Friday, April 27, 2012

Ocracoke Silver Lake

April 11, 2012 - We had a cool trip from Oriental to Ocracoke. Easy sailing, enough sights to keep it interesting. Lunch from the galley while underway. Not bad.

The trip planned out at about 36 nm - short by cruising standards but significant for us. Since we got a pretty early start we expected to show up before dinner time and, despite having planned a dinner on the boat, we had all been privately formulating a way to get dinner at some cute restaurant ashore.

The approach to Silver Lake is not difficult but it is a little unnerving. There is ferry traffic, obvious sandbars, things sticking up, narrow sections and markers that switch from green-on-the-right to red-right-returning in the middle of a hard port turn. But we felt pretty special clearing the channel and drifting into the harbor with the lighthouse watching us come in.

Now, we had a couple more first-time challenges. Number 1 - anchoring. The only time we have used the anchor / windlass was to drop it to the bottom in 7 feet of water to test it. Suddenly, we have to make all of those choices and take all of those actions we have read about, studied, planned for.
  • Pick the spot where you want to end up.
  • Motor up into the wind to where you need to drop anchor.
  • Come to a stop and let the backward drift begin - help the drift if necessary.
  • Start letting out chain. Keep pointing so the captain knows where the anchor is.
  • Thank the previous owners for marking the chain lengths with colored paint and recording the colors / lengths inside the foredeck locker.
  • Get your scope where you want it - 7:1 - and check that you are clear of other boats in case of wind shifts.
  • Make sure she sets properly (and add a little reverse just to be sure - even though a lot of people say you shouldn't need to).
  • Dig out the 'snubber' - a bridle that you attach to the anchor chain to keep the tension off the windlass.
  • Shut down and congratulate the crew!

We make a couple of quick phone calls to notify the family that we made a safe passage and, almost before we hang up, they are checking us out on the Sliver Lake webcam (what a world we live in) and watching us (Challenge number 2) take the dinghy off the davits, get the motor off the brackets and on the the dinghy, hook up and go.

Of course, by this time, everybody's secret plans to get ashore have become obvious and the justifications made. We pile into the dinghy and head across the harbor and find that cute little restaurant. Nice ending to a nice day. Tomorrow will be different.

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