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Trip to Maine with Sam

So, here is what has happened. Because taking the boat more than 1,000 nautical miles from Savannah to Maine is to be a fast trip, and not a leisurely cruise, I arranged a few months ago to hire a friend who is a licensed captain to accompany me. I also invited Sam Durham, my 14-year-old nephew, to go with us. Last Saturday, my captain called to report that he had been in a very bad fall on board a fishing boat where he was working. His hip was crushed and he was to undergo hip replacement surgery last Sunday. I thought seriously about finding a replacement, but I finally decided that Sam and I, being the real men that we are, can handle the trip alone. Sam has never been on a boat like this and there are several things he will need to learn. He will have to handle the lines and fenders, check the engine room daily, and learn how to drive the boat so that he can take his watch at the helm. Besides all this, he will have to learn to handle his daily grog ration, smoke cigars, cuss like a sailor, and locate the women in every port. I have no fears. He has a great teacher. Laura Lee is accompanying me to Topsail Island just North of Wilmington, NC where we will pick up Sam and Laura Lee will fly home. Today we are en route from Charleston to Southport, NC and we should arrive at Topsail tomorrow. Sam and I plan to head out Tuesday morning, July 5th and I’ll be posting periodic reports from there on. Wish us luck. We’ll enjoy any responses you may wish to make. If you get bored with this narrative, just let me know and I’ll take you off the list.

July 5, 2004 Distance Traveled: 55 Nautical Miles (from Topsail Beach) Location: Morehead City, NC Laura Lee and I spent last night anchored in the sound across from her brother-in law Greg Durham’s mother’s house at Topsail Beach. We enjoyed a fantastic 4th Of July feast of boiled shrimp and watched fireworks from the dock before riding our dinghy back to the boat for the night. This morning, we loaded Laura Lee’s luggage onto the dinghy and took her to the dock. Her sister Bess drove her to the Wilmington, NC airport while young Sam and I returned to the Suladan to begin our adventure. It is apparent there is little to do at Topsail Island. When we arrived yesterday, some 20 family members came to the dock to greet us. Today, the same crowd stood on the dock to bid farewell to Sam and me. Thirty minutes later, when Sam and I passed under the bridge to Topsail, the same crowd stood and cheered us on our way. God knows what they do when there is less excitement. Sam and I worked our way slowly up the intracoastal waterway today. There were a million boats out for the holiday and we could only idle our way to avoid throwing a huge wake. We made only 56 nautical miles in eight hours and we are tied up tonight at Morehead City. We walked down the street from the marina for a simple dinner and we are now aboard watching Horatio Hornblower. Tomorrow, we will head up Adams Creek to the Neuse River and into Pamlico Sound. This is an inside route to avoid going to sea around Cape Hatteras. In two or three days, we should be in Norfolk, VA and three days after that, we should enter New York Harbor, if the weather remains good. Sam is proving to be an able-bodied seaman. He learned to help raise the dinghy today and stow it on the boat deck. He learned some simple rules such as never going on deck while we are underway without informing me first. He learned the location of lifejackets and the rule to put one on at the first sign of any trouble. Tomorrow morning, he will learn the morning engine room routine, how to work the radio in an emergency, how to operate emergency flares, and how to deploy the liferafts. These are all little lessons to be dealt with before we really go to sea. He drove the boat for about two hours in the waterway. (When I asked if he wanted to drive, he said: “Sure! How do you do it?”) He learned how to set up the lines and passed them off to the Marina dockmaster when we stopped for the night. He helped deploy the shore power cord. At dinner, I asked his impressions of his first day at sea. He conceded that it’s “a little boring”. I have taken to calling Sam the “disappearing man”. Most people on the boat will leave the bridge or pilothouse and say “I’m going below to rest” or “I’ll be back in a minute”. Sam simply disappears. I soon discovered that he is prone to going below to his bunk to read without saying a word. I simply look around and he’s gone. Sam’s a quiet companion, but that beats the friend I had on the boat several years ago who was a compulsive talker. “Ah hah, beautiful day, beautiful day.” He would say, or “Sun’s coming up, sun’s coming up”. I tried timing him and he never went a full minute without saying something. Sam, on the other hand, is quite content to sit for hours without uttering a word. I find it quite relaxing. I somehow have misplaced my camera for the moment, but I will be including pictures with these reports as soon as I find it or get a new one. I hope to show you Sam’s indoctrination into the ways of sailors as well as some of the sights along the way. Stay tuned for later reports. The Captain and Crew of the Suladan

