Friday, November 01, 2013

All in a Month

So much has happened in the last month that I’ve not had time to blog, been working hard on my bucket list.  Things aren’t slowing down yet, so here’a a quick synopsis.

Around Cape Lookout – Check
This has been on my bucket list for awhile.  Lee, Chris, James, Jay, and I sent a weekend paddling around the outside of Cape Lookout, and it was one of the more exciting paddles I’ve done.  Surf predictions were for 2-3 ft, but around the shoaling at the Cape we paddled into increasingly bigger and bigger waves topping out at 6+.  The only thing wrong was that it was a quick out and back trip with only one night camping under the lighthouse.  So…. this is back on the list hoping for a 3-day trip, with an extra day playing out there in unloaded kayaks.

Paddling past the lighthouse on our way around the hook

Beach on the Cape that we landed and camped on 

Bay of Fundy and Tidal Bore – Check
Lee and I flew out to the Bay of Fundy Symposium in Nova Scotia. You really need to do this one. 

The list of instructors was impressive check it out here, this is the new generation of top notch instructors.  The day before the symposium, we all paddled the Shubie Tidal Bore, all participants had a personal instructor, mine was Ryan Ruston (sigh!).  We surfed 8 ft standing waves!!!!!!  This WAS absolutely the most exciting 5 miles I’ve ever paddled.  This symposium was one of the best I’ve attended, great instruction, great organization, and the paddling locations were absolutely beautiful.  

Too much fun to take many pictures, found the one below with me, Ryan Ruston and Paul Kaffe (on right, both were excellent instructors I had).

And this one I took during our lunch break in the Races and Overfalls Class with Paul Kaffe, on Candlebox Island. 

Surfing with Dale Williams – Check
A 2 day open water and surf training class with Dale Williams at Folly Beach, Charleston SC.   We didn’t have huge surf, 1-2 ft, but actually just perfect to play and learn in.  I was in my new NDK Romany, and using a Celtic Reef 200 cm paddle that Dale suggested I try.  All three (instructor, kayak, paddle) made me a better surfer J, I’ve ordered the paddle and am back to the Euro in the surf.   Got my first top turn during the class! 

ACA Level 4 Instructor Certification – Almost Check
I finished my trip to Charleston with a 6 day ACA L4 Open Water Coastal Instructor IDW/ICE at Sea Kayak Carolina with Scott Szczepaniak.   It was one of the toughest classes I’ve ever taken (lots of stress, scenarios, and open water work).  Scott has very high expectations of those he certifies.  My biggest weakness was navigation (I’ve been a GPS girl for so long).  I almost passed, I'll complete the certification requirements after I teach a navigation class he signs off on.  I’m studying for it now.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tidal Bore in my Future

Just got an email from Committed 2 the Core Sea Kayak, about the Shubie Tidal Bore class I'm taking next month up In Nova Scotia.   It read:

"For those of you who have not done this before here is a little video to give you an idea of what you might be in store for.".

OMG, it's going to be a blast, can't wait. I'll be there for the 1st Bay of Fundy Symposium, check them out here

Saturday, July 27, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

sung by Kermit the Frog on the child's TV show Sesame Street.  This is what came to mind Saturday kayak surfing at Mason's inlet off Wrightsville Beach with Carolina Kayak Club Members Lee, Chris and Lyman, and with Alan on a rented surf paddle board.

While taking a break on shore, we all noticed Lee was color coordinated with his green Valley Gemini, wearing a green kayak club shirt and matching green helmet.

Then just after I took the photo above, we noticed Chris was also color coordinated, wearing a yellow and blue rash guard shirt in his yellow and blue Quest.

We were having quite a laugh about this as we noticed Alan wearing a yellow and white top matching his rented surf paddle board.

After finishing for the day while starting to pack up, Lyman and Alan both remarked on my color coordinated bathing suit and shorts with my red and black Tiderace Xplore.

