What is it?
The OBX is a biannual event. Founded by Paul Moffitt with the help of his father Bill and brother Sean. We all are veterans of the T200, FL120, and the OBX130. A camping raid along the Cape Lookout National Seashore. 5 days and 4 nights. The start and stop are the same place; Driftwood Motel and Campground, Cedar Island North Carolina. Everyone is asked to bring a few trash bags and bring back some trash from this beautiful scenic area. There will be a captain’s meeting every night around a campfire where questions about the next days sail will be answered. This Guide is an outline only, and we are all available to answer questions or give help at anytime.
What Kind of Boat is suggested?
Any shallow draft boat will do. I would suggest one with a kick-up rudder and leeboard. The largest draft to successfully navigate this course was about 18”. But it wasn’t easy. I suggest less then 1’. Easy reefing and tested rigging are a must. Storms come quick and furious and sometimes there is no where to run.
Every person is their own captain and responsible for their own safety. You need to take any advice we give with a grain of salt. We are not experts; just other captains showing you a place we love. You must be able to self rescue and not expect help from anyone else other then you. That being said I am sure any of us will help if we can. Please don’t sue us if you loose your boat or are injured. You are responsible for how, where, and when you will sail. If you don’t feel safe don’t do it. This is a very dangerous area to sail, you are warned.
Sept 8th People start arriving and putting their boats in
Sept 9th 5pm Captains Meeting, in campground close to Ramp
6pm Dinner at the Driftwood
Sept 10th Sail to Abandoned Gun Club, Campfire in evening
Sept 11th Sail to Back side of Shackleford Island, campfire
Sept 12th Sail to Cape Lookout, go to museum, climb Tower, Walk to Atlantic
Sept 13th Sail to small spoil island south of Dump Island
14th Sail to Cedar Island, Pull boats out, Dinner at Driftwood, Campfire.
What is the Weather like?
On any given day you will have heavy winds, no winds, light winds, storms, and water spouts all in the same day. The wind may blow the entire 5 days in the direction you are travelling, or it may be in your teeth for 5 days. These waters are not considered easy to sail in. In general the wind in September blows from the North East about 70% of the time, and the other 30% from the south west. As the course runs from the Northeast to the Southwest, and then reverses the way back you should expect to have downwind runs as well as upwind runs. In my experience storms can come on you quickly and blow real hard for about 20 minutes and then be over. Away from the banks the waves can whip up to 3-5 feet. This happens frequently in the afternoons. Check out the historical records and wind roses at www.windfinder.comWho does a trip like this?Most of the boats will be home built shallow draft boats with traditional sailing rigs. The fun part is not only seeing the amazing amount of nature along the trip but also travel in the company of like-minded do it your-selfers. Camping on the Cape Lookout National Seashore is free and you don’t even have to register with the Rangers. I like to make the rangers happy, and we might run into some on the trip. Everyone is asked to bring a few trash bags and bring back some trash from this beautiful scenic area. This always makes the rangers happy, and it is the right thing to do.
Cedar Island’s nickname is ‘skeeter island. This is a very appropriate nickname. Mosquitoes seem to rule supreme here. The Driftwood Motel and Campground is a friendly little place with a nice little restaurant that serves fish dishes of every kind. They will let us park our trucks and trailers right next door at a closed down convenience store. This year there will be a fishing tournament the first weekend we are there. The Motel is already booked. So you will have to camp if you haven’t made a reservation yet. There are plenty of camping spots and they are first come first served. You may want to share a camp spot with one of the other participants. There are TWO boat ramps. For a shallow boat you can use the one in the campground. This one I will call the south ramp. It is right in the middle of the campsites. It is shallow and if you have a large boat you will find it really hard to use. There is a little bit of room to tie up your boat. I am expecting it to be very very crowded with a bunch of fishing boats because of the tournament. We will just have to make do I am afraid. But there is also a North boat ramp, which is free. 30 second drive away from the campgrounds is another boat ramp, which I will call proper and deep. Only problem with it is that it is in the Pamlico Sound so you will have to sail farther the first day to make it to the first campsite. There is a beach right next to the boat ramp that you could anchor off of for the night. There will be a lot less people around there but the waves from the bay will move your boat around. You may want to camp on your boat on the north side of cedar island if you have a larger boat.
