Thursday, 5 November 2015

CAPTAIN HOOK FAILS FISHING 101. 5th November 2015

Pushing on south lighthouses still dominate every headland. The original Cape Henry light house was the first Light house authorized by the US government. 1792. The lighthouse was damaged by Confederate forces during the American Civil War then repaired by Union forces in 1863, who depended on the light for navigation. In the 1870s, following a lightning strike that caused large cracks in the structure concerns about the condition and safety of the old Lighthouse at Cape Henry  led to the construction of a new, 350 feet tall, lighthouse in 1881.

Cape Henry at the Entrance to Chesapeak Bay. The old and the new.

Our arrival into Rudee Inlet anchorage was awaited with great anticipation. Not the least because the weather rounding the Cape Henry Lighthouse was crappy. Not dangerous but just unpleasant. 
Our friend Walter aka "Marnie" lives in Virginia Beach and had offered to come pick us up and go do some shopping or whatever. After brief introductions to Mason and Donna, Walters friends who live on the lake, and to whom we were grateful for the use of their dingy dock. Then it was straight to the nearest Bed Bath and Table for a Mattress Warmer.... in Aus its know as an Electric Blanket. With that firmly within my grasp we filled a gas bottle and went out for a great dinner. Next day we again visited with Donna and Mason and then Walter took us to his amazing house C1630! where we dined on duck, expertly cooked  by master chef Walter!. We caught up with Trish, Walters sister who we had met in the Bahamas last year.
Buildings adjacent to the Cape Henry lighthouse
Tuesday was shaping up for a suitable departure weather wise for a rounding of Cape Hatteras so we said our farewells, pulled out our anchor without snagging Walters old mooring and motored out the inlet. 
C 1630

After an uneventful 24 hours and a comfortable rounding of the Cape we were settling into our watches nicely until fate intervened to provide some excitement and a new cruising experience.
Well David was on watch and had a Rapala lure with two triple Gang hooks on it. He hooked a good size False Albacore ... Like a Bonito. Bloody awful eating... And was bemoaning all the effort involved to get it in. As he was lifting it up on the line, with the rod at the stern quarter, it suddenly got off and the lure flicked back and up, hitting David in the upper forehead. It went in a good way. About half an inch of the business end, including the barb, was well and truly engaged!
This isn't the original..... that's on the doctors wall!
Not much blood and not much pain, strangely. We were about 18 hours from Beaufort which is a detour of about 20nm from our course. Well he managed, with some assistance, to cut the barb off the rest of the gang leaving about 1/4 inch of the shank sticking out. Then he insisted that I put it back out backwards. Well I had some local anesthetic and a needle and syringe so I slid some down beside the hook. I don't know how much use it was but anyway ... Using all my strength... I don't know how he put up with it.... I tried to budge that hook to no avail. So then, multigrips firmly locked onto it, he tried! No! Couldn't budge it. Gave up. Took a couple of Panamax and a glass of red wine and went to bed! Couple of hours later it was a bit sore but we just motored on.... There was no wind.... Rounded Cape Lookout and headed into Beaufort NC the following morning. 
Luckily, when we came north a couple of months ago, we met Chris and Tippy Montleon in  Beaufort. They had directed us to their friends in Galesville, where we were so warmly welcomed. Well they were very happy to see us again, and ran down to take us to a clinic. The surgery wanted all sorts of personal details on pages of forms, then kept us waiting 2 hours only to tell David that they couldn't do it and that he should go to Hospital emergency.
Well... Chris phoned one of his old fishing mates and found the contact, nearby, of a doctor who has had lots of fish hook experience. He has a board on his surgery wall of hooks in all sizes and shapes that he has removed from various parts of past patients.

