We had wind and current in our favor as we began down the Intracoastal Waterway from Wrightsville Beach, NC toward the Cape Fear River. The sun was shining but it was no mask for the chilly air whisking our faces. We were happy to be headed south! BMac helped me to raise the jib and we continued motor sailing.
BMac was willing and eager to learn and do as much as possible. He soon took the tiller and assigned Brian to dolphin watch.
While the guys were occupied, I did my last email/internet check. Woah! There was big news in the cruising world… Firstly, the largest typhoon to ever strike was wrecking havoc in the Philippines. I shared this story with the guys and we dared to imagine 200 knot winds comprising a storm stretching from Boston to Philadelphia. This would certainly be a tragic event! Secondly, the US Coast Guard had reported assisting five sailing vessels within the past two days. FIVE! In addition, Brian and I were already aware of a cruiser who required rescuing from the Northern Atlantic earlier this week. Hmmm… I shared these situations with the guys. Four of the sailboats were traveling with the Salty Dog Rally; a group of sailors who depart Hampton Roads, VA together bound for the Eastern Caribbean. Two were demasted, one was taking on water, and one had a medical emergency that was later declared not an emergency. The fifth was not associated with the rally and was headed toward Bermuda, however there was no emergency rather a faulty EPIRB. What was happening out there!? Was the universe showing us a sign!? Again, we downloaded our weather forecast while we still had connectivity. Yup, still good. Did I mention we were departing on a Friday…but sailors aren’t superstitious!
While BMac drove, Brian and I were able to rig our starboard side spinnaker pole for the very first time. We poled out the jib, not only giving us a nice boost but also keeping the jib from flapping with any shifty wind as we motored the waterway. Fabulous!
Brian did spot some dolphins (he’s always has the first keen eye) and took the tiller while BMac and I moved about the deck to watch the dolphins more closely. We were also treated to quite the maneuver from a tug with a barge on the Cape Fear River. There it was, just moving along parallel to us traveling in the opposite direction when suddenly the tug dropped the chain, pulled a reverse, and swung along the side of the barge! It was then pushing the barge sideways down the river, while turning it around. This was certainly a first for us, and certainly a first for BMac to see a tug in action and realize that the barge has no power of its own!
Kayakers playing chicken with the passing waterway traffic in the Cape Fear River.
After nearly five hours motoring along the Intracoastal Waterway, we were briskly exiting the Cape Fear River with the outgoing tide into the Atlantic Ocean. The late afternoon sun warmed us as BMac steered while he and Brian navigated the channel. Ah, we were free! We motored for some time until beyond the point of Cape Fear which seemed to be shielding us from the wind. The waves built as we got farther and farther from the coastline. The wind built too. We set the main with one reef, added the staysail, and let the spinnaker pole down from the jib. Soon we were cruising along at 5.2 knots in 10-15 knots of wind with 2-4 foot following seas. It was glorious! In the cockpit at sunset, we dined on Brian’s homemade macaroni and cheese while we planned the overnight watch schedule. We’d do three hour watches and for this first night we’d buddy with BMac. As the night folded in around us, BMac was getting a quick and dirty lesson in developing his sea legs. Outside, he was able to hold his own. But inside, the motion of the ocean got the better of him. During his first watch he scampered topside and had a good, close look at the dark water below while bidding farewell to his supper. Brian kept watch with BMac, who was most comfortable in fetal position on the bunk. It was a rolly night but Rode Trip was screamin’ along and we were loving the sail!
The next morning, I began day two on watch with BMac. Buttered toast aided in renewing BMac’s energy. He sat topside getting his bearings now that daylight had returned and he was starting to feel better. The wind was tapering as the forecast had predicted. Mid-morning, we shook out the reef on the main and continued to make south as best we could. By the afternoon, we were becalmed. And so as we had pre-planned, it was time for the iron sail.