Sunday, April 6, 2008

A tough day at the office

Thursday morning, April 3rd, 03:00 in the morning. I have set the alarm clock and woken up, but the wind howling in the rigging does not sound very inviting. I stay in bed until almost 4:00, wondering whether it was worth it to go for the expected punishment. But then, I am not going to seek residency here in Oriental (or almost there) and I decide to go. It is 4:30.
First thing that happens is that the anchor gets jammed sideways in the roller. It's full of mud, but with the wind pushing me ashore, there is not time for housekeeping and I rush back to the cockpit. There I find the wheel blocked, and I am already imagining the worse, until I realise that I have left the autopilot on....
Finally, I am underway and I manage to clear the anchor and wash it a little bit while in the Adams creek on my way to the Neuse River in which I enter at 5:00 a.m.
There, this infamous river made me pay a hefty toll for the first passage of Papy Jovial up the river. The wind was forecast to veer East at 10 to 20, but in fact, it remains NE at 25 gusting at 30. With the engine at 2500 rpm (I don't dare pushing it more), I am making between 2 and 3 knots and it will take me more than 4 hours to get to the first corner where I begin to turn away from the wind. These were 4 painful hours. However, as soon as I turned the corner, came the reward. With the wind on the beam, I was able to unfurl the genoa and rush at 7.5 knots towards the entrance of the canal between Neuse River and Pamlico sound. Crossing the Pamlico sound was fast and I got to the south end of the Pungo/Alligator canal at 2:30, soon enough to m
ake it to the north side before dark. In fact, I reached the anchorage on the north entrance of the canal (Tuckahoe Pt) at 5:30 p.m. and used my MaxSea navigation system to anchor.
I am very impressed by the accuracy of the system. I feel like I co
uld almost use it with no visibility at all and get exactly to where I want to go. For example, while in the Pungo/Alligator canal, I could see whether I was off the middle of the canal looking at the computer screen. I wish I could find a way to have a duplicate screen in the cockpit.
Friday morning, after a windy night, especially towards 2:00 in the morning, I left the anchorage at 7:00, not really in a hurry as I only had 48 miles to go to Coinjock. Again, the forecast was for 20 to 30 knots of wind (this time from the SW) and I was concerned that the bridge over the Alligator river would not open. In fact, the wind remained all day at less than 15 knots and there was not problem. The wind only picked up as I arrived in Coinjock, but since the wind was right down the canal, I just turned around and went up the wind and the current to come alongside. No problem there and I was tied up at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Later on that afternoon, Stew and Diana arrived and we could celebrate their first time on Papy Jovial with white Barbancourt, before a nice dinner at the Coinjock Restaurant. Diana then drove home and Stew took up his quarters aboard.
On Saturday, departure at 7:35, with again a forecast of wind and rain. Again, we were lucky enough and apart from a few showers, made our way to Scotts Creek marina with good weather, friendly bridges which opened without much delay for us. We got to Scotts Creek at 3:40  in the afternoon. My backing into the slip was not pretty, but we did not hit anything and tied up safely, which was all that I could ask for for the first time into the slip. I hope I will be able to improve over time.
Papy Jovial is now home, after 1,575 miles of shake down cruising. Now starts the implementation of the already very long "to do" list.

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