And the showers continue….

1 May 2016

Unfortunately the showers referred to in the title are not the lovely steam showers from the day before, but rather the rainy showers we are growing accustomed to and getting tired of.

P1020817We left River Dunes Marina and continued north on yet another dreary day.   Wind was in our favor and we unfurled the genoa (jib/headsail) to enjoy a motor sail.

P1020818We arrived in Dowry Creek Marina and had to reacquaint ourselves to tying up in a slip that requires a 4 point tie, two on the dock to the bow and two securing the stern to pilings.   Short finger piers means we can’t use our gate at mid-boat but instead require climbing over the life lines near the bow to get on and off the boat.  We already miss the floating docks with full finger piers we enjoyed further south.

We escaped the rain however until after we were tied up when the skies opened up for a full on downpour.

April showers…..brings May showers

29  & 30 April

P1020815After we left Morehead City this is one of the vessels that passed us.  You can’t really get a sense of how huge these tug and barges are until they are alongside you.  We give them as much space as we safely can.

.   P1020816

We continued up the ICW to revisit River Dunes Marina, the resort marina we also enjoyed on our trip south.  Again, looking at the weather, and trying to plan for our crossing of the Albermarle Sound in a few days we opted to enjoy the facilities here for a couple of days.  The amenities include a hot tub/spa and steam showers which are incredibly awesome!  Imagine hot water (as hot as you would want) coming from above, plus four jets of hot water surrounding your body and then hot steam enveloping your entire body all at the same time!  Heaven whilst standing up!  Add to that, decadent dining at the exquisite restaurant, and this off day was indeed rejuvenating.

Can we stay another day?

But no – as we are watching the ever changing forecast we will continue on tomorrow for 47 miles to Dowry Creek and then assess if we hunker down another day or continue on to Alligator River to prepare to cross the Albermarle Sound.

Making our way through North Carolina

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.

P1020813Do 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.

Welcome back to North Carolina

23 & 24 April – North Myrtle Beach, SC to Southport, NC

P1020802We enjoyed a pretty uneventful day making our way to Southport, NC.  For some reason this section of the Waterway has quite a few partially sunken boats as landmarks.  P1020803

It was time to change the oil in the engine so we decided to spend 2 nights in Southport and do some boat chores and enjoy some wonderful local cuisine on our “off day”.

P1020806Our next door neighbor had a very inquisitive cat who decided to joined us and explore our boat, comparing the differences between her own motor yacht and our sail boat.   We definitely enjoyed playing host to Tito.

P1020807For our hospitality we were rewarded with a bowl of the most awesome crab bisque prepared by Tito’s mom.  It was a win win win for us!

One of the services offered at Southport is a most informative and free presentation by a meteorologist and sailor about the ICW and known trouble spots.  We attended the seminar to learn the latest news about potential upcoming hazards and conditions.  It was an excellent source of information and we used those notes for the rest of the trip, noting bridges that were not operational, new shoaling areas, actual surveys of depths in the channel, and one section where the recommendation was to ignore the channel markers and go outside the channel to find the deeper water – something we would never even consider without the briefing.   Thankfully we had no issues, but were grateful with the latest and most up to date information available.

Continuing North…

22 April – Leaving the serenity of Osprey Marina, we continued our journey north to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club in North Myrtle Beach for our last night in South Carolina.
P1020798Today we passed by numerous golf courses and expensive homes along the waterway as well as this garden of buoys – now we know where all those missing markers from the channel hide out.P1020799

P1020800We passed by the outlet mall …. again…. and Christina still couldn’t convince Bob to tie up and do a little shopping.

We were able to witness our own confidence growth as we navigated the narrow Rock Pile with no incident and much more confidence than our first time a few months ago.