Leaving The Bahamas

Rose Island, New Providence, BS — 05•04•23

1430 — Anchor up. Today, we are sailing back to the United States. This will be a multi-day sail approximately 394nm to Saint Augustine, FL. The weather window is not perfect, but it does look doable. I’ll be sailing with both E Sea Ryder and Hadhammer. We will leave later in the day to avoid some light winds.

Moonrise over Grand Bahama
Nightwatch on Trouble – Moonrise over Grand Bahama

Somewhere in the Providence Channel — 05•05•23

The wind was light through the night, and we had to motor sail. Today was a little better, but motor sailing was still needed occasionally. We cleared West End Grand Bahama and entered the Gulf Stream before nightfall.

While our speed picked up a couple of knots in the Stream, the waves from the side got worse throughout the night. Trouble had pulled way ahead of the other boats I was traveling with.

Cinco de Mayo Chili Dogs
Cinco de Mayo Chili Dogs

Somewhere off the coast of north Florida — 05•06•23

I was making good time and pushed Trouble today to make Saint Augustine before nightfall. The wave angle made the trip very uncomfortable and rough. The other boats had diverted to Ponce De Leon Inlet, 55nm south of my location. Trouble and I pulled into the Saint Augustine inlet at sunset and had the anchor down at nightfall. The anchorage off Vilano Beach was easy to navigate in the falling light.

Well Worn, Bahama Courtesy Flag
Well Worn, Bahama Courtesy Flag

After clearing into the USA via the Roam App and lowering the Bahamas Courtest Flag, I crashed hard.

While solo sailing at night, I don’t get uninterrupted sleep. I sleep in 20-minute cycles, then get up and scan the horizon and instruments, and then go back to sleep for another 20 minutes. It sounds worse than it is once your body gets used to it.

Saint Augustine, FL — 05•07•23

I moved Trouble from Vilano Beach to a mooring at the St. Aug marina this morning. I topped up with water and 100 gals of fuel before picking up ball #65 in the south field. I’d stay here five days waiting for a weather window to move north.

Vilano Beach — 05•13•23

0500—Anchor up. I moved to Vilano Beach yesterday so that I could make an easy exit today without dealing with the Bridge of Lions. It’s 195nm to Charleston, SC. It is just an overnight sail.

Charlson, SC — 05•14•23

1330—Anchor down in front of The Yorktown, a WWII Aircraft carrier museum in Charleston. Hadhammer was here, and later in the day, Mer Du Jour came through, but they ended up at the Mega Dock further up the river.

Trouble anchored next to the Aircraft Carrier, Yorktown
Trouble anchored next to the Aircraft Carrier, Yorktown

Charlson, SC — 05•16•23

0550—Anchor up. We are making an overnight to Wrightsville, NC. Joining me would be Hadhammer, and Mer Du Jour decided to make the run.

Mer Du Jour Undersail
Mer Du Jour Undersail

Wrightsville, NC — 05•17•23

I worried I’d get to Wrightsville before daybreak, so I slowed Trouble down. Hadhammer had decided to keep going to Beaufort, NC. Mer Du Jour took the lead into Writssville, as they had been there before.

Trouble under Genoa Only — photo by Mer Du Jour
Trouble under Genoa Only — photo by Mer Du Jour

0835 — Anchor down in Wrightsville Beach. I got some rest and, the next day, hung out with Mer Du Jour in town, sampling local cuisine.

Carolina Beach, NC — 05•22•23

Mer Du Jour headed up the intercoastal waterway. My mast is a bit too tall to navigate it. We had some nasty weather coming, so I moved to a mooring ball at Carolina Beach. I had never been there, so I was a bit nervous. It all worked out, and the area looked well protected. The Harbour Master, Larry, came by and was very friendly and helpful with my questions about the area. I had a couple of days before the winds came, so I was able to explore a bit. Pete and Diane from EOS happened to be nearby and drove over to hang out for a day.

Trouble at the Carolina Beach Mooring Field
Trouble at the Carolina Beach Mooring Field

Subtropical Low — 05•27•23

We had a big storm coming, and while the weather models showed it as a hurricane, it was classified as a Subtropical Low, with wind gusts in the low 50-knot range.

Big Storm
Yikes – Batten down the hatches!

I had Trouble prepped and was more concerned for a few anchored boats nearby dragging into me. I saw sustained winds in the 40s and gusts to low 50s. We faired very well, but the two anchored boats near by did drag their anchors. They were lucky to not hit anything and just ended up in some shallows.

One of two anchored boats that dragged during the storm.
One of two anchored boats that dragged during the storm.
The other boat that dragged but missed hitting anything.
The other boat that dragged but missed hitting anything.

Moving North — 05•28•23

I had a small weather window to get around Hatteras, but I had to leave right after this storm had passed. The winds had calmed down, but the waves were still large. I waited as long as I could, but if I waited any longer, I would be faced with bad headwinds going into Norfolk, VA.

1545 — I waited as long as I dared and headed out. I had a couple of hours of motor to the Wrightsville Inlet. What I was met with at the entrance had me questioning my decision.

The inlet had wind blowing in, and the current was going out. This produced large standing waves that were tightly spaced. Trouble plowed through them without hesitation, but my nerves were on end as I watched Trouble’s bow come up to each wave and pierce through it, sending a small wave of water down my deck towards my helm station, with the majority of the water washing off the deck before it soaked me.

Once I cleared the inlet, I was able to get out of these walls of water. In the bay, I was met with large 6-foot waves, but once I got some sails up and on course, Trouble did well in the rough seas. I knew I had to endure this through the night, but each hour, the waves would get smaller.

Cape Lookout — 05•29•23

The morning brought calmer seas and a good wind. I could see a stream of boats on AIS coming out of Beaufort, NC, to make the Hatteras rounding. This was the only weather window for at least a couple of weeks. So, at least, I’d have company.

1500—I rounded Hatteras with thunderstorms all around me. So far, the really bad ones have been missing me.

The wind shifted further through the night to on the nose, which was expected, but we didn’t expect the waves to kick up that fast. We did a lot of bashing into this headwind and waves. While Trouble can handle this well, other boats on the radio were experiencing some rather unpleasant pounding by the waves.

Norfolk, VA — 05•30•23

0700 Coming up to the Bridge-Tunnel into the Chesapeake, we had rain and fog. It made it difficult to keep track of the large ships and pilot boats zooming around. I cleared the Bridge-Tunnel and had my anchor down in Phoebus Channel before lunch. I got some much-needed rest. I hung out here for a few days before moving on to where I would get hauled out for the summer, but more about that next post.

Dodging Ships Off Virginia Beach
Dodging Ships Off Virginia Beach
Cover Photo—Dawn leaving Charleston Harbor