Friday, November 16, 2012

Pungo River Anchorage to R.E Mayo

ICW 127 to 157

Life sometimes prepares us for events in mysterious ways.  Back in late 2008 I hit a dredge pipe and bent both rudders.  A former PDQ employee and incredible boat expert named James, and Sandy a PDQ owner, and I devised a way to rig a come-along from the bow pulpit to the rudder.  We then created a bracing system around the rudder and 'cranked' the rudder back to center.  The only caveat was that the boat was on land and we had lots of time and muscle to pull it off.

We set out about 8am to figure out what to do about the rudder, and possibly find a place to haul the boat.  The day before, we passed a very large water moccasin floating high on the surface, eyeing us as we passed.  The water was full of tannins and almost as dark as the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis.  The water temperature was also in the 50s.  So swimming was not in the cards as far as I was concerned.

We called all the places in the Cruising Guide, but no luck.  We stopped at Dowry Creek Marina for gas, and to ask what might be around.  The folks there were very nice and sympathetic.  They let us have some space by the gas dock in shallow water and told us stories of river diving and searching for lost anchors.

Well, I figured the only way to get us moving again was to recreate the come-along, but do it underwater.  I still had the tow strap and most of the parts on board.  I have a SCUBA tank, but no air, so it would be done via holding my breath.

It took a dozen or more trips to get a strap around the rudder, then a few more to get the other strap to the bow pulpit.  Unfortunately the strap to the bow was too short.  I needed something that would not stretch.  The only thing usable was the main sheet, which was Dyneema.  So I cut off about 20 feet of the $3 a foot line added to the strap.

Fortunately it was clam and sunny, so I could work with some visibility.  And the tannins weren't as bad as summer water in Annapolis.  My head and ankles ached from the cold water.

I alternated cranking on the come-along, and diving to check the space above the rudder.  I repeated this many times and finally got a point I hoped the rudder would still have some space after it bounced back when the pressure was released.  I let the metal rest, before I released the pressure.

It mostly worked.  But the space was too narrow.  So I repeated the cranking and diving routine again.  This time it worked and the spacing was fine.

Cold and dark, but got it done...

The winds, clouds and cold rushed in about 11:30 and I worked faster to get it done.  By 12:30 I was dressed and we were on our way, thanking the marina staff as we left.

At 1pm, when we crossed the Pamlico River, the waves were about 3 feet and the winds were in the 20s, gusting to 30.  We were flying along at 8 to 8.5 knots.

We entered the cut and Bonnie read in the "Managing the Waterway" guide by Mark Doyle that the R. E Mayo company sold great seafood.  So we stopped there about 4:30pm.  They had the seafood in large refrigerated rooms, and also had a huge marine parts store that sold an incredible variety of hardware for commercial fishing vessels.

We purchased shrimp, flounder, and scallops from them.  I also got some unique fishing gear I have never seen before.  We asked about spending the night as I was pretty exhausted from the rudder work.  They charged 40 cents a foot for the night.  Quite a deal.

Bonnie made steamed shrimp, basmati rice and wedge salad for dinner. We watched a movie Tyler downloaded for us months ago, and were in bed by 9:30.  I slept like a log.

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