5 Oct 2007
Arrived at boat to finish provisioning and make preparations. The reality of taking my wife and young children offshore was setting in as I prepared the boat. NOAA was predicting 10-15 kt with 20 kt gusts from the NE shifting to the E, seas 3-5 ft, and we needed to head SW; we therefore would have a leeshore on the W. Key in my mind was the need to weather Cape Romain, a shoal area that 'interupts' the rhumb line from Winyah Bay to Charleston. If we were to trust the NOAA forecast, the weather was about as good as it could be for the offshore jump, but we were putting off the 'official' decision until morning to see what the conditions really were. I got to sleep around 0100 on the 6th.
6-7 Oct 2007
Underway at 0620, about an hour before high tide and daylight. Eased out of the Sampit River and into the Bay. A bit after 0700, raised the sails and killed the ob. It was nice sailing down the bay. Becky was helping with the nighttime navigation and sailed the boat a few times while I made various adjustments on deck. She noted that she liked helming Gaelic Sea better than Wave Function. With the Georgetown Lighthouse abeam, I decide to reef to avoid the necessity offshore, believing the A-30 to like a "reef early" on the main with a genny up. Kissed the #5 bouy for good luck and turned S, 170 Magnetic after getting 'pounded' by the steep 6-8 footers in the inlet (our spare gas cans washed overboard, but were tied to the boat so they were retrieved).
Conditions offshore were consistent with the NOAA forecast, so we continued on. My rhumb line was ddw with the NE wind, so I broad reached at 170 for three hours. 5 foot seas were abeam, which made for a rolly ride, and this took it's toll on Hunter and Becky. Hunter had her bucket in the cabin and quickly established a pattern before getting sick. Becky's getting sick set me off I must confess, but Jonathan, 2 years old, never batted an eye. I think the boy is a born sailor. Becky did sail the boat some during this leg while I tended to chores above and below deck. At one point, Hunter, our 5 yo daughter, exclaimed emphatically, "I hate this frickin' boat."
At 1245, Becky sited a cargo ship on the horizon to the ESE, which gave me a good idea that we were well within the 10 Fathom Line. At 1300, I jibed the boat to head back inshore a little bit, and the seas were now dead astern. We had the wind on a broad reach with astern seas - sweet sailing at 5.5-6 kts with reefed main and genoa. During this leg, the girls' tummies settled down and those below got some rest. Around 1530, I saw a shore based structure (the Cape Romain Light) though land itself was not visible. I fired up the GPS to fix position, and was within 3 nm of my DR position based on estimated speed and compass heading. We had cleared Cape Romain and were on the rhumb line between my projected Waypoints 2 and 3. So far so good.
I dropped the main to run ddw under the headsail, which slowed our speed but put us on a direct course - sailing off course but faster vs direct and slower computed out to be about the same elapsed time. I was REALLY missing not having a whisker pole, which would have been worth its weight in gold. At 2130, we were within site of the Charleston sea bouy and the City was clearly visible. I decided to wait out the night 'outside' rather than try to run the channel of the unknown harbor at night. We hove-to, Becky stood watch and I took a nap. I relieved her at 0000 and decided to buy some sea room and began beating into the wind which now had more easting in it (as predicted).
For about 3 hours, I tacked back out toward the sea bouy and again had some sweet sailing. The wind had dropped to 10 kts, so I had shaken the reef out of the main, and for one entire tack, Gaelic Sea steered herself, perfectly balanced close-hauled in 3 ft seas. By 0400, I hove-to again to take a nap so Becky could stand watch in no wind. The sails were slatting and banging and I tried to drop them and just ride it out. No good - bad move. At 0530, while attempting to raise the main again to steady her back up, the gooseneck fitting failed and the boom fell on my knee. We lashed the boom to the deck, raised the jib, started the ob and began motor sailing toward the channel. The Pilot boat passed us in the channel and circled back to check on us, and informed us the harbor was socked in with fog. He advised we could anchor just south of the jetties to await a clear approach if need be, but that it MIGHT clear off before we got in. It did, and we were glad to have gotten to continue in without having to anchor to await better weather.
As we were passing Ft. Sumter, a ship passed rolling the boat through about 50 degrees each side of vertical. At this point, Jonathan was kneeling on the cockpit seat holding the coaming and looking out. This large roll did not even phase him. He never batted an eye or expressed concern in any way. As I said, a natural.
Motoring was slow in large part to the falling tide but also as we were later to confirm, water in our fuel. We approached the City Anchorage around noon; Jerry aboard his Catalina 30 informed us we were "too close" for his comfort, so we moved to a different spot. We were anchored by 1245. After a nap I set about boat chores, such as inflating the dink (stored deflated in its bag just abaft the mast on deck) and repairing the gooseneck. Becky found the pin laying on deck, and I found the cotter ring that had come out!! (Later on the trip, I replaced both cotter rings with cotter pins).
Our first family offshore run was a little rough around the edges but we had made it and everyone, though very tired, was well. Becky fixed hamburgers for dinner which REALLY hit the spot. After the children were tucked in, Becky and I enjoyed the evening with a glass of Burgundy.
No photos of the trip down.