Tue, April 25, 2000
Well we are on our cruise of the Pamlico Sound Area. I regret to report that I
have yet to do anything dumb, but then there is still a week or two left.Anyway
we left last Thursday on a perfectly calm day and with little trouble made it
from Edenton on the west end of Albemarle Sound to the Alligator River on the
east and up the Alligator to its navigable end where we anchored at a place
called Deep Point. All was well until we decided to up anchor the next morning
and the previously peaceful winds suddenly decided to blow 20 knots, as if, on
As we left the Alligator and entered the Alligator/Pungo River canal the wind
steadily rose to 40 knots on our beam. With no sails up we were at times
healing at 10 to 20 degrees. But not to fear, just in time for us to leave the
canal the wind shifted to directly on our bow and the Pungo greeted us with 40
knots winds and steep 4 foot seas, We were stopped in our tracks several times
and generally felt like we were the insides of a pinata. We made it to Belhaven
where, of course, we were faced with getting into an unfamiliar slip in
impossible winds blowing us into a rock wall 20 feet away. Fun (see note
below)! One of us managed to do it without any damage to the boat or our egos.
The other one of us quickly drank two Martini's, forgetting the promises he had
made only moments before to God.
The next day we basically spent recovering, and followed that the following
day, Easter Sunday, with an easy trip to Bath where we joined up with many
friends. That was two days ago. On Monday, yesterday, we set off from Bath for
Beaufort on the coast, but decided to hold up 20 miles short of that at
Oriental on the Neuse because of promised bad weather.Like my promises it was
largely unfulfilled and we could of easily made Beaufort. However, Oriental is
very nice and we will probably hang around for a couple of more days.
Like most sailors we think power boaters that put up huge wakes in narrow
channels as they pass other boats (aka sailboats) that are slow and can't
maneuver out of the way because of the narrow confines are being somewhat light
of being polite. Sailors have been known to communicate this using simple hand
singles. When we tried something similar once, the big boat came to a stop,
turned around and slowly returned to our location, whereupon, its crew of 4
saluted us by mooning. Abandoning that tactic we limit our reaction to turning
around and glaring at the boat that just passed us (going the other way).
Yesterday when this happened we had to laugh, the boats name was 'SueMe'.
On a more serious note we have been following the adventures of an off shore
boat in big trouble, on VHF 16.We heard the original Mayday this morning and
thought it a fake because the caller was too calm, almost lighthearted, and
also the call was allegedly from about 120 miles away and the VHF should not
carry that far. It was real. A large sailboat was demasted and had suffered
hull damage off Wilmington NC.When we last heard his motor had also quit. A
coast guard cutter is on the way to him and should reach him in three hours. (
It is now 3:34:36 PM ). He is trying to reach Beaufort because his draft is too
great for other and closer ports. The last message from the Coast Guard to him
told him to try to keep his motor running and "Have a nice trip".
-- When sailing, anything that does not kill you is by definition fun.
Tue, May 2, 2000
Our stay in Oriental was great. We ended up making friends with David & Jean
Semonite, who were bringing their Hinckley Picnic Boat from their condo in
Florida to their home in Maine.The Hinckley Picnic Boat is a gorgeous power
boat. Low and sleek with a 350 HP Yanmar Diesel and jet drive. Very nice
interior, as well as, it should be for a 36 foot boat that runs at $400000!
Picture available at www.image-ination.com/Image25.jpg . Also while we were
there we saw possibly the ugliest boat we have ever seen, a Great Harbor 37.
This boat is almost as high as it is long. Its bow is 12 feet off the water and
its stern only 2 feet. Picture available at www.image-ination.com/Image18.jpg .
We went to Beaufort last Thursday, and had, thankfully, an uneventful trip. As
usual we loved Beaufort and generally ate too much.We ran into our son-in-law's
uncle, Tom Harper, there. (For those familiar with Beaufort, he and his wife,
own the white house raised way up, to the left of what used to be Mike's on
Front Street.) We were invited to dinner Saturday night, which was great,
especially, since my wife had been dying to see the insides. Truly spectacular!
Although we had not planned it so, our stay in Beaufort coincided with the
Beaufort Music Festival. Bands and musicians where playing all over the place.
