Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Around Cape Hatteras

This past weekend we made our first coastal passage; traveling from Norfolk, VA to Beaufort, NC. This was a big step and the first time any of the other crew had been on the open ocean.

Elizabeth and  David along with Kim and Caleb Yecke met up with me in Norfolk Friday night after spending a few days visiting historic Jamestown and Yorktown. Elizabeth had already shopped for the trip and had settled up with the Marina so we were ready to go! Little Creek Marina was a great place to stop and particularly sit out Sandy.

Unfortunately Zach Nelson, who had accompanied us on the previous leg was ill and unable to join us for this leg of the trip. He and his mother Susan did come by to see us off and present us with a beautifully engraved helmsman's knife which straps on nicely next to the wheel.

We cast off at 0805 on Saturday morning, only 5 minutes later than planned, leaving the Chesapeake Bay with an ebbing current. As we moved offshore we made several radio checks with the Sea Tow service at Little Creek Marina reaching them easily at over 20 nm. Cell service was also available from time to time as we moved down the coast, averaging 6-7 miles offshore throughout the day Saturday and into the evening.

As we passed Virginia Beach and picked up a 3 foot swell, Kim fell victim to Mal de Mare (sea sickness), and spent the first half of the voyage in misery. She was a trooper and rallied for her midnight to 0400 watch with David for the rounding of Cape Hatteras. By the morning she was feeling much better and was actually able to enjoy the rest of the trip.
The weather was cool and the wind about 10 kts on our nose most of the day Saturday, by about 10 pm the wind had dropped off but the cool temperatures remained. It wasn't until Elizabeth and Caleb took the 0400 watch that the temperature improved. The sky was clear and moonless (until just before morning) so the stars were incredible all night.

After rounding Cape Hatteras we took a relatively straight course from Diamond shoals to Cape Lookout Shoals which put us about about 14 miles out and beyond cell phone range of shore. This vexed the shore crew, Thomas and Alexis who were in the process of bringing the van back from Norfolk to Beaufort.

Sunday morning brought a beautiful sunrise and short sleeve weather, along with a wind shift that allowed us to run or broad reach most of the way to Beaufort. Along with the improved weather came an increase in sea life. During the last several hours of the trip we saw several pods of 10+ dolphin, a shark finishing off a meal of some sort and a leaping marlin. We also spent some time being shadowed by the Privateer Lynx which was enroute to Georgetown before heading on to Charleston next weekend.

During the trip, the ship's systems didn't miss a beat and we were able to average 7.1 knots during the 223 nautical miles trip over the course of about 32 hours. Before the trip we'd taken on 4 - 5 gallon cans of fuel, we added 10 gallons Sunday morning as the fuel gauge approached 1/4 full which saw us comfortably into Beaufort.

Everyone took a turn at the helm and did a great job keeping us on course. Alexis and Thomas pulled off a marathon road trip from Charleston to Norfolk to bring the van down to Beaufort and stage it for our return trip home, Thank you!

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