Monday, May 31, 2010

Out to Sea to Beaufort, North Carolina

It was a long three day passage off shore from Brunswick, Georgia to Beaufort, North Carolina. Chris Parker, our weather Guru, had promised us a good weather window and in some ways it was. One way it wasn't was smooth! The waves were confused at times and threw our boat around a bit and sometimes more than a bit. This was accentuated by a lack of wind at times. When we had the sails up and filled, the boat wouldn't roll as much.
Our first night neither of us slept much and the next day we just took turns at watch while the other lay down. I used all of our pillows to make a snug spot on the bed. It was cool enough at night so we used our fleeces for the first time and our fleece blankets. Luckily the squalls we saw were way off in the distance and we had fair weather the whole trip - and a beautiful full moon. It was a thoughtful moon as it waited for several hours after sundown to appear. That way we had a few hours of incredible stars.
We had an unplanned buddy boat with us. Right after we exited the Brunswick inlet we noticed a boat on our AIS readout behind us. They stayed there for three days, four to seven miles behind. Only a number registered on our AIS system, not a name, so we didn't call them on the VHF. AIS by the way means Automatic Identification System and we have both a receiver and broadcast Class B type (as did they). Few sailboats and cruisers have these but almost all commercial traffic does. It's made our life easier, especially at night, because we know which way the other boats are going and how close they will come to us. And of course, they "see" us!
The second night was particularly rough and getting out of bed for my late night watch I was thrown into a close encounter with our door. SO it now looks as though I'm a battered wife. Scott's comment "The beatings will continue until the morale improves". So it was lovely to see the sun come up and know we were on our last leg heading for Beaufort. This was now the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend SO every boat in the area was exiting the entrance channel that morning. It seemed like a free for all exercise. Cries for assistance from the Coast Guard filled the air waves and one of the problems was evident to us. A boat ahead was marked by a column of black smoke. A nearby captain went to assist and was discussing the situation with the Coast Guard (while two tow boat rivals raced each other to the scene hoping for salvage rights). The first questions are how many on board and are they wearing life jackets. Our helpful captain replied. There are two souls on board and neither are wearing life jackets. Well it was a Sunday and do souls need life jackets? Happily the two remained mortal and managed to put out the fire. Still a lot of excitement for two exhausted cruisers - ourselves.
We had hoped to anchor off Beaufort but it was crowded and due to strong currents, it is recommended to use two anchors. That was all too complicated for us at that moment and we pulled into Beaufort Docks Marina and tied up. Much to our delight on the next dock was another Nauticat, "Dragon Lady", which we last met at the Nauticat Rally near Baltimore in 2004. Small world!
Bryce and Helen invited us over to their boat for drinks later. They are still working, Bryce is a Psychologist specializing in Marriage Counseling and Helen is a pediatric nurse. They are going to start up a side business operating an innovative week long cruise on their boat with four hours of marriage counseling a day. The couple will sail/motor during the day with them on the boat and then sleep in different bed and breakfasts at night. What a great idea! And they seem wonderful people to do this. Check out their blog at - maybe you know someone who would be interested.
That's their 40 foot Nauticat shown here and second from top and their picture is just under it to the right. I'm shown at the top with my black eye. The last two shots are of one of the historic homes downtown plus "Scott Free" at the dock.
We managed to clean up enough to go out to Sunday brunch at the well known Beaufort Grocery Restaurant. What a reward for the long trip to pig out on crab cakes topped with poached eggs Benedict! And pecan pie for dessert - don't feel sorry for us, right.

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