Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quick Trip to Cape Lookout

We had planned a long weekend on the boat...but the weather looked a little "iffy" we made a last-minute decision to fly down late Thursday evening to avoid rain/fog on Friday morning.

We don't fly much at night - just not as many safe spots to land in case of trouble....but Thursday was a beautiful, smooth night...the instrument panel is cool at night.

It's only an hour flight - but I kept busy trying to get my camera to take photos of the pretty illuminated cities flying along below us. I never could get the settings to take a good, focused shot - the shutter stayed open too long. Since we're obviously not standing still, this is all I could manage. Kindof cool in an "artsy" sort of way...

We looked at the weather and decided it wasn't too bad for a trip down to Cape Lookout. We hadn't gone this year and I wanted to go look for seashells before the temps get too cool for comfortable beach walking and dinghy riding!

So off we were Friday morning. Forecast was 10-15knots, seas 3-5 feet and building to 15-20 knots later in the day. Shouldn't be too bad.

To get to Cape Lookout from Oriental, you have to motor a good bit down the Intercoastal Waterway. It's a nice little jig, one we've taken many times.

Good to see a little bit of house construction along the way - maybe it's a sign that the housing industry is on it's way back!!

We kept seeing a plane circling in the distance - he kept swooping down towards the water. One time- someone is just having fun. Over and over - he obviously was doing something else. As we got closer, it became clear that he was a aerial spraying operation. The trees along the shore kept us from seeing what he was spraying.

As we approached the Core Creek bridge - we were a little concerned because our mast height is 64'4"...we pay very close attention to the bridge clearance signs!

No problem on this one - we had a few INCHES to spare!

To get out into the ocean at Beaufort, there are two routes available. One has a "fixed" bridge that we've had problems getting under before - so we opted for the safer lift bridge. It's a little bit of a problem because it only opens on the 1/2 hour - so you have to hover until it opens. No problem - we throttled back and timed it perfectly. Note the dreary sky - this is 1:30 in the afternoon!

The winds and rain picked up after we got out into the ocean....note that it's just sailing!!

We got out to Cape Lookout and anchored in a stiff breeze. We were a little tired from the sail over and decided to make it an early night. I got up several times during the night to make sure we weren't dragging anchor. We had the GPS set to alarm us if we moved too much - but the good ole' Fortress anchor was stuck good in the mud! The boat lurched and swayed in the winds and waves all night. We opted not to go ashore - bummer! It really wasn't pleasant - 35 knot winds and rough waves even inside the protected bight.

So, about 8AM on Saturday, we decided to head back north - this was the only shot I made of the lighthouse....again - note that it's 8AM and the sun should be shining!! The forecast was for 20-25 knots and seas 4-6 feet. We were not relishing the thought of the sail back, but were resigned to it. I made sure everything was secure below before we left so that we didn't throw everything around in rough seas.

But, strangely, when we got out of the Cape Lookout Bight, the winds actually calmed a bit - the sail back to Beaufort was actually pretty nice - we saw 7 knots with just the jib and the seas were really not that bad most of the way.

As we approached the Beaufort Inlet - we passed a tugboat and barge going out to sea. We still had our sails up going down the channel, so I'm sure we made this tugboat captain nervous. It was strange to see a small barge like this going out to sea - mostly the barges are going on the inland waterways to deliver phosphate or other minerals mined nearby.

We determined that we should have no problem with the fixed bridge this time, because we were several hours from high tide.....but it was not to be - the clearance when we got there was only 64' - too low for us!! So, we had to turn around and go back to the lift bridge we used when we came down.

We passed a dredge and barge operation on the way - this explains the tugboat / barge going out to sea - neat to see them pull up sand and load it onto the barge.

That's about it for the trip - no terror, but no sunny walks on the beach either!

As we approached Oriental - we saw the Ladies Regatta - the winds were pretty strong - 20knots or so. These ladies were doing a fine job....

We spent Sunday just reading/relaxing - flew home in smooth, clear air....nice..


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