From Beaufort, NC to Georgetown, SC

We left about 2 PM from Beaufort and headed toward Wrightsville Beach, NC to work favorable currents. It was about 70 miles with little wind and a beam swell, so we motored most of the way, arriving at the entrance to Masonboro Inlet about 5AM. A thick fog arrived about an hour later, but by then we were securely anchored within our dreams.

For the next few days we hung out with our respective dwindling budgets amidst the ‘closing for the season’ surf town of Wrightsville Beach. I looked up an old friend named Mary Ann (via Ella) that I knew from the Caribbean some 15 years ago, and she treated me to a natural southern hospitality that I remembered of her the last time we were together. Even though she was as broke as I was she still managed to put me up for the night and served up a great meal. The next day we toured downtown Wilmington then she drove me a half hour north to meet a sailing contact along the Inter Coastal Waterway named Peter (his pic’s in the last post with his large wooden ketch in the background). The next evening she hosted my two crew members to an overnight stay (while I stayed aboard) and treated them to a meal, showers, and a shopping run.

Mary Ann you are the best, thank’s very much, and you are welcomed aboard anytime.

Leaving Wrightsville Beach we decided to try a bit of the ICW and skirt Cape Fear’s shoaling that extends seaward over 15 miles below its SE Atlantic prominence.

Sedna loped effortless with a broad reach to her flank as the afternoon’s current rode beneath her. With a whisker poled jib she almost sailed herself. Next we motored through Snows Cut and into the Cape Fear River, then anchored for the night at ‘Tina’s Cut’ just off the shipping channel near a power plant and ferry crossing.

At dawn we powered south and back into the Atlantic to cross Long Bay and toward the protected Winyah Bay where we planned to duck in for an overnight anchor before proceeding further, weather ever a concern.

Our morning course of 240 degrees took the wind from the atmosphere, so we just kept motoring at 3.5 knots with a decreasing sea to our back. I previously topped off Sedna’s 7.5 gallon internal fuel tank in Wrightsville Beach, and my crew filled up an extra five gallon jug as needed. Since Marblehead we’d been calculating how much fuel the Yanmar consumed and at what speed/RPM, and although I installed a working fuel gauge it was inaccurate because of the tapered and wedged shape of the small tank.

At about the half way point across Long Bay, nearing sunset, the ocean became almost flat and reflected an ominous sheen skyward as the center of our high pressure system gathered herself overhead and prepared to give way to the next afternoon’s westward approaching gale. The wind was supposed to build later that night in our face from the SW to 5-10, swing to the west, and increase, and the strong flood out of Winyah Bay’s mouth would work against us if we arrived before 7:30, but I didn’t care because the Georgetown Light Anchorage was only a few miles in and I didn’t want to be dealing with the forecasted worsening conditions later that day. After motoring for about 5 hours at 1850 rpms and 10 hours at 1450 rpms (with another 10 hours to go) we proceeded to add the extra five gallons of diesel.

But wait! It was gasoline, not diesel that found its way into the spare fuel container. We could smell it a fowl, and as the sun set I re-calculated Sedna’s thirst to realize we might just almost might or might not make it under power, and there was not wind. Fortunately no diesel found it’s way into the tank.

But wait! We now had all this gas, a fuel sipping 2HP Honda four stroke, and the inflatable (which we quickly re-inflated). Worst case scenario; if we had to motor all the way to Winyah Bay, into it’s mouth, then west to north several miles to seek fuel (Georgetown) I could deploy the inflatable, raft it alongside with the 2HP and control our course as the flood carried us to OPEC’s salvation.

I would have to shut off the Yanmar before I determined it would run dry (or else bleed it, change the Raycor secondary fuel filter, inspect the small and worn primary fuel filter housing to get at the primary fuel filter, loosen the banjo washers I’d just replaced, torture the well worn fuel pipes/nuts, etc. I just got everything working well/no leaks, and I wasn’t going to run her dry). I was confident that motoring Sedna with a rafted outboard in the flat water conditions of the Bay would work fine.

The trick was to arrive at the mouth of Winyah Bay at slack water or just after the flood, and that was 12 hours away.

If we’d have kept our earlier motoring pace our mouth’s arrival would have been bout max ebb with an adverse current of 1.6 knots (which I earlier intended to do for about two miles then drop the hook and get some rest). But now it was critical we met the inlet as it accepted us.

For the next few hours I motored slowly onward, intending a few hours of controlled drift a few miles shy of the mouth until it swallowed us. And then there was wind.

Yes, slight at first then building, and straight in our face, but we had time to burn. Over the next 10 hours we sharply beat to windward and managed perhaps 25 miles of forward progress along our rhumb line. Once in the mouth the dolphins and current guided us within a well marked channel, and we even sailed for another half hour before relenting to our well earned fuel reserve.

Once in Georgetown we secured a spot off Front Street and I’ve been here ever since.

I had to make the decision to put on the brakes of Sedna’s forward progress for the next week, partly because of the weather (this Thanksgiving Storm), partly because our intended route back into the ICW has too many shoals, and mostly because I need to gather up some more cash to proceed (fuel, food, beer, maybe sails, that’s about it).

My good crew set off for further adventures; Natasha flew to a Thanksgiving reunion and Travis is off to Florida to hone his sailing skills aboard a friend’s newly purchased trimaran, will Natasha join?  I encourage you all to follow their blogs now that they’ve departed Sailpony and Sedna.

They are great people and crew. We managed to live aboard this diminutive, robust Albin Ballad for a month and bring her along the East Coast as winter chased us south. They always did what I asked of them and never gave me any crap, they are both good navigators and sailors, everyone stood their watch, and they fed me. Yes, good crew for sure, and I hope to sail with them again…

I would like to thank the North Carolina Maritime Museum’s boat shop in in Beaufort for making me two Ash Battens for my mail sail (with extra wood), and Omar Sails and Rigging of Beaufort (Craig Beavers, new owner), for giving me the ‘local rate’ on Sedna’s 2nd (Cape Hatteras) main sail repair.

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