Waiting on weather – Beaufort, NC

Waiting on Weather – in Beaufort, NC
4/14/08-04/16/08

The quaint and historic town of Beaufort (pronounced “Bo furt”) became home for the next 3 days – while Cat Maudy and crew relaxed at dockside. Gale force winds out of the north – prevented any further northbound attempts.

Our plan was to take the Intracoastal Waterway (the “inside”) from Beaufort NC to Norfolk VA – a total of 200 miles. It surprised me to discover that gale force winds created a new challenge — when traveling on the “inside”. Wind tides. Apparently, this section of the inter-coastal is no longer affected by ocean tides — but rather it is affected by wind tides. Due to the wide and very shallow large bodies of water (Pamlico Sound, Neuse River, Albemarle Sound….) that make up the next part of our journey, a strong sustained wind actually pushes the water up into the creeks (depending on the direction) – elevating the water levels and causing flooding. Think of it like having a large frying pan with about 1 inch of water on the bottom. Then, take a hair dryer and turn it on max…and point it in one direction at the water. It basically moves all of the water from one side of the pan to the other (and over!). This is the affect of a wind tide.

The importance of a wind tide (to us) — is that we have a very tall mast when attempting to maneuver under fixed bridges. We will be loading up on water and diesel in order to sit as low as possible in the water. Without a load – Cat Maudy stands at 63.5 feet. Loaded down – we measure about 7 inches less – at 62′ 10inches. However, if the wind has elevated the waters under the bridges — then this will prevent us from passing under the bridges. So, we wait…in Beaufort….until the gale force winds…and wind tides subside.

Beaufort is situated just inside the Beaufort Inlet – behind the Shackelford barrier island. It provides a protected harbor for both pleasure boats and commercial fishing activities. We spent time visiting all of the nick-knack stores along a 4-block section of town…the Maritime Museum (featuring items recovered from about a zillion shipwrecks along the outer banks of NC)…and even dining out at a seafood restaurant featuring local catch.

Someone apparently got on the “wrong foot” with the local Beaufort authorities – because the town was littered with anti-exercise signs. What’s up with that? They really don’t seem to like skaters (sigh) — though I’m not sure why all of the signs were necessary considering that the roads were in pretty sad shape making it difficult to skate anyway! I did manage to get in SOME moderate exercise — biking (limited due to gale force winds — nearly got blown off!), running, and lots of walking….

I attempted to walk across a small drawbridge – to get to the next island from Beaufort — but was prevented by the winds. Small person advisory!

Sometime late on Monday, we noticed a catamaran approaching the marina named Socia — that looked to be very similar in design to our cat. Sure enough – it was a John Shuttleworth design. This is a pretty rare rendezvous — as Shuttleworth catamarans are a very limited vintage. Only 6 catamarans of the Advantage design (Cat Maudy style) were built…and only 12 of the Tech design (Socia style) exist. We met Captain Jeff on Socia – a delightful captain from Belfast Maine – who was single-handed sailing north on the Atlantic from a winter in the Bahamas. Enjoyed spending some time with Jeff — observing the features of his cat — and comparing notes to ours. Jeff would be sailing Socia around Cape Hatteras…and like us, waiting in Beaufort for some southerly winds. The current gale of northerlies is producing 16 foot seas off Hatteras. A bit too raucous for sane sailors! We all wait.

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