Passage to North Carolina
21 May 2017 | Cape Lookout for last night anchorage
Our continued trek north is underway with overnights and day trips heading back to Saltayre and home in North Carolina. As we leave Daytona we start on the ICW heading for Fernandina and St. Mary's GA. We hope to rendezvous with friends on Cerulean and pull into St. Mary's late in the day. Winds had piped up and we anchored in 20 ft of water in front of the town dock. We enjoyed St. Mary's on the way south, back at Thanksgiving, and look forward to a less busy environment in this lovely town. Never having been into Savannah, we rented a car and spent a day visiting beautiful downtown Savannah, took a trolley tour, walked the waterfront and had dinner in the historic old town. Next morning in St. Mary's with the rented car, we got to the local Publix to provision for the rest of the trip home. Chris and Robin on Cerulean pulled into St. Mary's later in the day, anchored and we had a chance to visit. A massive cold front was scheduled the next day so we all sat out the storm, clocking winds close to 50 mph and praying that our anchors held. After the front was thru and things settled down, we made plans with Cerulean to continue our northern trek with an overnight passage to Charleston.
Cerulean left first about 7 AM and we pulled up anchor and headed to the St. Mary's inlet about 8 AM. The winds were light but the sun was out and seas comfortable as we turned north and put up the sails. It was a lovely day, bright with a cool breeze, but light so we sailed part, then motor sailed most of the day and night. It was an uneventful passage, arriving Charleston Harbor about 10 AM the next morning and motoring to the St. Johns Marina where we had a slip reserved. We enjoyed two days at St. Johns, got to visit with Chris and Robin, but felt we needed to move again north due to another front and threatened lightning storm. As often happens, you either take the weather window when available or stand to loose a week waiting for another window. We left St. Johns Marina about 10 AM in the morning to make a bridge opening and slack tide heading out the harbor. Our next passage north to either Southport, NC or Morehead City at Beaufort Inlet. While the day was bright and a good wind we still motor sailed, knowing that we needed to average 7 knts to make Southport or a waypoint in-route, for decision which port to go to. Beaufort Inlet would mean another overnight and potentially another front moving through before we could make it into port, so the decision was made, we would go into Southport and head north on the ICW to Carolina Beach where we could pick up a mooring and once again wait out a storm passage. We stayed in Carolina Beach for three days, waiting for the weather and thunderstorms to pass by, especially to the north of us. While at Carolina Beach we researched the routes home. It seemed so close, yet it could take us another 3 days or more with scheduled bridges, anchorages and possible closure of the ICW at the Marine Corps base at Camp Legune, where the have a firing range that goes across the ICW ! Only 10 miles north of us was Masonboro Inlet, it appeared wide and deep but we had never gone through it. After a call to BoatUS to obtain local knowledge about the inlet, we decided to use it, again going outside for the 65 mile day sail across Onslow Bay to Beaufort Inlet...it would save us two or three days on the ICW. Once out the inlet, which went quite nicely, sails went up and we sailed across the Bay toward Beaufort. As we approached, with dusk descending and looking for an anchorage for our last night we decided to go 8 miles east to the bight at Cape Lookout. The Cape is the south end of Hatteras National Seashore with a lovely sheltered anchorage directly out in front of the lighthouse. It's a regular weekend or overnight location for sailors and fishermen to visit the park in a sheltered environment. We pulled in with a brisk breeze, a few other boats anchored and the lighthouse casting a glow across the bight. As we settled in for the night, dinner in the cockpit, two shrimp boats pulled in for the night and anchored behind us. It was a great last night for the cruise.