This is Us – Escaping Hurricane Dorian.
The Brunswick Islands of NC seem to be a magnet for hurricanes. Made up of many different communities – Oak Island, Baldhead Island, Caswell Beach, Calabash, Holden Beach, Leland, Ocean Isle Beach, Shallot, Southport, Sunset Beach, and very close to Kure Beach, Carolina Beach & Wilmington. Hurricanes love to visit this area.
Labor Day Sailing with Dorian (the Hurricane that is)
Labor Day Weekend. We arrived Friday night with plans for a restful long weekend to heal Stephen’s broken ribs from the previous weekend. Plans changed. We had been keeping our eye on Hurricane Dorian and unfortunately, the forecast consensus was that her eyewall was heading straight to Southport, NC. Really? The one place on the coast we decide to be for the summer and the one hurricane of the season targeted bullseye for our boat!
We made a quick trip for provisions and came back and learned that someone had hit our boat. Evidently their engines quit working as they were pulling out of the marina and they slammed into our port bow. Our boat neighbor watching said that it was quite a hard hit. We examined the damage – chipped and cracked gel coat with some of the balsa core showing in several places, inside even chipped. Luckily it was above the water line. The owner of the boat that hit us came over and we got his insurance information – just like in a car accident. They estimated the initial damage at $3100.
So, with time only for minimal preparations, we left Southport about noon to catch the outgoing tide and traveled south for about 28 hours – yes south – to return to our home port at Bohicket Marina. Why? It was a better hurricane hole – better protection for PILAR. As we left, I mentally assessed the trip’s success. Broken ribs, Boat damaged, Spirits dampened – but another adventure gained!
Sailing Back to Bohicket Marina
We sailed with a Northeast wind and following seas for most our trip. When we were sailing by Charleston, I looked at AIS and saw some boating friends on the JIMKAT sailing north. We knew that the sea conditions would not be conducive to any northerly sail, so we radioed them and asked where they were going.
They said they were headed to Annapolis to get away from Hurricane Dorian. They shared that they had already been on the water for 25 hours and had only made 25 miles. They were getting beat by the wrong wind and the wrong wave direction. We said that if they wanted advice, they should turn back around, sail with us back to Bohicket Marina, and we could hurricane proof our boats in the marina.
They took our advice and we arrived at the Edisto River Inlet about 4 hours later. The inlet conditions were like none we had ever seen. We can usually leave our sails up going through the channel. But this time there were whitecaps on top of 6 ft waves as we made our approach. We quickly changed our mind and turned back to take the sails down so we had more control of the boat.
We arrived at Bohicket to cheers and a welcome cocktail party. Evidently, everyone was just as worried about JIMKAT as we were and they were glad to see us all back. Jim was thankful for the assistance. Kat mentioned to us later that she normally doesn’t talk to God much, but while at Charleston, she had asked God what they should do – keep going – or sail back. And God’s answer was Stephen and I advising them to turn around. Love this!
The next morning, we awoke early and started to prepare PILAR to withstand Dorian’s 150 mph winds in case the eye would decide to come our way. You can watch that video here as well.