19 April 2011 | Ocracoke, NC
Linda 73 degrees, SW 15-20
Our adventure on the M/V Ruby Slipper was one that entailed doing many things for the first time. It would have been too easy "doing the ICW" the same old way. So we made a concerted effort to get out of our comfort zone & the last week really epitomizes that - including navigating in fog with ZERO visibilty thru some of NC's more challenging inlets, weathering a monster storm at anchor & venturing "offshore" to the remote outerbanks of NC to the little-visited Ocracoke, NC
Three days ago, we anticipated a severe cold front & elected to anchor out rather than go in a less-than an exposed, uncomfortable marina. So, after lots of research we opted for the best protection we could find while still being at anchor. Southwest Creek on the South River, off the Neuse River in NC was the "winner." Expecting a big blow, we found 8' of water that was protected from southerly winds (the worst of what was anticipated). Holding was said to be excellent but we still put out 150' of chain with our 44 lb Delta anchor. This is considered a" "storm scope" of 10:1. We felt snug. Not smug, as we never take mother nature for granted!
Besides the strong to severe thunderstorms we had tornado warnings! This was going to be a "fun" night!
So, we took the pups ashore to the only place we could - an seemingly abandoned property with "No tresspassing" signs posted. But we decided to go for it as we didn't know when we could get off the boat with the dogs for the next 2-3 days! We crawled up & over a severely wrecked dock with boards missing & stumbled into overgrown grasses that was tick heaven. All was well as we found a road to walk. It was a good 45 minute walk that would have to do for a while.
Now, don't get me wrong, Murphy & Trapper are both trained to do their "business" on astroturf on the boat. They are GREAT boat dogs! But we like them to have regular exercise. At home they get about a 2-3 miles/day walk! On the boat it's feast or famine. Same for us, too!
Back on the boat we hunkered down for a long afternoon & evening. We had our PFDs out & a plan to abandon ship, if necessary. As the winds increased & seas swelled, Bill cranked on the engine (a 370 HP Cummins diesel) just in case we had to take the pressure off the anchor. The lightening show was spectacular! I would have enjoyed it more if I knew it were benign. We simply didn't know what to expect. Added to our discomfort, we were the ONLY ones out here & had NO connectivity! We had the VHF to listen to weather updates & any nearby radio chatter. But I felt so alone during this frightening time. TEven the voices of other cruisers is comforting! On the VHF we heard about the tornados & now we were in a Tornado Watch. Frankly, I was scared. I sat on the cabin floor with the dogs & I admit it, the dogs & I had our life vests ON! Capn Bill, thank God, was cool & calculating. He needed to be manning the helm & keeping a look out.
The worst winds we saw was 45 knots! That was enough for me! Seas were choppy but just about 2'. Overall not bad. At midnight the tornado warning & severe thunderstorms were over & we could crawl into bed...not until we each had a BIG drink!
Next morning we waited for the seas to settle & headed out for Ocracoke, NC. While underway we finally got connectivity back & heard 45 people had died during this storm that crashed across the nation spawning hundreds of tornadoes. A very scary time, indeed.
Now here safe in Ocracoke. It is a place very few cruisers travel to as it is so far off the beaten path & requires an "offshore" passage thru open waters. We made it successfully & were happy to find a National Park Seashore Dock for us. Great to get off the boat & enjoy this very charming & quaint, independent village that one can only get to by boat! We'll be here until the next cold front passes. Check out our great pics!!! Hugs to you all!