23rd November We left Brunswick Georgia, at 7am, estimating that with current against us, it would be around a 48 hour passage to Palm Beach. This is our last passage on Southern Star! We are heading to Old Port Cove Marina to hand our beautiful boat over to her new guardians, Ted and Jenny Dixon. They arrive on 1st December and Robbie will complete the final handover, settlement and some training while I am already home in Australia, and back at work.
It’s probably the first time we have had to leave to meet a schedule, we looked at the weather, and decided we would go, at any other time we probably would have waited for a better weather window. We were pleasantly surprised that we maintained around 7 knots for most of the journey. It was a bit rough with winds up to 17 knots at times but it was not too bad. I did feel a bit sea sick, but I had cooked a spaghetti Bolognese for the first night and Robbie cooked hamburgers the 2nd night so we managed without spending too much time cooking while it was rough. We spent a lot of time reading and playing 500 on the phone or iPad.
We hardly saw any other boats maybe it was the weather or perhaps because it is nearly thanksgiving they are all where they want to be, ready to celebrate.
Southern Star was the perfect lady and never missed a beat, temperatures stayed even, she purred like a kitten, we had the wind on our beam a lot of the time and she just took it in her stride, UNTIL we got to the entrance to turn into Lake Worth Inlet, the entrance into Palm Beach and Old Port Cove Marina.
Due to the current we had made good time and it meant we were making our entrance in the dark. Not something we would usually do, but it’s a major shipping entrance, with lead lights and we have been in there before, and we planned to anchor in the same spot which was just inside the entrance.
It was dark, it was blowing 17 knots, Easterly, and it was rough. There was also 2.5 knots of current on a Flood tide (incoming). Robbie made the 90 degree turn around the red channel marker, into the channel, and all of a sudden we lost steering and the boat was turning around in circles. I thought the current must have been so strong but Robbie knew straight away something had gone wrong.
I have to admit I was terrified that we would get pushed onto the rocks. Robbie stayed cool calm and collected, I stayed calm but I was VERY scared.
Somehow he managed to get the boat near the edge of the channel and away from the marker and we dropped the anchor. The boat was bucking and rolling in the swell. It was horrible. Once I knew the anchor was holding (we have never dragged thank you to our Rocna – a great bit of Kiwi engineering!)
Robbie ran down into the lazarette to look at the steering, he had recently replaced the hydraulic ram and had been keeping an eye on it during the passage. He thought something must have gone wrong with that. What he found was, 2 of the 4 bolts holding the rudder arm bolting it to the rudder stock, had broken, sheared off at the head.
I called the US Coast Guard on the VHF and informed them that we needed assistance, and that we had had to drop the anchor in the channel and they would need to broadcast a Marine Hazard notification. I was really scared a big ship would come and it was only a narrow channel. (it takes the big container ships a few miles to stop)
I also asked them to call Sea Tow as we would most likely need assistance. Robbie was sure he could fix it but we decided we would like Sea Tow to come just in case. Chris the Sea Tow guy was great, he called me on the phone and said he will be there in 15 minutes.
By the time Chris arrived Robbie had replaced the bolts and we had tested the steering a number of times. We didn’t need a tow, but we asked Chris to escort us into Old Port Cove Marina just in case the bolts didn’t hold.
We had prearranged with James Knight for a berth in the marina and he had told us to go into berth 27 or 30 or if there were any problems to just berth on the fuel dock, as it was thanksgiving and the fuel dock would be closed. There was a boat already in 30 and 27 looked too narrow, we gave it a quick try but the wind was blowing, it was dark and we decided to take the easy option and tie up at the fuel dock.
It was 4.30am when we docked. We were both very tired, I was a bit shaken and very relieved to be tied up. We showered and collapsed into bed for a few hours. We had not long finished a good old English breakfast of bacon and eggs when James Knight arrived. News travels fast and he already knew we had had a problem. He jumped in the lazarette with Robbie and had a look. He has seen this happen a few times before, when the boat is built, they install Stainless steel bolts and James advises to remove the stainless steel bolts and replace with grade 8 steel bolts. I guess they have done well to last this long, they have almost gone around the world and just been through 2 days of quite rough weather, but it would have been a lot less stressful if they given way out on the ocean instead of a channel near the shore with rock groynes and shoals!
We got cleaned up and got a few hours’ sleep. Robbie was able to get us a booking in the marina Restaurant for a thanksgiving dinner. Wow after a cheese platter and a salad they wheeled a whole turkey with all the usual side dishes to our table, carved and served our meal which was delicious, and then sent us home with the leftovers! Thanksgiving is not something we celebrate in Australia or NZ and it was nice to reflect and think about what I am thankful for – our family, friends, good health and in particular our safe arrival after a harrowing incident.
The next few days we spent mainly cleaning and preparing to hand over the boat to Ted and Jenny. We were amazed at how many Nordhavns were in the marina, probably around 15, from a 35’ to a 96’. We met a number of owners – Michele and Caroline from Sea Turtle 50’, Clayton and Deanna from Tivoli 50’, Guy and Lou from C’mon Girl 47’, Brad and Michelle from Roam 47’, Susan and David from Dragonfly 47’.
On Sunday we drove 2.5 hours to Coco Beach to meet good friends Mark and Jennifer from Starlet N46 ( we crossed the Atlantic with them) We had lunch at Coco’s on the breach, had a great catch up. Jennifer very kindly brought us a Nordhavn calendar so we could see Southern Star Miss August, and then leave it on the boat for the new owners. Our calendars had been sent by Nordhavn to Australia. We had a great catch up and it was sad to say farewell but Starlet is heading through the Panama Canal early next year and if it works out Robbie will crew for them on the long ocean passage from the Galapagos Islands. We will see them down under in the Southern Hemisphere in 2017.
We rushed back to the marina after lunch as there was a “you show me your, I’ll show you mine” thing happening with the other Nordhavns we had met. It was a great idea, we were supposed to have 30 minutes having a tour on each boat, but usually the guys got stuck in the engine rooms, however we got through all of the boats except Sea Turtle as they had been doing some timber work and weren’t ready, that tour was booked for 4.30 the next day. It was so good going through all the boats, and seeing what changes, upgrades and great additions people had made to their boats.
We then all met in the captain’s quarters in the marina for drinks and nibbles and had a great night.
Sadly, I left to fly home on the 29th. Robbie will stay to complete the handover and a few days training with Ted and Jenny. I arrive home on the 1st December and start work on the 2nd. I will only have 6 days work and then it is summer break for our schools in Australia. This will give me time to get my head around having 3 years off and then I can be prepared to start the busyness of a new school year in late January.
So I now say thank you to those of you who have followed this blog, I never dreamed that I would get such a huge following, at this point its 214,660 hits. This site will be cloned for Ted and Jenny to follow posting and I will retain it so I can resume posting when our next adventure begins in the future. We will be at home for a couple of years and then, at this stage, it will most likely be land based travel with a caravan through England, Scotland, Ireland and then to France to explore Europe by land. And of course to visit the very good friends we made along the way in Germany, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Canada and the USA.
We wish Ted and Jenny all the very best for their adventures aboard Southern Star. We know you will have the time of your life and we are thrilled to be handing Southern Star over to you both, we just know you will take good care of her.
I can’t say goodbye and I can’t cry because I am leaving, I am just so happy and smiling that I have had this fantastic journey with the best possible husband in the world who has inspired me and helped me face challenges that I would never have thought possible.
Thank you Robbie, none of this would have been possible without you, and after 3 years of living with you 24/7 in a 47’ boat – I still love you to the end of the earth.
As always we welcome your contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Very best regards to you all
Jo and Robbie