Monday, June 21, 2021

day seventeen - the goddess on the ICW

Cast off from Beaufort waterfront 6:00.  No wind and markers show an ebb tide that will work against me headed north.

Pass under the high rise bridge, glass calm water.  6:40 a light north wind arrives, not helping at all.

Move to the east side of the channel as a tug and barge comes out of Core Creek.  In Core Creek at 7:15.

I look to the stern and see GODDESS, a beautiful sleek 58' motor yacht out of Providence, Rhode Island.  Someone is on the aft deck taking photographs of SPARTINA.  I shake my head and laugh at the thought of someones on that boat wanting a photograph of a little yawl built in a garage.  GODDESS comes up alongside and slows down, a gentleman leaning out of asking about SPARTINA'S design.  I tell him it is a Pathfinder design from New Zealand.  He smiles, says "We've got a captain from Australia, is that good enough?"  I laugh and say yes.  And the motor yacht powers ahead.

Further up we pass the wreckage of a shrimp boat,  hurricane victim I imagine.  By 8:50 making only 2.6 against the current.  The tide, much stronger and longer lasting than expected, had fooled me.

By 9:15 less current, making 3.8 under power.  Sails up at 10:25 on Adams Creek, motor sailing to the Neuse River.  Dolphins everywhere as the creek bends to the west.  Everywhere, that is, except in the frame of my camera.  

11:00 full sail leaving Adams Creek, a single tack to pass the shoals on the Southside and then close-hauled across the Neuse, 4.0.  I point higher than expected and see that Oriental is directly ahead.  A wonderful sail across the wide river and the wind carries me right inside the breakwater.  Docked Oriental 12:30.

A Ceasar salad makes for a light lunch.  Peaches and cream ice cream along with a glass of iced tea from The Bean as I fill out my logbook on the patio at Oriental Marina & Inn.  A cold beer from the Tiki Hut, then shrimp and grits for dinner at The Toucan Grill.  How nice.

21.27 NM for the day

Sunday, June 20, 2021

day sixteen - and back again

A bumpy night as the chopped rolled around the corner.  Took a while to get to sleep but once I fell asleep it was a good night's rest.  Sail off anchor at 6:00, mizzen and jib with a strong NNE breeze.

First point of business is to round the shoals that reach down south in the bight.  Before I can spot the markers in the early morning light I see the water breaking over the shallows.  Easy sailing with wind just aft of beam.  Past the shoals round up to raise the double reefed main.

Perfect wind for a few of long tacks, then slide out of the bight at 6:35 making 4.3.

On Onslow Bay the water seems calmer than in the bight, excellent wind and gps shows 5.3 as we parallel Shackleford Banks.  By 7:30 can see the Beaufort channel markers.  Making 4.3 and round up to shake out the second reef.  Close enough to the banks that I can hear the surf breaking on the beach.  

Just after 8:00 sailing through the inlet, water calm except for a small patch of water around red buoy 14.  It is the early part of the flood tide and the current carries us along on our way.

Docked 9 a.m.  Pay for the slip and get my two wooden nickels.  They tell me the marina will be full tonight.  

North wind blows all day.  It would have been a long haul into the wind up the canal, glad I stayed in Beaufort.  A burger for lunch at the Dock House.  An afternoon of exploring the town.  A cold beer while I fill out the log book.  And back to the Dock House for dinner, on a Monday evening in Beaufort it is the only game in town.

11.68 NM for the day

Saturday, June 19, 2021

day fifteen - Cape Lookout Bight

The phone alarm wakes me at 5:10, I want to make sure I can leave with the last of the ebb tide.  Sleeping gear and boom tent stowed, cast off 5:50, all sails up at 6:00.

Approaching the inlet at 6:15, the water would be calm if not for all the offshore fishing boats heading out for the day.  

Through the inlet and on to Onslow Bay at 6:30, making 2.8 off Shackleton Banks with wind on the port beam.  Easy sailing as the low overcast slides away.

