Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oct. 26 - Nov. 1, 2010 (Week 4, Day 22-28)

Tues. Oct. 26, 2010 (Week 4, Day 22): Our Anniversary! 
 Destination: to stay in Beaufort 
 Weather: increasing S winds, rain & thunderstorms predicted; but in the early am the skies were clearing to a brilliant blue sky & sun with nasty clouds to the W; winds were gusty & moderately strong.
We signed up for the courtesy car after a shower & breakfast (0930-1145 hrs.). We drove over to Atlantic Beach, walked the public sand beach (empty, & ocean rough) until the stores opened at 1000hrs. Brigitte from Town Creek Marina recommended a surf shop (Marsh’s on the right at the base of the bridge) who carry Maui Jim sunglasses; they were closed when we past & saw another (Bert’s)àpurchased. Then we walked the Morehead City waterfront where we have been in ’09---many shops have closed up. Then it was back to Beaufort to Front St. (main tourist area right next to the waterfront of Taylor’s Creek); we visited a few shops then it was time to return the car. At lunchtime it was still sunny & hot (75 F)now; skies were still blue & the winds were still moderately high. We phoned the US Coast Guard (USCG) to confirm rumoured delays &/or closure of the passage by Camp Lajuene & anchorage at Mile Hammock---no known delays or closures. We worked away at the internet & got the first two postings of my blog out to those who specifically approached me that they wanted to receive it. The courtesy car was available again in the late afternoon so we made at trip to West Marine out Hwy. 70W in Morehead City, then to Atlantic Beach again for a pair of sandals I was looking for. We opened a superb bottle of red wine & enjoyed it before & with our steak dinner. I worked on the internet while Graeme have a few zizz hours. Although the weather predicted did not materialize but seemed to stay west of us, we enjoyed the stay anyway. Tonight a ¾ moon was visible in a hazy night sky.
Wed. Oct. 27, 2010 (Week 4, Day 23): 
Destination: Beaufort(Mile 205) to Mile Hammock (Mile 244.5) 
Mileage: 39.5 SM 
Weather: Partly sunny & partly cloudy dawn with S to SW winds moderately strong & gusting 9-18K.
Departure: 0740 hrs. 
Arrival: 1445 hrs. 
A fellow cruiser helped with our dock lines, pile lines good, but a very messy exit! We mingled below Beaufort Bridge (bascule) awaiting the 0800 hrs. scheduled opening; restricted openings for the am & pm traffic on weekdays. There was a whole string of power & sailboats southbound in the Bogue Sound passing all the fine large expensive homes on the Morehead City side & the beach communities on Bogue Banks. We motor sailed with some jenny (a beat) at 7-8K until we turned into the wind at about Cedar Point then Swansboro; we went aground with sail up between G15-17 by being too close to the green side when one really needs to favour red sideà easy off. The sun was in & out but mostly out, warming temperatures to a hot 80 F. Dolphins+++ playing with all of us near Mile 230, Bear Inlet. As per routine, I spend many am hours reading about today’s passing communities & their histories, caution areas (low water/shoaling) spot cleaning the main cabin floor & the cockpit & spelling Graeme off the wheel , some days more than others. He usually charts stuff, cleans as well & thinks silently when not driving. We got the 1400 hrs. Onslow Beach Bridge opening, then onto Mile Hammock---several boats anchored already. The anchor was set with lots of chain out in 13 ft.of water deep down towards a ramp & we set the wind gen to ‘on’---it’s whirling it’s guts out. There was a little chop, gusting winds from the south at 10-15K., the clouds rolled in & the skies were threatening. Not very favourable weather conditions predicted for overnight & all of tomorrow. Despite washing the entire deck & dodger & bimini windows a couple of days ago, the salt air was very evident. A few more boats entered the anchorage well after sunset. A well light up tug pushing a flatbed freighter passed & in the distance we could see the lights of Surf City. Supper + sausages & pork ’n beans. I worked on my journal/blog until I was all caught up; battery down to 29%. 2130 hrs. & prepared for bed including a last look around the anchorage. We are almost used to the water sounds slapping against the hull at the stern & not bothered by the wind generator sound. I was up a couple of times checking our surroundings. The wind was still blowing but the water was calmer.
Thurs. Oct. 28, 2010 (Week 4, Day 24): 
Destination: Mile Hammock (Mile 244.5) to Wrightsville Beach (Mile283.2)
Mileage: 38.7 SM 
Weather: stormy prediction, wind shifting S to SW to W & before sunrise speed of 17K observed. There were dark skies & threatening clouds but also patches of blues sky. 
Departure: 0815 hrs. 
Arrival: 1605 hrs.
At 0630 hrs. there was a sudden onset of rain & shifty winds as described above; certainly cleaned the decks. We waited to see if the weather improved. At 0800 hrs. some boats had left & by 0830 hrs. the rain had stopped & the winds had decreased somewhat --- some improvement. We up anchored knowing that there were some caution areas (shallow water areas prone to shoaling & ? dredging) & bridge openings X 3 today. The first caution area was encountered 1.1 mile after leaving Mile Hammock, New River; the tide was low but rising & the shoals were exposed with sea birds standing on them (R72àR72A favouring the red side to 72B but favouring the red side a little less & following the sinuosity of the port shoreline)--- made it! N.C. beach style homes (high off the ground & multi level balconies) on our starboard. We were too late for the 1000hrs. Surf City Bridge (swing) opening (Mile 260.7) & too early for the 1100 hrs. N.B. must allow