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Thread: A week at Ocracoke Island

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Default A week at Ocracoke Island

    Recently my wife and our parents went down to Ocracoke Island for a week long vacation. We stayed in a cottage on Lighthouse Road and had access to a dock at the southern end of the harbor, so of course I brought my sailboat. It was a pretty windy week, but I did manage to get out on a long daysail.

    Heading across the Hatteras Inlet on the ferry Frisco. This one was built in 1990 and must have recently been painted because it was looking pretty good. Along the way we passed the Ocracoke which was built at the same time and it was looking really rough, kinda had the HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands vibe.



    Getting everything rigged at the boat ramp. This is were I first launched the boat on a vacation in 2019. I was still mounting deck hardware the night before we left and I didnít even have time to test it out. Thankfully Iím much better prepared this time.



    Sailing around to the entrance of Silver Lake. Apparently this harbor was just a shallow creek when Blackbeard was here in the 1700ís and it was later dredged out during the 1930ís and again during WWII.



    Our cottage provided dock space at the southern end of the harbor. I need to improve my docking setupÖ I rarely dock so itís always a bit of an afterthought. The cleats on the quarters are fairly small since they usually only hold the sheet traveler.


  2. #2
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    May 2000
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    Conway, MA
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Looking beautiful there!

  3. #3
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    Apr 2009
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    Mountain lakes of Vermont
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Excellent!
    Looks like you hooked up a battery and bilge pump to handle any sudden downpours while at dock.
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2013
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    dfw
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    suh-weeet !

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Thanks guys, it's a really beautiful area.

    Rich, I learned my lesson the last time I was down there! It was a monsoon and I got sick of bailing twice a day.

    Tuesday looked like itíd be the best day for sailing of our trip, so I planned out a 30 mile trip to Hatteras for lunch. Then Iíd return through the ferry channel and land at a beach off Prong Road on the sound side near the ferry docks. Then my folks could pick me up with the trailer and take me back to the village. The wind was forecast to be from the south east, but it ended up being more from the east, so I didnít quite make it! I ended up going 41.6 miles to nowhere in 8.5 hours.



    I had a nice wind blowing away from the dock, so I wrapped the painter around a pile, cleated it off, and drifted out a bit to raise the sails. After I let the painter go I made a few laps around the harbor while the 7:30am ferry to Swan Quarter got going.



    Didnít want to try squeezing through the entrance with him!



    Once outside the protection of the harbor I found the wind a bit too strong so I hove to and put in a reef. This was the first time Iíve reefed on the water and it worked pretty well. It might be a different story if the waves were bigger, but Iím pretty pleased with my method of reefing a spritsail.



    While I was hove to I drifted towards Howardís Reef and due to the angle of the wind I couldnít make my planned route. While I was considering my options it got pretty shallow and my rudder popped up into barn door mode. I saw some piling which I thought might be a bit of a channel, so I decided to see if I could sail over the sandbar and into the Pamlico Sound. I could always turn around and head out on a run and go around the spoil island.



    I drifted north about a third of a mile while tying in the reef and there was a bit of off roading required to get over the sandbar.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Chesapeake Bay
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    I had to pull the boat through 2″ of water for about 200 yards. I removed my drybag, bilge pump, and battery but it didnít seem to do much. It also didnít help that the tide was falling. I kept reminding myself that the Greeks managed to pull triremes across the Isthmus of Corinth along the Diolkos and eventually I made it through to deeper water.



    I spent 3.75 hours pounding upwind at 5 mph. There were some big waves at times, but nothing too scary. I decided to abandon my attempt to reach Hatteras for a few reasons, although I probably could have made it. Through some vague texts and a garbled phone call I got the incorrect impression that my parents wouldnít be able to pick me up at the point, but the main reason was a small craft advisory was set to start at 5 pm and I wanted to be off the water well before then.



    So I turned around and started back on a broad reach. For two hours this was a really fun ride at 6 mph. Iíve finally figured out a good way to store my oars and keep them from rolling around. I drilled a hole through the deck carlin and semi bulkhead to rig up a loop of line that I slide the blade of the oars through. Really simple and works well.



    As the village came into view the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. I averaged 7 mph and even with the reefed main I needed to hook a foot under the thwart and hike hard.





    Once I got to the spoil island at the end of Howardís Reef I hit the roughest conditions Iíve ever been in. The wind was howling and waves were popping up in a random frenzy with no pattern that I could see. At one point the bow punched through a big one and my coaming did little to help. For about 10 minutes I averaged 8 mph with a few bursts above 9. Lots of hiking and letting the sail luff.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2013
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    I once breifly watched a co-ed nude football game on Ocracoke Island.

