No harm, no foul I figured. And the Dawn Patrol crew claimed (pretended?) not to notice.
I got out on Jones Bay and tacked back and forth in a nice breeze. Dawn Patrol joined me a few minutes later and we headed downwind towards Pamlico Sound.
Sailing downwind can be, at least to me, deceptive. I'm thinking "this is great" bounding along at 5 or 6 knots with the wind on the stern. Down near the mouth of the bay I look back to see Dawn Patrol tucking a reef in. I kept on for a while then rounded up to wait for them. It was only when I turned back up into the wind that I felt how hard it was really blowing. So I tucked in a reef and sailed back to Dawn Patrol. Waves and wind and spray, the wind was even stronger than I first realized. So I tucked in a second reef. And by the time I reached them I had dropped the main altogether, sailing comfortably under mizzen and jib. Paul and Dawn had tucked reefs into both their sails I noticed as we turned back downwind.
We rounded Sow Island Point together then Dawn Patrol pulled ahead as we crossed the mouth of Middle Bay. It was a wet and windy ride. My notes show a gps reading of 4.4 knots into the chop. Dawn later told me she saw the bow of Spartina coming out of the water. The waves seem to come in groups of three, it was the second or third wave that would launch the boat up in the air. But we made good progress across the bay and then past Middle Bay Point. Paul tacked into Big Porpoise Bay and I followed. A couple of tacks across the bay and I watched them sail towards the marsh and the hull of Dawn Patrol disappeared in the marsh grass. I followed until I saw a creek opening, eventually tacking up alongside the anchored Dawn patrol. It was time for a break.
I think we were all wet and chilly after that rough morning sail. We hung up some of the gear to dry, had lunch and just relaxed in the warm sunshine. Above you see Paul and Dawn in the roomy cockpit of Dawn Patrol.
Dawn and I looked over the charts for Mouse Harbor and talked about anchoring that afternoon in Long Creek in the very northwest corner of the harbor. So soon it was time to put the foul weather gear back on, raise the anchors and head north.
Leaving Big Porpoise Bay I decided to sail with mizzen, jib and the double reefed main. That turned out to be the perfect sail combination for the weather that day. I picked up speed and pounded into the chop, heading north with a strong wind out of the northwest. We sailed out in Pamlico Sound past Little Porpoise Bay and Sound Point. This time I was ahead of Dawn Patrol and could look back to see their bow, all the way back to the aft part of the boat's cabin, leaping out of the water. It was a fantastic sight.
Sailing into the wind felt so good that I wondered what it would be like spending the rest of the afternoon sailing all the way north to Swan Quarter or Wyesocking Bay. But that wasn't in the plan so I tacked west into Mouse Harbor and worked my way up into the farthest reach of Long Creek. Not too much later Dawn Patrol came into the creek and rafted up alongside. The wind was still cooking and we noticed that the two boats were starting to drag my anchor so Paul lowered his anchor too.
It was just mid-afternoon when we dropped anchor. Plenty of time to clean up the boats, dry out the gear and relax. Dawn broke out some some toasted bread and soft cheese, I got out the crackers and oysters, and then Dawn brought out a small box of wine. It was a very nice afternoon, relaxing and talking and enjoying good company.
Eventually dinner time rolled around, Dawn prepared pasta with clam sauce, above, and I used dough for crescent rolls to grill some parmesan bread on the griddle.
A great meal, washed down with a little red wine.
As the evening went on it began to get cool and dark. I took the photo below of my sailing companions as the sun got low on the horizon.
Then Dawn Patrol lifted anchor and they drifted down the creek to set up for the night.