Tippy insisted I come to a girls lunch which she was expected at, while Chris took David off to the new doctor. An hour or so later and a lot more forms, it was out. He used another big needle which he slid down the shank and positioned over the barb, and then he withdrew it the way it went in. Clever. No stitches but a couple of closure tapes. Like stitches. He was surprised it was looking so go after 24 hours and a dirty rusty fishy hook in there. Asked what it had on it. David didn't know but I had used the trusty Butisin Pictrate again! Anyway he gave him some antibiotics and a tetanus shot and off the boys went to lunch so apart from kissing $300 goodbye there really wasn't much damage. Lucky it wasn't an eye!!
Moral of the story.....gaff the bloody fish before you try to lift it out of the water.!!!
I didn't mention that Beaufort North Carolina is a really big fishing destination. That weekend, for 3 days they hosted the final of some huge fishing competition. People who had qualified come from all over the world to charter great big game boats and compete. As we were entering Beaufort about 100 boats were heading out to catch that elusive Big One! I wonder if the Doctor got any more trophies for his Surgery wall!
Well the best bit was that Tippy and I had a great lunch and the girls were all good fun and interested in out travels. Another amazing coincidence.... Donna, one of tippy friends, runs a B&B in Beaufort and she said one of her regular clients and now a very good friend, comes from Perth and stays with them regularly. It turns out it was Chris Norman and his wife Bev, who we know from Perth. We had Taipan in a dock at the fishing boat harbor while their flash new catamaran Duplicity, was in the Fremantle Yacht club across the road. But anyway was so weird knowing yet another West Ozzie. We took Chris n Tippy to dinner at a nice little seafood place. Not expensive but very nice. With a few extra groceries we picked up along the way, we were back aboard  by 9.30. Very successful day all round really.
Friday, we had a good weather forecast light and motoring ...supposed to be.....but it became rougher and more uncomfortable as wind built... But warmer, thank goodness. We went straight through to Fernandina Beach arriving on Sunday.
We had a lot of dolphin around the boat for several hours off Frying Pan Shoals north of Beaufort, and although the half moonlight was not quite enough light, with the phosphorescence and the sound of their splashing and breathing it was pure magic. Lots of dolphins joined us again as we left Beaufort and in crystal clear blue water I spent some time on the bow photographing them. Impossible to get their out of water acrobatics though. They stayed with us for about 200 miles. Disappearing only for about ten min at a time then back spinning and jumping all round. They left when the wind dropped and we slowed down around Brunswick GA.
Altogether we were pleased to be back in northern Florida where we are once again warm.
Fernandina Halloween.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE. 16th October 2015


As we motor sailed south down Chesapeake Bay we were accompanied by a fleet of yachts also seeking the elusive warmer weather. We have been in Chesapeake Bay since mid September, and on arrival, the temperatures were around 32+C but during the past six weeks they have plummeted to around 4 C and water temp has gone from 30 C to 18 C.  This time last year we were still camping in Maine. Winter has arrived earlier this year and we've sold our trusty Cadillac so we can't make a quick exit to warmer climes, like we did in 2014. Today Taipan is stolidly steering south but it will be a while till we warm up.

Chesapeake Bay. Well the first thing that struck us was the dirty water. There are many rivers emptying into the bay carrying with them tons of sediment, so the water is brown and cloudy, staining the hull and dingy. The Spectra Watermaker managed approximately 100 Gallons between filter changes so we were on tight water rations. 

David, Kris, Rhonda and John
The second thing we soon discovered was how super friendly the locals are. Our base was Galesville on the West River just 2 hours sail south of Annapolis. We had the Cadillac ashore for land adventures and pretty soon our social calendar was jam packed. Several meals at Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club with friends new and old were followed with dinners at Pirates Cove and Thursday's, all just a very short dingy ride away and all to be recommended. Our new best friend Tom Rodgers took care of our car so that it didn't get towed away by the local authorities. Beautiful John and Rhonda Griffith adopted us as fellow Australians and we partook of their generosity on several occasions. The worst thing about cruising is leaving new friends behind. The best thing is having the opportunity to meet them in the first place.

The third thing about Chesapeake Bay is the Annapolis Boat Show. Its one of the largest boat shows in the world and has a very impressive line up of everything you can think of to do with boats. The Sailboat Show ran for 5 days and just 3 days later The Powerboat Show opens for another 4 days. 