maine trip 2004 002.jpgJuly 7, 2004 Location: Coinjock, NC Distance Traveled: 190 nautical miles Yesterday was a great travel day. From Morehead City, we followed the Intracoastal Waterway up Adams Creek into the Neuse River, then out and across Pamlico Sound inside the Outer Banks of North Carolina. From there we crossed Croatan and then Albemarle Sounds and then proceeded up the North River into what is called the “North Carolina Cut” where we stopped for the night at Coinjock, NC. Coinjock has a couple of marinas which are very competitive in trying to get fuel business from transiting vessels and is therefore known as one of the best places to purchase diesel fuel. Our price was $1.27 per gallon compared to more than $1.60 in Charleston. Needless to say, we are fully loaded down with fuel and ready for the long run to Maine. Because we traveled 134 nautical miles yesterday which is more than I expected on an inside route (where you have to slow down for “no wake zones”), we are a day ahead of my mental schedule. Today we only have about 40 miles to travel to Norfolk, the beginning (or end) of the Intracoastal Waterway. From there, we will venture into the Atlantic for the first time, Leaving Cape Charles en route to Ocean City, MD, New Jersey, and then through New York City into the Long Island Sound. Sam is proving to be a valuable deckhand, handling lines, connecting and disconnecting power cords, and last night he hosed the boat down to get rid of some of the salt accumulated in the open sounds. We spent the night at the Midway Marina and had a decent dinner there. Afterwards, Sam watched the second episode of the Horatio Hornblower series while I turned in early. At Norfolk tonight, we’ll stop at the Waterside Marina where Sam’s “Great” Uncle Jim McKee joined me a couple of years ago for a run South. Now that Sam has grown accustomed to his daily grog ration and fine cigars, he’ll get a taste of shoreside pursuits at Hooters restaurant there. There is a mall nearby so I hope to get a camera to further document our exploits. We took it easy this morning and got away around 9:00. We’ll keep you posted. John and Sam (the disappearing man

July 7, 2004 Location: Norfolk, VA Distance Traveled: 176 nautical miles We had a relatively easy day today departing Coinjock at 9:00 a.m. and arriving Norfolk at 2:30 p.m. We crossed Coinjock Bay, the Currituck Sound, meandered up the North Landing River into the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, and finally out into the Chesapeake Bay. It was slow going with much traffic, draw bridges to wait for, and one lock which raised us up about one foot to, I guess, a different sea level. We’re tied up at the Waterside Marina for the night. We walked a couple of blocks to a nearby mall where I finally got a relatively inexpensive Casio digital camera to allow me to share images with you, faithful readers. Here is Sam preparing to enjoy his afternoon grog ration: and then another of him romancing the waitress at Hooters: Needless to say, Sam’s being a good sport about all this. We head out tomorrow for a 140 mile passage in the open Atlantic to Cape May, NJ. We’ll let you know when we have safely arrived. John and Sam

