May 15 2020

'The Neuse Juice'

Volumn 47 Number 5

Coming Events 


Commodore's Log

Jeff Keynon, Commodore

S/V Calitri


May brings flowers and finally the start to the NSA sailing season.

Obviously, nothing is back to normal, but we can take some solace that North Carolina has been able to enter Phase 1 of reopening, and that May brings our first cruise to Cape Lookout. What a lucky choice of locations given all that is happening. You’ll read below that NSA has a fun, but also safe, event planned, and I have confidence that we as a group can begin our own re-opening and remain safe.

You will also see that our Cruise Commodore is continuing to plan for our weeklong cruise. This will be a bigger challenge with marinas and multiple locations involved. Once again with this cruise, Carl is working with each location to ensure we are able and welcome to come to each facility. All is looking good at this point. By mid-June North Carolina should be in Phase 2, meaning restrictions will be lifted further. We will need to abide by any local rules wherever we are and be mindful that as a large group we will need to proceed with caution.

As I read the above, it seems a bit dower, but sincerely, I know once we are on the water together and sharing stories, all that we love so much about NSA will come streaming back.

I would like to share a personal story of fun and rejuvenation amidst this pandemic. Since we can access our boat and prepare it for the season, and even use her for exercise and it comes with automatic social distancing, we planned a couple of nights away to South River. Tracy and Robert aboard Solveig “found” a nice spot further in than the usual Lukens Cemetery location in Southwest Creek. We decided to join them and sent out a note to a few others. Well – didn’t 11 boats show up! 7 from NSA, 2 from SCOO, and 2 additional. It was nice to see boats at anchor, people dinghying around exploring, mast head lights on at night, etc. The group even found a sandy spot to pull up the dinghies, sit and socialize for a few hours. It gives me hope for some normalcy to this activity we enjoy show much and are anxious to return to. It won’t be long! Below is CALITRI in Southwest Creek at Sunrise. What a nice spot!

I hope reading this gives you hope and motivation to take a short cruise by yourself or a small group. It will be good for your soul, and make sure you are ready for the trip to Cape Lookout for Memorial Day.

Be good and be safe. I look forward to seeing you, at a distance, again!








 


Cruising Outlook

Carl Crothers, VC Cruising

S/V Sanctuary


Cruising Update for May 2020

Cape Lookout for Memorial Day weekend, May 23-25, is a go with 34 boats now registered at last count and Covid-19 restrictions beginning to lift. The National Parks Service Visitors Center and Lighthouse remain closed, but the beaches are open. The Parks Service is requiring that groups on the beach be limited to 10 people with social distancing observed. Tracy and Robert, our cruise captains, have some plans that will allow us to obey the rules while still having fun. More to come on that.

The Week-long Cruise to Albemarle Plantation Marina continues to look more promising by the day. Our plans remain on schedule. North Carolina’s entrance into Phase 1 of Reopening has eased concerns and all our marinas are prepared to welcome us. Dare County, which includes Manteo, has announced that it will reopen to visitors May 16. Manteo Waterfront Marina Dockmaster Carl Jordan, the friendliest dockmaster on the NC coast, is already working on boat assignments for the arrival of the Route 2 fleet, now numbering 16 boats, on Saturday, June 13.

For Route 1 boats, now numbering eight, the Alligator River Marina is open and has scheduled the arrival of our boats on Sunday, June 14. The Route 1 fleet will anchor on Saturday night, June 13, just off the Pungo River at MM 127.3, just before you enter the Pungo River-Alligator River Canal. If you decide you would prefer to spend that first night in a marina, you will need to contact the marina yourself. Dowry Creek Marina and the marinas in Belhaven are nearby. We also are still looking for a cruise captain(s) for Route 1.

The Albemarle Plantation Marina expects to reopen to visitors by late May and they await the arrival of our two fleets on Monday, June 15. For the return trip, the Dowry Creek Marina has remained open during the shut-down and is looking forward to our arrival on Friday, June 19, for the final two nights of our cruise.

Important note: If you have registered for the Week-long Cruise, and/or Memorial Day for that matter, and your plans have changed, please let me know so I can provide the dockmasters the best boat lists possible.  Each marina on the Week-long will receive boat manifests from me that include all the information they need to assign you a proper slip. You do not have to contact the marinas yourself. If you have registered, they will know you are coming, and you will deal with payment after you are tied up. Hail the marinas on VHF 16 when you are 15-20 minutes away.

