Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Too Many Miles to Mile Hammock Bay (sub nom Mosquitoes, Power Boats and Cockroaches)

Spooner's Creek, south of Beaufort NC
Saturday, Oct 31, 2009

We left the mosquito infested Broad Creek, just north of Oriental NC, at our usual 7:15 a.m headed for Mile Hammock Bay located in the midst of a US Military Base. If successful this would be our second 70 plus mile day.

Our plans to jump offshore at Beaufort and sail to Charleston were quashed by the South Winds and 7 foot waves we would meet along the entire route.

Arrival at Beaufort NC was anticipated just before noon. This was low tide and it was thought the incoming tide after noon would act to push us south along Bogue Sound enroute to Mile Hammock Bay. Our destiny did not support the particular destination.

As we travelled we were passed by several trawlers. These big tubs of nautical lard like to travel at 7 to 7.5 knots compared to Meredith's 6.5. This means they must speed up to pass us or risk being pushed to the side if Meredith diverts to avoid obstacles.

As each trawler approached a sailboat to pass it would radio the slower boat and offer "if you slow down we will give you an easy pass". The trawler would then continue without changing its speed leaving the sailboat to slow down and then burn fuel to return to normal cruise.

These egocentric little powerfreaks figured the sailors should bear the entire penalty of velocity and fuel consumption initiated by their desire to pass. God forbid these little pinheads have to alter their own course or speed.

Here is our approach: When a trawler comes up on our stern we tell it to keep its speed up and give us a close pass. If the Powerknobs would actually do this then we could draft in behind them and suffer no wake whatsoever. Piece of cake. Except that these simple instructions seem to exceed the ability of even the most seasoned trawler operator.

One guy rode our stern for half an hour calling us six times to ask us to slow down so he could give us a nice slow pass. We kept telling him to keep up his speed and give us a close pass.

Finally he realized he would have to increase his fuel burn to get by rather than foisting the cost on us. He wants to pass he can speed up. He passed.

His transom was 6 feet past Meredith's bowsprit and I turned sharply to draft in behind him. The stream of expletives from the radio was startling. His wife stood on her stern platform shaking her fist at us. What about "I will draft in behind you" is so difficult to understand?

Powerboaters. All that money and no pilot.

Approaching Beaufort southbound along Core Creek we passed Bock Marine, our favourite haulout yard and radioed ahead to the Jarrett Bay Facility to ensure staff were on duty for fuel. No response.

We had not thought about Jarrett Bay much until friends, Randy and Donna, aboard Babykiller B, raved about it. Although there was no reply to the radio call we decided to put in anyway. Usually on seeing a boat pulling up to the fuel dock motivates some activity by even the most recalcitrant dock staff.

Not so at Jarrett Bay. With strong south winds, running 15 knots, our entry was easy - we just pulled up beside the dock and held the boat steady while the wind pushed us in. No one was there to welcome us or unlock the fuel pumps. The place looked like a set out of The Terminator - you know the future view where everything is dark, smoky and destroyed. The night scene at the bridge from Apocalypse Now would be another approximation.

Leaving the fuel dock sans fuel was problematic. That south wind that so graciously assisted our entry now protested our early departure. We fought our way off the dock and into the current of Core Creek and continued on our way happy that we carried 15 gallons of fuel on deck and "who needs Jarrett Bay anyway".

A few hundred yards downstream we found "Trueworld Marine", the affiliate of Jarrett Bay where Randy and Donna had left Babykiller while they returned to Toronto. It was new and first rate. Part of Jarrett Bay seems well run.

Two miles further and we found ourselves once again in Beaufort. Not a big deal let me assure you.

You enter Beaufort alongside a large terminal used to offload ocean freighters. Once past the building you turn sharp right and continue staight for the entire length of Bogue Sound. Make that 30 miles or so.

Right at the sharp right hand turn live the only fish available in all of the waters of Beaufort.

Thirty or Forty fishertwits are always to be found drifting midchannel of course trying to catch whatever desperate lifeform might choose the industrial backwater of a forgotten little port as its home. They (people and fish) are everywhere and none of them look up. Until you pass a little closer than they think you should. Then they offer an opinion. Meredith returns a nonverbal response.

Today being Saturday the rest of the powerdorks were out in their fast fishing skiffs/boats/whatever buzzing the transients. There were thousands of them - highpowered cockroaches of the sea buzzing the passing sailboats and trawlers like a flight of Messerschmitt's attacking a squadron of B29 allied bombers.

We made Beaufort by noon which was low tide. My ability at predicting coastal tide effects is not what I had hoped. Our 6.5 knots on the water were magically transformed into 4.5 knots on land as the tidal inflow worked against us rather than for our boatspeed.

A bummer this as it meant we could not reach Mile Hammock during daylight.

Instead we put into Spooner Creek where I write this now. Then I must find a way to neutralize the newly filled propane tank that seems to be spewing gas out of its safety valve.

Until it stops hissing I am not going near the vented propane locker.

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