After a couple of days in the comfortable but way-out-of-our-budget* yacht club in Cape Canaveral, we moved the boat to the anchorage in the ICW again to wait for good weather for our sail north. Good weather in the Gulf Stream is wind from the south, and ideally its a bit strong to make up for the current. If you have light winds from the south and a strong current from the same direction, not much is left to sail with. We were also freshly equipped with electronic charts again, on our chart plotter as well as on a cheap new phone. We also had a freshly repaired sprayhood, dinghy and camera so we were all set!
We counted on the Gulf Stream to push us with 3 knots, plus an 5-6 knots boat speed, which should be enough for us to do the sail in 1,5-2 days. We filled up on diesel and left late in the afternoon (to get an ETA during daylight). We expected 15-20 knot southerlies for most of the way, enough for a comfortable and fast ride through the Gulf Stream.
Since the last windy sail from Nassau to Freeport, we get really serious about preparing our sail as good as possible. We tidy up everything down below to avoid having things fly around in the saloon. It is the worst thing going down below, feeling a bit seasick, and having to tidy up exploded milk cartons or free flying bruised apples and cameras. We also prepare our life jackets in case we encounter bad weather. I even baked a bread because I never feel like doing that during the first day at sea either.
The sail began great, until the wind died during the first night. We were right in the middle of the strongest current and I was very disorientated trying to steer the boat. At one point, I had the lights of the coast on my starboard side (which means the bow was pointing south) while we were moving north. It was absolutely impossible to keep a good course by sail, so we dropped the sails and motored for the rest of the night.
Somehow we never really got into the Gulf Stream. Although, when you look at the first pic above, we should have been in it for most of the way. After the first night, the current dropped to about 0-0,5 knots, meaning that we were out of the stream. We hoisted the sails and moved towards Beaufort very, very slowly in the light winds. At night, the wind dropped again, so we had to start the engine again and by the next day we still weren’t anywhere close to Beaufort! Our little destination seemed to move away from us, we never had such a slow sail. Eventually, after twice as long as we expected, we reached the famous Beaufort Inlet. Captain Blackbeard supposedly lost his pirate ship on the shallows here, so we approached with caution..
With the rising tide inside the inlet, we were sucked in with a dazzling speed. Like we already noticed in Florida, most channel markers are just thin sticks sticking out of the water. We were tired and overwhelmed by the sudden speed and almost took a wrong turn.. But Thomas was just in time to correct our course and we could drop anchor just before sunset. After this frustratingly slow sail we were more than happy to arrive and that our British friends of Bora Bora were in the same anchorage!
Beaufort is a charming little town in North Carolina. Along the waterside there is a boulevard with a couple of restaurants and bars, and further in town we found a couple of second hand marine stores. Very useful for frugal sailors like us! We found a new-to-us horseshoe buoy (we lost ours on our rough passage to Freeport) and a much-needed storm sail.
The island opposite of the town is inhabited only by birds and wild horses. On a low tide, we were able to land our dinghy on the beach and walk around on the mud. Felt a bit like ‘wadlopen’ in the Waddenzee! We stuck around for the famous Beaufort music festival (what, haven’t you heard of it?). The music was surprisingly good, and the local craft beers even better.
We stayed in Beaufort to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. There was not a lot to do so we just ate our way through all the diners and bars of the town. I think this will become a tradition for us!
*It was the cheapest slip in Cape Canaveral, with 1,50$ per night per ft (x 41ft = $61,50). Most marinas charged double that price! We don’t like leaving our boat on anchor if we are going to be away for a full day, like we did when we went to Miami.