We woke to a bitter cold cloudy morning in Southport Harbor. We really wanted to take on fuel, around the corner at Southport Marina, but last night on the VHF they said that they had a 100-foot motor yacht at the fuel dock and they had no idea when they were leaving. For a change starting a little later dovetailed into the outgoing current for the Cape Fear River so we were hoping that the behemoth would leave early. The marina didn’t answer until 8:05am. The fuel dock was open for business. We pulled the hook and said goodbye to our private little anchorage.
Two flawless hoists and we were flying along wing and wing at 7-8 knots in a freshening north breeze that NOAA said would die in the evening, so we thought let’s make hay while the makings are good. It was sunny but quite cold but we didn’t mind at all. This is what we paid for!
I saw some strange splashing coming towards EV on an intersecting course. Dolphins! I don’t know how fast they can swim but to me they looked like they were really working hard, right in front of the bows. (Picture missing, because the photographer was too busy yelling “Marce, Marce, dolphins!”)
We had decided to run the rumbline straight across from Frying Pan Shoals to Charleston which brought us out into the Atlantic further than most of the boats we could see. The wind backed around to a broad reach and went up to the high teens. EV was really strutting her stuff now and we were touching 9kts frenquently.
It was after dinner that the skipper was informed by the head of navigation that he had the old girl wound up and going way too fast and her carefully crafted plan allowed for reasonable deviation from standard norms, in terms of average speed, but that this was ridiculous. The fun had to stop!
Now I tell you dear Escapees, I’ve spent a good part of my adult life trying to improve the speed of sailboats, not going slower. That’s when the skipper’s razor sharp mind came up with a plan.
It was a simple plan, which is always the best. I began to think back about all the times the trimmer or after guard or wife laughed and remarked that it’s no wonder we are so slow, just look at that…we’ll say jib, just to make the point. You couldn’t get arrested trimmed like that! It’s no wonder our friends are doing a horizon job on us. So rather than reef the main, because NOAA promised the wind would be dying this evening and we are going to need that sail, we over-trimmed the jib, let the main out to spill what was now a wind in the high teens, put the propellers in neutral which alone should be worth one knot of extra drag.
She would not slow down. She just refused to go slower. We were looking at a 1am arrival at the Charleston Channel markers, still going at 7 kts. and we decided that we didn’t want to go into that busy harbor in the dark.
It was time to do in the dark what we should have done in the daylight. Double reef the main and douse the jib. Apparently this night the wind was not going to die. We headed her up into the wind and soon realized that the jib down haul was fouled up again. I carefully made my way up the side decks to the front of the trampoline becoming airborne after every wave. Marce kept Escape Velocity into the wind. After laying down on my back I was able to pull down the jib and lash it down, without being launched. I confess The Skipper was a bit shattered.
The plan provided by our crack navigation team worked to perfection and it even felt a little warmer as we turned into the Ashley River. I could feel the bed calling me and that’s when I saw the coastguard launch’s blue light flashing. Not now, not within sight of our anchorage! They were as nice as could be but five extra adults suddenly in EV poking into everything was more than our tired brains could process. Izzy took one look, tore off and tunneled into all the extra crap that is piled in the guest room and went to that happy place in her mind that doesn’t move, doesn’t inexplicably have storm troopers everywhere, and looks a lot like Western Pennsylvania. When they asked for my driver’s license I said sure and reached for my wallet…no wallet! Eventually Marce remembered that I had changed pants when it had gotten so cold and hopefully it was there. It was.
As the last guy left he said “nice kitchen.” Nice folks. We passed the routine safety inspection and dropped the anchor by 8:13am.