It’s 2am and I’m at the helm on my first official night watch at sea. The water is calm, the moon is bright, and there’s nothing but open ocean all around me. Pretty cool.
We finally made it out of Moorehead City around noon on Monday, after holing up in our boat for nearly three days being sloths and binge watching the first three seasons of Game of Thrones. The weather was cold, windy and rainy, so our options were limited. We tried to save them for when we got to the Bahamas, but decided that being stuck in a place for a few days waiting for the weather to improve was a just cause to break them out. What a great show. I totally get the hype now. Thanks, Mom!
I shouldn’t say we were total sloths. We did change the oil and fuel filters in both engines and reprimed the bilge pumps on Sunday.
After he was done, Matt went to start the engines… and nothing happened. Nada. They wouldn’t start. After about 30 minutes of troubleshooting (and a few choice words), he noticed that the kill switch to the starboard engine was just slightly pulled out. No fuel = no start. Rookie mistake. One engine solved and onto the next. Turns out that there was air in the fuel line in the port engine, so he bled it and, surprise!, it started up just fine. Hey, just two more things we know to check for if we ever run into this problem again. Since I’m not the best at troubleshooting engines, I worked on cleaning the boat, happy to be plugged into shore power again so I could vacuum.
We did manage to get out for a walk once the rain stopped and oogled some boats in Sportfish Row (our name, not theirs) which was a whole line of huge charter fishing boats. I can’t even imagine the cost of one of those, or how much fuel they burn during one trip. LOL, such a sailor thing to say! Since it was early November, most of the shops had closed up for the season, so we just sorta walked around aimlessly for a bit before deciding to go back to the boat and head out.
Just past sunset, about 20 miles out from Moorehead, we were greeted by a pod of dolphins, which just blew our minds! It’s like they we’re welcoming us out into the ocean or something. They started at the bow of our boat and made their way to the back, where they started jumping out of the water and doing all sorts of tricks. One jumped up about six feet, right off the back of our boat! For a split second we were nearly eye to eye with this dolphin. It was sort of like those shows at the aquarium, but about a million times cooler.
The water is a beautiful neon blue color and so clear, we could see the jellyfish nearly 15 feet down. If the the water of the Bay is the color of tea, then the water out here is the color of blue Gatorade.
So, I’m gonna be honest. Overnighters really suck. We decided to divide the night into four shifts with one of us on watch while the other sleeps: 7-10, 10-1, 1-4, 4-7. During our shifts we passed the time by reading, playing Sudoku, snacking on pistachios, star gazing, playing with the GPS to see how much longer till we get there, all the time scanning the horizon to make sure we won’t hit anything. It’s pretty spooky out there in the dark, with no horizon in sight to get your bearings.
The moon was pretty bright, so that was a bit of a comfort. Thank god for autopilot. You just set it and forget it. Sorta like a crock pot. There’s been no wind, so we can’t even work the sails to pass the time. So. Boring. During your “off” shift, you only get about an hour or so of decent sleep before it’s time for your watch again. I’m predicting that we’ll be spending our first day in Charleston sleeping a deep glorious slumber to bring us back from the zombie like state we’re currently in.
Surprisingly, we’ve both been feeling a little queasy and popped some Dramamine a few times already. Not the ‘I’m gonna barf all over the back of the boat’ type of sick, just feeling a little unsettled. The ocean is actually pretty calm, but the slow swell is always present and I think that’s what’s been messing with us. As excited as we were to get out of the ICW and into the ocean, I’m already ready to be done with this little offshore trip. Don’t think we’ll be crossing any oceans in our future, that’s for sure.
We approached the Charleston inlet around 4am this morning and had to dodge a few freighters coming while fighting a current of 1.5 knots up the river, but we’re here! Feels great to not be on the ocean anymore. Lesson learned for the next inlet: TIME THE TIDES!