Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gale Day

On Sunday forecasts called for gale force winds & waves starting Tuesday evening through Wednesday. We decided to take advantage of the intervening weather window and head out again into the ocean on Monday. At sunrise we hoisted the outboard onto the stern rail mount (home made), the dinghy up on deck and the anchor up (that's a lot of hoisting for so early but the previous evening I was outvoted to use the last hours of sunlight to go ashore and shower instead...). We headed down the Wilmington river and out into the great blue. With a full genoa we ran almost dead downwind in 18knots and following seas of 5feet. While these wind & wave directions have caused us difficulty in the past, this time is worked because the wind was strong enough to hold the sail on tack even against wave rocking. We made great speed, averaging about 7.5knots and topping out at 10.2knots riding a wave. We were really satisfied to be back out into the ocean versus the monotony of motoring the ICW day-after-day. I think it was also a confidence boost to prove that we have not lost our hard-won ocean mettle.

We arrived at our intended inlet earlier than expected and decided to bypass our planned anchorage and take advantage of the incoming tidal current to make significant bonus progress. Total mileage for the day... 55 nautical miles (typically we average about 40)!

While the weather was only supposed to turn Tuesday evening we resisted bumping out again and instead erred on the side of caution, motor sailing inland, making it almost to the Florida border. Ultimately the weather was great all day (even easier than Monday) and we totally could have gone out again but no regrets. We dropped anchor in a marsh creek at sunset, positioning ourselves for the impending north winds and letting out extra chain for the expected 40knots gusts.

Exactly as predicted around 19:00 the wind kicked up. While the marsh provided excellent wave and current protection it provided almost no wind protection. We rocked and rolled all night with the wind howling outside. This made our poor dog Dexter very nervous and he was up almost all night pacing around and breathing heavily. We kind of half slept and I got up & out a couple of times to make sure everything was OK. Stepping out into it was a blast of cold air to the face (they did say it was a Canadian cold front).The wind indicator showed 32knots. The chain was pulling hard but we were secure. I felt really bad for anybody actually out on the ocean in this.

By Wednesday morning the worst was over (or maybe it just seemed that way in the light of day) but winds remained very strong so we declared it a "gale day", like a snow day where you get to stay home from school or work. We slept in, Cassandra made pumpkin & spice scones in the oven (even while the boat rocked). The delicious aroma was great to wake up to (yes I had kept sleeping). We read, scrap booked, relaxed, listened to the radio. All in all a good day, even if we didn't make any progress south.

Nice neighbourhood! The sailboat in the distance is on the ICW.

Mmmm... warm pumpkin scones... drool....

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