10 August 2017

Cutting Corners

When Helena and I started north from West Palm Beach a few weeks ago, we had dreams of reaching Maine quickly, by sailing four or five-day legs that would cover 4-500 miles at a stretch.

Well... best laid plans. We did these kind of legs coming up from Martinique, but 1) there were four of us in the crew, and 2) even with four they were tiring. With just the two of us, and one of us being a fairly inexperienced sailor, such long legs are all the more difficult, particularly for me because I end up getting very little sleep.

So we have sort of settled into doing one or two-day legs of 1-200 miles each. This is still much faster than traveling the ICW, but isn't so tiring. It's all about striking a balance we are comfortable with.

Coincidentally, we are in a part of the US coast that consists of a series of capes a couple hundred miles apart. Cape Romain, near Charleston; Cape Fear, near Southport; Cape Lookout, near Beaufort; and the granddaddy of them all, Cape Hatteras, near nothing, probably because it was too dangerous a place for ships in colonial times.

So we have been sailing cape to cape, ducking in to the nearest inlet just south of each cape, resting a bit, and then carrying on.

I was talking to Steve Wallace of Zimmerman Marine in Southport the other day, and he suggested 'cutting the corner' off of Cape Fear, by taking the shortcut inside on the ICW, rather than going over 20 nm in the wrong direction to get around Cape Fear off shore. I thought this a pretty clever idea, so that's what we've done today. You can see our route today on the chart below, which took us about 5 hours to cover. We are now comfortably anchored off Wrightsville Beach for the night, and will have a relatively easy run offshore tomorrow to the next cape -- Cape Lookout.

Cutting the corner at Cape Fear
This has me thinking about the next cape, Cape Hatteras, which anyone would love to cut. The only problem is that there isn't convenient inlet just north of Cape Hatteras. In fact, there is nary a navigable inlet between Cape Hatteras and Cape Henry, at the mouth of the Chesapeake.

Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, Cape Hatteras, Cape Henry

Seriously thinking of cutting the Cape Hatteras corner completely by taking the ICW through the Neuse River (think, Oriental), Palmilco and Albemarle Sounds, right up to Norfolk and the Chesapeake. This would allow us to do some good 'inside' sailing in the beautiful NC sounds, while avoiding a couple of storms that are currently threatening this part of the coast.

We shall see. Tomorrow, we head toward Beaufort with fair winds forecast.

Next Up: Cutting Corners


  1. Hey John

    Glad you are enjoying P. If you really want to speed up your trip to Maine why not ask for volunteers to join you on your blog. Travelling with people you have never met before can be fun!

    1. Hi J&G, yes that's a good idea.right now, we are enjoying learning the boat on our own. Once we feel confident in our own skills, we might start looking for crew.

  2. Wrightsville is really a great protected anchorage and has that very nice small dingy dock at NE end of the anchorage, in the tiny park under the bridge. . . . And what about that GREAT Masonboro inlet, easy in/out and a nice days sail (about 60nm) to Beaufort Inlet.

  3. . . . . and don't miss the Wrightsville Beach museum about a miles walk from the Dingy Dock.

    1. Hi George, great seeing you and Mary Beth the other day. We only stayed the night in wrightsville, then got a (very) early start for Beaufort so we could make it in before dark. That plan worked out great. Will try to spend more time there on the way back. Seemed like a fun stop!


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