For the Route 2 boats, I will provide some night sailing navigational and safety information in the next couple of weeks. To start with, you should go ahead and do three things: 1. Make sure you know how to change the brightness of your chartplotter. Daytime brightness levels will blind you at night; 2. Go to your boat at night and test your red/green nav lights and your stern light; and 3. Make sure you have a strong spotlight onboard to spot markers should we have divert into a safe harbor channel at night. I would also recommend you have a life vest that includes a strobe so we can find you if you go overboard in the dark. I strongly recommend you plan on wearing your vest under way at night and you click into a jack line, even if the seas are calm.  It’s good seamanship, and smart.

I will be creating a week-long forum soon to discuss some of this information, and I will also email all those registered for the cruise with updates.

And finally, we have opened registration for all remaining cruises this year. As always, you can review our schedule and details on the Events List. And feel free to email or call me with questions, at vccruising@neusesailingassociation.org, or 336-408-4993.

We look forward to seeing you on the water.

Memorial Day Cruise to Cape Lookout

Cruise Captains:  Tracy Vail and Robert Pugh aboard Solveig (pronounced:  Sole  vey)

The first official NSA Cruise of the season will be to Cape Lookout.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to experience all we love about sailing and to see each other while remaining safe.  

The official dates of the trip are May 23rd through May 25th.  Solveig plans on leaving Wednesday afternoon or Thursday depending on weather.  We may anchor for a bit at Beaufort to wait for slack tide depending on our timing.

We tend to anchor between the cost guard mooring ball and the south end of the deep water.  The depths in that area change quickly so be careful how close you get to shore.  Plan on anchoring in 24 feet of water with a 7-1 scope.  The area has a lots of narrow beach and cut through to the ocean side.

This picture shows the general area and the location of the cut to the ocean.

This picture shows the general area and the location of the cut to the ocean.

We will be monitoring 16 and 68 so if you have any problems or questions, don't hesitate to connect.

Things will look a bit different this year.  Our goal is to allow us to socialize in a way that respects the health and safety of all our members, especially those with pre-existing conditions that increase the potential effects of COVID-19.  To that end, please bring your own drinks and food.  Plan on taking out whatever you bring in.  There will be no group trash collection.  This will help us avoid any possible cross contamination.

Schedule of events:  In all activities, please remain in groups of 10 or less and maintain distance between households of at least 6 feet.  We will follow CDC recommendations of the use of masks in spaces where 6 feet of separation is not possible.  If you see a member wearing a mask, please be respectful and maintain your distance if you choose not to wear one yourself.  Remember, masks are to protect others.

Saturday, May 23rd:  Boats arrive.

Sunday, May 24th:

10:00- physically separated walk on the ocean side to find the perfect racing shell

2:00 pm- Shell race.  Participants will line up on the bight beach, 6 feet apart.  At the sound of the conch, the shells will be released into the water.  The shell that reaches the farthest distance in 1 minute will be the winner!

3:00- Mask Contest.  Participants will be judged on the most creative mask design.  Bring your ideas and wear your masks!

4:00- Round Robin Social:  We will separate into groups of no more than 10, remaining 6 feet apart.  Each member will have their own food and drink.  We will visit with that group for about 30 minutes then, at the sound of the conch, switch groups.  This should allow us to catch up with old friends, meet and get to know new members AND follow CDC recommendations.

*Throughout the social, there will be periods of "Name that Tune Corona Style" where each group will compete to see who can name the songs on our COVID-19 playlist the fastest!  Prizes will be awarded!

Members are invited to participate as much or as little as they wish.

Monday:  boats depart




Membership

Donna Crothers, VC Membership

S/V Sanctuary


Welcome New Members!

ruising season! Please join me in welcoming David and Jenny MacPherson of Spruce Pine, NC, owners of S/V Belo Dia at Pecan Grove Marina. Please say hello when you see them!

Also, if any members have battered NSA burgees, we have plenty of burgees for sale, available for $25 (which is very close to our cost). I can mail or safely deliver a burgee to you; just contact me at 336 403 6534 or at vcmembership@neusesailingassociation.org.

Stay well and hope to see you on the water soon!





Dinghy Poker Run

Sharon Stephenson

S/V Pelikan

srstephenson1420@gmail.com

919-414-7719



2020 Dinghy Poker Run

At this point the Dinghy Poker Run is still on the schedule for July 25. Hopefully, our current social isolation will be lifted by then and we can go on with the fun and fundraising efforts for the Pamlico Coastal Activities Council to provide sailing instruction for underprivileged kids.

