US East Coast Passage II

My alarm went off at 2:30am and became a part of the dream I was having.  At 2:31am I was up and realized that my first mistake was setting my alarm for 2:30am.  I had to pee and get something to drink before I could be out in the cockpit which meant that I was late for my watch!  Of course no one said anything to me about it but I set my alarm for 2:20am right then so the mistake would not be repeated.

That morning Elizabeth and I watched the sun rise and we saw some dolphins swimming with a whale.

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There was not much wind so we began motoring.  “Skylark” has a new Beta Marine diesel which operated flawlessly throughout our journey.   On two separate occasions during our trip we had dolphins come to play in the bow wave of the boat.  Dolphins love the underwater force created by a displacement type vessel moving through the water.  On the second occasion we captured this video:

We took naps during the day to make sure that we were able to carry out our watch schedules however someone was always on watch.  “Skylark” has AIS both receiving and transmitting as well as radar but it is important to visually look around as well.  We had several close encounters with huge freighter ships.  A few times we were on a collision course and had to change our heading in order to avoid the ship.  These ships are traveling at very fast speeds, take forever to turn, and do not have a way to stop short.  It takes them about a mile or so to stop.  It is the small boats responsibility to move out of the way of these big guys and we made sure to pass no less than half a mile away.  Even at that distance they are an imposing sight:

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To give you an idea of scale, each one of those boxes you see on board is what 18 wheeler tractor trailer trucks haul throughout the US.

As we entered the gulf stream our speed over ground picked up as we rode the current north.  The water also changed color dramatically from a dark blue to a crystal clear blue that is really indescribable.  It was incredible to look down knowing I was looking through clear water but not seeing anything but the color blue as far as the eye could see.  Out there in the middle of the ocean all you have is the water around you, the horizon, and the sky.  To look down into the infinite water and know that bottom is some 2,000 feet below you is pretty incredible.

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As we neared the turn of the gulf stream off the coast of the Carolinas we decided to set up some fishing gear.  We put out one hand line and two lines on heavy duty reels and let them troll of the back of the boat.  About an hour later Elizabeth and I noticed some white water ahead and an abundance of flying fish.  This was the turn of the stream and there were obviously some fish down there feeding in the current.  No sooner did we stand up to take a look than one of the rods started whizzing out!  Elizabeth called dad while I went to the back of the boat and turned up the tension on the rod.  Dad got out the fishing reel belt and helped me strap it on while I walked the pole back to the side deck.  I was absolutely amazed at how hard it was to reel this fish in.  This was my first offshore fishing experience and I totally underestimated these fish.  My arm was extremely sore as I held the rod as the fish tried to rip it out of my hands and swim away!

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Eventually he was reeled in all the way and dad grabbed him out of the water.  We had caught ourselves a nice sized black fin tuna!!! This was super exciting for me as it meant we got to eat sushi fresh from the sea!

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Since this was a first time catch for me we thought it appropriate to have some father son learning time and my dad taught me how to clean the fish properly.  I wont show you all of the details but this photo that Elizabeth captured was quite something – look at our arms! They looks so much alike! haha.  We are also wearing our favorite shirts, both from St. Thomas and both very faded, you cant even read the “St. Thomas” on mine anymore and his used to be a deep red!

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After the fish was all cleaned up we had dinner and were blessed with another great sunset:

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Next up, in part III we make landfall and travel up the ICW to meet my lovely wife in New Bern, NC!

 


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