Monday, February 16, 2009

This photo was taken in June of 2008 while we where having lunch at Wade Shores.

November and December Sail

Good fortune has had several interesting sails this winter in North Carolina. The November sail was out the inlet and south west along Atlantic beach to see dolphins. The wind was gusting to 30k and we sailed with a doubled reefed main and jib. We knew that there was a frontal passage coming so we tacked around and headed back into the inlet. As we sailed in, rain started to stream down from the clouds to the north west. Unlike summer rain this appeared to be wispy in appearances. A quick look at the color radar revealed snow rather then rain. The front came through blowing about 50K with driven snow. Sailing in 50 knots of wind with snow is not my idea of tropical sailing, but the passengers where from a northern climate and saw nothing unusual about the afternoon sail. In fact they thought it was very exciting.

December brought another extended trip to Shakelford banks. We spent time in the maritime forest and then walked over the dune to the beach. The winter beach was vacant and festooned with winter shells. The find of the day was a nutmeg shell (Cancellaria reticulata) in very nice condition. I have found many of these in the sub-tropics but this was the first one I have found in NC. We shed our coats and finally our shoes on a day that felt like spring.

Early February brought news of a beached Wright Whale on Cape Lookout. I assembled a few interested locals and hoisted sail for the Cape. Once out the inlet it was clear that our journey was going to be a little tougher then the weather service had indicated. The forecast was for light winds from the north, what we found was 20 knot winds from the west, kicking up a nasty sea that would follow us out and pound us on the way back. We decided to sail down-wind to the "bight of the cape" and have lunch while hoping for the predicted wind shift. We ate down below in the heat of the cabin and emerged after a great lunch to find the wind had increased from the west. I knew it was going to be a long motor-sail home. A phone call let us know that the whale had beached about four miles south of our position . I knew the whale was on a small sand island off the very tip of cape lookout and not a place one would venture near, with gale force winds blowing right on to the beach where the whale was located. It was time to return, and we did ever so slowly against six foot waves about 3 seconds apart. Good fortune barely made 2.5 knots motoring into the prevailing conditions, but after about two hours of slamming into the waves we made our turn and headed into the inlet. Again, every one had a great adventure, Captain Ron was a little stressed. We did see the whale on the evening news with a great photo shot the day before when the wind was not blowing as hard. Timing is everything.