Bad Weather Always Comes Early

Tuesday November 13, 2012

Up with the sun this morning the plan was to make the 60 mile jump from Beaufort, NC to the Masonboro Inlet near Wrightsville Beach, NC.  The weather report was calling for 5-10 knot winds through most of the day until five in the evening when things would really pick up and start blowing 20-25 and increase waves to 5-7 feet.  Nothing that Serendipity can’t handle, maybe an uncomfortable ride, but we were planning on dropping anchor around that time so all was supposed to be well.  The winds were predicted to be so fair in fact that Rode Trip was going to wait an extra day and then follow us out since they didn’t want to use their motor.  Winding our way through all the channels we were back in the Atlantic around 7:30 am and there was a low swell with winds under 10.  The motor went on and although the mainsail was also raised it wasn’t doing much to help us out at the moment.  After a few more dolphin sightings we started our nap shifts and Matt was down below in the comfort of bed while I stayed above and tried to stay warm.  The temperatures had dropped from high’s in the 70’s to highs in the 50’s and although it’s not unexpected for us anymore it’s never any fun.

When it was my time for a nap I promptly passed out and besides stirring a little bit to tell Matt had also unfurled the genoa I was comatose for three hours.  I could tell the winds had raised and the waves must also have as well because it was becoming an obstacle to get my foulies back on as we rocked back and forth.  Making my way up on deck the winds were reading the 20-25 that was predicted, but four hours early.  Trying to stay on the high side of the boat I kept my spot as Matt asked to go back below as he never actually slept earlier.  Sitting out there by myself I got into the motion of the boat as it would rock from one side to the other.  Then the winds kept picking up and the rocking became even steeper to each side.  Watching the degree of heel, the boat speed and the wind speed keep picking up I began to get a little anxious.  Thinking I could slow us down and level us out a little I let out a bit of the headsail.  All this did was to bring our speed from 6.5 to 7.2.  The heeling didn’t stop either.  Since the winds were now a steady 30 knots I called down to Matt that his nap was up and he needed to come back on watch with me.

Noticing the conditions getting worse we rolled in part of the headsail.  This did slow us down a little but now it was the waves that had me worried instead of the wind and speed.  We were going in a direction that both wind and waves were on our beam and every fifth wave would throw us way on our side until the rail was in the water and then we’d right back out.  I don’t think my legs have had as much exercise as holding my body up against the high side, fortunately I started using steroids for muscle growth.  We were both tethered in at this point and it’s not likely that either of us would make our way out in the water but each time that fifth wave came I held my breath and prayed for land.  Double checking our course on the chartplotter Matt did notice that I had set the waypoint incorrectly, about 10 miles south of where we actually wanted to be.  Fixing that mistake and setting our new course this shaved an hour and a half off our expected arrival time and was not only nice because it would have taken us out of the waves but we were also getting close to sunset and any less time spent in the dark was fine by me.  While the wind blew over our side at a constant 35 now with gusts up to 40 I counted down the minutes until we’d be safe inside a jetty.  It eventually came with an interesting ride through the channel in the pitch black knowing those jetties were surrounding you but not being able to see them at all.  The anchor was dropped and we were safe for the night.  75 nautical miles traveled in 12 hours.  A new personal record for Serendipity.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning?

Hideaway passing us in the morning.

The waves never look big in photos.

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