Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fleeing the Cold

Tuesday afternoon we arrived at Morehead City, after a leisurely trip across the Neuse River and down Adams Creek, to find the waterfront anchorage populated by private mooring balls. The moorings appeared last year and were rumored to be placed by the town—we tied up to one then.  A check on Active Captain (a web site with good information for cruisers) informed us they were private.  We considered tying up to an unused one, but could not find one with a good attachment pendant and; there is always a question of how well a private mooring is constructed and maintained.   Rather than looking for another anchorage, we figured that we could anchor between the moorings.  Holding is good here but the tides and wind switch causing the boat to swing around.  Once the sun went down it got freezing cold and I was ready to get into bed and pile on the covers by 8pm.  I slept well until 2am when I heard the anchor chain crunching so I got up to check it out.  Everything was ok but the boat had changed position due to the tide and wind and one of the moorings was near the bow of the boat.  By 4:30 or so Bill was up too and it was obvious that we were both done sleeping for the night.  The mooring ball now was between our hulls and banging on the hull.  In spite of being rather grumpy I knew there was nothing else to do but pull up anchor and go.  This area is familiar to us and well marked with lighted buoys so we had no problem navigating Beaufort Inlet in the dark.  It was still cloudy so morning arrived gradually all around us with no sunrise as we turned southwest to begin our passage to warmer weather.

So we got a very early start this morning—the cold front  passed and we are out at sea with good sailing. One motor is on at idle to charge the computers but we will soon be able to shut it down.  The seas are choppy but are following us which makes for a comfortable ride.  Samantha was a little disoriented by the early routine but now in her travelling place in the back bunk.  Now at 8:30 the clouds are now white puffies in a clear blue sky.  A pod of dolphins are jumping at the bow.  I just went out to take pictures—not many-it’s cold!  Now I’m going to cook some oatmeal.  What a life!

Thursday was dolphin day.  I was on watch from 2am and saw the first batch come in just after daybreak.  These are spotted dolphins, a bit smaller than the bottlenose dolphin seen closer to shore.  They play and jump at the bow.  I see them through the clear water surfing down the face of the larger waves.  Throughout the day pods of dolphins came and went or maybe they were the same ones fleeing the cold like us.

The wind continued out of the NE at about 10-15 kts and waves were running 3-6 ft. with some chop.  The boat rocked and rolled but it was smooth enough for Bill to cook breakfast.  We  used an engine in neutral to recharge the batteries because the autopilot does overtime constantly correcting for the wave action pushing the stern around.  The weather has not done exactly as was forecast (surprise, surprise) but this is a good thing because the wind has kept up where we thought it would die down today. 

By early Friday morning the wind did die down and become more variable.  Our course was such that the mainsail was being flopped back and forth and we finally had to take it down and motor.  By 10am we sighted Cumberland Island and anchored around noon.  Both Bill and I were exhausted and slept for a few hours after lunch. 

Samantha has become quite a boat cat.  She knows when the engine starts its time for her to grab some food and then hole up in her travelling place in the back bunk. Last year I was concerned that she was not eating or drinking but now she appears at the bottom of the stairs and ask us "why we haven't stopped this boat yet" then goes off to eat.  When she hears the anchor windlass now she knows the trip is over and comes out on the deck to supervise the anchoring.
It is not what I would call warm here but much warmer than North Carolina