Sunday, May 23, 2010

on the water

Spartina stayed in the garage today with a forecast of rain and severe thunderstorms. Good choice for once, the thunder started a little after 11 a.m., heavy rain and then lightning soon followed. It was a day to get chores around the house, maybe get ahead of the curve and hope for good weather next weekend.

While I'm staying dry there are a couple of good trips worth following, one going on right now and one starting, I think, tomorrow.

SandyBottom Kayaker is in a group of kayakers paddling from Ocracoke Island, one of my favorite places, to Manteo, another favorite place, on Roanoke Island. They will be paddling on Pamlico Sound just inside of the Outer Banks. She published her tracking page on her blog so I don't think she'll mind if I post it here. And it looks like her husband Paul, aka Dances with SandyBottom, is updating her blog as she goes. It will be worth tuning in there. That is a photo of Dawn below from an EC trip.

Today, on their first full day of paddling they crossed Hatteras Inlet, the opening between Ocracoke Island at left to Hatteras Island at the right. The currents in there can be treacherous but I'm sure this experienced group of kayakers timed it just right, it looks from the SPOT track that they made it through just fine. It is a beautiful area with blue green water, tiny islands with white sand and several shoals.

(A quick side note --- I first read about paddling a small boat across Hatteras Inlet in Nathaniel Bishop's Voyage of the Paper Canoe published in 1878. It is a great read, as are his other books. Project Gutenberg has put Voyage of The Paper Canoe on line. For those interested I've pasted his description of his crossing of Hatteras Inlet at the bottom of this post.)

Below is a photograph I shot of the inlet last summer on the way down to Ocracoke in a small plane. The northern tip of Ocracoke is at the right in this photo. You can see how the currents have carved out the shoals. I wonder what it looks like from water level (a kayak).
I have crossed the inlet dozens of times over the years on the ferry, Bruce and came back across the inlet on the ferry in 2007 on the way home from the SkeeterBeater. That was beautiful evening. We've published those photos before, you can see them here.

I think the paddle to Manteo will go through Friday. I'll look forward to see the photos and reports.

Just about 20 miles southwest of Ocracoke the captains of the OBX130 are meeting sometime today. The sail, down Core Sound to Cape Lookout Bight, Shackleford Banks and back up Core Sound, starts tomorrow.

One of the particpants in Chuck of Duckworks Magazine. He is sailing with Bill Moffitt, one of the organizers, aboard Bill's Mikesboat. Below is a photo from the exploratory trip they did last summer while planning this year's event. Again, I can't wait to read there stories. It looks like Chuck will be reporting in during the trip here.

So I'm not on the water, but it is good to see that some other folks are out there. Hopefully I'll get out for a few more day sails in the next couple of weeks. The the June cruise is less than four weeks away.


