Monday, November 13, 2006

Shame on Me

Beaufort, NC, N 34 43.580 W 76 40.036

I’m beside myself with remorse and disgust over my actions yesterday.

Our plan was to leave Oriental on Sunday and travel to Beaufort. Beaufort it only 20 miles away. I had told our friends Dwight and Karen that we would arrive in Beaufort Sunday night. In the morning I met a young couple at the public dock. They were anxious to bring their boat in to our spot, and I told them that we would be gone by 10 AM. The weather was not bad, although the sky was threatening.

Weather: The young couple had mentioned something about winds of 40 mph, so I checkes on NOAA weather radio. It said 15-20 knots. Anyhow, for the past 10 days there had been numerous gale warnings for near offshore waters, but considerably less wind inland. Bottom line, I ignored the warning.

We left the public dock at 10AM in a mild breeze. We had to cross the Neuse River 4.5 nm to reach Adams Creek on the other side. Within 10 minutes after leaving the north shore, the winds suddenly increased dramatically. I asked Libby to look at the wind speed indicator. She said, “36 knots.” That qualifies as a gale. The river is shallow and in a short time the waves became big a few of them broke over the foredeck. It also turned very cold. Libby went below.

I stayed on deck and motored us across. It took two hours, and I had to nurse every bit of windward progress I could to avoid having to tack under motor power.

When we got the far side, and just as we were beginning to come under shelter from the far shore, I went forward. To my horror, I noted that the staysail was gone. The staysail and the jib were both stowed in their sail bags up in the bowsprit, but neither was secured. The jib lay on the foredeck but the staysail was nowhere in sight.

It will cost up to $1,000 to replace the staysail.

We anchored last night in Adams Creek, avoiding the need to find a less sheltered anchorage in Beaufort. It was an uncomfortable night and I had to stay awake most of the time on anchor watch.

My decision to leave Oriental was bad. The mistake of get-there-itis is a well known cause of many aviation accidents. Using an outdated weather report was sloppy. Leaving critical items on desk without being securely tied down was a sloppy habit. Never mind that I got away with it for nearly two years.

Shame on me. I should have know better.

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