Sunday, May 29, 2022

days seven, eight, nine, ten - waiting out the wind

day seven

Up at 6:45, cold north wind and very strong gusts.  Mist blows across the creek.   Had gotten up in the early morning hours to slip on another pair of thermals from the clothes duffel, wished I had tucked them in the bivy with me the night before in case I needed them.  Slip on clothes, wool sweater and the dry suit in the morning.  Make hot chocolate to go with breakfast and think of my backpacker friend who had suggested I have hot chocolate and tea on board.  

So much rain the night before my sleeping bag got wet, spread it out to dry.  Read, nap, watch out the back of the boom tent as the gusts come and SPARTINA slides port and starboard.  I turn on the GPS to make sure the anchor is holding.  It is.  1:45 undo the starboard side of the tent, start the outboard and raise the anchor to reset it more in the middle of the creek.  It holds well there.  More reading and then catching up on my log book.  Chicken and dumplings for dinner, filling and perfect for a cold windy day.

day eight

Sleep late, until 8:00.  Almost unheard of on SPARTINA but I'm not going anywhere.   Light overcast with hints of blue.  Hot chocolate with breakfast, wearing thermals, sweater and dry suit.  Less wind but still strong gusts.  The sun makes an appearance at 9:30.  Get out my solar panel to charge the phone.  I check the apps to see that I'm right on the edge of 30 mph winds with higher gusts.  

Late morning getting warmer.  Noon strip off the dry suit and thermals.  Blue skies in the afternoon.  Read, nap.  Strong gusts at 3:00 and getting stronger.  Spaghetti for dinner.  Read until 8:00.

day nine

Very gusty through the early morning hours, hard to sleep at times as SPARTINA shudders and bounces in the wind.  Temperatures in the 50s.  Grey overcast and getting cooler.   Dry suit, thermals, hot chocolate with breakfast.  10:00 a cormorant surfaces behind SPARTINA, an osprey flies overhead.  Weather radio talks of a storm stalled off the mid-Atlantic coast.  A friend sends me a photograph of a house falling into the ocean forty miles or so east of me.  Fewer gusts midday.  Stronger gusts in the late afternoon, almost constant blasts of wind.  Chili Mac for dinner.  The wind howls into the night.

day ten

Wake late, almost 7:00.  Sunny at first but light overcast moves in.  Hot chocolate with breakfast, tea early afternoon.  Still gusty but not as strong.  Enough light to charge my phone so I can read the news, check the weather and check in with the family.  

Glad to have plenty of reading materials.  I read about Antarctic explorers and think maybe I don't have it so bad.  2:00 light overcast.  Rain comes and goes.  Less wind in afternoon.  Surprised to see how quickly the day goes.  Evening strong gusts arrive, the sound of the wind more bothersome than the rocking boat and shaking tent.  Creamy mushroom pasta for dinner.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

day six - holding ground

Sail off anchor on a pleasantly calm morning, light northwest wind over the marsh.  Head southeast to the Pungo River using the crab pot floats to skirt the shallows.

Round the point and lighter winds, motorsailing.  Turn west at Satterthwaite Point, light wind on the nose. Main and jib down, under power.

6:40 can see sailboat masts mixed in with the trees.  7:10 in the entrance channel.  7:15 docked.   It's a beautiful little marina at the mouth of Upper Dowry Creek.  Under new ownership as of a few years ago.  It has fixed wooden docks, I would have preferred floating docks, but they are in excellent shape with plenty of cleats and pilings, and not too many bolts sticking out of the wood to gouge SPARTINA.  I won't be here too long.

A lot of folks come by to say hello, it's a friendly crowd.  As I pay for my slip the owner mentions that all the big boats coming in are paying for three days, they are hiding from the weather too.  He also mentions that a mile up Dowry Creek is excellent holding ground, a great place to wait out the wind.  In fact they use the creek as a hurricane hole for the bigger boats.

It is a beautiful day, a few dolphin play in the shallows near the docks.  I take care of chores, charging batteries, resupplying water and cleaning SPARTINA. And then I sit up on a shaded porch and check in with family and friends.  And I check the weather.  A microwave hamburger and burrito make for a nice lunch.  

At 3:00 I cast off from the dock and motor up the creek.  It is a very pretty creek and I drop anchor at 3:20 where the creek splits to the northwest and northeast.  The wind is out of the south so SPARTINA's bow points down towards the marina.  I expect that will change soon.

A cool outflow and thunder arrive 4:20.  Peanut butter and banana oatmeal for dinner, a surprisingly excellent meal.  I make a note to order more for the next cruise.

Strong winds out of the north and heavy rains arrive late evening.  The rains last late into the night.

6.0 nautical miles for the day.


