Waiting Out Nicole in Beaufort, NC
Mike, Ocean and I love to be at anchor so there are very few things that will force us onto a dock. Hurricanes are one of those things. And we have had two experiences of this so far on our journey. First, there was Hurricane Ian while we were moving along the Jersey coast. Now it is Nicole. She was briefly categorized as a Hurricane on Wednesday but mostly has been a Tropical Storm. Whatever you call her, she packs a pretty good storm surge. Thanks to Nicole, we have had very strong winds over the last several days, along with higher-than-normal tides, minor flooding, and some rain. All of this was easy to manage while at dock.
We first saw that the weather was ramping up for a good storm this week while anchored in Oriental, NC. We religiously watch the National Hurricane Centre advisories along with various weather reports and all of them pointed to a pretty severe Nicole-fueled storm starting on Tuesday and extending through most of the week. All three boats in our pod (Wild Horses, Sensai and Brise) decided to secure docks in Beaufort, NC for the Monday, in advance of the forecasted strong winds. This is one of the best parts about having sailing buddies. Even when our boats are geographically separated (Wild Horses was in Belhaven and Brise and Sensai were further along on the ICW), we check in with each other, discussing anchorages, weather, tides, and routes. We also have other boats that each of us check in with regularly, crew that we have met along the way or know from back home. It is our own little crowd sourcing exercise to keep us all safe.
We had arrived in Oriental last Thursday and decided to stay put until we had to move to our dock in Beauport on the following Monday. It was a great break from the daily grind of planning, navigating, early mornings and food on the go. Settled in one place, we could sleep in, eat a hot, slow breakfast and go for good long walks with Ocean. The anchorage was only a 30 second dinghy ride to town where we could stroll along the waterfront and through charming neighbourhoods with warm (27 degree Celsius) sunny days. It was an incredible four days of enjoying the town.
But we also got some necessary work done on Wild Horses. We have continued to deal with water intrusion in the bilge area under our bed but had a new idea for the cause, and a potential fix. Sensai had suggested that the water could be coming in through the anchor locker seams. The caulking in there was old so the theory made sense. Once in the anchor locker, we did a thorough investigation. The seams were fine but some of the hoses and electrical tubing needed to be shored up. So far, this has made a difference. Fingers crossed that the water stays on the outside of the boat from now on 😉.
After several days in Oriental, we lifted our anchor on Monday and started the journey south to Beaufort. We had a calm day with a lovely sunny sky and very little boat traffic. Too easy for you Wild Horses? Should we up the level of difficulty? Let’s see, you are headed to a tight dock space in a crowded harbour, wouldn’t it be a great add-on to your day if your bow thruster wasn’t working? Yeesh. But, yup, our bow thruster was definitely not working. Truly our bow thruster (a motor that gives us control of our bow) has been rarely used on our journey. We only really need it for tight spaces when the wind is up and since we spend most of our time in wide open anchorages, the bow thruster has sat idle. Now it was beyond idle, it was 100% non-functional.
Of course, our expert captain wasn’t concerned. Under his care, Wild Horses was guided into her dock space with ease. Yes! Next was to disembark and enjoy the town!
We have now been at Homer Smith Marina for 5 days. In that time, the bow thruster has been, well, sort of fixed. Unable to find the issue ourselves, we brought in a mechanic. He checked this and that and one other thing, with no big cause getting highlighted. Finally, he asked us to try the bow thruster and, voila, it finally worked. The issue? Age and lack of exercise. Really? Yup. The contacts that turn the on/off switch had gotten sluggish with non-use. Apparently, the bow thruster, just like us, needs to move to stay in tip top shape. No worries, that is an easy step to add into our boat days.
On Sunday we will leave Beaufort and head towards Georgetown. It will take us about four days along a stretch of the ICW that is narrow with lots of shoaling and very few anchorages. By many accounts, this is a “get-through” section of the ICW. For us, it is another experience that we are happy to have aboard Wild Horses 😊.
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.