Sunday, May 23, 2010

White Pepper Redux

John Updike wrote in Rabbit Redux "Rabbit hated the word redux. It was everywhere these day. You could not avoid it, but he did not know how to pronounce the word and was not sure what it meant." Anyway White Pepper is redux.

White Pepper emerged from two winters and a rainy summer last month. She had spent the time on the hard in the Deltaville Boat Yard in Virginia. She suffered considerable water damage from leaks. Jan drove out in late March to clean up the boat, and I flew in for the week after Easter 2010. The boat yard had launched the boat and everything except the autopilot worked. During the 18 months of hibernation the boat yard had replaced the exhaust system, replaced the leaky fuel tank, installed beautiful new stainless steel opening port lights, replaced 3 hatches, rebedded some of the leakiest deck fitting, and installed a new stove. The compass had leaked all of it's oil, the hand held Garmin 48 was lost to water damage and Jan had to discard much of the contents of the hanging locker. Still the interior wood was in good shape, the motor purred, and the fridge worked perfectly. So all in all we were happy with the outcome.

By the time I arrived Jan had cleaned up the inside and had the boat provisioned. Monday we did chores and bent on the sails. This alone takes hours with all of the slides. We rounded up the dingy and motor. We caught a real break with the weather which was unseasonable warm and gentle for most of the week. On Tuesday morning we cast off for Mobjac Bay which is the next stop south on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

We were so early in the season we had the entire bay to ourselves. Rounding the New Point Comfort light about 5 pm, we headed NW into Mobjac Bay. There were crab pots everywhere but there are always crab pots when the depth is around 15 feet. This is the depth crabs favor. It is so reliable in the Chesapeake that you can use it as a navigational aid to follow the 15 foot contour.

Mobjac is an open and isolated bay. We could see ocean going ships plying the York River 5 miles to the south. But there was no one where we were except an occasional crabber. There are four short rivers that empty into the Mobjac. We chose the Severn River to anchor in. Like most of the rivers in the Chesapeake the Severn is easy to navigate. We dropped anchor at a wide spot in the river in about 9 feet of water. As always the holding was excellent. It tickled me to say that White Pepper has now anchored in both of the Severn Rivers--the famous one that runs by the Naval Academy and now this stubby one further south. There were large vacation homes all along the banks which were heavily wooded. The place was deserted and for two days we never saw a soul save one runabout.

All day Wednesday was spent at anchor cleaning, polishing, and finding new places where the water has leaked in to cause havoc. We finally figured out the one of the worst leaks was the port genoa track. Fifteen years of hard racing had not caused it to leak, but two freezing winters ruined it. We are having to replace it back in Deltaville.

Ugly weather was coming so we retraced our track on Thursday. It was a lovely run in a gentle southerly breeze and our best day on the water in years. We anchored in the south branch of Jackson's Creek which is quite near the boat yard. The front blew in at midnight. By morning the weather was cool and rainy which was much more typical of early Spring in the Middle Neck area of Virginia. The dingy had filled up with rain water. Jan asked who was going to bail out the dingy. I told her that the one who had the best sea boots should do it. I knew that my sea boots had been lost to water damage and were in the trash. Jan was a good sport and bailed out the dingy so that we could hoist it and stow it on the foredeck. I raised the anchor and we motored over the the dock. It took all Friday to put the sails away and stow everything again. I reviewed some work orders with Sean.

Up before dawn on Saturday, we began the 1550 mile journey to Beeville, Texas arriving at 9:30 Sunday night.

All in all it was a great week. The amount of money spent on the boat in the past 18 months has been hard to accept. But after the week I was encouraged and believe it will be possible to return to the Bahamas soon. The compass will have to be repaired or replaced. Solar panels and possibly a wind generator needs to be added. Maybe the batteries replaced. Then she should be good to go for years.