“Knotical” Weather

fishy f cafe in fog

A foggy view of Fishy Fishy Cafe

A simple way to determine weather conditions using our special knotted Rope goes like this:
ROPE MOVING= WINDY
ROPE STILL=CALM
ROPE INVISIBLE = FOGGY
ROPE WET = RAINY
ROPE DRY = SUNNY
ROPE GONE = HURRICANE! (or tornado!)
Monday we had high hopes for a relatively short (45 mile) day of sailing from Southport, NC to Wrightsville Beach, jumping outside in moderate wind. The Rope was still at 7am and as we weighed anchor (ours weighs 88 lbs) that darn Rope became nearly invisible. Well, that was not in the forecast. Our personal anchorage just off the ICW was very close to another tiny basin about a half mile further up.  Just past that was the turn off to the channel that would take us out the inlet.  Didn’t like not being able to see that Rope; made a quick turn and ducked into that small basin to wait it out. Ate breakfast and watched the fog roll in. We’d seen the basin last fall when we’d spent the night at Southport Marina and walked to Fishy Fishy Café for dinner.
By 9am with better visibility oozing slowly, we headed out again. The fog still lingered, which meant using the fog horn, running lights and radar. On the good side, no other boats were zooming about, the buoys were the large ones and the channel was wide. By 10:15 we could see over one mile and had turned north up the coast. Main raised first, followed by the screecher and we crossed our fingers for wind. But darn it, that Rope barely swayed. Waters had a little chop to them and after a couple hours of feeling yucky, I rested at the dinette. Next thing I know, the fog has returned and that Rope, if we COULD see it, isn’t moving one bit. Sails down, both engines on. We could see 100 yds ahead at best, which out on the water away from obstacles isn’t so bad.
Roughly 3 miles south of the entrance to the Masonboro Inlet at Wrightsville Beach, we heard another boat call the Coasties for conditions at the inlet. Seas were reported as 1-3 ft- OK no problem- and unbelievably, the fog was non-existent once you got up to the beach! The inlet channel is short, but marked with what I’d describe as medium sized buoys. Using the chartplotter and radar, we knew where to look for the buoys and as we got close they appeared out of the fog. And by golly when we reached the last buoy the fog was gone and there was the beach bathed in sunshine.
The anchor was down by 3:45 and we wondered how long it would take our friends on Sanuk to notice we’d arrived. The forecast called for that Rope to move like crazy Monday night and Tuesday. The anchor grabbed right off giving us reasonable assurance of a drag-free stay. Sanuk suggested why not try to sail again; head out the same inlet and go in at the Beaufort inlet. Umm, only 65 miles; we could do that in 10 hours, but would Wednesday’s conditions allow it?  We’ll see. It would be our last chance for a day sail along the coast.  Key word “day”.  Still had an overnight to look forward to.
Tuesday night- cruiser’s night at King Neptune’s! We made it that way. s/v Chance Encounter, who Sanuk had met along the way a few months ago and s/v Lady Pauline, a more recent meeting, were at the anchorage too so we dinghied in to the beach town. The dinghy dock, actually 3 of them, was great and close to the beach and about a block away from shops, bars and restaurants. We talked boat talk for hours and had the entire bar area to ourselves much of the time. Have I mentioned that drink prices south of New Jersey are more cruiser friendly than up North?  We shared good-bye hugs with Sanuk as we did not expect to see them again this trip. Headed back before the others, needing a decent night’s sleep before airing out the sails on Wednesday.

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