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Designer    161

The weather has not been very sail friendly since our return from Florida.

 

The weather this weekend looks great, Carla is off to a conference in DC and Beth has volunteered to look after Mandy and my back is not hurting so I am off for a little cruise. Mandy and I sailed to Vandemere this evening in perfect conditions. The only remarkable event was just after dark when the biggest cormorant that I have ever seen flew between the masts with his landing gear down heading for the cabin top. He spooked and back pedaled and fell into the water before flying off astern. !0 minutes later another one flew into the lee side of the mainsail, falling into the water and flying off into the night.

 

Here is a picture looking west, the boat is self steering on abroad reach doing 4 knots.

58d5ea516c0db_Carlitabayrivereveningsail.thumb.jpg.274117bf955236cf72ffcd4acddf24fd.jpg

 

I am not going to announce any details because the last couple of trips have been hexed. If anyone is interested I will try to keep the Spot on and you can follow my tracks. http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0eHa05kYuBYnYvSIGGCbp4PpdXZchEvKn

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Thrillsbe    62

Is this going to be like "where's Waldo" or "where in the world is Graham Byrnes"?  LOL  How long did that sail take you, Graham?  Chick's dying to make that passage!

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Chick Ludwig    111

Yep, i spent the night anchored out in Silver lake once in Princess, my P-22 sharpie. It was fun watching the search light flash over, and listening to all of the goings-on around the harbor. And then came the North Carolina state bird---the skeeter......

 

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Thrillsbe    62

Minnesota and Michigan both have a larger version of this bird.  They don't use fly swatters to kill 'em, they use shotguns.

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Chick Ludwig    111

Well, Don, I'll repeat what I saw and heard on my cruise to Portsmouth Village (across the channel from Ocracoke). I saw a couple of skeeters carrying a big he-coon down the beach. One turned to the other and said, "We better hurry and get him home before the big boys come and take him away from us!"

 

And, we don't DARE kill one 'cause then the whole family comes to the funeral...

 

Sorry Graham---how's the cruise goin'?

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AmosSwogger    11

Good read.  Curious about the otter; I didn't think otters would frequent the sound due to the salinity levels.  Is the water brackish?

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Alan Stewart    61

Copied from Graham's PDF....

 

Carlita’s Ocracoke cruise
With a good weather forecast for the weekend promising light south westerlies and Carla out of town, it seemed
too good an opportunity to waste. I also wanted to see Steve’s construction of one of our 36’ charter sport
fisherman. A pleasant sail Friday evening down to Vandemere shortened the sail by 4 miles.
Saturday dawned clear with no wind. The Suzuki started on the second pull and we headed down the Bay River
at an easy just over 4 knots. Once clear of the river a slight breeze settled in and with three sails drawing, we
were making around 2 knots on course. As the day wore on the wind slowly increased. I furled the jib at 6 knots
and it was not long before we were hitting 6 knots under reefed main and mizzen on a beam reach.
The whole area around Ocracoke is full of shoals. The best approach is to go north of Royal Shoals and sail
south through the well marked Big Foot Slough Channel. This is the way that the big vehicular ferries go. The
problem is that you are very close hauled and depending on the exact wind angle there might be some tacking.
The safe alternative is to take the earlier Nine Foot Channel that brings you in on a south easterly course that
joins the main channel closer to the harbor. This is the course that I chose. It was fast and boisterous and a bit
awkward not being able to see the Garmin GPS in the glare. I was saved by the cell phone with the Navionics
nav program. I could not read the chart but I could just make out the route in blue that I had made and just see
the cursor and course projection line in red. All I had to do was to keep the thin red line on the wider blue line. I
managed to make it to the junction mark without tacking before bearing away to run through the entrance to
Silver Lake.
I have always enjoyed Ocracoke and being early in the tourist season the harbor was empty except for the local
boats. After anchoring and tidying up the boat I got a call from Steve to say that he has a had a morning charter
and would be available after 1 pm. I decided to eat on board and spend the morning enjoying the town.
Ocracoke is the kind of town where the traffic stops for ducks, I saw it. It is a quaint little town supported mainly
by tourism and fishing. It’s claim to fame was that Blackbeard the pirate was killed in the channel in 1718. The
shallow channels backed by Pamlico Sound was a haven to pirates like Calico Jack and Anne Bonney etc..
Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was found just south of the Beaufort Channel about 10 years
ago and divers have been bringing up artifacts ever since. They have an excellent display at the NC Maritime
Museum. Sunday morning I moved to the eastern shore into the shallow water where I put down the bow anchor
and walked out the stern anchor to the shore. This is the only part of the circular harbor that is not built up and is
right next to Highway NC12. It is a great town for walking and I meandered the back streets, around the harbor
to the ferry terminal where there was a long line of cars for the next ferry.
Steve is a sixth generation ocracokian and runs a good charter business in the summer and does some boat
building and repair in the off season. I was very pleased with his work and the hull is now turned over and has
almost finished the inside glassing and will be ready for us to finish cutting out the interior structure.
The weather forecast started to deteriorate after Monday so I decided to sail over to the ghost village of
Portsmouth, Sunday evening. I pressed Steve for his local knowledge so he took me back to his boat to give me
way points off of his GPS tracks. The shoals are constantly shifting and his track took me right over a couple of
areas that showed drying at low water. He assured me that I should have enough water. I also got to see that he
runs right across the Royal Shoals when he goes west.
By 5 pm I was on my way with a nice breeze to take me out of the harbor for the 4 mile reach to Portsmouth. The
wind went ahead and light and tricky as I reached the entrance, I assumed that it was a wind shadow. I noticed
some bubbles on the surface and together we were drifting backwards. Realizing that I had the tide against me
and there could be a ferry at any time, not to mention that I only had three hours of good light, I fired up the
Suzuki to get me out of the harbor. There was not a breath of wind outside so I just kept motoring. I set the
centerboard at 2/3 depth to reduce the draft but deep enough to give me an early warning that it is getting
shallow. I passed the first charted dry area with plenty of water but I could see some breaking water, or could it
be a tidal rip? As I got closer, it was clear that it was too shallow, I was now on my own course. I tried a couple of
hundred yards to the west as it looked the smoothest. I made all the way in okay until about a hundred yards
short of where I had intended to anchor. Bearing further west I found more water and anchored well offshore for
the night hoping to be far enough off to be away from the notorious mosquitoes. I was entertained by what I
believe was an otter as he drifted by with the current, diving and resurfacing. As I was enjoying a beautiful sunset
the mosquitoes arrived, it was time to go below.

