Diva Di's Cruising Adventures

Day 50 - Coinjock, NC

20 May 2012 | Docked at Coinjock Marina, NC
Sun 20 May 2012
Docked at Coinjock Marina, NC

[photo: Duane at the helm during the nasty crossing.]

The evening was an early one; Diane suggested that Duane go to the TV room ashore around 2030 and he almost fell asleep there. Otherwise, it was a good night's sleep and then up at 0500 to check weather. Four different sources had similar forecasts, but surprisingly wide variations of wind speed and wave heights. We chose to go, as did most of the boats at the marina.

Our passage across the Albemarle Sound can be described as horribly frustrating. It wasn't that it was unsafe, and the discomfort was not really all that bad. What made it horrible was the spacing and steepness of the waves (no more than 4 feet or so, by my reckoning). The bow would pitch up on a big wave, then plunge down just as the next wave would hit and bury the bow. We had green water sluicing over the deck frequently.

Early on, the repeated force on the anchor was so bad that the lanyard parted (broke) and only the chain was holding the anchor in place. Normally, that would be OK, but with the windlass malfunctioning, the chain was not as taught as I usually keep it, so the anchor was hanging half off the bow roller. I crawled forward on my knees with a new line to lash it down, while Diane took the helm. Yes, the bow did crash down into the waves while I was up there, and yes, I did get water inside my foulie jacket and bibs.

Still getting to the frustrating part - with the wind blowing almost 20 knots on the nose with no sail power, the poor engine is barely giving 4.5 knots of speed in the smaller waves. Once the frequent big wave trains hit (usually three big waves in a row), the speed would drop to 2 knots. It would take a while to get back close to 4 knots and then you would be slowed again. At that rate, it was over 4 hours to cross.

Out of the Blue radioed that they were trying a tactic of putting out as much headsail as they thought appropriate and bearing off the wind so they could motor-sail at 6-7 knots. You are no longer sailing towards your destination, however, so the increase in speed has to make up for the zig-zag route. It did not, really, but what it did in this case was to bring us closer to shore faster where the waves were smaller. Additionally, the sail kept the boat heeled and drawing through the waves much better, and finally, the angle of the bow to the waves was much better.

After close to 5 hours of travel, we were out of the bad waves completely, but still had strong winds from ahead plus occasional rain, and often poor visibility. Diane came up to assist at the helm and with the sails. She wasn't exactly comfortable, but there was no sense in both of us being damp and chilled. I should also mention that it was good that the bypass cooling pump was upgraded; the engine was run at a higher power setting today to try to get across the sound quicker and there was no hint of any overheating.

Near 1330, we got to the Coinjock Marina after a 42 mile run. In this weather and feeling the way we did, we ponied up for yet another marina stay. The only downside to the berthing arrangement is that the current forced us to dock with the cockpit, rather than the bow, facing the wind and rain. We will not have any real shelter topside, but that's manageable by just staying below.

The marina is just one long (1,200 feet) dock, but the showers are pretty good and the laundry is fine. The water here looks and tastes fine, so we topped off our tanks. The cockpit was laughably dirty (where does all this dirt come from?), so that got a good washing, too. The rest of the boat got rinsed very well and after the permeating salt spray, so that part was welcome.

We dined at the marina restaurant with Ed and Jane from Out of the Blue and had some food that was close to very good. If the fish had been cooked a little less and the potato wasn't cold, it would have been a very good meal.

The plan is to make 50 miles tomorrow through numerous bridges and one lock to anchor in Portsmouth, VA.
Vessel Name: Diva Di
Vessel Make/Model: PDQ MV34 Power Cat
Hailing Port: Punta Gorda, FL
Crew: Duane and Diane

Diva Di Crew

Who: Duane and Diane
Port: Punta Gorda, FL