Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day Seven - riding a heat wave

I was up about 4:45 a.m. carrying the first load of gear down to the docks. A heavy thunderstorm had passed through Beaufort the night before. Since I had failed to set up the boom tent I knew that I would have to get down to the docks early and pump out Spartina. It wasn't too much trouble to get most of the water out, then Bruce joined me for the next run from the hotel to the docks.

We were looking at passing through the drawbridge in Beaufort at 7 a.m. Fortunately Paul checked his notes and noticed at 6:15 that the bridge would not open from 6:30 until after 8 to let the rush hour traffic through. So we threw off the lines in a rush and headed around the corner to the bridge. I called on the vhf and requested a 6:30 opening with six minutes to spare.

That's Spartina passing through the bridge below, a nice photo from Dawn Patrol.

We sailed up the Newport River with the wind over the port quarter. Easy sailing on a pretty morning. We moved along at 3 or 4 knots. Not particularly fast, but after three days of hard sailing this felt pretty good.

Sailing side by side it was a nice opportunity to shoot some photos. There is Dawn Patrol below.

And there is Spartina as we approached Core Creek on the ICW.

As the creek narrowed the wind was blocked by the tall trees on the western bank. Just a hint of a breeze and a running tide carried us up the ICW. Spartina eventually ended up sailing (drifting, really) along the east bank of the ICW just off the small piers of homes lining the waterway.
At one point Bruce spotted an eddy in the current that began to carry us directly towards one of the piers. I pushed the tiller over but we continued heading towards the pier. Bruce jumped up and ran forward on the starboard side to push off from the pier. As he moved forward the shift of weight inside the boat seemed to give us a little traction and Spartina turned out and away from the pier. I realize that shifting weight within the boat changes the shape of the hull exposed to the water, but I still don't completely understand it. I was just glad it helped us out this time around.

A minute later I heard a shout from Dawn Patrol. They had been caught in the same eddy and were not as fortunate as us - they hit the dock. Some comments from Paul.....

Fortunately in this particular case the smooth port side of our hull glanced off a smooth part of a post without causing any damage whatsoever. We bounced off into the mud bank of the marsh. The lesson I learned is that it's good to stay well away from obstructions when trying to sail in very light winds. In this case several things happened at once: the wind died, the boat slowed so that the rudder was ineffective, a devious eddy drew us too close to that dock, and we were not ready with quick appropriate actions. I never got a good look at the eddy, so I can't be sure that there were any appropriate actions once we were "too close". Backing both sails (hard) might have effectively served as "air brakes". Putting the rudder hard over and leaving it there might have provided helpful drag. Starting to turn away sooner might have helped. Not sure. But certainly prevention (staying well away from the obstruction) is to be prefered over finding a cure at the last second. - Paul

By we 8:45 were under power, mainsail and jib had been lowered. We had about a 10 mile stretch of the Adams Creek canal where we would not get much exposure to the wind. It was a fun ride for us on Spartina. We had passed through this canal three years ago on the first cruise that Bruce and I had together. It brought back a lot of good memories.

And then the ICW began to wind back and forth as we left the canal and entered Adams Creek at 9:40. The wind picked up and both Spartina and Dawn Patrol raised sail. Above you'll see us crossing on opposite tacks. And below you'll see that the wind was right down the mouth of the canal. Dawn Patrol caught a nice breeze and worked their way out of the creek onto the Neuse River. Spartina was not so lucky. We lost the wind on a port tack and got caught in the doldrums for a while. The wind was light and began to shift back and forth. We struggled for almost an hour trying to get out of the creek. And it was getting hot.

At "A" on the map above we started the outboard to get on the Neuse River. No sense in drifting along at just a knot or so on a hot day that was getting hotter by the minute. We finally caught a breeze and had a nice four mile run along the southern shore of the river ("B" on the map). We were sailing along at a good four knots and the wind seemed to be shifting in our favor. We could see Dawn Patrol further out on the river with light wind. Eventually we ended up just a hundred yards or so from each other at "C". And then the wind died.

And then the wind kicked in from the southwest. "This is it," I told Bruce, "we'll catch the afternoon breeze." But it died again. And we sat there not too far at all from Dawn Patrol. We would have the wind for a minute then lose it. They would have the wind for a short while and then lose it. And it was getting hotter and hotter and hotter. Weather radio said the heat index was about 105 degrees. I just can't describe the feeling of the sun beating down, no wind, no air to breathe. It was going to be a long afternoon. And we were still a good six miles from our anchorage at Beard Creek. So Spartina cranked up the outboard to motorsail ("D" on the map above) with a goal of being anchored by 5 p.m.

At some point Dawn Patrol made a similar decision. Why sit out on a windless river and bake? This is supposed to be fun, right?

The wind finally did show up late afternoon, above, just off a summer camp about a mile from Beard Creek. It was nice to finish a long hot day on the water under sail. We entered the creek and worked our way into a nice little protected cove with tall woods to the south and west and a sand spit to the east. Dawn Patrol arrived about thirty minutes later.

We were all worn out from the heat, hungry and just glad to be at anchor.

Dawn Patrol rafted up alongside and Paul spent considerable time positioning the boat so the sails of Dawn Patrol gave us some shade. And then we broke out the beer, a six pack of Carib packed in crushed ice kept in a cooler within a cooler. Boy was it cold and boy was it good.

And we started to talk about dinner but said let's have an appetizer first and out came the smoked oysters from Spartina and the cheese rounds from Dawn Patrol. Then the anchovies wrapped around capers and two kinds of crackers. And then tinned herring and next thing you know cheese crackers and more cheese rounds and then some just plain anchovies and then some cups of fruit.

And that became dinner, all washed down by ice cold Carib beer. It's funny how the unplanned things are often the best.

So it was the last night of the cruise. We sat in the shade of Dawn Patrol's sails, ate good food, talked, relaxed and enjoyed life. It was an evening I'll remember for a long time.


Distance 28.8 nautical miles
Max Speed 5.9 knots
Average Speed 2.9 knots
Moving time 9 hours 54 minutes


Anonymous said...

Steve, Does your GPS give you all the data: laps time, average speed, fastest speed, etc.

Steve said...

Yes, that all comes from our two gps units on board. In fact I think there is a lot more data there but I'm just not sure how to access it.