Saturday, May 2, 2015

Mile Marker Zero: The Push for Home.

The weather in the beginning of our trip was noteworthy, absolutely gorgeous and tides were favorable for each day's run. We made five runs on the ocean, enough to convince us we are fairly done with the Intercoastal Waterway. I credit my Captain for careful planning around the natural factors to insure good passages. We passed through Georgia and South Carolina at a steady pace, no days off. It grew cooler (can't say cold) each day and we were wishing the sun rose earlier to allow for longer runs. The weather was also a bit threatening, building to foggy and windy the time we reached the South Carolina border.

It's a tough decision to make but we opted out of Charleston again this year. Pulling in there meant staying many days, it's so hard to leave Charleston. But staying just south of the city at St. John's Marina and leaving at first light allows us to make the first morning bridge in Elliot's Cut, cross the Charleston inlet at "high enough" tide to pass through Isle of Palms and all of the shoaling that follows. The weather was really lousy but we cleared Mc Clellanville and made Georgetown on a Sunday night after hours. The boat ahead of us caught our lines and we had a safe but rainy rest for the night, no restaurant or tour of town.

Methodically we trudged through the ICW up to North Carolina. Our final day involved a half light departure from St. James Marina in order to run the Cape Fear River at the closest we could come to Slack tide. Once back in the ICW the currents reversed to we we slowed down considerably. Arriving at Seapath Path Yacht Club mid afternoon was exciting for many reasons. Overconfident we had our slip in sight in this small creek, we ran aground, just as the Dockmaster radioed us to watch the shoaling in the middle. Sailors take note, the deeper water is practically in the marsh grass on the south side so hug the greens on your approach. Once secure we turned our attention to a week on land. We had a rode trip to Washington DC on our calendar and we were thrilled to have made our deadline and tied up in a safe, familiar marina.

Another bonus to our locations was getting a rental car and connecting over dinner with a NJ friend, Sharon and her delightful husband Bert. It was just the social boost we needed. Before heading north we visited Fran's Sewing Circle, owned by the sister of my oldest friend. You guessed it, Fran and staff helped me plan and cut a quilt, to be known as my North Carolina Beach House quilt. Great shop, great friends, great town. Once on our list for possible retirement homes, Willmington/Wrightsville Beach lost out because we don't like to sail the sounds.

We enjoyed our family for a brief twenty four hours, more planning and driving than time for hugs with the kids, and made our way back on April 20th. We took a lunch break in Richmond at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibit of flower paintings that ended with works by Monet, Manet, and Van Gooh. Never let it be said that my captain sits still or that he passes up an opportunity.

It rained a good deal the week we were on land and the winds picked up, kicking up the ocean again. We could not see it laying down any time soon so we scratched a run to Beaufort by ocean and split the distance by stopping in Swansborro. We made Beaufort by eleven A.M. and did not hit the Atlantic Beach Bridge for the first time in six trips. We thoroughly enjoyed town but missed dinner at the Beaufort  Grocery as there was a private party taking place. It seems to be Wine Festival season, we are bumping into it everywhere. We made the usual runs to River Dunes, Dowry Creek (clinked at Wilkerson) and Coinjock, fighting weather and winds on the Albamarle up to 26 knots. Curritick Sound was slightly better. There was lots of relief to pull into Norfolk for what we thought would be five safe days during a nor'easter, and we planned our stay with lots of anticipation. However, the Dockmaster informed us we couldn't stay that long as he had a Looper Rendezvous booked there all weekend. Really?

So, after studying the weather all evening, we made the decision to move on to Cape Charles while we could, Saturday having predicted winds of 35 knots. Make way while you can folks, right? We connected with Bruce and Jeannie on Main Break at their new marina, laughed until dark, and bid them good-bye as we elected to cast off at high tide, seven A.M. for Deltaville. Here we are waiting for the end of this ugly (but not as ugly as predicted) storm, it's Solomoms Island on Sunday, Monday its dinner with Paul and Anita in Annapolis,  and Tuesday we will be back in Rock Hall.

We left Miami on March 30 and had four weather days and a week off for a family event. If we dock at home on May 5 as planned, the trip will have taken 28 days of travel, only two of which did we sail. We were a few weeks ahead of the snowbird pack, running with mostly delivery captains. The weather was colder than we enjoy as we got north and it is crab pot season now. But, when it's time to leave, we never dally around, we make for home and don't look back, forget the "journey" philosophy we usually embrace. Still we enjoyed each day of our return trip and we had no mechanical trouble, no caught-in-a-storm moment, just a successful 1300 mile run dotted with a few visits with friends along the way. Time to focus on Delaware Beaches and the grandkids, enjoy spring sailing on the Chesapeake and plan the next trip.