Making 3.8 at 7:35 a half mile off the beach, shrimp boats dragging their nets offshore.

Entrance to the bight in sight at 7:50, 4.0.  In the inlet at 8:30 past the red marker channel that is right up next to the beach.

I follow the shoreline south past a big navy-grey power boat and then two cruising sailboats.

Anchor down just north of the shallows at Wreck Point at 9:00

It is a spectacular morning with a comfortable north wind.  There is always a tropical feel about the water and white sandy beaches.

I relax and read, catch up on some email and the log.  Early afternoon it gets hot so I set up the boom teen with the fore and aft corners folded back, it gives me plenty of shade but lets the breeze through.

Late afternoon the wind builds and it gets rough with the chop rolling down the length of the bight from Barden Inlet.  I bring down the boom tent, raise anchor and motor a mile to the east to calmer water just below the lighthouse.  Sweet potato rice and chicken for dinner.

11.79 NM for the day

day fourteen - down the canal to Beaufort

Anchor up and under power at 5:50 after a wonderfully calm and peaceful night.  It is very cold and a mist hangs over the water.  Water running past the crab pot markers tell me I have a helping tide.  6:30 still in the shade of the trees along shore and I shiver in the morning chill.  

Sun finally up over over the top of the trees, it feels good. GPS shows I'm getting about an extra knot with the tide.  Just after 7:00 pass ICW marker 195.  7:50 on Core Creek leading into the Newport River, round up and raise full sail.  

A steady N wind and making 4.0.  8:45 following the winding path of the channel as it curves to the east then turns southwest between Gallants Point and an oyster farm where watermen are doing some harvesting.  

9:00 pass under the new high-rise bridge and glad to not have to wait for an opening of the old lift bridge.  

We round near the marked shoals at the west end of Taylor Creek, drop the sails.  There's a running tide and I have to compensate for it as we pass a big boat heading into the docks.  9:30 tied up at the small boat docks.  I walk down to the dock house, pay for one night in the slip and get my two wooden nickels in exchange.

I get rid of the trash, top off the water bottles and clean up SPARTINA.  Lots of people on the boardwalk and I spend lots of time answering questions about the boat and the trip.  Crab cake for lunch at Finz on the waterfront.  In the afternoon I trade a wooden nickel for a beer at the deckhouse and catch up on the log while sitting at a picnic table in the waterfront park.  I check the tides for tomorrow.  Ebb tide at dawn, perfect to carry me out out Beaufort Inlet and then catch the flood tide into Cape Lookout Bight.

Dinner at Ribeyes steak house, and I crawl into the sleeping bag.

14.26 NM for the day

Friday, June 18, 2021


We have just had a week of very unseasonable weather.  Cool, dry winds out of the north since Sunday.  Deep blue skies.  The sailing has been beyond excellent.  I was very happy to sneak out a few times.  This weather won't last, might as well enjoy it while I can.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

day thirteen - back down the Neuse on the way to Beaufort

Cast off from the dock in New Bern at 6:20.  Motoring around the end of the long pier I radio a request for a 6:30 bridge lift.  "6:30 lift, captain" is the tender's reply.  While idling on the Trent River there are a couple dozen bass boat on the other side of the river, with more of the high-speed fishing boats arriving by the minute.  Just as the horns sound on the lift bridges the bass boats head out in waves.  There must be a 6 a.m. start to a fishing tournament.  Fortunately they all turn up the river, taking their wakes with them.

Bridge opens and we motor through the last of the wakes.  With the forecast of light wind I decide I'll settle for Broad Creek or Beard Creek, each just a few miles down the river.   Or with any luck I could make Clubfoot Creek.  

Full sail at 6:35, motor sailing beneath the high-rise bridges.  7:15 wind out of the NE and sailing at 2.4 with not a cloud in the sky.  Reach my first goal, Broad Creek, at 8:45 with steady downwind sailing at 3.1, sometimes wing and wing.  

