“This is the United States Coast Guard North Carolina with a Hurricane update. . .” When you live in North Carolina, these words over the VHF radio can make your hair stand on end. The morning can look just like the picture above. 24 hours later it can be anything but calm.
We’ve been through Mathew in Hilton Head, SC. It was 10:30PM before we left Shangri-La to fend for herself . We were sick. Just six months after moving on-board and here we were in the direct line of a hurricane. Words could not describe our angst.
Fast forward to September, 2019. Tucked into our adopted home here in Beaufort, NC we know we’re still in range of some walloping storms. Cape Hatteras, just 30 miles northeast of us is the #1 place for landfall for hurricanes churning up the East Coast. And here comes Dorian. Wobbling between a Cat 1 and a Cat 2 – she is taking her own sweet time making her way north. So what’s the plan? Where do we go? Do we pull out and have Shangri-La put “on the hard?” (lifted and placed in stands on a marina property) Or do we flee? At 9 knots, outrunning a big storm is a lot like playing baseball with a blindfold on. You may stay inside the fence, but making good choices and catching a ball would be sheer luck. One can never really predict in which direction these storms will move.
So, now what? Leaving land heading into The Big Water. Offshore. Out of sight of land. Usually longer days. What do we do? Do we just stare at the water? I mean seriously – once we get offshore what is there to do? Play Scrabble? We could. . .but being new we don’t – yet. Think about it; a 5-10 hour day rumbling along in the deep blue.
Each boat crew has their own regimen. Ours is pretty straightforward. First, since we love being offshore we are constantly on the lookout for wildlife. Things like dolphins and sea turtles. Flying fish and jelly fish. We’ve even seen otters well offshore. One time coming up from Georgia to Hilton Head Jan jumped back from the railing up on the bridge and exclaimed “SHARK!! HUGE SHARK!!” Indeed, swimming right up against our port side was a massive shark with a red tinted dorsal fin. He didn’t stay long but he sure left an impression.
It’s all about the weather. We love it inside, traveling the twisting turning ICW that occasionally blows out into huge bays and sounds. The traffic – every conceivable kind of boat, coming and going. Being close to the scenery and smelling the marsh, the riverside cedars. A friendly wave hello from front yards and docks along the way. It’s quaint and we never feel hurried. We don’t worry about the weather. Strong gales can whip the bimini and rattle the eisenglass, but the water never gets rough. 2 – 3 foot seas in the sounds. It’s easy sailing.
Outside it’s different. At the dock when we’re near an inlet the discussion sooner or later comes around to “going outside?” “What kind of seas are expected?” We listen intently to the stories, and there are many, where the forecast was for calm seas and it didn’t quite work out that way. At best the predictions we’ve followed rarely get much above 30-40% accuracy for more than 24 hours out. “Which App do you use?” is a common thread over docktails. And there are many to choose from. We’ve become weather watchers unlike any other time in our lives. And it’s always, always about the wind.Continue reading “Outside”