For those of you who decided not to join the cruisers this month, you missed a lot of excitement and fun! After the captains conferred Friday afternoon, they decided to GO, despite the heat, humidity and rolling thunderstorms!
The fun started soon after Salty (Jim/Joni Floyd and John/Beth Hiner), Spotted Dog (Dave/Tami Howard), Escape (Clare/Dieter Trautman), Mystic (Laurna/Jeurgen Badendieck) sailed away from Blackbeard’s. As we veered around day marker #2, we heard a shriek and a splash from Escape next to Salty. It appeared that Clare slipped on the bow, fell to her knees and rolled under the lifelines. Dieter quickly threw her a cushion and performed a textbook rescue while the rest of our little fleet stood by. She recovered nicely and insisted on continuing. So, after a mid-river conference, that is exactly what we did!
Although the wind was picking up (Spotted Dog saw gusts of 30+), we all reefed down and motor-sailed up to New Bern with little trouble. The sky darkened, but no rain fell on us at THAT time.
YOU may know that the Cunningham Bridge at New Bern does not open from 4-6 pm on Fridays…WE did not! We all arrived, more or less at the same time, about 5:30 and did “donuts” outside the entry for thirty minutes, waiting for “our turn.” You could ask Spotted Dog and Mystic about the intricacies of maneuvering around each other while keeping an eye on approaching thunderheads, but I suggest that you not. Suffice it to say, no permanent damage was done to either boat. It was a total “no-fault” encounter!
After a friendly wave from the bridge tender, we all motored over to the free dock area of Grand Marina, which had been reserved for our group – thanks to the kind dock master. Salty pulled in first, then Escape, then Mystic with Spotted Dog at the pump-out. Next to the pump-out, about 6 feet away, Tami spotted a floating log…floating upstream and with two beady eyes! We all kept a close eye on that fella, but he seemed to be well-satisfied that we were not encroaching.
After dinner at Christoph’s (seafood buffet was delicious!), and after much discussion, the captains decided to proceed with our night sail, confident that the storms would hold off until after we got home. HA! We exited the Cunningham Bridge (instead of waving, the bridge tender just shook his head) just as the first drops began to fall about 8:15 pm. As we passed under the concrete bridges, we could still see through the rain… just! The gentle rain became a downpour…became a torrent…became a deluge…became…well, you get the idea! Was there thunder and lightning all around us? Yes! But what a light show! All the sea monsters in the river circled our fleet all the way home, gnawing on the rudders and chewing on the lifelines… just sailing in the dark, lightning and rain was a real… thrill? Yeah, let’s call it that.
Hunkered down as best we could (Beth even refused to leave Salty’s cockpit for a dry cabin!) and keeping a close eye on each other, our little fleet motored down to Upper Broad Creek. This time, it was Mystic who “almost” took out day marker #3 (no,no Laurna… go to the right, the Right, the RIGHT – thatta girl!). Home sweet harbor… by the time Salty entered her slip, we had lots of help – high fives all around! Thanks guys!
Over blueberry pancakes, bacon and coffee the next morning, we all agreed that our night sail would prove valuable should we ever find ourselves again in a “dark and stormy night.” AND we swore to each other not to tell the story to anyone who was not there… so keep this story to yourself!
PS: if you don’t believe my report, just ask one of the others named!