from Voyage of the Paper Canoe.......
Before morning the wind shifted, and by nine o'clock I retraced my steps to the cape, and on Tuesday rowed down to Hatteras Inlet, which was reached a little past noon. Before attempting to cross this dangerous tidal gate-way of the ocean I hugged the shore close to its edge, and paused to make myself familiar with the sand-hills of the opposite side, a mile away, which were to serve as the guiding-beacons in the passage. How often had I, lying awake at night, thought of and dreaded the crossing of this ill-omened inlet! It had given me much mental suffering. Now it was before me. Here on my right was the great sound, on my left the narrow beach island, and out through the portal of the open inlet surged and moaned under a leaden sky that old ocean which now seemed to frown at me, and to say: "Wait, my boy, until the inlet's waves deliver you to me, and I will put you among my other victims for your temerity."  As I gazed across the current I remarked that it did not seem very rough, though a strong ebb was running out to the sea, and if crossed immediately, before the wind arose, there could be no unreasonable risk. My canvas deck-cover was carefully pulled close about my waist, and a rigid inspection of oars and row-locks was made; then, with a desire to reserve my strength for any great demand that might be made upon it a little later, I rowed with a steady stroke out into Hatteras Inlet. There was no help nearer than Styron's, two miles away on the upper shore, while the beach I was approaching on the other side was uninhabited for nearly sixteen miles, to the village at its southern end, near Ocracoke Inlet. Upon entering the swash I thought of the sharks which the Hatteras fishermen had told me frequently seized their oars, snapping the thin blades in pieces, assuring me, at the same time, that mine would prove very attractive, being so white and glimmering in the water, and offering the same glittering fascination as a silver-spoon bait does to a blue-fish. These cheerful suggestions caused a peculiar creeping sensation to come over me, but I tried to quiet myself with the belief that the sharks had followed the blue-fish into deeper water, to escape cold weather.  The canoe crossed the upper ebb, and entered an area where the ebb from the opposite side of the inlet struck the first one. While crossing the union of the two currents, a wind came in at the opening through the beach, and though not a strong one, it created a great agitation of the water. The dangerous experience at Watchapreague Inlet had taught me that when in such a sea one must pull with all his strength, and that the increased momentum would give greater buoyancy to the shell; for while under this treatment she bounced from one irregular wave to another with a climbing action which greatly relieved my anxiety. The danger seemed to be decreasing, and I stole a furtive glance over my shoulder at the low dunes of the beach shore which I was approaching, to see how far into the inlet the tide had dragged me. The white water to leeward warned me of a shoal, and forced me to pull hard for the sound to escape being drawn into the breakers. This danger was hardly passed, when suddenly the waters around me seethed and foamed, and the short waves parted and closed, as great creatures rose from the deep into the air several feet, and then fell heavily into the sea. My tiny shell rocked and pitched about wildly as these animals appeared and disappeared, leaping from the waves all around me, diving under the boat and reappearing on the opposite side. They lashed the current with their strong tails, and snorted or blowed most dismally. For an instant surprise and alarm took such possession of me that not a muscle of my arms obeyed my will, and the canoe commenced to drift in the driving stream towards the open sea. This confusion was only momentary, for as soon as I discovered that my companions were porpoises and only old acquaintances, I determined to avoid them as soon as possible.  With a quick glance at my stern range, a sand-hill on the shore of the inlet, and another look over my shoulder for the sand dunes of the other side, I exerted every muscle to reach the beach; but my frisky friends were in no mood to leave me, but continued their fun with increased energy as reinforcements came up from all directions. The faster I rowed the more they multiplied, ploughing the sea in erratic courses. They were from five to seven feet in length, and must have weighed from two hundred to four hundred pounds each. Though their attentions were kindly meant, their brusqueness on such an unsteady footing was unpardonable. I most feared the strong, shooting movements of their tails in the sudden dives under my canoe, for one sportive touch of such a _caudality_ would have rolled me over, and furnished material for a tale the very anticipation of which was unpleasant.  [Illustration: CROSSING HATTERAS INLET.]  The aquatic gambols of the porpoises lasted but a few minutes after they had called in all their neighbors, and had chased me into three feet depth of water. They then spouted a nasal farewell, which sounded more catarrhal than guitaral, and left me for the more profitable occupation of fishing in the tideway of the inlet, while I rowed into a shallow cove, out of the ebb, to rest, and to recover from the effects of my fright.  As I pulled along the beach the tide receded so rapidly that the canoe was constantly grounding, and wading became necessary, for I could not get within several feet of the shore. When five miles from Hatteras Inlet I espied an empty grass cabin, which the fishermen used in February while catching shad; and, as a southerly wind was now blowing from the sea, and rain was falling, it offered a night's shelter for the traveller. This Robinson Crusoe looking structure was located upon the low land near the sound, while bleak, sharp-pointed, treeless and grassless sand-hills, blown into shape by the winds, arose in the background, and cut off a view of the ocean, which, judging from the low, melancholy moaning coming over the dunes, was in a sad mood.  The canoe was hauled into the bushes and tied securely for fear a deceptive tide might bear it away. The provisions, blankets, &c., were moved into the grass hut, which needed repairing. The holes in the south wall were soon thatched, and a bed easily prepared from the rushes of the marsh. It mattered not that they were wet, for a piece of painted canvas was spread over them, and the inviting couch finished.

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