On Thursday, VIP day, we attended the Sail Boat Show. Now we probably shouldn't have done so, given that 14 years of cruising lifestyle doesn't contribute anything to the coffers! However what it does do is convince you that anything is possible and stuff for the boat is " necessary" no matter what the bank account looks like. We managed to keep all our hands in our pockets for just 5 minutes. The first booth we came across was Cruising Solutions and was selling Marriage Saver Headsets. We have been planning on a set of these since meeting Estrellita in 2012 when Bill and Amy were communicating effortlessly between the deck and mast head. We bought a pair.  They are already proving indispensable. When we are anchoring or pulling the anchor, we don't have to yell and get frustrated by the inability to hear each other.  This can rapidly escalate into a near divorce often enough!!  David, then, on the same booth, spotted a Snow Bird cabin heater that heats using the engine coolant, much the same as a car heater. It will only work if the engine is running, but is better than nothing and it was a good price. The heater on our wish list is a Webasto Diesal heater but that has gone to the back burner, pardon the pun, because funds from the sale of the trusty Cadillac were insignificant enough to extinguish that plan!
The new machine!.

Carefully concealing our hands in our pockets again we ventured on. We managed to pass all the fuel cleaning systems, water-makers and anchors, although we came close at the Spade Anchor display. All was going well until we got to the Sailrite display.  To be fair, this was several hours later. Three generations of the owner and founders family lay in wait, all charming and skilled seducers. We fought off the desire / need until after lunch and then folded. Defeated, we returned to tell Zack, the charming grandson, that he had a sale!  In 1976 when I was heavily into horses, I gave a sewing machine company in Perth $400 deposit for a Sailrite machine. The Perth company disappeared along with my money so now, finally, I have a Sailrite. You realize of course though, that this machine will be put to work fixing stuff! No trifling with nonsense, creative, fun projects here! This is strictly work! 
Well the rest of the day progressed without further damage and we came home loaded with free samples and brochures for all the stuff we would have liked to buy. The credit card has gone into shock! Just as well we didn't look at any of the numerous new boats on display! 

After recovering from shock ourselves, we spent a couple of days redesigning the stowage to fit our purchases, and provisioning the boat, then closed Taipan down and drove to Madison in Virginia for a weekend with cousin Judith an her husband Bob. Fabulous weekend as usual, fine food, fun company and beautiful, if chilly, weather. Fall is definitely here. The leaves are rapidly turning and there's a chill in the air.
View over Monticello Vegetable Gardens.

We did a tour of Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, on Sunday. What a beautiful place. He was very into gardens and agriculture and the Trust  managing this National Heritage site, runs a comprehensive nursery dedicated to preserving all the old plant varieties. Interestingly, several specimens of one of my favourite trees, probably the first tree I knew the name of, was growing well on the mountain. They call it Chinaberry but we know it as Cape Lilac. It is also known for its excellent timber.  The slave tour was also fascinating and both the garden and slave tours were extremely informative and well presented. 

There were also plenty of projects to keep us busy while we were in Galesville. We learned to do wire to rope splice, thanks to Google, and replaced a headsail halyard. We also put eye splices in the new 15mm headsail sheets. The repaired FURUNO Radar was installed, and the new replacement Victron 2000w 220v inverter was installed along with a 1000w 110v Xantrex inverter primarily for the IMac. Four New Trojan L16 P 6v each and weighing in at 55kg each, replaced our 5 year old Trojan T105s.

Our Wire to Rope Splice in action.
There was a week during which we were awaiting news hourly, about Hurricane Joachim. At one point he looked like developing into the largest hurricane to ever hit the East Coast all the way from Carolinas to Nova Scota. With the possible evacuation of over 75 million people!!

It was apparently the biggest nightmare for forecasters in many many years, with only 36 hours warning going out to Bahamas, where they sustained serious damage on the southern islands. There was a complicated set of systems to the north of it making predictability very difficult. If it had not gone south for as long as it did.... a very unusual path.... it would have been picked up by another low off the Carolina coast and gone north along the entire coast.. A big high north of it prevented it  from going inland and dissipating.  They were predicting 95kn for the Bay ! We had made preparations and gone onto a heavy duty mooring at Hartge Yacht Harbour, further up river. The Chesapeake Bay weather was in the influence of a nasty trough bring very strong and freezing cold, NE wind to 35kn sustained making preparations very unpleasant.

Eventually, as always, we had to say our farewells to our friends at Galesville and then we sailed north to Annapolis to say hello and goodbye to some Kiwi friends we met in the Bahamas last winter. We felt somewhat vindicated, when we learned that they too had succumbed to the pitch from coercive team at Sailrite and had also purchased a machine among many other things! 
Another of the many interesting lighthouses on the way south.

On Wednesday 15th we commenced this passage south, stopping at Solomons on the first night. The second day we sailed under cloud in cold conditions until late afternoon when the front finally overtook us and we emerged into the much anticipated sunshine for the remainder of the trip into Deltaville. Virginia. 
Anchored off Fort Monroe.

This afternoon we arrived in Newport and will await a weather window to continue south and around Cape Hatteras.

Friday, 16 October 2015

LET THERE BE LIGHT. October 16th 2015

The Point No Point Lighthouse. Maryland

Funds to build the light were available in 1901 and a  Cassion was towed to this exposed site in 1902. The first temporary pair collapsed and the casino headed off down the bay in a storm followed by a tug which successfully retrieved it 45 miles later. it was repaired at Solomons and replaced however in 1904 it was again swept away, recovered and eventually in service in 1905,
it was made available to non-profits or government agencies who would be willing to take over maintenance, and in 2007 the offer was extended to individuals. Public auction of the light was cancelled in February 2008, however, for safety reasons.

The Smiths Point Lighthouse in Virginia. And it's for sale!!

Smith Point Lighthouse has been preceded by many variations as have many Chesapeake Bay lighthouses. Several stone towers onshore were washed away and several lightships did service in the interim. A screw pile house was swept away by ice in 1895 and the keepers were fired for abandoning their post in 1893 after it was severely damaged by ice. The existing structure used the Wolf Trap plans and is essentially the same apart from paint. Wolf Trap is red
In 2005 the light went up for auction and was purchased for $170 by David McNally. He has a few good dinner party stories to tell about storms during his tenure but now it on the market again.

Wolf Trap Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse was named for a British ship, HMS Wolf, grounded here in 1691 whilst on duty enforcing the Navigation Act and catching pirates. A succession of lightships were stationed on the shoal over the years until when in 1870 a prefabricated lighthouse was constructed on screw piles. This was swept away by ice in 1893. The lighthouse keeper escaped and the house went miles down the bay. The lens and lantern were later recovered. A couple of different Lightships were located until the construction in 1894 of a wooden caisson topped by a cylinder of cast iron plates. The brick house was painted red in the late 1920s. It is two stories with the lantern on its flat roof. Quantities of rip-rap were dumped around the base of the light to resist pressure from the ice. It was automated in 1971 and first offered for sale in 2004 after failing to attract any interest from Non Profit organisations. A fellow from Seattle couldn't raise the finance for a B&B and an EBay Auction failed. It was eventually bought in 2005 privately by James Southard Jr for $119k. And it's up for sale again with or without a waterfront lot near by! So many opportunities, so little time or spondoolies!


Old Point Comfort Light House VA


Old Point Comfort dates to 1775, when John Dams was paid to maintain a beacon there. Its one of the first points designated for a light by the new United States federal government.  The light went into service in 1803, though a keeper's house was not built until 1823. In 1812 the light was one of several seized by British forces. The light continues in use.

