Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cape Fear, NC to Norfolk, VA

We took the tourist’s route traveling north from Cape Fear, stopping in many of this country’s oldest port towns and sailing rivers and sounds that shaped America’s history. Evenings spent on secluded anchorages entertained with vaulting fish, spectacular sunsets, and awe-inspiring electrical storms. Docking at marinas enabled us to go on sightseeing expeditions, re-provision, host friends on the boat for dinner, and make repairs.

Beaufort, NC

By the time we arrived in Beaufort, NC (pronounced “bow-fort”) our navigation electronics were in chaos. The Sirius XM signal hadn’t worked in four days, the GPS hadn’t worked in three, and the wind indicator hadn’t worked in two. Also, the SSB radio we had painstakingly installed months ago had yet to pick up any conversations. If we didn’t fix the GPS it would be too dangerous to sail the shallow and shoaling Pamlico Sound. After four hours on the phone with Garmin’s Technical Support, David diagnosed the problem: the nonessential wind indicator display was knocking out the other systems. The electronics sprang happily to life when the display unit was shut off. Next week in Norfolk, we’d return the unit to the manufacturer for repair. That night, our Ham-operating friend John Kelly brought our SSB to life when he and his wife Jill joined us for dinner. We had a productive stay in Beaufort.

New Bern, NC

Dave and I found New Bern, NC appealing. After sailing up the Neuse River, we docked at the Hilton Marina in the heart of historic downtown. Swanky! Tryon Palace—Capitol of the Colony of Carolina in 1767—was a short walk away. As advertised, it was a place where “governors ruled, legislators debated, patriots gathered, and George Washington danced.” We visited the birthplace of Pepsi, bought line to string our safety netting at Mitchell’s old-fashioned hardware store, and shopped at the Saturday farmers’ market and local seafood house.

Departing New Bern we noticed that WILD HAIR’s batteries—supposedly—were not charging. It took us the rest of the trip to confirm the monitor was acting up and the boat’s alternator and regulator were doing just fine.

Pamlico Sound

Thirty-two knot winds on our beam drove us across the Pamlico Sound. Four foot seas on a roll made a queasy ride. Having taken down our reefed sails altogether when we passed 25 knots of wind, we were surprised to discover WILD HAIR still carried 3 knots (without the motor) because of the boat’s windage. We made the protected harbor of Spring Lake on Ocracoke by late afternoon.

Ocracoke, NC

Once anchored at Ocracoke, we inflated the dinghy and prepared to go ashore. Unfortunately, the lock on our outboard motor was corroded shut by salt water (we hadn’t used it since the Bahamas last May). Outboard motor locks are designed to be theft proof. We were unsuccessful in our attempts to saw and hammer the darned thing off. The wind, still blowing hard, prevented us from rowing the 75 yards to shore. We were stuck. Frustrated, we called it quits for the day. Early the next morning I got on the VHF Radio and called for help. “Hank” from the local marina gave us a lift to shore. He assured us we could easily "hitch a ride" back. After an enjoyable stroll with kitten Dinghy around town we found they were right! “Brian,” a young fisherman, consented to ferry us back. Neither of our gracious captains would accept a tip. We became known around town as the “dinghy-less sailors!”

Hatteras, NC

The channel leading into Hatteras Island was unnerving. Advertised as seven foot at its deepest point, we noted depths of just over five feet as rain and wind blew us cross-course. Channel markers were confusing on the charts and difficult to decipher in reality. Once in safe harbor, we were rewarded with hot showers and a great meal. We caught a man named “Risky” of “Risky Business Seafood” steaming fresh-from-the-boat baskets of Blue Point Crabs. After a brief lesson on how to break through the shells, we feasted on a dozen tasty Blue Points for $24.

Roanoke, NC

Roanoke Island is home to the famous “lost colony.” In 1584, the first English-speaking colonists settled on this island. When supply ships returned in 1590, the colony of more than 300 people was gone; their fate remains a mystery. Coconut chocolate-chip ice cream, and a replica of the Elizabeth II that brought the first colonists to America, were highlights of our stay.

No comments: