Friday, October 26, 2012

Week 3: Oct. 17-23, 2012 (Day 15-21)

Week 3:
Wed. Oct. 17, 2012Day 15:
Destination:  Goat Island  (Mile 43) to Alligator River G39 (Mile 101.1)
Departure:  0805 hrs.                             Arrival: 1730 hrs.                                 Distance: 58.1 SM
Wind:  NE-NNE & light, less than 4K
Weather: light cloud with sunny breaks; H= low 60’s & L= mid 50’s

An amazing sunrise!  The reddist sky (sailors beware?), some interesting cloud formation, some blue sky below that, low mist rising over the water that was so perfectly calm that there was a perfect reflection.  We had heavy condensation on the enclosure, which is not unusual for this time of year.  By 0910 hrs. we requested an opening of the Elizabeth City Bridge.  There were boats on the Elizabeth City docks & bulkhead (free X 48 hrs.) but there was still room to accommodate a few more boats.  We encountered a much smaller number of crab pots on the Pastquotank River past Elizabeth City than usual.  The Abemarle Sound was so very calm today but being fairly shallow & the fact that winds have a long fetch from all directions, short steep, uncomfortable seas can kick-up fast.  Fog is not uncommon either in Spring & Fall.  We took the shortcut through the Abemarle travelling about 6K, saw a turtle, picked up fuel for the boat at Alligator River Marina as this is the last opportunity X 30 miles (Upper Dowry Marina) & purchased crab cakes ($3.79 each) for supper for myself; Graeme I guess is having leftovers again.  Once through the Alligator River Bridge (swing) we entered the 21 NM long trek along the Alligator River, a wide open span of water.  This was also very calm with an occasional tease of ENE 4-6K winds.  At G39 channel marker we turned to port & anchored in 9 ft. of water (80 ft. of chain) just before a line of crab pots.  There were other boats anchored in Deep Point (G43) & Bear Point (G47).  Jack rafted to us till dark but ‘Kathrian’ hosted Happy Hour.  Lots of charging time required tomorrow of phones & computer.  At bedtime there were clear dark skies & stars+++.

Thurs. Oct. 18, 2012Day 16:
Destination:  Alligator River G39 (Mile 101.1) to Campbell Creek off Goose Creek ( Mile 154.5)
Departure:  0800 hrs.                         Arrival:  1545 hrs.                                    Distance: 53.4 SM 
Winds: E <3K
Weather:  mostly cloudy, threatening skies, few drops of rain in early a morningà replaced by blue skies & sun & warm temps; increased cloud in the afternoon but still warm (H=70’s & L= upper 50’s)

I awoke to the slapping of water against the hull & a gentle chop & sideways rocking motion.  We entered the 22 mile long Alligator River-Pungo River Canal at 0840 hrs.  It runs in a NE to SW directions, is very scenic & heavily wooded at the upper end & areas farther that had burned in the past now show signs of 2nd growth.  Each year more trees topple into the water so staying mid channel is mandatory.  I sighted an alligator at Mile 110 .  There were more crab pots at the north end than in the past.  After the Wilkerson Bridge (fixed) at Mile 126 the ICW buoy markers reverse. The Pungo River is an auxiliary water to the Pamlico River; it is 30 NM long (headwaters at Washington) & 35 NM at it’s widest point; several good anchorages to hide in bad weather.  The Pamlico & Neuse Rivers empty into the SW corner of Pamlico Sound.  North Carolina’s prominent wind direction is NE & SW.  Due to it’s position the Pamlico River is less subject to rough waters unlike the Neuse River.  Pamlico Sound is the 2nd largest landlocked body of water on the eastern seaboard; 70 MN long from Croaton Sound to the north to Core Sound to the south; great cruising waters weather permitting.  Lot of powerboat traffic today.  Clouds started to move in about noon & steadily increased.  Jack had his sails up & bobbing along until we caught up to him close to the entrance of the ICW into Goose Creek.  And at G15 we turned into Campbell Creek & carefully sounded our way in seeing 7-8 ft. depths & some crab pots that were unusually easy to follow unlike the past.  We anchored with 70 ft. chain in 8 ft. water.  There were 4 boats in total.  The western sky was so picturesque with a red sunset despite the cloud cover.  Another calm night+++ & clear skies & stars at 0430 hrs.


Fri. Oct. 19, 2012Day 17:
Destination:  Campbell Creek (Mile 154.5) to Beaufort, Town Creek Marina Anchorage (Mile 203.7)
Departure:  0800 hrs.                           Arrival:  1530 hrs.                          Distance: 49.2 SM
Winds:  SW, light 3-8K on Bay River, flat calm on the Neuse River, light on Adams Creek & 10-12K winds at anchorage
Weather:  partially sunny & cloudy skies, warm, light fog à dark grey clouds to the west with brief light rainà blue skies & sun à partial cloud & pink sunset à clear & stars with ¼ moon
Kathrian in the Morning Fog

