Across the Albemarle to Buck Island in position 36:16.053N, 075:57.393W

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 11 Jun 2009 00:16
Crossing the Albemarle should not to be considered in high winds as the waters are shallow and when blown against the current very nasty conditions prevail. We were lucky that the gentle southwest breeze was not going to cause us any problems. Our 2 hour transit proved to be smooth. The southerly quadrant breezes were forecast to continue so we were quite relaxed.
Once across we headed for our intended overnight anchorage just to the north of Buck Island a small marshy area that had sufficient depth off the fairway to be safe from ICW traffic. However, ahead the sky was blackening rapidly as another storm brewed. Great streaks of lightening could be seen forking downwards to the ground in front of us a distance away. We decided to just pull off the channel we were in and anchor to sit out the storm before heading into the anchorage a couple more miles further on.
When it looked to have cleared we motored the last few miles and set the anchor with 3 ft under the keels.The holding was as usual pretty good. Within 30 mins 4 other craft had joined us, including 2 single-handers, all anchored in a close group facing southwards, so being nicely sheltered from the south which was where the wind was forecast to be from. Our friends brought across some pilots and charts for us to look through before dinner. Then the rain started again as another storm front seemed to have arrived. This lasted a couple of hours before fading away leaving the anchorage relatively calm.
Shortly after we had turned in for the night the wind suddenly (in seconds) increased to gale force from the north where we had less protection. Pretty soon we were bucking up and down in the short steep waves from the half mile fetch. The wind was sustained at the same strength and whilst we had no fear of dragging any distance the proximity of other yachts was more concerning. This situation lasted about 30 mins in total before the wind subsided almost as quickly as it had come up and we went back to bed again where our resident mosquitoes were eagerly rubbing their proboscises together awaiting our return.
The weather bulletin retrospectively announced the extreme conditions as a "gusty front" running ahead of thunder storms on the N.Carolina-Virginia border. We didn't have any more thunderstorms overnight but we clearly need to keep a sharp lookout for these "gusty fronts" !