Norfolk, VA to Southport, NC – 3 Capes in one Bite
04 November 2010 | Southport, NC
Sylvia - Warm!
1 November, 2010
We got up and after looking at the weather forecasts we decided that our possible Mon/Tues passage wasn't the smartest thing we could do. Tues/ Wed looked much more promising with Thur looking okay as a safety factor. So it was wait another day!
2 - 4 November, 2010
We both got up and felt good about leaving. Yesterday we both were a little uneasy and hadn't slept well the night before. Last night we both slept well and we were comfortable with our choice to take off. It was a case of letting your gut reactions be some guide. It has worked before which makes us content to rely on it.
We waited around for a big cruiser to fill up and leave the main fuel/pump out dock. The marina didn't open until 0800 and the power boat was still quiet at 0830. At 0915 we found out that they were just starting to fill up and it would take a while. Well, that did it for us. We didn't need fuel; all we needed was the pump out. So we decided that since we were going so far out in the Atlantic we would just pump the tank ourselves along the way. It was time to get going. We weren't waiting any longer. So after a good-bye to Dave on Stella Maris and his captain, Bill, we were out of the Tidewater Marina and were working our way the 24 nm out the Norfolk channel to Cape Henry and the mouth of the Chesapeake and then another 24 NM out into the Atlantic before turning to starboard and heading south. We started out under power since it is such a long channel and very busy with both pleasure, commercial and military boats.
At 1600 we were at our turning point, and started motoring SE - 172 degrees. We soon had a solid ENE wind and so at 1725 we put up the jib and sailed along happily with only the jib for the next 15 hours although we did reef the sail down about 0330 when we changed to the new coarse of 210 degrees heading for Cape Hatteras. It appeared that we might get caught with a thunderstorm and shifty winds so Bill got me up and we reefed it down some. We were moving along beautifully in the wind and seas. The seas were 2'-4' but started to build about the time we reefed.
About 0900 on Wednesday morning the seas were 3' - 5' and continuing to build and the wind had shifted to the SE by then. We could have continued to sail but we would have been close hauled and it would have been hard work. It was hard enough as it was just keeping yourself upright and getting around the boat - both inside and outside. And by then we were through the first night of 4 hours on and 4 hours off and were starting to feel some sleep deprivation. So we wimped out and cranked up the engine and rolled the head sail in. That was also the point where we had the Cape Hatteras Light 20 nm directly off our beam. We had decided that the prudent thing was to be 20 miles off the whole way past the capes. Fifteen would have been enough with modern electronics. In fact, there was a big commercial ship only 15 nm off shore heading the same direction as we were. But we felt more comfortable at 20 nm. If there was any kind of electronics problem it would give us more leeway and sailing room if we needed it. At 1120 we were past Cape Hatteras and it was time to change to a 246 degree heading to Cape Lookout.
We soon realized that we were making such good time that we would be at the turn to go into Morehead City/Beaufort, NC early Wednesday night and as we have said before we were not going to go into a strange inlet and marina in the dark. One possibility would be to hang around outside for hours but the other more appealing one was to just keep on going and get to Southport, NC during the day. We left the decision until 2100 to see how things like the weather were going.
And things were going well when we came to the turn off just past Cape Lookout. There is a place to come around the Cape Lookout Bight and drop anchor but we weren't interested in doing that in the dark either so we adjusted our heading to 250 degrees and just kept right on motoring. For awhile the seas were probably 4' - 6'. It is hard to judge at night in the dark. We were doing 3 hours on and 3 hours off Wednesday night. We both decided that the fourth hour was really tough to stay awake. It turned out the 3 and 3 worked better for both of us. Neither one of us was sick but we both felt pretty uncomfortable with all of the rocking and rolling that was going on. The skies started to clear overnight and the stars were spectacular although sometimes obscured by high Cirrus clouds. By the way, we never did get that thunderstorm we were concerned about.
About 0200 Thursday morning the wind changed direction and the seas were down to 1' - 3'. It was never any cooler than 65 the whole night. We are getting south! The sun came up at 0710 and it was nice to see what we had ahead of us. By 1000 the wind was almost non-existent and the seas were glassy as we passed Cape Fear and headed into Southport, NC. I took a picture of the glassy seas and will post it later. Oh, but it was grand of the weather gods to give us some respite after the long trip. Heading into Southport was now a piece of cake. We were too tired to have to do much more than just get ourselves in there. It started to sprinkle as we were coming up the channel off shore but it wasn't much. We turned on to the ICW to get down to the South Harbor Village Marina. Now we can say that we "did" the ICW but I'm not sure 2 miles counts. Although we did have 2 sail boats motoring in front of us and 3 power cruiser coming up behind us. We were hailed by a big power cruiser who was going to pass us. We idled down and he said he would idle down and pass us just a bit faster than we were going. A true gentleman sailor. From the tales I have heard not all are that good about their wakes. We heard someone on the VHF "thank" another boat for going so fast that the first boat was slammed up against the dock.
We are docked on the outside of the long face dock. We told the marina staff that we didn't have a bow thruster so they were kind to us and put us on the outside rather than the inside of the face dock. After two other sailboats leave tomorrow we will move to the very beginning of the face dock which will make it easy for us to leave as well as leave lots of room for other boats to come in. We were in and all tied up at 1230. We plugged in the power, went below to get some sleep and the skies opened up and poured for about an hour and a half. Bill was content to have the rain rinse the salt off the boat. The weather gods were truly kind to us today. So now the big hurdles have been jumped or sailed by as the case may be and from now on for a while we are only looking at day passages.
We have paid for a month here and will stay several weeks at least. It is less expensive to pay the monthly rate and leave early than to pay a daily or weekly rate. Bill has a couple of things to install. One is the electric line washer that will make sure that when we flush the head our autopilot doesn't get skitzy. And I think I will go through many of the compartments and see what more I might be able to weed out. My brother Bruce who lives in Ashville and his daughter Sandy are coming down next week to see us. We are really looking forward to that.
Eos was in her element during the entire 51 hours. The auto-pilot did beautifully and our navigation SW performed admirably. We were the ones who had to make the adjustments from the gentle rocking horse ride to the lively pony ride to the steeplechase jumpers ride and then to the slow walk of the poor old nag. Sometimes we were comfortable and sometimes we weren't. We were never in any trouble or in any danger. But it wasn't any worse than we had experienced before. It was just longer and we were more tired than usual. Eos is a well-found sailing ship and she just took it all in waves and rollers. She is much stronger than her crew.