We made it! We entered the Beaufort, NC channel just after sunrise and are now anchored near the town docks. We have our yellow quarantine flag up, a traditional warning to other mariners that no one on board has showered in several days. No, kidding. The flag is hoisted to indicate that we haven’t yet cleared customs and officially entered the United States. We’re waiting for a call from the Customs and Border Patrol inspector, who will come out to EXIT to review our passports and paperwork. Only then can we step off the boat.
Yesterday began much like day 3: The wind slackened steadily in the morning (boo), following its now familiar diurnal pattern, so we restarted the engine at 10:30 a.m. and motored for the rest of the day. We didn’t see dolphins, but flying fish zipped past us in twos and threes most of the afternoon. There was also a sea bird who flew up, circled us four times, landed on a nearby swell, and then watched as EXIT rumbled past. A minute later he came flapping up again and repeated this procedure. He followed us that way for a good half hour — we never knew if he was hoping for fish scraps or looking for a place on deck to land.
At one point in mid-afternoon the sea was almost glassy calm, just tiny ripples on the surface called “cats paws”. Another hot, hot day, all of us damp and swollen with the heat. Later in the afternoon we realized Cape Fear was only 50 miles to the west but we still couldn’t see land. “This horse can smell the barn, though,” said Jordan. We were eager to wrap this thing up.
In the evening the wind picked up, eventually blowing up to 23 knots from our stern. Lightening flashed in the distance and the seas grew larger and more confused, but with everything stowed below it wasn’t much trouble. The kids slept through it all.
And now we’re here! We travelled a total of 538 miles in 85 hours, with an average speed of 6.3 knots. We sailed for 25 hours of that and motor-sailed the rest.
Later today Jordan will fly home to Colorado, and starting tomorrow we’ll head north on the Intracoastal Waterway to Chesapeake Bay, although thunderstorms are predicted for the next few days so we’ll have to see. But for now: customs, shower, lunch (with beer). Can’t wait.