We have anchored here before (see our previous post on the trip to Cape Lookout), and I am aware of the current that flows through this area. I put out 60’ of chain in 10’ of water, so I went to bed pretty sure we would be in the same place when I got up, despite the tide change that would swing us through 180 degrees during the night.
About 1:00 am, I heard a terrific wind noise. I went up on deck, and was treated to a wall of wind and rain that totally obscured the island, less than a quarter mile away. In addition, the wind was blowing us in the same direction as the two knot current that already had the anchor chain stretched out, adding to the strain. The wind calmed after about fifteen minutes, and I went back below after verifying we were not being blown into the turning basin for the port.
The forecast called for a twenty percent chance of rain. Did I mention that we are IN the weather? It’s becoming clear that I should have studied meteorology. Maybe even micro-meteorology.
This passage included our first swinging bridge, at Onslow Beach. It opens on the hour and half hour, so boat traffic stacks up. It also pays to arrive at opening time, so you don’t have to wait around. Also, if you are late, they don’t care.
We almost ran aground in practically the middle of the unmarked channel, when I let my attention wander from the electronics. Actually we did bump the ground. I like to think I was just crushing crabs. We did pass a boat that was hard aground. He was waiting for the tide to come back in so the tow boat could get to him.
We also avoided another potential mishap when the navigator mistook a channel on the port side for the turn into Mile Hammock Bay. The error was rectified by rotating the chart through 180 degrees, thereby rebooting the navigator’s brain. The turn to starboard was made about a mile further down.
We anchored, and then pulled up the anchor and anchored again, after I checked the wind forecast and found that we were due another 180 degree wind shift. (Of course, this wind shift was due to occur around midnight.) Our original location would have us swinging too close to shore to suit me. Surprisingly, after anchoring in the deserted anchorage, I found I was tired. Basically I did no physical activity, but the mental and the stress had taken its toll.
About an hour later, the fleet began to arrive. First one boat, then groups of two and three came in. Each found their spot, but as the anchorage got more and more crowded, it got harder for the latecomers to squeeze in. Squeeze they did, and soon there were probably twenty boats, all within stone’s throw of each other.
We grilled a potato, squash and onions and a kielbasa for dinner. I was worried that the wind shift would wreak havoc on everyone’s anchors. Already exhausted, I retired around 8:00. Carol stayed up on anchor watch. Around 11:00, I woke up to greatly diminished wind noise. I went back to sleep knowing that when the wind picked back up, it would be from a different direction. About 12:30, the wind filled back in. I popped up on deck and decided that these people had done this before, as all seemed to be working itself out. Back below to sleep, with only one more look around 2:00am to satisfy myself.
This morning I was in slow start mode. After sleeping in shifts I felt fine, just could not get going very fast. Time kept slipping away, and pretty soon it was 9:00, and we were ready to go. That would put us at our destination later than I liked, and with no recourse if something happened to delay us. I didn’t like that, so the decision was made to stay here for a day of rest. After all, we are on no one’s schedule, and the wind is forecasted to ease a little tomorrow afternoon.
We spent the day reading, updating this blog, catching up on social media (a friend is about to add a grandchild, congratulations) and resting. Carol started a nap in the cockpit and finished it in the berth. I watched some more of the free air show and listened to the Marines deliver ordinance to target. (And hoped no one missed.) All the boats save one other left, and now the anchorage is filling up again. I cranked out another twenty feet of anchor chain, and the wind in forecasted to remain from the same direction all night, so no resetting of the anchor should be involved.