Saturday, June 12, 2021

day ten - I love my drysuit part II

Sail off anchor 6:00 after a quiet and very cold night on Pantego Creek.  Thermal shirt and drysuit on for the cold and possible rain.  A single reef tied in the main, a slow drift down the channel in the wind shadow of Belhaven.

Passing through the breakwater entrance 6:30.  6:45 4.5 kts with wind aft of port beam.  7:00 tuck in a second reef.  A little bit of sun through the low overcast.  At 7:30 down to mizzen and jib, 5.0.  On the Pamlico River with big waves on the stern, gps briefly shows 7.4.  Jibe to follow the winding entrance at Goose Creek at 9:20.  Red marker 10 at 9:40, still windy but water calmer.  Rain.  Steady rain and cold.  

At the northern entrance to Goose Creek Canalat 10:25, round up in a small creek to top off the outboard gas tank, motor into the canal with an assist from the still raised mizzen and jib.  Weather radio says rain, rain and more rain with winds up to 30 mph out on Pamlico Sound.

Just after 11:00 near the south end of the canal and enough wind to sail, 2.7.  11:30 start looking for an anchorage.  Too rough to head further south on Pamlico Sound.  

I duck into a cove just off of Gale Creek.  Too shallow and too many crap pot floats for a good anchorage. We follow the shoreline of Ball Island, looking at possible anchorages in either Dump Creek or Rockhole Bay.

12:15 drop anchor in Dump Creek.  Wind and rain and cold.  So glad for the drysuit.  

I had bought some pouches of hot chocolate for the winter trip but forget to pack them for this trip.  Too bad.  Instead I cook a batch of freeze dried scrambled eggs to warm me up.  The boom tent keeps the boat incredibly dry and comfortable.

A long afternoon nap followed by some reading.  The weather sounds better for tomorrow.  I wear the drysuit right up until the time I get ready to crawl into the sleeping bag.  Slip the drysuit off and put on another set of thermals for the night.

25.01 NM for the day


day nine - a seam in the sky

Anchor up at 6:30.  It's cold.  Wearing thermal shirt and dry suit, under power out the winding channel to the Alligator River.  On the river at 6:50, rolling in waves being pushed by a stiff northeast wind.

Mizzen and jib at 6:55, add the double reefed main and by 7:30 shake out a reef.  Grey skies but it looks like it might clear.  

Full sail at 7:40.  Newport News Point at 8:30 where we jibe to the west, 4.0.  Sails down at 9:00 at the northern entrance to the Alligator River - Pungo River canal.  Looking south I can see several power boats coming up the waterway.  In the canal at 9:20 as skies clear.  Glad to have the NE wind on the stern.

10:20 warming up and I take off the dry suit.  At 11:30 friendly waves from the Scow Schooner NINA out of Baltimore, we photograph each other as we pass by.  12:25 see the first eagle of the trip as it flies across the canal.  I'm surprised that it has taken over a week to see an eagle.

Out of the canal at 1:00, full sail.  2:15 making 4.6 on the Pungo River towards Belhaven.

Wind out of the north and there is a dark seam in the clouds overhead.  Rain ahead so I slip on the foul weather gear.  A light steady rain off Lower Dowry Point that moves on quickly and skies begin to clear.

Making 4.4 as we pass through the breakwater to Pantego Creek at 3:15.  I tie up at the town dock see an "WE'RE OPEN" flag fluttering in the breeze at the marina next door.  Maybe an early dinner??  I walk over and ask about food.  The guy tells me that they only have "beer, wine and cigars."  It makes me laugh.  "How about a coke?"   He rummages around in a refrigerator and finds a single can of Pepsi.  "A dollar ok?" he asks.  So they don't have food but they do have fuel, a new gas and diesel system that they opened a few months earlier.  I am happy to be able to top off the gas can.

 Only one place open in town for dinner, the Fish Hook.  Crab cakes and fries with a glass of wine.  I push off from the dock, anchor down on Pantego Creek at 6:10.

39.79 NM for the day

Thursday, June 10, 2021

day eight - the storms

Wake to check the forecast.  Sustained winds to 23 out of the southwest, gusts to 31.  Not going anywhere today.  Glad I have good books to read.  The first gusts arrive at 9:45.  Anchor holds fine.  Noon the first of the thunderstorms arrive.  

12:45 a cold blast of wind and rain that shakes SPARTINA.  The boom tent, held in place by bungee cord, constantly changes shape.  One moment the sides are pushed inward and down, the next the canvas is pulled up and away from the boat.  The mizzen shakes and rattles in the wind.  The anchor holds through it all.  In a matter of minutes the storm moves on.  Calm by 1:00, and cooler.

