Steve and Donna Late September 2014
28 September 2014 | Whortonsville, NC
The best part of being retired is that you have an open schedule. Not completely open mind you but a lot better than when I had a pesky job that required that I be at a certain place at a certain time 40 hours a week. We have a lot of things planned for the fall but looking at the weather forecast we thought this would be a great time for a mini cruise somewhere on the Pamlico Sound or surrounding waters. Cousins Steve and Donna are expected later in the week but we had plenty of time to cruise and entertain them as well.
Saturday September 20, 2014
We left home about 8am which as it turned out was a bit late. We were planning to visit our offspring near Raleigh for a visit before heading for the coast. We worked out a schedule with our Son Matthew and were able to have a nice visit with him and Jonas, which included a trip to the park and lunch. By the time we got in the car to go back to their house Jonas was sound asleep in the car seat. This was fine since they were looking forward to a street fair in downtown Raleigh in the afternoon. Amber had been working during the morning hours. We had a great visit and the weather at the park was just excellent. We continued our journey looking forward to getting the boat squared away and taking off on Sunday morning for points to be determined. By the time we got to Goldsboro the clouds were beginning to thicken. By the time we got to the coast the drizzle had started. By the time we got unloaded it was beginning to rain. We managed to get the new V berth cushions installed before it got too bad but soon the rain started and it rained all night.
Sunday September 21, 2014
The weather on Sunday morning was terrible. There was a low cloud cover and it looked threatening. The forecast was for a nice afternoon but it didn't say when afternoon started exactly. We entertained the idea of casting off and taking our chances but the wind was howling and we were not in the mood to fight it.
The Ensign Harbor cockpit was the place to be. Nick and Jeanette were there as well as John from "Sarah" and Joey. Since the weather was questionable it was at least good to be able to complain to each other about it.
After it was too late to strike out for any destination we drove over to Oriental to get some ice, take a walk and check the conditions. There were pontoon boats out on the river. Pontoon boats are not heavy weather vessels. There was almost no wave action and very little wind. We were disappointed that we had not shoved off but conditions in Oriental are not always the same as much further down the Neuse. Not only that, the weather guessers had changed the forecast yet again. They were not really hopeful about good weather after Monday. Our newest dock mates from "Sweet Magnolia" were really anxious to get out on the water. Their best guess was that Monday would be the best day for sailing. We cut our losses and ate dinner and went to bed hoping for a better day on Monday.
Monday September 22, 2014
We woke to beautiful weather. The forecast was for a slight chance of rain and winds 10-15 knots diminishing to 5-10. We can live with that. We left the dock at about 10am hoping for a nice sail. When we left the slip the diesel was running on Joey's Bermuda 40 "Belisarius". We knew he would be leaving the dock with the same idea we had.
Out on the Neuse river we met "Sweet Magnolia" and crew on the way back in under motor power. They had left the dock very early because they had a prior commitment. The wind was a bit stiff and pretty much from the North. Seas were confused and choppy. I was beginning to think coming out was not a good idea at all. We headed up river hoping conditions would be better. The further we went the better the conditions got. The wind was subsiding as promised. We got to Garbacon Shoals near Oriental and headed back down river. We were toying with the idea of spending the night on South River. We had a great sail over to the entrance to South River. The wind was probably about 10 knots. There had been clouds and a slight drizzle but that seemed to have passed. When we got South River #1 it was about 2pm. The captain made a command decision. I did not want to drop a hook at South River right in the middle of some of the best sailing conditions I had seen all summer. After all, the idea here is to SAIL. The trip back to Ensign Harbor was against the wind. The weather was dreary but the conditions were surprisingly good. We headed down river knowing it would take a while to get home. The little ship loved it. She was in her element. The wind was about 10 knots maybe a little more. A few whitecaps could be seen but the sea had calmed to a light chop. We sailed almost all the way to the Piney Point mark before we made our turn to enter Broad Creek. This was because I wanted to sail as long as possible. We were "lined up" to enter the Broad Creek channel under sail and I had every intention of sailing the channel but at that point the wind died completely. It was amazing. We went from a rough and tumble morning to no wind at all at 5pm. As they say, if you don't like the weather on the Neuse River just give it a few minutes and it will change.
