Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Cape Lookout Bight: I made it

Not quite Cape Horn, but I think the first place I’ve set out for since the end of GANNET’s circumnavigation that I’ve reached, and for a while that was in doubt.  250 miles taking four days in a fast boat.  Hmm.  Too little wind, followed by too much.  

One night twenty or thirty miles offshore I was becalmed on a flat, glassy ocean.  Not a ripple.  I did not lower the sails.  They were not slating.  GANNET was as solid as a rock, which is desirable for a rock, but not a sailboat.

And then we had wind 20 to 30 knots off the ominously named Cape Fear.  I lowered the main and furled the jib to t-shirt size, backed it, tied the tiller to leeward, and let the little boat ease her way east until Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoal were no longer a lee shore.  Even with only that tiny amount of sail set, GANNET was heeled 20-25º.  I could have sailed against that wind, but would have made little progress and caused GANNET and me unnecessary suffering.

In between no wind and too much, I set the asymmetrical for the first time in more than a year.  It looked quite pretty and moved us nicely until the wind increased and the tiller pilot was not able to keep up.

Finally last night the wind went south at 15 knots and we had good sailing from Cape Fear to here and as we approached the bight it was just what I wanted:  SW at 10 knots.

The entrance to the bight is difficult to distinguish from seaward.  Sand overlaps sand and seems continuous.  There is a red buoy which becomes visible as you near.

You enter heading east, then turn south.  I did so under mainsail.  The wind increased to 18 apparent when I turned south, but I had no problem making my way into the bight and anchoring in 25’ of water.

It is 6 PM…

Just as I typed ‘PM’ a squall hit.  We have had light intermittent showers for the past hour, but this one heeled GANNET far over in an instant.  The wind peaked at 46 knots on the wind instrument and held above 35 for several minutes, then abruptly dropped to 12 and heavy rain began pounding on the deck.  With her light weight and low windage GANNET is easy on anchors, but NOAA weather warned of the possibility of such squalls tonight, so I have out 125’ of rode.

I am sitting at Central.  To my left is a glass of Botanist gin.  The sound track of MASTER AND COMMANDER has been playing.  My glass is empty and the music is about to end.  I need to do something about those two and choose my freeze dry feast for dinner.

To life.


Justin said...

I lived in Beaufort for a couple of years. If you're going to be in the area for a bit, I recommend visiting the NC Maritime Museum on Front Street in Beaufort, or you can visit the Core Sound Museum on Harkers Island. Very nice. The whole area is just wonderful. I especially loved visiting the Shackleford Banks to see the wild horses.

Timothy Hazlett said...

That's a great soundtrack...especially the Corelli. Enjoy the gin and the anchorage.