Steve and Donna August 2012
05 August 2012 | Whortonsville, NC
This summer has been very hot with daytime temperatures above 95 for weeks. The weekend forecast was for slightly lower temps in the high eighties and only an average chance of thunderstorms. Last time we went sailing the storms chased us back to the dock. We had been trying to schedule a trip when Steve and Donna could join us. This weekend was on their list of possibilities so I called Steve last weekend and invited them down. They made arrangements to stay in New Bern so they could tour the new museum there.
Friday August 3, 2012
We left at our usual time right after work and stopped by Jonas’ house to pick up our camera that we had left on our last visit. Our habit lately is to stop and enjoy something other than a fast food dinner. It actually only takes about 30 minutes and you can at least get a decent meal if you pick your place. We stopped at Smithfield Barbeque in Siler City. They have a few choices that don’t include pig. We had barbequed chicken and potato salad. Not the most healthy kind of food but better than most fast food.
Even with the two stops we made really good time arriving shortly after 10pm. It was still 83 degrees outside and the boat which, of course, had been closed up for weeks was like an oven inside. We unpacked and deployed the portable air conditioner. As far as the first mate is concerned, air conditioning in this weather is not optional. The AC unit made a lot of difference although it had to run for hours to begin to really cool things down. We slept well.
Saturday August 4, 2012
The weather forecast was still the same and we were looking forward to a nice although hot day. We started the process of removing covers and getting ready. I called Steve at about 8:30 to check on them and ask him to bring ice. They planned to arrive around 10am. The skies were threatening and there was one particularly nasty looking little storm that I was watching. I was considering putting the sail cover back on when the bottom fell out. Steve and Donna arrived in the middle of a driving rain. Not a good sign for a day meant for sailing. When it slacked up we checked the Internet radar and saw that a narrow strip of rain running north and south was headed north which meant we would see rain for a while. We did but it was over in an hour or so. I was still concerned about one little “black beauty” so we delayed departure until things looked clear on the radar. Steve and Donna fished, Judy read in the shade of the bimini (smart girl) and I worked on my propane locker project. I think the reading went well but the fishing and my project, not so much. The fish were not interested and several miscalculations made my project impossible to finish. During the rainstorm, Steve and I had been looking at charts of the area. During our discussion he realized that he had never actually sailed in the Pamlico sound. It is a fine distinction but technically we had always remained in the lower Neuse River. He sounded a bit disappointed so I told him we would make a point of sailing in the actual sound this time. (Note the Neuse River Junction mark in the background of the picture above.)
Judy prepared her famous chicken salad wraps to be eaten while underway. We cranked the diesel, untied and left the slip around noon. There was still a little black cloud down to the southwest that was hidden by trees when we left. I called a big trawler that we met in the channel. He said he thought was headed west. I figured it was headed north like everything else, but in either case we were headed generally east, so we were in the clear. On our way out we saw two “Sea Tow” boats working hard to free another trawler that had grounded. That skipper was really having a bad day. I am not sure how he got himself into such a pickle but he was truly hard aground. The area he was in clearly showed depths of about 2 feet on the chart. We watched for 20 minutes and could not detect the boat had moved at all. The tow boat’s prop was kicking up mud from the bottom as he tried to pull him out. We motored until we cleared the Piney Point mark because I knew it was a good distance out to the Neuse River Junction marker where the river ends and the sound starts. We set the sails and I consulted the GPS. We would be able to make the mark on an easy close reach if the wind didn’t shift. The wind was around 10 knots to start with only minimal wave action. The little ship loves that and performed beautifully, just as expected. When we reached the junction marker, Judy took Steve and Donna’s picture and I informed Steve that he was officially sailing on the Pamlico sound. We had a short meeting of the crew and I explained that I wanted to come about and tighten the main halyard when the mainsail luffed (went slack) during the turn. I enlisted Steve’s help in bringing the jib across while I tightened the halyard. The move was not America’s Cup smooth but we got it done and I was happy that the main no longer displayed “crow’s feet”. After the turn we were still close hauled to a degree. We sailed out a little further into the sound so we would not need to sail quite so close to the wind on the way back. The wind usually increases about mid afternoon and this day was no exception. The increase was gradual and manageable. We had spent about 2 hours getting from the dock out to the junction mark and I figured we would be done sailing before we needed to worry about reducing sail. The return trip was very exciting with a considerable amount of heel at times. We did have to tack once mainly because the captain was talking and not paying close attention to his course. We did our normal tack with the mate at the helm and cap on the jib sheets. Jib sheets have a nasty habit of grabbing fingers when the breeze pipes up, so we let Steve and Donna off the hook during the maneuver. When we got back to the Piney Point mark we were able to make an easy turn to starboard which brought us to a broad reach. On this point of sail the action is not as exciting but there is a lot more motion with the boat crawling up and down the short swells. None of the crew showed any signs of turning green so we continued to the mouth of Broad creek under sail.
We doused the big jib while still on the broad reach. The mate took the wheel and I ran forward to bring the main down. Steve helped me by feeding the main halyard back through the rope clutch with letting it tangle. My lazy jacks were damaged in the last hurricane so I had to deal with a big load of sail all over the cabin top. I had gotten used to the lazy jacks and had forgotten how much help they are. Replacing them will be a priority project in the next few months. We motored into the channel and back to the dock. Our landing was not great but much better than last time. We got tied up and Steve helped me put the AC unit back on the foredeck and also helped with putting on covers. (thanks Cuz)
According to the GPS our sail lasted a little over 4 hours with an average speed of 5.5 knots. The highest speed recorded was 6.7 knots which would approach hull speed. This was undoubtedly when we were broad reach surfing on the swells on the way back.
We all enjoyed showers and settled in for dinner. To avoid running a stove on an already overheated boat, Judy had prepared her famous spaghetti at home and transported it frozen. She also fixed coleslaw and served a delicious loaf of bread. Dessert was strawberry jelly on the bread. Simple elegance can’t be beat. We had been out on the water for a long time. I was tired and I am sure everyone else was too. By the time we finished dinner it was quickly getting dark. Steve wanted to get out of the “woods” while it was still daylight so our guests left at about 8:30.
Sunday August 5, 2012
We got up late and enjoyed our cereal and coffee. We did not go on deck because it was already hot and humid. Since Steve had helped me the day before there wasn’t too much to do. We packed the car and left before noon. It was a great weekend. With the possible exception of sore muscles we pulled it off with no damage to the vessel, her guests or her crew. Hopefully Steve and Donna will bring this kind of weather next time they come down for a sail.