Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day One - faux Dixon Creek

There are a lot of nice things about Potters Marine just outside of Bath, NC. It is on a nice protected little creek, has a great ramp and a convenient dock. But the nicest thing is that big pine tree that gives you plenty of shade for rigging a boat.

Bruce and I left out of Chesapeake, Virginia at 5:30 a.m. on the first day of the trip. Probably earlier than we needed to leave - Hwy. 17 has been improved so much that it was an easy drive and we arrived at the marina at 8:30 (a trip that included breakfast in Hertford and a gas stop in Washington). We took our time in the shade of the tall tree rigging the boat, checking the fittings and then packing all our gear for the eight day trip on the sounds, rivers and bays of North Carolina.

We had Spartina in the water and ready to go but waited dockside for our sailing partners, Paul and Dawn Stewart, to arrive. Relaxing at the marina was just fine with us, the first day's sail was just a dozen or so miles. No need to rush. After all we wanted to say hello to them - I had met them just once briefly months before, Bruce had never met them. Just as I parked my jeep they rolled into the parking lot towing their Core Sound 20 Dawn Patrol. We chatted a while, talked about the anchorage for the evening and then Bruce and I cast off about 11:30.

(As we headed off towards the Pamlico River I noticed we had some hitch-hikers flying around the boat. They were some kind of fly looking bug with green eyes. Steve called them green heads or deer flies. I had never encountered them before on our previous cruises. I was to discover they are demon flies and they would harass our feet and ankles with nasty itchy bites for three days. I think I would rather have the mosquitoes. It wasn't until the forth day, when we encountered other bugs that came to our rescue, that this evil menance was scourged from our decks. More on that later. Bruce)

Wind was light out of the east on North Creek as we motor sailed past shrimp boats and the hull of a decayed fishing boat. Once out on the the Pamlico River the wind picked up out of the east and we headed SSE at a little over three knots. There was a fair amount of chop on the Pamlico, our typical experience on the river. That day it was a combination of wind out of the east and the tide running out of the west.

We decided to tack across the river behind Indian Island guessing (correctly for once) that we would still have a nice breeze but less chop behind the island. Below is the gps track from both Spartina and Dawn Patrol as we crossed the river. They came out on the river about an hour after we did. You can see that we made a long tack all the way to the southern shore while Dawn Patrol made a series of shorter tacks. This was pretty typical for the cruise. I tend to like long tacks. Paul was more strategic in his decisions and went with the shorter tacks (the first lesson in sailing tactics from Dawn Patrol).

Both the wind the and chop picked up toward the mouth of the Pamlico but it was an easy sail. At 2:25 Bruce and I made one last quick tack at Reed Hammock and entered Goose Creek and the ICW. The wind was crisp as we sailed south at up to five and a half knots, great sailing on smooth water.

At 3:30 Bruce starting tacking in towards our first anchorage, a place we came to call faux Dixon Creek. The true Dixon Creek is about a mile to the north. But when Bruce and I arrived there a year ago, wet and exhausted from a 33 mile sail, I misidentified this tiny little anchorage as Dixon Creek. It was only a week before this trip that I discovered my error. So for us it became faux Dixon Creek. Regardless of what it is called, the spot is a great anchorage. A narrow tree-lined entrance leads to a shallow cove surrounded by marsh grass, trees and Spanish moss. Even in a high wind it is a quiet, peaceful spot.

You can see Bruce's approach in the track below, pretty nice for a guy that hadn't been on a sailboat for almost nine months. (You can also see that the entrance is so well hidden that we sailed right by it and had to turn back along the shoreline to find it.)

Once anchored it was time to get to work. We had invited Paul and Dawn to join us for dinner aboard Spartina on the first evening out, Bruce would be fixing our traditional first meal of beef and vegetable stew in red wine. Dawn Patrol was bringing bread and wine to round out the meal. My job was to chop the carrots, potatoes, onion, mushrooms and and garlic.

Bruce took care of the rest. On our cruises I kind of take charge of the sailing, he takes charge of the food. That's just fine with me. It takes a while to brown the sirloin and get things stewing, a very relaxing afternoon while we waited for Dawn Patrol to arrive.

About 45 minutes later we looked out over the marsh grass to see the beautiful cat ketch rig of Dawn Patrol coming down the canal. Bruce signaled with a horn to indicate our position but they had already spotted our mizzen sail (which is always left raised unless at the dock). Dawn Patrol tacked in under sail and then motored into the tiny creek.

(Steve didn't mentioned that I really wanted to signal with the horn. We have brought the horn with us on every trip and never once used it. I longed to use it at least just once. I mean I just had to give it a blast, and this was the first time we had a need to use it. I loved it. After two blasts Steve took the horn away and put it back in its storage bin. I would have liked to give it one more really long honk, but oh well, he is the captain. Bruce)

I've got to say it was a great evening. The weather was fantastic. We all talked about the day, compared boats and got to know each other. That first evening out was the only time we had really planned on spending together. But it was so interesting and enjoyable to talk with Paul and Dawn that we ended up spending every night of trip together. We hit it off just fine, a great way to start the trip.

After appetizers, dinner, a little wine, a little beer and a lot of great conversation Dawn Patrol cast off and moved to an anchorage about 100 yards away. Time to put the cooking gear away and break out the bivy's for the night.

Bruce and I relaxed, enjoyed the sunset and soon went to sleep. The cruise was off to a very nice start.

(One of the nicest things about faux Dixon Creek is there were relatively few bugs again. The flies had bugged out for the evening and there weren't any mosquitoes until quite some time after sunset. We got to enjoy the evening a lot longer. A very nice place to anchor. Bruce)


Distance 14.1 nautical miles
Max Speed 6.1 knots
Average Speed 3.5 knots
Moving Time 3 hours 58 minutes

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hey Guys!
Those "green heads" can be absolutely vicious! I was at Chincoteague once and they were so aggressive they were literally attacking the car as we drove through the camping area!
Check out this link:
Looks like a great trip! Hope I can get my Mariner down there sometime.
Steve Hock