Friday, May 27, 2022

day five - seeking shelter

Under power at 5:50 after a calm night.  No wind.  A check of the apps show that the forecast of four days of high winds persists.  I need to get to shelter for the 35 mph gusts, and I would like to top off my water along the way and maybe fuel too.  

Leave the Little Alligator River with the duck blinds on the shoal to port.  No wind and no point of raising sail. 

About a ten-minute wait for an opening on the Alligator River Bridge, though the bridge at 6:50.

Full sail and making 2.4 to the south on the Alligator River at 7:30.  Less wind and motorsailing at 7:50, the breeze over the port quarter helping push along nicely. 

8:30 a flock of ibis flies by, very pretty and tropical looking birds with downward curved beaks.  9:00 off the Frying Pan where I have anchored before.  9:40 off Rattlesnake Bay, another favorite anchorage.  Overcast moving in from the south.

Enter the canal at 11:50 just as a southwest wind arrives.  Not helpful when motoring to the southwest.  Looking down the canal that is lined by tree stumps I see a stump moving steadily from left to right.  It takes me a moment to realize it is a bear swimming across the the canal.   Mindless motoring down the canal.  A few  friendly waves from boats headed north as the outboard drones on.  Getting warm and humid.  A bald eagle perches on a bare tree.  

Tired and hot, the canal seems to go on forever.  Getting closer to the southern end I find both the wind and tide against us.  Out of the canal at 3:50, turn to the northwest in gusts wind.  Anchor down 4:10.  A friend texts me that I'm under a tornado watch.  I can see and hear the thunderstorms to the north northeast.  Think I'm ok for the evening

Building gusts early evening, I turn on my GPS to make sure I'm not dragging anchor.  I am not.

Self heating beef stew for dinner.  More gusts, SPARTINA shakes, the boom tent shudders in the wind.

49.12 nautical miles for the day.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

day four - rough Albermale Sound

Long evening last night with the thunderstorms.  6:35 under power out of Peter Mashoes Creek heading into a northeast wind.  Heavy low overcast, a touch of orange on the horizon.  7:05 raise a double reefed main and jib.  Thinking the northeast wind might give me a nice sail west on Albemarle Sound.  

Making 3.4 in hard sailing as we round from Croatan Sound to Albemarle Sound.  Steep waves and lots of spray coming on board.  Wind out of the northeast but waves out of the north or maybe a little bit northwest.  A lot of pounding into the rough water.  Round up to bring down double reefed main, sailing with mizzen and jib at 7:25.  A long hard sail to any protection to the west on the sound.  Weather radio talks about more bad weather coming.  

Frustrated again on the sound.  8:10 turn west southwest towards the Alligator River.  8:30 sun breaks through the overcast.  8:50 turn to the northwest to round some fishing weirs on a shoal, making 4.3.

9:20 bright sunshine and blue skies, a sailboat ahead on the ICW coming out of the Alligator River.  Making 4.8.  Pass the Alligator River entrance marker at 9:10 with a tug and a barge leading the way ahead of us.  10:00 round Long Shoal Point by following a line of duck blinds on the edge of the shoal.  Calmer water and making 6.0 at times.  

10:20 slide into the Little Alligator River and sail along shore looking for a good stand of trees to get out of the wind.  Anchor down 11:05.  

Frustrated with the contrary weather.  Take a look at the forecasts.  Three different apps show gusts to 35 mph for four days - has to be a mistake - starting the day after tomorrow.  Can't be right.  But if it is, I'm halfway through my water supply.  I spend the afternoon thinking about what to do.

17.48 nautical miles for the day.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

day three - I am the blue dot

Sail off anchor 6:00.  Calm night with a strong southwest wind but we were well-protected and it was a comfortable sleep.  

A small group of terns hover along the edge of the marsh.  Sailing northeast inside of Pingleton Shoal, 2.2 downwind tracking the shoreline.  6:20 jibe east, making 4.0 and then more wind doing a steady 5.0 kts with wind over the starboard quarter.

7:30 near Long Shoal Point, sailing at 5.3 with a low overcast.  7:50 crossing the mouth of the Long Shoal River.

8:45 Wild Boar Point, just under 4.0 knots with smaller waves on the stern.  9:10 round up to tuck in a double reef off Stumpy Point Bay.  Wind building and make 5.7 kts in a gust.  Less wind in the lee of Drain Point, then gusts building again.  Round up to drop the main, making 4.2 at 9:50 under mizzen and jib.

11:00 jibe out around the Roanoke Marshes then enter Croatan Sound behind Roanoke Island.  Just before noon raise the double reefed main and make 5.2 kts.  Less wind as we head north on the sound.  Full sail at 1:10.  See a thunderhead forming to the northeast.  Check my weather app to see a line of thunderstorms  moving west to east.  Starting to feel gusts, drop the main and motor sail to shelter at Peter Mashoes Creek.  Not the best of protection but in fact the only protection I can reach with the coming storms.  Anchor down in the creek at 2:10.  Get the boom tent up as quickly as possible.  

