THE ATLANTIC IN THE DARK 11.17.2017
We got up successfully at 3:15 am and were ready to cast off at 3:45 am. Surprisingly, despite the anxiety I was able to sleep. We cast off in fairly light winds and headed out to the channel in the pitch dark. I stood on the bow with my marriage saver (Bluetooth walkie talkie) talking quietly (most of the time) to Bob on the wheel. I had a high power beam search light in my hand looking for the unlighted markers giving directions so that we would stay in the middle of the channel and not hit any marks. Karen and Hugh followed close behind. The lighted markers were more difficult to understand than the unlit ones because it was difficult to understand which red and green lights went together and which ones we could ignore. It was a stressful half hour, but then we were in the Atlantic outside the channel and it was time to put up the sails.
There was an army practice bombing area right in the middle of the direct approach to the inlet. So, Hugh called ahead to make sure they were not firing and we could sail through the area. AS we passed through, we heard and felt artillery fire – which caused us to call again. They said they could see us and that we were in no danger.
The wind was honking 18-21 knots for the next 6 ½ hours. We had a reefed main sail, our jib up and the motor off! It was a challenging sail with following seas with 6 foot waves pushing us. The fastest we went at one point was 9 knots but our average speed was about 7 knots. Bob kept the wheel in the dark and muscled us on course. Because the winds were strong and the waves powerful, it took some strength to keep us from coming into the wind. We could have reduced the size of the main sail again (second reef) but Bob opted not too because the challenge was more with the force of the waves than the wind. The winds started to die down around 10:30 am - which is when the small craft advisory had been forecasted to end.
At about 3:00 PM we entered the Masonboro inlet and proceeded another 12 miles to Carolina Beach mooring field where we spent the night. There were about 8 balls in the mooring field and each ball was about 6 feet out of the water with a long pendant that was easy to pick up. I caught the line on the first try – much better than our last experience in Havre De Grace. We were surrounded by condos and docks of what appeared to be an upscale vacation home area. It was cold when we got here and we were dead tired from an 80 mile day. I made spaghetti and meat sauce which warmed up the cabin and our insides. We used the generator to warm up the cabin for the night and we were asleep by 10:00 pm.