Tag Archives: USCG

Three Days Running

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River Dunes continues to be an excellent place to rest a bit. The shelter there is 360 degree. The folks are friendly. The courtesy car is essential because services are distant.

We ate at M&Ms again and it seemed even better than the first time. They really know how to properly cook shrimp. We decided to give their conch fritters a try. On a platter, mixed with their Bahamian cousins, they would have been unidentifiable.

The sun had been particularly hard on our ensign; it was now red, white and corn flour blue. We stopped in at the Inland Waterway Provisioning Company and bought two replacements. Their price was 2/3 of what West Marine (less than a mile distant) wanted. The service at IWPC was excellent.

After picking up groceries at Town and Country, the small but well stocked grocery just before the turn back to River Dunes, we headed back for an afternoon of intensive rest and rebooting.

From here on, (actually Morehead City yesterday) we leave the sea behind in favor of browner and browner, fresher and fresher water — water sufficiently acidic, the longer we are in it the more it dissolves any barnacles we might have.

Broad Creek, even with a day of rest was a long run up from Mile Hammock, so we chose to go short for a couple of days.

We made our way up in near glassy conditions to Pungo Creek (near Belhaven, NC). The smoke from another fire smudged the horizon, but this one was upwind, small by comparison and extinguished before sundown.

We normally anchor on the south side, but there was so little breeze we decided to anchor in the middle and were glad of it. The breeze stayed below 5 knots the entire time and we were far enough out, we escaped the bugs and hitch-hikers ate the ones we didn’t.

We thought.

The next morning, we motored out, teased by a breeze that seemed sailable. It was gone before we had been in the Pungo River for as much as a mile.

So, onward we droned.

At River Dunes we had taken on 90 gallons of diesel. We had 85 hours of engine time (idle, normal, accelerated, etc) and the average consumption calculated out to 1.047 gallons per hour. We have been using a planning factor of 1.05. We were glad to see the lack of change.

We have 1053 hours on the engine. This translates to ~1100 gallons of propulsion fuel in 6.08 years. In my car alone, before consigning commuting to the personable history file, I used 1300+ gallons of fuel a year.

These are the kinds of things one thinks about when droning along…

After nearly 25 miles of Alligator-Pungo Canal, we pulled out of the waterway around 1430 and anchored behind large lighted daymarker off Bear Point (We anchored here in 1996 with our Freedom, Bright Star.). Our next leg was sixty miles with only one place to stop, and we don’t like that place.

As we pulled out, a boat following called up to say his navigation equipment had sounded an alarm that we had left the channel. Interesting.

Shortly thereafter, we got a call from the sloop Nightingale (we had talked farther south). It turned into a chat and discovery of common ground. They pulled out about a mile farther on. We look forward to meeting Beth and Stephen at some common stop someday.

The bugs we had missed in Pungo we found at Bear Point, except we didn’t find them. They found us.

The cockpit had accumulated barely visible biters. As we motored and motorsailed down the Alligator and into the Albemarle they feasted upon us. True to their source, the bites were unfelt for several hours until the started to itch like fire, swell like plague bubos, and generally drive us crazy.

Both the Alligator River and Elizabeth City Bridges were virtually throttle adjustment-free passages. The troublesome wiggle where siltation encroaches the channel north of the Alligator River Bridge has been remarked and may have been dredged. After bumping here (twice) since 2008, it was nice to see no less than 11.2 feet the whole way.

The Albemarle seemed more encumbered with crab flaots, but they were large, visible and avoidable. The wave action was so little we could see them a few hundred yards ahead. We expected another, denser mass of them in the Pasquotank like 2009, but not this year. We may have seen six. [This appears to be because of a drop in market price for NC crabs in the Chesapeake Region as that crab fishery recovers. Here, shrimp and fish trump crabs.]

What we did see, was the Coast Guard either training or putting on a demo of helicopter rescue operations as we passed their base. It was something we would like to see from much closer than the half mile we allowed ourselves—but but not as mariners in need of the service!

We arrived at our friends Paul and Joyce’s dock around 1545 and headed indoors for air conditioning.


Mario Vittone

Mario is a Coast Guard Professional whose views deserve serious attention.

If you haven’t seen “We’ve Been Wrong About Everything,” you’ve missed a thought-provoking video.  His latest post on Digital Selective Calling is worth a read.

What I have found especially worthwhile have been his posts on drowning and cold water survival.

Mario is a guy the Coast Guard Commandant quotes.

Semper Paratus — Beaufort, SC

Wet heading for wetter and wettest.

Well, yesterday was the last day of Georgia problem areas. But as in the days prior we just picked the time for the right tide (it helped we had picked the right days for the right time). It also helped that the weather cooperated. Although, looking at the forecast we did change our plans to stay out one more night before tying up in Beaufort, SC.

Favorable currents helped with that decision. While making our way up Calibogue Sound west of Hilton Head, we heard a “May Day” call on the VHF. A 30 foot cabin cruiser (“Glory Days“) was taking on water offshore. The sound of the man’s voice made it clear he had a problem, but he still did a pretty good job of communicating.

Lucky for him and his wife, a USCG helicopter was flying south of Hilton Head. We saw the helicopter do a U-turn as they came over the radio to tell him they were heading his way and seven minutes from his position. We plotted his position and found he was three plus miles off the mouth of Port Royal Sound. About the same time he came back on the radio to announce he had hit or had been hit by a whale and had taken substantial damage to his running gear (props, shafts, rudders).

We listened to the situation evolve (we were at least four hours from his position). The water in the boat got deeper, and the USCG added assets — sending a boat then two more from Tybee Inlet 18 miles from his position. At the same time, the helicopter spotted a center console fishing boat, (“Big Hit“), nearby and connected with the operator by VHF. That boat headed straight for the distressed boat. Glory Days then announced the high water alarm had gone off. Big Hit got there before the Coast Guard boats and took the wife aboard while the husband continued to deal with the problem. When the USCG got there they got de-watering pumps aboard and pretty soon you could hear the tension in all voices drop a step or two.

Turned out one prop and shaft had been ripped completely from the boat. The hole a prop shaft leaves when it exits the boat can let in a prodigious amount of water in a short time, and it is never easy to get to the hole to plug it. (Behind the engine…in the dark…nothing but wet). Glory Days made it back in under escort on one of its own engines.

By the time we reached the Parris Island ferry dock, it was all over except for hauling the boat at Skull Creek Marina on Hilton Head. $$$$$ This is the way we’d like to hear about every situation like this being resolved. Sadly, it’s not the case.

We contribute to the USCG Foundation as an extra thank you to the people who go into harms way on our behalf. We think all who head into their domain should consider doing so as well.