Friday, March 27, 2009

The Swash

Steve was discussing our first night's anchorage at the Swash on our earlier trip. Right from the start it looked like it was going to be a great place to anchor. The water was calm and protected from the wind. We could hear the surf breaking on the beach just over the reeds and sand bank. After we had anchored, Steve got out his fishing pole and popped into the waist deep water to do a little wade fishing. Ah Paradise?

At the Swash. Hey Steve, catch something for dinner! The ocean is behind Steve.

I sat back, took in the view of this wonderful location and started the first entries in my journal. It was shaping up to be a very relaxing evening for our first night out. The day didn't start out that way however, as we awoke to rain and stormy skies. After an early breakfast we caught a break in the weather and were able to rig the boat and get her launched. Steve assured me this was going to be great, his smile was not all that reassuring. I have camped in the rain before and it can get pretty tiring after a while. In fact my mind drifted back to the 1970s when Steve and I were backpacking in the mountains above Palm Springs. It rained on that trip and we gave up the trek when the toilet paper got soaked. We were literally washed off the mountain. When we got back to Steve's VW van, we turned on the radio and found out that Elvis had died.

We had met a fellow the day before that owned a place next to the Harkers Island Fishing Center (where we spent the night and used the launching ramp). He regaled us with his sailing prowess in the local waters and shared some valuable tips on local conditions. The next morning he showed up to see us setting off on our adventure. While Steve went to park the jeep and trailer, I was left to kibitz with our new friend. He kept telling me about the weather forecast and how it was going to be raining. He kept asking me if I was aware of all this. Well, I was dressed in my bright red foul weather gear. I guessed I just assumed he would take notice of my attire and realize I did have a clue about the weather. Maybe he just figured I liked bright red pants. Anyway, Steve returned, and we used the motor to pull away from the dock. Up went the sails (motor now off) and Steve just smartly navigated us out onto Core Sound. We felt pretty good about that as our new friend watched us disappear up the sound.

It rained most of the morning. Then the skies started to clear a bit and the day developed into something quite enjoyable. Steve hadn't put on his foul weather pants and his jeans got pretty soaked. But by the time we reached the Swash they had dried out. After Steve failed to catch anything for dinner, we set up the galley, cooked a great dinner anyway and cleaned up. Steve started setting up the boat for a night at anchor.

Setting the anchor light. The sunset sky was starting to get interesting.

We prepared our sleeping gear and then read and watched the sunset. We were pretty content for our first day. Steve was satisfied with the distance we were able to cover in the time he had planned. I was satisfied that it had cleared up and we had a wonderful evening to enjoy. The last of the sun was a great image to sleep on. There was still a hint of the weather we had suffered earlier in the day and a promise of clear skies in the morning.

Sunset at the Swash.

As the final rays of the sun nestled on the horizon, we set up the boom tent and called it a day. I was glad I had made this trip and was looking forward to the days to come.

Now all that said, we did learn some lessons from this first night, only we did not have any real solutions until after the trip was over. Mosquitoes. We were pretty well invaded by these horrible creatures all night. In fact they seemed to wait until right after the sun set to descend upon us. Steve says they were just on shore waiting for sunset, my theory was they hitched a ride, well hidden, from Harkers Island. We hadn't seen a bug all day. We had 40 degree synthetic sleeping bags with us. These were too hot for comfortable sleeping in under the tent. But unfortunately there was no alternative as we had to get in the bags to hide from the swarms. Not a great way to spend the night. (Remember, this is why Steve named the blog Skeeter Beater). On our upcoming trip we will use bivy sacs as Steve described in an earlier post. I am looking forward to this improved sleeping arrangement. I am also looking forward to more beautiful skies and sunsets. The Swash turned out to be a great anchorage after all.


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