The moon was bright, its reflection creating a ribbon of light in the water of Cape Lookout Bight as we prepared to raise anchor for the trip to Charleston. It was 3:45am, our agreed-upon start time. We had chosen this painfully early hour in part because it would help guarantee our arrival in Charleston in daylight and in part to use the moonlight to help see to raise anchor. By this time, we were now 5 boats traveling together: Marianna, Windward, Sea Mist, Quicksilver, and (of course) Orion. The light winds and flat seas that had seen us into Cape Lookout the previous afternoon had been swept away by north winds that were gusting above 20 knots and building the seas to 5 feet with a short interval. There were small craft warnings through late morning. So, our checkpoint conversation that morning was one that tested our belief in the forecast. Despite the unsettling weather, the conditions were exactly what had been forecast. They were expected to lie down over the course of the day and remain calm through our afternoon arrival in Charleston on Saturday. Should we leave as planned? We decided to proceed. (Some crews were better with this decision than others.)
So, we all began to raise anchor. On Orion, we needed to use the engine to relieve the pressure on the anchor chain exerted by the high winds. As we were in the middle of this process, we got a call on the radio. Quicksilver’s anchor rode was fouled in the windlass. Cathy yelled for Dave to stop raising the anchor, but with so little chain now remaining, we had to keep the engine in gear to keep from dragging. Sea Mist already had their anchor up and was trying to maneuver in the Bight without getting too close to any of the other boats at anchor. George came back on the radio and said he would have to partially disassemble the windlass to release the rope. While we waited, Marianna made repeated calls to Windward on the VHF, with no response. Then things began to come together. Windward responded that they had their anchor up after some problems of their own. Quicksilver then came on to say they had managed to free the rode and raise the anchor. So, Dave moved forward and we finished raising our anchor. The moon, by now, had set, so it was very dark. Sea Mist had started a slow trip out of the harbor. We put our engine in gear and proceeded out ahead of them to take the lead. But it wasn’t smooth sailing yet. We heard George call another boat in the anchorage. He had made contact in the confusion of getting underway as the anchor came up. He was able to exchange contact information with the other boat before finally getting underway. So, by 4:30, we were out in the ocean with some pretty impressive following seas chasing us down the coast. We just kept our fingers crossed that these would settle down as forecast.
We managed to pull into the Maritime Center before 3pm on Saturday, Nov. 20th. We all had our stories about the trip, but the most important thing was that we had a smooth trip and were set to enjoy our time in Charleston.
Here are some pictorial highlights of our time in Charleston.
Our stay is coming to an end soon, with our next stop being somewhere in Florida. As the forecast is for lower temperatures here in SC, we're hoping to find warmer weather in the Sunshine State.