Oriental to Charleston, Part II
|Aletheia in her glory|
When we last left our heroes, they were having an epic dinner aboard Aletheia lying at anchor at Wrightsville Beach.
Both the captain and I really wanted to do some offshore sailing and yet among our many compatible aspects -- we are both fairly conservative sailors. Neither of us would make the jump offshore in adverse conditions just to say we had done it. In addition, though we spent the night right at the Masonboro Inlet, the Frying Pan Shoals extended well out into the Atlantic between us and Charleston. We would have had to sail fairly far offshore before we could turn to the southwest and make for our destination. In fact, many sailors traversing the East Coast will come inside between Masonboro and Cape Fear just to avoid having to go out and around those shoals.
As keen as we both were, it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to go offshore from Wrightsville. We
|Wrightsville Beach Anchorage|
We left Wrightsville Beach early on Sunday morning and ran down to Snows Cut. The Cut crosses over to the Cape Fear River and is often a difficult stretch. At one narrow point, again against the tide flow, we were maxed out and creeping along barely more than a knot over the ground. We had a little help from the sails and got through it - ever so slowly. After the cut, the ICW angles across some shallows to join the Cape Fear River. On the river, midday Sunday, there were no ships in sight, but we finally sailed through ship infrastructure; range marks, bigger bouys, and a large natural gas terminal.
|One of the last bouys outbound|
It would be twenty five hours or so across to Charleston, we set the auto pilot and decided to take three hour watches once it got dark. Often an auto pilot won’t steer a sailing course because it can’t read or react to the wind. Our wind held steady though, and the autopilot steered all night. Our timing was tight and the Captain wanted us to stay within a half mile of the rhumb line to avoid a bunch of extra sea miles. Holding close to the rhumb line though precluded sailing for comfort and my watch at dusk was really rolly. For three hours the boat never stopped moving for a second. We were rolling heavily from side to side plus the normal forward and back motion. I began to feel a little green around the gills. When Wade relieved me, I went below to nap and was down there about 15 seconds when I climbed right back up and leaned over the rail. I don’t remember ever being sick on a boat before. Any way, bless the fish, here’s my supper. I posted 4 mini videos on YouTube of our time at sea here.
The sea moderated and it was a beautiful sail overnight to Charleston. Somehow all along the entire trip, our timing had always been good; just when we needed it most. We hit Charleston Harbor just as the tide turned in our favor. We sailed dead downwind up the channel as the Monrovia-flagged Primavera container ship passed us. We had talked with someone on the ship’s bridge, and promised to stay well to starboard as she past.
All along our trip we were often stared at and photographed. Aletheia is a distinctive beauty. Her junk
Once in the harbor, we had to make for Elliot Cut to get over to the Stono River and the St. Johns Yacht Harbor, Aletheia’s new home. One bridge on Elliot Cut doesn’t open for boats during rush hour for commuters. To wait it out, we anchored across from the City Marina, the very marina where Wade and I had met three years ago on another boat. After waiting, we hauled anchor and slogged our way through another channel with a squeeze point and a current against us. The marina had closed before we could get there, so we anchored just down river from them, under another bridge. The sun was just going down Monday evening as we made supper and anticipated our formal arrival the next day.
|St. Johns Yacht Harbor under the bridge|
We had made an epic run from early Sunday morning to sundown Monday: left Wrightsville Beach; down to Cape Fear; out into the ocean; sailed all night; arrived at Charleston Monday afternoon; waited for a bridge; and finally anchored right near the marina. Then Tuesday settled in at the marina before an eleven or twelve hour road trip into the wee hours Wednesday morning. After a nap, we took the rental car back and had returned to Aletheia about an hour before my buddy, Brian, called to say he had arrived for lunch. Badass.
Wednesday evening I had a pleasant dinner with Wade and his Charleston friend, Nat, whom I had first met with Wade when they stopped by s/v Eleanor three years before. Thursday, we ran some errands around town and Wade dropped me off at the Greyhound station for my trip back to Florida and my boat, s/v Emma. The trip was just what I needed to recharge my vagabond soul. I am working my to-do list with increased vigor. My new trucking gig is seven days on, seven days off; good for getting on with the boatwork. In addition, while I was away, the marina’s mechanic was aligning and installing my engine! My boat project is way ahead of where it was when I left! What a time! Good sailing with a good friend on the good ship, Aletheia. Life is good; so good. How many good’s can fit into one paragraph?
That good. Thanks, Wade.
|Aboard Emma with my Aletheia Hat!|