The passage south tracked along the coastal 10-fathom curve, inside the route big ships ply but right where coastal barge traffic is common. Careful watchkeeping was imperative. With a westerly wind, the sea quickly calmed, and by evening the wind had settled down to an even 15 knots; sailing couldn't have been better. The next morning, the glitz of Atlantic City rolled by, and despite the clear sky, rising barometer, and friendly forecast, we began to notice a sizable long-period swell moving in from the south. Ocean swells are often a harbinger of bad weather; their very existence announces that a gale is brewing not that far away. And in this case, the foreboding signs of weather were amplified by the fact that despite the northerly wind shift and the drag of shoal water, the prominent southerly swell survived. So it came as no surprise that a day later, as we sailed down the Delmarva coast, the forecast announced a developing gale off the Carolinas. It would likely remain stationary and intensify over the next 48 hours, and that was bad news for us.