All very coincidental (except for Lee we suspect :).  We told Lyman we expected him in a  black and white outfit next time to match his Epic.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cross Boating

A few of us in the Carolina Kayak Club call ourselves “cross boaters”.  We have various and different types of kayaks, from white water to ocean expedition.  Adding a white water skill set is relatively new to me right now (though a bit of a flash in my past).   I’m amazed at how comfortable and confident I am in surf conditions at the coast, yet a tight ball of nerves on the river.  I attribute most of this to my fear of rocks, fear of death, and my lack of confidence with a Euro blade in my hands (yup, I’m a stick paddler).   I’m convinced white water skills will advance my overall kayaking skills, so I’m trying to work through the fears, and gain some more experience. 

Towards that end, Saturday, I took a basic ACA River Safety and Rescue Class, offered by LarryA and assisted by NancyG, sponsored by the CKC club.  Larry and Nancy (who I paddled the GA Coast with last March) are both club paddling buddies, ACA instructors, and also cross boaters, as was fellow student and paddling friend Camille.  We’ll need to work on new CKC member Mazy, who is more a white water kayaker who was also in our class.   

The class was held on the Balcony Falls section (sounds ominous doesn’t it) of the James River above Lynchburg VA.  And we had a great time.  Three flips for me during the class, made my combat roll on the first, the 2nd and 3rd had Larry there so fast and in my face that a bow rescue was the perfect solution.   Thanks Larry, can’t tell you enough how even a bit tense, I felt completely safe with your presence.

Unfortunately no one had a camera with them while we were on the water.  The river was beautiful, and with lots of rocks.  (Photo source)

 The picture below is of Balcony Falls  (photo source).
Our area has two large kayaking clubs, the Carolina Kayak Club, flat water and coastal kayaking, and the Carolina Canoe Club all about white water.  I’m a member of both, and a few of us cross boaters are even trying to work on more cross events.

What's next?  I'm off to Tybee Island Georgia to talk to some folks about a kayak, then back to the surf this coming weekend.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Isn't that Blue Kayak a Little Short?

 I’ve always had 1 or 2 old white water kayaks in the garage.  Originally bought for winter pool rolling and used for family fun at the beach.   Before surf kayaks became popular, the older WW kayaks worked just fine.  I found some old pictures of us from 2002 when as a family we’d take the kids (aged 13 -15) out to Wrightsville Beach with a few other friends (Eric and Luanne, and John) for kayak surfing and boogie boarding.  It's so much fun looking back at these pictures of us all playing in the surf.

Thes blue kayak pictured above in my garage is my latest white water kayak, bought used this year with intentions to get on the rivers more.  I’ve got a few friends who enjoy white water kayaking and so I thought I’d just add some more variety to my kayaking.  All my real white water experience is from the early 80s when Paul introduced me to the sport, and I followed up for a few years with a few clinics and camps.  It wasn’t long before sea kayaking became my passion and white water all but forgotten.
Truth be told, I find I'm having a real love hate relationship with white water, I’m not really sure it’s going to amount to anything for me.  I just really hate the rocks, in and around the river, and I so love salt water. 

Not sure where this is going to go, but I'm signed up for a River Safety Class this weekend.  Might as well cover my bases.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Lessons Keep Coming

Seems every paddle at the coast brings some lessons learned and some skills advanced.

This weekend, Lee, Frank, and I all met up at Lee’s Swansboro house Saturday about noon.  We were quick to get on the water, and paddle out towards the inlet.  We stayed in the Sound, as shore surf was 5-7 ft.   We planned to use the Sound chop to work on rolling, rescues, and basic skills in wind and current.   The conditions were perfect, strong winds, and a contrary tide.   

Working in, with, and against the wind has provided me with some great practice rolling, both onside and offside, and using layback and sculling rolls.  I’ve been rolling kayaks for many years now, but, as I work more and more in the surf and rougher water, it is this practice that keeps my combat roll ready and working.  In fact, this skill work Lee and I've been doing in the Sound has likely done more for my skill building than some of the time surfing.

While we were out there a quick moving rain storm passed over which gave us some great gusts.

My biggest rescue nemesis right now is my cowgirl (or cowboy rescue as it’s usually called).  I’d always thought of this as more a pool trick.  My go to self rescue if out of the boat is a quick reentry and roll.  However, it seems the cowboy is being discussed and used more and more in rescue classes, so I’ve been working on it.  With a lot of energy and hard work I can get up on deck, but right now it’s just to slow getting up and back into the cockpit to use this as a viable rescue, something I’ll just keep working on.

