(Atlantic Ocean – South Carolina Coast)
We had planned to exit the inlet and start our offshore voyage today, but this morning’s weather check revealed gale force winds offshore so we were, once again, confined to the ICW.
Cruising today we saw the scenery change from the marshes of North Carolina to the swamps of South Carolina. We also saw a lot of bridges that our mast would not fit underneath. Our mast height is 60 feet, and while most large bridges are constructed with 65 feet of clearance underneath, you meet many a bridges along the ICW that don’t meet those specifications. These bridges are then draw bridges or swing bridges and require you to call ahead on the VHF to request the bridges next opening. Some bridges open on predetermined times, say every half hour, and some, open on signal. The swing bridge pictured below was an open on request bridge.
I thought getting away from the dock meant the tools would go away in storage, only to be seen on rare occasions. Man was I wrong. Work on the outdoor shower actually started on Friday when we motored from Wilmington Marine Center to Carolina Beach, and today it continues as Greg installs a new line and shower head. Remy kept busy too, by whipping the ends of some of our running rigging. This keeps them from unraveling or fraying. With the calm waters, I baked a loaf of bread.
As our next anchorage town got closer, Georgetown, South Carolina, Menno and Greg got to talking and somehow convinced each other we better just get going and head out on the ocean now. The weather had been consulted, and while the winds still looked pretty strong they were going to calm down a little by 8pm. Or as Greg put it while talking on the phone to Menno, “Ya, it’ll be a little mental at first, but then we should be good.”
With the decision made, we put a double reef in the main and the jib and headed out the Winyah Bay entrance onto the Atlantic Ocean around 4pm.
Well, mental is one way to put it. With the wind blowing well over 20 knots and regular gusts of 30 knots we were in for one hell of a ride. That’s not to mention the incredibly choppy seas. 6-8 ft short period swell with absolutely no rhyme or reason. I honestly didn’t know what Oceanna could really handle, but after today, I know she’s one tough girl. We regularly had both bows under water, waves crashing into the bridge deck windows, and the odd wave even made it over the side across the cockpit in the back.
I hate to have to admit it, but I was the weak link in this first installment of our journey. The boys took turns keeping Oceanna on course – which is no easy feat as you’re constantly correcting for the swell – Greg taking the first shift and Remy the second. All the while I was on my own shift, of vomiting. Yup, the sea sickness got me. I felt a bit uneasy and thought it would pass, but unfortunately I was wrong. By the third puke I had my system mastered. I had been sitting at the helm with Remy (Greg was done his 2 hour shift and was trying to get a little shut-eye) and the sun was going down, which meant our navigation lights needed to go on. The switch for which is inside. I was already feeling a little green since my last rally and thought might as well kill two birds with one stone. Inside I went, down the port stairs, flicked the needed switches on the electrical panel, back up the stairs, out the door, grabbed my bucked, and assumed my puking position. Third time was the charm though.
With the sea sickness behind me I sat with Remy and watched the windex (a wind direction and speed indicator, not the blue cleaning liquid). We both watched as the gusts started to subside, but both not voicing what we were seeing because we didn’t want to jinx it. Just like clockwork though, 8 o’clock hit and the wind and seas became manageable. With the worst behind us we were ready for our first night offshore.
(Note: the last photo is of Eyra shortly before we left the inlet. There are no pictures or video offshore today, the last thing on anyone’s mind was to grab a camera.)