Most 'bad', lets see, hmm, I believe 'The Frozen Shrimp'. Some quite good like
the one that featured a wooden pan flute. Loved it. We left Beaufort on Sunday
to head for Ocracoke Island near Cape Hatteras. We planned to lay over at Cedar
Creek, a short 4 hour run from Beaufort, so we left shortly after lunch. We
tend to anthropromorvize everything on the boat as in Denny Diesel, Arthur
Autohelm, David Depth Finder, well you get the idea. As we went under the high
bridge at Morehead City High Bridge preparing to enter the twisting channel
through the Newport river leading to the Core Creek cut a very large tug
pushing a huge barge pulled out in front of us. Normally this would not be a
problem as they travel faster than we do, but the laden tug stirred up the
water for miles behind it and effectively lobotomized David who insisted on
telling us we were aground in 2.7 feet of water for the entire treacherous 5
mile trip to the cut. We did not need that! Oh well, all went well and arrived
there at Cedar Creek around 5:00 to find a 'gaggle' of snow birds had already
nested for the night. The anchoring area at Cedar Creek is quite large but
none-the-less it was on the crowded side. The wind was blowing directly into
the creek so I anchored up wind from my fellow travellers, that way, if someone
dragged I would not be a target of convenience. In the category of 'best laid
plans' at dusk there was a 180 degree wind shift and we were now downwind from
all the boats. What really was upsetting is when I went outside to check the
anchor because of the wind shift I saw only one other boater bother to check
The next day was going to be a long open water passage to Ocracoke so we were
concerned about the weather. In the category of trusting God and Man, we were
happy to see a red sky at sunset, as in, 'Red Sky at Night, Sailors Delight' a
quote taken almost word for word from the leading authority quoted in The
Gospel of Saint Matthew (in translation, of course). He would not lie to us,
right! Oh my shaken faith. The next morning we rose at 6:00 AM to prepare for
the passage to Ocracoke. To confirm our good feelings from the night before's
revelation we listened to the weather channel on he VHF. The forecast was for
light and variable winds until late afternoon. So we departed with sure faith
that there would be no difficulties ahead since we should be in at 1:30 in the
afternoon. We did notice that of the eight or so sailboats that were anchored
with us, we were the first to leave, while of the same number of power boats
only one was still anchored, the rest were on their way. I wonder what that
tells me? Not sure I want to know.
Well apparently this time of year 'late afternoon' occurs at 5 minutes after
noon because at that very time it was like someone turned on a giant wind
machine. One minute before and we were motorsailing because the wind was to
light to sail outright and one minute after we were strugleing to get the sail
down. In the before minute the water was ripples, in the minutes after, it
turned into 3 foot waves.The winds were blowing 25 to 30 with higher gusts. I
never saw conditions change so fast in my life. We were 3 miles from the
Ocracoke channel and 5 miles from the Ocracoke harbor,Silver Lake, all of it
into the wind. We made it in by 1:30 as predicted but were faced with problem
that the winds were are out of the south and the public docks are on the North
side of Silver Lake. Thus we had to dock with strong winds behind us. A bad
situation under the best circumstances and this was not the best. There were no
other boats at the dock to lend a hand and though the public charge as much as
many commercial marinas no one is around to catch a line or help fend off. We
were on our own and we really needed more than four hands. Especially when two
of them belong to someone whose major exercise is pushing the delete key on
computer key board multiple times. Our first attempt failed because the rope
loop slipped off the knee high pilings (and I have short knees). We did the
sensible thing then., going around in circles in the harbor while people on the
boats anchored in the harbor shouted advice, mostly, 'use you anchor don't try
to dock'. Well being people who listen to advice we immediately tried to dock
again. Neither of us know what happened next. Something went wrong when a large
gust occurred. I did get a line around a piling then there was a sharp crack
and I was being pulled over the life lines. All ended with me on the deck
holding the line which was still on the piling. We were docked. We are still
docked. We may stay docked forever. I repaired the damage to the rub rail in
about an hour. All is well except for slightly damaged egos which have yet to
The first weather window for leaving is Thursday. Right now we probably feel
like taking the boat to shallow water, sinking it, wading to shore and take the
ferry home. But I am sure as time passes we will come to view it all as great
fun and move out to other cruising grounds.
Great boat names we have seen on this trip:
Carl S/V Spindrift
7:12:57 AM Sat, May 6, 2000
We are at the top of the pungo river at a great anchorage where we spent the
night. We will leave shortly for the Little Alligator River, and then weather
permitting back to Edenton on Sunday. It has been a great trip.
