Cape Canaveral to Beaufort

Fri 30 Apr 2010 17:43
Well, the weather, for once (with the exception of a few hours in the dead of night when the winds reached 27 knots, when it should have been calming down), was exactly as forecast, so we had a very nice and gentle 430 nm sail across to Beaufort.  This leg had been worrying us a little as it is the American equivalent of the Bay of Biscay - added to it though is the Gulf Stream, which runs at up to 3.5 knots. And as we found out on the crossing between Cuba and Miami, it doesn't take much wind against the gulf stream to build up a huge swell!
We were determined not to be battered again as we were on the crossing to Cuba, so were very careful to choose very calm conditions to make the crossing.  As a consequence, we are suffering a little from guilt that we may have gone soft. However, we had just found podcasts (ok, I know you all discovered these years ago), and all I can say is motoring is the way forward - those night watches have never gone so quickly!
One of the benefits of nice weather is stunning sun sets;
and sun rises;
and more sunsets;
oh, and a few jellyfish;
Now, Cape Hatteras is deemed to be the line between tropical maritime systems and polar maritime weather systems.  Until now, I had thought that this was just a mythical line, however - I can confirm that really, in the space of no more than an hour (and we were only travelling at about 7 knots, so really not far), it went from nice warm shorts and T-shirts even on night watch weather, to freezing cold woolly bear and fleece weather.  Now, you may not have much sympathy, but for those of us who have spent the last six months in the Caribbean, this is very difficult to adjust to indeed!  Not only did it turn cold, but it was also accompanied by fog.  Now, the last time we had fog was in Portugal - we could barely remember what this weird grey stuff was.  Combined with this was the unexplainable fact that the water was only about 15m deep and we couldn't see the bottom - it was this strange grey colour - we could have been in England!!
Not only that, but we are now gale bound for a few days - it is blowing over 30 knots, so not weather to go around Cape Hatteras (know as the ship's graveyard).  There are apparently over 600 known ship wrecks surrounding the Cape - partly due to the shallow (and shifting) nature of what is essentially just a spit; partly due to two colliding currents that converge at this point; and partly due to the low pressure systems that all spring off this point making weather forecasting difficult.  It is very easy to get caught out in terrible weather conditions.  Any northerly winds are generally deemed to be bad, as are any strong winds. So, we will be here for a little while (and that's without the luxuries of Tom's house to lead us astray!!).
So on to Beaufort - it  really is a strange place.  Think Steven King film set.  Think wooden houses, all looking identical, with rocking chairs gently rocking back and forth in the wind on the balcony, and wind chimes creating a sense of foreboding and you're there.   This is compounded by there being nobody here - apparently they all come in a few weeks. Hmmmmmmmm. I for sure will be looking the hatch tonight!!!
To be continued....if we survive the night.....