Roosters crow in the dark blue light that comes before dawn. Not a breath of wind. The lighthouse beacon plays second only to the bright moon. Tiny ripples roll out from Spartina's hull as I begin tucking away gear for the day's sail back across the sound.
We raise anchor and motor across Silver Lake, throttled back on the peaceful harbor. Even the ferries are quiet. Out between the jetties I increase power to just above idle. Dolphin play ahead in the channel. Looking back the sun rises behind the village. Glancing at the gps I see that after I make the sharp "v" in the channel the entrance markers out near Howard's Reef will point us directly to Bluff Point, and it is clear enough that I can already see the thin dark tree line on the far side of the sound.
Leaving the entrance channel we slide north to make room for the morning ferries. Cutting through a patch of crab pot markers I feel a breeze tugging at the mizzen, the only sail raised. I shut off the outboard and Spartina rounds up into the light wind. Full sail at 7:30 on a very pretty morning. Hull gurgling through the calm water I listen to the full cycle of the weather report and hear no mention of the tropical disturbance. It is cool and comfortable with a light overcast, the outgoing tide nudging us to the south. I think about anchorages for the night, maybe Caffee Bay near Swan Quarter, or Deep Bay a little bit farther beyond.
A little more wind before 9:00, happy to be making a steady three miles per hour in the ESE wind. Then more wind and the hull makes enough noise that I need to turn up the volume on the sports radio station. I snack on some jerky and cheese. It is the best kind of sailing: cool, comfortable, not too fast, not to slow, peaceful and relaxed. Not another boat in sight.
Before 11:00 we are due south of Bluff Point and our course angles to the north west towards Swan Quarter Narrows. Skies become grey just as I see the jagged line of bushes on Great Island ahead. The wind is on our stern and I jibe towards the low-lying island to get a better angle on the wind to enter Swan Quarter Bay. We pass the entrance to Caffee Bay and head towards the cut to Deep Bay wing and wing at 4 mph. We jibe, enter the cut and slide through quickly.
Mid-afternoon and the weather report mentions the storm coming up from the south. I jot down "upper level trough," "gradually more favorable for development," "tropical or sub-tropical cyclone." It's clear I will have to make a decision on the trip in the evening. We sail W into Rose Bay then WSE towards the west end of Judith Island. At 3:45 we slide out from behind the low-marshy island and enter the Pamlico River. The wind is stronger and for the first time today the water has some chop to it. We sail for Goose Creek but soon find a nice angle on the wind to carry us to Clark Creek, an anchorage I've sailed past several times and have always wanted to explore. Early evening we slip between Cedar Island and Beard Island Point, dropping anchor just off of Clark Point just before 6:00.
Evening weather report is the same talk of troughs, formation and cyclone. I eat freeze dried beef stew spiked with hot sauce for dinner and decide to head in the next morning. Chance of rain overnight so I set up the boom tent.