A couple things I have not mentioned:
One reason we went to Beaufort is that for ten years we have been trying to
find someone who could do a zero width end to end splice in a braided line ( we
have a single line under the deck jib furling system) and we heard such a
person was in Beaufort. When we got there I asked around and I heard that yes
there was a rigger there that could do it and his name was ... and I was
dumbfounded. His name was Lars Bergstrom. That would be sort of like a Catholic
going to a confessor only to discover the Pope. (We have a B & R rig on our
Hunter 33.5 and the B is for Bergstrom.) Of course, I was even more amazed when
I recalled that Lars Bergstrom died in an experimental airplane crash a couple
years ago. It turns out that this Lars had been apprenticed to the original
Lars for many years and was very good at his profession. BTW it turns out that
top of the line riggers get $75 per hour, and I spent all that time going to
school to become a physicist?
After our disastrous landing at Ocracoke we ended up teed up at the end of the
dock with the wind and waves beam on. Our intention was to work our way off the
dock end and then tie up beside it but the wind was too high for the two of us
to do it. The next day a man stopped by and said "Captain, it is none of my
business, but wouldn't you be more comfortable if we moved you?". DUH! So with
his help and that from a couple off a Hans Christian 38 that was anchored out
(the ones who told us not to dock) and yet a fourth volunteer we moved to a
bow on the wind.The wind was so strong that it really took all six of us. The
man who orchestrated the move turned out to be named Warren and was off a 60
foot Maxi he built himself. The boats name was "Equaria" and had a 80 foot mast
and drew 7'3"! He used a 150 pound anchor he made himself based on the Bruce
design.I went on board and was really impressed, he had a separate refrigerator
and freezer, made by himself, of course,each of which could contain two of me.
The neatest thing is he taught me how to fasten a line to a piling without
using any knots. Pretty cool!
5:37:22 PM Sat, May 6, 2000
We made the trip to the Alligator Marina without misadventure. We decided to
come here instead of anchoring out because of the temperatures in the 90s. We
wanted to use the AC - Now that is cool! Something interesting did happen
though. Kay and I have always loved wolves. In fact we went on our honeymoon to
Isle Royale National Park (an island in Lake Superior) in an attempt to see the
wolves there. We did not see them but later in the summer we did find ourselves
in the middle of a pack in the Tammarac in Northern Minnesota. Quite a thrill.
Well as some of you know the Alligator River Refuge houses an introduced
population of the endangered red wolves, as we were coming through the
alligator cut one swam across right in front of us. Another thrill!
Yesterday's passage from Ocracoke to the Pungo was something else. Leaving was
the converse of arriving. It was so still that when I loosed all lines we just
sat there. Pamlico Sound was like a mirror and aside from a few crabbers we
were the only boat on it. Which turned out to be unfortunate. A Coast Guard
boat pulled up behind us and told me that they wanted Kay and I to stand in the
cockpit while a search team with a dog searched our boat and after that a
safety team would board to do a safety inspection. To say the least we were
surprised, I thought that the police, for example, could only search your car
if they had probable cause. OK I admit I had not shaved for two days so maybe
we looked like 60 year old desperados. But not the case, when they boarded I
asked why we were picked out. The answer 'just routine'. The dog was thorough,
they even lifted it on the vee birth so it could stiff through our blankets. A
bit intruisive I thought for a routine. (Not to mention the dogs claws on our
teak floor.) Oh well, all in the interest of American Values. It is interesting
to note that the CG boat was from Hobucken. Two weeks earlier we were through
the Hobuckan cut when a Motor Yacht snagged a cable in the cut less than a mile
from the station. The boat could not get loose so they called the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard responded " Do you have any friends or relatives near by that
could help you"? We assume that they were too busy tracking down nefarious
Senior Citizens to actually help some one.
Well the safety inspection that followed was really not a safety inspection. I
did learn a couple of things though. One unbeknownst to me but observed by Kay
was that when they asked me to show them my life preservers they actually timed
the time it took to get them. (The regulations call for you to have them
readily available.) Kay said it took me 37 seconds. I evidently passed because
I was not sent to the Principal's Office. Also I learned that you not need
flares in Pamlico Sound. Now that was a surprise! Mostly the 'safety
inspection' consisted of inspecting the head, which was a probem because we do
not have a Y-valve but empty directly into the tank, from there where who
knows. Clearly the the inspector did not understand this perfectly legal system
but passed us anyway. The real controversy was over where I posted the placard
about what you could throw overboard. The short of it is, the only things you
could throw overboard is something with a hook in it attached to a
monofiliment line. We had posted the placard on he inside of the door that you
open to deposit the trash. Seemed reasonable to me but not to them, it seems
that it must be posted where it is the first thing anyone sees when they first
board your boat. A center piece so to speak.
