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Late Fall on the Neuse

Feather Jim at the tiller, photo by Paul Clayton.

Saturday - Drove down in rain showers and arrived at marina around 4:00 to find wind blasting out of the the SSE. Tom said it had been doing this all day and sporadically raining. Feather Jim was up from Florida and we had a beer in Feather's cockpit and chatted for a while. I repaired to Valor and had a light supper, then took apart a couple of Stanley bench planes purchased at the Burlington antique mall and rubbed them down with penetrating oil. NOAA weather at Cherry Point reported steady winds of 20 with gusts to 31 as of 6:00. Cedar Island reported gusts to 39. Later it began to rain steadily and the wind died off, but weather radio warned of heavy thunderstorms in the area and possible tornadoes.

Sunday the wind came back and blew hard all day, gradually veering to the north. I saw Bill Brinson at the clubhouse and commented that I was surprised ferry service hadn't been suspended on the sound due to the wind, but Bill told me they don't suspend service for less than 55 knots. By afternoon the temperatures were falling and we had a sub-freezing night, with frost on the docks Monday morning.

Tornadoes had been reported in Jim's Florida neighborhood and he was concerned that his mother's house might have been damaged, so he started making plans to drive home. Tuesday dawned with a blue sky, moderate temperatures and a nice northwesterly wind, so we decided to take a quick sail on Valor before Jim started his drive. We short tacked out of Clubfoot Creek, something I avoid single-handed, but with an experienced sailor for crew we made an easy time of it. Then we set out on a long board downriver. It was a great day for a sail and we made good time. As we reached the half-way mark to Oriental, we saw a ferry coming up the river. It turned out to be the Floyd J. Lupton, one of the boats assigned to the Cherry Point-Minnesott run. The Lupton was almost certainly returning to the Neuse River after putting in emergency service on one of the Pamlico Sound routes during the Bonner Bridge outage. The NC Ferry Service was stretched thin with the Stumpy Point-Rodanthe route in effect, but turned in an admirable performance.

We turned back and made another long board on the starboard tack and sailed in the mouth of Clubfoot Creek. With crew it was possible for me to drop and stow sails as we motored into the marina, a great convenience. Jim and I went up to the clubhouse for a beer and a chat with dockmaster Tom, then Jim went back to Feather to pack. He left after dark for the 10 hour drive back to Florida.

Wednesday morning I would leave Matthews Point as well, to get a couple of days work in before driving to Florida myself to visit my parents in Ocala. David Howard was at Blackbeard, and he invited me to stop in on my way home and have breakfast. I pulled through the club gate around 9:30 and found David hard at work in the clubhouse kitchen turning out a fine repast. After eating, we walked the docks, always a pleasure at this sailing club. Many fine boats lined the docks, including a classic old Cape Dory 30, tiller-equipped, with a clubfoot jib, in immaculate condition. I saw Bill's Cabo Rico Sea Byrds, but no sign of Harrison's Stella Maris.

Back on the road, I made a good trip home and was in the office 8:00 Thursday morning.