A Day of Waiting, A Day of Sailing

Waking to the faint pops of a declining duck population , we soon found that the forecast had proven correct, and just after breakfast the winds picked up to the high twenty knot range and a driving rain gave Temujin a much needed washing. We decided to stay put for the day, heeding the old saying “Beware the Albermarle.”

The Albemarle Sound is a wide and picturesque sound feeding into the Pamlico on the inside of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and marks the first real opportunity to raise the sails for any prolonged period of time, this being advised only in wind below twenty knots, as the Albemarle is very shallow, and high winds can kick up waves large and short enough to drop a boat directly off their backsides sticking the keel in in the mud like holding a knife over a cake and letting go.

We spent the day in Cooper Creek organizing the interior, tending to small projects, and reading- something that to date we have found little time to do. The general lack of downtime has come as one of the more surprising realities of the trip so far. Anticipating hours upon hours of lounging in the cockpit we cultivated an impressive, if excessive ship’s library.

Taking up two of the four saloon cabinets, the library is divided into manuals, fiction, and guide books. Some staple volumes include:

Don Casey’s “Sailboat Maintenance Manual”

Beth Leonard’s The Voyager’s Handbook”

Nigel Calder’s “Marine Diesel Engine’s” and “Mechanical and Electrical Manual”

Brion Toss’s “The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice”

Ralph Naranjo’s “The Art of Seamanship”

and Jimmy Cornell’s “World Cruising Routes” and “Voyage Planner”


Some titles and volumes that have seen lesser attention include:


Descartes’ “Meditation’s Objections and Replies”

Stiglitz’s “Globalization and its Discontents”

Ponfret’s “The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom – America and China 1776 to Present”

Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”. The entire series.

Wellman’s “The Art of Cross Examination”

and "Mandolin Exercises for Dummies"


Time for reading will no doubt increase once we are offshore, but the winding, shallow, and loosely marked nature of the ICW has required both sets of hands to be engaged whenever the boat is underway: one driving, one spotting.

Our second morning in the Cooper River brought fair winds, sunshine, and the long anticipated chance to raise Temujin’s sails over the Albermarle Sound. Morale was high as we finally had a day to just…sail. The wind was on our nose, but we happily tacked along in a light breeze, the low winter sun reflecting off the waves and filling the spray hood windows with a clear, yellow light.

It’s a good thing Temujin sails so beautifully to weather as she seems to invite it in a way that Leona, Kennon’s Pearson 26, resolutely did not. Perhaps this is our penance for the countless days of downwind sailing on Leona. There is an old tongue and cheek saying “Gentlemen never sail to weather” and we often joked that Leona must consider us perfect gentlemen, as she never sailed to weather.

This proclivity was exhibited in the extreme some years ago when we took her on a circumnavigation of the Delmarva Peninsula.

We left Annapolis heading South and rode a 24 hours North wind the length of the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, VA. In Norfolk, the winds flipped, and once again, we found the wind at our back for 120 miles of Atlantic Ocean to Cape May, NJ. After a day climbing the lighthouse and regaling the weekday retiree clientele at the Rusty Nail with our nubile sea stories, we took an East wind up the Delaware Bay, through the C&D Canal, and back to port in Annapolis.

Temujin must consider us something less than gentlemen, as wind direction can reliably be forecast given our destination. Faced with such fortune, it’s nice to have a boat that is comfortable on the wind. With the sails balanced and her centerboard down, you can lock off the wheel and watch the boat sail herself. This, in the Tartan community, is referred to as “letting Olin steer”, an homage to the Tartan 34’s designer Olin Stephens, of the famed yacht design firm Sparkman & Stephens.

Following the westward cut of the Albermarle, we tacked into the Alligator River, our chosen anchorage for the night. An entire day of sailing produced only twenty some odd miles of progress, but were pleased with the respite from the engine, simply happy to be sailing. We found a secluded anchorage in the snaking banks of the Little Alligator River, and dropped the hook for the night

Eric Bihl