When we were in Southport, we saw that we had a good weather window to go offshore overnight to Charleston, SC. I had already had my fill of the ICW even before we started with the shoaling mess, so it was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.
On Jan. 16, 2017, we left Southport in the dark at about 5:30 AM. We hadn’t tried to navigate channels in the dark before, but it worked out well with me on the bow with a spotlight and with The Captain watching the chart plotter carefully. We entered the ocean through the Cape Fear inlet, which is notorious for having dangerous and unpredictable conditions; we were fortunate that it was quite calm, all things considered.
I joke that we are the King and Queen of Beating; this means that the wind and waves are on the bow of the boat, and the boat just pounds up and down, up and down, into the waves. It is a very uncomfortable and jarring ride. This time we had following seas, meaning that the wind and waves were behind us. I decided that this is worse, as it makes the boat wallow in the waves. Before we could get the mainsail up to steady to boat, I got seasick and was barfing all over the place. The Captain, poor man, had to get the mainsail up by himself, which is not a small job, while I took care of getting myself back together.
After that excitement, things calmed down. We have a full enclosure around our cockpit, and that made a chilly trip much more pleasant. We were still bundled up, but it was bearable. We made insanely fast time, much faster than we planned, and had to put the brakes on for a few hours around midnight so that we could hit the Charleston inlet in daylight.
Just as we approached the Charleston inlet as day was breaking, soupy fog rolled in. Of course! It was so bad that the Charleston port was closed, so 10+ huge ships were anchored or idling just outside the channel. We could see them on our instruments (thank you, AIS!) but not visually–which meant they couldn’t see us except on instruments. Scary.
We never saw land until we reached the Charleston City Marina itself, which is quite a ways up the Ashley River. The bank was only a hundred feet or so away, yet we couldn’t see a thing. It was really nerve-wracking coming into an unfamiliar port in those conditions, but we made it and successfully docked by 9:30 AM. And of course, by 10 AM the fog was gone, because that’s the way life goes sometimes.
These two days took 28 hours for 133.7 nm (153.8 statute miles).