Sunday, November 02, 2008

Another Season Passes

I'm back from my delivery of an Outer Reef 65 to Palm Beach. It was eventful and boring in equal measures. We had three systems including gales offshore pass on the trip down and had to spend more time in the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) than we wanted to.

The ICW is suffering from a lack of funding. It's supposed to be dredged to a depth of 14 feet but in many cases it's less than half of that and with wind from the north or north west tends to empty towards sounds like the Albemarle or Pungo River, Neuse River, or Pamlico Sound. Moreover, in the larger bodies of water it gets uncomfortably rough.

Anyway, inside a big powerboat (expedition trawler) with stablilizers it's warm, comfortable and level. There's pitch, of course, but no roll.

I can't stress this enough: There are logs in the ICW that float below or just at the surface of the water. While navigating it, you MUST keep an active watch. Some boaters will report the deadheads as securité anouncements on the VHF, but more often it's up to you. Actually, it's always up to you.

One sad thing about the ICW is that where there are no speed limits, large powerboat wakes are destroying the banks. This is bad because the eroded materials end up in the ICW and because the undermined trees end up as deadheads that can be hit. In vessels with protected rudders and propellers they are just noisy. In boats where that's not the case they're a disaster lurking.

What was really nice was going with someone who has experience on the ICW. Cory has been up and down it 30 something times and knows all the cool little places. I plan on stopping at all of them and more on my adventure.

Many people get Beaufort, NC and Beaufort, SC mixed up. The North Carolina one is bo fort and the South Carolina one is beu fort. Easy way to remember this is 'o' comes before 'u' so the bo fort (Beaufort, NC) is above the South Carolina one. The members of the local populace gets very irritated when you mix them up.

Beaufort, NC is a sailor's town. Sure, powerboats stop there but unlike most other marine towns, they don't hold much sway. Beaufort is a jumping off point for the Bahamas, Bermuda, and all places south. It's below Cape Hatteras so you can avoid unpleasantries there. True, there are still two more capes (Lookout and Fear) which have similar histories of shipwrecks but are not, for some reason, avoided as assidously.

I met a fellow 424 owner, John Stevenson, and we had a nice afternoon together and he joined us for dinner at a very tasty restaurant just up the road from the town marina. I think it's on Queen Street, and it's not called a restaurant but a market. It's a little pricy, but not bad. And the food is excellent. John has been all over the Atlantic with his 424 and is extremely knowledgeable. It was a stroke of great luck to hook up with him. He's off to the Bahamas now.

There's a little bar on Middle Lane, too, where if she's reading this (highly doubtful), I'd like to thank the lady who popped in and danced with me for one dance and then left. Very much like a drive-by dance.

We had to stay in Beaufort for a day and a half while we had propeller work done. Remember the deadhead thing? Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. All I can say is I'm glad I wasn't at the helm when we hit.

Here's something else. Generally when you hit something with a prop the prop bends. It's the nature of the material. What you don't expect is a brittle failure. Check out the pictures of the prop that was the most seriously damaged. The props are supposedly bronze. Bronze is an alloy of copper, tin, and zinc (as well as other metals). Unfortunately, tin is more expensive than zinc so many foundries use more zinc than is best for the application.

Normally, this isn't a problem. However, in a marine environment what do you put on your shafts to protect them from electrolysis? Yes, that's right, zinc. What happens when the zincs are all used up due to stray currents in a marina or a poor bonding system? You got it - the propellers become the zincs resulting in the loss of zinc from them - you can tell because they become pink. Check it out - especially at the hub. Those pink splotches are from the zinc being sacrificed.

What this means is that the metal won't fail in a ductile manner (bend before breaking) but in a more precipitous brittle manner. It's very important, therefore, to make sure you keep up with your zincs. Propellers are expensive. Zincs are not.

What is most incredible about 24hr sailing is nighttime at sea. I've mentioned it before on another entry, but each time I go out on the foredeck and look up I'm amazed. Totally amazed. You can look out and think it's cloudy but it's not - it's the Milky Way! There are so many stars to be seen that you can't pick out many of the well known constellations! There's almost no space between all the stars! I could lay out on deck all night long and watch except for the cold spray. When farther than 20 miles from land and therefore out of shoreside light pollution range it is more than worthwhile to stare at the sky. Highly recommended.

Finally, my friend Cory gave me a PowerSurvivor 35 revers osmosis water maker originally sold by Recovery Engineering who was purchased by PUR and finally by Katadyn. I'll be rebuilding and installing it this winter.

Sadly, the season is coming to an end. Yesterday there was a flurry of activity at the marina - people taking their sails off the boat, winterizing their engines, and performing all sorts of end-of-season tasks. I'm hoping for another good weekend to sail and then I'll cover the boat. Usually, I wait for horrible weather to do that. Maybe this year, too...

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