Our excellent cruising friends were home when we entered Adams Creek in North Carolina. Nev, Peace, and I were treated to every pleasant and needful thing over two days.
But then the wind came around right, the rig was tightened, and we shot out of the Beaufort harbor entrance and into some confused seas and blustery 25+ knot winds. The front had just passed and it was all just a bit ragged at first until I got the Monitor windvane settled on course, Nev had the sails balanced, and the controlling tiller pilot to the air paddle was then happy about its assigned course of 230* to Frying Pan shoal buoy. It now looks like we will pass it just after midnight. Peace seems ready and willing to take us to Charleston tomorrow and maybe the wind will serve to go even further. The waves are moderating and winds should reduce soon too. We are doing 8 to 9 knots or more under main and jib with the main spilling wind. The bright sun is welcome and there should be stars tonight. What more do you want?
Well, the wind did not moderate until it was darn good and ready no matter what the forecasters said. Nev was muttering and spluttering about #%&*@! Frying Pan Shoal which we passed under jib only going like a dingbat in bumpy seas. The wind generator was applying its own strong wind brake that goes on at 36 knots. Next time, we leave Beaufort at the crack of dawn in time to go along the coast to Masonboro Inlet during daylight and take the ICW to the Cape Fear River and THEN go out and hope to have a better trip closer to shore in north winds. But it will be necessary for somebody to coordinate an appropriate wind to begin at dawn so we can arrive at Masonboro before sunset... that is the tricky bit!
Now we are just north of Charleston in familiar Winyah bay beside a bird sanctuary. Up close and personal, turkey vultures are not exactly attractive, but from here, their soaring is simply breathtaking. The anchor is well down and we will likely sit here until a cold front brings us a north wind. It is usually Canadian air that is cold and dry. This is expected on Thursday and may take us all the way to Florida. Meanwhile, books, small projects, cooking, and bird watching are good and if it is warm enough, Nev will be out sunning. Naps are nice too and my cough may finally quit bothering me.
There is something calming about these tidewaters. They are mostly sky and water with just the thin stripe of greenery along the horizon. Yellow green sea grass contrasts with dark green of the cypress, and the beautiful pines and hardwoods rise wherever there is any dry ground and that is not much. I find it a relaxing view with the shimmering water and big sky. Mostly it is just swamp or low lands so waterfowl are plentiful.
At the end of each day the many buoys, range lights, and even a handsome lighthouse stand ready to help mariners come in to safe harbour from sea. It is hard to find words adequate to describe the appreciation and gratitude mariners have for these aids to navigation and the importance of keeping them in place and in good order. I am happy that the US government still does such a good job of it. They are all brightly painted, and functioning properly so far this year. Most harbor entrances start with one red and white buoy blinking long short in the Morse A. Then the mariner can go safely to there from sea and see a red #2 buoy with maybe a red flashing light at night. Then a green buoy with #3 and so the safe path will continue also maybe with range lights and can be followed even without a chart to safe harbor, the anchor can go down somewhere, and mariners bed down for the night. Occasionally during storms at sea, these buoys are desperately needed. But even during the day in calm weather, they prevent groundings, and provide confidence.
Such reliable assurance of safe shelter are essential. I have sometimes felt a love of an R2 buoy and its customary bell that is similar to a landsman's love of chapel bells on Sunday morning. From here I can see three range markers and about a dozen channel buoys, and one light house because the channel here twists and the shoreline is frequently altered by storms.
All boats traveling at night also have internationally recognized navigation lights so we can see which way they are heading, how long they are, and what kind of vessel they are even at night. It is all coordinated so any boat from anywhere in the world is expected to conform. A great, simple, and effective system.
One of the nice things to contemplate is that a person can still build a boat, plunk it in the water, pay a minimal state registration fee, and still go out to sea and make a home aboard and be free. The water based life is still an alternative to the over regulated, much more expensive, and socially restricted life ashore. Seamanship can be developed, experience gained, and classes and books will help prepare a mariner for later offshore voyaging. Getting started is the main thing. A safe and adequate boat, taking time to sail it, regular maintainence, tidiness, and a willingness to live simply are all it takes to gain this freedom. There are jobs available along the way to cover food and repairs. We spend lots less when cruising than we do when we are ashore visiting family and friends!
The moon last night was a full, silver orb which silver plated all the water, a few dramatic clouds, and nearby shore. The deck was moist with dew so it looked silver etched too. It was not cold, so I stayed out listening to the night sounds of Peace gurgling in the tide wash, a few birds still awake and speaking softly to one another and a slight breeze that kept the bugs at bay. It was like some romantic movie set, but in truth, it was the view from our own "front porch".
We wish all our friends and family a happy Thanksgiving holiday. This very American feast day is well loved by all. No gifts, no fancy dress up clothes, just eat and enjoy and appreciate life and one another.
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2005