The Calm After the Storm October 2015
18 October 2015 | Whortonsville NC
Our camping trip out west was great. The weather was excellent until just a few days before we got home. We saw some amazing sights. I will have to admit, one of my favorite things about the area is the weather. It was very hot but the lack of humidity made it very pleasant. That same lack of moisture in the air is evident on the land as well. After you cross the Mississippi River headed west, there is not enough water to make any difference. This is especially evident to folks who are used to copious amounts of water. Much of the land we crossed is almost featureless unlike the tree covered hills and valleys we are used to. The flat coastal plain of North Carolina has much more varied terrain than the high desert. Oh well, I guess it is all what you get used to. Personally I am used to water and I like it. We were absent from the coast for over a month we were ready to back. My personal goal was to enjoy being close to the water.
The Carolinas was pounded by stormy weather for over a week in early October 2015. Hurricane Joaquin supplied an overabundance of moisture for a slow moving cold front to dump epic amounts of rain on the area. The wind that accompanied the storm was not hurricane force but strong enough to topple trees even in the piedmont of the Carolinas. At the coast it was worse because the northeast wind combined with the week of downpours caused high water and miserable conditions. Nick kept us informed about conditions at Ensign Harbor. He emailed a picture of the harbor with water almost over the top of the deck. Jeanette told me that if the hurricane had landed anywhere close it would have been a real disaster.
We had taken the sails home before we left in case if bad weather. I used the opportunity to give them a good scrubbing. It is amazing what a little elbow grease will do. We had several other obligations after our trip that we cleared so we could schedule a trip.
Thursday October 15, 2015
With the Toyota Matrix packed full of sails and the usual "stuff" we set out for Whortonsville at about 9 am. No need to be in a big hurry now that we are retired. We had a light lunch at Arby's in Kinston and arrived about 3 pm. We were glad to find our friend Art was down for a few days and had been sailing with Bill on his Catalina 25. Chuck and Tish were also present. We discovered that the boat was a mess. There had been so much rain and the air was still so damp that there was a growth of mildew that needed to be cleaned. One of the ports had sprung a leak but luckily we knew about that one and had put down plastic sheets so there was no water damage. After taking such a weather pounding there was water where we don't usually have water. We drug everything out of the quarter berth and put it in the sun to dry out. Nick and Jeanette invited us to the cockpit for drinks and then to go the Paradise Cove for dinner. Paradise cove has been around for many years but not as a restaurant. The most recent owners are now serving burgers and other fare including ribs and local shrimp. It was quite good and is really handy to our dock. I hope it does well. In fact it is close enough to go from our dock by dinghy, so it will be great this summer to go grab a quick meal.
Friday October 16, 2015
The weather on Thursday had been just perfect with plenty of sunshine, clear skies and a breeze. Friday was the same. The air was beginning to dry out along with the boat. We started the day by putting the sails back on the boat. I started with the main which I could pretty much do by myself. The mainsail is not just a piece of cloth. There are battens that need to go in batten pockets as well as jiffy reefing lines that need to be reinstalled. As luck would have it there was a good breeze at the dock which further complicated the installation. The headsail or jib on our boat is a 135% Genoa. The 135% means that 35% of the sail can be sheeted past (or aft) the mast. This makes it a very large piece of equipment. I can lift it but I don't want to carry it very far. Needless to say, I cannot manage to run it up the forestay by myself, I needed the mate's help. I got the sail started up the track with Judy's help winching the halyard. Very quickly we realized that Judy was simply not strong enough to haul the halyard even with the advantage of the winch. We changed places and Judy guided the sail into the track while I winched. It didn't go all that well. We had to start over at one point because I had something tangled. The fresh breeze nearly knocked both of us into the water several times but we managed to get the job done with no damage to the crew or boat. The sails looked really good back in their proper places. I left the sail cover off hoping we would go sailing the next day.
After the sails were back on I tackled the leaking port light. I had installed it using what I thought to be butyl tape a year or more ago. When I picked up another roll of butyl tape from a camping trailer dealership near home, I found that what I had taken to be butyl tape is probably actually putty tape which will eventually dry out and crack. That is exactly what happened to my port light. When I pulled it off the boat it was evident that the seal had cracked and there was water inside the extruded aluminum frame. Anyway, I re-bedded the frame with what I am pretty sure is actually butyl tape. I hope this finally fixes the leaky port issue. Dinner was polish turkey sausage with pasta and salad from the award winning Southern Star galley. We dined in the cockpit and enjoyed Art's company. We had discussed sailing on Saturday with Nick. There was a "Music on the Porch" event in Oriental. He was not sure whether he and Jeanette were going there or going sailing. We would decide closer to time.
Saturday October 17, 2015
The weather on Saturday morning was spectacular. As I have said many times, the weather is either great or terrible with little in between. Robert and Stefan had arrived on Friday night. After a consult with Nick we decided to make an abbreviated visit to Oriental to listen to music then go sailing at about 2 pm. We are not huge music fans but there seems to be plenty around the area. The event was well attended. It was a typical street fair with vendors and even a car show. We listened to some music and walked around a bit before heading back to the boat for a quick lunch. Nick and Jeanette have named their new Tartan 35 "Short Cut". Both boats left the dock at almost exactly 2pm as planned. The weather and wind were perfect. The wind was a little east of north at 8 to 10 knots. Contrary to what some folks think, if there are two sailboats headed in the same general direction, it's a race. We managed to get a little ahead of "Short Cut" at the start and held the lead for a while. Inevitably the bigger boat had the advantage. We made a respectable showing but were no match in the end. We sailed for a long while and without communicating, both boats started heading for the dock at about the same time.
While we were busy taking sails down Judy spotted a bald eagle hunting fairly close behind us. We both had our hands full, Judy with steering and me with taking down the mainsail, so we were not able to even attempt a photograph. This is only our second eagle sighting near Ensign Harbor although we have sighted them numerous times during our coastal travels. We made a nice unassisted landing and put all the covers on the boat before dinner. Judy had started "crock pot chicken" earlier in the day so microwave rice and canned green beans rounded out a very nice meal in the cockpit. There was talk earlier in the day of everyone meeting in the cockpit after dinner but Art stayed at his dinner party longer than expected and Robert and Stefan took Robert's dinghy to Paradise Cove for dinner and had to call a friend to bring them back after the outboard failed to start. We were tired anyway, so staying on the boat and turning in early was a good plan.
Sunday October 18, 2015
At 4am on Sunday morning I had all I could take of the halyard that had been slapping the mast since just after we went to bed. I crawled out on the cabin top and tied a bungee cord to pull it away from the mast. By the time I got back to bed I was thinking that winter was upon us. The wind was probably blowing 20 knots out on the river and it was gusting just enough get the halyard slapping the mast. The noise is not too bad outside the boat but inside, it is akin to living in a banjo. We were definitely having a winter blast. When the sun came up it was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky but it was crisp and the wind was stiff. Robert and Stefan were on their way to get the dinghy at Paradise Cove. They had borrowed a trailer from a friend in case it would not start for the return trip. We headed for home around 11am. Lunch was at Wilbur's Barbeque in Goldsboro.
This was a great weekend. Hopefully we will be back more this season if the weather cooperates.