Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Round Hatteras & On To Charleston

Charleston, SC

We left Annapolis after the boat show on the 12th of October.  We had three day trips down the bay before staging for the trip round Cape Hatteras.  The trip was varied to say the least, we had one day of sailing, one day of gentle motoring and one day of bloody awful motoring into a shocking head sea taking waves over the bow despite being in Chesapeake Bay and generally hating every minute of it!  Charlie sulked all day in the back cabin, letting us know how bored he was every time we descended the companion way!

The trip round Hatteras was perhaps our best yet, we woke to sunny skies and a great 15-20 knot westerly wind, which we ran down the bay and the Virginia coast under full sail on a beam reach.  Cape Lookout_100

We sat for about 3 hours at between 8.5 and 9.3 knots so imagine our surprise when we turned round and saw a sail rapidly catching us up!  It turned out to be a 70’ custom carbon yacht called Route 66, so we felt less embarrassed by being passed by it when it finally caught up.

By the time we got to Hatteras the wind had backed off and gone North so we had gentle motor sail from just north of the cape, round it and down to Cape Lookout arriving just before sunset, the $50 of diesel being a small price to pay for the lack of 10’ seas and high winds we normally seem to get!

Cape Lookout_101

Our first day at Cape Lookout was stunning, the sun was out and temperatures in the high 20’s, just like summer, I even managed to get sunburned.  We walked for about 6 miles on the beach round the whole Cape and then back through the most insect infested interior track we have ever seen.  Little black flies that obviously haven’t seen human blood for a while and were ravenous for it.

Tuesday dawned clear and still but there was a battle between our two weather sources.  NOAA the official US weather service were saying 2 days of 20-25 knot SW winds so nothing much, BUT Chris Parker our custom weather guru was saying that 3 weather systems were going to collide and we should batten down for 40-50 knot winds, ie more than we had during the hurricane!

Sadly but predictably it was Chris who proved to be right and so after a lovely sunny calm day the wind filled in that night and howled non stop for 48 hours, it also lashed down with rain and was generally horrible. Cape Lookout_004

Lookout Bight was great place to be for it mind, we snugged up near the beach and let out 100 metres of anchor chain in the 6 metres of water we were in, so no danger of dragging (and even if we did it is 1.5 miles to the beach on the other side so we had plenty of time to sort it out!).

The second night was the worst when it blew at 40-50 knots all night with no let up, the only stress was the constant noise of the wind, the peace that reigned when it finally backed off on Friday morning was wonderful and meant we could finally sleep uninterrupted.

On checking the GPS I found the boat had sailed 5 miles while at anchor in the 48 hours!

Almost as soon as the wind backed off and went North, the seas died down and the conditions were great for moving on.  We motor sailed over to Wrightsville Beach and the had a fabulous sail on Sunday overnight to Monday down to Charleston, sailing the whole way to the entrance channel at Charleston.  We got our customary visit from a huge pod of dolphins once round Cape Fear, 20-30 dolphins swimming with the boat for around 20 minutes just at sunset – see last years post for the photos!

We timed our arrival into Charleston perfectly for the peak of the outgoing current, we were pushing 3.5 knots of current at one time, plus had to share the entrance channel with an enormous container ship.

We will have a few days in Charleston and then head for Florida.

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