A puff and we pass Beard Creek, 4.8 approaching Wilkinson Point.

Round Wilkinson Point at 11:40, 2.4.  Making much more ground than expected.  Clubfoot Creek is to my south but I can do better.  Just after noon crossing the Neuse River to Adams Creek the gusts start to fill in, making 3.3 towards the shoals at the mouth of the creek.  Rough water entering the creek at 1:30.

Calmer in the creek but still plenty of wind, 4.9 with wind on the beam.  It is easy sailing following the curving creek, passing the first anchorages at Cedar and Jonaquin Creeks.  

It is early in the day and I could easily motor down the canal to Beaufort by late afternoon, but being a Sunday with nice weather I imagine the docks would be full and the town crowded with tourists.  I turn into Back Creek, a single sailboat anchored there with a woman reading a book in the cockpit.  I sail about 100 yards past her, drop the anchor at 2:30.  

It is hot and sunny, I put up the boom tent right away for shade, spend the afternoon doing R&R (reading and relaxing), and also breaking out the stored food and bagging daily meals kits for the for the next week or so.  

A good long afternoon nap, beef stew for dinner.  The sound of distant fireworks wakes me in the night.  I am glad I didn't not go to Beaufort.  I climb out of the sleeping bag and look up at the clear, peaceful night sky.

25.27 NM for the day


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

day twelve - around the bend to New Bern

Cast off with clean clothes and charged batteries, not to mention a glass of iced tea and a lemon/cranberry muffin from The Bean, at 7:30.  Plein artists gathered in Oriental for a few days are setting up their easels on the waterfront.  Plenty of boats there, they will have to do without SPARTINA as a subject.  

Outside the breakwater at 7:50 with a single reef tucked in the main.  Cool and clear with rich blue skies.  So glad for that.  Steady 4.4 then 5.7 at 8:40 in a puff with wind over the starboard quarter.  

Wilkinson Point at 9:20 where we turn to the northwest.  Off Beard Creek at 10:10 making 4.5.  Wind still on the starboard side but now it has moved from the quarter to midships.  

Off Fairfield Creek at 11:15, 5.4 in building gusts.  Round up to tuck in the second reef at 11:40, making 5.6.  

Stray gusts arrive for a few minutes, then fall off again.  I wait out the gusts, hardening up when they leave.  Doing 3.2 to 5.5 depending on the gusts.  

Sails down 12:40 on the east side of the high rise bridges.  Pass under the bridges and call the Cunningham bridge asking for an opening.  They tell me to standby for a 1:00 lift.

The marina has changed since I was there last.  I tie up along the main pier and I'm directed to the marina office which is a couple blocks inland.  When I get there I ask the gentleman for a slip for the night, and he looks surprised.  He tells me all the slips are individually owned and if there is an open slip I need to pay the owner the going rate.  For example, he explains, where I tied up at the long dock is a spot for a 60 boat.  To stay there I would need to pay for 60 feet of dock space.  He looks around and spots another open slip, this one smaller, maybe 30 feet.  "Just for one night, right?" he asks, sounding as if he is doing me quite the favor.   Yes, one night, and I'm glad to pay for a 30 foot boat dock.

I get all that settled and move SPARTINA to the new dock and I'm still in time for lunch, shrimp tacos at Morgan's Tavern and Grill.  Excellent.  It's an afternoon of wandering about town, iced tea and reading my book outside a cafe, walking the streets as they seem to be preparing for an evening music festival.  It's a nice town and a fun atmosphere.  

Back to Morgan's for a dinner of grilled romaine salad, also excellent, and then walk back to the marina.  Getting in SPARTINA for the night I talk with another sailor working on his boat.  I ask about the forecast wind for tomorrow.  "It's gonna be dead," he tells me.  Not great news as I want to head back down the Neuse River.  We'll see.

22 NM for the day