Friday, June 29, 2012
the tidal 214
I've started thinking of this last trip as the Tidal 214. The number reflects the statute miles sailed during the trip, the "tidal" comes from a few different passages we made where Spartina sailed into both the wind and a strong tidal current.
Above you can see Spartina's gps track, going from east to west to reach Beaufort Inlet. I realized during my planning that I would spent the early part of the morning sailing directly into the incoming tide, the goal being to reach the inlet at slack tide and pass through the opening in calm water. From past experience I knew that the currents run strong in the Beaufort area. I did not know how much fun that early morning sail would be. Clear water, blues skies and a very comfortable cool morning. I am now counting about 20 different legs in the passage, all made under a steady southwest breeze. Terns feeding on the bait fish in the ruffled shoal water to the north, wild ponies walking about the white sandy beach of Shackleford Banks to the south. Does it get any better than that?
And the evening before, when first arriving in Beaufort from the Adams Creek Canal, I dealt with an earlier incoming tide, this one just inside the inlet between Radio Island to starboard and Bird Shoal to port. You can see that track above. This was sailing to the south, with the wind - sometimes a faltering wind - out of the south. Again, very comfortable temperatures, blue skies and pretty water. Family's played on the beach of Radio Island, giving me marks to measure my tacks. The afternoon ferries, small boats with 10 or 20 people aboard coming in from the day at Shackleford Banks, passed along Bird Shoal, pausing to wave and say hello as I tacked back and forth in the channel. Sometimes I made good distances on the tacks, sometimes I slid back in the rushing tide, all the while dolphins and the white sandy beaches telling me that the Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout were near.
There were a couple of other similar tidal passages, one going through the Thorofare near Atlantic and the other heading into Belhaven. I will remember all those tacks, that very enjoyable sailing into the tide and the wind, for a long time to come.