FL to CT Day 21
Oriental, NC to Columbia, NC
We had a great dinner at the Toucan Grill located at the Oriental Marina. I had an awesome burger called… Dragons Breath Burger… habanera jerk sauce, pineapple, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese… I opted to hold the pineapple… just did not sound good to me on a burger… Susan had one of the Monday specials… 4 burger sliders... French fries and several cold beers… it was fantastic. For dessert we both had a huge mud slide and was it good. When we got back to the boat it was straight to bed for both of us.
We woke a little later than normal today… think the beers and mud slide may of caused that… anyway, we did manage to get away by 0730 and headed out to the Neuse River. The winds were forecast for 10-15 knots out of the NE producing maybe 2 foot waves making the cruise up the Neuse River a very comfortable ride.
I tried hailing “Sanctuary” several times on the VHF… they had spent the night at River Dunes Marina and I thought they were heading out with us today. Found out later in the day that they had decided to stay another day at River Dunes. So, we were cruising alone today. Although, I did hear from “Serendipity”… Peter called on the cell phone to inquire about any troubles we might have had with shoaling for the area they were cruising through today… told him I had not experienced any shoaling and found there to be plenty of water in the notorious trouble spots.
We had planned to cruise to the top of the Pungo River and anchor just before the A & P Canal… however we arrived at 1400 and it seemed far to early to stop. I had read on Active Captain about Tuckahoe Point Anchorage at the northern end of the A & P Canal. We had never tried this anchorage due to not having any place to take Beecha to land, However, today when I was researching an anchorage location I saw a note about a boat ramp up a small canal that the locals use to access the Alligator River… it was just to the west of Tuckahoe Point… so, we decided to continue on for another 20 nm to Tuckahoe Point… 2-1/2 to 3 hours more making it 1700-1730 when we would arrive.
We had not seen much boat traffic today at all… heard a few on the VHF but never really saw anyone until the A & P Canal when we were passed by a high speed ferry out of Boston… they hailed for a slow pass and I slowed to idle… it was a fairly large vessel and I could see the wake it was putting out behind it… just did not feel like rolling around… thus the slow to idle… didn’t help… he still came by putting out a 5 foot wake and talking to me on the VHF that he was passing us as slow as he could to not wake us… NOT! It was not terrible but just very discourteous… :(
We reached the end of the A& P Canal and the Tuckahoe Anchorage was just off to our port side… I had done some further research on the anchorage and was not thrilled with everything I had read and the forecast for winds tomorrow was not the best… the Alligator River can be nasty with 20-25 knot NE winds… and after that is the Albemarle Sound… NE winds are never good on it… Anyway, change of plans again…. Continue on… to Alligator Marina…. Only another 20 nm further.
There was no cell phone signal so I hailed Alligator Marina on the VHF to find out if they had room for us and to let them know I would be arriving around 1930. Ms Wanda was on the VHF and said… “Not a problem… we close at eight o’clock… see you when you arrive.”
As we exited the narrow portion of the Alligator River and started heading north up the river we became fully exposed to the winds... which were now blowing over 20 knots… so much for the 10-15 not forecast… anyway, it did slow us down and checking our ETA we were arriving closer to 1945 now… not leaving us a lot of leeway for when Alligator Marina closed… even if we arrived later than 2000 we could still dock. Just wanted to make it before Ms. Wanda left… she sort of a reputation of sometimes being.. how do I say it… “Difficult? “ anyway, I did not want to upset her by arriving late.
Only one more thing to deal with before the marina… the Alligator River Swing Bridge… we had to have it opened to get to Ms Wanda’s marina. We were still on schedule for arrival at 1945. Just about 3/4 of a mile away from the bridge I was hailed by bridge tender on the VHF. He asked if I could slow down… he had a commercial tug southbound and wanted to open just once for us and the tug. What could I say… No? I responded that I would slow my approach. Shortly, the tug hailed the bridge and informed them that he was 8 minutes away… I was sitting at the bridge at this point waiting. We informed Ms. Wanda that we had been delayed by the bridge and we would be there as quickly as we could.
The bridge tender did not wait the full 8 minutes and opened the bridge earlier and we were able to pass through before the tug reached the bridge… we had to make a 90 degree turn to port directly after the bridge to enter the channel to the Alligator River Marina… but the tug was too close for us to cross his bow in front of him… so we waited till he passed and then made our turn to port and headed toward the marina. Plenty of time to make it… had 5 minutes to get in.
We arrived right just before 2000 and was met by Ms. Wanda at the dock… she was giving us docking instructions… her way… not ours… we have a system to our docking… Susan knows what lines we need first and where they need to be placed… Ms. Wanda also has her system and her and Susan were not agreeing…what did I say… “Difficult”… anyway, we made it in on time and we were securely docked at 2000.
