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Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Friday, July 7, 2006

Our time in Fort Lauderdale was spent waiting on parts. While we were stuck there, we decided to start painting the topsides. The previous owners had the topsides a gray color. The color, dark enough for the sun to heat the deck which burned the soles of our feet, had to go. We quickly became familiar customers at the West Marine store. We purchased paint and started working on repairing and painting the decks. When the time had almost come for us to head out, Chris wanted to start the engines. One had a mind of its own, and had decided that it would be a great time to not start. After Chris checked all the routine problem areas, he decided it was an electrical problem and time to call in a professional.

The boat next to us in the marina had various workers the whole time we were there. One morning Chris asked one of them if he knew of a good mechanic. The fellow, Skip Smoot (and I'm not making that name up) asked for the symptoms. It turns out that Skip is an electrical engineer. He said that he would give us a call early next week and get things working again. He was true to his word. When we asked how much the fee was, he said that he usually works on bigger projects, and that he'd have done ours for free simply because we're actually GOING somewhere with our boat. So, said Mr. Smoot, he'd like to try an experiment with us. That being that he would give us his name and address, and if we were happy with the work done, we could simply send him some money. Interesting concept - one that would probably work better if we had more money...

Here's another one for the "small world" department: While we were grocery shopping in Ft. Lauderdale one day, a woman stopped us and said, "I know you." I know Chris was as stumped as I was until she continued, "We met in St. Kitts" Still not seeing the light, she went on, "On the volcano hike!" Oh my goodness, yes! She and her husband and daughter and son-in-law were very good company on that hike. So now, not only Quest gets recognized, so do we!

After leaving Ft. Lauderdale, we headed non-stop for Beaufort, NC. This passage was the one during which we ran at 10+ knots for two days. The Gulf Stream aided us with its current. Still, the watches on a passage of this duration (approximately 600 miles) take a toll. We thought we make landfall during the daylight hours of early evening. That's when the Gulf Stream current took over in a difficult way, pushing us away from our mark and making our passage much slower. The pilot book we had said that Beaufort was one of the safest, well-lit buoyed areas on the East Coast. Well, sure the outside was. After we got into the protection of the inner waters, we became very anxious. It was now pitch dark outside and we slowly picked our way from one pair of red and green lights to the next. We ran aground once or twice, but were able to back off. At around 3:30 am we decided (actually Chris decided, I was mostly whining) that we had to motor in circles until the sky lightened up with morning. In the morning, we could see the lay of the land more clearly.

In the morning we went up a narrow unlit channel to where we could see sailboat masts. We hoped to be able to anchor and rest up and have a chance to visit the cute town of Beaufort. Well, there was no room to anchor, so we opted for an open dock space and headed in knowing if we were in a wrong place, someone would let us know. The winds were picking up and we needed to be VERY careful. As it was, Chris "greased" it and was perhaps one of our better landings. I walked up to the harbor master's office to announce our arrival. He said we would have to move. I did my best to get the proper amount of emotion on my face, but he said we'd still have to move. The harbor master said we could take a few hours rest before moving, so we did just that. After we woke, I went back to the Harbormaster's office and said we were ready. The winds had picked up even more and we knew that this would be even trickier. Chris aced it and the two workers caught our dock lines. We tied up in the increasing wind, and as we did so, the radio announced a tornado watch for the area.

In Juneau we'd get a kick out of the weather reports: "showers turning to rain"; here the weather reports a tornado that will hit at 2:37 pm. Amazing how they can pinpoint it to the minute. Anyway, experience has us not quite believing the forecast, and we started preparing for the worst. We once again took the bimini and the flag down, put out extra dock lines and lashed the mainsail to the boom - just in time for the wind to quit and the "storm" to have passed over.

We enjoyed our brief visit to Beaufort. It is a very quaint, little populated town situated on the Beaufort Inlet Channel just south of Cape Hatteras. The Channel has a strong 2-3 knot current, so it was a comfort to know that we were safely tied to a dock. Our walkabout here took us into the residential area and we looked at many beautiful homes with plaques near the doors announcing the building dates in the 1750-1890's. We took a brief walk in a cemetery which held Revolutionary and Civil war soldiers.

The town was gearing up for a Tall Ships celebration. Some folks were excited, some very apprehensive. Never the less, we needed to vacate our slip (which wasn't hard to do, since it was costing us $100 per night). We left in the early morning and were amazed at how much easier it was leaving in the daylight than it was picking our way through at night.

What amazes us is how fast the wind and water conditions can change in the ocean. One moment we're racing along at 10 knots and the next, we're limping slowly at 3 knots. The seas have so much to do with our progress. Of course whenever there is wind, there will be seas. That's a bit of a bother.

We had our visits by area mammals - dolphins and whales, and we're always happy to see them. Chris said he saw a large shark just south of Montauk Point. The sea state was flat calm (hence no wind) and the second portion of our trip (another 525 nautical miles or so) to Long Island was a motorboat ride.

We will spend a few weeks in the "Hamptons" visiting relatives and, of course doing maintenance. One cruiser we met in Turkey told us that the definition of cruising was "time spent at sea between repairs." Ain't it the truth!
We've done lots of reading on our cruise. One day I was reading outside and a passerby asked what I was reading. I told him, "The Happy Isles of Oceania - Paddling the Pacific" by Paul Theroux. He smiled and said, "Oh, highbrow reading." He must have thought I meant Thoreau. I smiled back, nodded my high brow and waved. Anyway, this Theroux said in his book, "Tourists don't know where they've been. Travelers don't know where they're going." We must definitely be Travelers, then. We're not sure exactly when or where, but we'll probably do some more northward travels before we done. We'll keep in touch.
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