For someone with nothing but time on my hands, I am sure having trouble keeping our story current. As a result, this is a long post.
We are here at Cape Lookout, anchored in the Bight. It is an absolutely gorgeous place. We stopped here on our last trip so it is a familiar spot and a wonderful anchorage. The first night here, we were the only boat in a large, isolated area surrounded by coastal beauty – with a lighthouse thrown in for effect. Full moon, sea turtles (a lot of sea turtles and big), beaches. Just lovely.
Getting here was interesting. We left Ocracoke and crossed the Pamlico to the west and made a return visit to River Dunes Marina. If you have been following our blog, this may all seem familiar. We are following a similar path south through North Carolina as we did on an earlier trip.
|Roux was a little nervous.|
In contrast to our previous, transcendental journey down a glassy Pamlico from Wanchese a few days ago, this crossing was bumpy, sloppy and wet. Roux was not happy with the situation and made it very clear. He spent a fair portion of the trip trying to sit in Junie’s lap. Just a little bit too much of those steep Pamlico waves.
But we arrived at River Dunes without issue. We took advantage of the diesel, water, laundry and hot tub. We met a couple of other southbound cruisers. And we set ourselves up to get out early in the morning to make the run down the Neuse River, down the ICW , out Beaufort Inlet and over to Cape Lookout Bight – around 45 miles.
|He is a companion dog,|
after all. Laying on my feet
while I'm cooking.
It was a very easy trip. We left the Broad Creek channel and pointed south with the Mainsail and Genoa out full. Nice sail with not much wind. We made fair time at about 4.5 knots. Junie was concerned about the progress because she had us calculated to be going out of Beaufort at slack current before flood tide. (Are you impressed? I was. She is really good at this. I just drive the boat.)
|Adams Creek, ICW|
We dropped the sails to go into the Adams Creek section of the ICW and the current helped us make up for slow sailing. We were making as much as 8.3 knots at one point with the engine running a comfortable 2400 rpm. We passed under the bridge at Morehead City almost exactly on schedule and headed out the Beaufort Channel. It was like a lake – well, a busy lake with a gazillion little fishing boats buzzing around. I am sure that the calm conditions had a lot to do with the crowd. But, we left most of them behind as we entered into the ocean and took a left for Cape Lookout. We put out the sails (same ones), shut down the engine and were ocean sailing. Crazy stuff!
We saw a Coast Guard cutter off in the distance and assumed, correctly, that it was the cutter Block Island that had announced its’ departure on the radio earlier. We were pretty far away but we waved (as usual) and shouted that we love the Coast Guard.
A little while later, I looked back and saw one of their orange Zodiacs out on the water and pointed it out to Junie. She and Roux were actually out on deck watching for dolphins. We said, “Hey, wonder what they are doing”. Then, “Hey, they are coming this direction”. Then, “Holy S&%@! They are coming here!”
Soon they were alongside and hailing us on the radio. “When was the last time we had been inspected by the USCG?”, they wanted to know. How about, never. They confirmed the number of people on board, confirmed if we were carrying weapons onboard and confirmed that the dog was not dangerous. Then they asked us to prepare to be boarded.
|We all remained serious until the paperwork was finished.|
Remember now, that we are in the ocean under full sail. So we requested a moment to pull down the canvas and came to a stop. Soon, we had three, armed Coasties sitting around our cockpit. A routine stop. Not very routine for us. And Roux didn’t like the little orange boat circling off in the distance. Everytime it came near, he went crazy barking. The guys in the cockpit were OK, apparently.
They checked our IDs, Ships Papers, fire extinguishers, flares, EPIRB, Oil and Garbage Placards (betcha didn’t know we had those) and other stuff. They complemented us on wearing our PFDs and tethers. Even Roux had his PFD and tether. We passed with no violations and got our yellow copy of government form XYZ1234 that showed that we passed.
Junie offered them some Key Lime cookies, we all smiled and they left. Then we sat back and laughed at what had just happened. We suspect that some of the junior Coasties needed boarding experience and we were a good target.
So, there we were. About a mile to go to the Bight, our mainsail, dropped in a hurry, looked like it was just dropped in a hurry. Roux was so stressed from the experience that he went to sleep. So we motored up and finished the trip and got anchored. We saw our first turtle within minutes.
The plan now is to sit here and wait for the right weather window for an overnight, offshore run down to Masonboro Inlet near Wilmington, NC. Our weather guy says that should be our best time. And this is a pretty nice place to wait.