This event is sponsored by the NCO (Nautical Co-op of Oriental), so needs volunteers from all 3 sailing clubs in Oriental. I had originally planned to have a planning meeting in early April to start making plans, but Covid-19 cancelled that. A few of you responded with your willingness to help, but more volunteers will be needed. Many preparation items can be handled virtually and then many volunteers will be needed the day of the event.

I need folks to help with advertisement, set-up planning, food, solicitation of auction items. Speaking of auction items, while you are staying home and cleaning out those spaces you usually ignore, consider donating some of your no longer used nicer items for the auctions!

Thanks for your consideration to volunteer. Let me know what you are interested in doing.


srstephenson1420@gmail.com

919-414-7719


NSA Wear

Kathy Kenny, VC Social Media, NSA Wear Coord.

S/V Cool Change


Get your NSA Wear for the Season!

When you take a look at the Marketplace you will see pictures and sizes of the tee-shirts we have on hand for purchasing, as well as caps and visors. You will be able to purchase your order and have it personally delivered to you in Oriental (or at an NSA event) as shipping will not be available. The tees and caps are $20, visors are $15 and koozies are one for $3 or two for $5. 


In looking at pictures on our NSA Facebook group I see that some of you have still been able to get out and enjoy being on the water. I’m looking forward to the day we can all be on the water again and safely socializing. Until then (as well as afterwards) keep posting those great pictures and stay safe! 



Communications

Robert Pugh and Tracy Vail, VC Communications

S/V Solveig


Robert has worked hard on the NSA Marketplace so stop by and check out his efforts!  Please be patient and let us know if you find any kinks in the system. 

We're ready to get the season started and hope to see everyone out at Cape Lookout!

 


Sailing Adventures

Cruising Through a Pandemic

By Patrick McWherter


While waiting for a good weather window, at the Emerald Bay Marina, Grand Exuma, Bahamas, we started hearing rumblings of a Corona Virus that was quickly spreading, and starting to hit Italy pretty hard. Our destination was Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, where I had planned to drop my current crew (Josef from Austria), and pick up my new crew (Nicola, from Germany). The Bahamas had announced their first Covid-19 case, and people were starting to talk about impending restrictions. Things still seemed pretty chill in Turks and Caicos and my crew had flight plans, so we decided it best to get there sooner, rather than later. At this point, we were sailing during the day, and finding safe anchorages at night. We anchored at Calabash Bay, near Cape Santa Marie, Long Island. This place was named after one of Christopher Columbus’ ships, as he also anchored near there. We stopped in Clarence Town on the Southern end of Long Island, dropped anchor on the northeast end of Crooked Island near the Land Rail settlement, and spent the night on the north side of the Acklins Island in Atwood Harbour. Our final anchorage prior to crossing the Caicos Passage was Abrahams Bay, on Mayaguana Island.

When we arrived at the South Side Marina in Providenciales, some businesses were just beginning to voluntarily shut down. The dive boats were no longer operating, as they couldn’t get enough customers to make a drive trip worth while. A couple restaurants had shut down, the hotels and resorts were mostly empty, but the grocery stores were well stocked and not crowded. Customs and immigration had no problem with folks coming from the Bahamas or the States, but if you came from Puerto Rico, or points south you had to self quarantine for 14 days. By this time, my new crew had cancelled and Josef was not able to fly out because of travel restrictions. Although Josef is Austrian, he lives in Canada under a work permit. At this point, Canada was only letting citizens and permanent residents into the country. So Josef was stuck with me on Orion.

Turks and Caicos was still pretty relaxed, so we decided to hang out there… until it wasn’t. We topped off the fuel and water, stocked up on groceries, and waited. Within a week, the Government had announced the airport would shut down, that all non-essential businesses would close and the country was going into lockdown for 21 days. No one would be allowed in, or out of the country, and we would not be allowed off the boat for 3 weeks. Additionally, the US State Department announced that US Citizens traveling abroad, should return home. It seemed like a good time to leave… I figured If I’m going to be stuck on the boat for 3 weeks, I might as well be sailing north.

We decided to make the 600 mile run to Miami. By this time, the Bahamas was also tightening down the restrictions. Curfews were being implemented and no inter Island travel allowed. We had two options. Sail around the southwest end of the Bahamas, near Cuba and catch the gulf stream up to Miami. This would mean 4 plus days open ocean, with no possibility for stops along the way. If we had any problems, we were on our own. Option number two, was to sail North through the middle of the Bahamas, staying open ocean as much as possible, but having the ability to duck into safe harbor in case of bad weather or other issues. We chose option 2.

