We hope that everyone had a fun filled and safe 4th of July holiday. When you last heard from us we were enjoying the sights and sounds of the Tall Ships in Beaufort, NC. As usual I was checking the weather charts and saw that we needed to get underway as a cold front was forecast to sweep through the area later in the week and we needed to make the final push to Deltaville, VA before it arrived. So on Monday we got underway.
One would think that departing the docks are Beaufort wouldn't be a trying event, but it was. Every yahoo with a boat decided that it was a good time to take to the waters with a cooler of beer. We were surrounded by large Hatteras power boats and had a very limited view of oncoming traffic. Due to a strong current carrying BlueJacket towards the power boats, I had to back the boat out of the slip, go past the Hatterases (without being swept by the current into them) and then into the oncoming stream of traffic. Luckily there was a Boat-US tow boat stationed at the marina which played traffic cop and I was able to back out without any issues. It's about three miles to the open ocean and I've never seen more boats plying the waters with many of them not paying attention or flying through sending up large wakes which rocked and rolled and almost swamped some smaller boats. It was a mess and I was very glad to hit the open ocean.
The trip from Beaufort to Deltaville was about 260 miles and it appeared that we would be able to sail most of the way as we had beautiful winds from the SW. Once you clear the channel to Beaufort you have to head almost 17 miles to the SE to clear the Cape Lookout shoals. I love the name "Cape Lookout." I don't know if it was a lookout point or you have to look out for them. You certainly have to do the later as it's very shallow! Once we cleared the Cape Lookout shoals we turned NE towards Cape Hatteras and the Diamond shoals which are about 70 miles away. It was a wonderful down wind sail until the winds clocked to dead behind us. I hate that point of sail as you're always in danger of doing an accidental jibe (when the boom swings uncontrolled from one side to the other) due to the boat getting pushed around by the following seas. Luckily we only had these winds during the last few hours of that part of the course and when we cleared the Diamond shoals we turned to the N and had a great wind angle and the cape blocked the seas. Great sailing! We sailed towards the Chesapeake until mid-afternoon on Tuesday when the winds died and we started the motor. The skies were looking ominous so we dropped the sails.
A large thunderhead formed in front us and we were carefully watching it on radar. We could see it blossom and a line of thundershowers about 8 miles long stretched before the boat. Based upon its track we decided to just stop and let it pass in front of us. That was a good plan until another thunderhead formed along side and started bearing down on us. I threw the boat in gear and tried to get out of its way, but there was no way that we could make it. We could see the water turn white as a wall of wind descended on BlueJacket. Within moments the winds went from nothing to 60 kts (70 MPH) and the boat was heeled over at 15-20 degrees. Almost immediately we had 5' high steep waves bashing the side of the boat. I turned to the NE to minimize the effects of the wind and waves while still trying to get out of the storm. Then the torrential cold rains came and visibility went to zero. We had 50-60 kt winds for 10 minutes and then it finally dropped into the 30s. It took over half an hour to get out of the storm and I was very happy to see light colored skies. We made it through without damage.
We were near the coastline so we were able to pick up a local TV forecast which showed that there were three lines of thunderstorms. We got caught in the first one and it appeared that the second would scoot behind us, but we were in the way of the third which would arrive later that night. I called the Little Creek Marina and arranged to stay at their fuel dock for the evening.
At about 9:30 PM we headed into channel for Little Creek. There are multiple marinas as well as a good sized Navy base in Little Creek and there are lots of flashing navigation lights. Believe me, it's confusing and stressful trying to figure out where you turn and how things are laid out in dark. We even had a Navy security boat shadowing us to make sure that we didn't go the wrong way. By 9:45 we were tied up at the fuel dock, had popped open a bottle of wine and had dinner while watching local fireworks in the distance while lightening crackled through the sky.
The fuel dock open at 7 AM the next day and we had to be on the way by then. Deltaville was about 35 miles away and we had a glorious sail there. I picked Deltaville based upon feedback that I had received on a cruising news group and their suggestions were good. We ended up at Dozier's Regatta Point Marina which is a very new marina (parts still under construction) at Stingray Point. The marina is owned by Jack Dozier who produces the Waterway Guide and the Waterway Guide cruising magazine. Clearly he knows a lot about what cruisers want as its very well appointed with cruiser friendly accoutrements. There are lots of marine vendors here and I suspect that we'll get to know a lot of them. All of the external canvas needs to be replaced after 6+ years in the Caribbean sun and we're going to have the interior salon redone as the fabric is piling.
I hope that you've enjoyed the trip reports from this season and I hope that I didn't overwhelm you with them. We'll spend the next week getting the boat ready for storage and then we're flying home on the 12th. You'll probably get a few more in September when we return to cruise the Chesapeake and head up to Anapolis and DC. Anyhow, have a great summer!
-- Geoff & Sue
Log ID: 883
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