|SeaClearly at Cumberland Island.|
Before the rains came.
We woke up Tuesday morning to pouring rain. Radar showed that it should be moving away in a few hours. We got onto Chris Parker's weather webcast and posed our question to him. "We are planning to leave shortly to sail north from St Mary's GA to Cape Fear. Good sailing? Advice?" After an hour of hearing advice to cruisers in Antigua, Barbados, DR, BVIs and the windward islands (Carib hour, I guess), Chris finally got to us. He looked over our path and came to the same conclusion we had - leave right after the rain clears, be ready for some wind halfway through the trip off the coast of South Carolina followed by settled weather into Cape Fear. Thumbs up! We wanted to ride the tide out of St Mary's inlet so, instead of waiting for the rain to stop, we picked up the anchor in the pouring rain. Our foul-weather gear got a chance to do its job and we stayed warm and dry. We slid out through the inlet on smooth seas, into the ocean and turned north for another two night offshore run. Cool stuff.
Once the rain stopped, the skies cleared nicely and soon we were motorsailing along - because, naturally, the wind died behind the passing storm. No worries, it would come back later. We took advantage of the day and had a peaceful lunch (pre-made chicken salad), a wonderful dinner (pre-made shrimp gumbo and sweet potatoes) and got set for the night run.
For us, that means reducing sail to our staysail and double-reefed main. We have ignored this protocol once previously and gotten caught by the wind in the middle of the night. Lesson learned. We rig the boat for running, inside and out - strapping everything down, stow it, put it away. We always, always, always wear our PFDs (lifejackets) and tethers. And, especially when out on watch alone, tether to 2 points. We can't afford to lose any crew members. We did all this, watched a beautiful sunset over mild seas at around 8:00 pm. Junie wanted the eight-to-midnight shift so I went into the cabin to sleep. Lulled by the sound of the motor, I was asleep in minutes (as usual). I didn't sleep long, though. The motor rpm dropping to idle woke me up. I went to see what was going on and came out of the hatch into a very different night.
|Foul weather fashion show|
|Junie at the helm.|
The sun rose in pinks and reds (not a bad omen in this case) and we sailed almost the entire day with a much-settled ocean and 10 - 18 knots of wind - actually from a direction we could use. Just a wonderful day. We sailed past Charleston, roughly halfway through this trip, without stopping. No shrimp and grits this time. On to Cape Fear.
Night Two. Exact opposite. The wind died. I mean died. Sometime after dark, the ocean went glassy and stayed that way all nightlong. Sunrise was incredible. The reflection of Venus was dancing on a smooth, red-orange sea as the sun came up. Out on the ocean, on a day like this, you get to see that 'nautical twilight' really is about an hour before sunrise. You can see everything and it is amazing.
|Southport Marina from SeaClearly|