Ahoy Sailors - Capt Jim and First Mate Joyce set out for sunny, hot Ft. Lauderdale last Friday, picked up a new Lagoon 400 ( I think the 400 stands for the price, in thousands) 39 ft long and an astounding 23.5' wide, that had recently completed the transatlantic trip from france, and headed north amid the rain bursts on Saturday, 4/30. I didn't find out until we got there that the mast height was 69.5 ft, too tall for the ICW. We had expected to do some time offshore, but not the whole way!
The trip started well, beam reaching in 15kts, hitting speeds over 10 kts in the gulfstream just west of West Palm Beach, Fla., but the choppy motion when the wind shifted more to the north east made sleep difficult and we each got only about an hour the first night. Joyce had a can of cold soup for dinner, really deluxe!Feel rugged the next day, I abandoned the gulfstream and headed for the St. Johns River. Once out of the stream, you run into a counter current, so we went from 10 kts to 6-7kts with an 8 kt boatspeed. Conditions improved, we got more sleep, so skipped St. Johns and aimed for Charleston. Still more sleep and we skipped past Charleston and around Cape Fear and made for Beaufort. With fuel down to 1/4 tank it was time to fill up, and dinner at Clawsons in Beaufort(since 1905) was a hit.
Filled up next am, and with a tip from a local marina owner that Ocracoke inlet was ok , we set out against 20-25 NW, around Cape Lookout and into rediculous seas, bang crash, motoring the 10 miles back into 20' close to shore, where it was some calmer. Attempting ocracoke inlet, and lined up with the entrance bouys, I watched with growing concern the depth dropping. We were amidst breaking waves from the surge when, at 7', I bailed out and returned to deeper water. Calling the coast guard for some info, we were discouraged from both Ocracoke and Hatteras inlets, due to low tide and rough conditions. So I just said to hell with it and pulled close to shore in 20' and anchored. The 3-4' swell from astern gave us a gentle motion, and the 20kts west wind held us stern to, so we were comfortable enough. We gave our position to the coast guard and asked not to be disturbed bu "rescue' efforts.
Next day we soldiered on, bashing around Cape Hatteras,with gradually improving conditions untill about 6pm I had to drop the sails and motor along the coast. Jouce woke me at 2:45 am to announce " we are surrounded by ships!". We were indeed at the mouth of the Bay, 11 miles from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel. As the wind was picking up I hoisted the main, and we blasted up the bay with 20 kts from the southwest, making Solomons Island about 4:30 pm Friday evening, intime for dinner with friends at "Le Bistro" At Calvert Marina. They were having a wedding rehersal dinner for 70 guests, but managed to squeeze the 6 of us in.
Up at 4:30 am and packing, I noticed boats heading out about 5, so we got underway at 5:30 with the first streaks of dawn appearing. By then the outflux of fishing boarts was in full swing, with over 20 passing by with rolling wakes ( fortunately the big Cat was not fazed). We motored about halfway back to Annapolis before enough wind picked up to sail, shutting off the engines at one point for a pleasant 2 hours, then pulled into my daughters dock on lake Ogleton to unloasd our gear and clean the boat. Good thing we did. Arriving back at Performance Cruising on back creek, we had barely tied up when the sales staff boarded with prospect eager to look at the newest addition to their lineup. The trip was about 1150 miles and took 7 days, pretty good for a couple of oldies. I'm sure the young french crew could have shaved 2 days off by staying in the gulfstream and running non-stop to Annapolis. Anyway, thats the most recent adventure. Cheers and happy sailing to you all. - Jim and Joyce