We awoke about 1:30am to howling wind and an odd feel to the boat. Jack jumped up and went to investigate while I took the time to put socks and shoes on, then joined him just as he came back inside.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
“I can’t tell,” he said. “It’s too dark.”
I grabbed the iPad and we both went back outside. It was the darkest of dark nights; the only thing we could see were a line of anchor lights north of us, and two more southwest of us. We couldn’t see land, or any landmarks that we normally would take bearings on to see if we had dragged. It was windy, but not any more than we’ve experienced in a front.
I had placed a marker on the iPad chart when we anchored and it was clear we had dragged in the gusts.
We both went out on deck and peered into the darkness. With so little visual information we had a hard time deciding what to do. We could see the flashing green channel marker we’d passed earlier. Using that and a little compass chart weight, we oriented the iPad on the table so we could see which way the shoals were. We were on the edge. That was one problem. The other was that in the blackness we couldn’t tell if an anchor light was on a really big boat far away or a small boat really close.
Just then one of the anchor lights started moving and a large monohull we had traversed the canal with appeared right beside us. There was muffled shouting and we could just make out that they were re-anchoring, too close to us, we thought.
We had a choice, either re-anchor or put out more rode, hope for the best and stand watch until morning. By this time the wind had died down so we chose the latter. While Jack went up on the foredeck I manned the helm. By the time we were finished, the wind was back to nothing and EV was hooked and quiet. If the wind came from the west we’d be pushed toward the shallows, but it wasn’t predicted so we took a chance. The monohull was anchored fairly close beside us, and with our additional rode if the wind came from the east, we might swing too close to them. But again, that wasn’t predicted.
Jack went back to bed and I curled up in the bridgedeck with Izzy to wait out the night. Before long, I was asleep too.
At first light I went outside to see where we were. Except for the large monohull beside us, all of the boats were farther away than we had thought during the night. The morning was calm and warm and Izzy and I watched the sunrise.
We also saw Snow White across the river closer to the channel than we were. I hailed Alan on the VHF and we discussed the plans for the day. Weather’s moving in. With our faster motoring speed, we could make it as far as Oriental, where we hope to get our mainsail repaired. It would be a long day’s run, and part of it would be in the waters of Pamlico Sound where the weather could deteriorate quickly. No thanks. We agreed with Alan to go only as far as Belhaven and wait out the weather. It turned out to be a wise choice. About an hour after we anchored the wind picked up and it’s going to be like this for the next day and a half.