Home->Sailing Trips->Three Days on the Lower Neuse

Three Days on the Lower Neuse

Wednesday – With it supposedly blowing 20+ out on the river, I set up the boat for full main and the 100% jib rather than my favored genoa. I got off the dock at 12:45, set the main in the creek and motored dead into the wind to the vicinity of marker 8, where I set the jib and got just enough slant to sail out of the creek. As usual, the highest winds and most confused waves were right at “windy corner”, the mouth of Clubfoot Creek, and out on the river the northeast airs were in the 10-15 knot range with an occasional gust to 20. After several days of nor’easters, the waves were substantial, but Valor powered through them and made a long board to the vicinity of Janeiro, then another to just above Adams Creek, and a third almost to Oriental. From here I short-tacked to Marker 1, then ran into the harbor, under the bridge, and up Greens Creek. I sailed onto the anchor at my usual spot, above the last house, and had sails down and stowed by 4:00.

I got dinner started, which took a few minutes since I had to disjoint a chicken, scrape carrots and chop green peppers, and then I opened the lazarette to refuel the engine. What I found was worrisome – the motor mount was cleanly broken at one end and the engine was hanging from the other end at a cant. While my chicken dinner simmered on the propane stove, I fashioned a jury rig out of a rope, a dowel and a case for a battery drill and figured it would suffice for low speed operation. With dinner getting close, I threw a small handful of macaroni into the pot and let that cook for a few minutes and soak up the broth that the chicken and vegetables had thrown off. Soon dinner was ready and I popped a second Black & Tan and relaxed. After washing up the dishes, I sat in the cockpit and watched as the equinoctal moon rose over Greens Creek.

With a kerosene lantern hung in the aft rigging, I retired to the cabin for a few chapters of Chris Schwarz’s Anarchist’s Tool Chest and piped down well before 9:00. The wind had died with the sun, and it was a completely quiet, calm night.

In the morning the first order of business was to swap out the jib for the big genoa, as the forecast was for somewhat lighter airs. I pulled the anchor rode up short, started the motor and eyed it skeptically, but everything seemed to be holding together. With main set and engine idling in forward, I broke the anchor loose – something of a job, as it was deeply and securely set. It came up with an enormous clod of black clay. I motored down the creek directly into the wind, and eventually was able to fall off to starboard and set the jib. I motor-sailed under the bridge, killed the engine and proceeded out the channel to find a decent breeze on the river. From here I was able to make one long board on the port tack all the way to the mouth of South River. With the breeze and shade of the sail, it was cool, and I was glad to tack and get onto the sunny side of the boat. Now that I was comfortable, I tied the tiller and dove below to dig the leftover chicken out of the cooler. It made a fine breakfast. Unfortunately I was out of beer and water had to suffice for a beverage.

The run across the river on the starboard tack was uneventful, and from there I short tacked around Gum Thicket Shoal and into Lower Broad Creek. By mid-afternoon I was at anchor in the mouth of Burton Creek.

This creek is home to a number of commercial fishermen - or maybe I should call them semi-pros, no slight intendended, since most of them seem to run very small operations. They run their skiffs in and out of the creek at full speed, back and forth, at all hours. I checked with a couple to make sure they didn't object to my boat anchored in their creek, and they were friendly, so I settled back for dinner, a few casts with a Mirro-Lure, a few fingers of rum, and the last chapters of The Anarchist's Tool Chest. Before turning in, I pulled the boat close up over the chain so that there was no chance of anyone fouling my anchor rode. With the wind dieing down for the evening, Valor rode peacefully and the chain settled to the bottom.

In the morning I motor-sailed out Broad Creek, sailed on the port tack to Gum Thicket Marker, and then set up wing-and-wing for a long downwind run. With gentle breezes it was an easy sail. My new preventer setup meant I could sail dead downwind or even behind the wind a hair, which helped keep the genoa full.

With the wind gradually coming around to the east, I approached the mouth of Oriental harbor and made a board out toward Adams Creek. From mid-river, I set back up wing and wing and proceeded upriver.

Looking back toward Oriental, I saw a boat coming my way under a big spinnaker, making good time. Soon it was abreast of me to starboard, and then it pulled away toward the ferry crossing.

My first thought was that it was a Lightning, but on consideration it is a bit large and husky for one. Back at the marina, Buck suggested a Tartan 10, but said he doubted that is what it was. The Tartan 10 is a 33 foot boat, and this one is not that large. At home, I checked my book of profiles - Lightning, no, this one had a reversed stern and inboard rudder. Sonar - no, the Sonar has a sharp bow and a little cuddy under the mast. J-22 - not even close, the J boat has a vertical stern, outboard rudder and cuddy. Not an Etchells, not a Bucanneer, not a Tempest. I'm stumped. If you know this boat, please email me at paul@neuseriversailors.com.

As this perhaps international boat of mystery disappeared up the river, I turned off on the port tack and headed in the mouth of Clubfoot Creek. It was an easy sail up the creek in light airs, and I got the genoa in but left the main set, just in case there was any problem with my jury-rigged motor mount. I fired up the little Yamaha and motorsailed into the marina, where I dropped the sail in a mess in the cockpit and idled in to slip 93. Another trip done, I tied lines, stowed sails and walked up to the clubhouse on a quest for ice.