Norfolk to Fort Lauderdale Day 3 - The Battle of Cape Fear

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Sun 5 Feb 2012 23:59

Position           33:50.22N 077:18.37W

Date                2359 Sunday 5 February 2012


The rain certainly rained this morning but after a leisurely breakfast and hot showers all round it cleared and Gary, Greta and Brian set off in the car provided by the dock for a supermarket and I briefly explored the delights of out of season Beaufort.  The main street has some great looking buildings and what is reputedly a good maritime museum, closed of course.  I look forward to returning later in the year if we pass this way.



Back on board there was a lunch courtesy of some additional provisions.  Greta thinks that there is a bag sitting in the fridge at Pilot House with the rest of the intended lunch victuals; resupply was therefore useful.  Something to which Gary may look forward on their return.


The front passed through during the morning and we slipped at 1425.  It was certainly easier getting away in the daylight than arriving in the dark.



Clearing the channel we were actually able to switch off the motor and sail, 20 knots of wind on the quarter giving us a pleasant 6½ to 7 knots which was maintained through the night and the following day.


We took on the US Navy and whilst we may not have won it was a distinct draw!


For heavens sake it is Sunday, don’t these sailors have homes to go to and anyway why does it always have to happen in the dark?


Two aircraft carriers, one escort vessel and a positive plethora of other grey funnel craft conspired to make the watch up to midnight very interesting.  The first inkling of trouble was a radio call giving a position and demanding other craft keep 5 miles away.  The request to giving us a sporting chance and tell us which way they were going and at what speed gave the response that indicated that we may end up sharing sea space and running at 7 knots definitely reduced our ability to get out of their way.  Definitely too difficult for the poor unfortunate on their end of the radio but escalation to a more senior level produced a good compromise and they steamed off in a different direction.  This may have had something to do with the crew watching the Super Bowl and the exec being tasked with keeping the cinema screen level with minimum available crew.  Fifteen Love to us, I think.


Enter aircraft carrier two on our port side flying aircraft on and off.  This involved them steaming at 7 knots in one direction to fly off and on and then turning through 180 degrees and returning to the other end of their box at 20 knots turning back and repeating the process.  Unfortunately their course and ours meant that we stood a very distinct chance of getting an aircraft tangled in our rigging and with Cape Fear approaching on our starboard side it left us with two options, turn round and meet US ship Super Bowl going the other way or press on and try reason.  Reason, unusually, won again and escalation to a charming lady officer meant that they altered their course from 220 degrees to 180 degrees. Possibly Thirty Love to us, but with dignity to them.


Then the return match which I concede gave the opposition two points and a draw.  Two steaming lights came up at high speed towards us with no visible navigation lights and on a collision course.  Queue to turn on our deck lights and put out a call asking the incoming hostile to identify itself, its course and speed.  Well it came down our starboard side some 200 metres away and slowed right down – queue from our side to do an accidental gybe to keep out of their way, put the engine on and generally rock and roll about the place.  There followed a VHF radio interchange:


Caduceus:       Hello US warship do you have any navigation lights on?

US Warship     (Pause) I think so I will check

                        (Pause) Yes we definitely do

Caduceus        Well they do not meet any know regulation and would be illegal on a yacht

                        Can you see a yacht on your starboard side (bear in mind they were 200 metre away)?

US Warship     No

Caduceus        Well what can you see?

US Warship     We have a buoy on our starboard side

Caduceus        (Give up there are more of them than there are of us)


Nought out of ten for observation for definitely an equaliser if it comes to good one liner’s, even if unintended.  Who said Americans do not do irony?