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Chick Ludwig    111

Thanks graham. it was worth the wait. brought back fond memories of when I sailed Princess (22 foot sharpie) to Ocracoke and Portsmouth Village. Did you explore the "ghost town"?

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Joe Anderson    24

I have seen river otters in Back Bay and on the Virginia Barrier Islands. They are fun to watch. I don't think they mind the salt water a bit. Though I believe you will only find them in shallow water close to shore.

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Designer    161

I can't be sure that it was an otter because I could not see all of it at once but it looked too thin to be a seal. It was on the inshore side of me so I guess that it was not too far from shore. It was certainly within mosquito range and it was about the size of an otter. 

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AmosSwogger    11
9 hours ago, Joe Anderson said:

I have seen river otters in Back Bay and on the Virginia Barrier Islands. They are fun to watch. I don't think they mind the salt water a bit. Though I believe you will only find them in shallow water close to shore.

Pretty cool, I'm going to add "seeing an otter" to my list of incentives to get the wife to go sailing with me in the sound.:D

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Joe Anderson    24

Many years ago my wife, son and I were sailing a canoe across Back Bay. We heard a splash and looked to see what appeared to be a Sea Monster. We saw a serpentine looking head followed in about 10 feet by a serpentine loop with no head or tail visible. On board there developed a spirited dispute among the crew as to whether we should pursue the Sea Monster and attempt to photograph it or flee in the opposite direction. We heard another splash and looked to see the same apparition. We had the camera ready and began pursuit.  As we closed in the Sea Monster seemed to break in half and two river otters were looking at us.

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Designer    161

Carlita’s Ocracoke cruise Part 2 

 

I forgot to post this.

 

I chose the south side of the Portsmouth pier to go ashore in the morning. The tide was fairly high and drove the bow onto the shore and tied a bow line to a piling. In case the south west wind got up before I returned I put out a stern anchor to make sure that the boat could not get blown on to the pier.

 

I got the bike out of the port hatch and put on my knapsack loaded with water, sunblock and insect repellent.

 

There was not a sole to be seen as I worked my way through town, trying to imagine what it must have been like when about 700 people lived here. By my best guestimate the land was no more than 3’ above the water in the creek as I crossed over a wooden bridge. It must have been horrifying to be here in a hurricane as I have seen the water rise 8 ½ feet in Vandemere only 35 miles away.

 

The last two residents, elderly ladies left the island in 1972 after the last male died. Now a National Park, the Rangers have done a great job of preserving Portsmouth. All of the buildings are in good condition and the grounds are well groomed. As I was leaving I saw a Ranger some distance away, we never communicated.

 

The expected south westerly had not yet arrived so I ran the motor at a brisk idle to give me a little over three knots which was fast enough as I picked my around the shoals. Once clear of the shoals a hint of wind appeared from the south east. With the sails up wing and wing we just had steerage. I must have had about 50 dolphin sightings that morning as they came over to investigate the boat. Unfortunately our wake is barely perceptible at three knots and they soon left. Life must have been boring that morning in dolphin land as they or others kept coming back.

 

Just after noon I decided to go below for lunch and get out of the sun for a while as we were barely moving. I noticed that the GPS was showing .8 and then 1.2 knots on course. I looked out and by happenstance everything was trimmed just right and by the time I finished a slow lunch we doing three knots. The course started going north of track so I went out and adjusted left. Before long I had to adjust a lot left as the sea breeze started to fill in. I went back down below to dodge some more sun as the boat continued to sail itself. In the quiet conditions I could hear a propeller from a long way off. The only prop sound that heard was from a schooner that passed more than a mile across the bow.

 

I was hoping to get across the Sound that day but as the wind continued to freshen it became obvious that I could do that easily. The PCS phosphate barge got to the mouth of the Bay River just before me. Other than those two vessels and a crabber sighted earlier in the day we were completely alone. As I did not need to be home until tomorrow I considered anchoring up in Bonner Bay but with the forecast of a front coming through in the morning with thunder storms, having a good wind I decided to press on. The wind was right at the “should I reef now point”, as it did not increase I decided to carry on but occasionally had the rail under. As the Bay River turns left at Vandemere the last four miles were hard in the wind, conditions were so good the miles flew by. I got to our dock before dark and I could see that Alan and Nat had gone home. I did not need to be home until tomorrow and not wanting the cruise to end I put the anchor down off of our own dock and spent the night on board.

 

We covered about 80 miles on the trip and about the only thing that could have improved it would have been to have someone to share it with or to have more time spend at each anchorage and do more exploring. The good news is that I have my perfect little cruising boat that is set up just as I want it and it is ready for my next window of opportunity.

 

I used the motor much more than I am accustomed to but it allowed me to push my horizon further than I could without it. The purist could have waited for wind or rowed a couple of miles but most people have jobs or family to get back to.

Portsmouth.jpg

portsmouth1.jpg

Portsmouth2 church.jpg

Portsmouth3.jpg

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