A second line of storms approaches at 1:40, lots of thunder to the north.  The cool outflow ahead of the storm hits, much stronger than the first storm.  The boom tent is pushed down, then pulled up, shifts to starboard and back to port, it is constantly in motion.  Driving rain throws up a fog on the surface of the water.  A very solid gust hits SPARTINA on the port side and the boat heels to starboard, and heels some more.  Water erupts into the boat over the coaming and under the boom tent.  How much, I don't know but I had never seen anything like that before.  SPARTINA rights herself.  The storm still rages.  I move up forward in the cockpit, figuring it is best to have the weight up forward.  As the storm moves on I turn on the weather radio to hear reports of the "severe thunderstorm" moving across the region at 30 miles per hour.  Tell me about it.  I use the bilge pump and get the water out of the boat, pleased to find everything is back in order in a few minutes.

More thunder and cool outflow.  A third storm maybe.  I slip on the dry suit and crawl up forward to the bow and wait, and wait and then....I fall asleep.  

I wake only to realize that the cool air is not from another storm, it is the cold front pushing down from the north.  There is a long fetch across Babbit Bay and the water is choppy.  I break down the boom tent at 6:00, struggle to raise the anchor as all the wind and storms had buried it deep in the mud, and motor north to calmer water near Chain Island.  

 It is getting colder.  Tent back in place, sleeping gear laid out, I slip on some thermals and climb into the sleeping bag.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

day seven - the Frying Pan

Sail off anchor at 6:00 after a calm, cool and comfortable night.  East breeze, 2.4 in the beautiful morning light.

At 7:00 making 3.0 sailing north on South Lake.  7:30 sail into East Lake with the thought of sailing northeast to Haulover Pt and seeing if I can pass through the cut on to Albemarle Sound and head to Manteo from there.  Blustery wind on the nose and the charts show a "caution" in the narrow gap.  Also need to make sure I get gas and water today, don't know if I can reach Manteo.  I turn downwind to the Alligator River and the Alligator River marina.

Out on the river round up at 8:15 to tie two sets of reef points in the main.  Enter the marina, which is really a bunch of slips behind a minimart, at 9:45.  Empty trash, buy gas and a couple bottles of water.  10:15 pass through the bridge and sailing with a double reefed main.  

Wind dropping off quickly, full sail at 10:40 heading south on the Alligator River.

I search the trees on shore at 1:00 looking for the narrow gap that leads in to the Frying Pan.  The entrance channels angles to the northeast and a small stand of trees hides when looking from out on the river.  Trusting the gps I turn in through a stand of dying trees and find my way up the channel.  

Anchor down 1:40 near a little island north of Babbit Bay.  Mid-afternoon the winds pick up out of the southwest, building incredibly fast.  Raise anchor and motor a mile south (X) to better protection in the bay.  Forecast says high winds all through the night and in to the next day.  


Set up the boom tent and read in the afternoon, turning on the gps now and then to make sure the anchor is holding.  It holds well as we swing back and forth is the gusts.  Lasagna for dinner.

23.24 NM for the day

Monday, June 7, 2021

day six - I love my drysuit

I wake just after 5:00.  It is cold.  The crescent moon hovers over the cypress trees that line Raccoon Creek.

I can deal with the cold, wearing a base layer, merino wool shirt, pants and shirt plus my foul weather gear.  It is the wind that has my attention.  Gusts to 28 by late morning and I expect the waves will be steep.  Making 3.7 down the Perquimans River.

Away for the trees on shore 5.0 kts.  At 6:30 the sun is above the horizon, mist burning off.  Blount Point at 7:30, 4.0 ESE.  I have second thoughts about my gear.  7:45, still in the lee of Harvey Point, I round up to take off the foul weather gear and put on my drysuit.  The drysuit somehow makes me feel more comfortable.  

On Albemarle Sound at 8:20.  I look to the north and on what is forecast to be a sunny day a big dark cloud is moving down the river.  By 8:30 mizzen and jib, 5.0 knots, rough water and it's raining.  The rain is gone at 9:30, sun coming out and it feels good.  

Big swells are rolling down the sound, making 3.7 until the steep waves slide up under SPARTINA'S stern and the gps jumps to 5.8.  The swells seem to come in groups of three.  A couple waves reach up over the starboard side, a little water in the boat but not too much.  It is a continual effort at the tiller, feeling the waves and surfing a bit before each swell moves on.  GPS peaks at 8.6 and it reminds me of Sapelo Sound in Georgia.  

