Monday, July 2, 2012
day one - a cool breeze
There is an unexpected chill in the air as I hook up the trailer to the jeep before dawn. It feels like fall and yet we are just a few days from the summer solstice. By the glow of the trailer lights I check out Spartina, everything is loaded and ready to go.
We are heading south along the Dismal Swamp Canal as the sun comes over the horizon. Clear skies with the Carolina line just a few miles away.
"You got an early start" Shawn tells me as I arrive at Pate Boat Yard in Hobucken a little after 9 a.m. Shawn and Nick help me rig and load Spartina, Shawn passing food, water, dry bags of clothes, the stove and whatever else over to me in the boat as I tuck it away. No mosquitoes at all. Again, it feels like fall. Shawn, who has a better appreciation than most for the simple life, seems to think I have too much stuff. He is probably right.
A little before 11:00 I cast off from the dock, swing Spartina around in the small basin and head for the ditch that leads to Jones Bay. Shawn waves from his office. I get too close to shore in the canal and the mast catches a branch from one of the many trees that line the ditch. The waterway widens and a crabber motors off to the side to let me pass. Soon I'm out in open water raising the sails in a pleasant NW breeze. As I tighten up the jib sheet I hear a dolphin. Then I see two headed toward Spartina, then find ourselves surrounded by a pod of six or eight dolphin. There are no better guests for the start of a trip.
This is easy sailing down Jones Bay. Three knots, sometimes wing and wing, sometimes with the wind over the port quarter. I put out a trolling line, check it a few minutes later to fine the lure bitten in half. Maybe a bluefish, maybe a crab. I decide to focus more on sailing and put away the fishing gear.
Approaching Fisherman Bay near the mouth of the bay the wind falters, shifts and fails. I try to find the wind, catching puffs here and there but nothing steady. I start the outboard but in moments the wind fills in from the NNE. I've had the wind change direction on me more than once at the mouth of Jones Bay, and I wonder why that is.
The new wind is in my favor as I tack out around Boar Point, then head south across the Bay River. I can see boats heading up the ICW - large cabin cruisers and a couple of large ketches. I see the silhouette of a cat ketch, maybe 28 feet in length with dark tan bark sails, out in the sound headed south. The wind carries Spartina at a steady five knots across the river, and there the wind then swings to the east. At Maw Point we sail south at 3.5 knots just off the marsh grasses and tiny white sand beaches. A little after 2:00 I can still see the cat ketch to the south as we near the entrance to the Neuse River. To the west I see the entrance to Swan Creek, my anchorage for the night.
I sail south of the entrance and head towards shore, finding the narrow channel that clings along the marsh grasses and leads back north past the islet at the mouth of the creek. Once in Swan Creek I raise the cb in deference to the shallow water, then spend thirty minutes tacking back and forth across the calm water, enjoying the breeze and the rich blue skies.
Anchor down just after 3 pm. A pouch of beans, rice and seasoned beef for dinner, then a nice evening reading my book.
Distance sailed 12 nm
Moving time 4 hours, 6 minutes
Moving average 3.4 knots