It looked like we’d finally have a short travel window between Chris’ and Beryl’s lashings, so we made a break for it on July 11.  We left Georgetown Landing Marina on an ebb tide to let the tide carry us out of Winyah Bay.  We’re all about letting the water do the work when we can.

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On our way out of Winyah Bay we passed this Coast Guard buoy tender.

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Seeing the buoys next to people gives an idea of how huge they really are.  The crane that is used to lift the buoys is massive.

The wind was relatively light and dead on the stern all day and night, and the seas were on the starboard quarter.  It made for a lumpy ride, but at least we weren’t beating.  The benefit to having a split backstay is that when you are helming, there’s always a backstay to hold onto when you’re wallowing.  My hands are like claws the next morning, but at least I don’t end up on the cockpit floor when a big wave sneaks up on me.

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Perhaps this fishing boat’s name is an attempt at whistling in the dark … Either way, he can keep ’em to himself, thank you.

We wanted to have sails up because, well, we’re a sailboat.  Also, they stabilize the boat and keep it from rolling too much.  But when there’s little wind or, worse yet, squirrelly wind coming from lots of directions, the sails can flog and thrash, which can stress and damage both them and the rigging.  The key in those conditions is to keep the sail area small.  That’s the beauty of having a cutter-rigged boat; we can double-reef the main and roll out the staysail to balance the reduced main.  The staysail is much smaller than the genoa and more responsive in the lighter-air conditions.  Voilà—smaller sail area that won’t flog and can still act as an “air brake” in rolly seas.  This is a technique we use a lot, and it worked to great effect on this trip.

We made such good time motorsailing with a double reefed main and staysail that we had to slow way down in order to hit the Cape Fear Inlet on a favorable tide.  We didn’t want to arrive on an ebb tide and have to buck all of that water as we were coming in the inlet.  We timed it right and got to South Harbour Village Marina in Southport, NC, at 8:30 AM.

The trip was 20 hours for 90.3 nm.

We spent two days in Southport, again waiting out weather.  We took the opportunity to refuel the boat and do some planning for our trip south later this year.

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There are some long-term residents at South Harbour Village Marina, and one of them has decorated “their” part of the dock quite a bit.  I couldn’t quite get the hat from my short-person angle but yes, it’s a yacht captain hat complete with gold braid and “scrambled eggs” on the brim.

Finally it was time to head home! On July 15 we left Southport and headed out the Cape Fear Inlet, bound for Oriental.  The trip from Southport to Oriental is a combination of an offshore leg from the Cape Fear Inlet to Beaufort Inlet and then the ICW from Beaufort Inlet up to Oriental.

It was a notably calm and gentle day offshore with light winds and small seas on the beam; our only issue was occasional rain showers that mostly bracketed us without nailing us.  It was a welcome change.  The trip up the ICW from Morehead City to Oriental was long but completely uneventful .  I must be maturing, because a combination of a boring offshore and inshore journey sounds like heaven to me now!

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At dawn we could finally see the many rain showers we had been seeing on radar.

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It fascinates me to see the columns of rain coming down from the clouds.  I like it even better when it’s far away.

We arrived at our Oriental “home,” Deaton’s Yacht Services, on July 16.  We’ll be here for the summer while we sort out some boat projects and take some trips.  It’s good to be back.

The trip was 28 ½ hours for 141.2 nm.

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We had two overnight hitchhikers who, unlike our tree frog, didn’t make it.  They were given a perfunctory burial at sea.

For the nerds in the crowd, here are the trip statistics for this season’s journey:

  • We left Oriental on October 31, 2017.  We were gone for 259 nights.
  • Countries visited:  3 (US, Cuba, Bahamas)
  • US states visited: 4 (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida)
  • Bahamian islands visited:  10 (Bimini, New Providence, Eleuthera, and Abacos-Lynyard Cay, Great Abaco, Man-O-War Cay, Hopetown, Great Guana Cay, Green Turtle Cay, and Great Sale Cay)
  • Nautical miles traveled:  2607.51
  • Nautical miles traveled to date:  6186.21