October 30, 2010.
Flexibility is one of the lesser known virtues, but it’s a must have if you’re traveling by sailboat.
The weather started off just as it was supposed to. We were afloat and underway from Whittaker Creek at 0900. As soon as we cleared the creek the engine was off and we rolled out half of the genoa. I didn’t put up the mainsail as we had to stop in a few miles to pick up some diesel, so I was being lazy.
After crossing the Neuse River we found ourselves running downwind so we decided to sail the creek. It’s wide enough and covers a meandering course through the woods. The wind was strong enough even in the forest that we were able sail. Besides, it was good practice as we haven’t had to do any gybing in ages.
We stopped at Seagate Marina for fuel and once safely tied to the dock a fella stepped forward and said “I read your blog”. We chatted for a bit and because I’m a social Neanderthal I never even got his name. Anyway, it’s cool to meet people that read my crap.
After fueling we motored down to Beaufort and raised sail and dilly dallied waiting for the rest of our floating compadres to arrive. I heard them coming under the bridge so we headed out the inlet to take a look-see at the conditions. As we set sails for our southwesterly course we had 15 to 20 knots apparent coming over our right shoulder. The seas were 1 footers, so we were off. We called back to the others in our party but they surprisingly decided that the weather forecast was a bit too iffy so they were headed to the bight at Point Lookout.
With that whole hindsight thing….all I can say is “boy, did they miss an opportunity”. We ended up with anywhere from 15 to 25 knots out of the northwest for close to 12 hours. We covered the first 80 miles of our proposed 210 in no time flat in fairly benign seas. The wind started to come around straight on the stern and dropped off a bit. We ended up doing between 4 and 5 knots all through the night before the wind abandoned us altogether. By 0900 we had to start the engine. Running a following swell and averaging a little better than 7 knots would put us into Charleston just after midnight of our second night. Charleston is a big, easy inlet but we decided that we were tired enough to divert to Winyah Bay. Diverting to Winyah Bay would allow us to drop the hook for the night right at nightfall. So that’s what we did.
We slept like babies and in the morning we rose to a beautiful day of motoring down the ICW to Charleston. We’ll sit here til Wednesday morning so we can see some of our people before heading down to spend a few days in Beaufort, SC.
I do have to share one bizarre thing that we experienced during our night at sea. We were sailing along with the egg timer in command just before midnight. The moon wasn’t up yet and it was fairly dark. Christy was seated up under the dodger facing aft while I was prone on the bench with my head at the aft end of the cockpit. I was looking up past the bimini at the stars when it happened.
Picture an envelope. Instead of just the top flap opening, all 4 flaps opened at once and what I can only describe as “a milky, off white flash of light” flared out from the “envelope”. It wasn’t stark, like a flashbulb, it was more subdued. I didn’t even have time to contemplate what it was that I had just seen, when Christy exclaimed “what the hell was that? That wasn’t lightening was it?” She described what she saw as a “cone of light” focused directly down on the Veranda. She actually saw a focused circle of light around our small boat. I don’t hear voices in the rigging and the dolphins never speak to me unless we’ve been at sea for 2 or more days. Couple that with the fact that Christy saw something to corroborate my delusion leads me to believe we actually saw “something”. With no point of reference I had no idea how high above us this thing was. I never heard a sound and we were moving along smartly through a fairly quite night. Borders & Customs newest stealth spy system, the US military, Google Earth, a UFO or my ex-wife with a flashlight tied to her broom, I dunno….we were observed and it was cool.