25 – 29 April –
Our next stop was to Wrightsville Beach, NC where we reckoned we would have our last opportunity to make the decision to have another passage on the “outside” or continue up the ICW as we did at every major inlet. Every time the weather or the winds were not conducive for making a passage, and Wrightsville Beach was no exception.
The forecasted winds did not sound appealing and the length of the passage to Beaufort, NC (pronounced Bo-fort and not to be confused with Beaufort pronounced Bew-fort, SC – locals take the differentiation of the pronunciations very seriously where even the marina staff won’t always respond if you try to hail with the wrong pronunciation) did not make us comfortable. It was just a bit too long for a day sail, if we were to encounter any problems or were not able to maintain a steady speed we would arrive at the channel in the dark – and we prefer to arrive during daylight especially if we haven’t navigated the channel. But the passage was not quite long enough to consider an overnight passage and we would arrive at the channel before daybreak and therefore have to kill time in the ocean for a few hours until sunrise.
We both were a bit envious of our friends who have a larger and faster boat (and a better weather day the day before) who were able to make the passage in one day as we continued making our way inland and taking 2 days to do what could have been done in one.
But over those two days we heard people on the radio as they were coming back to shore from ocean passages, and they all were talking about how bad the wind was, how it wasn’t from the right direction, how they were unable to get any rest and were exhausted. We knew we had made the right decision to stay on the inside, even if it meant we were disappointed and most likely would not see the ocean again for a while.
From Wrightsville Beach we continued on to Sneeds Ferry where we again stayed at the funky and friendly Swan Point Marina. Our evening entertainment consisted of watching a shrimp boat apparently having engine problems and trying to set his anchor (in the middle of the channel!), being unsuccessful and getting swept away by the fast moving current. We were thankful that this meant he was now further down river and no longer threat of colliding into us. The manager of this marina also bakes homemade delicacies and we were treated with a wonderful cinnamon coffee cake which provided us with two days of decadent breakfasts. That alone is worth making the stop again in the future!
We continued on to Morehead City, NC (next to Beaufort). On this day we experienced SW winds from 20 -25 knots – even greater than had been forecast – and again were glad we weren’t out in the ocean getting beat up.
Do you think we are kidding when we talk about shoaling off the channel? This bloke is standing on a sandbar about 100 yards/metres away from our boat. Yes, the water can get shallow quickly.
Navigating to our slip with the wind and current was indeed a challenge, and it took a few tries before we were able to get safely tied up. We were very thankful for the bow thruster to help us control the boat and combat nature’s forces with this maneuver.
Due to weather and forecasted wind and rain (are you seeing a trend here?) we opted to stay two days in Morehead City taking advantage of some wonderful local seafood offerings.