July 2-5, 2014... Hurricane Arthur!

So, here we are, the end of June, now land people in Delray Beach, FL.  We hear of a possible tropical low forming off the Florida coast that is likely to track up the SE US and pass close to or, make landfall in eastern North Carolina!  Anhinga is in a marina, not even a mile from the Beaufort inlet, where the winds and tides really plow into the boats at the docks during normal weather.  With a tropical storm or perhaps a hurricane headed there, we knew we needed to move the boat.  So, Tuesday, back into the car, up I-95 again for another 13 hour trip, and to the slip.  

Checking the charts for a likely hurricane hole, Wednesday we moved Anhinga about 20 miles north to Southwest Creek off the South River, off the Neuse River, off the Pamlico Sound.  Anchor down in the early evening, we sat smack dab in the middle of the creek, with about 1-2 feet of water below us and 100 feet of chain sunk in the mud.  We were alone in the creek -- we saw only 3 other boats in the entire stretch of the South River as we came through.  Thursday we prepared the boat, took down the canvas, tied everything down that we could think of that would fly, and waited.  In the afternoon, the rain began to fall, and winds started to pick up a bit.  

Our cell coverage was spotty; our internet access was very limited.  We had radio and heard that the bands were starting to come ashore at Atlantic Beach and Morehead City.  The waiting was difficult.  Finally, around 8:30pm there was more wind.  By 10pm we were seeing winds in the 20-35 knot range.  Checking the winds every half hour, we saw our highest winds about an hour later, just under 50 knots.  By this time the storm had come ashore at Shackleford Banks as a Category 2 hurricane, clocking 101mph there (or about 80 knots).  Our spot in Southwest Creek was protecting us from the fiercest winds.  The eye of the storm passed right over us.  The winds dropped to nothing, and we took some deep breaths.  Were we done with the worst?  No!!!  In about an hour, we got the backside of the eye, which was worse than the front.  The winds were not any higher, but the direction had changed and the water in the creek got steeper, giving us a little more of a bumpy ride.  John figured we would be fine and went to sleep.  Patti stayed up till about 3am, just to be sure that we were ok.

The rain fell all night.  The deck got a great washdown.  Next morning, all was clear and beautiful.  And, we had not moved an inch!!  It took a while to get moving, putting the boat back together.  We stayed over on Friday night, July 4th (our independence day from the hurricane) and left on Saturday the 5th to return to Beaufort.

Southwest Creek:  34d55.082’N  76d33.013’W

10 May - 2 July, 2014... Cape Lookout and Beaufort, NC

The trip north from Charleston was uneventful, though we did practice our wing-on-wing sailing downwind.  Rather than heading directly to Cape Lookout, we went to Winyah Bay, as we had always liked anchoring there in the past.  But, we didn’t count on the crazy sea breeze that hit in the afternoon making it untenable to anchor on the east side of the inlet -- so we did our best on the west side and prayed the Rocna would stay put through the night.  Next couple of days we finished the trip around Frying Pan Shoal and up to Cape Lookout.

With all the times we had stopped at Beaufort, we had not been to Cape Lookout.  We were really missing out!  This has to be the most beautiful place we had ever visited on the US east coast.  The water was clean and clear and that startling color of turquoise.  The anchorage is so well protected that most of the time, the water was completely flat, even when the waves outside the bight were raging.  We never used the dinghy -- the kayak was our preferred transport, to the beaches and Shackleford Banks to see the wild horses.  The beaches are beautiful, and there are so many of them to choose from, that you can feel really alone out there.  Long-billed curlews were our company for one stretch of beach...  The lighthouse provides an iconic view; every time you look up, there it is!  But, by far, the best thing about Cape Lookout were the TURTLES!  Loggerheads, everywhere.  Swimming around the boat.  Huge -- had to be 3 feet across.  There were researchers from Duke Marine Lab in the bight and they told us that the size of the population this spring surprised them as well.  So, we were lucky to be there just as the turtles came in.

We mulled over the idea of spending the whole summer in Cape Lookout, with weekly trips to Beaufort to provision or whatever.  We just felt so happy and relaxed to be there.  After a bit more than a week, we went into Beaufort -- needed fuel, food, and a little civilization.  Ate at Aqua, one of our favorite restaurants in town, shopped at the Piggly Wiggly, and fueled at Olde Towne Yacht Club on Radio Island.  We thought that maybe we should head north to New York and Maine, and started looking for a weather window.  We were getting frustrated with that, as the weather was invariably bad, or just not appropriate for a long haul to the northeast.  With no window in sight, we put Anhinga in a slip at Olde Towne, rented a car, and drove to Florida for a week to celebrate RenĂ©e’s birthday.  Once back in North Carolina, we again went out to Cape Lookout (now there were NO turtles..) and waited.  The night before we were going to head north, family issues called us back to Florida, so Anhinga went back to Olde Towne, and we drove south.

Winyah Bay, SC:  33d13.173’N  79d11.705’W
Lookout Bight, NC:  34d37.081’N  76d32.922’W
Beaufort, NC:  34d42.794’N  76d40.783’W
Olde Towne Yacht Club, Radio Island
Lookout Bight, NC:  34d37.670’N  76d32.941’W
Olde Towne Yacht Club, Radio Island