A mist hovered over the calm water at sunrise.  There was a question of rain & thunderstorm with warm temps in the upper 70’s.  Good weather is also necessary when crossing the Neuse River due to it’s vastness & shallowness, thus prone to steep, uncomfortable seas.  Warmer temperatures are usually felt at this latitude because the Gulf Stream begins it’s course toward Europe off Cape Hatteras which lies just north of us.  The Bay River is more like a bay than a river; many miles of isolated by lovely cruising & picturesque shoreline & overnight anchorages; stretches from Gale Creek to Maw Point where it meets the Neuse River.  The Neuse River is named after an Indian tribe that inhabited the area; it is 34 NM from it’s mouth to New Bern X 6 NM at it’s widest point; little lunar tides but sustained winds from the S & SW lower water levels significantly & blows from the N & NE raise water levels; many picturesque coastal towns, the largest being New Bern.  We attempted to sail on the Bay River with short lived SW 5-8K winds.  The Neuse was flat calm, like a mirror after a brief rain shower from the dark clouds to the west.  In Adams Creek we motored along while I did SUDOKU & made lunch.  We took the Russell Slough to the anchorage off Town Creek Marina which was somewhat crowded.  Our first attempt to anchoring south of the marina found us touch the mud bottom (shoal) & we moved to just west of the marina fuel dock dropping only 50 ft. of chain.  Happy Hour was on SCT.  We plan to stay here tomorrow to sightsee & Jack is in need of some provisioning.  Clear, starry skies with ¼ moon & a constant 10-15K SW wind blew all evening & most of the night, so the wind generator also worked most of the night.

Sat. Oct. 20, 2012Day 18:
Destination:  Beaufort, N.C. (Mile 203.7)
Winds:  who cares, O.K. W to NW, light to 8-10K , light again all evening, increased to 10-15K during the night
Weather:  sunny, few clouds which dissipated entirely, H= near 70F & slightly cool night with northerly winds

A nice relaxing breakfast followed by boat showers.  Once ashore we noticed that the marina was not busy & they were most happy for us to use their shower, laundry facilities & internet.  Also they were willing to allow us to use the courtesy car but the boss was using it.  Maybe later, but no it would not be available till tomorrow; nevertheless it was very generous of the staff.  Internet, fuelling up the boat then refilling the jerry cans X2 & a dinghy ride into Taylor Creek where we tied up to the free municipal dinghy dock & had a very pleasant time walking Front St. (adjacent to the harbour front), in & out of stores, lunching outdoors in the warm sun on the patio at Finz overlooking the harbour (filled with mostly sailboats on mooring balls & tourboats coming & going), wandering the streets away from the waterfront looking at & taking photos of some of the historic homes, strolling through The Old Cemetery on Ann St. & shopping for some provisioning for Jack at Coastal Community Market (Queen & Broad St.) & a new market that opened in March on the corner of Front & Queen St.  We had hoped to explore Carrot Island but it was getting late in the afternoon—disappointed.  After a drink on the upper deck of the marina house outside ‘Fish Tails’ as the sun was setting we were wined & dined on ‘Kathrian’, a scrumptious omelet with spinach & feta, salmon & broccoli.  The night skies were clear, filled with stars with calm NW winds until the middle of the night when they picked up considerably letting the wind generator do it’s thing.

Sun. Oct. 21, 2012Day 19:
Destination:  Beaufort (Mile 203.7) to Mile Hammock Bay (Mile 244.5) 
Departure:  0820 hrs.                                 Arrival:  1545 hrs.                                 Distance:  50.8 SM
Winds:  NNW starting at 10-12K & diminishing through the morning to 4K
Weather:  cool breeze, sun & blue skies, warm in the sun

Happy Birthday Reid!  We hope you are enjoying your special luncheon!
The anchor was up at 0820 hrs. & where the chain had been lying on the mud bottom & the anchor (45 lbs. CQR) was covered in tenacious black, stinky mud.  We made the 0830 hrs. opening of the Beaufort Bridge (bascule) then proceeded toward Moorhead City.  It was low tide but now rising.  As we motored past Moorhead City I was reminded of the reconstruction of the overnight dock at Sanitary Fish Market & Restaurant (now $25.00) & the free floating dock almost always occupied at Ruddy Duck Tavern.  As we rejoined the ICW we sailed along under jenny on a close reach down Bogue Sound in our shorts & T-shirts in a mainly west direction for about 17 NM.  A school of dolphins dove & surfaced between ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ (SCT) & ‘Kathrian’—our first dolphin sightings.  Bogue Sound is long & shallow; one must pay close attention not to weave from red mark to green mark in order to stay in the narrow deep water, otherwise it shallows to 2-3 ft.  At G17 we drifted & went aground; quickly we furled sail & thankfully motored off quite easily. The north shore is lined with beautiful homes.  The Bogue Banks well to the south are a series of low barrier islands separating the sound from the ocean & are sandpits with scrub brush.  The current in Bogue Sound increased to 2.5K against us as we approached closer & closer to Bogue Inlet where it then reversed.  This will be typical as we continue to approach & pass the many inlets.  Our boat speed went from 4.2K to 8K.  From now on tidal currents steadily increase through North & South Carolina into Georgia.  Hammock Beach Park (Mile 232) is a wilderness park with impressive high dunes but only accessible by small boats or making arrangements with park services pontoon ferryboats.  We had our choice of spots when we reached Mile Hammock Bay (Mile 244.5); by nightfall there were a total of 10 boats.  It remained warm till 1700 hrs.  A magnificent sunset followed then the dark sky was clear, filled with stars & ½ moon & very still water.

