A Big One!

passing tug and tow

See the wake we're making?

Friday started off with barges; three in all and we were on our toes from the get-go. No sooner did we leave the marina (securely tucked in a basin down a short canal off the ICW), then we saw a tug pushing a long barge behind us. He was moving along and we moved to the edge of the channel to let him pass. Couple miles further we spot a very long “something” up ahead. Binocular inspection reveals that it’s a large tug pulling two sets of long dredge pipes, assisted by a smaller tug with a line attached perpendicular to the pipes, moving along at 1kt. The current was against us and even we with two engines at 2600 rpms barely saw 4.5kts.
By this time, we had 3 small trawlers behind us and a turn to the right was coming up. The tug was way over on the right side of the channel. Ok, here we go. We pushed the engines to 3600 rpms, giving us 6kts and “flew” past the barge; which allowed the boats behind us to do the same, and make the right hand turn before the barge.
Making a note that this is tug and barge territory, what do you suppose happens next? We get close to a bridge and see what appears to be a very tall barge and tug over to one side, not moving. Oh good. Wrong; he’d moved over to the let the first barge who’d passed us earlier, go by and through the bridge first. Then he starts up; we’re last in line behind a few other boats.  Once clear of the bridge, with room to pass, we all go on by. Enough already.
Our anchorage for the night and Saturday was in a wide creek, off a bay off the ICW about 15 miles north of Oriental.  It provided some protection; more trees would have helped, and we were all alone in 8′.  Alone in that we were the only boat, but we had plenty of crab pots for company. The Captain, on a roll with his A game, dropped the Rocna in the middle of a bunch, needing to allow for the fact that we would swing 180 degrees when the wind changed direction.
Darn, but if the forecast didn’t get revised in the morning; now we’d be entertaining 30kt winds, gusting to 35kts, along with the T-storms, oh and toss in a tornado watch for kicks. Time to take action: drop the second anchor to ensure we wouldn’t drag. I was to motor up to a spot to the left of the Rocna, Russ would drop the Fortress and I’d keep the engines in idle to allow us to fall back into place slowly. Easier said than done in 20kt winds, but we got it in only 3 attempts. The system was huge; a slow moving mass of red, greens and ugly purple centers. It stretched as far north as Canada, wider in the northeast than where we sat in North Carolina.  I busied myself with sewing while Russ worked on his summer to-do list (longer than RVW’s beard) and ignored the wind gauge. Why should real numbers get in the way? I much preferred to keep busy and after noting 31kts for the log, I told Russ to note the highest wind speed and tell me on Sunday.
After dinner, the huge porpoise shaped storm arrived, bringing more wind, sky filling lightning, thunder and rain. The sky was lit up for over an hour, but only once did I see (and no, it wasn’t because I was hiding below) a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt.

ugly t storm blob

Uuug-LY- we're near the tip of the nose

The storm, comprised of many blobs, one shaped like a porpoise, did not pass over us directly, we only got the edge. Imagine if we’d gotten it full force! By 10p.m. it was pretty much over, even the wind had calmed down. The highest speed noted was 44kts, and I hope to never experience that again. We did not drag an inch. The Fortress would be a challenge to raise, but that was OK.
Meanwhile, our friends on s/v Sanuk were having their own dance with the elements. On Sunday, during a brief call before we lost phone service (at least someone was concerned about us), they told how they and the 4 other boats anchored with them, had been paid a visit by one of the many tornadoes that had touched down all across North Carolina. OMG.  Down below and the storm apparently over, suddenly they were heeled over, the mast touching water. Dragging 50 ft and only lost a dockline- not the disaster it could have been.  Notice that they use the same “knotical” weather guide as we do: Rope gone= Tornado!

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