We made the journey from Turks and Caicos to Bimini in full “self-quarantine” mode, with 3 overnight runs, anchoring off Crooked Island one night, Staniel Cay another and then arriving  off North Bimini on the final night. While waiting for good weather to cross the Gulf Stream to Miami, we worked our way to Cat Cay, and anchored off Honeymoon Harbour. I spent a total of 10 minutes ashore in the Bahamas on this particular trip through the country, and that was to pay for fuel at Staniel Cay. We were confronted by the local police on our last night anchored off Cat Cay. I still had a valid Bahamas cruising permit. They are good for 3 months, and mine was still valid for a couple more weeks. He asked where we’d been, and where we were going. I mentioned the Exumas, the Acklins and Mayaguana, which was a partial truth, but not necessarily the whole truth. I told him I was just trying to get home. He told me I would be better off going to Bimini, because Florida was not in good shape. I thanked him, and he went on his way.

We departed Cat Cay for Miami at first light the following morning. We were 8 miles offshore, when we heard the call on the VHF Radio, from the Bahamas Self Defense Force. “The Bahamas borders are officially closed. No vessels are allowed in or out of the country”.  We also heard them calling back cruisers that were leaving the harbor at North Bimini. We continued on, knowing full well that we were only a couple miles from International waters. We made it to No Name Harbor, off Key Biscayne without issue. Canada had eased their restrictions, so Josef was now able to fly home. He departed, leaving me to sail solo for the remainder of the trip, from Miami to New Bern, NC.

When sailing onboard Orion from Biscayne Bay to the north, the only option is to go offshore, as my mast height is 62 feet, and Julia Tuttle Bridge north of Miami, has only 56 feet of clearance. This is the only fixed bridge from Miami to Norfolk that I can’t get under. So I waited for a good weather window, jumped offshore and sailed to West Palm Beach. This happened to be my first ever offshore solo sail but it turned out great. The Gulf Stream is very close to the coastline in southern Florida. On this day, it happened to be about 11 miles offshore. It gave me about a 2.5 knot boost. The next several weeks, I slowly worked my way north. Sometimes in the ICW, and when the weather was cooperative, I would hop offshore.

I stayed at various anchorages, some near cites and some completely remote. I stayed in marinas, and went ashore when needing groceries, water or fuel. When going ashore I wore my home made face mask, made from an old T-Shirt. I have practiced social distancing to the max since leaving Turks and Caicos. I say this, because 2-3 days after I went into a grocery store in Titusville FL, I started feeling Covid-19 like symptoms. A dry cough, fever, chills and head aches. These symptoms only lasted a couple of days, and were very minor. I don’t know if I had (or have) the virus, or the antibodies.

At the time of this writing, it’s been two weeks since the last of these symptoms. I have arrived safely back in New Bern, NC. I departed New Bern on the 21st of October, 2019. I arrived back here on 10 May 2020. It’s been an amazing adventure. Beautiful beaches, amazing sailing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Also, middle of the night storms, anchor dragging, running aground, and the Corona Virus. The world has changed, I have changed and my life has been changed. I don’t know what the future may bring, or where the next trip will take me, but I do know this: If you take it one nautical mile at a time, you will get to where you need to be…

Patrick McWherter

Phone: (805) 509-6305

E-Mail: patrick@cosmicsailinginc.com

Or find me on: Facebook at Cosmic Sailing Inc, or

Instagram at Cosmic Sailing





 





After our snorkel stop, we headed off across the Great Bahama Bank. We motor-sailed for 60 miles in about 15-20 feet of water. We had picked a good weather day (and night), and anchored out, in the middle of nowhere. No city lights, no land in sight, just a couple other anchor lights, off in the distance. The next morning we pulled up anchor and set sail across the NorthEast Providence Channel for New Providence Island, where we anchored over night on the West End. West Bay is relatively protected, but not from the West and North West. Which leads me to my next topic, seeking protection. The cold fronts in the winter sweep through the Bahamas on a fairly regular basis. The only differences between them are; 1) Their intensity and/or duration, and 2) How far South they go, before they fizzle out. The prevailing winds in the area are from the South East to South. A cold front coming through will shift the winds to the West, North West, then North East. This year I’ve seen a number of very strong fronts (20-30 knots), that last for up to 3-4 days. Finding protection from all directions is important, as the wind shifts. Finding a place where you can hang out for 3-4 days, is just as critical.

