Thursday, January 7, 2016

Outbound Cape Fear

It's a 26 nautical mile transit that takes between two and a half and three
hours depending on which way and how strong the current is running. We've
made it up the river in about two and a quarter hours, with a following
current of about two knots -- but I don't recommend that because, when we
did that, the flood was still running about a knot by the time we got to our
pier which made mooring...exciting. Especially since we were twisting in the
river to moor port side to. We almost moored to the pier north of us, which
could have been bad because it doesn't have the depth of water alongside
that we need...

Today, though, OPS timed it perfectly, and we got underway just as the ebb
current was coming slack. We were starboard side to, and had to twist around
once we got away from the pier to head in the right direction. DCA did a
great job of using the wind and what hint of an ebb was left to spring on
line three (our forward leading spring line) while backing on the outboard
engine to get the bow away from the pier, take in line three, and then drive
into the center of the river to start our twist to the south.

The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge rose quickly so we didn't have to station keep
and wait for it to go up. Thank you so much for your patience to anyone who
was stuck in bridge traffic for us! Just south of the bridge, we had to
squeak by a dredging barge who was taking up about 2/3 of the channel with
their work. 

The rest of our transit was smooth, after we got our small boat and line
handlers back onboard. The ranges were (mostly) all clearly lit (we'll be
sending an ATON (aids to navigation) discrepancy report for the one or two
range lights that we noticed were not watching properly). A gentle flood did
turn a bit strong once we got to the southern portion of the river, just
between Sunny Point on the west and Sugarloaf on the east. With the wind
coming from behind us, and the current coming up, the water stood up into
cheerful little white capped peaks and frothed energetically. 

We overtook a sailing vessel also headed outbound; they graciously moved
over to the west side of the channel for us and hugged the green buoys. We
danced a little with SOUTHPORT and CROATOAN, the Fort Fisher/Southport
ferries that make hourly runs between the two sides of the river. And
RANGER, the ferry between Bald Head Island and Southport, subsequently
overtook us just north of Battery Island.

Our turn around Battery Island, through the Big S turn (or as CO heard 1LT
say one transit, the Big Ass Turn...I'm not sure which I like better. Both
are highly accurate), always looks like we're going to run up on the marsh.
But we made it safely through and had a nice conversation with a shrimper
outbound from Southport about him staying on the green side of the channel. 

And then we were out to sea. We're hugging close to the coast, to try to
stay out of the worst of the seas until they lay down some more. I expect
we'll rock gently in the trough all night long. 

LCDR Charlotte Mundy
Executive Officer

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