April 27, 2011.
The wind blew stink all night but we slept like babes in the anchorage at the southern end of the Pungo Canal. Today’s forecast was a bit more optimistic than yesterdays. 85 degrees with a 30% chance of rain and lighter winds in the 10 to 17 knot range. Splendid.
So I wasn’t surprised to rise at 0630 to the steady patter of rain on the cabin top. We motorsailed through the canal in about 12 knots of breeze. On the bright side….the rain stopped and the day turned beautiful. On the not so bright side…..12 knots in the protected canal led me to believe that there was gonna be a heck of a lot more going on when we reached the open water of the Alligator River……and we have a winner!
17 knots my ass. First Edition had some issues pulling their hook in the morning so we were a few miles ahead of them when we turned north into the Alligator River. 12 miles away is a swing bridge so I was dragging my feet waiting for First Edition so we could both make the same opening. I had a slice of genoa out and we were doing about 5 knots running dead down wind in 20 to 24 knots of apparent wind.
They caught us before the bridge, I let some more headsail out and sped up to 6 knots. They ended up having to wait for us but we both made the opening. We motored through the bridge but had the engine off and were under sail 60 seconds after getting through. We were able to sail the rest of the way out of the Alligator and headed out to cross the Albemarle Sound.
We had 80% of the genoa out with the wind at a perfect angle just over our shoulder. The wind was gusting 18 to 28 knots apparent. It was honkin’ and we were flyin’. The Albemarle can kick your ass when that whole wind versus tide thing happens. With the wind from the south it was awesome. The tide was flooding but we were crossing it and it made no difference.
About half way across I was sitting there trying to remember a better crossing of the Albemarle. And then our rocket sled ride across fairly flat waters became a rocket sled ride down a flight of stairs. It seems that the big southerly wind was piling the water up against the northern shore. You know, the shore with the gap that we’d like to sail into.
About 4 ½ miles out we reduced sail to slow the boat down. We had rolling 5 footers coming under the stern. We were going to have to jibe on our trip in and I didn’t want to be jibing with that much sail exposed. The trip across the sound took about 37 seconds as we saw boat speeds between 6 and 9.4 knots. Between the gusts and the surfing Mr. Toad had nothing on the last half of this wild ride.
Once inside we veered off to the Broad Creek anchorage. The wind was honking between 22 and 35 knots. The forecast for the last 2 days has been much brighter than the weather we’ve experienced. Tomorrows forecast is calling for the worst weather of the week. This one they’ll probably get right. But with how they’ve been undershooting the mark we’re expecting Armageddon and may stay put.