Our location for the night is N35°54.344, W076°01.762’. We traveled for 12.5 hours covering 85.2 nm averaging 6.8 knots.
Posted at 10:37 PM
FL to CT Day 20
Swansboro, NC to Oriental, NC
Not a great forecast for today’s weather… rain, and more rain… it did rain during the night but when we woke at 0600 it was not raining. Susan took Beecha for her morning walk. With the forecast I debated on weather to leave or stay at the dock… we had a short day planned going only to Oriental, NC… so I opted to depart and we left the dock at 0700 and headed north on the ICW. “Sanctuary” hailed on the VHF and let us know they were off the dock and heading to River Dunes Marina today, so we would not see them tonight but would stay in touch.
It was a very uneventful day of cruising… the forecast was very accurate and we had rain all day… nothing very heavy just a steady shower… no sunshine… :(
We did communicate with “Sanctuary” one more time and we confirmed our destinations for the day and would touch base tomorrow.
Besides having current with us for the majority of the day the best part of the whole day was when we arrived to Oriental and the free town dock was open… the dock has room for just two boats and we were one of them…http://www.towndock.net/harborcam … we have found this dock open only one other time a couple of years ago.
We were securely docked at 1245. Our location for the night is N35°01.488’, W076°41.739’. We traveled for 5.75 hours covering 42.8 nm averaging 7.5 knots.
Posted at 1:36 PM
FL to CT Day 19
Carolina Beach, NC to Swansboro, NC
Yesterday afternoon after arriving we had a few drinks and snacks aboard “Sanctuary” with Jim and Peg Healy. It’s always nice to be able to spend some time with good friends after a day of cruising.
We departed from Carolina Beach State Park Marina at 0715 and headed back out to the ICW entering Snow’s Cut with a slight current against us. We had several bridges to deal with… Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight, Surf City and Onslow Beach. We do not need an opening for Figure Eight Bridge so that makes one of them easy. Wrightsville Beach Bridge we need an opening at all times other than dead low tide… which was not going to be the case today… checking the GPS our arrival time to the bridge was going to be a couple of minutes late… the bridge only opens once an hour at the top of the hour. We needed to be there by the 0900 or have to wait until 1000 to pass. I asked “Sanctuary” to go ahead of us as he could make the bridge in time being able to move a little faster than we could. They made to within range of the bridge to get the opening started and then the plan was to have them go as slow as possible to allow us time to catch up. I hailed the bridge and asked if I would be able to make the same opening being slightly behind “Sanctuary”… The bridge tender said he would hold it for us… luck was with us today.
Next bridge was Figure Eight Bridge… it had 22 feet clearance which is enough for us to pass under when I drop the antennas and the mast.
We then had approximately 3 hours to make it the next bridge… the Surf City Bridge… which opens only at the top of the hour. You would think this would not be an issue with getting there within 3 hours time… but you have such a varied current through the area… one minute you’re doing 8 knots and the next you’re under 6 knots. We ended up making way too early… had to run at idle speed the last mile or so just to not have to sit at the bridge and maintain position for several minutes which can be a real hassle… especially with wind and current. We made it through at 1200 opening.
Next bridge was the Onslow Beach Bridge… they open every 30 minutes so it’s not quite as difficult to make an opening on time. We were shooting for the 1430 opening. We made it without any trouble… actually arrived about 5 minutes early. I had not even hailed the bridge and it started opening well ahead of schedule… very surprising… maybe he thought we were a commercial vessel… anyway, it was an awesome surprise.
“Sanctuary” had told us about a great diesel fuel price at Casper’s Marina in Swansboro… $3.10 per gallon plus tax…. $3.31 per gallon total… we did not really need any fuel but it’s hard to pass up this price. “Sanctuary” was going to stop for fuel and spend the night at Casper’s Marina. We would only stop and get a couple hundred gallons and then go to our normal dock we stay at in Swansboro.
We arrived to Casper’s at approximately 1615 and pulled into the fuel dock… which was the only available dock space was left… “Sanctuary” stood off while we fueled. Once we left the dock they pulled in to where we had been and would be there for the night.
We took on 200 gallons… nice buffer to have in the tanks… don’t want to run out of fuel… :) We moved about 1000 yards to the north from Casper’s and pulled in to the Dock and Dine docks at the Saltwater Grill. We were securely docked at 1645. Our location for the night is N34°40.980’, W077°06.532’. We traveled for 9.5 hours covering 58.8 nm averaging 6.2 knots.
After docking Frank and Chris Erwin stopped by the boat to say hi… they had previous plans for the evening. Normally, when in Swansboro we have spend the evening with the Erwin’s … Drinks and dinner… this trip we had dinner at the Saltwater Grill… nothing special about this restaurant at all… they try to pull off the “fine dining” experience… fancy presentation of the foods… a little pricey… anyway, I would not recommend it.
Posted at 8:08 PM