Friday, May 29, 2009

Back To Reality

Beaufort, NC
34 48.2 N 71 41.0W

Well back to reality for us as Matsu sits on the hard stand here in Beaufort, NC.

We left Rose Island in the Bahamas and had another marathon sail, 4 days and 3 nights again, this time covering the 538 miles to Charleston. We had originally planned to stop after 24 hours in Palm Beach but when we checked the weather forecast it was time to "get out of Dodge" so we had the difficult choice of turning right and following the Gulf Stream on north, postponing a good nights sleep for another 3 days!

The trip was uneventful, sailing in the gulf stream in light winds at 10 knots thanks to the current. The wind held until the last day when it was on with the motor and out with the hydraulic oil to keep topping up our steering which has now developed a leak - while sailing it isn't a problem as we can use the wind vane, but motoring it drips constantly.

We arrived i Charleston on 16 May exactly 2 years since we arrived heading north, that time we were there for 10 days waiting for a strong cold front to pass through, and exactly the same this time around! What a shock to the system, 4 days after swimming in clear water in the sunny Bahamas we were anchored in the brown river at Charleston wearing wooly hats and gloves as temperatures dropped to around 5°C!!

We left Charleston bound for Matsu's summer home on Chesapeake Bay, on what proved to be the worst leg of our trip back, at first the wind wasn't right, and then on day two lots of rain showers followed by the wind dieing. We turned on the motor and tried to motor sail north the remaining 270 miles, but the oil leak was getting worse and we began to worry we would run out of top up oil before arriving in Chesapeake. While we debated this the main sail flogged and a batten broke, then while trying to gt the batten out the leach of the sail tore and we decided it was time to head for a rest.

We changed course, then decided to persevere, then changed our minds again, and then again before finally the dolphins gave us the right advice - we were joined by a big pod and then they all turned left and headed for Beaufort, 20 minutes later when we changed course again heading that way too, they reappeared with 2 of them jumping completely clear of the water right alongside as if celebrating our wise decision.

We made it into Cape Lookout at 1am, very tired and very annoyed at this delay to our plans, but a whisky and a well earned sleep helped a lot. Everything seemed better in the morning sun and we headed into Beaufort to assess the repair - on our way we realised that the only reason we couldn't leave the boat in Beaufort was our insurance policy, we would be 12 miles south of their hurricane zone. After a few phone calls and emails all was decided and w got the green light to leave Matsu here. This makes a huge difference to the trip south in Autumn as we will not be faced with rounding Cape Hatteras on a cold front, and are already 250 miles nearer the Bahamas.

So that's it for a while as far as sailing goes. Our plan now is to head back to the UK for summer and try to find some work - so suits and commutes rather than sun and rum. We promise to blog a day in the office provided we find a job!
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