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March Winds II

As Wednesday's storm blew off to the northeast to pummel the Maritimes, we settled into a beautiful sunny, breezy day at Matthews Point. I considered sailing but the winds were a bit light. Instead, I decided to make a beach trip. After a nice walk from the boardwalk at Atlantic Beach to Oceanana Pier and back, I enjoyed a ride down the coast to Emerald Isle, a walk at Patsy Pond on the trip back up Highway 24, and the drive through the Forest on Nine-Mile Road and Roberts Road. In Newport, I found the Red & White closed, probably forever, the victim of a broken freezer locker that cost them more stock than they could afford. One more icon of the old Carolina coast to disappear before the relentless power of Food Lion.

Thursday dawned to light airs that gradually got up as the morning progressed. NOAA advertised 10-15 knots out of the south, but that speed forecast didn't seem to match reality. The 10:00 AM observations reported light airs all around, but on the deck at the clubhouse suggested 20 to 25. Finally the 11:00 observations were posted - 20 to 25 with gusts to 29 at Cherry Point.

I rigged the jib and reefed main and pushed off the dock. It took a few minutes waiting for a lull in the wind to get unpinned, but eventually I got a break, gunned the engine hard on a starboard tiller and got out into the fairway. Out in the creek, I got the sails set and headed downwind out the mouth of the creek, fighting the tiller the whole way to keep the boat in line and avoid rounding up. After thrashing around a bit near marker 8, Valor settled down on a broad reach on the port side and we made a quick run to the buoy marking the barge that went down a couple of years ago just downstream of the ferry crossing. Here I chose to tack rather than jibe, waited for a lull and drove the bow across the wind. Now close-hauled on the starboard tack, it was a quick but very wet trip back to the mouth of Clubfoot Creek.

I was a bit surprised to see another boat entering the creek, under motor power and bare sticks, but later Dockmaster Tom reminded me that John Champion aboard Calliope was due in from Southport around mid-day. I dropped the jib at marker 3 but carried the main into the creek. In fact, I motor-tacked all the way in to the marina channel as the motor alone would hardly move the boat against the wind.

Back on dock around 2:00 PM, I decided I had earned a beer and got one out of the clubhouse refrigerator. A good sail.