 Cove Point Lighthouse was built  out of brick in 1828 and the keeper's house was also constructed in the same year. Erosion was a significant problem, but was eventually brought under control with a seawall constructed in 1892 and upgraded in 1913 and 1993. The keeper's house was enlarged in 1881 with housing for two keepers and their families and in 1925 when inside kitchens were installed. In 1950 a separate small house was built for a third keeper and his family. The light was automated in 1986. Cove Point is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.

Cape Henry Lighthouse Was completed in October, 1792. The lighthouse was damaged by Confederate forces during the American Civil War but was repaired by Union forces in 1863 In the 1870s, following a lightning strike that caused large cracks in the structure a new, taller, lighthouse which stands 350 feet The old tower remained standing. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1983 and is still in use today.

Monday, 28 September 2015

BALTIMORE IN THE BAY. 18th September 2015

Approaching the mighty Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

A gorgeous day was forecast so we decided to go take a look at Baltimore. Departed Galesville around 10.30am and motored out into a flat windless glassy bay. Lots of other vessels of every shape and size were out doing the same, cris-crossing each others wakes on business of their own. Our business was a mere 26nm run north up the Bay. Once again under the mighty Chesapeake Bay Bridge with clearance of 183 feet so we didn't expect to hit it. 

Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse

There are several interesting light houses enroute and we detoured to get pictures. The first was Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse was built in 1871. Widely recognised by locals, it is the only screw-pile lighthouse still on its original site. The building is a 1½ story hexagonal wooden cottage, equipped with a foghorn as well as the light.

Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse

Next there is Sandy Point Shoal Light, a brick three story lighthouse on a caisson foundation that was erected in 1883.
Its a brick, three story lighthouse on a caisson foundation,  erected in 1883.   The whole gamut of light sources has been run, from oil wicks to incandescent oil vapor (1913) to electricity (1929). The present light is powered by a pair of solar panels attached to the roof on the south side. After automation in 1963, it was vandalized and the original lens was destroyed, apparently smashed with a baseball bat. What a terrible shame.! In 2006 it was sold at auction. Nice isolated little nook if you like a remote getaway!

Baltimore Harbour Lighthouse
The Baltimore Harbour Lighthouse was Commissioned in 1908. Like an iceberg, there is much more to this lighthouse than what appears on the surface. Its sunk deep into the Chesapeake muddy bottom to prevent ice in winter dislodging it! The three story octagonal brick cottage is constructed on a one hundred and three foot tall concrete and stone filled cast-iron caisson. The main deck of the cottage is sitting room, storage area and galley. The second deck is keepers quarters in two bedrooms. The third deck is one large open space, known as the watch-room. The watch-room provides a 360 degree view. On the the 3rd story sits the lantern room. Connecting these levels is a spiral staircase that leads from the lantern room to the cellar floor, ten feet into the caisson. 

7 Foot Knoll lighthouse has been replaced by a tall tower 

The 7 Foot Knoll Light has been replaced with a tower and now stands in Fells Point Historic District.

After taking in the light house sights along the way we continued to motor into Baltimore City Center where, in the inner harbor we juggled in tight confines with 3 yachts already at anchor, to nestle into a tight spot. The guide says there's room for 1 boat but 4 is possible at a pinch. 
The harbor has quite a lot of tourist traffic so anchoring is only permitted in a very small corner. Somewhat miss-led by the placement of some buoys which appeared to limit the anchorage to a narrow strip between the paddle boats and the line off the docks we discovered from the Water Police several days later that the buoys were placed by the paddle boat operator as a disincentive to yachts from anchoring into the small cove. So we all picked up our anchors and moved further into the area.
Anchorage is inside the blue line.

Our foray ashore on Saturday found us in the National Aquarium right on the waterfront beside the anchorage. It is hard to miss. There are several impressive modern structures clustered around the old docks and linked by overhead walkways. The Aquarium exceeded expectations. All the glass aquariums were clean and the displays were excellent. Good information and not too much of it!  There is an exceptionally good reproduction of a Northern Australian canyon in a very large glass terrarium. Birds crocodiles and snakes included. It just felt like the Kimberly in there.
Northern Territory in Baltimore.