at least 2 hrs. travel time from Mile Hammock. We had a good rainfall approaching Figure 8 Island Bridge (swing) (Mile 278.1) fighting a 1.5-2K current + a west wind all morning; high tide was at 1156 hrs. so why were we still fighting the current? And so we missed the 1330 hrs. opening & waited the 1400 hrs. opening. Mile 283.1 Wrightsville Beach Bridge (bascule) only 5 miles away & opens on the hourly only + now we have a 2K current with us. After the opening we entered Motts Channel with a current that was pushing us down on G25. At Sea Path Yacht Club we filled our diesel tank + 1 jerry can, then proceeded to the beach area anchoring in 18 ft. in & around R14; we had current & wind to contend with so put out lots of chain; good thing we did. Suddenly on anchoring an alarm went off & Graeme discovered that the batteries usually had readings of 13.6 were down to 12.4 & not charging. The wind generator was employed & whirling+++. Fuses were all good. Graeme was puzzled & very disturbed. I forgot to take meat out from the freezer so supper was a meager grilled cheese & pork ‘n beans. Only WiFi available at this location was the pay for stuff so I just worked on my journal/blog off the computer battery till rain+++, lightning & thunderstorm; went on for a while. Maureen phoned but I had difficulty hearing due to the pelting of rain (Sens were winning vs Florida & won against Phoenix on Tues.). The strong WSW to W winds increased, anchor was holding but we were dancing around similarly to others; we watched for a while. Graeme had a shower, then we both read listening to the rain & watching the weather. Winds slowly shifting to WNW & temps dropping as predicted.
Fri. Oct. 29, 2010 (Week 4, Day 25): 
Destination: Wrightsville Beach (Mile 283.2) to Calabash, S.C. (Mile 341.7)
Mileage: 58.5 SM 
Weather: sunny, blue skies, WNW winds 8-20K & humid air replaced by cool, dry crisp air (lower 60’s). Fishermen all bundled up in hoodies & what looked like winter attire. 
Departure: 0825 hrs. 
Arrival: 1750 hrs. 
The wind blew all night & so did the wind generator. Both of us were up twice during the night; the stars & ½ moon were out & all the boats were where they should be. Graeme slept poorly, thinking for a reason for the batteries not charging; questioned the new upgraded alternator but the battery monitor states it’s working. We will delay/postpone our departure at & call Norton’s at 0800 opening time. Suddenly Graeme thought of an engine cover access opening in the shower area & saw a loose alternator connection; we tested it with the engine running & the voltage increased to normà problem solved?!!! A quick shower & breakfast & up anchored without any alarms! We exited via Motts Channel (not Shinn, although deeper) taking a wide berth around G19 by heading to the 2nd deck on starboard, gently turning to port aiming for the end of the docks at Sea Path Y.C. Low tide was 0602 hrs.--- couple of hours into a rising tide. We barely touched at G25 then I was handed the helm. Skipper Bob states to favour the green side--- wrong this year anyway; midway between R126 & R128 by a small inlet I put her well aground; easy off then drove from mark to mark & found that to be the deepest water. I think the channel has been recently dredged--- must inquire. No problems at G155 to R160, in fact Carolina Beach Inlet depths= 15-20 ft.! To this point we had the current against us & now we were racing at 9.1K! Why was I on the helm?; I should have been taking a movie of the pilons on starboard! My hands were sweaty & stomach a knot. Graeme took over when we approached Snow’s Cut; we were sling shot through there; I have 3 movies to show! Snow’s Cut ebbs & floods from Carolina Beach Inlet. The ride ended as we went into the Cape Fear River; it ebbs & floods from the Cape Fear Inlet, so we were fighting the current with a 20K W wind at our stern as we swooped through 2-4 ft white crested waves. We put out a bit of jenny to help some against the current. At 1230 hrs. we were passing Southport with very W to WNW (wind 200 degrees , boat 180); it was difficult to fly a sail but we did when possible. Wrightsville & Southport are 2 places I want to stay longer. On into the man-made canal towards Lockwood Folly on a high tide that was starting to fall; infamous for all the little fishing boats in or just out of this difficult & constantly shoaling spots--- 17 ft. depths! We were pushed & pulled as we passed inlets from the Atlantic down to our last caution area, Shallotte Inlet--- convergence of 3 waterways & thus changing shoaling ( 10-17 ft. depths). We slowed right down for our approach to the Sunset Pontoon Bridge opening (only hourly) & were could not make 8 mi. in 45 mins. for the 1600 hrs. opening ; wouldn’t you know it but we had the current pushing us. This was the last bit of mileage in N.C. At Mile 340.8 at 1725 hrs. we crossed into S.C. The anchor was carefully set at 1750 hrs. in 7.9 ft. water beneath us. A beautiful wood & marsh anchorage with a shoaling entrance (8 boats total). Sunset produced the reddist sky one can imagine; quiet & calm. We phoned the Morrows who were in Georgetown to tell them our location. Whiskey Mak, a boat from N.B. we had met on our last Bahamas trip was with them, drinking in a bar. Supper= sloppy joes (yes, I remembered to take ground meat out of the freezer this am. Journal/blog writing & it is now bedtime.
Sat. Oct. 30, 2010 (Week 4, Day 26): 
Destination: Calabash (Mile 341.7) to Osprey Marina (Mile 373)
Mileage: 31.3 SM 
Weather: cool temps ,upper 30’sF in am, a high of 66F & low tonight of 54F, magnificent wall to wall sunshine & blue skies Wind: very light (max. 3K) W wind on our nose; too narrow to sail anyway; flat calm 
Departure: 0745 hrs. 
Arrival: 1320 hrs. 