Enter the Alligator River at 11:50, hoping the western shore will give us a little protection.  It does not.  I need to get water and think about heading the Alligator River marina at the base of the bridge on the western shore.  With all the wind and waves I don't want to get close to the bridge and I worry about playing bumper cars with the boat in the marina.  Instead I head back towards South Lake.  

Still rough and windy.  At 12:30 slide over the shoal and into South Lake.  Two cruising boats from Maine are anchored inside.  I'm low water so I round up and ask if they have any to share.  The couple aboard fill two of my empty gallon containers and give me some apples and oranges.  Sailboat people are nice.  The captain tells me his anemometer is showing a steady 28 mph wind.  Two more mph of wind and the Alligator Bridge would not open, they were lucky to get through.  I thank them for the water, then head down South Lake to anchor on Northeast Prong.   

Anchor down at 1:55, I hang up the boom tent to dry for the morning heavy due.  And I slip off the drysuit.  Maybe I did not need it but the comfort it gave me was immeasurable.   Spicy sausage and pasta for dinner.

36.38 NM for the day

Saturday, June 5, 2021

day five - a bridge too far

Sail off anchor 6:05 after a clear, calm night.  Light E wind, mist along the shore.  Splashing sounds near the marsh grass, birds or fish, I can't tell, ghosting on the lake at 1.6.  

video, sailing at dawn on South Lake

Out across the mouth of the Alligator River making 4.4 at 7:10.  Entering Albemarle  Sound at 7:35, very rough and choppy where the river meets the sound.  Making 4.9 with wind forward of the beam.  7:55 calmer out on the sound.

Just after 8:00 a thin line of trees appears on the far shore of Albemarle Sound.

Military range marker in sight at 8:25, round the marker at 9:00.

There are two military ranges on the sound, one marked as a live firing area and the other marked as restricted.  I take that restricted seriously as the point nearby was used as a training area for a very famous raid about a decade ago.   The two areas narrow the width of the sound and cause me to make a decision on where I'm headed earlier than I like.  I turn towards the Perquimans River.  In Hertford there is a free town dock with water and fuel available nearby, and I could use a little of both.

9:25 sailing due west at 3.6.  10:20 approaching the Perquimans River entrance, 3.5 with wind on the starboard quarter.  11:00 wing and wing, 3.6.  11:45 in the river with Harvey Point to port, 2.2.  More wind at 12:15, cooler and overcast, 3.9.

1:00 motor sailing.  1:15 wind, 3.9 and I have the river to myself.  Round a marker and turn to the northwest as the river begins to narrow.

Main and jib down at 2:30 and pass under the taller of two bridges.

Nearing the lower bridge I call the bridge tender and tell them I am a small boat coming around the barges near the bridge.  Can I get an opening please?

A long wait before a woman comes on the radio and says "the bridge isn't opening today" just as I realize that the barges are not around the corner from the bridge, they are in fact working on the bridge.  "When will it open?" I ask.  "They don't tell us nothing!" she says sounding a little distgusted.   "What about tomorrow?"  She doesn't know.  "Would somebody with the city know?" I ask.  I can't understand her response as it is both mumbled and disgusted.  I realize I'm not getting in to Herford.  I'm not happy with that but what am I gonna do?  It was a nice sail.

I turn towards Racoon Creek and drop anchor.  Omeals spaghetti dinner using creek water to set off the heating pad in order to save my water supply.  Boom tent up and I can hear some thunder.  My weather app shows it to be a tiny little storm.  It arrives with swirling wind and some light rain, then moves on quickly.  Getting colder as evening approaches.

 33.95 NM for the day

Friday, June 4, 2021

day four - weather hold, a day sail

Strong north winds and thunderstorms arrived in the middle of the night.  Gusts to the mid-30s, SPARTINA pounding in chop coming down Broad Creek.  More rain than expected but stayed dry and slept well.

Wake to a cold, windy and rough morning.  I worry about the anchor holding.  Boom tent down, anchor up, motor to a beautiful well-protected anchorage on South Creek.  Protected from the wind and the sun feels good against the morning chill.  Still cool enough that I slip on a set of thermals.  

Not going anywhere today, so what to do?  Read, relax, cover my eyes and drift off into a deep sleep.

Wake in time for brunch: biscuits and gray with sausage crumbles.  Perfect for a cool day.  Wind drops off and it is so pretty why not a day sail?  Sails up 1:30 for an exploration of South Lake.  

video of afternoon sail in South Lake

A delightful sail southeast and then close to the wind up Northeast Prong.  

Then further sound on South Lake, coming about with the wind on beam over to Deep Bay, great anchorages all along the way.  

Anchor down just below Boranges Point at 4:30, reading and then beef stew for dinner.  Sometimes going nowhere is perfect.

 12.58 NM for the day