July 8, 2004 Location: Cape May, NJ Distance Traveled: 341 Nautical Miles I knew this trip was going too well. We were ahead of schedule, the weather was fantastic, the boat was doing well mechanically. We left Norfolk at 7:30 this morning under clear bright blue skies, after violent electrical storms last night. It was very slow going getting out of Norfolk with no-wake zones surrounding the enormous Navy shipyards there. But the scenery was fantastic. As we got out into the open Chesapeake Bay, we found that we were so loaded down with fuel from Coinjock that our normal cruising speed of 18 knots had become 16 knots. The seas were totally smooth though, and the voyage was enjoyable, even though it was to be a long day. As the day wore on, the wind and seas picked up, but the boat became lighter and picked up speed. By noon, we were doing 17.5 knots. Winds were 15 to 20n knots from the South, behind us, and seas were three to four feet. Running downwind with our stabilizers working, the ride was smooth and it looked like we would make Cape May by around 5:30 p.m. At about 4:30, some 17 miles out from our destination, the starboard engine suddenly quit, and about 1 minute later, the port engine quit as well. Finally, our generator quit too. Too stupid to realize that this had to be a fuel problem, I started the other generator. It ran for three or four minutes and then it quit as well. The boat quickly turned broadside to the waves and began rocking violently from side to side, about 30 degrees of roll in each direction. Everything, and I do mean everything, started flying. Coffee mugs, glasses, dishes, etc. were crashing all around us. I yelled for Sam to come up from his room. I told him not to be alarmed. We were safe, but I needed him to try to grab things and secure them while I went to the engine room to figure out the problem. I went below to look around, but it was dark without the generator. I came back up to get a flashlight and Sam had returned to his cabin. Slightly irritated, I yelled: “Sam, what are you doing?” He poked his head up the stairs and informed me that he was throwing up. “Continue what you were doing”, I said, and I returned to the engine room to get to work. Suladan has five fuel tanks – a “day tank” from which all fuel is drawn for both engines and both generators, and four storage tanks. Normally, fuel is pumped from the storage tanks into the day tank before a trip. However, today I knew that we would be running far and fast enough to use all the fuel in the day tank. In this case, you can open valves at the bottom of storage tanks to allow fuel to flow freely into the day tank so that you don’t have to stop on the high seas to transfer fuel. I opened the valves on the port and starboard main storage tanks this morning, but I neglected to open the valve at the bottom of the day tank to let this fuel in. Therefore, with more than 2500 gallons of fuel on board, we simply ran out of gas at 4:30 this afternoon. I quickly figured out the problem and opened the appropriate valve. But once you have starved a diesel engine of fuel, there is hell to pay getting the air out of the lines and priming the engines to restart. And I had not only starved the two main engines and the generator we were using, I had also starved the other generator by starting it after the problem should have been obvious to me. So for about a half hour, I found myself in a dark, wildly rolling engine room with a flashlight in one hand and a wrench in the other trying to get us underway. The only procedure I know to solve this problem is to take a wrench and crack open one or more valves on the top of the engine. When you then turn over the engine, air can escape and ultimately diesel fuel will start spraying from the cracked open valve. For a qualified mechanic, there may be a clean and efficient way to do this. For me, it involves cracking open one valve, trying to start, cracking another, trying again, etc., until suddenly I have diesel fuel spraying in my face and hair. Then I close all the valves and try again several times, and eventually one cylinder starts firing, and then another, and before you know it, the engine is running. I got the starboard engine going first because it runs the hydraulic system which gives us stabilizers. I came upstairs, got the boat going on autopilot, and went back down to go through the whole process again until I finally got the port engine going. I then tried for awhile to get a generator going but did not succeed until after we docked in Cape May, NJ. When we were finally underway and “running on all cylinders”, I peeked below at Sam who was fast asleep in his bunk. He didn’t emerge until we were coming into port when he stuck his head out to inform me that he was hungry. Anyway, no one was hurt and there was no serious damage. My good sunglasses were somehow crushed and my cellphone lost its antenna. One of my favorite William Woods University coffee mugs was broken. There are a few new stains on the carpet in the galley. After being in the 180 degree engine room while I was standing in the pilothouse sweating and trying to get back underway, a plastic bottle of water rolled down the steps from the flying bridge. It was just what I needed but I looked up top to find that the refrigerator had come open leaving beer, soft drinks, and bottled water rolling all over the bridge. So there you go. Another day in the world of luxury yachting. We had dinner at the Lobster Trap Restaurant and Sam is watching the final Horatio Hornblower episode. I’m about to hit the rack. We’re still ahead of schedule. We’ll get underway tomorrow as soon as I get the second generator going. We should be in Manasquan or Sandy Hook tomorrow night and go through New York Harbor and up the East River through Hell’s Gate into the Long Island Sound on Saturday. Let’s hope the bad luck is behind us. John and Sam P.S. Here’s Sam at the wheel before the calamity:

Friday, July 9, 2004 Location: Atlantic Highlands, NJ in Sandy Hook Bay Distance Traveled: 454 Nautical Miles We took it easy this morning, after yesterday’s adventure, and didn’t get away from Cape May until 10:15. We had about 115 miles to travel and I knew we could make it by around 5:30. We traveled up the entire New Jersey coast, past Atlantic City with its high-rise casino hotels, and past Asbury Park, hometown of the “Boss” Bruce Springsteen. The seas were a little choppy with wind off the shore at about 20 knots. The boat ran smoothly with little motion. I, of course, checked the fuel gauges about 200 times to make sure I was not repeating yesterday’s mistake. The weather is fantastic…cool and clear with blue skies and a few scattered clouds. We shut off the air conditioning and opened up the doors to enjoy the ocean breeze. At about 4:15 I began to spot the New York City skyline in the distance. By 4:45 I could clearly identify the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building through the binoculars. I called Sam up top to look and he responded that it was “pretty cool”. Then he went back to his reading below. I can’t remember any of my kids being interested in sightseeing either. But I think he’ll be blown away tomorrow as we enter New York Harbor and cruise by the Statue of Liberty and up the East River, right beside Manhattan. We’ll get away late again tomorrow as the tide doesn’t start in at the Narrows until noon and it’s nice to ride the incoming tide up the East River. From our boat tonight, we can see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge eight miles to the North, the entrance to New York Harbor. We can still see the skyline in the distance and I’m waiting for sunset to enjoy the lights of New York City. Later. John and Sam

Saturday, July 10, 2004 Location: Stamford, CT Distance Traveled: 505 Nautical Miles Well, I finally got a rise out of Sam. The kid who loves to read was impressed enough with the scenery today to spend almost two hours on deck, looking and taking pictures. We departed Sandy Hook at 11:00 this morning and by noon we were passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the entrance to New York Harbor. Photos are attached of Miss Liberty, the skyline, the Empire State Building, and a wonderful little lighthouse in the Long Island Sound. We cruised right up the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, past the South Street Seaport with its collection of tall ships, past the United Nations Building, under the Queensboro Bridge, past Roosevelt Island, and through Hell’s Gate where the East River turns away from Manhattan and enters a narrow stretch toward the Long Island Sound. Hell’s Gate is known for its fierce currents so we had timed our departure to ride the incoming tide for the entire day. We had about 4 knots of current as we passed Hell’s Gate making for a rapid trip. Then we went by Riker’s Island (the prison), past La Guardia Airport, past Yankee Stadium, under the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, under the Throg’s Neck Bridge, and out into the Long Island Sound. We’ll be in the Sound for another 75 miles between the Connecticut shore and Long Island. We could make it all the way to Newport, RI tomorrow but there are so many sailboats out on the Sound during the weekend, we will probably just cruise slowly and take our time. Besides, I want to wait until Monday morning to call a boat yard in Newport to see if I can stop for a couple of minor repairs to a water pump and our inverter. Keep tuning in for the next episode. Sam and John

