Sailing Trip to New Bern on 2 & 3 of October 2017
NOAA Chart # 115522


Being semi-retire is great, which means I have 4 day weekend every weekend until I retire at the end of March 2018.  Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating with me.  The first week in October, they calling for clear skies for 5 days. You made ask “what’s wrong with that forecast”?   I am planning on going to sailing and there are also calling for “small craft advisory” until Thursday afternoon.  A Small Craft Advisory is issue for coastal and lakes that could be hazardous to small boats. There is no precise definition of a small craft. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft.  According to the U.S Coast Guard (““), Small Craft Advisory (SCA) advisory is based on the weather and sea conditions in a specific geographic area rather than on the size and type of boat. For the South, 

  • Southern (GA to TX and Caribbean) – Sustained winds of 20-33 knots, and/or forecast seas 7 feet or greater that are expected for more than 2 hours.

Really, Small Craft Advisory until Thursday afternoon.  Sometime I just can’t win.  Lucky for the Neuse River the SCA was only for Monday Morning (2 October) and SCA were was for Ocracoke and Cape Lookout.  So guess where I am not heading. That is correct, I am not heading toward Ocracoke or Cape Lookout. My sailboat been moored most of the summer and I need the training and to  get underway.   So, I decided to head to New Bern.  How ironic, I live in New Bern and I will sail from Oriental to New Bern.  It was about 24 nm (natural miles) by water, which mean 5 to 6 hours course depending on the sailing conditions.

They were calling fore 15-20 knots wind out of the Northeast for both Monday and Tuesday for the Neuse River, and for the lower part of the Neuse River (between New Bern and Minnesott Beach) 10-15 knots winds out of the Northeast.  In English, part of the trip will be rough and other half will be smooth sailing.  Between Minnesota Beach and Oriental, the Neuse River flows Northeast.  From New Bern to Minnesota Beach, it flows Southeast.  The roughest part of the trip will be coming home (back to Oriental), 12 knot miles of batten against the wind.  


Moonrise at 22:06:07 at WCYOA on 1 Oct. at 81 % waxing gibbous
Moonrise at 22:07:54 at WCYOA at 81 % waxing gibbous


On Sunday afternoon, I left New Bern for Oriental to prepare for my 2 or 3 days adventure.  The temperature are prefect, mid 70’s all week with lows in in the upper 50s.  Even if I have to anchor out, the temperature is cool enough for comfort sleep.  I would prefer to sailing to Cape Lookout, but the SCA scary me.  I leave Oriental at 10:00 am.  I starting prep the boat for getting underway at 09:00.  It takes time to made sure every is secure for my trip.  The winds where out of the Northeast at 18 knots as I enter the Neuse River.  Because I was heading for New Bern, I will be running down wind all the way to Minnesota Beach.  

point of sail is a sailing craft’s direction of travel under sail in relation to the true wind direction over the surface.  At 180° off the wind (sailing in the same direction as the wind), a craft is “running downwind”. From Minnesota Beach to New Bern, I should be at “broad reach”, a  point of sail at At 135° off the wind.


Sailing boat following me to New Bern

There were several other sailboat on the river.  I spotted two sailing heading toward the mouth of the the Neuse River.  The mouth of the Neuse River is 8 miles from Oriental. The Neuse—derived from the Native American Neusiok tribe and translating to “peace”.  Dolphins and alligators are seen regularly in the estuary, and sharks and manatees occasionally appear as far upriver as New Bern.  But, in October will not be seeing any marine life.


A sailing sailing toward Minnesota Beach
A sailing sailing toward Minnesota Beach

There was one sailing boat following me to New Bern. When I got close to Fairfield Harbour, I decided to hail the New Bern Grand Marina (NBGM ““).  But that was long way off and first needed to made it to Minnesota Beach and turn the corner.  It was to rough to take pictures while underway (in the upper part of the Neuse).  Sailing single handedly in 18 knots is a workout.  I did not think it alway through and did not put water or some thing to drink in the cockpit.  Even on a running downwind, the seas were 2 to 3 feet and at time the vessel was surfing on the waves.  Waves in the sound are different than those in the ocean.  Waves are created by energy passing through water, causing it to move in a circular motion. However, water does not actually travel in waves. Waves transmit energy, not water, across the ocean and if not obstructed by anything, they have the potential to travel across an entire ocean basin.

