Oriental, NC

11/16, 1002.7, W15-20>25-30<10-15, 57/39, sunny - We were going to have a leisurely morning and let the sun warm things up a little before getting underway, but the west wind had blown the water out and our dock neighbors in the Beneteau 465 were threatening to make some decisions that could put Grace at risk. At 6am they had a man in a dinghy sounding the canal - they were aground. If they’d attempted to leave and failed, they could have blown down on to us in 20-25 knots of wind. I poked my head out, still in pajamas, and asked that they give us 30 minutes to clear out - they agreed. We quickly topped off our water tank, walked Murphy, and cast off. With 1-1/2’ of water below her 3’ keel, Grace had no issue in navigating. We raised sail just outside the Belhaven breakwaters - 2nd reef main and jib. Grace sailed easily on a broad reach south down the Pungo River.

To cross the Pamlico River into Goose Creek we had to close haul and the wind was funneling down the river at 25-30 knots. The waves were steep and close-set - beastly conditions. One good thing about 30 knots is that Grace points like a race boat. We were worried we’d have to tack in that mess, but we were actually coming in above the mark. What amounted to less than 3 miles across was an exhausting dance with nature.

We breathed sighs of relief as we entered the canal and the waves subsided. The canal is about 10 miles long and at the other end is the Neuse River.

 Mayo’s Fishery, in the canal.

Mayo’s Fishery, in the canal.

What a difference ten miles makes! We hoisted full main and jib for running and broad reaching out the Bay River into Pamlico Sound and then kept full sails for close-hauling to Oriental.

In the last hour, we reefed the main and jib to 1st because Grace was working too hard in the chop. A couple other boats were out sailing and it was fun to have company.

At least half of the cruisers motored the whole way, which seems to me such a waste of good wind and open water. The average cruising boat is now 40+’! I don’t understand the desire to haul around so much stuff, motoring everywhere in a giant canvas enclosure bubble. 15 years ago we were among the smaller boats in the fleet and certainly the slowest. When we got in, at the end of a day, the free docks and good anchor spots were taken by the faster 32-footers (the BIG boats). Now, those nice spots are available to us because so many cruisers can’t fit their much larger boats in those places or just plain don’t want them - no shore power and no amenities. So we’re enjoying that aspect of again being the smallest boat in the fleet.

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Sure enough, we found a spot on the east side of Town Dock #1 here in Oriental. After putting Grace to rights, Dobbs and I took Murphy on a walk around town.

Later, I made roasted butternut squash and quinoa salad with dried cranberries.

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Tonight will be chilly, but it should warm up nicely tomorrow.