To make matters worse Kay and I were enjoying our morning Hineken's when they
boardered us and these protectors of the public safety did not like that, Lucky
they did not know we ate red meat the night before. At one point prior to
raising the subject of the beer They asked me apart from Kay if "anything
happened to me could she find port?" Fortunately Kay did not hear this as a
class one felony would have resulted. I assured them that she was the main
pilot. Then the subject of the beer came up. I told him I had one. He asked how
many Kay had? One! To which he said "normally I would give you a field sobriety
test but since she is at the helm I won't. Evidently women can drink more than
I know I am going to *REGRET* saying this but up until tomorrow, hopefully our
last day, we have not run aground. A first for us on a cruise. I think I should
also add that with only one exception the powerboaters on the intercoastal were
extremely courteous to us in passing. The one real exception occurred today and
was remarkably stupid. Approaching the Alligator swing bridge we where second
in the line of three sailboats and trailing us a powerboat. The bridge operator
made it clear that she would open when all four boats were ready to go through.
For what ever reason the powerboat comes roaring past us and in so doing
rocking all severely. At which point he had to stop and wait 15 minutes for the
rest of us to arrive. Kay and I, of course, discussed in general terms their
genetical origins and anatomical high points. Strangely they went into the same
marina as we did and ate at at table near us. They were extremely friendly and
nice and were new to boating. They did not have a clue. We felt badly about our
previous thoughts. A lesson learned.
Variations on a theme:
We also came across
(there previous boat which they traded in on Monday's Child was 'Come Monday'.
anyway it goes with the previously acquired
'Thursday's Child' and 'Friday's Child'
One thing I am sure of is that we will never see a 'Wednesday's Child'. Well
maybe not we did come across a 'Bottoms Up'
Now that is tempting fate.
Carl S/V Spindrift
7:02:08 AM Mon, May 8, 2000
Not much to say we made it back to Edenton yesterday without misadventure of
any kind. Darn! In three days we crossed two Sounds (Pamlico and Albemarle) and
covered the lengths of two rivers (Pungo and Alligator). We are glad to be back
but a little sad about ending our trip. Saturday night we meant a man single
handling his Bristol 30 from Florida to Mass. We told him about our days
adventures and he told us that the Coast Guard certainly did not think we
were smuggling drugs on a 33 foot sailboat midday in Pamlico Sound but rather
they were looking for end users so they could confiscate the boat.I certainly
hope he is wrong and prefer my Son's explanation "They were bored." However the
same man told us that we were lucky, he also had a run-in with the Coast Guard
and they were threatening to fine him $25000 for not having the "Save Our Seas"
placard posted prominently. He has since so posted it and taken a picture of it
in place and sent it to the Guard with the hope of avoiding some or all of the
He also told of an interesting place to go when we go up to the Chesapeake.
Apparently before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was built a Ferry ran to the
eastern shore where a harbor was constructed for it by using Sunken Liberty
Ships. The ferry is, of course, gone but the harbor remains. Sounds
interesting, if true, we will have to look into it.
Two of the three marinas we stayed at had cable TV available at the slip as a
freebee. We had not seen that before. I first noticed it at the Oriental Marina
but ignored it. When we docked at Beaufort the dockhand that helped us pointed
out the cable connection as well as, as usual, the Electrical connection. I
asked what I needed to connect to it and received a look as if I had asked the
name of the country we were currently in. The answer "You don't need 30 years
of education to know that you need a Cable cable, dummy." Well he did not add
the last word but he definitely thought it. Being a quick learner I hiked to
the nearest Hardware store and purchased 50 feet of "Cable cable" and by golly
we had cable TV. My wife views this as degenerate, at best. (But I am happy not
to miss watching my episodes of 'Northeren Exposure' for the sixth time.)
In our entire cruising life we have previously seen only one dismasted boat, on
this trip 5 or 6, all in and around Beaufort. One of them, a huge boat with
the remains of a carbon fiber mast standing, as if, in shame, had
"www.livingclassrooms.org" stenciled on its boom. A lesson learned I suspect.
To make matters worse for someone, like me, paranoid about loosing our mast,
our Saturday night visitor from the Bristol told us that he had lost his mast
earlier this year when the swage fittings on his port side failed in 20 knots
of wind. He said he heard a pop pop pop and then his mast started to corkscrew.
MacGregor makes inexpensive but innovative sailboats. A few years ago they
brought out the 26x. A water ballasted sailboat that is also a planing
motorboat with speeds capable of 25 knots under power. Two years ago we saw one
in Beaufort and talked to its owner. He told us that he got strange looks when
he passed people with his sailboat while pulling water skiers. I'll Bet! On
this trip we saw 5 on the intercoastal water way. I guess they are hit even if
they look a little strange.
Carl S/V Spindrift