Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Up A Creek

We watched the weather Sunday from Cape Lookout and knew that an ugly cold front was moving across the East and would bring nasty winds and thunderstorms to North Carolina in the following days.  We calculated that we could leave the Cape early Monday morning and make a fast track back to New Bern to beat the worst part of the storm.  We would be home by 4 p.m.

As we pulled back the companion way hatch that morning, all we could see was fog in every direction.  There was a ketch that had anchored in the middle of the Cape, but other than that, nothing in sight.  We couldn't even see the lighthouse beaming back at us or the shore that seemed so close just 12 hours before.  We lit up the radar and GPS and headed back out to sea.  As the 5-7 foot waves rolled us around, we continued to sound our horn and keep a vigilant watch for any ships that could be near us.  At a maximum, we had about 200 yards of visibility - if anything came up, we would need to react quickly.  We made it back to the sea buoy that outlined the Beaufort inlet and made our way from nun to can until we could see land.  There was an eerie feeling as we could hear loud fog horns behind our stern, hear the coast guard cutters on the radio and we encountered the tug boats ready to bring war ships in to Camp LeJeune.  It kind of reminded me of watching Jaws and knowing there was a shark there, you could hear it and you wanted to get out before it ever appeared.

We meandered along and kept noticing the dark skies looming ahead.  It turns out by 1 p.m. the winds were gusting 40 mph on our nose.  Our boat speed slowed to less than 0.5 knot and the waves were tossing us around.  Our motto is and always will be "Safety First".  We always want to have an escape plan.  In this case, our best effort wouldn't get us anywhere.  We turned the boat completely around and what had taken 2 hours to get to upwind took us 20 minutes to get back to.  We escaped to Cedar Creek and tucked ourselves back as far as we could go.  Thankfully our boat has a 4'2 draft with the centerboard up and we could anchor in 6 feet of water.  There were a few other boats in the anchorage that weren't as protected because they were 6'+.  We turned on the NOAA weather broadcast on the VHF as we didn't have any cell service or network connection and the weather was not expected to improve for at least 36 hours.  But our anchor was tight, we had food, water, and propane and we were self sufficient.

The storms came and went and we moved on.  Kala reached a milestone and was able to accomplish her goal of going potty on the boat.  A person might think that such an experience is difficult, but really we had a great time!  We found a lot of projects to work on, learned quite a bit, and would make the same decisions again.

We pulled into our slip at Northwest Creek on Wed morning to sunshine and warm temps.

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