We are anchored in Lookout Bight, a bay formed by a curl of the main barrier island that constitutes Cape Lookout (map, although Google seems to think there is water, not land, to our west -- there is not). The whole island, along with other nearby barrier islands, are part of Cape Lookout National Park, one of several national parks only accessible by boat. The famous Cape Lookout Lighthouse is on the island, as well as a historic Coast Guard station and a few other buildings.
Lookout Bight is not really on the way to or from anything, unless you are in a very shallow-draft boat and thus can use Barden Inlet to reach Core Sound. We came here because we heard it was very beautiful, and it's just a few miles' detour on the ocean route to Beaufort. It is, indeed, beautiful.
Sunset from Vector at Lookout Bight.
It's also, apparently, very popular. I had guessed we would be sharing the enormous bight with perhaps another couple of die-hard cruising boats, but, in fact, there are a dozen sailboats, three other trawlers, two houseboats, and a cuddy-cabin all anchored here with us. Many boats look to be here for a stay of several days. Last night I saw several tenders a mile or so up the beach, and folks gathered around a bonfire.
I'd like to come back someday when we have more time, preferably when it is not also high season. It would be nice to explore some of the island, and there are even times when the lighthouse is open to the top for tours. Tickets are required for the lighthouse, and only sold on the mainland, so I'm not sure how we would work that out, though.
We left yesterday morning from Wrightsville Beach via Masonboro Inlet, having delayed one extra day there to get more favorable ocean conditions. Wave periods Monday were forecast at five seconds, which is pretty choppy in three-foot seas, whereas Tuesday's forecast was for nine seconds, a much more comfortable ride.
After pushing out the inlet, though, we found ourselves porpoising fairly aggressively for the first hour. It turns out that a storm cell was approaching, a fact we learned two hours later when we heard a safety broadcast from the Coast Guard and then mariner reports of water spouts offshore. We were safely northeast before it hit, but we could see the spouts forming with our binoculars. We spent the rest of the day looking over our shoulders to make sure it was not catching up to us. Other than the first hour of chop, we had good weather for the whole cruise.
Just as we did the last time we crossed Onslow Bay, I called Range Control at Camp LeJeune to see if the Atlantic firing range would be in use. Once again we lucked out, with no exercises scheduled, and we crossed the firing range with impunity. Our course line brought us within a hundred yards of one of the marker buoys, so we did pay close attention when we crossed the line.
We had the anchor set here around 6:30, in time for a nice dinner on the aft deck with the lighthouse and seashore in the background. About 4:30 this morning a storm did come through, sending us scrambling to close all the windows. With perhaps 40-knot winds, I also turned the radar on and kept watch till the worst was past, to make sure none of the other anchored boats was moving.
Now it is another beautiful day, and it is tempting to spend another night so we can explore a bit. But we want to keep pressing north, having already spent a couple of days south of here waiting for weather, so we'll leave the exploring for another time when we are more relaxed and have more provisions aboard for a longer stay.
In a few minutes we will weigh anchor, transit the seven miles of ocean back to Beaufort Inlet, and head north on the ICW to the Neuse River. This will be our third time on that stretch of water, and we will probably anchor someplace familiar tonight.