Paddling back after our day on the water, we continued having fun, then Lee and then Frank played Stand-Up-Kayaks.   I can’t do that (standing up) either.

Sunday morning, we drove over to Emerald Isle to launch the kayaks, planning to paddle down the coast and return through the Inlet and back to Lee’s house which is nicely situated on a small creek right off the ICW.   We had lighter winds 10-15 mph with a shore surf break at 2-4 ft, this after a night of  continued 5-7 ft surf and still with a big swell out there.

When we arrived about 9 am, we were looking at 3-4 ft.  It looked quite doable for paddling, though bigger than what I’d want to stay around and surf play in.  We had an incoming tide, and a forecast for lighter 2-3 ft in the afternoon.   What I hadn’t thought about was the wave period.  It was the tightest I’ve launched in.   Up until now I’d not really paid much attention to the reported ‘dominant period’ reported.   I now understand it.  

Timing my launch within the sets had me getting through the first 3 waves without incident, only to be faced with the larger waves of the next set right on top of me.  The waves were stacked so tightly, you barely recovered your balancing before the next one.  I hesitated on one of the larger waves hoping it would break up a bit, but then found I’d lost power to get through it.  It started surfing me back and then flipping me over.  Upside down it took me a second to realize my positioning and then to get my paddle moved to set up.  I got up on first try, and was beyond excited.  This was truly my first “real” complicated combat roll, all my practice was paying off. 

I had to paddle quite a ways out to get beyond the wave train of breakers to join Lee.  He was as exhilarated as I, as he had also completed a great combat roll after paddling up a steep wave that had him doing a stern pirouette before slamming him down, upside down.

Looking onto shore for Frank we realized some mistakes and started learning some new lessons.  We both suspected Frank might have a harder time getting out on his long 18 ft  sit on top, and we could see Frank back on shore after a failed attempt.   We thought we saw him dragging his boat to shore for another attempt, only to see him back on shore a minute later, clearly giving up future attempts.

Neither of us was very excited about having to come in now, feeling good about just having gotten out there safely.   It was looking like a repeat of ‘Monster Day’, with a much more scary and dangerous landing.   We now wished we had planned some communication prior to launching.  We should have had a short pre-launch talk about what to do "if….” .  Also, although I had a VHF on me, Lee's was in his hatch, and Frank hadn't brought his for this short day of play.  But we now realized if we’d all geared up properly, and discussed communications, we’d be talking to Frank right now, putting plan B or C (discussed on the beach) into action.

Lee and I had no choice but to come on in.  Lee landed first and without incident.   I was working my back paddling hard to avoid surfing these large waves when one broke right on me.  Another great combat roll after being thrashed about a bit.  Lee and Frank witnessed this one from the beach, and later told me how surprised they both were to see me roll on up.  Lee said he was counting the seconds I was under and figured I was working on bailing with little to no time to try and setup for a roll.  Practice sure makes a difference.  Landing safely on shore was exhilarating.

It was clear our paddling day was over.  Frank had made numerous attempts to launch, and completely broke off his rudder during his last attempt.   We opted for a long walk down the beach, comparing notes and discussing experiences and lessons.

Our last discussion about lessons learned was order of launching, and something we’ll likely continue to discuss, as the three of us are often organizers/leaders of trips within our club.  Among our regular paddling partners, Lee is always the most organized and the first one ready to launch and on the water.  However, he is also the more skilled in surf.   We now believe a better plan would have been to have Frank launch (or fail) first.  Had we done that, Lee and I would never have attempted the launch nor needed the eventual landing.  If Frank had gotten out, or got out and needed help, Lee or I could have quickly launched next, and would have had us getting out there for any needed help. 

Seems as I continue this journey of skill-ing up in rougher water, the learning curve becomes steeper.  The experiences and discussions that arise after the fact, have been invaluable for my continued skill and safety.

Last lesson learned.  It’s time for me to focus on some backwards surfing and maneuvering while moving backwards.  I’ll start with practicing reverse figure eights in the flats J

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monster Day

My clubs weekend paddling camping trip was cancelled for weather and conditions.  Lee, Chris, and I decided those same conditions though not conducive to a big crossing (the trip was to cross the Pamlico Sound over to the outer banks), would be kind of fun to play in.  Friday we hit Bogue inlet and Emerald Isle and worked on combat rolls and other rough water skills.

