Charleston SC to Havelock NC
Once the engine was repaired we needed to schedule the final leg of the trip. Cori had a three day weekend. We needed to have the boat in her new home in Havelock on Sunday to be ready for her business trip on Monday. Checking the weather we had a forecast of "light and variable" for the next couple of days. This is not a good forecast for sailing but it would give us an easy trip. By leaving early on Friday we would arrive at Beaufort Inlet during daylight.
Tide change in Charleston harbor has about 3 knot current. In order to catch the outgoing tide we had to wait until 11:00 a.m. to leave. Running the proposed route and planned speed through the navigation software it was apparent we would arrive at Beaufort Inlet after dark. Rather then fight the tidal current it was decided to wait for the tide change and arrive at night.
On our way:
We slipped the lines when we saw the current change and start flowing out of the harbor. We motored out the harbor entrance and set course for our first waypoint. The winds were defiantly "light and variable" and there was no reason to hoist any sails. We motored at 6 knots through the day and started a three hour watch rotation. During the night we encountered several ships traveling the same route as us. Attempts to hail them on the VHF were not answered so we just made a few course changes to keep out of their way. During one of Cori's watches a dolphin jumped alongside of the boat. When you are at sea at night with the engine as the only sound around a loud splash next to you is rather startling.
During the second day a couple of dolphins appeared alongside the boat and soon we had about six dolphins racing with us and playing in our bow wave. This lasted for about 10 minutes and then they left. As we were coming up on frying pan shoals Cori decided there may be a chance of catching some fish again. She let out the line and went about her business for the rest of her watch. After I came on watch eventually I noticed the line was not only out but had all of it had been stripped off the reel. Fortunately there was a strong knot and we had not lost the line. There is a "clicker" on the reel that clicks when line is being fed out, alerting you there is a fish on. Cori had not set the clicker so we were not aware that the line was feeding out. I started reeling back in and eventually the fish on the other end came to the surface. I finally got it to the boat and got it aboard. Again it was our unidentified mackerel species. This one was big enough to keep so I set about to filet it. While cleaning this fish the "clicker' started again and we had another fish. This one was also a "keeper" and while cleaning it a third fish took our lure. This one was smaller and got thrown back and the rod and reel stowed for the rest of the trip.
As we got closer to Beaufort we started seeing a lot more fishing boats. I was envious of their speed since we still had no wind and were motoring at 6 knots. We were lined up on the sea buoy marking the entrance to Beaufort Inlet and about 10:30 Saturday evening we made the turn to follow the buoys leading us into the harbor. We had plotted our course centering between the buoys being aware that we needed to make a turn at number 19 to stay in the channel. As we passed number 16 our depth changed from 60 feet to less then 10 almost immediately. Not sure what had happened we did a quick 180 degree turn to get back where we had come from. Checking our charts and the computer we saw that we had passed too close to 16 and there was a slight course change we should have made there. Lights from another channel had confused us and we hadn't made that correction. This is the main reason I did not want to enter an unknown harbor at night, the lights are too confusing. We got lined up on our channel again and entered the Morehead City turning basin. This is where we would enter the ICW for the rest of the trip.
A big surprise:
We planned to stay over the rest of the night here and continue up the waterway in the morning. We decided to tie up at a dock on the Morehead city waterfront and worked our way over to there. After getting tied up and shutting everything down I pulled a floorboard to check the bilge. For some reason I had turned off the automatic bilge switch which comes on if there is more then three inches of water in the bilge. What I saw was a bilge about three feet deep filled with water. About another six inches and it would have been above the floorboards. I started both pumps and the level dropped quickly. With flashlight in hand I started looking for the source. It turned out that the strainer for the air conditioner pump had been rubbing against a bolt and had worn through. Closing the seacock stopped the water and the pumps finished off what was left in the bilge. You can believe that I did not get much sleep that night with frequent bilge checks.
The Intracoastal Waterway:
Starting out at 7:00 a.m. Sunday we passed under the highway 70 bridge and started motoring up the ICW. The Intracoastal Waterway is route that will take you from Norfolk VA to the Mexican border without having to go out into open water. It consists of dredged channels from one creek or river to another and channels that keep you behind the barrier islands. This section goes up core Creek and connects to Adams Creek feeding you out at the mouth of the Neuse River. After entering the Neuse we had a little wind so we decided to raise the sails and get a chance to sail. We had a very leisurely sail with a couple of other boats until we approached Clubfoot Creek and brought Hi Flite into her new home. It was not much sailing but it was our first time sailing in the New Year.
The forecast was for light and variable winds with moderate temperatures. That was exactly what we got with not enough wind to bother with the sails until the end of the trip. Again we were a slow powerboat with two tall poles sticking out of the boat.