Picture perfect morn; taking a long time for daylight. We were in the same boat position as when we anchored last night. Low tide & just starting on a rise. A passenger ferry went by, then fishing boats (nets) from the town of Calabash, which is actually in N.C. whereas the anchorage is S.C. We were the 3rd boat to leave; boat #2 was hard aground on the wrong side of ICW R2. We took a slow pass through the entrance at R2 (5 ft. depth ) well out into the ICW till 9-12 ft. registered on the depth sounder then to starboard to continue our trek through the Little River. We phoned Osprey Marina to confirm our request for a reservation for this evening made last night---space available. Carefully we passed Little River Bridge (swing ) at Mile 347.3 then through Pine Island Cut or Rockpile (granite canal blasted by Corp of Engineers) at a rising low tide; saw 8-12 ft. depths--- has this area been dredged as well? The water colour looked like & thick as chocolate syrup. We started seeing Spanish moss growing on live oak trees. Then it was through Barefoot Landing Swing Bridge (Mile 354.3) & through Myrtle Beach--- sorry Jack that you are 1-2 days from being here. Then it was into the beautiful Waccamaw River; at Fall time though there is some green shrubs but most trees have already lost their foliage & merely dead looking tall sticks; at low tide their root system is out of the water. Tannin, tea coloured water with turtles often seen sunning on logs on the banks (none today or too early for them to be up) & no dolphins of course. At R26 we turned to port to Osprey Marina (Mile 373), fuel then to our slip, B26 (8-9 ft. depths)--- $1.00 per ft. + $5.00 for electricity. What a hidden treasure--- wonderful facilities, kind, polite & helpful staff, pristine Brazilian teak docks! As we were getting settled we noticed a turtle at out transom; feed it stalks of romaine lettuce & it gobbled it up. On registering we were given a welcome bag full of goodies. After lunch I promptly started laundry (3 loads)--- washers X2 ($1.50)à 25 min. + dryers X2 ($1.50)à 45 min. while Graeme did an oil change. While laundry was running I connected up to the internet---50 emails! We discovered a new term in our insurance policy just sent to us a few days ago---above Lat. 35 degrees until Nov. 15th; too late, we are already at Lat. 33 degrees. I emailed family & Skyped Donna as Mom was at Church. Then we phoned the Morrows who are waiting for us in Georgetown & likely to stay till Tues. A very late supper of leftovers & then more internet which I had at dockside, then crashed.

Sun. Oct. 31, 2010 (Week 4, Day 27): Happy Hallowe’en!