Monday, July 12, 2004 Location: Mystic, CT Distance Traveled: 581 Nautical Miles We had a fairly quiet day yesterday. We left Stamford at around 7:15 and cruised East with a strong tidal current helping us along. At a power setting that normally gives me 12 knots, I was making 14.5 knots part of the day. We stopped at Mystic for the night just to see if Julia Roberts was around. Apparently she doesn’t work here anymore and the pizzas are lousy too, so we ate dinner elsewhere. Mystic is a picturesque little town full of tourists and quaint little shops. Sam wandered around for about an hour yesterday and returned with a beautiful brass “spyglass” in a beautiful wooden case and a miniature trumpet from some of the nautical and souvenir shops. We had a lobster dinner and I was asleep by 9:30. I’m wearing a sweatshirt this morning. I think it’s around 60 degrees. The water temperature has dropped from 85 degrees at Topsail Island to around 67 degrees in this area, and there is a noticeable chill in the morning air, although it’s been warming into the 80’s in the afternoons. We’re headed East this morning and we’ll stop in Newport, RI if the boatyard there can help me with some minor repairs. I’ll call them later this morning. If they can’t help me out, we’ll keep going and perhaps pass up Buzzard’s Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal this afternoon. After that, we’ll be with 60 miles of Boston. Stay tuned. Sam and John Tuesday, July 13, 2004 Location: Newport Rhode Island Distance Traveled: 626 Nautical Miles I thought we could make it to Boston in about a week, but I allowed two weeks in case of weather or repair problems. Today we have both. It rained a steady drizzle all night and this morning it is a chilly 60 degrees and still drizzling. I slept with all the windows open enjoying what Laura Lee refers to as “real air”. Today’s forecast calls for a high of around 70 with the rain ending early this afternoon. We are at the Hinkley boat yard awaiting a replacement for Suladan’s inverter, which has been acting up for some time. What is an inverter? Basically, it is the reverse of a battery charger – it takes direct current of 24 volts from a bank of batteries and “inverts” this power into 120 volts alternating current such as you have in your house. Normally, the boat gets power from giant power cords at dock or from its own generator when underway. However, when we are anchored out for an extended period, or tied to a mooring as we will be for weeks at a time in Maine, it is not desirable to run the generators 24 hours a day. Not only is it noisy, but it uses fuel and the oil must be changed after 200 hours of use. The inverter does not provide enough power to run air conditioning, the stove, the hot water heater, or anything else requiring 240 volts or high current. However, it will keep the refrigerator and icemaker going, allow you to watch TV, and otherwise live in basic comfort. The normal procedure is to run the generator for a few hours each day to heat up the hot water, allow cooking, and, most importantly, recharge the batteries. Then it can be shut off overnight or during the day while the inverter is running. My inverter for some time has been shutting off when battery power is applied to it, even if it is not being used. It shows a fault of “heat sink overtemp”, even though it is not hot since it is not even running. I had it worked on in Savannah before the trip and a main control circuit board was replaced. But the problem didn’t go away. In talking to the company yesterday, it seems that we would need to take it from the boat and send it to New Jersey for repairs. It weighs about 125 pounds and the shipping and repairs are so expensive, it is quicker and about the same price to simply replace it. So, here we sit in Newport awaiting a new inverter which we hope will arrive Wednesday allowing us to get away Thursday (best case). We are about two days from Boston and Sam needs to fly out Sunday or Monday to be home for band camp. I’m hoping we’ll get to Boston Friday or Saturday and have a day or two of sightseeing before he heads home. The boatyard is a fairly dull place to hang out. There’s no restaurant or anything else here. Last night I thawed out a long white package which was stamped “meat dept”, thinking it was a beef tenderloin. When it was completely thawed and opened, it turned out to be chicken breasts. So we had grilled chicken breasts for dinner. The boat yard has a courtesy car which can be used for a couple of hours at a time when it’s available. Today, if we can get it, we plan to drive into Newport to see some of the sights and have lunch. Otherwise, we’re simply sitting here. I won’t write again until we’re underway, unless anyone wants a more extensive private discussion of inverters, or is really interested in what we eat for dinner. I had to let family know where we are but I do know when to quit. Tune in later for the exciting conclusion to Sam’s travels. Sam and John

Thursday, July 15, 2004 Location: No Change Distance Traveled: No Change Well, as often happens when you’re really in a hurry, the order for our new inverter was faxed to California with an agreement to pay excessive extra amounts for overnight shipping so that the inverter would be here yesterday at 11 a.m. The fax was “misplaced” and now we are told that the inverter will be here today at 11 a.m. If it really arrives, we plan to leave late today around 4 p.m. and travel about two hours up to near the west end of the Cape Cod Canal. That would put us in position to transit the canal early tomorrow and still be in Boston tomorrow evening. This is what we now call Plan C. We’ll let you know if the inverter arrives.

