The Trip that Went South: Get Ready…

BMac arrived on schedule and we were all buzzing with excitement upon meeting him at the dinghy dock at Wrightsville Beach. We were all eager to hop aboard Rode Trip and haul anchor; however even though we’d intended on departing that same night, the weather was not ideal. Brian and I would not have liked it, but we would have stomached the predicted 25-30 knot north blow. We did not think that was the best way to introduce BMac to an offshore passage; in the dark with 6-8 foot waves after having just stepped foot aboard. Also we were extra cautious from our experience last year along the Carolinas’ coastline having encountered 40 knots when departing on a similar forecast. We’d gotten our asses kicked! So, we postponed our departure to the following morning when the wind was predicted to taper yet continue 25-28 knots through the next day.

BMac and I reviewed charts while Brian prepared a batch of macaroni and cheese for the following night’s meal. Then, using the replacement bulbs that we’d shipped to BMac to bring along for us, Brian installed new bulbs into our running lights which were all conveniently out. Upon removing the port side green bulb, the socket fell away to pieces! Before we could enjoy the town we all made the two-mile trek to West Marine for a last minute replacement light.

That evening we stopped at Lighthouse Beer & Wine where we kicked back with microbrews in hand. Then, we had our “last supper” at Tower 7 where our timing was right for Thursday’s special of $3 margaritas and as always fabulous mexican cuisine. We settled back aboard Rode Trip for the most important final preparation, phone calls to our mothers. That night, true to forecast, the wind howled! BMac mentioned feeling the boat move as he laid in his bunk and we were relieved we hadn’t set him atop the ocean for these conditions. We had a bit of excitement when Brian peeked out the hatch to observe a nearby anchored sailboat dragging all the way across the anchorage! “Look at that,” he exclaimed, “it’s dragging isn’t it!” I confirmed the boat he’d spotlighted was clearly dragging, sideways towards the docks. Brian and I hopped into the dinghy and zoomed over to the boat. By the time we’d arrived the boat had just bumped the end of the docks. I had to knock on the hull twice to rouse any response. We’d assumed the single handed captain was dozing to a movie that I could see through the port side window. “Hello,” he responded as he fumbled his way into the cockpit without turning on a single light. “You’ve dragged!” we exclaimed. “You’ve landed at the docks, can we help you?” Still, without turning on any lights or bothering to look around at his surroundings he replied without alarm, “Thanks, um, no, um let me just fire up the engine. Where are you?” We highlighted Rode Trip with our spotlight to indicate our location. The boat had been anchored just beside us and thank goodness hadn’t dragged into us! We backed the dinghy away as the captain did fire up the engine and motored himself away from the dock. We returned to Rode Trip and watched, painfully, as the boat was motored through the anchorage without any use of spotlighting to direct where it would re-anchor. Finally, the boat had stopped well beyond us and we were content to go back inside.

The following morning everything was ship-shape. We made breakfast and with a final weather check had confirmed our fears about last evening’s forecast. The weather buoys off of Frying Pan Shoals were recording 40 knot wind speeds (we checked weather buoys via www.windfinder.com – updated hourly). We wanted to make some tracks although the wind had not yet tapered, so we decided we’d motor down the Intracoastal Waterway and exit at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. We made one final trip to shore to deposit trash, fill the shower bag, take a walk to the beach, and make a pit-stop at the public restrooms.

BMac and I hauled anchor and we were finally on the move!