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Old 04-13-2011
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First off-shore passage

Just got back from my first extended off shore passage from Marathon Keys FL to Southport SC. (I also did a one night passage from St. Maarten to Tortola, which I guess is considered offshore) I was on the sailing vessel Alobar, a Lord Nelson 41 foot cutter.

The boat was captained by Steve LaLonde (Marblehead), who is an awesome captain and great guy. The other crew was Mark Salisbury, a top notch crew and great cook to boot.

The Captian and I did the first overnight from Marathon to South Beach, where we were to pick up Mark. We hit high seas and thunderstorms the first night and got little sleep. Was able to curl up on the deck for a coupled of 15-20 minute naps through the night.

Then the three of us left So Beach and went about 80 miles out into the Gulf Stream, where even this twenty ton boat was making 10+ knots. After two overnights we pulled into Charleston, where we were suppose to meet up with another vessel.

The other vessel overshot the stream and hit unfavorable winds that delayed their arrival. We never met up with them.

We left Charleston for Oriental NC, but what little wind we had was right on our nose. With motor on we were averaging 4.5-5 knots. Our goal was to make it past the frying pan shoals before stong gusty winds were to set in, but our progress made it unlikely. Captain decided to pull into Southport, at Cape Fear.

The fog pulling into Southport reduce visibility to maybe 100 feet, so we carefully navigated our way in from marker to marker, amongst several large commercial vessels coming in and out. At one point a large tour boat emerged from the fog coming directly towards us. He was heading out on the inbound traffic lane. We had even radioed him that we were coming in hugging the red markers, but he was still right on us. When he saw us he slowed and we were able to turn out of his way.

I got off in Southport, and they planned to make the rest of the passage up the intercoastal. I had committed to sailing as far as Charleston where the other boat was suppost to have replacement crew for us, but we never hooked up with them, so I agreed to continue. Since they were going to make a relaxed passage up the intercoastal, they were fine doing it with just two. I rented a car and drove back to Charleston to catch a plane home.

The trip was exciting and a great learning experience. We saw lots of dolphins, rays, flying fish and a whale. As I sit here being off the boat for over 24 hours I can still feel the rocking of the ocean.

A great sail but always good to be home.
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Old 04-13-2011
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Dude - that is SWEET! I'm stealing this one for the BFS thread. This is what it's all about.

It looks like I'll get to do my first off-shore race in couple of months. After reading your story...I can't wait.

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Old 04-13-2011
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Yeah - the weather can get interesting around Frying Pan Shoals. On our trip from Beaufort, NC to Charleston we ended up ducking into Southport after hitting 14'+ waves and 40kt+ winds. We entered the Cape Fear River at night with opposing current and wind and literally kissed the ground when we snugged up to a slip. On our way north a few months later, doing the trip in reverse, we hit some pretty good unforecasted swells just after passing through the Frying Pan slue... 10'-12' waves pushing us from the stern. It's a bit nerve-wracking hearing waves breaking off your stern quarter while surfing in the dark, while feeling your boat surging due to their power.

That Gulf Stream is a lot of fun to ride north too. Did you do any fishing?

Congrats on what sounds like a great experience.
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Old 04-13-2011
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Good report Slayer. Dang that tour boat. Could've been a disaster.

After pulling into Charleston I suspect you didn't go back out to the Gulfstream between there and Southport. Even to go in Beaufort Inlet the GS is a pretty far treck to get the extra speed.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things y%^&*.....oh never mind. 90% of the people on sailing forums already use that as their signature! I'm not a conformist.
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