I think its useful to close up the thread with a quick after-action report, so here it is. We did the trip with no issues (besides my chronic sea sickness).
About a week before the trip I got really serious about the weather. I used the following sites (no monetary compensation, just for information): Weather Underground
(I have a basic annual membership), and NOAA
. My brother (who was crew) is an airline pilot, and he backed up my weather with NOAA's Aviation Weather
Navigation-wise, I always use GPSNAVX
for Macintosh and the associated iPad and iPhone apps (iNAVX
). I prefer raster to vector because I love charts! I had worked out four options:
1. Little River Inlet, SC to Beaufort Inlet, NC outside passing through Frying Pan shoals 12-NM slue
2. Little River Inlet, SC to Cape Fear Inlet, NC (outside at Little River, to go inside to Masonboro)
3. Little River Inlet, SC to Masonboro, NC (outside through Frying Pan shoals to ditch into Masonboro)
4. Stay inside the entire trip
For pre- and post-"Outside Travel" (specifically marina information), I used Cruisers Net
as recommended above. I also used ActiveCaptain
I expected to leave Sunday (5/19) but the weather was looking very iffy for me. Saturday (5/18) looked much better, so we all bit the bullet and compressed our weekend schedule to drive to Little River a day early on Friday, prep the boat, and depart Saturday morning. We intended to get underway at 8 am initially, but based on re-comparing the distance (123 NM) to the wind speeds, we decided to go with an average speed of 6.5 kts (using 5 kts as the minimum average speed expected). As noted by PBzeer, who said we'd probably arrive earlier than we expected, we shifted our departure to 10:30 am.
We arrived onsite, no issues until I pulled my shore power cable and took a good chunk of skin off of my finger by scraping it against the housing (ouch). After the bleeding stopped and a good heaping goop of Neosporin was applied, and after I settled the bill for the marina stay, we got to the fuel dock at about 11:30 am. By 11:45 am we were underway.
We cleared Little River Inlet, SC by 1:05 pm. It was very well marked and a good depth. There were a lot of small beaches with a lot of boats nestled up there. Obviously, the beachgoers were having a great time. We followed the Jacks or Better casino ship out to sea.
The seas were about 2 feet from the east and winds mostly from the south. My brother and I had a great time initially, but eventually we both got the mal de mer
. I've been in the Navy ten years, and I'm always sea sick the first couple of days at sea. It's miserable.
We got to Frying Pan shoals 12-NM slue about 7 pm. It was well marked with daylight available. The seas were about 2 feet, and seeing the breakers slightly to the north of the markers was pretty cool. My brother described them as mountains of water. We passed through with no drama.
Night watches were 3 on/3 off. There were isolated thunderstorms getting thrown out to sea, and we watched them to the east all night. (Before we had started the night watches, we put a reef into the sails so we wouldn't get caught unawares.) Despite the sea sickness, we had a smooth night. Unfortunately, the wind died down and disappeared - totally different than the forecasted 10-15 kts. This being my second time on the boat during night watches, I had packed a pair of headphones to listen to podcasts and music (I only used one earbud to I could maintain my Rule 5 lookout by sight and
hearing). My brother slept in the cockpit settee across from me in the chilly night - sometimes he can do some amazing things. It was too cold for me. When I slept, I did it in the warm cabin.
Sunrise found us about 20 NM from our destination. We enjoyed a dolphin show and a gorgeous sunrise as the sun passed behind the clouds. Not much traffic. A Navy ship made securite calls all night.
We pulled into Beaufort docks a little after 11 am. We averaged just about 5 kts - overall, the winds weren't as high as forecasted after we passed Frying Pan shoals. I was disappointed because I expected 6.5 kts easily, if not 7 kts, under sail alone. Instead, we motorsailed the entire way because I felt that we were possibly being bracketed by the storm front (which I expected Sunday evening and never did materialize) - I wish now that I hadn't... Sailing is more fun when the diesel isn't running the entire time!
Thanks for all of the assistance, especially from JeffreySiegel and PBzeer.