For about a month, after we delivered our new boat from the Bahamas to Beaufort, North Carolina, we were sitting in a boatyard called Jarrett Bay. They are the best facility in North Carolina for hauling out catamarans because they have a huge (wide) lift. As is typical with boat ownership, what starts out as a basic maintenance visit to the boatyard turned into a much bigger than planned visit. Although our St. Francis 50 catamaran is ostensibly brand new – it was a demonstration boat for the builder and has been in the water for a year. We needed to do some basic maintenance like oil changes, props cleaned, and have the bottom re-painted. Not only that, but during the Bahamas passage we had two unexpected issues: 1) the batteries were not holding a charge as expected – although the builder had alerted us that there were issues with the inverter; and 2) the starboard engine had a problem with a water seal on the outboard drive. Several other mostly cosmetic things needed to be dealt with as well. Most of the issues were covered by warranty (including replacing the inverter), but there were delays in getting parts, labor, and getting the work completed. And to really complicate matters, there was tropical storm Hanna. About the time we were going to finish the work, Hanna was headed right for the Beaufort area – so we wisely chose to stay in the yard. But, this caused further delays especially when we wanted to get back in the water. There were many boats put in the boatyard, for protection from Hanna, that had to be put back so we could get out.
Here are a few photos from the adventurous few days:
We finally drove down to put the boat back in the water on the 12th of September. Karen (my wife) and I washed the outside of the boat and put provisions for a few days of enjoyment. The boat was finally lifted into the water late in the day. The engine mechanic was on hand to test the engines. We had a couple of issues though that had to be handled, which held us up. We’ll go into more detail about this on our boat blog once it is started. But, let me mention one important step that took place.
Our boat was named by the builder since they were using it as a demo boat. But, we had a different name planned for our boat. So, we had to perform a boat renaming ceremony when we put the boat back in the water. This is something that must be handled very carefully as we want the gods to be happy with our vessel as we sail the oceans. Read about the renaming boat ceremony here. Anyway, our boat is named Tahina. We looked long and hard for a name which sounded nice, was unique, and meant something positive. I first came across the word while reading about a new type of palm tree discovered in Madagascar. The word “tahina” means “blessed” or “protected” in the language of Malagasy (the language in Madagascar which is derived from polynesian origins – note the similarity to Tahiti).
After we got our boat in the water, and basic testing completed, we moved Tahina down to the Beaufort town anchorage. It was dark by the time we got down there, but we are familiar with these waters. We had a nice dinner and the temperature outside started cooling off pleasantly. Everything was going well up to this point, until I checked the engines. The starboard engine had indications there was still an issue. We were planning to leave early the next morning to move Tahina to Carolina Beach, North Carolina – these plans were now in jeopardy. Since it was a Friday night, we decided we would head out in the morning and check the engine again.
The next morning, we headed out and ran the problem engine for an hour or so. But, it still had a problem and a warning alarm sounded. So, we decided to abort the trip and head back. At least we were able to sail Tahina on the way back (winds were favorable). We reached the mechanic by phone and they said they would have to investigate further on Monday. So, Karen and I decided we would just enjoy our boat for the weekend. We sailed out to Cape Lookout which is one of my favorite anchorages in the Carolinas. It’s well protected, yet it requires a short 8 mile sail in the ocean to reach it. And, you are surrounded by beaches, have a beautiful lighthouse to look at, and lots of wildlife. While we were there we saw many birds, fish, other boaters, and watched porpoises frolicking in the water. On late Sunday afternoon we had a fast sail back (the winds were about 18 knots true from the SW) to the Beaufort anchorage. We were going 10 knots most of the way and had a reef in the sails. On Monday morning we moved Tahina to Town Creek marina so the engine mechanics could check things. They decided they would need to re-haul Tahina to further investigate and arrangements were made to go back to the boatyard later in the day. Karen and I drove back to Raleigh that evening after the haulout.
The next day, the mechanics implemented a solution to the problem and so we were scheduled to go back in the water Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 17). After we drove back down, and re-provisioned the boat, we put Tahina back in the water and after a fuel stop we thoroughly tested the engines for a couple of hours. Things looked much better, so we again took Tahina down to Beaufort town. The next morning we woke up early, and everything was ready for departure. The forecast looked perfect with north winds. We weighed anchor and motored out the inlet and then raised our sails. We had a fantastic sail all the way down to Carolina Beach. In fact, the winds built up at about the half-way point to about 25 knots. But, since we were sailing on a broad reach we were not seeing all of that. In fact, Tahina was surfing on the following seas (waves would push the boat at a much higher speed briefly) and we were hitting speeds in the teens regularly during the middle part of the trip. At one point, we hit 19.7 knots!! As the day wore on, the winds lessened a bit and we finally lowered the sails to motor the final 3 miles. Our trip was 88 nautical miles and we completed it in 9 hours even. And, we had currents against us in both inlets (tide coming in, tide going out) and the gulfstream was hitting us for 1 knot a good portion of the way. Needless to say, we were thrilled with Tahina’s performance!
You can view our GPS tracks of this story in Google Earth. Here are the paths for the first attempt to Carolina Beach where we instead went out to Cape Lookout and went back to the boatyard. And, here is the path showing our passage from Beaufort to Carolina Beach. I’ve also included a few photos and video clips which are in this Picasa Web Album. I have an interesting story to tell about the Carolina Beach Inlet – in particular as it relates to Google Earth (let’s just say our GPS track is accurate). But, I’ll save that for another post.