June 4, 2009.
Today we kinda took our time getting going. We backed away from the town dock and spun the boat around smartly at 0730 and headed out. The weather for the day was light prevailing southerlies building to 15 knots late in the day. The afternoon forecast also called for some heavy thunderstorm action as well.
We were headed northeast on the Neuse River with 8 knots or so of breeze coming over the stern. We were sailing wing and wing for about 3 hours while making an SOG of 3 to 4 knots. We were passed by a half dozen sailboats under power. It was a perfect day for the crew to practice their synchronized sleeping.
I’m still absolutely flabbergasted when sailboats motor from here to there. I mean, I realize that there wasn’t very much breeze but WTF? They weren’t tearing it up either. We were bumping heads with a counter current and while we were flirting with 4 knots they were only making about 5 knots. It took each one of them about forever to catch and pass us.
Anyway, by the time we got to the Bay River we turned 40 degrees to port and went on port tack. The wind built a bit and we were soon doing about 6.5 knots. We were also starting to reel in the guys who motored away from us, but only for a few minutes.
Once into Goose Creek the wind pretty much died and we had to start the engine for the hour and a half trip through the creek. As we reached the Pamlico River we ran into our first thunderstorm of the day.
The Pamlico River runs east and west and the ICW crosses it from north to south. The Pamlico River and the Albemarle Sound both have fearsome reputations. They’re both fairly shallow and have some current which can very quickly combine with some wind to build very ugly seas, very quickly. Or so I’ve heard. We’ve always had perfect conditions when crossing either of these bodies of water, until today.
As we approached the Pamlico there was a thunderhead off to the northwest. The rain was well north of us but the wind quickly built and came out of the northeast. We shut the engine down and were close hauled, easily doing over 7 knots.
I was really surprised just how quickly the seas built. It was only about a 3 foot chop but they were right on top of each other. It was bang…spray, bang…spray over and over again. I could see how the Pamlico earned its reputation. Somebody in a smaller boat like a fishing skiff would have been in a world of trouble, real quick.
The storm’s wind was just what the doctor ordered. We reeled in boat after boat as we made our way across the Pamlico and up the Pungo River.
All of the other boats we saw underway today stopped in Belhaven as the Coast Guard had been announcing small craft warnings for tonight and tomorrow. Belhaven has a decent anchorage and a nice marina. Since the wind was up we decided to keep going. We sailed right into the anchorage at the south end of the Pungo Canal and dropped the hook in 15 feet of water. There’s room for several dozen boats here but we shared the anchorage with only one other vessel so we expected an uneventful night.
So, all in all, today was an excellent day for sailing. It was a little slow for the first few hours but as the thunderheads passed through they brought some very challenging winds. I think we sailed every point of sail at least a half dozen times today as the winds constantly changed due to the passing storms.
There’s supposed to be 15 to 25 knots from the south tomorrow with torrential rain. With wind like that we could probably make the trip all the way to Elizabeth City under sail. We’ll wait until morning though to see just how badly it’s raining before we do anything. Maybe we’ll just knock out the Pungo Canal and call it a day, I dunno, we’ll see.