Chesapeake VA to Beaufort NC

Ocean Song docked at Blue Water Yachting Center Hampton VA

After spending more than 18 months in the Chesapeake Bay we have moved Ocean Song to Beaufort, NC. Ocean Song was berthed at Blue Water Yachting Center in Hampton, Va. the first year in the Chesapeake. Since then she has been berthed at Bay Point Marina in Norfolk, Va. Ocean Song also spent close to 4 months at Port Annapolis Marina in Annapolis, MD. having numerous upgrades and modifications completed.

We left Bay Point, located on Little Creek, around 2:30PM on Monday, December 19, 2022 bound for Beaufort, NC. The offshore passage around Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout to Beaufort usually takes approximately 30 to 36 hours under good weather and sea conditions. Our plan was to choose a very benign weather window because late December is not the optimal time to round Hatteras. We were perfectly willing to motor all the way to avoid rough weather. We also hoped to time our passage to round Hatteras during daylight hours and come into Beaufort during daylight hours. We would follow a two-hour on, two-hour off watch schedule from 6PM – 7AM, with a casual watch schedule during the day.

Without getting into too much detail, the timing to round Hatteras in daylight was fairly easy, but rounding Hatteras at our “normal” sailing speed and also getting into Beaufort during daylight hours would be difficult. We knew we needed to cut our speed to an average of only 4 to 5 knots. The conditions were good and we spent most of Tuesday under sail with a double-reefed main and no jib. We reefed the main simply to slow Ocean Song down. We rounded Hatteras about 4:30PM on the 20th, in order to arrive off Beaufort on Wednesday morning just after sunrise. We could have easily rounded Hatteras 5 or 6 hours earlier, but if we had it would have been hard to go slow enough to not arrive off Beaufort many hours before sunrise.

In general our timing was good except that our weather window closed much quicker than forecasted. Although we achieved our goal of a benign rounding of Hatteras, we had a difficult arrival into Beaufort. We can normally transit from Cape Lookout to Beaufort in a bit more than 3 hours, it took nearly 7 hours as we encounter headwinds between 25 to 33 knots with consistent 3 to 4 meter seas. We encountered numerous breaking waves washing over Ocean Song’s bow. Linda and I alternated hand steering to avoid stressing the auto pilot. There was a small craft advisory and Gale Warning during our 7-hour approach to Beaufort Inlet. Ocean Song handled the conditions well and without incident. (Very happy we opted for the upgraded, twin 57HP diesels) We arrived at the Beaufort City Docks around 2:00PM.

After tying Ocean Song up to the dock and visiting the marina office, it was off to the Backstreet Pub for a couple of celebratory beers. Once back onboard Ocean Song, Linda and I realized we were very tired and decided to take quick naps. We got into our berth about 5:00 PM and didn’t awake until the next morning about 7:00AM, quick 14 hour naps! Later we realized that our total fluid and food consumption on Wednesday had been: 2 diet cokes, maybe 16 ounces of bottled water, 2 packs of Nabs, 6 fun size Payday bars, and 3 celebratory beers between the two of us. We also realized we had not had coffee on Wednesday, likely the first time in nearly 40 years we had totally skipped coffee.

Overall, it was a good offshore passage. We never had any real difficulties. Our (my) mistake was not arriving off Cape Lookout 3 or 4 hours earlier. Linda had recognized before I did that the weather window was going to close sooner than originally anticipated. It was my mistake to fail to quicken our pace starting around midnight on the last night of our passage. We could have easily increased our speed by 2 to 2-1/2 knots which would have allowed us to almost entirely avoid our tough, 7-hour slough from Lookout to Beaufort. Another lesson learned, we hope. The good part of that 7-hour slough was how well Ocean Song performed, she sustained no damage, and other than being tired we handled the conditions well, feeling completely safe and in control the entire time.

After clean up.

After passage hangover mess.

The next day, Thursday, was spent tidying up the boat. During a passage the inside of the boat looks like a bomb of clothing and other miscellaneous small items exploded. It seems everything just gets thrown everywhere and anywhere. It rained very hard all day and the wind blew between 20 to 30 knots all day. After doing as much cleaning and reorganizing as we could stand we settled in to rewatch one of our favorite nautical miniseries, Horaitio Hornblower. We did brave the wind and rain long enough to step across Front Street from our dock to Ribeyes Restuarant for a steak and shrimp dinner.

My sister, Lynn, was going to drive from Princeton to Beaufort on Friday to pick us up at noon to return to Princeton for Christmas. Unfortunately, the forecast for Friday called for gale conditions ON THE DOCKS so we decided to delay our departure until Saturday. All day Friday was crazy, 28 to 47 knot (32 – 54 MPH) winds and plunging temperatures. It was like being on the ocean, except that with access to shore power our heaters kept us cozy. We had so much time on our hands we did more organizing and nearly finished watching Horatio Hornblower. A shout out to the reverse cycle heating on our Cruisair A/C units! Even with temperatures in the lower 20’s, the boat stayed around 68 degrees.

Lynn came to pick us up on Saturday at 10:20 AM, with the temperature at 24 degrees Fahrenheit, ice on the docks, and on Ocean Song’s transom steps. A cold start to our ultimate destination this cruising season – the Bahamas.