Abandoned Gun Club
There used to be a gun club , it is no more. They had a dock, which was mostly destroyed in the last hurricane. It was still usable the last time we were there but is said to be no more. There is a small beach right in front. There is also a trail over to the Atlantic side. My brother says there may be Nutria living in the building. There is plenty of room to camp on land but don’t take off your shoes, there are those sticker things and small cactus everywhere. To reach this place you will have to sail south past the club and then angle up into it at low tide. There are sand bars to the north and east of the club and a small cut from the south east leading to the club at the north east of the cut. Look at the KMZ file for some GPS marks. That being said, the hurricane changed things. If it is mid or low tide you will hit some sea grass or sand and have to get out and find a way in to the club. When you leave cedar Island you are always safer if you stick to the south side of the bay before it opens into the channel. Follow the channel marks for deep water. If you are not familiar with the area you will see sticks poking up in long lines ranging out into the channel. You can avoid these by sailing due west until you get past them and then head south or you can sail between them. They are sticks for gill nets to be strung up. I have never seen them in use but that doesn’t mean if you try to sail between them you wont find yourself in trouble. You will also see duck blinds on stilts everywhere. I have actually tied off to one and camped on the water before. If you stick to the clearly marked channel you will have no problems with sand bars. You will probably see me ignoring the channel and sailing wherever I want in a straight line to my destination. I have a very shallow and light boat. Follow my father Bill if you have a deeper draft boat.
The spot I marked for camping is a suggestion and we may get close and decide on another spot further up of down the shore. This Island has wild horses and you can read about the islands history en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shackleford_Banks here. I am going to get there by going south of Harkers Island. You can camp on the land. Amazing spot.
We will camp in the hook. I have marked a place we camped the last time during a tropical depression and heavy weather. Depending on the waves and weather we may camp there or further up or down the shore. There are two ways to get here. You can go around the outside on the Atlantic side, which is what I plan to do, or you can go back around south of Harkers and follow the ditch into the hook. This is a hard day of sailing either way. If you go out through Beaufort inlet the traffic can be very heavy and if we are fighting the current you can be afraid of not making it out at all. If this turns out to be the case then short tachs close to the west side will get you out. Then simply follow Shackleford into the Hook. When you get close to the hook follow the Buoys until we turn towards the campsite. If you get into trouble and have to land on Shackleford getting back off in the surf will be a problem if you haven’t done it before. It is hard and you have to have the right boat to get back out past the breakers. The other way is hard too but for different reasons. The first part is easy, follow the markers back to the east tip of Harkers island. Then you need to properly identify the markers that lead into the Ditch. Any GPS will have them marked for you. Now you need to pass each mark on the correct side, Green on the right, Red on the left, and whatever you do, don’t skip a marker!!!! The ditch is just that. I deep ditch with sand bars on either side covered in 2 inches of water. The Current is FIERCE. Time your attempt with the tide in mind or you won’t make it. Also be very wary of motorboats in this area. Luckily we will be doing this not on the weekend so it won’t be so bad. But no one is going to slow down or avoid you. Be ready for very rude motor heads. Scared? Good.Why go through all that to get to Cape Lookout? Because it is the “grave yard of the sea.” There are wrecks everywhere and you can find them at low tide. Bring snorkel gear and a wreck map if you are into that. There is a cool museum next to the Light tower. Sunset is spectacular. There is a boardwalk over to the Atlantic where you will find the beach faces East and enormous breakers pound the beach. On Wednesdays they have guided tours to the top of the light house. There are raccoons on the island that like to get into your trash, but generally they are not a big problem.
Not Dump Island
There is an island called Dump Island that is a private island owned by a real cool guy my brother Sean met this summer. He doesn’t want campers on the island but since the hurricane last summer the south inlet has opened back up. There is small island there where we will camp and/or anchor off for the night. Sean will give us a little talk about the guy and the history of the island.
Return to Cedar Island.
Bring tested gear. Be able to sleep on your boat. Although I hope that we can all sleep on land every night it is not a sure thing.
Life vest with survival kittested tent for severe weather (ask Andy Lynn about bringing a bivy sack, no good)
Marine Radio!!!! with weather channel. The fleet will use channel 69 during sails.
Food and a gallon of water per day
Small kit of spare parts for rudder pintels and grudgeons, and anything else you think you might need in an emergency.
SUN SCREEN, big hat, long sleeves with a SPF rating of 30 or higher.
DON’T OVER PACK, bring what you need and not an ounce more. Extra weight stored incorrectly can lead to capsizes.