Four days offshore, Beaufort to Fernandina Beach

Beaufort was a terribly tight anchorage, which is what we’d heard and why we’d chosen the dubious charms of Morehead City each and every other time we’ve come through the area. We watched the weather carefully and, along with a whole bunch of other cruisers, decided that the weather looked good for leaving on Wednesday, November 16. We were going to aim at Florida and, by sticking close to the coast, have multiple options for inlets once the weather started getting ugly or we just felt like stopping. Unlike most of the others, we waited for the seas to lay down a bit and took the beginning of the afternoon ebb instead of the last of the morning one. We finished the engine exiting the bar from Beaufort and the boat rose to the occasion. We were full sail for most of that night but as we approached the northern reaches of a cape called Fear we started shedding sail area like it was female laundry in rebooted Star Trek movie. That was probably for the best, since we still had uncomfortably choppy seas…steep, quick, no fun…as we approached the southern end of the Frying Pan Shoals off Cape Fear. It was demoralizing so early in the trip and had us remembering our original plan, which was to go inside at Wrightsville Beach and take the ICW to Cape Fear’s south side. Oh well! We were sailing and the boat was driving herself. We could take a bit of a beating as long as we didn’t have to start that fucking engine…and we didn’t. Things got better on the lee side of the shoals, but we were spooked enough that we didn’t take the straight-line course to the Florida coast. We swooped toward the South Carolina coastline, coming within ten[…]

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ICWooWoo

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a bizarre lesson in the surreal. …The (all too) real… …And the, “I’m totally done with this shit!” If you’ve been with us you know we like to anchor our boat… and the more remote the anchorage the better. Sometimes in the ICW we’ve anchored in the packed… And sometimes we got it all to ourselves without a single boat in sight. The McMansions that dominate the view to one side of the compass… …are simply forgotten on the other. Because we prefer a safe, secure, but empty anchorage, we end up stopping in some strange places. Sometimes, though, the ICW and weather constraints put us in queue with other southerly travelers. A combination of the forecasted storms and our desire to avoid repeating parts we’ve done too many times already sent us the Alligator and Pungo River route, rather than around to Manteo in Croatan Sound. We still lost most of the traffic by being so damn slow, and only two other boats chose to stop before the Ditch portion of the river. Our anchor held securely and we watched the Full Beaver Moon total eclipse very early the next morning…then went back to bed. By the time we took off, things were looking pretty good up in the river. And even a sail-assist doesn’t make us fast. The part of this journey that feels interminable, the motoring-sailing through ditch part, is almost over. We’ll be heading offshore from Beaufort Inlet and both our pace and our mileage should improve greatly! The boat and her systems are performing beautifully and our heading is a preferable South. On and on we go, like life itself, with the wind and the change.

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…And where are you now?

Here…Now… My (James’) mother died in the early morning hours of the 7th of November 2022. Goodby Mom. She was an amazing woman. If you know me you have heard a thing of two about her. If you don’t, well, you’ll probably just feel sorry for me because that’s what we do as humans… if we can’t empathize we sympathize. Thank you in advance. Today is a day without my mother in the world. Tomorrow will be another. The image above (Shot by Dena Hankins) is most likely the last photograph she ever saw. Goodby mom. I will miss you. …at 0330 Dena and I woke to watch the Beaver Moon go into full Lunar eclipse. Goodby my mother, I will miss you.

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NY-VA Days 2 & 3: go, no-go

I (James) was sailing at night on a black sea of choppy gremlins sneaking across my bow illuminated by the insane but receding Atlantic City. From the time I popped my rib until it was impossible to stop, from there on out it was about being as relaxed as I possibly could. As awake as I possibly could be. As hands-off as I could be while not fucking up. Cetacea (and Dena’s trim) performed to perfection. The boat sailed a straight line south down a stereotypically sloppy Jersey Shore and it’s almost as if Cetacea just begged me off of trimming any sail and fucking us up all night long. Have I mentioned that I fucking love this boat? I know that I’ve mentioned loving Dena and her trim! The multitudinous stars were alive that night and I can’t remember seeing a single satellite…not a single one. How weird is that, Elon? When I (Dena) went below after my 0300-0600 shift, we were at the decision point. It was the last possible moment for a comfortable and safe ride into Cape May, and James declined. He took his first short watch and I came back up at 0700 in a grey-light world that soon grew a sun. The second go-no-go point was for heading up the Delaware, but James had found a comfortable mix of cat, anti-inflammatory and painkilling pills and he wanted to keep going. He was mildly bewildered by what looked like a bunch of boats rendezvousing right next to the ship channel going up the Delaware, but I took the next watch before they revealed their purpose. In weirdly modern fashion, I watched a group of AIS signatures hover at the edge of the channel, as shown on the chart, until a ship went by. Then I[…]

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NY-VA Day 1: And off we go!

We went to Port Washington on glass water in a thick forbidding fog that engulfed our little world all the way to Manhasset Bay. That’s where the gloom released it’s grip to let us anchor and sleep. It was a terrifying necessitous experience. Only one beautiful moment remains in my (Dena’s) memory. The fog was so thick that visibility at water level was less than a quarter of a mile, but it thinned overhead enough for a beam of sunlight to penetrate and gleam on the water. The softly waving water surface became riddled with catspaws for a moment and I saw silvery lace curtains, blown in a gentle breeze. Port Washington is familiar to us. Groceries, laundromat, and good eats within an easy walk of the town dinghy dock, it’s been kind of a favorite for the past few years. But the town’s harbor plan has been hijacked by the corporate non-entity marina machine, and that has had a rather dramatic effect on the overall feel of the place. They (the town of Port Washington) used to have a bunch of moorings sponsored entirely by the city, free for 72 hours. As a cruising sailor, you could roll up on one of those moorings on a Friday and live the good life for an entire long weekend for free! Now I (James) don’t really know if it was a direct cause and effect relationship, but shortly after the nightmare-multinational-marina-conglomerate takes over two of the local marinas…all the sudden the town doesn’t think they should be leaving that good rich-boater money on the table anymore. This year they started charging after the first “solar” day. Well, fuck a bunch of that – we anchor our boat. Of course, that means that when we decided to take the late-night fair current[…]

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