The first thunderstorms slides by to the north.  I get heavy rains and a little wind.  I make dinner and set up the sleeping gear.  

The first storm leaves me with a rainbow. 

I read and relax.  Taking a look out the back of the tent I see a shelf cloud sliding down Albemarle Sound.  

As the sun is going down I feel the outflow from the storm.  There is not much I can do.  I slip into my sleeping bag inside the bivy.

The storm hits.  High wind, thunder and lightning.  Very violent with steady lightning.  It seems to go on and one.  Check my phone at 8:00 and see I am a blue dot in the thick of the storm.  I read the storm warning and they say the storm will affect the area until about 10:00.  I think that is a long long time but then realize the "area" they are talking about is from the Virginia state line to Hatteras south of me.  After about 20 minutes just wind and rain.  I drift off to sleep.

33.9 nautical miles for the day

Monday, May 23, 2022

day two - around the corner and up the sound

Late night I hear more thunderstorms and can see lightning flashing through the tent.  No rain in the forecast so I had left the "fly" that covers the hole in the front of the boom tent off.  Suddenly a strong gust of wind.  SPARTINA shakes.  I hear rain and soon horizontal rain flies in through the hole.  I reach to the other side of the centerboard trunk and grab my phone and charging battery, pull them into the bivy with me to keep them dry.  And then a strange sound, a tapping noise on the wood deck.  And a popping sound coming from the boom tent.  Hail.  A first for me.  SPARTINA feels as is she dances on the rough water as the wind howls.  The storm is strong but brief, it moves on.  I drift off to sleep.  

Sail off anchor 6:00, making 4.2.  6:15 tack out of Caffee Bay on to Swan Quarter Bay.  Turn downwind at 6:25, 4.9 kts.  

Swan Quarter Narrows at 6:45, 7:30 making 4.5 towards Bluff Point.  It feels like I'm hardly moving.  

8:00 off West Bluff Bay, a group of pelicans diving on a school of fish just to the north.  8:20 Bluff Point, jibe to the northeast.  8:45 making 4.8 tracking the western shore of Pamlico Sound.  I sailed here years ago but it has been a while.  

9:15 Hog Island in sight.  9:45 round up Bensons Point to spread out the sleeping bag which had gotten went during last night's surprise rain.  5.5 kts across the mouth of Wyscocking Bay.  10:30 round up to tuck in a double reef.  4.4 under reduced sail, but much easier sailing.  

Blue skies, a little haze, starting to get warm.  At noon shake out the double reef at Gibbs Point.  Looking at the chart for anchorages for a south wind.  Look at Parched Corn Bay, Long Shoal River, Juniper Swamp.  Decide on tiny Juniper Swamp that has a shallow marsh to the east that should block the swells.

I'm tired.  Anchor down 1:25.

 I nap, read and relax.  Fusilli pasta with sausage for dinner.

30.5 nautical miles for the day.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

day one - west wind

Cast off Potter's Marine 10 a.m. with a stiff west wind blowing.  Motor through the field of crab pot floats.  Mizzen and jib up once around the bend, round up to clear the grass from the rudder.  Making just over 1 kt in the wind shadow of trees on shore.  

Cut the corner at Chambers Point and out on the Pamlico River 10:25.  Exposed to the wind and making 3.8 in choppy water.  Away from shore raise the main with a single reef to make 5 kts.  Shake out the reef at 11:10, full sail.  Calmer water and less wind.

Off of Wade Point and the Pungo River at 11:45, making just under 3 kts wing and wing.  At noon jibe towards Swan Quarter.  See boats on the ICW to the west, all heading north from Goose Creek to the Pungo River.  Making just 2 kts across the wide mouth of the Pungo River.  Motor sailing at 1:10.  See some dark clouds ahead but they don't bring any wind.

Off Willow Point Shoal find a little wind, making just under a knot.  More dark clouds ahead, this time they bring some wind, 3.5 kts then 4.0.  In Deep Bay north of the marshy islands at 2:35, wind filling in nicely and doing 5+ kts.

At 2:50 having a hard time spotting the markers that lead to the cut to Swan Quarter Bay.  Finally spot the marker, further to the south than where I had expected it.  Looking across the marsh can see shrimp boats tied to the docks at Swan Quarter.  3:15 turn downwind and slip through the cut onto Swan Quarter Bay.  On the bay at 3:25, making 5.4 kts with lots of spray.  I see a car ferry to the south coming up the channel from Pamlico Sound.  Plenty of room.  3:55 slip on to the calm protected water of Caffee Bay.  Anchor down 4:15. 

Beef Stroganoff for dinner.  Under the boom tent I can hear small isolated thunderstorms around even though there is no rain in the forecast.  They all seem to bypass SPARTINA.

20.96 NM