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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The AYB yard crew pulled us around 9:00 on the morning of the 16th. Once out of the water, we found that the prop was bent, but not so bad it couldn’t be straightened. We also discovered that the gel-coat on the rudder had been chipped in a couple of places, so that would require being up on the hard again, until the repairs could be completed. Our luck being what it was, the weather turned cold for the next two days; too cold to do the fiberglass work. We ended up being out of the water until the 20th, but with the repairs completed and the boat better than new, we were back in the water and ready to head south again (but this time, not in the damn Dismal Swamp Canal.)

We departed the Atlantic Yacht Basin at 6:45 am on October 21st and began our journey south, towards somewhere warm. It had gotten cold a few days in Chesapeake, VA and neither of us liked the feeling of being cold one little bit.

As we made our way down the ICW, we discovered that the new, newly straightened and tuned prop really improved the performance of our boat. With no wind, no current, and the engine speed set at 2800 rpm (the best power to efficiency curve for our engine) we were making 7.2 knots true speed, which is really flying for a sailboat. In short, this made us at par with most of the trawlers that are out here on the water and faster than 90% of the sailboats. By 2:30 pm, we had arrived at the Coinjock Marina, Coinjock, NC, which is home to the best prime rib in all of America. With a great dinner under our belts, we retired for a good nights sleep.

The next morning, we were off of the Coinjock dock by 7:00 am and on our way towards Manteo, NC. Manteo, on Roanoke Island, is the site of the first English Colony in the Americas, one of the nicest ports of call on the east coast and one of our favorite places. After a leisurely trip down the Albemarle Sound, we made the Manteo Town Dock around 2:00 pm and were snug in our slip in short order.

We planned to stay in Manteo for two nights, but once again, the weather gods intervened and changed our plans. After two beautiful days, a storm blew up on the Outer Banks and proceeded to stall over the area, which forced us to stay in Manteo for three more nights. This wasn’t necessarily bad staying the extra three days, but we had to be in Charleston, SC by the first of November and those three days used up all of our spare travel time.

On the morning of the 27th we got up a half hour before dawn and made ready to leave Manteo. At first light, we pulled out from Shallow Bag Bay and were treated to a spectacular sunrise as we sailed south towards Ocracoke, Island, which was our next planned stop. It was one of those rare days in sailing, where the wind and the current and your direction of travel all worked in harmony for the common good of the journey.

As we flew over the water at speeds of 8.5 to 10 knots, it soon became apparent that we’d reach Ocracoke Island well before 2:00 pm and would still have another day of travel to Morehead City. If, however, we continued on towards Morehead City, we’d make Adams Creek by 7:00 pm and maybe be able to go all the way to Morehead City in the dark. Worst-case scenario was, we’d anchor out and go on into Morehead City in the morning. With this course of action now the plan, we continued to take advantage of the wind and weather and flew on across the Pamlico Sound towards Adams Creek.

We actually make Adams Creek at 6:30 pm and, as the sun began to set in the west, entered onto the northern end of the channel. The anchorages along the way were crowded with sailboats and trawlers; all having taken advantage of the good weather to move down the Alligator River portion of the waterway and arrive here before us. In the light of dusk, however, we could see that the illuminated markers along the creek were all operational, so moving at night would 1) not be a problem and 2) allow us to move unhindered by other boats.

As it turned out, traversing Adams Creek at night was so easy that we made Morehead City and the Portside Marina, without incident, at 11:15 pm. It was so quiet at the marina that we were able to pull in unassisted, get the boat tied up, hook up power, walk the dog and fall into bed before midnight. Just to be on the safe side, I went back up before going to bed and put all four of our fenders between the boat and the dock. I don’t know why I did it, I just did; and it was a real good thing, because, once again, the weather changed.

We were awakened around 3:00 am by the beating of waves against the hull of the boat. To make matters even more interesting, the boat was jumping up and down at least three feet every two or three seconds. It would seem that one of those darling little North Carolina Thunderstorms had appeared out f nowhere and decided to blow like hell out of the east; the direction from which this marina had no protection.

I ran outside and began to check the lines and fenders. The extra fenders were doing their job, preventing our direct contact with the floating dock, and the lines, which Kim had doubled, were holding us securely in position. The sail boat in front of us, a catamaran, wasn’t in such good shape.

The cat’s owners had landed earlier in the afternoon (I found this out later) having survived a storm at sea that had shredded their Genoa. Exhausted, they’d gone to bed, having tied up at the dock with the bare minimum of fenders and lines. The wave action had popped their two fenders from between the hull and dock and their boat was taking a beating. I helped them push out their boat, reinsert their fenders and add a couple more. Then we rigged two more dock lines, which really stabilized their boat, and had everything secure by about 3:45 am.

As we all shook hands over a job well done, the two guys on the cat asked where we were heading and when. I told them we were leaving at first light, weather permitting, and they said they’d be up to help us off. They said it was the least they could do for us, since I had helped them secure their boat without it getting any damage.

True to their word, the guys from the catamaran were both up and sitting on deck at 7:00 am, as I came topside and prepared to leave Morehead City. After paying the marina for our stay, the two guys from the catamaran helped push us off the dock and we were underway towards our next stop, Surf City, NC.

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