Sunday, October 18, 2015

Skunked again

For the second time in three days I got the weather completely wrong. Kintala rafted to Kokopelli last night after an easy day of motor-sailing through the Alligator / Pungo canal. The day was going well and the weather forecasts – at least the ones I had looked at when we last had internet– mentioned nothing but 10 knot winds. So we passed by the (very secure) Styron Creek anchorage and pushed on into the Pungo River. Charts showed a good looking place to drop the hook at a anchorage named “Slade Creek”, but we found it completely potted over and unapproachable. Kokopelli suggested we go around the next point of land, “Green Point” on the charts, tuck in as close as we could to the shallows, and stop there. Winds, after all, were light and variable and, after an easy night, we would make Oriental the next day. So we went around the corner and settled in.

After a few hours of good food and chat in Kokoppelli's cockpit it was time to call it a night. Just minutes after stepping back aboard Kintala the winds pick up and started to hum in the rigging. What? With some internet access again we pulled down new weather. Small Craft Advisory, winds 20+ gusting to near 30, waves 2 to 3 feet.


Clearly I need to trade in my weather card for one marked “NOVICE”.

With night fully fallen we dropped carefully off of Kokopelli's starboard side, letting the winds push Kintala back. Clear of the stern our Mantus hit the bottom, and we played out 100 feet of chain. Drifting back against the rode seemed a good idea as this anchorage isn't free of crab pots either. We didn't use the Beast to set the hook hard until we had stopped moving and were sure there were no wayward lines waiting to get twisted around the prop and shaft. A short time later we were bouncing around, once again riding out a bit of an uncomfortable night in an exposed anchorage. It is slightly after noon now, the winds have eased a little, but will return come nightfall.

I have to figure out a way at getting better at this. Though the weather I have been using said nothing about a vigorous impending cold front, the info must have been out there somewhere. I know this because, on the morning we left Coinjock, I overheard one of the departing powerboat Captains tell a friend he wanted to be “in before the weather Saturday night.” I looked again, didn't see what he was talking about, and so here we are.

I am about to give up on the GRIB files and NOAA's Marine Weather. At our last internet those both showed several days of moderate winds out of the north with no waves to speak of while surface PROGs showed the trailing end of a modest cold front passing over the area. An app called “Predict Winds” was closest to being correct, and we have added an app to the iPads called “Deep Weather”. This app leads to a detailed discussion of why the weather is doing what it is doing a what it is likely to do in the near and mid term. Maybe that is where the powerboat Captain got his heads-up?

Kokopelli left this morning looking for a more suitable place to sit. There are a lot of boats out there crossing the Pungo, but Kintala will stay where she is for now. We took our first real beating in the Pamlico River when we set out two years ago. With my batting average so low I am in no hurry to venture that way again until I know the weather will be better. It is a bit cold and not all that quiet here, but we are secure with shallow water and land off the bow and more than half a mile of deep water off the stern. The Mantus has held in 50+ knots before, and we have certainly been in worse places. Once this weather blows itself out we will think of moving on to Oriental.

In the meantime I am struggling a bit with my sudden inability to get anything correct when it comes to operating the boat. If we are going to stay off of docks, (and our pocketbook is telling us we really need to stay off of docks) then I simply have to put us in comfortable places when the weather picks up. But, like the .300s batter who suddenly can't hit a softball pitched underhand, I'm not sure what I am doing wrong when it comes to the weather, so I don't know what to change.

Maybe I just need to work with different weather, like that in Florida, or the Islands.

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