Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birds, Stars, and 2 Nights at Sea

On Wednesday the 7th of November we abandoned the comfort of River Dunes Marina in Oriental, North Carolina where we had run from the nor’easter that really never happened here. River Dunes is a luxury development in process that offers tennis courts, Southern styled cottages for rent or sale, a marina with fuel, a restaurant, a pool and a fitness center.
I would not be surprised to return here one day to find a golf course. Hopefully the owners are patient and have deep pockets. During this offseason visit, we paid $1 a foot for dockage. This compares to $2.25 charged last visit in Beaufort, North Carolina, where the fairways are narrow and the current fierce, adding to the customary drama of docking. The entrance to the manmade basin at River Dunes is narrow but carries at least the 7 ½ feet advertised. We ignored the sound advice of our friend Steve Snyder who suggested we modify our plan to anchor out by the Beaufort Coast Guard Station and take the time to head to the Cape Lookout anchorage. But this is about six miles away in the wrong direction (say, one hour each way in sailor time). Since the CG anchorage was well protected from the NW winds and several other boats had also ignored Steve and chose to drop the hook there, we chose to join them. Either as a result of the BBQ short ribs and perfect CC manhattan or the rolly wakes or surge or whatever, I did not sleep much. The freeze warning didn’t help my insomnia either. The next morning we took off after coffee for offshore, riding a favorable current out of the Beaufort inlet and raising sail. For a few hours we enjoyed a good ride until the breeze went west early, and we could not sail. Now it is over 36 hours later and we have no wind, but are enjoying the resulting flat seas for our second night underway. Crazy thing about stars at sea. There are trillions, obvious without the ambient light of the city. As civil twilight wanes, there seems to always be at least one star, or a planet, which you are convinced is a boat and where the heck did it come from. And maybe I am just lucky but regardless of the time of year of any night passage I have done, I have always seen a shooting star, and last night I counted three. This year the birds have been active, curious and frequent visitors aboard First Edition. We can count on an avian visit each ocean voyage, and this journey, so far, we have had multiple dropins from goldfinches and a larger brown bird I could not identify. Perhaps Sandy had blown these fellas North, and they, like us, are having a late start for our winter destinations.
Under power we are making decent time and our plans to make for St. Simon Inlet for a Brunswick, Georgia stop may be modified with an additional five hours tacked on to get to Cumberland Island. This former island resort of the Carnegies, electrified before every major US city but one by their good friend Mr. Edison, is the last stop before hitting the land of ballot chads and slow counting. Perhaps by the time we make landfall Florida will have determined their election results.

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