Cruise Report: Salem to Charleston. Caution: Long
September-October Cruise Report of the SV Marabelle Ann
Crew: Jake and JD
Salem to Charleston
September 12 Wednesday: Salem to Plymouth
Departed Salem Harbor and hoisted sails with 12-18kt cool breeze. About 5nm north of Plymouth Harbor entrance we spotted a school of blues and altered course to sail through them with our hand line deployed. Right as we sailed through our “tuna teaser” lure hooked up and JD reeled in a good sized Blue, brought aboard and used our manual bilge pump handle to his head to stop the flopping around. There was a lot of excitement on board as it was our first keeper fish and we now had renewed confidence in our fishing system. Just as we were entering the channel to go into Plymouth we saw another school and sailed over and hooked another one. I brought this one in and we now had two blues for the cooler. We didn’t have a net or gaff yet, so we luckily pulled each one up and over the life lines and aboard.
We anchored in Plymouth in the “false channel” at nearly dead low tide and went ashore to meet my family for dinner.
September 13 Thursday: Plymouth to Newport
Departed Plymouth at the crack of dawn and while JD motored us out I filleted the two blues… nothing like fish and guts at 6 am! We motored down to the CC Canal, waited outside for an hour for the tide to slacken and went through with about a knot of head current. It was a beautiful day in the Canal and by the time we were near the end we had the current behind us for the trip down Buzzards Bay. There wasn’t any breeze so we had to motor the whole way to Newport. I cooked the blues with peppers in a frying pan and I was very surprised with how well it came out!
We arrived in Newport Harbor just at sunset and went to anchor off of Ida Lewis YC. The anchorage originally didn’t seem too crowded, but more than half of the boats were on two anchors. We finally found a place where we could put out enough scope on our third attempt and were settled for the night.
Sept 14-17: Newport Boat show
We had a good time at the show on Friday and Saturday, bought a few things, checked out the new boats and went to a seminar. The more and more boats I looked at, the more I appreciated the space for a 35ft boat and great engine access that my boat has compared to some of the brand new ones on the market. Samantha and my dad joined us in Newport for the weekend
Saturday the breeze picked up so we went back to the Marabelle Ann early afternoon to make sure the anchor was holding. The CQR and chain held throughout the whole weekend without a problem and I got my best night sleep on Saturday knowing my dad was aboard and would take over the anchor checking throughout the night.
I got to see my good friend from college, David Wright, who is presently training for the Laser Olympic Qualifiers for the Canadian Team. He was training with Andrew Cambel in Newport at the time in preparation for Andrew’s successful US Olympic Qualifier that just took place in Newport… Congrats Andrew and good luck in the Olympics!!!
September 17 Monday-Sept 20 Thursday: Newport to Norfolk. Offshore
We got off to a much later start than we would have liked since we had to have our holding tank pumped (should have done over the weekend) and fuel filled up. The pump out boat in Newport said he wouldn’t be available until noon so we motored over to Jamestown and got pumped, fuel, ice and amazing breakfast beagles at Spinnakers before shoving off for sea at 10.
Forecasts were for NE 12-20kt breeze offshore for the next few days and around 5 ft seas. We had the best breeze the first full day out, steady 15-20kts+, but after that it was more in the 6-15kt range with swells 7-12ft. It was the first time on the boat trying to sail a run/broad reach for long periods of time, and when the breeze got much below 10-12kts it was not very successful. We were rocking a lot with the seas on our quarter and it was a constant balancing act between going low to try to put the seas more on the stern, but then loosing power in the sail and sailing a true reach and putting the seas more on our beam. To top things off when I tried the auto-pilot the first two days it kept on kicking out, I guess due to the swells. So it was all hand steering for a crew of two for the trip. We had a rough watch schedule as follows:
I was surprised at how little boat/ship traffic there was for most of the trip offshore. We had an almost full moon to steer for until it set each night and then the stars did the trick. The second two nights after midnight the wind died out and we ran the engine for a few hours until daybreak when it filled in again. We had a few too many accidental jibes caused by the seas, one of which seared the snap shackle off connecting the boom vang to the mast. We averaged about 120nm per 24 hours with our best being 135nm. We were greeted by rain and grey skies in Norfolk at daybreak.
Sept. 20 Thursday: Portsmouth, VA
It was a longer motor in to dock than I would have thought from the outside channel, especially with rain. We tied up at Ocean Marine Yacht Center and it was the nicest marina I have been to since I left Annapolis last spring. The manager, secretary and dock attendant were all very helpful and friendly. The use of the courtesy car and proximity to town/restaurants was also a plus. The docks and facilities were also in great shape. We arrived around noon, took much needed showers, used the courtesy car to run to West Marine and Best Buy and grabbed a quick bite in town before getting a well deserved full night sleep.
Sept. 21 Friday: ICW South: Portsmouth, VA – Coinjack, NC; Midway Marina & Motel
Got a later start than we would have liked due to two big trawlers fueling up, pumping out and watering up at the fuel dock before we could get in. Once we got underway down the ICW it was surprisingly smooth motoring (this was the first time either of us had been through). All the talk and reading of difficulty with bridges, channels, etc we didn’t really experience. The lock was easy with only one other boat in at the time (one of the trawlers who fueled up before us). We tried anchoring around 1800 at one of the anchorages from either Skipper Bob or another ICW book, but couldn’t find the 12ft hole that was talked about after about an hour of trying and continually touching bottom. So we decided to keep on going the 20 or so miles to Coinjack, NC and a marina. Going through this part of the ICW at night wasn’t a problem, just followed the markers. It was pretty spooky when we were getting close to the marina, as it didn’t seem like there were lights or civilization anywhere and then all of the sudden we come around a bend of a creek and there is the ‘town’ of Coinjack. We tied up alongside the pier at 2200 at Midway Marina and were greeted by some locals who had just gotten in from fishing. We were officially in the south! The manager here was also a very friendly guy.
Sept 22 Saturday: Coinjack, NC to anchorage. ICW
We fueled up in the morning and had a good day of motoring south. We had one big rainstorm that came through for about an hour. We anchored just south of the Alligator River (I think) at about 2200 in good water to the north of the channel.
Sept 23 Sunday: Anchorage to Beaufort, NC. ICW
We got up and going at 0600 so we could make it to Beaufort, NC before nightfall. It was a hot sunny day and while in one of the bays halfway through the day we slowed down to a drift so we could take our first “tally-ho” (jump in the water) of the trip and cool off. We arrived in Beaufort, NC and docked right at the Dock House Restaurant / Beaufort Docks. We walked around town, which was quite, for about an hour before grabbing a quick dinner at the Dock House Restaurant. The managers were very accommodating and we were able to use the courtesy car in the morning to pick up some groceries.
The ICW gave the Marabelle Ann and her crew a nice change of pace from the rock and roll life of being offshore and allowed us to get the boat back in order. I am glad we got to go do part of the ICW and we saw some great scenery and new areas. I can say though, that after three days of motoring I was definitely ready to get back offshore and do some sailing!
Sept 24-Sept 26 Mon-Wed: Beaufort, NC to Charleston SC. Offshore
We headed offshore with a nice breeze in the morning and deployed our fishing lines for the first time since leaving New England. We caught a Bonita the first day, which we through back and a King Mackerel the next, which we unfortunately didn’t eat because we weren’t sure at the time what it was.
It was a pretty easy sail with the wind averaging 8-15kts from the NE. We had the same problem with the dead run/swells to a lesser extent since the swells were nearly as big on this run. We were able to get the autopilot to work as well, which made a world of a difference to use for an hour or so at a time.
We saw 3 huge sea turtles on the trip as well as the best dolphin show I have ever seen. One pod visited us for about five minutes the morning of the 25th, but that afternoon, our last full day at sea, we had a pod of 20+ dolphin that entertained us for almost two hours! It was the best escort to Charleston one could ask for and we were amazed at their grace and intelligence. It is these parts of cruising that really make it worth it!
September 26, Wed.: Charleston
We arrived the morning of the morning of the 26th and made arrangements to dock at the Charleston Maritime Center for two months. A good friend, David Andrews, lives in Charleston, so we got the local tour of surf fishing at a remote location and going to Morris Island for a beach/boat shindig over the weekend. Samantha joined us on Friday night, JD departed on Saturday and I left the Marabelle Ann on Thursday at the marina to head back to work.
I don’t have the final trip mileage on me (probably about 900nm), but things really couldn’t have gone smoother for a two-man crew doing their first big offshore passage and heading down to the ICW for the first time. We were blessed with great weather, new places and experiences for the entire trip.
We will be bringing the Marabelle Ann to St. Augustine in November and then hoping further south in preparation to depart from the West Palm Beach area early January for the Bahamas.
New owner of a Lippincott 30!
Hailing from the West River, MD