Judy navigated the channel while I furled the mainsail. We motored the rest of the way without incident. There was virtually no wind at the dock to complicate landing so with Joey's help that was uneventful as well. An uneventful landing is the best possible landing.
Joey and his brother Brad had enjoyed a nice sail in the opposite direction. The big Bermuda 40 loves wind so they had headed out toward the sound where the wind was sure to be stronger. Joey reported one of the best sails of the summer. I was really pleased with my decision to sail home instead of dropping a hook. We had spent nearly 7 hours on the river. That is a really long day sail. Working our way upwind from South River had required many tacks and a considerable amount of "yacht wrestling". We were glad to get back to the dock and a hot shower with dinner to follow. The sailing forecast for Tuesday was not great but I am sure we can find something to do even if we don't go sailing.
Tuesday September 23, 2914
Our brief weather break was over on Tuesday. We woke to low clouds and rain. The good news is that it was not cold. Here in coastal NC cold is tolerable and wet is tolerable but cold and wet together is not. We had had such a great day on Monday that I was not mourning over lost sailing time. Had we gone to Ocracoke or Belhaven I doubt we would have sailed a straight 7 hours.
Cousins Steve and Donna were expected sometime on Friday. We were faced with the decision to tough it out in the coastal rain or go home and deal with the rain in the piedmont. We decided to stay and do some land cruising. This part of the state has a lot to offer so we decided to head to the Morehead City area. We had no agenda but thought it might be nice to find a campground where we could take our camper and a grandchild for an actual beach (surf and sun and all that) vacation. We headed for Minnesott beach to ride the ferry over to Havelock. We arrived about 15 minutes before we thought the ferry would leave and saw it headed our way. After a few minutes a ferry system employee wandered to greet us. He said "Folks, the next boat doesn't leave until 11:30". It was 10:15 at the time. As far as travel time we would have been better off to just wait on the ferry but sitting in a car in the rain did not appeal to us. We thanked the man and headed back the way we came. We stopped at McDonalds for a cup of coffee which was free and headed back toward New Bern. We had a nice day just poking around and had a fast food lunch. We went for a short damp walk on the beach at Emerald Isle and stopped at several campgrounds along the "Crystal Coast". All of the campgrounds we sampled were private and all were nice facilities. Unfortunately none appealed to the first mate. They were very "close" and the great majority if the sites were occupied by permanent campers. We suffered a bit of sticker shock when we saw the rates. No wonder there were no transient campers at either place we stopped. Our conclusion was that maybe a state or federal campground would be better and a hotel on the beach would be very little more expensive.
Wednesday September 24, 2014
We were thinking maybe Pamlico County should sponsor a "Mold and Mildew Festival". We were completely socked in with no relief in sight. We considered driving home but the weather was no better and we would need to drive back on Thursday for Steve and Donna. Since the boat was dry (a relative term in this case) we decided to stick it out. The forecast for the weekend was better but far from stellar. We drove over to New Bern late in the morning. I checked out at a marine consignment shop in Bridgeton while Judy shopped for antiques across the street. Neither was anything to write home about. During this heavy weather ordeal we have been eating mostly fast food and junk food. We hoped it would end soon. The forecast was still not good but the weekend still held some promise.
Thursday September 25, 2014
We were still hanging on looking forward to the better weekend weather. We went to Oriental for breakfast at "Brantly's" restaurant. Like so many small restaurants here and everywhere, they just serve food, nothing fancy. I am not sure why their prices are higher than comparable establishments. After breakfast we drove over to the park. The Neuse was very placid. In fact we would have had a hard time sailing in such light wind. We came back to the boat and took advantage of the down time. Judy read and knitted and I surfed the net and worked on my Amateur Radio software. It was a good day but still wet. It rained off and on all day. Judy went over to Jeanette's to get some assistance with a knitting project and I visited with Nick for a long while in the cockpit. This summer has been very very wet and cool. Nick lost his garden because of it and thought about planting a late one. He is glad he didn't because a late garden would have drowned as well.
