Heading Down Faster

After Okracoke we were able to run down a few much faster legs outside.

Okracoke to Morehead City was a rough one with breezes on our tail and the waves on our side making everyone a bit queasy. (Except for Annika, who spent the day blithely reading Harry Potter in her cabin and didn’t understand why her fellow crew members had all turned green).

Morehead City to Wrightsville was a dream, but a cold one, with the winds in just the right place for a zippy daysail across the bight.

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Wrightsville to Cape Fear on the inside down the Cape Fear River was quick, too, as we hit the tides just right and went into the river just as the tide started roaring out. We had speeds over ground of better than ten knots.

We went in at Southport again because the winds outside had set to the southeast. Lots of dense fog. One particularly annoying 65′ bridge took off our masthead light. Damn! Past Myrtle Beach and down to Georgetown, SC, in the mist.

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And then conditions seemed favorable to go outside again for a quick trip down to Charleston, about fifty miles away. The day dawned bright and clear with that warmth in the air that lets you know that they day won’t have much chill for long. We followed some friends on a Morgan Out-Island called “Windseeker” down the bay and out into the big blue again.

Kerry and Josh, on Windseeker, were also planning to head for Charleston, so Chris figured his day would involve spending a great deal of time trying to beat them to the inlet or grumbling about how they were beating him. But once we got out into the ocean the conditions seemed just perfect for a much longer trip right down the coast to Florida, so… after checking the weather one more time with Josh, we altered our course slightly southward for a direct line to St. Augustine.

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Things all fell into place at once. The winds were favorable, the waves gentle, the sun warm, the sky clear, the very air seemed to sparkle, and as we edged out, pods of dolphins came to play under our bow. They were the best.

That night was actually Solstice, the longest night of the year, and we took it in two-person watches through the night, Chris and Mimi to midnight, Steph and Annika to 0530, and Chris and Mimi back on for dawn. We could feel the warm breeze off the gulf stream in humid puffs all through the night.

The morning found us well past the halfway mark, but still about thirty miles offshore. Over the horizon the land was curving in to meet us, though, and we made St Augustine by 4PM that afternoon, just about 33 hours after setting out. Picked up a mooring ball at the City Marina, and marveled that we were finally – finally – south.

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