to getting home again. Our plan was to leave Charleston and make another overnight run to Beaufort, NC where our son, Brendan would join us for the last leg of the trip back to Norfolk, VA. We left Charleston about 5:00 AM and motor sailed throughout the day. Late in the afternoon we got caught in a strong thunderstorm with 50+ knots of wind and very heavy seas. Pete noticed the dinghy swinging side to side on the davits and wanted to tighten the lines holding it, but the winds were still too high for him to leave the cockpit. In another moment one of the davits ripped right off the boat, leaving the back end of the dinghy dangling in the ocean.
He quickly cut the davit lines and straps holding the dinghy close to the boat, and secured the bow line of the dinghy to a cleat. As the winds let up a bit, Pete tethered himself to Delphinus and set about securing the dinghy to be towed. The good news was the davit itself remained with the dinghy and thus avoided another expense and long delay waiting for replacement of a unique stainless steel structure.
We diverted to the inlet at Cape Fear and anchored at about 1:00 AM on Friday morning and got some much needed sleep. The next morning we pulled into Southport Marina and arranged for an estimate to re-attach the davit and repair the fiberglass. The good news was that it could be done easily. The bad news was that they can’t start work until Monday.
Brendan rented a car and drove down on Saturday to wait with us. We are hoping the repairs will be completed by end of day Tuesday and we’ll leave Wednesday for an overnight run to Norfolk from here. In the mean time we’ll enjoy the scenery in this quaint seaside town.
Stay tuned and stay in touch!