Fells Point Historic District and Federal Hill, overlooking the inner harbour were all easy walking destinations so we strolled and nibbled and photographed.

Anchored next to the Aquarium and the old Chesapeake Ship Lighthouse.

Fells Point was a center for a "Nest of Pirates", ship owners, who, provided with a Letter of Marque, (a government license,) were permitted to harass and capture vessels of the British Fleet. The plunder was divided between owners of the vessel, crew and the Government. This was in effect a private navy and was very lucrative for the ship owners who had to outfit and arm their own vessels and for the Government.

 We ended up spending 4 days in Baltimore before heading south to Galesville.

Fells Point
For more pictures from around Baltimore go to CHESAPEAKE BAY

Saturday, 26 September 2015

CHESAPEAKE BAY September 8th 2015

On the weekend our some of our American family visited. Fun night at anchor and a good sail up to the Bay Bridge and back. Great company good food and pleasant weather.

Light house at Thomas Point Shoal

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


Some lovely old architecture around New Bern and Oriental.
It's been 5 days since we splashed in the Core Creek at Bock Marine and its official! The knock is gone! Whew! How many times have we tried to find that noise. After a night on the dock and  a test run of the shaft we were confident we had nailed it so we sneaked under the Core Creek bridge a low tide we pushed north into the Pimlico Sound and the Neuse River. 

One of the many Shrimp boats operating on this coast

This is part of the Intra-coastal waterway. It's a feature of the U.S. Which never ceases to amaze me. This waterway, much of which is man made and maintained by dredging, runs from Delaware to South Florida along the coast but there are also inland waterways which enable boats to traverse the country from the Great Lakes to Florida and then north from New Orleans to The Great Lakes. This is called the Great Loop. 
One of the many Bears in New Bern. Town emblem.

We are slightly challenged in the waterway by the height of our mast. The fixed bridges are 65 feet. Our mast is officially 65 feet but we are a little precious about the stuff on top of it... Lights and instruments etc so rather than challenge the bridges we go at low tide and only under bridges which do have tide. Some areas, such as further up the Pimlico Sound and Dismal Swamp, don't have any tide so we are not game to give those bridges a shot.
There are beautiful anchorages everywhere.
That's why, tonight we are motoring in flat calm water, with our new quiet shaft, up the coast . We rounded Hatteras at midnight tonight and we are headed to Chesapeake Bay, home of the cities of Annapolis and Baltimore. Just round the corner from Washington DC.

The blue dot is Galesville
There are allegedly over 11,000 miles of contiguous coastline in the Chesapeake, including rivers and marshes. But there must be at least 4000nm which we can get close to. No wonder many yachties from this area never leave.... although the snow gets deep and the yachts ice up in their pens if left in the water. Many yachts are pulled out and winterized on the hard. Those who leave make the great migration south with the geese towards the end of October. The waterway is stem to stern with boats of every shape and size. The larger ones head to sea. Many go to Bermuda then turn south towards the Western Caribbean or Bahamas. The run south down the coast is against the current and can apparently be a bit of a slog.... we will see!

Galesville anchorage.

For now we are happy at anchor fixing things... usual stuff. Water-maker Inverter  Radar... so on and so on ... its a boat. not major stuff. Just maintenance type stuff.

Some boats dont get used as much as they should

Apparently the Ospreys were becoming so rare it became illegal to remove an osprey nest from your property once it has been established, until the young are hatched and have left the nest. This means you have to be very vigilant and remove the early attempts by these birds to establish residence. The owners of this boat were obviously outfoxed by the ospreys! 

 Its a very lovely relaxing anchorage surrounded by very pretty waterfront homes with the odd white swan casually swimming by. The locals are friendly and there are at least 2 good restaurants a short dingy ride away.

More Photos from the Beaufort new Bern and Oriental visit.


Why, you may well ask, are we out of the water again. Taipan is wondering if shes a sail boat or a rock. Well we sailed north from Fernandina with the expectation that a niggling knock we have lived with somewhere in the stern tube had been fixed. (You cant know this for sure till you are back in the water.) 

