Updated: Jun 21
May 13th-May 15th, 2020
As usual, we had been keeping on top of the weather trying to determine when we would have a good weather window. The forecast was changing daily but it looked like we would have a chance to leave St. Augustine on May 13th. After that, the window looked like it would close for awhile so we took the chance. One of the nearby anchored boats known as “Godspeed” dropped by in his dinghy and asked if we were heading out tomorrow. He was headed to Wrightsville Beach so we were headed the same direction. John from “Godspeed” thought the forecast looked good too but he had spoken with Chris Parker “the weather guru” and he thought we might only make it to Charleston because the wind may be more on our nose. We both decided to leave anyway. Kevin and I wanted to leave enough time to get to Wilmington during slack tide and we wanted to take off before the winds picked up too much so we left about 5:00 before it was light. Godspeed was a couple of hours behind us because he didn’t want to leave the inlet in the dark. It was a bit challenging going out the inlet in the dark but we had our path from before when we entered to follow. Kevin kept the spotlight on the markers and it definitely was bumpy. The current was pushing against us so we had a few waves over our bow. We headed more east for a few hours to try to get a better wind angle before turning north towards Wilmington so we wouldn’t have to stop in Charleston which ended up being a good plan.
It was quite an interesting passage. There were navy war ships out at sea we had to contact to make sure they were not about to begin their firing exercises. We timed it right for another sailor had to make a huge detour to avoid them. We kept in contact by VHF with John from Godspeed discussing wind speeds and angles and how best to get to Wilmington. It was fun to have a little company on the VHF. We even hauled in some fish. Two tuna and a mahi!
We were able to sail a good chunk of the way (some of it quite brisk).We were pushing the envelope a bit one night with a full main and jib when the wind picked up and it would have been more comfortable with one reef in the main. Lesson learned, before nightfall if winds are on the edge reef early!
Our last evening Kevin and I had our last sundowner at sea and made a toast to all that we had accomplished.
The wind died so we motored overnight towards the Cape Fear Inlet. Closer to the inlet, we had to make contact with two of the cargo ships to make sure they knew we were going between them.As the sun began to rise and we could see the Oak Island Lighthouse we began to get excited.We passed Bald Head Island and then Southport and as we headed up the river, we both recognized the familiar smell of the marsh landscape of North Carolina associated with home.
After a 55 hour passage, we hailed the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Operator that we needed the bridge to open. As we passed under the bridge at 11:30 a.m. on May 15th, there were lots of waves and cheers from both us and my parents standing on the riverfront as we went by.
We passed familiar territory and backed into slip B15 at Port City Marina where Counting Stars will be until we set out again. A sense of relief passed over us along with a huge sense of accomplishment! We were home. Originally setting sail in St. Thomas, we had sailed through the US and British Virgin Islands, up through Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas to St. Augustine and ultimately Wilmington. A total of 3267 nautical miles. Challenging but Rewarding at the same time. We did it and it was awesome! We both can’t wait for all the future adventures awaiting us on Counting Stars. Where will she take us next?