Thursday, May 18, 2023

Hilton Head Island: slow sail to Cape Lookout


I was tired when I reached the slip Tuesday afternoon.  I had done something I almost never do and entered harbor after dark the preceding night, anchoring in Port Royal Sound at 0130. The last time I entered a harbor after dark was Rio de Janeiro with Carol on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA in 2001.  

I anchored in the sound twice Tuesday.  The second time was when I tried to get underway at 0800 with light wind from the east, but against the outgoing tide.  GANNET’s bow pointed toward the mouth of Skull Creek, but GPS proved we were going backwards so I anchored again at 0845, raising anchor again at 1200 when light wind filled from the south and the tide changed.  It took us two and a half miles to cover the five miles to the slip.  A blazing 2 knot average, but then that’s what we mostly made up to Cape Lookout and back.  Four days up; almost five days back.  250 miles each way.

The top photo shows what it was like.  Closehauled against less than seven knots of wind.  It was usually not unpleasant, but it was slow.

We had the full moon with us on the way up and almost no moon on the way back.

On the image of our track, the shadow that goes out from Southport is Frying Pan Shoal.  The line that shows us crossing it is the route back.  The shoal goes out thirty miles, but can be crossed in 35’-40’ of water where we did in settled conditions, and they were certainly settled.

I could receive NOAA weather much of the time and it didn’t prove very useful.  Saturday evening on the way back, I stood in the companionway and studied the sky and the sea and checked the barometer, which was steady.  NOAA was predicting a wind shift from south at 6 knots  to northeast at 20 that night, and I said to myself I do not see it coming.  The reason I didn’t is because it didn’t.  Sunday was just like Saturday.

We did finally get northeast wind on Monday and the little boat finally made some speed and surfed down waves.

I used five gallons of water in twelve days which is a daily consumption of .41 of a gallon, slightly higher than the .37 I usually used on passages during GANNET’s circumnavigation.  One reason for this is that while at anchor in Cape Lookout Bight, I did not wash my measuring cup or spoon over the side but used fresh water.  There were six or seven other boats at anchor.

I arrived at Cape Lookout on Tuesday and was there three nights.  Wednesday was windy and on Thursday, Richard who was anchored on a nearby boat came by in his dinghy and asked if I would like a ride ashore.  I accepted and he powered us over to a landing near the lighthouse where I walked to the former lighthouse keeper’s home which is now a museum.  There is a ferry that brings daytrippers over during the summer, a small store, and several boardwalk trails.  Quite pleasant and pretty.  I thank Richard for his consideration.

Of the Pelagic, on the Friday morning I started back I again engaged it and again it went spontaneously into Standby.  I gave it one more try.  Same result.  So Raymarine steered us home.

On the way up I had the pleasure of setting the asymmetrical for the first time in more than a year.

Being on GANNET was good, but I did not like always being so close to land.  I was never more than thirty miles offshore.  If I ever sail to Cape Lookout again, I’ll wait until three days of south wind are forecast and head offshore fifty or more miles before gybing.  Too many boats, ships and buoys in close.

I’ll go over the passage log and post it soon for those of you who want to read it.  I also will upload three short videos to YouTube.  Nothing exciting.  Not everything needs to be recorded.

I really enjoyed that first hot shower when I got home, and I am struck by how quickly I have lost my legs.  I use my upper body sailing GANNET and other muscles constantly fighting gravity, but twelve days without walking except for a half hour when Richard took me ashore, and biking to and from GANNET yesterday was a chore.  One of the good things about muscles is that when you use them they come back, even when you are seriously old.

1 comment:

David Hughes said...

Sounds like a modestly successful and rewarding jaunt up the coast! Looking forward to the Passage Log and the videos!