    Only breifly watched ..... once mom and dad caught up to us crossing the sand dune from the highway, our show was cut short. The folks decided we would beach further down the highway. I believe that was in the summer of 1976 or 1977.
    Skip

    ---This post is delivered with righteous passion and with a solemn southern directness --
    ...........fighting against the deliberate polarization of politics...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Thanks guys. We always drive on the beach and growing up I remember passing nudist colonies. Another fond memory was pulling out people who didn't know how to let the air out of their tires, or people who thought station wagons were a good beach vehicle.

    By now the wind had shifted to the south east so I had to tack my way in. The first leg after the spoil island was pretty rough, probably because I was right on top of a shallow area. About halfway to the harbor I felt like I was able to breathe again.



    Finally lined up with the entrance to the harbor. The current through here was incredibleÖ I had to point 10ļ to leeward just to go straight which felt completely wrong.



    I only recently found these graphs on NOAAís website, and it predicts about a 1.75 knot current in exactly the direction I was being carried. My local sailing area on the Rappahannock generally has less than half a knot.



    As I was coming in my lovely wife snapped a picture as I passed the schooner Windfall II heading out on their daily sunset cruise.





    The main has some wrinkles that I wasnít quite able to get out, but overall Iím pretty pleased with how it sets reefed. I added a part to my snotter tackle, so I can now tension the sail from the cockpit. Previously I needed to go forward and sweat the line. It does add some complication to the setup but the adjustment is worth it.



    Hereís how I usually approach a dock. First take down the jib and stuff it along the port side of the centerboard case. Then scandalize the main to reduce power. Get yourself pointed into the wind again and then take it all down, keeping the heel of the sprit off the deck. The sprit will project forward a few feet of the bow if you donít loosen the peak pendant, but thatís ok. I tie the sprit to the mast with some light line to keep it from rolling off the deck. And I try to do as little of the large picture as possible.




    So that was my long daysail to nowhere!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    NC US
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    50

    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Thanks for sharing. Count me jealous. And as one who thinks hopping out of the boat to pull it through sandy shallows is great fun (within reason and assuming all ends well). I like the spritsail, too, and it looks like you’ve done a great job overcoming the often mentioned difficulties it can present.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    This is great. Daysailing nowhere is my favorite!

    I added the jib to the balanced lug rig on my Phoenix III. It works well, but your photos make it look like the sprit and jib is a bit easier to handle.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    I enjoyed that.
    be modest, and be proud of it.

  13. #13
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    Nov 2010
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    Default Re: A week at Ocracoke Island

    Thanks for the comments!

    Yeah, it was fun in the I'm having an adventure sense. A pair of those big inflatable rollers from Duckworks would have been really handy, although they seem a bit expensive for how much I'd actually use them. The sand scraped off a bunch of paint, but that's not too bad. Exterior latex was an experiment and I was already thinking I'd blast it off this winter and redo the paint with something a lot more durable.

    Occasionally the jib gets caught up on the heel of the sprit, more so when it's reefed. I tend to keep it cleated as I come through the wind and then let it go as I get on the other tack. The wind kind of doubles the jib over and it slips by better. At full sail it's rarely a problem.

    Just to finish the week out:

    On Thursday I woke up at 6am to roaring wind and tons of rain. According to Windy it was 25 mph with gusts up to 30. I drove down to the dock to make sure everything was still ok but by the time I got there the squall was through and the rain had stopped.



    The boat was still there and my bilge pump seemed to be working. It leaves a fair amount of water in the bottom since there’s no real bilge and there’s quite a head of water in the hose going over the gunnel, but it kept the water low enough that it didn’t seep through the inspection hatch on the front of the sternsheets. I plan to get rid of that hatch this winter and put a big rectangular one under the tiller. Should be more useful and I don’t sit there anyway.



    I forgot to bring some bolts to attach the bilge pump wires, so I whittled a point onto some sticks and wedged the wires in place. I figure wet weather will just improve the connection as the wood swells!



    Finally on Saturday it was time to head back to the boat ramp so I gave my mom and mother in law a ride. Like I said, I tend to avoid rowing if I can help it but we eventually made it.



    That might just about do it for my sailing season. It's starting to get cooler and I haven't quite convinced myself to shell out for a drysuit to extend the season. Plus deer hunting is here so it's time to go sit in a tree and freeze to death while dreaming of warmer weather.

    Over the summer I've been keeping a list of improvements to do... I'll update my build thread as I get to them. I plan to:

    Drill drain holes in the motor well
    Remove the hatch on the sternsheets and replace it with a rectangular one
    Fiberglass around the mast where the boom jaws rub
    Remove the wooden pin from the top of the mast from the topsail experiment
    Build a two part topmast so it might actually be useful
    Blast and paint the boat with a better paint
    I also thought about turning the side benches into watertight lockers, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't leave enough foot room

    Anybody else getting ready for winter improvements?
    Last edited by The Jeff; 10-02-2021 at 09:00 PM.

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