Thursday, August 11, 2011

So here's the plan...

Delegal Creek Marina, compliments of The Landings website

All the work on our 1980 Valiant 40, Whispering Jesse, must be leading up to something, right? Well, it is. We're getting the boat ready to sail away from Spring Cove Marina in Solomons, Maryland, where it has been undergoing a refit since I purchased it near Baltimore in May of last year and sailed it down Chesapeake Bay with my friend Kevin Harrison. The boat's new home will be in Savannah, Georgia, in the Delegal Creek Marina, at the southern end of Skidaway Island's golf course community, The Landings, where my parents have a vacation home.

The major projects--new engine, new rigging and chainplates, new portlights, new head, new canvas and everything else--are finishing up now. Don, the boatyard manager, expects to float the boat next week after the rudder and keel are repaired and the bottom is repainted. Collin, from Chesapeake Rigging, will come out and install the new standing and running rigging and the new lifelines. Then it's just a matter of getting the cleaned and mended sails back from Clarke at Quantum Sails and the new dodger and bimini, plus all the new interior cushions, installed by Steve at Creative Canvas before the boat will be ready for a test sail.

Unfortunately, I think that first post-refit sail may happen without me. I'm sure Don and his mechanic Chas will want to put the new engine through its paces right away and make sure everything is watertight. And Collin will want to test out his new rigging. I'm fine with that if it means that everything will be ready to go when I get out there on Saturday, September 3, with my friend Mike. He and I will have plenty of details to attend to, including picking up another friend, Kurt, at the airport in D.C. before the three of us set sail on Thursday, September 8.

The plan, as I have it figured in my mind and on Google Maps, calls for us to spend the first day sailing down to Deltaville, Virginia. It's only about sixty miles down the Chesapeake, so if we get a late start, we should still be arriving in daylight. The first day on the water will be a good introduction for Mike and Kurt in how the boat's systems work and how it handles under sail.

The next day, we will continue down the Chesapeake to Norfolk's Waterside Marina and spend the night there. This will be the end of our sailing and the beginning of our motoring for a few days as we pick up the Intracoastal Waterway and navigate its canals and bridges. Along the ICW, we will spend nights in Coinjock, Bellhaven and Morehead City, North Carolina. From there, we will leave the ICW for open-water sailing along the coast, with stops in Southport, North Carolina and Georgetown, South Carolina.

Originally, I had planned to make Charleston the final stop before our arrival in Savannah, but there are complications. I spoke with Jimmy at the Delegal Creek Marina, and he said that high tide for our arrival day on Friday, September 16, will be just before noon, with a two-hour window on either side. That doesn't give us enough time to sail from Charleston, so I'm thinking we will need to sail a longer distance the day before our arrival and try to make it to Seabrook Island, or even as far as Hilton Head Island.

There will be plenty of opportunities during the two weeks of preparation and sailing for things to go wrong, but I've given us only one extra day to deal with any contingencies because of work schedules. We all have tickets to fly out of Savannah on Sunday afternoon, September 18, which could be cutting it close. With any luck, we will be sailing in to Delegal Creek Marina as scheduled, before the tide goes out, and meeting my relieved parents at the dock.


ssteiner13 said...

It's awesome that you're going to finally get to sail your boat to it's home. I can't imagine how excited you must be. The boat looks great and hopefully everything goes relatively smoothly for you guys. Good luck and be safe!

- Steve

John Lichty said...

Thank you, Steve. I will be posting regularly to this blog while we are underway, so please check back starting Labor Day weekend for all the details.