After Nassau, we set sail for the Exumas. You can hang out in the Exumas for weeks… or months, and not run out of things to do or see. The water is amazing, the islands are amazing and the beaches are amazing. Highbourne Cay or Normans Cay are usually the first stops from cruisers coming from Nassau. Normans is famous for being the former home of a Colombian Drug King pin. Contrary to rumors, it wasn’t “El Chapo”. There is however, a beautiful DC-3 wreck in the channel, that was used for drug smuggling during the 1980’s. This is another very popular snorkeling spot.

South from there is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This is a protected area extending from Shroud Cay south to Bell Cay. We stopped at the Warderick Wells Cay, which is the home of the Parks Head Quarters. I highly recommend making a stop here. Services are limited, but you can get a Cell Phone signal from the top of Boo-Boo Hill and/or from the South East corner of the Park Headquarters building, if you stand on one leg, and hold your right arm up in the air. But that’s it. Now’s a good time to mention cellphone and/or Wifi Service. I have T-Mobile, with an international plan, which gives me very limited data outside the US. You can also bring a secondary phone, and purchase a Sim Card for the Bahamas. I’m told that “Mr. Sim card.com" is a good option for getting international Sim Cards. My preference is “My Island WiFi”. For $75 per month, they provide a WiFi router that supplies unlimited high speed data, available anywhere in the Bahamas, within reach of a Cellphone Tower. Most of the Islands have BTC Cellphone towers, and they are shown on the Explorer Charts as well. I usually have coverage, at most anchorages or Marinas. Although I have been known to run the WiFi unit up the mast on a spare halyard to increase my range. If you go with My Island WiFi. Order a couple of months early. They have limited quantity but can ship from Miami, if necessary.

After our snorkel stop, we headed off across the Great Bahama Bank. We motor-sailed for 60 miles in about 15-20 feet of water. We had picked a good weather day (and night), and anchored out, in the middle of nowhere. No city lights, no land in sight, just a couple other anchor lights, off in the distance. The next morning we pulled up anchor and set sail across the NorthEast Providence Channel for New Providence Island, where we anchored over night on the West End. West Bay is relatively protected, but not from the West and North West. Which leads me to my next topic, seeking protection. The cold fronts in the winter sweep through the Bahamas on a fairly regular basis. The only differences between them are; 1) Their intensity and/or duration, and 2) How far South they go, before they fizzle out. The prevailing winds in the area are from the South East to South. A cold front coming through will shift the winds to the West, North West, then North East. This year I’ve seen a number of very strong fronts (20-30 knots), that last for up to 3-4 days. Finding protection from all directions is important, as the wind shifts. Finding a place where you can hang out for 3-4 days, is just as critical.

After Nassau, we set sail for the Exumas. You can hang out in the Exumas for weeks… or months, and not run out of things to do or see. The water is amazing, the islands are amazing and the beaches are amazing. Highbourne Cay or Normans Cay are usually the first stops from cruisers coming from Nassau. Normans is famous for being the former home of a Colombian Drug King pin. Contrary to rumors, it wasn’t “El Chapo”. There is however, a beautiful DC-3 wreck in the channel, that was used for drug smuggling during the 1980’s. This is another very popular snorkeling spot.

South from there is the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. This is a protected area extending from Shroud Cay south to Bell Cay. We stopped at the Warderick Wells Cay, which is the home of the Parks Head Quarters. I highly recommend making a stop here. Services are limited, but you can get a Cell Phone signal from the top of Boo-Boo Hill and/or from the South East corner of the Park Headquarters building, if you stand on one leg, and hold your right arm up in the air. But that’s it. Now’s a good time to mention cellphone and/or Wifi Service. I have T-Mobile, with an international plan, which gives me very limited data outside the US. You can also bring a secondary phone, and purchase a Sim Card for the Bahamas. I’m told that “Mr. Sim card.com" is a good option for getting international Sim Cards. My preference is “My Island WiFi”. For $75 per month, they provide a WiFi router that supplies unlimited high speed data, available anywhere in the Bahamas, within reach of a Cellphone Tower. Most of the Islands have BTC Cellphone towers, and they are shown on the Explorer Charts as well. I usually have coverage, at most anchorages or Marinas. Although I have been known to run the WiFi unit up the mast on a spare halyard to increase my range. If you go with My Island WiFi. Order a couple of months early. They have limited quantity but can ship from Miami, if necessary.






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