This was particularly helpful for our Saturday plan, we'd decided to paddle the 4th annual Onslow Bay Challenge, a 10 mile ocean-side SUP and kayak race on Topsail Island out of Surf City, sponsored by Carolina PaddleBoard Co and to benefit the North Carolina Chapter of Surfers Healing.

The race's website posting was a bit ominous, even sounding a little like a WaterTribe event.
We have a Forecast Update for the Onslow Bay Challenge: FORECAST UPDATE: according to NOAASAT SW winds 20 kt with gusts up to 25 kt. Seas 5 to 7 ft If the forecast holds true, the race will be EPIC! However the high seas will limit our ability to provide on water support. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? If you're not comfortable in big conditions, self-supported, please DO NOT do the event. Everyone is welcome to come, hang out, surf at the finish line, beach it, etc. However, because conditions look like they could be best suited for advanced paddlers, please sit it out if you don't consider yourself an advanced paddler. Once you take off from the beach, you're on your own until the finish! (Unless we wake up and there's nothing in the water, which could happen.) -No buoys -No safety boats -No backup plan Basically, please use your judgement and keep yourself and others safe. You know if you're capable of handling these conditions.

Chris said it best describing the conditions in a trip report on my Clubs Forum "Small craft advisory.  The NOAA link is currently reporting 5' seas, and it definitely seemed every bit of it. There seems to be quite a difference in conditions when they report 3 - 5' seas, and when they report 5' seas."

We had monster conditions,  the biggest I'd been in to date.  At the race meeting, the race manager said "it's going to be every man for himself",   The field of participants became much reduced.

Why is it that a photo never quite captures what your seeing from the cockpit?
 The small group of participants, 3 seakayaks, 4 surf skiis, and ~15 SUPS

 Here I am launching, my mantra "paddle hard, paddle hard, paddle hard"

One of the surf-skis landing at race end

Whew, I managaed landing upright, and with a combat roll, even ending up backwards at the beach

Showing off my 1st place female 'open division' and 'overall' glass trophy and celebrating with a nice cold Fat Tire beer, and wearing a Carolina Kayak Club paddle shirt.

This is the year I've been working hard on my rough water and surf skills.  And to do that I've picked my paddling partners well.  Both Chris and Lee have a bit more experience than I.  Chris is an excellent kayak surfer, and Lee has studied hard this past year on kayak incident management while we've both been working the surf together.  They were both kind enough to celebrate my accomplishment this day as I made it through the surf without incident, while both of them got surfed backwards trying to bust through, ending up taking a swim and starting again, and with Lee even breaking a paddle.

This event's experience was a huge skill and confidence boost for me, and all part of the plan.

Monday, June 17, 2013

We're Movie Stars

Well, kind of.   

A 90 minute documentary of this past 2013 March WaterTribeEverglades Challenge just came out on YouTube.  My husband Paul, son Alan, and I are all featured somewhat in a few short interviews and pictures.  My paddling friend KiwiBird, and many other WaterTribe friends are also featured. 

The video, 90 minutes, can be found here.

If after watching the video you want more.  Both Alan and KiwiBird wrote great trip reports on their blogs "Sailing Adventures with SOS" and "KiwiBird's Adventures".  Both are multi-part postings starting on March 14, then work your way up through the stories.

There was no EC trip report for me this year, within a couple days of finishing I started another adventure paddling up the Georgia coast on their new Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail.  During the trip I posted daily reports from my IPAD which start below on the March 11th post. 

Enjoy.  It's all gonna motivate you to keep adventuring.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Like Horses Heading to the Barn

We woke at sunrise with the mosquitoes and sailed out of our anchorage at 6:30. Weather predictions were for South winds 5-10, which we found confusing throughout the day.

We motor sailed a bit early on, for about an hour, then the wind picked up, SW, which was our direction. Tacking, and tacking, until the winds shifted S and we started heading more W.