Thursday, July 15, 2004 Location: Onset, Mass. Distance Traveled: 672 Nautical Miles It’s glorious when a well-laid plan (plan C) comes together. At 11:00 a.m. this morning the electrician arrived at our dock with the new inverter. Sam and I were just back from breakfast in town with Pete and Caroline Sloss, friends from Birmingham who arrived last night on their sailboat. Pete goes to Maine each summer and has been my informal guide for this trip. By 2:00 p.m., the inverter was actually inverting. We left it on for the rest of the day and it seems to be perfect. We headed out through Newport Harbor and, for the first time the entire trip, got a taste of wind and seas. A little further south and we would have been protected by Long Island to the east. An hour after we got into the seas, we entered Buzzard Bay and were protected by Cuttyhunk Island to the southeast. But for about an hour, we were completely exposed to the Atlantic. Winds were coming straight in from the sea at about 19 knots and seas were three to four feet. Tough guys that we are, we thought it was fun. We traveled for about four hours up to the northeast corner of Buzzards Bay where we will enter the Cape Cod Canal in the morning. The canal is only about seven miles long and when we emerge at its eastern end, we’ll be about 68 miles from Boston harbor entrance. The canal has n locks and therefore suffers from something called “tidal range conflict”. Tides at this end have about a 4-foot range from high to low while tides at the eastern end have a range of nine feet. High tides at the two ends are also at different times. What all this means is that the currents through the canal are wicked as one part of the ocean tries to empty itself into the other. The tide “floods” or comes in from west to east so we need to transit the canal during the flood. This will give us as much as a 5-knot pickup in speed while trying to go against the current would be like running on a treadmill. To ride the flood, we need to buy fuel when the marina opens at 7 a.m. and then get through the canal before 10 a.m. when the ebb starts tomorrow. It should be no problem and the ride will be exhilarating. We learned today that one of the members of this list, Melissa Bice and her husband Brian, listed in the addresses above as Rosebud and Steve (don’t even ask), are the proud parents of their first child. Margaret Irene Bice arrived this morning at a little past 6 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and is 20 inches long. Mother and Maggie are all doing well I understand. Melissa is Laura Lee’s first cousin. Click on the first email address above and send her a note of congratulations. This makes me a new Uncle I guess and is a new cousin for Sam. We were glad to get underway today after our long layover. But there are some good things about being in port so long. The boat is relatively clean now. I replaced several lightbulbs, repaired a lamp on the galley wall, got the watermaker going after it has been shut down and “pickled” for the winter. What is a watermaker and what does it mean when it’s pickled? I’ll save that for another time. We should be in Boston tomorrow night. We’ll keep you posted. Sam and John

Saturday, July 17, 2004 Location: Boston, Mass. Distance Traveled: 734 Nautical Miles Engine Hours: 61 Average Speed: 12 knots Sam’s journey comes to an end this weekend. We’re tied up in the heart of Boston’s inner harbor just two blocks from historic Faneuil Hall and the Quincy marketplace. Here are pictures of him at the wheel coming into Boston Harbor, in front of Faneuil Hall, and in front of the Black Horse Tavern next door to Durgin Park restaurant where we went last night for “yankee cooking”. We pumped fuel for about two hours yesterday morning and finally got away from Onset at about 9:15. We rode the end of the flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal and emerged right at slack tide into Cape Cod Bay. We passed by Plymouth where the Pilgrims landed and cruised slowly up the coast for the remainder of the day, enjoying fantastic weather with cool breezes. We arrived Boston at about 4 p.m. Marinas are crowded this week as a number of boats are being brought in for the Democratic convention which starts in about a week. We got into a well-located spot by promising to move around as needed when some of the larger boats come and go. We plan to do a little sightseeing today and tomorrow, and a little cleanup work on the boat. Sam flies out Monday at 11:00 a.m. and I’ll mess about with the boat until Laura Lee arrives Friday. Sam’s been an excellent first mate. Like all of my kids at his age, he doesn’t really like just riding and watching the sights. When off-duty, he retreats below to read or watch cartoons. And he finds driving on the open sea to be “boring”. However, he’s taken his two-hour shifts on watch and he’s become a pro at handling the lines and power cords when we are arriving or leaving the dock. He’s gotten pretty good at hosing off the salt after a day at sea. He’s welcome back on my ship any time. Thanks for tuning in, faithful readers. I appreciate your kind notes along the way. I was disappointed that I received no requests for an explanation of “pickling” watermakers, but I’ll just save that for a future trip. Congratulations to Rosebud and Steve. See ya’ll. Sam and John

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