Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Day To Remember

Yes! We are on our way south in search of warmer climates. We have been on the move for about 1 1/2 weeks taking our time with one multi-day stop. The first good news is that we have found a new insurance provider that does not restrict where we have to be, even during hurricane season. There are a couple of considerations for NOAA named storms but for the most part we are fully covered from Maine through Texas and south through the Bahamas, Virgin Islands etc all the way south to Trinidad and Tobago. No more frantic racing north to get above Norfolk, VA by June 1 and having to stay there as the cold fall air moves in until November 1.

It was getting cold in the beginning of October and we are happy to be on our way. Its also nice getting off the dock and being with all the other cruisers that have started the migration south now that hurricane season is ending. Just like the birds and geese we see each day flying south, there is a group of cruising boats leaving each anchorage or port each morning for the next hop south. It is fun being able to get back in the mode of meeting new friends every day and running into them a few days later. Each has their own interesting story to tell.

** for those of you reading this that are Facebook friends with me you probably have seen most of these photos. Its much easier to take a picture with my phone and post it to Facebook as we travel down with phone service.

Currently we are in Moorehead City, N.C. after a short uneventful no wind day of motoring/motorsailing. Here is our short trip.

We left Solomons, MD early on a nice clear day. It felt great to be off the dock we had been tied to for 2 months. We had a diver come by two days before and make sure the propeller and the bottom of the boat was clean and free of growth and barnacles. Pearl has been cruising along nicely since then.

Along the way we had a variety of traveling companions.

There is nothing like happy hour at a nice anchorage

Even the crew was enjoying it

The Portsmouth/Norfolk Virginia area was just as busy as always but the bridges cooperated and opened for us on arrival and we pass on through quickly.

We made the last opening of the lock at the North end of The Dismal Swamp and tied up to the free dock with two other cruisers for the night. Robert, the lock master is an amazingly interesting person who has seen it all in 20 years of working the locks. He served us breakfast the next morning before sending us on our way through the Dismal Swamp on a sunny and beautiful day.

We then tied up to the free docks at Elizabeth City to prepare for the crossing of the Albemarle Sound. Little did we know it was going to turn out to be A Day To Remember!

Although the Intracoastal Waterway is generally protected and calm, there are a few harbors and sounds that need to be crossed. The Albemarle Sound is the one that is most discussed because it can be nasty and snotty. Fortunately for us on the way north it was smooth as glass. The southbound crossing turned out to be somewhat different.

We left the dock just at daybreak and motored about 30 minutes waiting for the winds to pick up. They were directly off our stern and we were running before the wind. We raised the mainsail turned off the motor and Pearl was doing what she was meant to do..sail! It wasn't long before the wind picked up more. Knowing it was supposed to get even more brisk we reefed the main to make our sail area smaller just in case. This proved to be a smart thing to do because it didn't take long for the wind to get to a consistent 20-25 knots with stronger gusts. The waves picked up and we were in full sailing mode for the whole day surfing large swells and being rocked back and forth violently by cross chop.

We found some solace in that there were three boats ahead of us and a few behind but watching how each was getting thrown about we realized its every man/woman for themselves. This was the first day since we moved on Pearl where we did not need to turn on the motor and we sailed all day. Calling it sailing is an understatement. It was more like..brace your feet...hold onto the wheel tight enough to make your knuckles turn white and throw the wheel back and forth for hours on end until blisters form on your palms. Pearl is not the fastest boat in the seven seas but she was consistently pushing 8 knots of speed (we are happy if she sails 6 knots). Here is our trip showing a top speed without current of 8.42 knots.

When we finally reached the bottom of the Alligator River and anchored for the night we took inventory of the after effects. It seems that being on a dock for a good part of the summer we got lazy and forgot about all the things we left on the shelves. The sea conditions rearranged things a bit for us.

On top of all the pandemonium was scattered a full canister of oatmeal to top it off. Yes, it was A Day To Remember and the best sailing day we have had on Pearl. Hopefully we get more and next time we will be better prepared.

1 comment:

  1. Oh thanks for the post! Nice little story about reefing the main! If you think it, DO IT! :) I can hardly wait to get going you guys are helping down the ICW already! Enjoy!!!!


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