We were making really good progress and started to think we might actually finish the trip today. We were missing our puppy, and our daughter who was looking after things while we were gone would enjoy having her life back. And my fresh vegetables and most of the fruit was now gone, neither of the marinas or places we stayed had accessible groceries.

With the S winds we decided we were tired of fighting headwinds, and we'd sail more west into the ICW on Goose Creek Island rather than continue down the Pamlico. Then a funny thing happened just as we past the North East tip of the island, the wind stopped. It had built though the day to a good 13 mph. Now the water was flat, and no breeze. Time to start the motor.

As we neared the ICW channel into the Island, we found ourselves sailing downwind, NE. Made no sense, but we liked it. This continued for an hour or so, then switched on the nose. We motored through the channel, and realized we'd make it back by 6pm, so decided to keep going.

Twice we raised the sails, and twice we lowered them as motoring was easier and faster with the wind conditions. We pulled into the dock at B&B Yachts where we had launched and Alan was there to help get the boat on the trailer.

Full circle we are finishing the trip going out to dinner with Taylor and Alan in New Bern, and drove on home from there.

58 miles today, our longest. The overall trip mileage was 261 miles over 8 days.

Tacking, Tacking, Tacking

The morning started with Paul replacing the frayed lines on the centerboard and rudder. We sailed out onto the Pamlico a little past 8 with full sails. Our route today would but us on a SW heading, and of course, those were our winds, on the nose again,10-15. Tacking, tacking, tacking.

We anchored in Wysocking Bay for lunch then put a small reef in the main, as winds were feeling stronger, we were still 4-5 mph.

About 3 we were really tired of being wet, and the constant pounding. We'd sailed 25 miles, and decided to stop for the night in East Bluff Bay. its hard to get out of the wind, as all land is just salt marsh grasses, but we're out of the swell, and much of the wind. It'll calm down a bit later.

We're still having a great time, enjoying the sailing, our little boat, and each others company.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Great Day to Englehard

Funny how on the Pamlico the wind can die at night and there are still one ft swells. We still managed a very good nights sleep and when I woke, Paul surprised me with coffee and breakfast in bed. Yesterday he'd surprised me with a Robert Parker Jesse Stone book he found at the marina, I'd been missing my fried Kindle.

Yesterday was all grumpy and tired, but today started great. We got an early start at 6:30 and motor sailing for the first hour or so with the lighter winds, then sailing 43 miles down the Pamlico, arriving at Englehard about 3:30, and averaging 4.8 mpg, with the main fully reeled and one reef in the mizzen. S winds 15 on our nose, it was a more comfortable ride with the reefs. Lots of pounding in those 2 ft swells.

Our one mistake was getting caught to close to shore inside a long shoal line at Long Shoal Pt of course on Parched Corn Bay, duh. Seeing we had no real way out, we pulled up the centerboard and rudder, let the sails swing, and gunned our motor though the best path we could pick. No problem really getting through the breakers. We did see 2 shipwrecks in the shoals. It really was one of our better days, with blue skies, steady winds, and warm temps.

We arrived at the Big Trout Marina, had a nice cold shower :) and the owner drove us to the nearest restaurant for a seafood dinner at Martelle's with beach music playing in the background. We'll stay the night and are studying the charts for tomorrow's route. We have about 70 miles to go, S winds will continue, though lighter at 5-10. No hurry we might take another 3 days. After all we are on vacation. I'm so proud of Paul, he hasn't checked his email once.

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Always an Adventure in a Small Boat

And today was another one. A really early start with breakfast at the marina grill which opens at 5 am. We motored out of the marina about 6:30 with little wind. After a few miles we had full sails up as we left the Alligator River into the Albemarle Sound.

A bit of a tailwind across Durant island, we were moving about 5mph, avoiding the pound net poles running for a mile offshore into the Sound. We tried to explore the Haulover cut but it was a bit shallow and Dawn will scout soon by kayak.

Continuing with winds building 10-15 kts SE we started to turn into the wind on the Western shore with Roanoke Island in view. We anchored at shore for lunch and decided to reef the sails. Winds were to build 15-20 S later in the day. The first of the bridges to Roanoke was about 1 mile or so away and we decided to tie up the sails temporarily and motor under the bridge. Wind was directly on the nose. We opted not to drop the masts, since we were motoring, we'd just motor to the center higher span. Our first mistake.

