So after all my big talk of sailing from South Florida to Nantucket (or thereabouts) in one hop, we ended up “just” sailing to Charleston SC. Still, it was a solid 2 1/2 days and 411 nautical miles of sailing 24×7. We had conditions that varied in wind direction from close reaching to a dead run, in wind speed from becalmed to 20-25 knots and in sea state from a bathtub to 4 to 6 foot seas.
We cleared Hillsboro Inlet at noon on Wednesday, June 9 and hoisted sail. Once we got moving, it became clear that the weather was not going to hold long enough to be conducive to northbound sailing around Cape Hatteras and the Outer Banks of North Carolina (when a piece of water is nicknamed “the graveyard of the Atlantic,” what could possibly go wrong?).
Given the weather outlook, we decided to make Charleston our next port-of-call and made landfall off the Port of Charleston about midnight on Friday/Saturday, June 11/12. Once we were several miles off the Charleston harbor entrance we hove-to for the night and waited for sunrise to enter the port (set the sails and rudder to work against each other and minimize our progress). On our “middle day” of the passage (Thursday, June 10) we celebrated Rhett’s birthday with cupcakes we had brought for the occasion!
The most memorable parts of the passage were me seeing a fireball (a very bright meteor) while on night watch and our red letter day with the dolphins. The fireball burned from white to green and left a tail that hung in the atmosphere after it had burned out. I’ve done a lot of stargazing and this was the second most brilliant meteor I have ever seen. On Friday’s sailing, we were visited by dolphins three different times. The first visit was by Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. A pod of 40-60 of them stayed with us for an hour or so—”magical” is the best one word description I can give.
A few hours later, we had a shorter visit by a pod of three Bottlenose Dolphins. Around sunset we had another small pod swim by that we couldn’t identify.
I’m glad that we ascribed to “discretion being the better part of valor” since when Rhett and I were walking in Charleston on Saturday night a big storm system came through and we got 4″ of rain—glad we were in safe harbor for that one!
We’ll be watching the weather carefully and readying ourselves for our next push northward. We’ll plan to get out in the Gulf Stream again and either make Chesapeake Bay or sail all the way to New England depending on the weather window (as a reminder, you can always see our location here). Until then we’re doing some small boat projects and enjoying the wonderful and historic city of Charleston!
Fair winds and following seas. Hazel James out.