Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From Charleston to Chesapeake Bay

Our intent was to cast off Sunday at 9 AM, however we were a bit delayed due to a safety briefing that took a bit longer than planned. However, we cast off at 9:15,so not too delayed. Once in Elliott Cut, we put Matt in the dinghy to stop at the Greaves residence to pick up a couple of missed items. We were than on our way.

At about 10 AM,  we cleared Fort Sumter and were headed for open sea. We made a solid effort to go under sail, but the winds just weren't there, so a lot of motoring was done. This was a concern because we wanted to reach Cape Hatteras with our fuel at 50 percent minimum. We were planning to cut through a slu in the Frying Pan shoals at Cape Fear (something Bob and I had done on a previous trip), and refuel in one of the available ports there. Overnight though, the sea became unfavorable to maintaining that course, and we altered our course to farther out to sea in order to go around those shoals.  By Monday morning, we found more favorable, and we were under sail. Upon checking or fuel, we found that we still had two thirds left, and no longer felt the need to pull into a port. I was very happy about this, because one of the goals of this trip was to have a contiguous run to the Chesapeake Bay.

Having resolved to press on, our next milestone would be Cape Lookout. After a largely uneventful day of excellent sailing, we cleared that Cape at four in the morning on Tuesday.

Soon after that, we sailed in to the Gulf Stream. This worked very well for us, and we used that current to make better than anticipated time around Cape Hatteras, which we rounded at 3:30. We had a mini celebration, complete with a small measure of single malt apiece. Bill, Bob, and I took a vote and made Matt an official Waffler, with all the rights and responsibilities of membership.

We eventually exited the Gulf Stream, not only the advantages of the current but of the nice temperature that those warm waters brought. And it got cold quick. But the current did its job, and moved our arrival to the mouth of the Chesapeake forward by one day.

Just word here about the evening watches. Our rule was two men in the cockpit at all times, both clipped in to a jack line. Each man stood a four hour watch, but the watches were staggered, so during a four hour watch, a person would see his watch partner switch to a new partner 2 hours into his watch.  This seemed to work out well.

Wednesday morning saw the winds begin to die down. We kept it going for as long as we could by removing the reefs from the sails, but after breakfast, we were forced to motor. They picked back up slightly in the afternoon, and we took advantage of that to run out the spinnaker,which worked out nicely for a time. A noteworthy item on that was that it was the first time on the whole trip that we were on a port tack. Matt and I also took a run out in the dinghy to get some pictures of the Black Dog while flying the spinnaker.

A big surprise for me today was the opportunity to speak very briefly with Andy Schell, of the Isbjorn. I know of Andy through his podcast "59 North". He bills it as a sailing podcast, and for a sailor, it's full of great information. But there are many human interest stories for the non sailor, and would be worth  a listen by anyone.

I had heard the Isbjorn hailed by another vessel, and thought it sounded a bit like Andy on the response. So in a bit we hailed the Isbjorn, and I got to speak to Andy himself, and also tell him how much I enjoy his podcast. It was a nice experience, and I hope to be able to meet him at the Annapolis Boat Show in the fall.

We passed over the bridge/tunnel at 4:03, and celebrated with scotch once again. From there, it was straight to our anchorage at Mobjack Bay. It was just after 8 when we dropped the anchor.

We have until Saturday to get to Cape Charles, so tomorrow we are going to attempt Tangier Island. It is about 50 nautical miles from where we are tonight, so we are going to try to get an early start tomorrow, but we think it looks interesting enough.  I guess we will see.

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