As we motored over, winds seemed to build a bit, but more importantly, as we got more away from shore (a couple miles), the long fetch on the sound brought large swells. We might have well been back on the Alligator River. Rocking and rolling.

We continued this to the next bridge, as wind grew and waves got bigger. Not comfortable at all, a rough and wet ride, pushing the little motor that could. (Shout out to Ken who we bought the motor from, thank you Ken). In fact at the second bridge we lost SPOT tracking when the bucking bronco "Dawn Patrol" bucked and flipped the SPOT over on the cabin roof.

Our second mistake was not sticking to the original plan. We had decided to stop at Manns Harbor, not to go all the way to Stumpy Point, just too long a day. Well we overshot Manns before we even realized it,we actually had sailed 20 miles by lunch, and it was still early. We passed another and it turned out the last protected anchorage about 3:30 but also thought it too early. We saw what looked to be an okay spot on the map about an hour away.

At this time the wind seemed more ESE, and this new spot would be the only protection before Stumpy Point. Unfortunately when we got there, it didn't exist, the shoreline had changed. We were cold, wet, tired, and we were having a miserable time of it making short tacks closer to shore to keep out of the larger swells more centered in the sound.

We knew it would be about 7pm the earliest if we continued to Stumpy, and winds were supposed to continue building. We finally stopped about 5pm anchored near shore, but on the windward side. There is a very small point made up old short stumps which we tucked behind, but basically we are in the wind and swells. Paul set up a bridle on the anchor rode to help with the swells, as the swells are coming in more SE with wind more S.

We will still continue rocking and rolling till about midnight when winds are supposed to die down. We made 38 miles today. Overall this has been one of our hardest and more tiring days. Looking for better tomorrow.

We've taken a couple hundred pictures and will post a nice slide show on Paul's blog in a couple weeks, for know its just a few each day we take from the IPAD.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alligator River Marina

We woke this morning to fog. Seems we are going to bed earlier each night and getting started later each day. After a delicious breakfast of bacon and sweet potato frittatas, we started sailing about 8:30 with a reef in the main.

Winds were still NW, 15-20, we continued to hug the western shore where the winds were more 15, still with fairly big swells. We sailed about 10 miles then pulled over close to shore near the Alligator River Bridge where we decided to take the masts down and motor under the bridge to the marina located right beyond the bridge. The bridge is a swing bridge, in the middle of the river about 3 miles wide.

At the marina, at lunch at their grill, a man came up and asked "are you the sailors in that small sailboat". When we said yes, he said "we'll I'd like to shake your hands". Evidently he was on the ditch with us, and had passed us, once out of the ditch, he kept motoring towards the marina (we had already tucked out of the weather and anchored). He found conditions worsening and worsening, his wind meter clocked 49 kts and he said the waves were so large he was going vertical more than horizontal. He was in a Catalina 34. He finally decided to turn around and sail back towards our position, though he said that was no less scary. He said he worried about us in our small boat, and saw us leaving that morning. That was yesterday when we didn't sail long before sheltering again for awhile. He didn't see us sailing on the western shore. Seems he stayed put and motored to the marina today.

By the time we'd had lunch and showered, then got invited for cocktails that evening by our new Catalina friends, we decided it was so late in the day we would just stay the night. We are on vacation after all. So... Only 10 miles today. Tomorrow winds shift both south and mild.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hello Alligator River

Yesterday's mileage was 32 miles and today, Saturday was 25.

We left our safe anchorage at 7:30, a bit too prematurely as the small craft advisory was out till 10:39. Out on the Alligator river with full sails, we found the winds were NW, 20-25 and gusting. The long fetch made for 3 ft swells and an uncomfortable and wet ride into the wind. We opted to stay close to the western shore for some protection, but after about 7 miles we turned back 2 miles to a quiet anchorage, and sat it out till lunch when the forecast was to be 15-20.

This is a huge river (bigger and longer than Sarasota Bay), a northern wind has a fetch all the way across the Albemarle Sound.

