Sailing from Fernandina, Beach FL to Beaufort, NC achieved a couple of milestones for us. It was our longest single passage yet at 360 nautical miles (414 miles) over three days. It was also the passage where we crossed our first 1,000 (1150 miles) nautical miles of sailing since we started this cruising thing. We have sailed a total of 1127 nautical miles (1296 miles) since leaving St Petersburg, FL May 4th, 2015. During this passage we also achieved our fastest average speed to date at 6.85 knots. Yep! We flew here at an average speed of almost 8 MPH (for a sailboat, this is pretty good). We had strong winds and from the right direction. And, a little bit of help from the Gulf Stream currents as well.
We skipped Georgia and South Carolina. We had planned to stop in Charleston but having the perfect weather window, we decided to push further north on this leg. With the threat of hurricanes in the rear view mirror, the further north we get the better at this time of year. We have been to Charleston by car many times and love the charm of the city and historic downtown area. We hope to stop there on the way south this fall as we head toward the Caribbean Islands for winter.
Beaufort NC is at the end of the road on the map. It is not really near anywhere. It is a sleepy, small coastal town that really doesn’t offer much for cruisers. The main attraction is Front Street where there are a few gift shops and restaurants. We managed to see the whole downtown area in one day of walking. They have a pretty cool maritime museum and across the street is a wooden boat shop. Manufacturing wooden boats is a lost art. It’s a shame since these are beautiful boats.
Our Marina offers a courtesy car for transient boaters. They have 4 old classic Buick station wagons. The Buick Roadsters are complete with faux wood paneling. Boaters can borrow a car, at no charge, for an hour. We took advantage and made a run to the grocery store about 3 miles away and stocked up on goodies. This is the first time to drive a car since selling ours a couple of months ago. It felt a little weird. And, at 30 mph, this is also the fastest we have traveled in quite some time.
The one great thing about Beaufort for sailors; it offers the perfect location to sit and await a weather window to round Cape Hatteras. Rounding Cape Hatteras is not to be taken lightly. The sea conditions off this point can be horrid. We have been watching the weather off Cape Hatteras for about 4 weeks. This is very typical of what we see.
The green areas are where sustained winds exceed 20-25 knots (23-29 mph). Doable? Yes, but not fun. The brighter green represents 25-30 knots (30- 35 mph). You can see this right over Cape Hatteras. We were really not sure how long we would need to stay in Beaufort before getting a good window to sail. This is the first marina we have stayed who just take an imprint of a credit card and leave the departure date as unknown. Now we know why. We’ve meet others who have been stuck here for 4 weeks. But after only 5 days, we see a giant opportunity to safely round Cape Hatteras for 6 days. We only need 3 days. Perfect! The marina has emptied out. We were one of the last to leave. We are Chesapeake Bay bound.