Ever since we have owned Taipan she's had a knock in the stern tube or somewhere which we have never managed to locate. It became somewhat worse after we put in a new shaft in South Africa, which instead of being 38mm went to 40mm. Long story but basically a lack of available shaft material there and we were already well down the path.

It was certainly a lot less aggravating after modification in Fernandina and we  could do 2000 RPM comfortably but above that it would start knocking again. We had resolved that one way or another we are going to fix this once and for all. Its annoying! All the alignment has been adjusted and is perfect.
Well we decided to haul out at Bock Marine. They have very good expertise here having been in the industry over 30 years. They once built steel boats here. Their price is very competitive, which becomes pretty important when you keep hauling out!! The are also the only marina we've ever been to which has a complimentary car for the use of patrons. Its available for 2 hrs at at time and you just replace fuel used. (Not quite true... there was one in north Queensland years ago.)

So out we came out.....and out came the shaft..... again and this time a good look up the stern tube with a torch revealed a 5mm collar in the bronze casting which was apparently there for the old packing gland system. I don't believe Taipan ever had a packing gland but it was a standard stern tube casting. Expert opinion was sought and it was decided it should be removed to allow more clearance. So armed with the trusty Milwaukee 18v drill and a hole saw of the correct size on an extension......An hour later it was out. We can see where the tube has been rubbed by the shaft in the removed ring of bronze. so now there is a full 5mm clearance around the shaft. Fingers crossed!
Offending bronze casting.

Now just fit a new cutlass bearing to be sure to be sure.... old one seems fine but......
Then we splash again and try it out!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Recovering from jet lag! Mum on the mend again.
Have been frantically getting ready to haul out.

Tuesday 28th July. hauled and washed... let the fun begin

Well the haul-out took a week and we had a reasonably leisurely time of it considering we did anti-foul and modifications to the stern tube flange. The heat was manageable because we jagged some decent weather over the weekend for below waterline work. The hull was pretty clean and a quick wet and dry saw it fit to paint. I put a bit of red lippy.... boot stripe for the yachties..... on the waterline. looks pretty.

All pretty in Red lippy.
Taipan was re-launched on the 4th of August and on the 5th at 3am we departed Fernandina for Savannah. Spent the night and the following day at Daufuskie Island Savannah before weather moderated in the late afternoon and we headed out towards Hatteras. It was a struggle!. The wind and current fought us the whole way and we finally gave up on Monday morning and headed into Beaufort, North Carolina. We were going to miss a suitable weather window for the notorious cape by 6 hours. We followed the radar images of the forecast storm the following day and were relieved we stopped. Followed Chris Parker's advice! Well done team! It would have been very unpleasant off Virginia Beach and in the entrance to Chesapeake had we continued.

Next we had to find a spot to leave Taipan and drive to Alexandria in Virgina to meet my brother and Jo before they headed back to Australia after touring the east coast in our trusty Cadillac. We put Taipan on a dock at Bock Marine and drove to Alexandria on Tuesday. We stayed with darling cousin Judith and husband Bob, for 4 nights full of fine food and family frivolity. More trips into Washington and a couple more of the Smithsonian Museums ticked off. We had fabulous weather and a great time. 

Return to Taipan on Sunday was arduous, with the terrible traffic it added 4 hours to the trip. Uuugh!. 

Monday, 29 June 2015


We left the Bahamas in a hurry on the 5th May as we had news that my mother was failing fast after deciding to give up all medication. The trip took us up the Exuma chain and out into the Tongue of the Ocean near Nassau. Then we went north around the Berries and on to West End for fuel. We had little wind and contrary current and had to motor more than we would have liked. Then the run up the Gulf Stream elevator and into Fernandina Beach was uneventful and without fish. We were on a plane back to OZ on the 13th with Taipan tied up in Tiger Point Marina once again.

