3rd - 15 Dec 2012 - Deltaville, VA to Charleston, SC & heading South at last

Sat 15 Dec 2012 21:19
Despite a productive time in Deltaville, we both felt more than relieved to be on our way again.   We had to use the ‘iron topsail’ for the 50 nm trip south down the Chesapeake to Norfolk, but it was a good test to ensure everything was working correctly on Nimue.  Fortunately, all went well and if anything, she seemed a little quicker through the water!  As we approached the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, it was getting dark and as we drifted closer to some of the US Naval ships, blue flashing lights appeared and it was a launch to ensure we didn’t get too close!  We were greeted by Gary & Greta (OCC)  who safely guided us to their dock by flashlight!.
A couple of days good R&R and rather than waiting for a weather window to go round Cape Hatteras, we decided to take the usual ICW route south; first stop Great Bridge (we managed to take a free slip on the south side of the bridge).  Despite making good daily passages, we still ended up at the same anchorage stops as last year.  We ended up at Oriental having to wait until the next morning, as we needed it to be low water to go underneath the fixed 65ft bridge approaching Beaufort, as we had worked out that the air draft would be too low for Nimue to safely pass underneath.  As we left Oriental the fog was coming and going, but as we safely cleared the bridge, we came into thick, thick fog.  Although we have a chart plotter, we usually follow pilotage in harbour areas and as we were coming to a tricky part of the entrance to Beaufort, the visibility reduced to less than 100ft.  This required our full attention, so I directed Michael to steer a course to each of the channel markers.  We came through unscathed and managed to find a suitable anchorage in the Taylor River, followed by a rum coffee!
After a couple of days, a warning of strong wind and rain was forecast, so we decided to treat ourselves and take a slip at Beaufort Docks marina for a couple of nights.  This was a good move, as we were allowed use of their car, albeit for only an hour at a time, but we managed to get loaded up with provisions!
With low after low appearing at this time of year, we took the opportunity of leaving at the back end of one of the lows, which gave us approximately 40 hours to get down to Charleston before another forecasted low.  We left early at the end of the flood tide in quite a blow, but fortunately there was minimal swell out of the inlet! Due to the recent storm, the seas were quite lumpy, but in no time were were reefed down and on our way.  We sailed half the 220 nm down to Charleston and Nimue performed to her usual comfortable standard.