After lunch we headed out choosing to motor close to shore for about an hour till we got to Rattlesnake Cove, then set sails with 2 reefs in the main and 1 in the mizzen, still moving 3-7 mph, lots of gusts about 25 mph, requiring Paul to release the main often to keep me happy.

Staying close to the western shore requires a constant eye, as there are snags, dead trees and stumps all along shore as far as a couple hundred yards. Driftwood visits elsewhere it lives here. Even the NOAA chart warns "Caution logs and snags are likely to be encountered in Alligator River at all times".

This is a vacation after all, and Paul has promised anchorages around 4 pm each night. So we pulled off before making it to the Alligator River Marina, one of the planned checkpoints for the new Watertribe NC Pamlico Challenge.

We had a nice gourmet Paleo camp dinner, zucchini squash noodles with clam and bacon sauce, and are hoping for warmer temps tonight.

The Long Ditch

An early start to the morning with an egg and bacon breakfast, sailing by 7:30. Clear, blue and sunny skies with light South west winds. By the time we left the Pungo River and into the ditch we had enough of a downwind to sail between 3-5 mph. If it really slowed down, 1 mph, we'd run the motor, but only occasionally. There was lots of boat traffic on this ICW, lots of vey big boats.

At the halfway point, we were really moving 6-7 mph, but it started to get really squirrely, and the wind was picking up. Then wIth about 4 miles to go, and very threatening skies ahead, winds all over the place, we took down the sails and started motoring. This was the cold front moving in which would change the winds to NW (good for our return down the Pamlico, but also drop the temperature to 48 tonight.

At one point a motor boat heading north came up to us and warned "there are 40 mph winds out there". I assumed he meant the Albemarle. As we came closer to the end of the ditch, looking out at the Alligator River, Paul said "look at all those cars across the river, what road is that?" I looked up and saw 3-4 ft wind waves with white caps breaking, not cars. Paul checked the fuel tank in motor, empty, and quickly refueled.

At this point both of us were thinking "please little motor, don't fail us now". We estimated the winds at 30, with breaking waves. We'd already checked the map for a potential anchorage out of the wind, but we had to cross the Alligator River to get there. A bit exciting for me. Paul did an excellent job steering into the bigger waves, and the little motor (Honda 2hp 4stroke) motor didn't let us down.

Camped in shelter, the worst of the front passed,merlot and chili for dinner, and we are comfy cozy in our little boat.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rainy day sailing

It was raining at 11:30 this morning when we sailed away from the B and B Yacht Design workshop. Boatbuilders Alan, Graham and Robert saw us off. Out of Chapel Creek onto the Bay River we sailed in our rain gear past Vandemere with a favorable SW wind. Our cruise up the ICW was powered by a tail wind. The sun emerged and the rain slowly ended somewhere along the ICW. By 4pm we were mostly all dried by the warm sun and we were entering the Pamlico River with a nice wind at our backs. We crossed the Pamlico and found our anchorage in Saterthwaite Creek by 5pm. Our average speed was 4.4 mph today, we covered 28 miles, and our max speed was 10 mph surfing across Pamlico River. With a tarp tent over the cockpit, our delicious dinner was accompanied by the pitter patter of more rain.

On the water

Launched late Thursday morning, it's a wet one.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting Ready

We drove up to B&B Yachts this morning where we planned to launch. I met Chief of the Watertribe there, he is on his way back to Florida after hosting the new Okumefest Challenge on the Chesapeake. He had checked out some possible checkpoints for the NC Pamlico Challenge, and I drove him over to meet Shawn at Pates Boatyard in Hobucken, one of the planned NCPC checkpoints.

The wind is howling 20 kts with thunderstorms predicted tonight, so... dinner with Alan and Taylor in New Bern, we'll camp on the boat tonight and set sail tomorrow.

Gone Sailing

Taking a break from kayaking and going sailing with Paul on our Core Sound 20, "the Dawn Patrol".  We'll be taking it easy getting some much needed R&R, and doing some scouting of the route for the new WaterTribe NC Pamlico Challenge (NCPC).   I'll be managing the NC challenges in late September, and Paul will likely be sailing/racing it.

We'll have our SPOT on, you can follow our route here.  I'll try and update the blog a bit during our trip.

Hoping for fair winds and following seas.