We are listening to Senator Kerry concede the election to President Bush. Making it additionally surreal is that we are anchored in Camp Le Jeune Military training base right in the middle of a military exercise using blank ammunition. We watch from our fore deck while sitting on lawn chairs and thinking of the future military needs of America under this quick draw president.
We had wanted to be offshore by now, but the weather is unsettled and the safe weather window too short, so we are proceeding along the ICW to Cape Fear and maybe an opportunity will open for us then. At least we will be beyond Frying Pan Shoal, its currents, and its shifting shallows. We might at least have a short weather window from there as far as Charleston which is easy to enter day or night and good holding can be found just above Fort Sumpter near the entrance. But if weather allows, we can continue on to St Mary's Inlet on the Florida/Georgia border and anchor behind Cumberland Island. That has the lovely beach walk we look forward to as our celebration for escaping winter. Sailing offshore always involves this kind of strategy of plan A, B, C. Weather, boat, crew, and the possibility of breakage or injury must be considered and safe alternative plans made, understood, and agreed to ahead of time.
Attention: Bluewater Woman for Sail. Heather is 21, Canadian, loves to sail, looking for a non smoking man (not too old) to have a stable relationship and oceans to cross. She is bubbly, spontaneous, and really pretty too. Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org and she loves dogs. So come on guys, mix the glue, build the boat, and get launched so Heather can sail. She is hitch hiking on boats now and we met her this evening...
Later. The expected front just came through and of the 20 or so boats in here, about 5 were dragging merrily because of the well known poor holding. We had two anchors out and they were holding fine, but a grand looking Hinkley sail boat about 42 feet long was dragging towards our bow. I told him we had followed an experienced friend's suggestion and had two anchors out. But the Hinkley guy scoffed and said that was ALL wrong. ??? I managed to not remind him that we were not dragging, he was.
We went out to sea at the Cape Fear River so Peace IV is FINALLY off her leash and stretching her legs on a reach doing between 6 and 8 or 9 knots with all up in somewhat gusty conditions wind averaging 10 to 15 knots. We put up all sail even though it is nearing sunset because conditions are moderating (not to mention the two other boats going in the same direction!). It is clear so there will be stars but only a little moon much later on. We are keeping our course easily along the coastal sea buoys in this north wind.
7pm: After dark, naturally, the Monitor steering line went slack and we were all aback in a moment. I took the helm and gybed us around (always a gentle experience with these soft wing gaff sails for some reason). Then we switched to wheel autohelm but gusty conditions made it difficult to trim sails to help the poor wimpy little thing. Nev dropped the foremain and I trimmed sails in the dark by sensing the boat motion until it balanced sort of. After another half hour, I finally had it ok. Oh yes, we caught a nice big tuna too. And the wind is up since all this happened so our speed is still ok at around 7+ knots (the other boats are no where to be seen).
Later. Night watch unchaperoned with a bar of semi sweet chocolate... Does life get better than this? Nev finally is sleeping. I will cook the fish in the morning and an apple cake in the evening tomorrow. Weather sure looks good. If the autohelm holds, we could keep going.
Drat! Batteries are low but Nev woke naturally and set the charger going before returning for more Zs. Looks like our batteries may need replacing... Wind lighter but holding well enough for now.
Every once in a while, I am aware of something flying by in the dark. There are many birds migrating along with us, but also zillions of butterflies. Yellow ones called Sulpher Butterflies were first noted in the Dismal Swamp in Virginia, but now we also have the fabulous bright Monarchs and perhaps that is what I am seeing if not birds. There are shooting stars and the Milky Way is bright as can be. Out here away from lights, the various colors of the stars are easy to distinguish too. So many...
Wind getting so soft, the motion of the sea is drawing lullabies out of me. The speed is around 4 knots and I just do not care. Ocean and I are embracing this quiet moment which may comfort me decades from now as a memory.
Finally the moon came up like a great big grin and laughed at my dawdling so I started one engine because I know full well that when this wind goes totally calm, it can be freezing cold. The only thing to do is go south faster in order to get warmer sooner.
Crossing Charleston Harbor entrance at 9am eating apple cake. Fish chowder ready for lunch. Now time for my nap. I had hoped to send this here, but my mobile phone has no reception so pocketmail will have to wait until we get in. Maybe tomorrow!
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2004