Well, I'm happy to report that we survived our 40-hour offshore venture. The experience did not meet my lofty expectations (a peaceful ride, whales breaching in the distance, dolphins playing in the bow wake, and seeing the Milky Way at night) - but thankfully two of those did happen (dolphins and Milky Way). And the winds offshore (and thus the seas) were significantly stronger than we anticipated. About thirty hours of 4 to 6 foot swells off our starboard quarter made for a rolling journey. The waves eventually settled down as the winds shifted and calmed, so that last portion of the ride saw only 2-3 foot waves (mercy!). And to look at the bright side, each rough sea experience is a chance to improve our stowage skills, right?
Mark cleaning the salt spray off the windshields:
Watching Mark at the helm:
Luckily, I was able to stave off seasickness throughout - I had to either stare out the window at the waves (too rough to be topside most of the time) or lie down with my eyes closed. So basically, the only times that I was awake were when Mark was trying to sleep. He definitely went back into "submarine shift mode" and kept us safe and moving the whole time. Mark says I did "really well" during my hours at the helm solo. In all fairness, I had to wake him a few times to confirm that I was interpreting the radar returns correctly. I was able to single-handedly avoid a huge Maersk container ship and three shifty buoys - quite proud of myself. Although for a while in the middle of the night, I was convinced that we were being followed by a ghost ship that showed up on our radar immediately behind us then disappeared completely whenever I tried to look for it visually. Never will know what that was, but it helped keep me awake for part of the time LOL!
These are the only instruments to monitor at the helm - and if all is going well, none of the needles move, which makes for a riveting monitoring experience. The top screen is the radar/AIS display.
We re-entered the ICW by Georgetown, SC and visited for a day with my parents in Myrtle Beach. In our efforts to keep moving northward, we resumed our travels yesterday (Saturday - which was also our 28th wedding anniversary!). And although we won't get - and don't deserve - any sympathy, we are, of course, already freezing. Isn't there a law against snow in North Carolina in mid-March? The good news is that there are very few other boats out, which makes navigation a little easier despite the decreased visibility.
Another beautiful and peaceful morning!
We plan to be home within the next 4-6 days, depending on the weather. How strange it's going to feel to be back, but we are really looking forward to catching up with everyone. I won't likely post anything else during our journey, but plan to blog at least once more after we have settled back in at home to reflect on the overall experience. Take care, everyone - see you soon!