Monday, May 23, 2011

Back In Annapolis

Back Creek, Annapolis

Well we’re back, 3.5 weeks, 1,266 miles, a lot of sailing and even more motoring and we have made it back to Annapolis our summer base.

The journey back was fairly uneventful, we stopped in the Berry Islands for a few days, anchored by ourselves at Fish Market Cays, saying a sad farewell to the wonderful Bahamas.  Soldier Cay_409

We hadn’t been to this anchorage before and hadn’t intended to this time, but Devil Hoffmans was rolling like mad in the strong NE winds so we had a change of plan and found a great little spot to wind down before hitting the USA.

The sail to Palm Beach was great, we had good winds and made great time arriving early morning in time to do customs and have lunch at the marina restaurant (Rib special on a Tuesday, great timing!) and then collapse for a well earned sleep in the afternoon.

We had 5 days there waiting for some wind we could sail on and finally with still none forecast and having exhausted all West Palm has to offer gave up and decided to motor overnight out of Florida hoping for better winds further north.

The motor ran all day and then around midnight the wind filled in north of Cape Canaveral and suddenly we could sail.  As the next morning progressed the wind went more NE so we were sailing straight at Charleston so decided to give St Mary’s a miss and go straight through. 

Charleston_496Charlie slept through an offshore bird attack, later waking to kill it, and with the wind dying at sunset we got a peaceful nights sleep ourselves motoring in the flat calm. 

Next day more chugging along until we finally got into Charleston around 5pm on day 3.  We were tired but happy to have got that far (less happy when we paid for the diesel we had used!).

Magnolia_030More weather waiting meant we could take advantage of the excellent Charleston restaurants and also take day trips to Savannah and one of the old plantations on the Ashley River.    It is really quite chilling to see the prosperous house and gardens, the river boats and the crops they transported and then the little slave shacks to really bring home how this wealth was created.

We finally left Charleston on 16th for the most tiring leg of our trip, the wind is excellent and we have a rollicking sail with the genoa poled out, averaging 8 knots for the first 12 hours.  Then the wind dies and constantly shifts, so constant course changes to stay downwind, rolling from the seas as they now don’t match the waves and general crash banging of sails, etc make for a very sleepless night.

By the following morning we are exhausted and now have no wind but 6’ seas so end up motoring all day to Cape Lookout feeling grumpy!  Luckily we get a few dolphin visits to keep us amused but we are very happy to finally drop the anchor in Lookout Bight, in calm water.  We have a beer and go straight to bed for 14 hours sleep!

Passage_011 We are now in the same situation as Florida, no wind forecast for the next 10 days, so as we need to get back and get started on our projects, we decide to motor again, it’s flat calm so we can sleep well and we chug along all day.  It’s so calm at Cape Hatteras, “Graveyard of the Atlantic” that we get photos as we round the shoal buoy (on the way south it was pitch black and we had 25 knots of wind!).

Amazingly that evening the wind filled in from the NW and we had a great sail tight reaching up the North Carolina and Virginia coasts, making good boat speed, but in flat seas.  We did have one major excitement on my watch when a large fishing boat heading in to Oregon Inlet just completely failed to pick us up on radar, hear our VHF call or see our Nav lights, or for that matter my spreader lights and torches on sails – so a swift crash tack from the stand on vessel avoided a collision and a somewhat terse VHF call later he was vaguely apologetic and we carried on our way!

By the following morning the wind had died and the motor was back on for the long motor into Chesapeake Bay, dodging the 15 ships at the entrance and then finally through the Bay Bridge Tunnel and on to Deltaville.

Two more days up the Bay and then, hooray we are back “home” and drinking beer with Dave & Donna on Meander, with Bella and Chandelle who had both  beaten us back.

Projects await, but that’s another post!