Team Kavanagh making way once again on board Safari of Howth
Author: Carmel Kavanagh Posted on: 10/11/09 Print Version

Well, here we are again after an unexpected, unplanned pause of an entire year. Safari was lifted out of the water in Deltaville, Virginia, USA on October 3rd 2008 and relaunched on October 23rd 2009. We had returned to the United States in March 2009 with the intention of cruising up to Maine and Halifax but life had other plans and instead we had to return to Ireland to sort out health issues. We were greatly relieved when we got the all-clear to return sailing once again. On September 4th, we departed Dublin bound for Deltaville and Safari.

A Lightening Strike

On our arrival, we discovered that Safari had taken an indirect lightening hit on August 19th at the height of a dreadful storm. The boat next to us but one took the main hit because of its much higher mast.

Lightening works in very strange ways! Our battery charger, single sideband radio, wind instrument, sum log and alternator regulators were "cooked" as they say but there was no damage at all to the boat or the rigging. The chart-plotter, automatic pilot, anchor windless and radar all seem to have escaped. Sometimes the effects of a lightening strike do not show up for a while afterwards - hence the cautious note.

We spent 5 tough weeks preparing the boat for launching and sorting out the after-effects of the lightening mess. We had to bring in a replacement battery charger from Cristec in France which would operate both 110 and 220 volts. Only battery chargers of 110 volts were available over here so no good for Europe.

We discovered after many, many phone calls to Icom US and UK that our 801E radio will have to be returned to the UK for repair. 2 Electronic Companies tried unsuccessfully to repair it over here. At a freight cost of nearly $800 round trip which would not be covered by our insurance, we have decided to wait and bring it back ourselves on our next visit home. So what is the moral of that particular story? Buy the much cheaper Icom 802 if you are thinking of coming States-side. In the meantime we are looking into buying or renting a Satellite phone for longer trips at sea so that we can keep in touch with the weather forecasts.

On October 23rd at 1500, a really gleaming Safari was relaunched in Deltaville.

We had repainted all the hull stripes and polished and buffed the hull itself until it shone like a new boat. She looks great at the moment.

We headed down to Norfolk - 45 nautical miles down the Bay- where we planned to spend a week or so enjoying city life after our 5 week stint in the remote wilds of Chesapeake Bay.

The Ocean Cruising Club

Fortunately, we had decided to join the Ocean Cruising Club while we were home in the summer. A non-stop sail of 1,000 nautical miles is the sole requirement and what a great decision that was! There are Port Officers dotted around the world including our home port of Howth Co.Dublin.

Here along the East Coast we have enjoyed the wonderful help, support and hospitality of the Port Officers for Norfolk, Gary Naigle and Greta Gustavson where we enjoyed free berthing for a week and of Jon Roop in Beaufort N.C who arranged for us to get the very last mooring ball available in Taylor's Creek this weekend.

The really huge advantage, though, is the advice the Port officers can give. They know the reputable service people in their area so there is less chance of being at the mercy of some unscrupulous worker who charges the earth for shoddy workmanship, sure in the knowledge that once you leave port you will not be back that way again. We have been so lucky meeting up with such kind, generous people in the OCC.

For instance, take the malfunctioning engine alternators. This problem didn't reveal itself until on passage to Norfolk. The mechanic in Norfolk told us that the regulators had most probably been affected by the lightening strike. As we had just had a new gear-box installed by Volvo-Penta agents in Deltaville and a service carried out by them, we were not expecting any further engine trouble. Apart from the alternators, a leak in a fuel injector was then discovered. What kind of service had been carried out in Deltaville? We ended up spending 2 weeks in Norfolk and a lot of dollars getting these engine problems sorted by mechanics that came recommended by the OCC Port Officers.

The Intracoastal Waterway

Finally, on Thursday last we were free to depart further south on the Intracoastal Waterway as far as Beaufort, North Carolina which is a major hopping-off point for Florida, Bermuda the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

The ICW or "ditch" as it is locally known is an inland waterway which goes all the way from Norfolk to Florida.

Because it is quite shallow in parts, we can only travel along certain sections of it.

The 205 mile stretch from Norfolk to Beaufort is accessible to Safari's draught of 7 foot.
By using the Waterway, we avoided an ocean passage outside Cape Hattaras which is subject to really treacherous weather and seas. Although free from the vagaries of the weather, it was a tense enough trip for us. So there was absolutely no sitting back and enjoying the passing scenery! The average depth in mid channel is 12 ft so great care had to be taken not to stray off channel and run aground.

We touched bottom just once while waiting for a Bridge opening which is another scourge!

Some of them open on the hour, others on the half hour and yet others are closed for 2 hours in the morning and evening during rush hour traffic.
Timing one's arrival at the next bridge is a tricky business at times. The number of waiting boats builds up and there is little room for manoeuvring. However, the weather was glorious on the way down except for an hour or so on the first morning when we ran into a patch of really dense fog. Visibility was so poor that one particular Bridge operator could not see us when we were a few yards away nor we the bridge! Our trusty chart-plotter got us through. As night-time passages are prohibited on the Waterway, we simply pulled off channel to anchor on both nights in areas where there was some deeper water, 3 to 4 Meters!

A Portable Honda Generator

Yesterday, Saturday 7th November, we took delivery of a new portable Honda 2000 Kilowatt generator. If we could dump our Fischer-Panda generator overboard, we would! As indeed would every other owner of a Fischer Panda we have met on our travels. There were 3 of us in Deltaville - Terry from South Africa, Jim from the UK and ourselves - all frustrated owners of non-working Fischer- Panda generators. We are just going to close up ours and forget it ever existed - especially the pain of shelling out endless sums of money for servicing which in the end was money down the drain.

We are currently on a mooring ball in Taylor's Creek, Beaufort N.C.
We have decided to move into a marina in nearby Morehead City to sit out the effects of Tropical Storm Ida which is currently raging in the Gulf of Mexico and tracking Northesast. Winds of up to 40 knots are expected here to night, tomorrow and Thursday with huge accompanying seas.

We will wait until all has quietened down before proceeding further south towards Florida.

I have to say that we are looking forward to some ocean sailing after such a long sojourn in the Chesapeake. I will keep you posted on our adventures! But its great to be back on the high seas once again.