Destination: Osprey Marina (Mile 373) to Georgetown (Mile 403)
Weather: warm, sunny, blue skies with a chill in the air Wind: variable, SW to WSW & W at 2-12K then by mid am 12-24.4K 
Departure: 0900 hrs. from dock & 0915 after pumpout 
Arrival: 1325 hrs. 

We slept in till 0700 hrs. so I guess we won’t make a very early start--- too difficult anyway because of all the moisture condensed on our enclosure windows on these Fall mornings, therefore no visibility & the decks are wet. One large shower--- beautifully clean & lots of water pressure from the shower head. We prepped to leave & the turtle was seen at the bow. Gene assisted us leaving the dock without any hitches despite the tight quarters, along with his assistant to the pumpout station & leaving that dock as well. A new 200 ft. dock for transients was in the works (decking near completion). The Waccamaw at this point is wider but the vegetation is brown & dreary looking--- quite the opposite in the Spring. A bit of history---the shoreline was the former home site of many large plantations & rice fields. The land clearing, the construction & maintenance of the river banks & the cultivation of rice were labour intensive, requiring hundreds of workers, almost exclusively black slaves. The Civil War brought the downfall of the rice culture; no slave labour, profits declined. Then rice planting started in the Gulf States where the soil was firmer & more suitable for mechanical cultivation (farm machinery). Also hurricanes struck South Carolina from 1894 to 1906 severely damaging the rice crops & thus in the early 1900’s, rice cultivation was almost totally abandoned. We were riding a rising low tide moving at speeds of 5.6 to 7.8K, almost surpassing the point at which low tide times changes to high. There was a faint hint of the smell of earth & wood--- low tide exposing the wet earthen banks & roots of trees. We took extra caution figuring out the markers leading into Georgetown, specifically into the anchorage in Sampit River. We cruised around & deep into the anchorage before spotting ‘Twomorrows’; they were not expecting us so early. We had to re-anchor as we were too close & drifting down on a small permanent resident keelboat. Lunch & then Lynn & Larry dinghied over--- chatted up a storm. Looking around the anchorage & people watching, Larry casually suggested that he & Graeme grow their hair over the next few months, so when they are in the Bahamas they might have a ponytail & become ‘true cruisers’; give me strength! West winds had died down by late afternoon & we dinghied over to shore for supper at Buzz’s Roost. Most of Georgetown closes down part of Sat. & all day Sun. Only a couple of establishments open. By 1915 hrs. we were back home. No interent so worked on journal/blog. 2230 hrs & bedtime.
Mon. Nov. 1, 2010 (Week 4, Day 28): All Saints’ Day 
Destination: Georgetown (Mile 403)--- spend time sightseeing! 
Weather: sun & only blue skies 
Winds: light from the East
There was no hurry to get up early. We even had eggs & English muffins for breakfast. We launched the dinghy that was still sitting on the foredeck, then the dinghy motor. But it would not run & Graeme suspected a previous similar problem, so immediately started cleaning the carburetor & sure enough the engine ran, not perfect yet but with use that should improve. I washed floors, cleaned floor mats & read about Georgetown. Near noon the Morrows & ourselves dinghied to the city docks then walked along Front St. to Kadzu Bakery--- fresh breads (almost all gone), pastries cakes & cookies, jams & preserves, flash frozen & vacu pak veggies & meats etc., quiches, cheeses, wine & some beerà most impressive; some stuff well priced well others were expensive; a lovely courtyard with tables & chairs. Back along Front St. & spent some time shopping in Tomlinson, then past many restaurants, barber shops, ice cream shops, fine shops & to the Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center. We walked the Harborwalk to Ruzz’s Roost for Fat Tires (beer) & snacks while I had ice cream. We filled my large bottle with water, dinghied home, then to ‘Twomorrows’ for drinks & snacks. Who needs supper? Well, it was simply soup & fresh bread. Unpleasant looking clouds to the south seemed to pass by & after sunset the sky was clear & filled with stars. Journal writing & then bedtime. The admirals’ meeting decided that we would stay another day, then move on into the salt marshes for 2 nights, followed by 3 nights in Charleston at Charleston Maritime Center; reservations made.


  1. Hi Laura and Graeme, I have finally had time to read your blog. What a great story you are telling...seems like a bit of a "working" holiday to me! I can't wait for the visual blog of your trip. Will you be able to add pictures to this or do we have to wait for your return?
    Keep having fun and safe sailing. Sue Mate

  2. Thanks Sue for your comments. It makes all the work maintaining this thing worthwhile. Yes, I want & plan to post pictures but I just have not had that time & that is a new time consuming action for me. I am still having problems posting the journal from Word to blog without losing the composition in Word & also moving around Blogger.