I wonder when they’re going to have to change the height restrictions on the ICW? Sea level rise is absolutely a real thing, and we didn’t see a single bridge that actually showed the full, advertised 65’ of vertical clearance since leaving Norfolk. Part of it was due to the Super Moon, but most of the locals we spoke to in Melbourne said it’s been high all year, and I read reports on Active Captain as old as 2011 that stated that the Wabasso Bridge was showing low clearances back then.
Our first night out was a ripper. Meri has no pole, so we sailed gybing angles in the following wind, opting to head offshore first with two reefs in the main and the full genoa. The NE'ly that had us on the inside for two days was still blowing, kicking up a boisterous sea, short and steep over the shallow water. Down below it was hard to sleep with the rolling, one of the more frustrating motions offshore. I laid on my back, and each time Meri rolled, my head would roll with her, jostling me awake. Eventually you learn how to curl up and hunker down against the motion, but the first night is always tiring.
We anchored s/v Meri just off the ICW last night around mile marker 265. A nice-looking 35-footer called Valkyrie was anchoring in a similar spot, just to the east of the channel in the only little hole of deep water. He called us up on the VHF as we waited for him to find his spot before moving in ourselves. The sun had gone over the horizon, leaving a brilliant orange glow to the south, that faded into a clear, deep blue sky overhead, with the first stars starting to resolve into view. The white glow of the chartplotter at the helm station illuminated my dad’s face as he concentrated on piloting us in the cross current.
I feel much better about our plan now, having bought some supplies at West Marine. We got 40’ of dyneema and some basic splicing tools so I can make some strops and stuff for the boat. I bought two Harken air blocks for the outboard genoa tracks, to get a better sheeting angle off the wind on the headsail. And to use on the bow for the mainsail preventer. I bought two rolls of sail repair tape and a ‘handy stitcher’. And a pair of ‘Seal Skinz’ gloves - temps are forecast to be in the mid-30s for the next few mornings, and offshore that air will feel even colder sitting in the cockpit.
We’re motoring down the ICW now towards the Cape Fear inlet, another 100 miles on past Beaufort, where we’ll go offshore tomorrow. Motoring on the ‘inside’ for two days will only save us about 12 hours in the big picture (as opposed to just waiting in Beaufort until Saturday morning). But it gives us something to do, a purpose. I made hard-boiled eggs for breakfast that we ate in the cockpit. Soft enough on the inside to be nice to eat, but not runny.
Stuck in Beaufort. Rain pours from the sky, heavier now than it’s been all morning. Any last inkling of going offshore today has been officially washed out.
Dad, Tom & I borrowed the car from the Three Nice Guys at the Beaufort Docks marina and drove to Atlantic Beach for a midday breakfast at the Four Corners Diner, then on to West Marine to get a few supplies. Because that’s what you do during a weather delay.
I am super excited to tell you about a book project i have been involved with during the fall.
Together with 10 Swedish Sailors, we have each written a chapter in the book "Mot en Ny Horisont". All proceeds will go directly towards donation in the aftermath of Irma & Marina that hit the Caribbean earlier this fall.
The book is currently available in Swedish and Danish, and maybe one day it will be translated into English and other languages?
Well ... the clean-up is immense, a belief shared by many BVI-islanders. There are very few easy solutions to rectify the entanglement of owners, insurers, businesses, and other vested interests. Everyone is trying to do the right thing, but the negotiations are not clear-cut, and it's just about the most complex thing I've ever witnessed ... -Paul Exner, October 16, 2017.
From Paul: "We struggle to leave our home of 8 years in Josiah’s Bay. Liz and I lived there since we met, our babies Eoin and Ava came home there after birth. We weathered IRMA there, and survived. We accept the wasteland-vista we see from our balcony: leafless and twisted trees, and scattered debris that once beheld the homes of others … Josiah’s Bay is the way it is, and was hit hard by IRMA. Most dwellings there and elsewhere on Tortola are gone. Within the BVI territory I estimate 50% of land-based, and 90% of sea-based accommodation is not habitable by ANY standard … wall-less, roofless, capsized, or sunk respectively … vehicles are windowless, over-turned, or tumbled-down a mountain side.
Heart of goodness and darkness. Liz, Eoin, and Ava are in good spirits after Irma. We were in the eye for 52 minutes which means we got a direct hit. Too dangerous to asses wind speed accurately but I believe we had winds over 200 knots. We were fine until the balcony doors blew in then hell broke loose. -Paul Exner.
Photo shows his boat, Solstice, on the hard in Nanny Cay, right in the center. He doesn't even know the state of his boat yet, as he's on the other side of the island...