Oct 20-21: Ocean to Beaufort, NC
We departed in the wee hours of the morning for Beaufort, NC. The base was already lit and full of activity as ships slipped away for early exercises. Andrew already prepping the boat for launch, creating time for me to get as much sleep as possible given what I had been through. Very sweet!
The orange glow of sunrise grew quickly and was peaking over the water as we passed through the bay exit to the ocean, traffic running along highway US-13 below us.
Weather was perfect. There were waves but it was moderate giving me time to adapt before the winds really started to pick up later in the day.
As the westerly winds grew the captain became happy too. Andrew pulled out sails and we enjoyed cruising along with a little motor to keep us at speed.
This time we started shifts at watch a little earlier, enjoying the luxury of afternoon naps. A huge cargo ship stacked 7 containers high kept us company for a while then disappeared into the horizon.
In the afternoon while Andrew was resting I chopped nuts and fruit into small squares, ready to be made into granola. It will be a nice treat but something I would never have taken time for at home. I would have instead filled my hours with more client or volunteer work.
By evening I was still fine and ready for my evening shifts...worthy of a sunset photo (says Andrew). As night settled in we marveled at another bridge span being built across the mouth of a bay and kept a regular eye on our navigation devices...also engineering marvels.
All vessel lights visible in the pitch black can been seen perfectly on our chart plotter picked up by our AIS unit. By clicking on the vessel we can determine their speed size, direction and the name of the vessel should we need to radio them.
This evening there was one vessel far in the distance that did not appear on the charts...not ideal. Using AIS a tug identified and radioed us to see if we had information, then used radar to pinpoint its location and call them. Before long the vessel (a sailboat without AIS) move out of the main channel and out of everyone's way avoiding a potential collision.
Through the evening, shifts went well and so did my stomach. Slightly nauseous but still full of energy, I watched the sun come up on the last shift of the morning...beautiful!
Somehow you feel more at one with the ocean when wildlife join you on the journey. A couple of Manta Rays frolicked ahead of us, jumped and inspiring us forward. Shortly after we were joined by a family of dolphins, diving under the boat and swimming alongside. It was so spectacular and unexpected that we forgot entirely to take photos (sorry.) More opportunities are coming since the water temperature is steadily climbing, currently 26.5 degrees Celsius.
Shortly after we reached the mouth of the bay leading to Beaufort a 105' sailing yacht greeted us at the mouth followed by a massive chartered catamaran. A hive of activity, people were flying by in small fishing boats, families were playing at the beach, and swimmers stood waist high in the water fishing.
We checked into our slip at the marina, received a warm welcome from the sweet, elderly men that run the marina, and grabbed a bite to eat before climbing into bed. It seems there is much to see here, dolphins, blue crab, wild horses, historical sites and more. But that will begin tomorrow...after the fireworks show (celebrating our arrival of course!)