Friday 29 Nov, passage Beaufort NC to Charleston SC, day 1.
Alarm at normal time, no need for any ungodly wake up hour. The passage to Charleston is 200nm, so just over one day. Our goal is simply to arrive before dark tomorrow when the wind is forecast to turn in our face.
The tidal current is pushing us way from the dock so we take caution with the slip-lines. If one doesn’t slip through the dock clear for some reason we will be in trouble with this current. So I put an additional slip line midships. When Oana slips bow and stern lines I’ll keep the boat parallel to the dock using the bow thruster while we hang on the midship line; slipping that one lastly. It all works as planned and we are soon safely on our way out of Taylor’s Creek to join the main channel out to sea.
It’s a crisp and clear blue-sky day with quite a chill in the air with this northerly wind coming from Maryland :). Once out the channel sails come out and we experiment with engine off. But it’s no good. The wind is directly astern at only 7kts. Maybe ok with a spinnaker but we are not up for that today. So it’s motoring again.
5 miles later we see Viaggio and LadyHawke on AIS also coming out of Beaufort and we have a 3-way call on VHF. We are all going to Charleston. Ladyhawke suggests we are like The Three Stooges, and aptly names each one of us. We are apparently to be called Larry! Oana quickly Googles to see what The Three Stooges is all about and more importantly what “Larry” actually looks like. Hmmm not impressed 🙂
The sea is calm, the sun is in the cockpit and we are quite content. Around 1pm the wind comes slightly abeam and picks up to 10-12kts and we are sailing very nicely. But 40 mins later it’s gone again and genoa gets furled back away. We are actually quite glad, because it was blocking the sun into the cockpit, which had gotten chilly in the shade. Now we bask in its warmth again. No, we are not hardened sailors!
We receive a text from Dianne, confirming she has received the Navionics charts which we ordered last week with delivery at her address. Just as we were leaving Herrington, we realized we don’t have charts for Panama. Hence a rushed order and a delayed delivery due to Thanksgiving and Black Friday (probably). If we would have waited few more ours, the charts would now be in our hands. But since we left early, we now need to come up with an address where Dianne can forward the charts to us. Such is the cruising life.
Afternoon is writing Christmas cards in the cockpit. One of those tasks best suited to when you have plenty of time and don’t feel the need to rush your small but important Christmas messages to friends and family afar. Now we just have to remember to post them in time. Last year we posted from Antigua mid-December and most arrived in February, some not at all. Funny though, because their tardy arrivals sparked several “thanks for the card” messages – that never happens when they arrive before Christmas 🙂
Sunset it again spectacular, producing a deep deep red sky. We wonder if it’s due to pollution as we never saw sunsets like this in the islands. Another spectacle, now that we have our skyscanner app on, there are 4 planets plus the new moon all clustered together (Jupiter, Venus, Pluto and Saturn …. correct, we couldn’t actually see Pluto!) and all setting soon after the sun.
With the sun gone the cockpit quickly chills and we get into more layers of thermal gear and into our night routine. I have an early evening nap then Oana goes down to sleep till 11pm, we do our usual 3-on-3-off schedule. 3 hours up in these long cold nights is quite long enough, even with the shelter of our enclosed cockpit.
8:30pm we transit the Frying Pan Shoals which stretch some 17nm offshore from Cape Fear. An aptly named cape, going by all the wrecks marked on the shoals. Then, with a 10 degree turn to starboard we are on course for Charleston entrance 111nm ahead in the darkness.
By midnight we have sneaked passed all the yachts we could see on AIS but in front there are 2 other stern nav lights, not with AIS, apparently going in same direction as us. Very odd to see boats out here without AIS.