The plan ( ! ) was to leave Charlestown at midday to arrive Wilmington at first light on the 11th May but the weather forecast showed once again deteriorating weather and we did not have enough time to go north via the Intra Coastal Waterway . Hence we left at 0700 on a lovely morning, exited the harbour and headed North on a smooth sea with a light breeze from the South.
Perfect conditions for passage making under power and all the other boats heading with us were power boats!
“ what is the difference between a sailboat skipper and a power boat skipper?- Answer the power boater does not feel guilty when he has the engine on! “
At 1800 we could see the forecasted thunderstorm on the horizon and switching on the radar allowed us to make course alterations to avoid the worst but eventually we were surrounded and the lightening was flashing away on all sides. About 2300 the US Coastguard put out a warning for our area and advised all mariners to seek safe harbour but it was a warning we were unable to heed! Torrential rain and a blast of wind did not last too long and after having been interrogated on the VHF by the USCG vessel “ Diligence” we finally anchored outside the main shipping channel just off Bald Head Island at 0230.
On the way again at 0600 we headed up the Cape Fear River against the ebb tide and river current which in places was 3 knots. The river was interesting with a variety of bird life, commercial fishermen and large ships heading for Wilmington Docks.
Our first 65ft clearance bridge was rather heart stopping as I had calculated our mast height at 60ft plus the VHF antenna and from the deck you are convinced the clearance is inadequate!
A short wait at a pontoon just south of downtown Wilmington ( here we were offered a truck if we wanted to get groceries! ) and then through the Interstate lifting bridge and we moored at Bennett Brothers Yachts where Brian greeted us- the last time we had seen him was at The Galley of Lorne a couple of years ago!
“Moonbeam” was hauled out for maintenance and storage while we returned to the UK.
8000 miles on all seems OK! Out for dinner – note the enormous helpings!
Wilmington International (?!) Airport is only a few minutes from the boatyard and from here we flew to the “hub” of Philadelphia. I was amused to have to remove my shoes at security while a sign advised that “ Firearms must be unloaded and secured in a locked case and declared to the airline”! Then a 6 ¼ hour flight to Manchester to stay with my mother and brothers for my father’s funeral.
A quick drive North allowed us to see Lynn’s father in Glasgow and a visit to AYC to see a few friends and ‘old’ customers before heading back South.
Ash cloud permitting we should be back aboard Moonbeam on the 27th May.