This was the final return leg of our trip down to Miami to attend the Miami Boat Show. We had hoped to make the entire trip in one leg straight from Miami up the gulf stream and back to North Carolina (which would have taken less than 3 days). However, the weather did not cooperate. We had one good passage from Miami to St. Augustine. But, we had to pull in before we hit bad weather. When we left St. Augustine, we ran into head winds the entire way and ended up pulling into Charleston, SC to avoid even worse weather ahead.
After arriving to Charleston we rented a car to go home for a day and a half to take care of home matters. Then we returned on February 19th to prepare for the final leg departing on Friday the 20th. Wind forecasts said we would have a bit of sailing winds up the South Carolina coast, but it would die off during the afternoon of the 20th.
First thing in the morning, I arranged to get fuel, and pay the marina fees (the Charleston, SC City Marina dockage fee is higher than I’m used to at $2/foot – or $100/day for our boat). We would have preferred to anchor, but with our leaving and the thunderstorms that hit while we were gone, but we were glad to have Tahina tied up and watched by the marina staff. The marina had good quality facilities and staff and is convenient to the city.
We left about 9 AM and started out the harbor. There was a bit of wind and we flew the jib out the inlet. Once we started to sea, we raised the main for a short while, but the forecasted winds died off much sooner than expected and we soon dropped the sails and began motoring on calm seas. In fact, we motored non-stop the rest of the way back. You can see from the track we were on a straight path to the Frying Pan Shoals cut.
Download track into Google Earth
The Frying Pan Shoals cut is a narrow path through the shoals which was only a little nerve-wracking in the calm seas because we went through at night. But, the radar, GPS, and our spotlight all agreed we were in the right place when we spotted the buoys marking the cut. We had timed our arrival for shortly after dawn (since we were motoring), and we had an awesome dawn about 20 minutes from the Carolina Beach inlet. I took a bunch of pictures of the dawn which you can see in the slideshow below (click on the link to see bigger pictures at the Picasa Web Albums site). You can see in the dawn pictures that the seas were practically glass smooth. The Atalantic Ocean looked more like a lake than a sea. Noticealso that the photos have been geo-tagged according to where they were shot. The slideshow also includes a few shots when we were departing Charleston.