Innocent us, we did not expect a flood of people to be visiting this tiny barrier island. I expected to arrive at the ferry dock and be boarded 15-30 minutes later, then a short crossing, time to get lunch on the tiny island before boarding our reserved ferry to Cedar Island. Wrong. After sitting in the queue for a long time, the very accommodating NC Ferry staff let us jump the line to catch the next ferry, or we were not going to make out 4pm ferry. That short crossing to Ocracoke is actually about 4 or 5 times the straight-line distance because the ferry has to wind back-and-forth through the channels.
|Satellite view of Ocracoke Inlet, Courtesy Google Earth. The Hatteras ferry dock at extreme right, Ocracoke ferry dock at extreme left. The sand banks and channels move around and the ferries have to zig-zag through them.|
Once on land we saw the results of the coastal areas that were devastated by Hurricanes Florence and Michael last year. Homes destroyed, most that survived now being jacked up 6-8ft to get them above future flooding.Trees still on top of some homes, no longer habitable. And our hotel still undergoing reconstruction, with water service disrupted at times and cold water coming out of the hot taps. But the beds were new and very comfortable, so we got a good night's sleep. In the morning, a short ferry ride and drive to a marina in Oriental.
"Arabella" is very pretty. She was built by professional boatbuilder Bruce Mierke as his personal sailboat, to our Didi 29 Retro design. He customised his build to suit his own needs, so she has a shorter cabin and some different detailing.
|"Arabella" in her dock, retractable bowsprit withdrawn|
|Lifting keel in raised position, hauled up by a tackle system led to the cabintop winch.|
|Lifting rudder in a casette. Bruce modified this from my original design, to give some steering when the rudder is partially raised. There is an outboard motor well but Bruce has an electric pod drive installed.|
|With the short cabin, Bruce has kept his halliards at the mast .|
|The bowsprit retracts and pivots on an inboard traveller on the foredeck, with control lines led aft to the cockpit.|
|"Arabella" hard on the wind.|
|Very neat high-peaked gaff rig with nicely-shaped mainsail. All spars are carbon.|
She powered up and reached at just a touch under the apparent wind speed, topping out at more than 8 knots boat speed in 9 knots of apparent wind. That put her boat speed at well above the true wind speed in which we were sailing. She did this with no fuss and very easy control. The speed gave the feeling that the wind had picked up but with the bag stowed and back on the wind under main and jib, we still had the same light breeze as before. She just gets up and goes. She will reel off the miles if used as a small cruiser.
"Arabella" has the smaller of the two gaff rigs that I drew. This one is suitable for most small crews, for racing or cruising. The other gaff rig is larger and will need a larger and more experienced crew. We also have a Marconi rig with square-top mainsail.
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