12 September, 2010

Watertribe NC Challenge Practice

Last weekend I went to try out the NCC Course. It was the day after Hurricane Earl left the area so the weather was not with me. Bellow is a summary that I posted on the Watertribe discussion board:

So this weekend I went to Cedar Island to get some on the course practice.  Here are some of my observations:

1) It was the day after the hurricane. Areas of the Cedar Island main road were under water. Arriving in the evening  I was welcomed by what looked like a ordinary house fly. Do not let these creatures fool you. They are carnivorous! When the sun went down they were replaced by a swarm of blood thirsty mosquitoes. 

2) The camp ground is $20. You can not beat that price. When I asked about where to park my car and trailer I got the shoulder shrug. I paid for three day of camp ground just to be safe. 

3) The drinking water at the camp is nasty and has a sulfur taste. Bring in your water. 

4) Saturday morning I left from the campground ramp. You can see the SPOT track on the NCC map page. (Select Dogslife => Show Tracks and All Waypoints => Regenerate View) The wind was blowing from the west straight down my course line. The waves were one foot coming out of the cut east of the ramp, two foot passing the ferry and close to three foot between Cedar North light and the sand banks. The wave pattern is not the regular large ocean roll that I am use to at the mouth of the Chesapeake. There are a lot of reflective waves coming from different angles. I laugh when I hear about 34 pound boats. My 14.5' plastic pig that probably weighs close to 150 pounds loaded is no fun pushing into the wind and waves. I am waiting to see how Matt does in his inflatable. The only thing that I had to look forward to was rounding Piney Island and putting my sail up.

5) The waves were breaking on the beaches of Piney island. I had to put up my sail rig waterborne  while trying to keep from getting blown into the Island. I got a 1/2 hour of nice reaching down the Neusse River before the wind veered to south west straight down the river. "You have got to be kidding me". I must have really pissed off the weather gods some place in my past. They were not with me on this trip. I tried Hybrid sailing to windward (paddle/sail), I tried tacking toward Oriental, I tried everything. The minute I stopped paddling I lost ground. I pulled to the shore, took down the sail and paddled into the wind and waves up to Cedar Point. At Cedar point I thought that I might be able to close reach if I altered my route behind Great Island. I had to continue my Hybrid paddle. The sun was going down as I rounded into Clubfoot Creek and you guessed it the wind also turned but eventually died. 

6) Paddling the Harlowe Canal in the dark is a experience. My GPS map was not too accurate at the entrance and I did hit one blind cove. The current was going against me but not too strong. After the 101 highway bridge it started going with me. 

7) I had some prospective camp sites on the Newport River. They all turned out to be bunk. They were all wet maybe because of the storm. Lots of oyster beds along the shore. I gave up and headed to Beaufort. 

8) Beaufort was hoping with Labor day parties. All I could smell was the fried food rounding the point. By 1AM I was spent. I filled my water bladders at the check point and found a dark dock to crash on. Too tired I wrapped a tarp around me thinking that the mosquitoes were my biggest enemy. A hour later I was shivering. My rashguard is a pain to get off so I left the wet thing on. Big mistake. I put on my sweater and used my space blanket to keep warm.

9) In the morning it was dead calm. Entering North River the wind started blowing from the North East. I paddled to the Harkers bridge and then put the sail up.

10) My boat can sail closer to the wind without the outrigger in light winds. I sailed close hauled like that to make Marshallberg point. As I rounded the point I got slammed with the wind and promptly flipped the boat. 

11) The wind was blowing hard straight down Core Sound. I tried tacking up but my course made good was too slow. I had to reef my sail. In three hours I made only three miles on my route line. My progress was quickly getting behind my schedule.

12) Stopping at the Core Banks I decided for Plan B, my bailout plan. Oyster Creek ramp was one of my emergency haul out points. As I crossed my intended route line I took a bearing on the wind. Straight down the line. I had to work the lee shore at Davis to make the boat ramp.

13) I have not hitchhiked in over 30 years. That was a experience by it self. A old fisherman gave me a ride up to Sealevel. He was quite the character. From Sealevel I walked over a mile getting attacked by mosquitoes. My legs were covered by blood from smashing them. Then I was picked up by this couple in a pickup truck. "Can you ride in the back?" The back was loaded with stuff. I squeezed  into tiny space thankful that I was getting away from the mosquitoes. Next time I am bringing hitchhiking clothes. No one wants to pick up a paddler who looks like they just washed up on the shore.

14) Lessons learned: I should have paced my self on the first leg. Thinking that thing are going to get better around the first corner is not always true. Take the old canal route instead of fighting the Pamlico. I had way too much extra weight. Less food and water. I tried to follow the Chief's list and went too heavy. Someone needs to look at the requirements for a 2 day trip vs one week for the Florida challenges. My SPRINT cell phone was useless until Newport River. My Verizon computer card had one bar at the campground. Make sure you do all you reporting around Beaufort. Sandybottoms is correct. This race is very different from open water sailing. The conditions are constantly varying and there are few rest spots at the 50% point. I think that I could have made the 2 1/2 day time line. I just hope that the weather gods and mosquitoes are more forgiving on the day of the race...

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