Waves are most commonly caused by wind. Wind-driven waves, or surface waves, are created by the friction between wind and surface water. As wind blows across the surface of the ocean or sound, the continual disturbance creates a wave crest. The major difference is that there is any interval, and they just come right after another.  It took me 6 hours to arrive at the New Bern Grand Marina.  It took 3 hours to get Minnesott Beach averaging 4.6 knots for 12.7 nm.  From Minnesott Beach to New Bern (on a broad reach), it took over 3 hours averaging 3.9 knots for 16 nm.  The wind was still from the Northeast, but after making the turn toward New Bern it came down to 15 knots.


Moonrise on 2 October at the Grand New Bern Marina at 19:28:42 at 88 % waxing gibbous
Moonrise on 2 October at the Grand New Bern Marina at 19:28:42 at 88 % waxing gibbous

My stay in New Bern was lovely.  Michele came drove to the marina in the downtown area.  We had dinner at MJ’s Raw Bar & Grill (““).  We ate there several times and food is always good.  I enjoy the Fish & Chips, while Michele had the fish Taco Wrap.  In the past, I had their crab cakes too. It was the perfect evening to capture the Moonrise. The pictures where taken at 19:27:42 from the slip I was moored at.  It’s was busier at the NBGM than at my marina in Oriental.  It was in walking distance to the restaurants and to MJ’s.



Sunrise in New Bern at 07:07:13
A duck enjoying the morning sun

New Bern have a nice water front park.  There is walk way  from the Neuse River to the Tryon Palace.  In the morning, I walked down the water front to catch the sunset at 07:07.  People were out walking their dogs, and every one is said “Hello” or “Good Morning” as they walk by.  New Bern would be a great place to retire.  I guess that was the reason why I moved to New Bern in the first place, because it is a great place to retire.  Don’t take my words, google New Bern and you will find links like ““.

At 0900, I cast off to Oriental.  I checked the weather the forecast again to see if any changed. If the conditions at Ocracoke or Cape Lookout got better. Unfortunately, they didn’t and it will be 15-20 knots from Minnesota Beach to Oriental.

From Fairfield Harbour to Oriental, it took me 5 1/4 hours, averaging 2.9 knots. The distance was 21.3 nm.  I have nice app for the iPhone from Navionics.  It is great GPS.  I stop to take the picture of the weather condition and stop recording between New Bern and Fairfield Harbour, which is about 2 nm.

On the first half I was doing great, 16 knot winds. I reef my main sail, and put the boom out to maximize my speed.  I was doing 6 knot and at time 6.5 knots (when then wind reached 18 knots),  but when I got to Minnesott Beach and made that turn Northeast into the wind, my average speed dropped to 2.8 knots.  I haven’t master sailing the Neuse River on a strong Northeast wind  between  15 to 20 knots.  The ride was enjoyable when I was tracking, but the only problem was after doing 4 tracks, I only wind up going 100 yards.  I wasn’t making any head way.  So, I motor from Pierson Point to Oriental.  It was in rough seas pounding the waves.  I tried staying as close to land as possible to cut down the fletch on the wind.  It was rougher in the middle of the river.

I moored in Oriental around 1500 and straighten up the vessel.  I planned to drive back down on Thursday to wash her.  When I got home, I made dinner for Michele and asked for we could catch the sunset at Atlantic Beach.  I wanted to capture a pictures to end my perfect adventure.


Moonrise 03-10-2017 at 18:57:31 in Atlantic Beach at 94 % waxing gibbous
Moonrise 03-10-2017 at 18:48:48 in Atlantic Beach at 94 % waxing gibbous
Sunset at Atlantic Beach at 18:47:02
Sunset Atlantic Beach at 18:46:11
Sunset Atlantic Beach AT 18:43;47

And we did.  We took our dog Ziva with us.  She likes running in the sand.  She isn’t much of a water day, but she like running on the beach.  October is nice time to visit the North Carolina beaches.  Most of the tourist are gone and you can walk on the beach peacefully.  

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