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Almost Christmas December 24, 2013

Posted by Katherine Harms in Cruising.
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We departed New Bern on Thursday, December 19. The weather forecasts made us believe that it might be very uncomfortable to try to make it to Charleston before Christmas. 10-15 knots on the nose is like riding a galloping horse. Add another 10 knots and it just isn’t fun anymore. Our planned destination was Wrightsville Beach, where we would check the weather and make a go/nogo decision.

It was a lovely day for it. Cold, but sunny. We made good speed over ground until we entered Adams Creek. There we encountered an opposing current that slowed our speed by a knot, even more at times. At the same time, the wind, predicted to be 5-10 from the southwest, picked up speed and changed direction. It averaged 20 knots directly on the nose. In the channel of the ICW it didn’t make big waves, but it did impact our progress.

We were slowed enough that, by the time we reached Morehead City, we had decided not to make our planned fuel stop. We wanted to get out of the Beaufort Inlet before dark. We had previously called the fuel dock at the Morehead City Yacht Basin to find out how late they were open. As we approached Morehead City, we called them again to let them know we had decided against this stop. We had a couple of other concerns that they cleared up for us. In the past, the railroad bridge that crosses the channel to the inlet had normally been open, but when we passed through last summer, it was on a different schedule due to repairs; we learned that the repairs were all complete and it was open again. We also remembered that last summer the inlet was being dredged due to aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy. We didn’t want to traverse the narrow path left around that ugly dredge. We were happy to learn that the dredging was complete and the dredge was gone.

We traversed the inlet as the sun was setting. We turned south, bound for Masonboro Inlet.

At this time of year, daylight hours end shortly after 5PM. As we left the inlet, dusk had fallen, and soon it was truly dark. I heated some leftover roast beef and made hot sandwiches which we ate as the evening chill set it. Then we sipped soup from our huge meal-size soup cups and observed happily that the wind had fallen under 15 knots. Dead on the nose, but well under the 20 knots we had feared when we were still in the ICW. I cleared up from supper, made sure Larry had his lifejacket on and his tether handy, and then I left him on the first watch.

When I got up at 10PM, the moon had risen. It was almost full. Night watches seem long and dreary when there is no moon, but if the moon is shining, they aren’t bad at all. Larry took his nap, I took the second watch, and before I knew it, he was back in the cockpit. When I came up around 4AM to take the fourth watch, fog had developed.

Because the moon was so bright, and the fog was not very thick, the glow of moonlight was evident even through the fog. I listened for securite’ calls, but there were none. The first time I heard anyone on the radio was a 5AM conversation between an incoming freighter and the Cape Fear pilots. They were on the other side of Cape Fear, no threat to me. I kept a sharp lookout for lights, too. As I said, the fog was patchy, and cleared occasionally to allow a good view of surroundings. Most of the time I could see lights on shore. I made my securite’ calls, but nobody answered. That was good.

We arrived at the Masonboro Inlet after sunrise. It is well-lit, and I had seen the lights in the dark when we were still more than ten miles away. Everything is better in daylight, however, and we easily made our way in. We dropped the hook south of Mott’s channel.

After we established internet connectivity, I checked the weather. The forecast predicted rising winds Saturday afternoon through Sunday and Monday. All from southwest. Right in our path. And things would get worse come Christmas Eve. We decided to stay put till after Christmas. As things have turned out, it looks as if we planned well. It is now Christmas Eve and the wind has been roaring already for 24 hours. However, it appears that things will calm down Christmas afternoon and give us a nice window for our southbound journey starting Thursday. That is the plan.

Saturday morning was foggy, and the photo below was made shortly after sunrise that morning. On the seaward side of the channel, the sun’s side, the fog was clearing, but on the other side, it was quite foggy. I tried to get photos of the beautiful misty marsh, but I’m not skilled enough to capture it the way I wanted to.


During the day on Monday, we saw an extremely odd cloud. I’m sure real meteorologists would understand it. We knew a front would pass on that day, but we have experienced many frontal passages, none of which was marked by a cloud like this one. I guess I need to try to find out its name. For now I’ll just share the magnificent sight.


Sunday evening the sunset was glorious. Here it is for your enjoyment.


More news later when there is news to share.

Merry Christmas to all!