Offshore Into the Cold

11 Nov

Chilly willy start to the morning! But beautifully clear skies.

Chilly willy start to the morning! But beautifully clear skies.

We anchored s/v Meri just off the ICW last night around mile marker 265. A nice-looking 35-footer called Valkyrie was anchoring in a similar spot, just to the east of the channel in the only little hole of deep water. He called us up on the VHF as we waited for him to find his spot before moving in ourselves. The sun had gone over the horizon, leaving a brilliant orange glow to the south, that faded into a clear, deep blue sky overhead, with the first stars starting to resolve into view. The white glow of the chartplotter at the helm station illuminated my dad’s face as he concentrated on piloting us in the cross current.

That's Valkyrie in the background about an hour before we pulled off & anchored.

That’s Valkyrie in the background about an hour before we pulled off & anchored.

Meri, you guys look substantially bigger than us. Why don’t you take this spot, and we’ll move farther in.

The radio crackled to life with a friendly gesture from our southbound compatriots on Valkyrie. They had seen us standing by. We were bigger than them, and I gratefully took them up on their offer. We dropped the hook in a 10’ hole and watched them do the same a few hundred yards farther east, as the last of the twilight faded into night.

Captain Dennis at the helm at dusk as we anchored.

Captain Dennis at the helm at dusk as we anchored.

I cooked a chicken quinoa salad for me and the boys and we watched a few episodes of Chapelle’s Show via my computer, which we’d plugged into the boat’s clever flat-screen TV. It sits on a big hinged arm and hides behind a wooden cabinet behind the starboard chainplate tie-bar. When it’s stowed, you’d never know the boat had a TV at all. Undo the cabinet door and pull out the articulated arm and you’ve suddenly got a cozy little living room.

When we turned in around 2100, the wind had just started to fill in. Meri, for whatever reason, seems to amplify the howl in the rigging when it’s windy. Our anchor held firm (we later learned it was hooked into an old abandoned crab trap, so truly wasn’t going anywhere). It was gusty all night, and I woke up a few times to check it out. With the clearing and the wind came the cold – for the first night I slept in sweatpants & wool socks.

The dawn came early when the sun peeked over a low layer of clouds offshore. From our anchorage we could see the backs of the beachfront houses, whose occupants (if they were home – and awake) had a front-row seat for the sunrise around 0630. By then the air temperature was legitimately cold; 36F according to the local weather info, with a windchill that made it feel like 27. Even as I type this now, at 1145 in the daytime, my fingers are stiff from the chill and I’m wearing all the layers I brought with me – long underwear under my Swedish-made Lundhags quick-dry adventure pants, a long-sleeve shirt, two puffy down coats and a merino wool neck gaiter. With wool socks and a pair of rubber boots I found on the boat that happen to fit me. Outside it’s probably in the 50s by now, but the cumulative chill from the morning seems to have lowered my core temperature.

Dad joked that he felt like a cat sitting in a window box & sunning.

Dad joked that he felt like a cat sitting in a window box & sunning.

My guess is it won’t be any warmer offshore! Though maybe – the water is still in the 70s. We’re underway again, less than 20 miles from the Cape Fear inlet where we’ll go on the outside (finally). 

We pulled into the Wrightsville Beach Marina immediately after the drawbridge (for which we had to wait a full hour to catch) to top up fuel and water tanks and check the weather one last time. According to the NOAA buoys about 20 miles offshore, it’s still gusting to 27 knots, with 6-foot seas. That’s down from an overnight peak at 33 knots on the same buoy just south of Frying Pan Shoals. Further offshore, 250 miles south of Hatteras, the seas are registering at 15-feet on the weather buoy there, with winds still over 30 in the gusts. We’re on the backside now of this high-pressure ridge, and the trend should continue downward tonight into the weekend, but we’ll still have 15-20 knots from an ENE quadrant, which should make for some spectacular sailing. We’re aiming towards the Ft. Pierce inlet in Florida and hope to make landfall there by Wednesday sometime. As always, no news is good news.

I hope it stays clear so we can watch the stars tonight.

This article was syndicated from 59º North Sailing // 59º North Blog

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.

More from the AIM Marine Group