Friday, November 20, 2009

Charleston City Marina

Charleston’s downtown marina is deserving of all the hype we heard. Any marketing guru would exclaim it has location, location, location! The Charleston City Marina is convenient for ocean or Intracoastal cruisers, its 3,000-plus feet transient dock with fuel offers easy on/off and it’s near historic downtown Charleston. In addition to the expected amenities of a modern marina, they offer free WiFi and a courtesy van. Plus there is a gas station, convenience store, bar, and assorted marine & yacht services nearby.

Although most of the city excitement (grocery store, retail shops, restaurants and nightlife) is located on the other side of the downtown peninsula, the marina’s free shuttle is sufficient for most daytime needs. Plus we find the pleasant 20 to 30 minute walk helps with our exercise regimen while the effort required keeps us from going out too much. Additional downtown perks we weren’t expecting include a Five Guys Burgers and Fries and an Apple retail store, both of which are experiencing a bump in revenue since we came ashore.

Thanks to the marina’s special winter rate, my captain is allowing us to live dockside with all the mod-cons until Dec 10th. After that remains anyone’s guess…

Monday, November 16, 2009

Space Shuttle Atlantis

My captain and I stood on deck at 1430hrs in hopes of seeing NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis launch from Cape Canaveral, FL, approximately 500 miles down range from Charleston. Affirmative. We witnessed a large and long trail of smoke as Atlantis hurdled into orbit. Very cool.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cycling Charleston

Today the sun made an appearance for the first time since our arrival. What a perfect day to rub off the nubs on my new tires!

As warned, Charleston is not cycle friendly. The city’s downtown does not have bike paths and most streets have narrow lanes without shoulders. Should I follow the “correct” rules of the road and cycle alongside motor vehicle traffic or pay heed to their honking and seek the safety of the sidewalk? Early analysis reveals the common, mostly collegiate, cycler tends to favor the uneven (and sometimes treacherous) historic sidewalks while the professionally-clad cyclist appears to hold firm among motorists.

Despite all the peddling uncertainty, downtown’s flat landscape makes for easy cycling and the parks are welcoming. Already I can’t imagine continuing my exploration of Charleston’s distinct neighborhoods and quaint side streets any other way. However, I wish I brought my helmet.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Newport Dolphin Show

Supporting evidence of our November 4th dolphin escort... Watch a video where hundreds of dolphins put on a show in Newport, RI.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Approach to Charleston, South Carolina

Less than 70nm out from Charleston the sea state became increasing uncomfortable. We tried numerous sail configurations and even changed course in hopes of combating the short rolling seas but nothing seemed to help. We forged on with the engine until arriving dockside at 0300hrs on Tuesday, Nov 10th at The Charleston City Marina (in the rain) after a 6-day 860nm passage.

More Newport to Charleston Passage Photos

Special thanks to Tony O'Brien for being our media person and taking most of the photos.

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/9/2009 @ 11:59 PM(UTC)
33°00.28'N 079°01.84'W
Course 244T Speed 7.3kts
Wind 070T @ 15kts

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Newport to Charleston – Day 6

Wind began to fill-in before daylight as did laughter on deck as word spread about one crew member mistaking the tube of Flitz metal polish (in the left-side locker) for the tube of toothpaste (in the right-side locker).

Under 200nm to go, shorts & shades weather and a steady 18kt beam reach. A sailor’s life can’t get much better than this.

Approaching Dawn

Newport to Charleston – Day 5

By 0600hr we had very light wind that eventually turned into no wind forcing us to rely on the engine all day and much of the night. Despite being so far south, it was the first day we did not feel the need to wear ski hats and coats during the day. However, by sunset we needed their warmth again. The calm created an eerie first night-watch because there appeared to be no separation between water and sky.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Newport to Charleston – Day 4

During the night our wind died and we were again forced to make way under engine power. Given the distance yet to go (including temperamental Cape Hatteras) and our diminishing diesel supply, we decided to pull into Norfolk, VA to refuel. We crawled slowly toward shore to make our approach into Norfolk Harbor during daylight. Although it was our first time, entry into Norfolk was easy and it is a convenient place to fill-up. To our surprise, already on the fuel dock was a Swan 53 my captain and I had gone to inspect in Palma, Majorca over eight years ago, before we found “Eve”. Upon exiting the Chesapeake we caught a steady breeze that carried us safely around Cape Hatteras and through the night.

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/8/2009 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
35°32.87'N 075°14.35'W
Course 199T Speed 7.6kts
Wind 211T @ 7kts

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Newport to Charleston – Day 3

We made an early Cape May departure (0745hr) to capitalize on the following wind and seas. We began with only a reefed main and soon added a second reef. Three hours later we added a reefed jib and later went with a full jib. By mid day we were under full sail and making up for lost time.

Friday, November 06, 2009

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/7/2009 @ 3:07 AM(UTC)
37°22.38'N 075°15.94'W
Course 224T Speed 5.9kts
Wind 006T @ 6kts

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Newport to Charleston – Day 2

We continued to make way by motor sailing. (We’ve already used the engine more than on either of our Atlantic crossings.) Our sunrise is shown left.

A mid-day report from Commanders’ Weather forecasted an increase to already expected high winds so our captain decided to change course and go back towards Cape May to take shelter for the night. This course change allowed us to sail for a few hours. Before dark we were safely anchored in an anchorage area between the US Coast Guard station and the mouth of Cape May Harbor along with nine other sailboats seeking shelter.

It was unusually calm while we enjoyed a civilized dinner down below in the salon and secretly wondered if we should have pressed on. Within minutes of when the high winds were forecasted to start, we experienced gusts up to 43kts in the harbor. High winds and building seas kept us alert and on edge throughout the night. At times we had the engine on and ready to avert danger. During the night 3 of the 9 sailboats were rescued off the rocks.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Night Watch

Night watches (two 2-person shifts of 4hrs each between 6pm-10am) were spent keeping warm, dodging raindrops and tracking traffic by radar, which was mostly fishing vessels.

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/5/2009 @ 12:00 PM(UTC)
39°15.82'N 073°56.21'W
Course 211T Speed 7.1kts
Wind 123T @ 4kts

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Newport to Charleston – Day 1

On Wednesday, Nov 4th, sailing vessel Event Horizon departed a mooring in Newport Harbor at 0530 with a crew of four (Paul, Butch, Tony and myself) bound for Charleston, South Carolina. Before 0600 we were under full sail and greeted by hundreds of white-sided dolphins (seriously, over 200) who playfully escorted us outside Narragansett Bay. In over a decade of sailing these waters we’ve never witnessed dolphins this close to shore (only porpoise) or such a large gathering. A spectacular sight!

Good wind yielded early progress getting us past Block Island in less than 4 hours. We continued southwest along the east side of Long Island. By mid afternoon the wind direction changed forcing us to motor sail in order to stay ahead of approaching heavy weather.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

S/V Event Horizon Position Update

11/5/2009 @ 12:00 AM(UTC)
40°17.37'N 072°44.80'W
Course 231T Speed 6.7kts
Wind 209T @ 11kts

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wickford Fall

The increased harvest-hue brilliance of a Rhode Island sunset reminds me it is late fall and time to make final preparations for winter.

I'm happy to report that my life afloat will continue this winter in new territory for Event Horizon and crew. As usual, our sailing intinerary is flexible and for the most part uncertain but our first main destination is Charleston, South Carolina.

My days are busy taking inventory of boat parts, general supplies and provisions, making lists, shopping, and stowing, knowing I may have less than 24hrs notice of our departure, which always depends on getting a good weather window.