Since we named our boat from a Buffett tune (Gypsies in the Palace) I am always looking for other Parrotheads on the water. We found one and they actually had to point out that it was from “I’m Growing Older, but Not Up” and therefore, it landed as the title of this article because it surely has been WINDY this past week. Their boat name was “Winds of Change”.
Of all the weather conditions we experience, wind is the one that drives us boaters the craziest. It causes all kinds of problems like we had this week. From New Bern, NC we traveled north to Oriental. We usually get tied up on an outside face dock, but the winds were so bad that the dockhand decided to put us in a slip with another sailing catamaran. I wish you could have seen that docking! It was Captain Steve at his best and a very knowledgeable dockhand. Even though it was blowing like crazy Steve managed to come in ever so slowly. We ended up with about 2 feet between the 2 boats! The 3 other Looping boats came over to admire the seamanship. I couldn’t quite believe that we made it into that space.
The wind continued the next day, but we wanted to leave so we headed to Belhaven. Mostly, we go to places that I have never heard of. The winds were blowing at approximately 15 mph with gusts over 20. By the time we reached Belhaven they were higher. We thought that being inside a breakwater would help, but the marina docks were exposed to the wind. Another time where the marina operator knew just what we needed to do. We had to dock on the leeward side and the marina guy asked if Steve was “experienced” because he would need it to dock! This time Steve had to put the boat with 2 pilings on our stern into a space behind a sailboat with the wind pushing us away from the dock. Another miracle docking and the guys were ready on the dock to quickly tie us off because we were being pulled away. There was not much happening at this marina, but I will say that they get a gold star for their laundry facility. I can do small loads on board, but it is much quicker to use the marina laundry facilities. This one was free and had big new machines. We also were given a golf cart to drive into town so that was fun.
The following day was more wind so we decided to change course and head to the Outer Banks to Manteo. We have been there before and it is a cute little town. We met up with kindred souls on Colorado Cat, an Endeavor 44, who are also doing the Loop. The big excitement on this route is the Alligator River Swing Bridge in Albemarle Sound. If the winds are too high they will not swing the bridge for an opening. We got through as you can see.
Again, the next day was windy, but we pushed on to Coinjock, NC. There is nothing to this place but a long dock, but is almost a required stop due to bridge timings and the 1st lock that is ahead. However, all of the guys want to stop there for their 32 oz. prime rib. It is legendary and the talk is really better than the quality! That afternoon we hosted 17 Loopers for docktails and everyone was festive. That changed when the next day brought in storms and rain. Everyone hunkered down in their boats watching movies or working on the computer. It also continued to be windy. On day 3 people wanted to leave, but due to the windy conditions the bridge and lock machinery was under water and nothing would be open the entire day. This is a phenomenon in this Region where the wind blows the water from one end to another. They have no tidal change, but the water can rise 3 feet. So, we sat another day and all the men went out to do “manly” projects.
Finally, on Day 4 the bridges and lock opened and it was a mass exodus. You see, since the boats stayed at this dock for over a day, more boats crossed the Sound and needed to dock. They hold about 17 boats along the dock and they were filled. They end up rafting the new arrivals to all of the existing boats so we probably had about another 14 boats rafted up. These were mostly delivery captains because the Loopers stayed put where they were. It was quite a sight to see the boats all leaving at once, but we felt like we had been sprung from jail, leaving North Carolina behind.
“So let the winds of change blow over my head, I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead!” Jimmy Buffett