August 5, 2013 by Last Star blog
So we tuck into Murrells Inlet with a sweet forecast to take us to the Cape Fear river the next day. Getting outside is a mixed blessing (see post about the bad impeller) as you get out if the ICW and get the opportunity to sail a bit, save wear and tear on the engine, and obviously don’t buy diesel; in the Bahamas where diesel was almost $6 per gallon we joked that each hour sailing was one more free Kalik beer at a bar.
Well this morning we woke up at the crack of dawn, as a huge thunderstorm was tearing up the Myrtle Beach area and sleeping was no longer on the agenda. We got up, had our “cold rations” and made preparations to go “outside” and sail to the Cape Fear inlet, approx 60 miles. I plan our sailing at 6 knots per hour as the boat can go faster but you don’t always get what you want from mother nature or tidal currents. This would be a 10 hour day. Sometimes we go faster and we get there earlier–then its happy hour and a Kalik–see above. Well the pre-dawn thunderstorm KILLED the forecast wind so as we motored out of the Murrells Inlet there was no choice but to find the pink line on the Garmin and turn to our heading and hope for the best. Well the Atlantic had other thoughts in mind. Fair winds and following seas…..sounds nice for sure. Thing is when there are following seas and no winds or at least not fair then you get rocked and rolled and basically kicked like a can down the street. The autopilot struggles with the surging waves, there was NO wind to fill the sail(s) to give the boat more stability. When the sails are full and the wind is tugging/pushing it along then you smooth out–not today. By 9:00 AM we knew we would be in for a long day. We tried the head-sail around 10:00 for about 45 minutes but to keep it filled with the light wind and surging waves we were too far off heading. We had to make the inlet by 4:00 to not get crushed by the 3 knot current outbound that the Cape Fear can generate. So we watched the GPS arrival time, tried to take naps, cursed the weathermen–all of them. Their Gods too. My two “go to” sites said we’d have good winds all the way there. Trust me that sailing is sooo much better than the diesel rattling away all day long.
Well with 15 miles to the inlet the wind had finally filled in a bit so we tried the head-sail again. The wave action was just too rough to bring out the main and risk a jibe or having the boom switch sides—always bad. All we needed was about 15-20 degrees different heading from the weather Gods. The stronger wind just added to the confused seas but we did pick up an extra knot over what the engine was giving us. After 8 hours of getting hammered up the backside (so to speak) we finally made Cape Fear (only to see another sailboat leaving and heading straight into the waves head on, another type of misery that real cruisers will slip departures to avoid).
We motored up the Cape Fear river with an extra knot of current and returned to an anchorage where we were battered by a thunderstorm last fall. By now the wind was 20 knots out of the south so we looked for shelter on the other side of the little island. The little island is very low and for some reason covered with birds? It offers little shelter but will have to do. As we settled in we were able to grab a local news channel and it seems there is a “cold front” falling apart here in North Carolina and the reason for the odd weather today and gusty southerly breezes. Who knew. Tomorrow 2 hours tops to Carolina Beach and a slip with AC and power.
Art Dictator says I’ve been remiss in kitty photos so here’s two of Mini. There is an old recipe of “Pheasant under glass” well below you’ll see something similar but with a cat and pexi-glass.