A Lively Crossing to Beaufort, NC
03 July 2015 | Taylor Creek
It's a peaceful morning at anchor here on Taylor Creek, not where we had expected to be, but all the same we're glad to be here after a "lively" crossing of Onslow Bay.
Back on Bald Head Island our two nights passed in familiar patterns of golf cart rides, long walks on the beach, ice cream, shopping and reminiscences about so many trips over the years with the kids. Bittersweet.
We cast off docklines at 0615 to catch the Cape Fear rising tide. Our plan had been to anchor at Wrightsville Beach before sailing offshore the next day, but a forecast for three days of big seas threatened to keep us from reaching Pamlico Sound from the ocean. So we decided to soldier on ahead of the front, clearing Masonboro Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean at 1100 for an after-dark arrival at Cape Lookout Bight. As a friend is fond of saying, "What could possibly go wrong?"
Winds and seas built with alarming speed, and by 1400 we knew we were in for it. By then I was hand steering through quartering seas. After 3 hours of hand steering, a wave broke into the cockpit drenching dog and Tammy. The autopilot was useless, and we were 6 hours from the nearest inlet. We decided to divert to Beaufort for a dusk arrival. Hurtling dead downwind in 27kts of wind with full main, while surfing the growing breakers was thrilling and the autopilot could hold the course, but we were mighty pleased to reach Taylor Creek off Beaufort, NC, drop the hook and fall to sleep.
The next day we rose as though in a dream. We took a long walk around Beaufort waiting for the coffeeshop to open. We sat on a bench and drank our coffee while we relived the previous day's sail. Then it was time to dinghy back to Aria, weigh anchor and continue north.