Single handling

As we made it out of the Chesapeake Bay, through Norfolk and into the ICW I was thinking to myself... a thousand miles behind us on this trip and a thousand miles to go to our destination of Boca Raton. The trip so far had highs and lows but it was all normal cruising. The boat was running great and besides our fuel leak issue and an oil change I didn't have to spent too much time on repairs. Beth and I took turns at the helm and had a great system going. We pulled into Top Rack marina November 6th to fuel up and rest for the night. Next stop was Alligator marina in Columbia NC. An early start got us there before dark the next day after a calm crossing of the Albemarle Sound.


The weather turned on us the next day, and we decided to stay another day until the winds died down. During my usual morning mechanical check I notice the port engine was low on oil and after some looking around I figured out that we had a blown oil seal on the port turbocharger and it needed to be replaced. Calls were made and we decided to push on to Belhaven NC and have the new turbo delivered there. 


Winds were blowing strong from the north the next morning and we were pinned to the dock. I decided at that point that we should let mother nature do her thing and wait another day. Another boat decided to leave and was damaged pulling off the dock so at that point I was confident I had made the right decision. Looking at the forecast and discussing it with Tim on our buddy boat, we figured out that if we stayed at Alligator River Marina that day we might get stuck there for several days due to a cold front and storm rolling towards us, so we decided to wait a few hours and let the wind die down a bit as predicted by several weather sources. It didn't happen! Winds kept up and a decision had to be made.


Another boat left and we helped them off the dock. After watching two boats leave I had gathered enough Intel to decide that we could manage it and we got ready to leave. With some help on the dock we got off with no issues and set course for Belhaven. It was a nice quiet run. We docked in Belhaven 6 hours later. 


The next day Beth was leaving me to head home to Niagara for 9-10 days. As she left the new turbo arrived and I was well into several boat projects for the next few days. Four days later the boat was ready and I left Belhaven single handling Dragonfly toward Oriental NC.


The weather was great. Our buddy boat (Let it Ride) at my stern, we ran fast with the current and together we decided to keep pushing to Beaufort NC that day. 


Let me explain what single handling means.... It means that I'm by myself. No bathroom breaks, no lunch break, no autopilot, no rest from the helm and no coffee! I can't leave the bridge. Beth is not there to toss lines to the dock when docking. I have to do it all by myself for 8 hours. I was prepared with lines on the bridge and managed to dock in Beaufort with the help of Tim and Karen from our buddy boat. They pulled into the marina ahead of me to catch me on the dock for that reason. First day of solo done. Time for a beer :-)


Day two of solo. "Let it Ride" had a leaky water pump so we replaced that in the morning.  I set up the coffee maker on the fly bridge. I brought peanut butter, bread and a snack to the bridge and we left Beaufort NC heading to Surf City NC. We pulled into Topsail Marina by 5pm then met with friend for dinner and had a good night. 


Day 3 and 4 of solo... We ran down the Cape Fear River to Southport NC and besides steady strong wind in my face all day, all went well.  We pulled into a free dock for a couple days because bad weather was coming with forecasted high winds. Tim, Karen and I went for dinner and I called it an early night. Well... good thing I went to bed early because the wind kicked up to 40 knot gusts and I woke up to noise from the boat hitting the dock around 4am. It was rough. I stood on the deck watching lines and made sure the boat was ready to start if the piling broke. It was a free dock but it wasn't in great shape and the pilings seemed to be falling apart. I would have been safer at anchor. By 9am the winds died down and we went on with the day. Tim and I found a bar with the football game on and we went for a few beers. To end the night, once I got back to the boat I had to take the dogs out... Lyric missed the boat jumping back in and in the water she went! Once I stopped laughing I got her back in the boat, rinsed the salt water off her and dried her off... to bed I went.


Day 5 of solo. We ran to Osprey Marina. Easy run. We made it there by 5, fuelled up and took it easy. Went to bed early for an early start the next day.


After breakfast I had to replace fuel filters on port (left) engine. Then the starter went and I was stuck at the fuel dock. Turns out this starter is only a year old and new starter is on the way under warranty, but because I was at the fuel dock the boat had to be moved. 


So now I sit in Myrtle Beach waiting for a starter. Beth will be back with us tomorrow... stay tuned :-)

PS. Beth arrived to pick up the new starter and waited patiently for 4 hours until the UPS guys showed up. Needless to say, we spent another night at Osprey.