It was supposed to be calm, sunny, clear, cruise from Morehead City, NC to an anchorage on Broad Creek, north of Oriental, NC. The diver replace all of our zinc anodes and gave us an OK report on the wheels, shafts and struts. So, we were doing good. That is, until the last 40 minutes. We saw the storm building on the radar and Nexrad Radar showed it as well. We could also see the clouds building to our west. All indications were that they would be moving South--away from us. But that did not happen. Instead they turned East, right in our path. So, we turned around and headed to Oriental Marina. We lowered the antennas because lightning was all around us. Oriental was 30 minutes away and we just might be able to make it. Do we ride it out on the Neuse River or try for the Marina? We'll try for it. ( Vicki remembers the Lake Worth storm event and does not want to repeat it.) Just as we turned into the channel into the marina, it hit--hard. A squall with over 35 MPH winds and blinding rain. We heard a "roar" from up on the bridge as Tide Hiker listed a good 25 degrees to port. We normally drive from the flying bridge, but had moved from the flying bridge down to the pilot house. We were too focused on maintaining control to worry about it. A few minutes later I looked up top and saw that the canvas roof was half gone. The squall ripped out the wire ties from the grommets and the canvas was blowing in the wind. Rain was pouring in and the part of the canvas that was not flying, was collecting water. Can't worry about that now. Have to get back to the lower helm.
We were following a 75-ft shrimp boat in. But the shrimp boat, after unsuccessfully docking, returned into the channel right in front of us. I gave the NO/STOP signal with 5 horn blows, but she was not listening or couldn't hear over the sound of the wind. We put the brakes on and narrowly missed him just as he was listing at least 30 degrees to starboard from the wind. We tried to turn into the waves and had to use full throttle and the bow thruster to bring the bow around. We headed back out into the Neuse River to get away from the shrimp boat. We saw her turn around and make another attempt to dock, but this time bow in instead of trying to stern in. So, we turned around and made another attempt toward our marina. The winds were somewhat lesser now but not completely diminished. We continued to the marina and they directed us to the fuel dock. We normally dock stern in as well, but instead went in bow first. Trusty Joe, was there on the dock to help us tie up. He was soaked even though he was in full rain gear.
Lightning was still around us, so we waited to hook up the electrical power cord. The rains began to diminish so we attempted to secure the canvas roof with new wire ties. We got it as snug as we could and went below to get into some warm, dry clothes.
Next? You guessed it. Off to check in and have a drink at the tiki bar!
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