October 29-30, 2009... Carolinas Ocean Voyage

We started our two-day trip just before dawn on Thursday leaving the Beaufort NC channel, confident that our refit in Annapolis would support the requirements thrown at us by the weather. We expected and got north and northeast winds for our southwest journey. The day shaped up great - our rebuilt traveller, preventers and new lines helped us capture the wind in all three sails and we flew downwind. A few hours in we recontacted our weather routing service by SSB and requested an update. Their prediction was that the winds would be a little stronger than the forecast delivered Wednesday and the waves would build with a northeast swell. Well, they were right. As the day went on the wind and waves got bigger and were kicking our collective butt. We were safe, and nothing broke, but it was getting more and more difficult to manage the helm and work the sails. As the night progressed, our muscles ached, and we were flagging. We quit sailing and started motoring as we couldn’t set and forget the sails -- the winds required lots of jibing and sail changes. How we wished we had a crew! So we took turns at the helm and slept in the cockpit when off the helm. The night passed very quickly - just one commercial ship out of Cape Fear passed us and the VHF ch. 16 was quiet. Only a handful of sailboats were out - it was nice not to have to listen to constant chatter from other boats. With morning we were well on our way in South Carolina waters, but we thought it would be dark before reaching Charleston, so we decided to bail out early and go into Winyah Bay - a bit up the coast from Charleston. The wind and waves were still high -- they hadn’t modulated at all over night, so we put up our staysail for some stability and motorsailed into the very well marked channel. We decided to anchor off the beach by the Georgetown lighthouse. Another beautiful place, 200 miles from where we started yesterday.

Other than the satisfaction of making the sails move a 45,000 pound boat, the high point of our voyage had to be the dolphins. As soon as we left Beaufort, our boat was surrounded by them. A couple of dozen played all around, swimming under, in front of, and beside us. It is hard to express how uplifting it is to see these fabulous creatures. More welcomed us on arrival outside the Winyah Bay entrance. These South Carolina dolphins jumped completely out of the water for us so that we could see their entire bodies. Our own private SeaWorld. One more nature note - later as we were looking out for markers, we found a surprise on deck. Apparently while plowing through the swells, some flying fish flew to their doom to our boat. Poor things. We got rid of them, but we are still finding fish scales all over the deck.

Winyah Bay, SC: +33° 13' 15.60", -79° 11' 13.50"

1 comment:

  1. Hey Guys-
    Sounds like you worked hard the last few days, you deserve some rest. Great photos of the dolphins. Enjoy your respite.