Our last full week in Marsh Harbour was great fun. We entertained Maxwell's sister and her boyfriend aboard Anastasia, sailing around the different islands in the Sea of Aboco. The week was packed with a visit to Hope Town, offshore fishing, and snorkeling. It was great to spend time with them since we had not seen them in about five months. We were sad to see them go but knew we'd see them soon as we were near the time of heading home.
Our buds on Elizabeth and Daphne arrived in Marsh Harbour right around the time Maxwell's sister and boyfriend were leaving. Our focus quickly changed from sun, sand and snorkeling to weather forecasts and routing for our biggest offshore jump yet. Ben & Teresa on Elizabeth and Daphne were joining us for the trip. It turned out that a great weather window was already upon us leaving no time for sentimental goodbyes to the Bahamas. Before we knew it, Anastasia was packed up and ready for a week at sea. At sunrise on Monday morning, all three boats weighed anchor and were bound for Beaufort, NC.
Day 1 & 2 brought nice winds, broad reaching toward the Northwest. These days we worked on getting in the "at sea" groove. Up until this point, we have done short jumps of only 20-30 hours or so where you never settle into the at sea schedule with land not too far off. This was very different. When we left Marsh Harbour, we left all sights of land for what would prove to be five days.
N 27 12.3'
W 77 13.0'
N 28 43.0'
W 78 10.4'
Surprisingly, on day two we were still in VHF contact with Elizabeth and Daphne, which was nice. We keept up with each other's positions and headings often. It is nice to know we were not all alone out there.
N 28 45.0'
W 78 30.0'
Overnight on Tuesday we had a 20kt squall with thunder, lightning and heavy rain. We sailed with a reefed main and full jib chugging along at 6kts. The Coast Guard had been announcing security calls about an Air Force C130 performing search and rescue training exercises in our area. They were off of our starboard side most of the night and it was very entertaining.
The watch schedule that worked for us was three hours on, three hours off. We really only stuck to this at night, starting at 9PM. I always took the first watch of the night. Off watch, we could be found in the sea berth we converted in the main salon. This turned out to be an oasis of pillows and blankets calling our name after each shift. It was an extremely cozy place even in the most rolly sea state.
N 29 55.0'
W 79 32.0'
On Wednesday the winds had slacked but we had already made it to the Gulf Stream and were making 7kts, motoring at 1700rpms. The waves were only about 1' and the water was smooth. It was very sunny and warm.
We were pleasantly surprised when a small yellow bird landed on Anastasia for a morning visit. We happily nicknamed him "Scrub" and he stayed aboard for over an hour. So far offshore we thought he was just looking for a break but he was pretty spunky and jumped all over the cockpit. He even sat in our hands and on our laps. When he finally flew away we were sad to say goodbye to our new friend.
Later in the day we had a fly-by inspection by a U.S. NAVY P-3 Orion so close and so low that I am sure the pilots could read the heading on our compass. Very Cool!
Pretty much the entire time that we were underway, we had a line in the water. Once an afternoon squall (complete with waterspouts) had passed we quickly put the lines back in. Right away the starboard line was hit by a bull Mahi Mahi. He fought hard but we managed to get him alongside the boat. Just as I passed Maxwell the gaff the fish let out one last life-saving struggle and broke the line. We looked at each other in shock as we watched our beautiful catch swim away. The lines went back in the water, but the spirit onboard was low. To have such a prize so close and then so quickly lost really sucks.
N 30 38.0'
W 79 37.0'
N 31 54.8'
W 78 46.2'
On Thursday the winds were light from the Northwest. We continued to motor to maintain our speed. We took advantage of the smooth ride to fill our diesel tanks with the spare jugs we keep on deck. Elizabeth and Daphne were still with us approximately 16 miles Southwest of us. We were all heading for Cape Fear, aiming to hit it around daybreak on Friday.
Around lunchtime we caught a 24" Skipjack Tuna. This time we landed it into the boat and tried the "alcohol" method of subduing the fish. This worked extremely well...Maxwell held the fish and I poured rubbing alcohol into it's gills and after a few seconds it was over. No more flapping or bouncing about. Easy as pie. We enjoyed fresh sushi with wasabi and soy sauce for lunch.
N 32 32.0'
W 78 15.4'
N 32 45.1'
W 78 06.3'
Overnight we made it around Frying Pan Shoals uneventfully with the exception of high ship traffic coming and going from Charleston and Wilmington. AIS proved to be invaluable! On my watch I was able to see ships and know their headings and speed and in turn confidently call them on the radio to announce our presence. I was even hit on by one of the ship captains! He told me that I had a beautiful voice and asked if I was all alone on my boat. Strange way to find a girlfriend! I told him that I was flattered but a little busy navigating my vessel amongst cargo ships and hadn't the time for chit chat.
N 33 16.3'
W 77 34.3'
Friday morning brought almost no wind at all. We found ourselves moving at 1.6kts so we waited for Elizabeth and Daphne to catch up and we all sailed together enjoying the last full day of our journey. We used our spinnaker and both Elizabeth and Daphne used their light air drifters. The colors of the sails were beautiful. Ben made cookies and tossed a bag over in a fly-by mission. Also, Teresa was experiencing a fuel leak on Daphne and was concerned about her diesel levels so we did an at sea jug transfer on a tight line between boats. It went flawless! And the jug never touched the water! Great job! The set up took more time than the transfer itself but preparation makes execution easier.
N 33 51.2'
W 77 17.7'
Beaufort Inlet was now on the radar screen. We remembered the inlet to have a strong current with the flowing tides so we had to plan our approach. We also had strong winds upcoming in the forecast. So we decided to slow down and make our approach at dawn on Saturday.
Friday night I took the first watch as usual. There was nothing out of the ordinary about my shift and at midnight Maxwell came up to relieve me. I went down below to sleep and that was the last time I was on deck until sunrise. Maxwell let me sleep for the rest of the night while he sailed Anastasia in the building winds. When I finally roused and realized what time it was, I donned my foulies and joined him in the cockpit for our approach into Beaufort. I cannot even begin to explain the sense of accomplishment we both were feeling. It was overwhelming how far we had come. We had done it, together.
Hook down, engine off at 0730hrs on 5/8/10.
Total Miles: 586
Total Hours: 121
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