Mon. Oct. 22, 2012Day 20:
Destination:  Mile Hammock (Mile 244.5) to Banks Channel, Wrightsville (Mile 283.2)
Departure:  0730 hrs.                            Arrival: 1530 hrs.                                           Distance: 38.7SM
Winds:  N < 5K
Weather:  brilliant sun & blue skies

Unfortunately we are at low tide & soon to reverse & at the New River Inlet which has a constant shoaling problem & a swift tidal current.  In fact sometimes the inlet & ICW are closed.  Three sailboats set out before us & one was aground as we approached R72A; he favoured the red side too closely.  But the rule still applies—favour red side at R72 & slightly less so at R72A, then follow the sinuosity of the port shoreline to R74; R72à12 ft., R72Aà 7 ft., R74à14 ft. We had 3 bridges to open to Wrightsville: (1) Surf City Bridge (swing) 16.2 SM on the hour; allow a little more than 2 hrs. from Mile Hammockà passed through at 1000 hrs. opening (2) Figure Eight Island Bridge (swing) 17.4 SM on the hour & half hour; allow 2-21/2 hrs. from Surf City Bridgeà passed through at 1230 hrs.; I believe we could have made the 1200 hrs. opening if we had motored a bit faster & had even tried for the opening, then we would not have had to wait 1:50 for Wrightsville only 5 miles away  (3) Wrightsville Bridge (bascule) 5 SM on the hour; strong current; passed through at 1400 hrs.  We had a high tide going through Motts Channel + G19 & 21 towards Banks Channel had been moved to their more rightful spot.  Along the route today we spotted a number of my friends, the dolphins.  As we passed Seapath Marina we pulled in for fuel & water.  The staff were most pleasant & accommodating.  Even though we were not staying there they allowed us to use their laundry (1 washer= $1.25 1 dryer= $1.00), shower & internet services  after we dropped the hook in Banks Channel Anchorage.  There was plenty of room when we arrived but many boats then trickled in.  I don’t know the exact number of feet of chain we dropped as the chain markers were caked with black mud.  A spectacular view of the red sunset.  Finally supper, baja mex food at Tower 7 just up from the dinghy dock at Wynn Plaza.  What a pretty sight of all the boats’ anchor lights on our dinghy ride home on such calm, mirror like water.  The sky was crystal clear, ½ moon & stars.

Tues. Oct. 23, 2012Day 21:
Destination:  Wrightsville, N.C. (Mile 283.2) to Calabash Creek, S.C. (Mile 341.7)
Departure:  0730 hrs.                                  Arrival: 1530 hrs.                                Distance: 58.5 SM
Winds:  N, but none to speak of
Weather:  sun, sun, sun, blue, blue sky & warm

Happy Birthday Marcie!  And Happy Birthday Jack!

Another awesome sunrise + sounds of more southern birds.  We are experiencing more interesting sights & sounds of southern nature & wilderness but also the southern drawl of local people.  The anchor was absolutely clean when we took it up; I could actually see the chain markers again.  We took the Shinn Creek (deeper) exit from the anchorage back on the ICW as the tide was still falling till 0925 hrs. & thus we were motoring against a 2K current.  We had good depths nevertheless until we hit Myrtle Grove Inlet G141 & G143 (8.8 ft.) & approaching Carolina Beach Inlet R150 & R152 (7.1 ft.).  Snows Cut connects Carolina Beach Sound to the Cape Fear River but it ebbs & floods from Carolina Beach Inlet.  Cape Fear River ebbs & floods from Cape Fear Inlet.  We were running Cape Fear River down to Southport (12 NM) with the tide at a boat speed of 8.8K.  The 3K north winds were from the stern & of no help.  In fact the water surface barely showed a shiver of movement.  It was the fastest trip to Southport.  Approaching Lockwoods Folly (Mile 321.5--caution area) at 1250 hrs. our boat speed was down to 4.2K, but good depths, turbulence++, small recreational fishing boats & increase of boat speed to 7.8 on the other side.  Likewise for Shallote Inlet (Mile 329.5—caution area); decreasing boat speed approaching the inlet, good depths, turbulence, increase boat speed past the inlet.  Nerve racking was a damn big power cruiser who had to pass as we were jostled in the turbulence & diligently following the shoal markers.  Welcome to South Carolina at Mile 340.8!  A shoal bar cuts across the entrance to Calabash Creek & the proper approach is by directly facing ICW 2 make a 90 degree turn to starboard keeping that marker to port & giving CC 2 marker a wide berth over the shoal bar, but with high tide water depths were 8-9 ft. Tides in this area is about 2-3 ft.  Five boats were already anchored & although not much room we managed to anchor in 12 ft.  We were a total of 9 boats tonight.  Another lovely sunset, ¾ moon, stars until light fog set in early night for a short period of time then clear & starry sky again.

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