Judy cooked one of my favorite meals for dinner. We had salmon patties (cakes for you northerners) brown rice and green beans with onions. I am not hard to please when it comes to dining and Judy is really good at pulling a great meal out of thin (and in this case very damp) air. It was the best meal we had eaten all week.
Friday September 26, 2014
The forecast is for a 20% chance of rain. Looking out the companionway I would guess more like 120%. The high pressure system is on it's way but will it get here in time for a nice weekend?
Steve called at about 10 am saying they were in Kinston which is about an hour from our docks. I had thought that we may go sailing on Friday if it looked better than Saturday I knew we were certainly not going sailing before early in the day. We decided that he should have some lunch and check in to their hotel in Oriental then give us a call. I tried to rain off and on all day so sailing was out of the picture. Steve and Donna had lunch and shopped in New Bern before they checked in. The timing was about right. Judy had planned hamburgers in the cockpit for dinner. By the time they arrived mid afternoon the weather picture was looking better. We invited John (a dock mate) for dinner and had a really good visit. Who doesn't like a fresh grilled hamburger?
Our guests were obviously tired from a long day so we parted company fairly early. The forecast was reasonably good for Saturday so we agreed that we would call Steve and let them know when to arrive.
Saturday September 27, 2014
The weather was looking up. Forecast wind speeds were 10-15 knots. That is about all our little ship can handle under sail but the forecast was calling for a decreasing wind speed by late morning. The covers were not on the boat so it didn't take long to get her ready to sail. I called Steve and we agreed they would arrive at about 10:30. Our guests arrived promptly and we shoved off shortly after they arrived.
Conditions on the Neuse were a bit unusual. The strong overnight winds had whipped up a considerable chop that usually does not subside as quickly as the wind. There was a lot of wave action but the wind speed was just about right. We sailed a straight course across the river under main alone to near the bombing range. Of course we changed course at that point and headed back the way we came. By this time we had deployed the head sail and were making a solid 6 knots. We met John aboard his Bristol 35 "Sarah" coming out of Broad Creek and Steve and Donna got some good pictures of his boat under sail.
We were headed for the creek and I realized the conditions were not getting any worse so we turned and went back out for a while. We chased John for a while but he had a good head start and our full jib was beginning to overpower us. After several hours sailing we turned around and headed for the dock. It was a good sail and Steve and Donna seemed to enjoy it.
I still didn't trust the weatherman and I wanted to get the sail covered before it got wet. I had about an hour's work to "button" her up. Our guests went back to their hotel before dinner and we finished with the boat. We met at The Silos for dinner. The meal was good and we were greeted by Captain Chris, the owner who was the owner of the sailing school that Judy and I attended many years ago before we bought the boat. Chris recognized us which is fairly amazing. The meal was good but there were a few little things that concerned me. Judy and Donna ordered the same meal and neither got what they ordered. Neither complained but when they inquired they were told it was a mix up in the kitchen. I ordered decaf coffee and was told they were out. I hope it will be better in the future.
We were invited to hang out at the hotel or go for a walk in town but quite honestly the little 30 footer had worn me out. The wave action had turned steering into manual labor. We sail our farewells and went back to the boat. A little later we started receiving emails from Donna with pictures they had taken on the water. They were really good and I am sure John will appreciate them. I returned one of the emails shortly before 9pm but I wasn't able to stay awake any longer.
Sunday September 28, 2014
We had gone to bed so early that we were awake early. Matthew had texted Judy earlier and asked if we were going to stop in Raleigh on our way home. We were completely out of breakfast food so we decided to leave as soon as we could, stop for breakfast and stop in Raleigh for a visit with the kids. It was a real shame to leave. As luck would have it, the day we are leaving is by far the best weather in at least a week. Oh well, so it goes. We need to get home and mow (or make hay) whichever the case may be. We enjoy being on the boat but a week is long enough unless we are on an extended cruise. It was a great week after all. We sailed for a full 7 hours on Monday and several more hours on Saturday. Even with the rain, it was never cold.
Steve and Donna seemed to enjoy the weekend. They have been sailing with us many times we hope to have them along for many more trips.