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.