Paul of Dawn Patrol fame has sent me two GPS tracks of Dawn Patrol's sailing in North Carolina last year. I have overlaid them with Spartina's track, in white, above, to see how our trips compared. The red and blue track is from a scouting trip by Paul and Dawn, photo below, in preparation for the 2013 Watertribe North Carolina Challenge. The yellow track is from Paul and his son Alan sailing Dawn Patrol after the NC Challenge was cancelled due to high winds.
Though we keep in touch by email, I have not seen Paul, Dawn or Alan for a couple of years. Paul tells me they did get a glimpse of me, or at least of Spartina, last October. More about that later.
Both of us, in a sense, lost the Alligator River to weather. For me it was a river hidden in rain and fog, the second day of the fall trip. From what I could see, I want to go back again and do some more exploring.
Paul and Dawn, you can tell from their north-bound track, were tacking into the wind, wind at 20 to 25 and gusting. They clung to the western shore to avoid the three foot swells out on the main part of the river.
The boats took alternate routes heading east to Core Sound. I sailed outside to Cape Lookout, then through Barden Inlet and up Core Sound. Paul and Alan, sailing aboard Dawn Patrol after the NCC had been cancelled, threaded the shallows south of Bird Shoal and beneath Harkers Island.
We headed up Core Sound within a few days of each other, both dealing with the strong north winds that led to the cancellation of the challenge. We all got our share of tacking in on our way north.
Our closest encounters were in the canals behind Cedar Island. Paul tells me that they were crossing the bridge over Thorofare Canal on their way to breakfast in Atlantic and saw Spartina's sails - just mizzen and jib up in the strong wind - heading across Thorofare Bay. It was later that day when I was anchored off Turnagain Bay that Paul txt'd me that the NCC was cancelled, any sailing would have to be done on their own. They did wait a day before launching and Paul tells me they may have again seen Spartina's sails in the distance crossing the Neuse River. I did not see them, I was too busy looking at the waves in front of me on my way to Broad Creek.
Paul and Dawn, during their spring exploration, enjoyed the hospitality of Big Trout Marina, something that I also did on the fall trip. Dawn talks about a seafood dinner with beach music playing in the background. I will always remember enjoying a trout burger after receiving a withering look because of my bare feet. Big Trout Marina is a great place to visit, run by wonderful folks. I would mark a waypoint at the mouth of Far Creek if you are sailing or kayaking that area of Pamlico Sound.
At Long Shoal Point, Spartina and Dawn Patrol each had wind on the nose and a desire to avoid sailing out around the very long Long Shoal. I was sailing north with strong north wind, cutting inside the shoal through the shallows near a wrecked shrimper. Paul and Dawn on Dawn Patrol were heading south with south winds, also cutting inside the shoal. Dawn reports see two shipwrecks. (It looks like they were much closer or maybe even inside of the shipwreck I saw.)
It is fun to compare these trips, I will spend some more time looking at our tracks. I had in fact hoped to see Paul, Dawn, Alan and maybe a few other friends from the Watertribe, but the weather put an end to that. Maybe someday we will cross paths on the water, hopefully close enough to say hello.