We're now in Charleston at the Charleston Maritime Center. Charleston is a great place to hang out and we're planning on staying here through the end of the month. We're expecting Halloween to be great fun as Charleston is known for it's haunted buildings. We're booked on a ghost tour for Halloween evening.
We stayed in Norfolk a little longer than we wanted to since the weather wasn't cooperating for a passage around Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Since the Cape can be a nasty place to be in bad conditions we are quite particular about the weather forecast when we go.
We skipped one weather window that looked good, but had the potential to leave us offshore in 45 knot winds if the system accelerated, which wouldn't be a pleasant thing. As it turned out, the system slowed down and we could have had a great passage, but it wasn't worth the risk.
A week later, the weather looked pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good. The weather for the turn around Cape Hatteras looked fine, but once we made the turn the forecast was for us to get south west winds at 10-15 knots for about 6 hours. Southwest winds would be right on the nose, but 10-15 knots doesn't produce much in the way of waves and we could motor straight into it.
We left on Wednesday morning. Wednesday and Wednesday night went as planned with a bumpy ride out of the Chesapeake Bay followed by an easy ride down the Virginia and North Carolina Outer Banks on a broad reach. Cape Hatteras treated us kindly and we passed the Diamond Shoal light sometime around 8 AM on Thursday in moderate winds and seas.
As we rounded the Cape, the wind slowly picked up and backed to the Southwest, right on our nose. This was expected and we hoped that it would clock around to the north soon, as NOAA's forecast predicted. It wasn't to be.
By Thursday afternoon we were pounding into 5-7 foot waves and 20-25 knot winds. Not the best point of sail for Mirasol and Captain and Crew were, um, displeased. We had expected a brief 6-10 hour stint of beating into 10-15 knots of wind around Beaufort, but this was getting very old really fast. In all, it was about 18 hours of 20-25 knot wind on the nose in big steep 5'-7' seas leaving Mirasol and crew very thoroughly crusted with salt and somewhat dissatisfied with NOAA's forecast.
Finally, on Friday morning around 4AM the cold front we were waiting on passed through and blessed us with a welcome 10 knot North wind. We left the motors running for several hours and motor-sailed with the jib only. The big main sail would slat back and forth too heavily in the light winds and confused seas. We used the time to have a nice lunch, wash down the cockpit to get the 1/8th inch of salt crust off everything, and successfully test the water maker after a summer of sitting idle. A pod of about 15 dolphins came to welcome us back into the Atlantic and played about the bows for a half hour or so. They were a welcome site and cheered the crew almost as much and the wind shift!
By 1pm motors are off, seas are abaft the beam and crew was relaxing to the "Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" on the TV.
Friday night continued with moderate north winds and we sailed and motor sailed the rest of the way to Charleston without any more drama. Early in the evening, about 30 miles off the coast a small bird landed on our decks. It was exhausted and very small, so we're not sure where it came from, possibly a passing ship. It was certainly too young to fly all that way as it was not a sea bird and couldn't rest on the water.
While birds and I don't get along very well (due to the mess they make on our decks) I was unwilling to deny passage to the poor little thing. We decided to give it passage to Charleston and not shoo it off the boat. Unfortunately, it did not survive the cold night and exhaustion so we gave it a burial at sea. (Indoor accommodations were out of the question!)
As we arrived in Charleston, another Lagoon 420 was just entering the channel, and we were pleased to see our friends Linda and Rick of MakeItSo, who were also heading for the Charleston Maritime Museum. They were arriving after a passage from Baltimore. Jan and Mark of Seas The Day (yet another Lagoon 420) spent the summer here and we are glad to see them as well. It will be a lot of fun catching up with everyone.