Saturday, June 13, 2015

Our first "outside" run

Our route

 Beaufort Inlet to Wrightsville Beach:  I'm up at 4:45 am making coffee and starting the checklist.  The Captain informs me that it appears our anchor drug overnight.  Not good.  At least there are no boats to hit, we are a little closer to the dredge but not over at the Coast Guard station (I'm sure they would have woken us up if we got too close!)  The Captain double checks weather and drinks some coffee.  By 5:15 am, the sun is starting to come up enough to see around the anchorage to the channel, including the dredge working next to us.  We pull up anchor by 5:30 am (clean so we've switched from muddy to sandy bottoms) and motor out into the channel with the first of the sport fishers.  After clearing the channel, the Captain turns over the helm while he goes to raise the main AND it gets stuck.  Of course.  Breathe.  He gets it down and back up (halyard wrapped around the deck light) with one reef (we're being conservative in case the wind gets over 25 kts.), followed by unfurling the genoa.  He leaves me at the helm and with sleepy eyes, tells me he took a Dramamine so he could take a nap.  "I would have advised against that!"  

Amelia standing by on the "jump seat" ready for duty

For the first time, we're wearing our life vests and tethers at all times.  (At one point I glance into the salon, and Amelia is sleeping on the settee nearest the companionway.  "On standby, Mama!").  As we near the Camp LeJeune, we scour the charts to confirm the Danger Zone isn't active.  I finally call on the phone, and on the second ring, a very nice person answers and says, "Nope.  You're good!"  (Sometimes the ICW is closed in this area for firing-range exercises.  Gulp.)  When I step back into the cockpit, I'm rewarded with a dolphin leaping out of the water on my side of the boat!  "HI!  Do it again!"  As it turns out, this "outside" run is more of a day sail in the Camp LeJeune Danger Area.  We'll spend 3/4 of the day in it!

Now, he's crazy!

The Captain heads down for his first nap by 8:30 am (but he won't get much sleep throughout the day.  Nice try.)  I spot a couple schools of flying fish while he's gone (What the heck?!  Oh, cool!)  We'll be able to see land most of the day.  Technically, we're in Onslow Bay, a lighter blue/green color and 50-60 ft deep.  To keep the wind in the sails, we work our way out to a max distance of 8.5 miles.  I'm a little nervous/proud of us, when I pass a 25 fishing skiff with one person on board.  Wow, YOU are crazy!  Surprisingly, I'll have cell phone service all day (better than I've had since we entered Virginia!)

View out the companionway from the salon

Some cold pasta salad, ginger candy, chart guide & sunscreen.  That about explains it
It's a 14 hour day with 15 hours of daylight, so around 3:30, the Captain decided to start one engine and motor sail for a little while, ensuring our arrival before sunset.  (This also allows us to sail a little closer to the wind.  I really can't explain that.  Trust me.)  At 4:00 pm, I'm standing up at the helm, looking over the bow because I thought I saw something when Captain comes back up.  As he turns around, a spotted dolphin jumps across our bow!  He circles around and does 2 more jumps before he disappeared.  That was better than coffee, my friend!  Thank you!  That adrenaline rush will last several hours.

Both the Captain and I attempt to read and nap, neither very successfully.  We were concerned about the winds shifting around in front of us (a rougher sail) or the waves getting big or having to take them bow first (a very uncomfortable ride).  Neither happened.  In fact, we took the reef out of the main at 2:30 after agreeing the winds apparently were going to stay below 20.  The waves probably reached 4-5 ft towards the end, but we were riding/surfing with them and the distance between the crests was farther apart (than the Chesapeake Bay or Pamlico Sound) so more comfortable.

The Captain yelled, "Dolphin coming up behind us!"  We watched him swim by and spotted him once more before he disappeared.  Voted the best dolphin siting because we got to watch him swim just under the surface for a few seconds and he definitely looked up as he went by.  Cool.

The channel markers for the Masonboro inlet were hard to spot.  I was at the helm while the Captain lowered the sails.  It was supposed to be a "local knowledge" inlet according to the guidebook, so we double checked, then followed a local fishing boat in (there is a large shoal between Red 6 & Red 8.  Denoted on chart.  It's not a straight line.  Pretty obvious based on the people standing on the beach!)

A bottle of Bordeaux!

We were anchored on the second try (first time we drifted back too close to another sailboat and had to move back forward).  On my last flight, a friend of the boss gave me a bottle of Bordeaux.  We'd been saving it for a special occasion.  This was it!

Stats:  Total time 13:33, total mileage 76.7, avg speed 5.7

Summary:  Everything went according to plan.  Waiting for a good weather window was worth it.  If anything, we were both a little bored but that's better than the alternative!  I personally am relieved that no one got sick, or worse had a panic attack.  You don't know until you do it.  We're ready to try an overnight run.

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