West and west then finally south

After Mile Hammock Bay and the welcoming (automatic) arms of the US Marine Corp, we beat feet for a safe spot to sit out a two-day blow. Walked to a very cool place… Where we met Sawyer. We know he’s healthy by the thickness of his neck. They also gather barnacles when they get too lethargic…it’s called cold-stunning and lots of turtle that get stuck too far north, or that get blown out of the Gulf Stream by bad weather, find themselves on beaches in sad condition. Sawyer was one of those, found on Cape Cod and flown by a volunteer pilot down to Surf City, NC…no joke. That’s the town’s name. At Wrightsville Beach, we got some projects done while waiting for the big day. A soft-core security system for the dinghy… Which works by keeping the oars both in the way and impossible to use. Always with the painting, though this was much-needed non-skid and exciting to complete before (we thought) going offshore. And of course, some chillin. We kind of fucked ourselves by not getting fuel when heading into the Wrightsville Beach anchorage before dropping the hook, renting a car and driving to New York City for Dena’s reading at the KGB Bar, which she rocked BTW!!! How did we fuck ourselves, you may ask. We got back from the city, provisioned up and discovered it was freaking Sunday, xmas eve, guaranteed that fuel dock with the nice warm showers was not going to be open, no way. It wasn’t so we sailed to Southport on a fair current and anchored in our favorite gunk hole in the middle of town. And the weather window closed. We’ve been motoring more west than south through the last of North and the beginning of South Carolina and yes, it’s[…]

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A strange trip indeed

From Oriental, we motorsailed to Morehead City’s Peletier Creek, spent a quiet, protected night on the hook, then motorsailed to Mile Hammock Bay. We made the Onslow Beach bridge opening in Camp Lajeune but a glom of other sailboats arrived just after it closed and got hung up for the half hour before the next opening. When we dropped the hook in Mile Hammock Bay we were as we long to be, in all anchorages: alone! And for those few precious moments of peaceful solitude we were truly in awe of the profound beauty of this lesson in contrast. Within moments of finishing the engine we heard the distant thumping of a pair of Marine helicopters banking on the oranging horizon to the west. The birds surrounding the boat burst into the air with a unified cacophony and a dandelion diaspora. Then, one by one, sailboats filled the sprawling bay around us. First came the Passport 40, Lola, she dropped a pile of chain and proceeded to drag that pile all over the anchorage before finally coming to a stop about 300 yards off our port quarter. Then came the big French ketch that settled in just a little too close to our starboard beam. I (James) told them as much and they picked up and grumpily moved away. I get the feeling they just wanted to see our reaction before they moved, but they moved, so that was cool. After that the great big Island Piglet lumbered in and stuck their voluminous Rocna 60 yards off our port bow. At that point we were surrounded by the very Thousandaire Yacht Clique that we let get ahead of us after the Boat Show in October. It was looking pretty grim but we knew the wind would be clocking around through[…]

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The Moon at night from Earth

A sailing adventure story should always begin with the mutual understanding, between teller and told, that truth should never get in the way of a good adventure tale. …just saying. All yards aloft before the crack of noon, S/V S.N. Nomad, once again, escapes the clutches of the lost colony at Roanoke. Temp us they did with sharks and nails and gators and pizza, but our ship, she did indeed carry us away. Through the dangerous shallows guarding Roanoke Sound from the Outer Banks and into the deep dark sunset rainbowing the western horizon. Before the limning light left completely, James pointed over my (Dena’s) left shoulder from his leaning perch in the companionway while I monitored our heading. “Look!” And look I did, and once I did, I could not look away. The full moon grew from the mist-shrouded horizon like the heart of fire, orange and solid, without a flicker. She uncloaked herself elongated and then stretched into her true roundness as she ascended. The stars never had a chance. Off watch, the searchlight brilliance peeped through the portlight cover, seared through my eyelids, and moved me on a restless counterpoint to the jagged action of the boat lifting and swinging through waves hitting the starboard quarter, one after another without pause. …without dark, without fear we sailed on and on through the brightest night of our lives. Waves, they slurped and sucked at the limits of our perception but buoyancy is how we roll on and through perigee and apogee. We sailed, broad, close, run all the points we adore but Pamlico never let us off for a second. She demanded our attention just as Luna did, only she seemed angrier and, at times, much too close. Even Sol had to wait. Eventually, set she must. But[…]

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At the speed of us

So, at the top of our fifth week underway, I’d say we were into the groove of our strange reality. The anchorages are piling up behind us and the movement of our Earth seems to flow with the rise and fall of the waves rather than the ticking of a clock. We are not only at home in this world of flux, we made it. Birds play hitchhiker to get from daymarker to daymarker. Dolphin tease us with glimpses of their rolling backs and splashes. It’s hard to wrap our heads around such details as getting to the propane place on a weekday when the weather forecast is our real timetable. The Atlantic ICW was designed and executed with power vessels in mind, so it affords a sailor few returns. But when it does…the pay-offs are big as long as we’re ready to play along. Motorsailing where possible adds at least a half-knot to our speed, and we regularly outpace our engine’s capabilities when under full sail. At this point we have put the entire rig to the test on every point of sail in all kinds of conditions and we’re both deeply impressed and comfortable with our systems aboard. The Great Bridge Route was a lot better than either one of us expected. Waiting out the after-boatshow-bumrush leaving Annapolis is the real reason we’ve had such a good time of it so far. Patience is so hard to embrace without inspiration… The wide open space between the Albemarle and Roanoke Sounds just north of Roanoke Island is perfect for CG maneuvers, giving the person at the helm a little nervous entertainment while clipping along. The Manteo waterfront hasn’t changed noticeably since we were here two years ago. This time, being as though it was my (Dena’s) birthday and all,[…]

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