Saturday, May 17, 2014

A beautiful tropic bird that followed the boat on the passage, she must have thought there were fish in the wake the wind vane was generating.  
We made it, not to quite where we had planned, but we are in the U.S. safe and sound in Beaufort,
North Carolina! We left the Bahamas on a iffy weather window.  If the weather held we would be able to make it into the Cheasapeake but if not we could duck into some other spot. Well the weather Did Not hold.  We left on Monday and for the first three days things were grand., but we were monitoring the weather closely on our SSB radio.  There was a suggestion of light northerly winds on Sat. whch would be the day we would cross the Gulf Stream, and it would have meant wind against the very strong current which can generate big waves and get people in trouble, light winds in our mind was acceptable.  The Thursday morning forecast said these northern winds might come a day earlier and be 15 - 25, no longer light and a it would mean two days of battling them, so we said uncle and diverted.  At first we thought of going to Cape Fear, just south of here but chose the further north and more easily entered Beaufort/Morehead area.
There were great winds before that, easterly and then south easterly, we were scooting along at  almost seven knots, most of the time.  Once we turned to Beaufort were announcing thunderstorm and heavy rain warnings.  The wind was not directly behind us and we had to slow down so we would not arrive in the dark.  With our third reef in the main, as small as we can make it and only a sliver of a head sail, the 25 knot winds with sustained 30 knot gusts was pushing us along at 6.5 knots with the boat yawing  quite wildly as the 3 meter waves passed underneath of us.  Then the rain came, because the wind was behind us it drove directly in the cockpit with no where to hide.  I came on shift at 0100 and Barry suggested we should hove to for a coule of hours.  This means we would put the boat up into the wind, with the sails out so they would not draw any wind and just bob around, the boat basically drifting slowly at about 0.5 knots.  Barry's shift four hours later, and we closed on the port in the driving cold rain, we went up into the wind to take the sails down and the skies just opened, the seas were flattened by the force of the rain and we were soaked to the skin and close to shivering.  Once it abated we slowly made our way into the port and dropped anchor in a very shallow estuary.  
We contacted Customs and Border Protection and they requested that we bring the boat into the dock so they could inspect it.  We decided that if we had to move the boat, we might as well take a slip for the night and we are now securely tied up at the Beaufort Town Docks.  I had my third real shower since  Christmas and revelled in the hot, strong flow for far longer than an ordinary person, I am sure.  One other perk the marina offers is a courtesy car to go and get your groceries, talk about southern hospitality or what!  
We got in the woody station wagon and hustled off to the store to replace all the meat and UHT milk that the Customs guy had confiscated.  We managed to fit in a trip to the local West Marine and get the much sought after (by us)  U. S. waters chip for our chart plotter, yeah.  We plan to take the Inter Costal Waterway up to the Chesapeake so avoiding the need to round Cape Hatteras and we will get to experience this area in a different manner.  We strolled around last night after a dinner ashore and I loved the old southern houses with biding wide verandahs. I will take the camera when we go for another walk tonight and put up some pics tomorrow.