Day 4, April 29, 2012: Imagine being in a cocktail shaker for four hours. Fillings come loose. After a great day with the Murrays in Southport, we are heading north this morning. A 07:45 departure put us in the Southport shipping channel by 09:00. The news of a Marine Corps live fire exercise was not welcomed. That meant certain closure of the ICW at the New River for hours. The weather is flat calm and without a breath of wind. Several others heading north elect the outside route—115 miles to Beaufort, NC.

The shipping channel is easy enough. Once we clear Bald Head Island the fun begins. When we swing onto our selected heading we are taking long period ocean rollers averaging four feet—not terrible. Around 10:00 a rain shower moves through and the temperature drops. A freshening breeze on the nose coupled with adverse current causes the ocean surface to roil with foam atop the rollers. Soon the waves are every which way. Slowing down is no good with the pitching and rolling. Planing stops the rock and roll but every eighth wave or so makes us go airborne. Everything not nailed down below decks is on the floor. Everything behind dogged closet doors is thoroughly mixed up, even in the refrigerators and freezer. Things calm down within 20 miles of the Beaufort shipping channel. I bless Captain Pilot Blackthorn, the autopilot. For five hours he took us 115 miles without wavering a degree off course except for one incident when the AIS system took over because a fast mover crossed our port bow without so much as a “by your leave.” Lucky for both of us that he had his AIS on, too.

We had one casualty. One of our dinghy davit arms had a bad weld and the arm came apart at the hinge twisting it from the leverage of the partially launched dinghy. No worries though. I have found a metal worker in Beaufort. The Beaufort Town Docks has a vehicle at the disposal of marina guests and we will go to see Fred the welder tomorrow morning.