We did have a visit from some little bird, apparently well known to frequent sailboats for a free ride on this coast. They were completely unafraid of us and helped themselves down below to water and a good look about. They stayed the night and left next morning.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


Since my last post we have sailed north to Nassau again to get new US Visas. We've been out to Conception Island and we've had the Bahamas Family Island Regatta here in Georgetown.
All tracks from vessels over 7' 2"

Before I write further on these events, I would like to attempt to dispel a myth we keep hearing. "Boats with deep draft cannot sail in the Bahamas." We have had several yachties tell us that they skipped the Bahamas after seeing how shallow it all is. That is very sad because the Bahamas is an excellent sailboat destination. There is usually good sailing wind combined with calm protected waters on the banks. The water is exceptionally clear and the sand banks are vast flat sand. We draw 7'2" and we have sailed across the banks from Bimini, along inside Eleuthera &  all down the west side of Exumas. We have been back and forth over the Yellow Banks to Nassau. We have not had any depth issues and apart from several cuts we would not attempt because they are quite obviously too shallow we don't feel at all constrained.
Lovely Conception Island.

Conception Island is about 40nm East of George Town. It's a nice day sail and the anchorage is spectacular. The whole island is a National Park. Both in the water and out. There is a turtle hatchery a short dingy ride south of the anchorage which takes you inland through a maze of creeks and flats teeming with young turtles. There is some snorkeling off the cliff near the old steel works from a wreck on the way to the creek. Often the swell makes this site a bit tricky but it's worth a look if at all possible. We searched other locations for snorkeling sites but were disappointed to find almost everything is dead. Never mind the water is clear and warm and the setting is spectacular. Our beach BBQ was great fun marred only by the ferocious sand flies. Once they went to bed we had a pleasant night ashore with Ausie Tactical Directions, and Kiwi cruisers Wyuna and an American Boat. Elan 

Bahamian Family Island Regatta. Look at the length of that boom!

Our trip to Nassau, after returning from Conception, to get new US B1 / B2 Visas, was a very pleasant run north with a stop in Staniel Cay to catch up with Walter on Marnie, a boat we met crossing the South Indian Ocean in 2012. We had some fun nights aboard each other's boats during time together in George Town. 

Nassau arrival on a Monday for Visa Photos and paperwork a routine blood test for David and a bit of provisioning on Tuesday, then Embassy all Wednesday morning with a departure on Wednesday afternoon. Another brief stop in Nassau. Beating south was slower than running north but we were back in George Town by the following Sunday. 8 days all up.

This week the Bahamian Family Island Regatta was held in George Town. These spectacular local boats were traditional fishing vessels in days gone by. The craft of building and skill of sailing these boats has been preserved by the running of several regattas around the country every year. The boats arrive on local shipping or are towed in by larger boats, some coming in from several hundred miles away. 

The crews on the larger boats are big. Up to 16 people, depending upon the wind strength. The photos will give you an idea of the skill required to handle these vessels. The massive sail area and very low boom requires a lot of agility. Sometimes crew fall off! It is a requirement now days though that all boats finish with a full compliment of crew. 

The cruisers, along with the local spectator fleet, race about in dinghies and small boats following the race. It gets pretty frenetic but the whole thing is conducted with plenty if friendly banter and it would seem the racing, whilst competitive, is still very friendly.
Yesterday a dolphin arrived beside the boat and myself and a couple of other cruisers swam with it for 15 minuets. It was very interactive, swimming just out of reach and making small squeaking noises. Very fun. 

David as usual has plenty of projects but recent ones have included helping Tony on Tactical Directions with a mast and sail car issue and Tony kindly bought over his dive gear and helped David clean the hull. So what goes round comes round is working well here. Tony's mast issue is just awaiting a part and our hill is clean ready for departure.
Our Passports, with nice new 5 year Visas, arrived in George Town on Friday so now we will top up the fuel and wait for a weather window to head north on. Back to the US. Circuitously probably. 

You will find all the Bahamas photos at:
Taipans Bahamas Album.