Southport, NC to Bucksport, NC
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 20
We departed from Southport, NC at 0645 hours and continued south on the ICW... it was a chilly 32 degrees. The winds were mild and the sun was coming up... a mist/fog was rising off the water... looked to be a great day. We would have a mix of current with and against us as we passed each inlet along our route... our slowest speed during the day was 5.0 knots and highest speed was 8.6 knots. We had several bridges to deal with but all opened on request so timing was not an issue today.
At approximately 1130 hours we stopped in Little River, SC... Cricket Cove marina to take on some diesel fuel... 500 gallons @ $3.55 per gallon... ouch! But that was the lowest price we had seen in several days. It was slow pump and it took almost an hour to put in 500 gallons departing at 1218 hours and continuing south on the ICW.
One area just ahead of us is called the "Rock Pile" and named this due to the edges of the channel are lined with large rock structures... stray out of the channel and you hit rocks. As long as you stay n the center of the channel you're fine... but you heard many boats hailing the VHF that they were entering the Rock Pile and asking about opposing traffic... passing another boat or having another boat approach you is what you do not want and especially something large like commercial traffic... tug and barges frequent this area.
We were 2 miles from the beginning of the Rock Pile when we heard a vessel on the VHF... "I've gone aground on the rocks just past marker 17... I'm taking on water..." of course the Coast Guard hails them and plays the twenty questions game with them... SeaTow and TowBoatUS are also communicating with the boat... it was a 38 foot sailing catamaran and one of his hulls was taking on water and he reported it was already above the floor in the cabin... it was not long before both TowBoatUS and SeaTow zipped past us to assist the boat. We could see the sailboat from the time they made the first VHF call... we were just under 2 miles from them. When we passed by them TowBoatUS and SeaTow were working together to get pumps set up to dewater the boat... was the first time I have seen the competing companies working together... normally they are fighting to see who should do the job... it was refreshing to witness this.
We continued on and soon we were passing Barefoot landing... we had the current on our nose fairly heavy from the time we left the marina from fueling... making about 5.5 knots... :( Our destination for the evening was Bucksport Marina in Bucksport, NC... ETA was approximately 1730 hours... current holding us back... :(
We arrived to Bucksport right on schedule and were safely docked at 1730 hours. Bucksport has been closed the last few times we have passed it and assumed it would be closed this trip also... to our surprise they were no longer closed and speaking with the new owner they will be officially fully open in a week... the marina has been totally renovated and the restaurant also has had a face lift... was told about a lot of exciting things they had planned... we will plan Bucksport as a future stopping point.
We traveled today for 9 hours and 55 minutes covering 59.9 nautical miles and averaging 6.04 knots.
Trip totals to date:
Distance: 921.56 nautical miles
Hours: 146 hours 41 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.28 knots
Days not moving: 3
Posted at 8:15 PM
Swanboro, NC to Southport, NC
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 19
We departed from Swansboro, NC this morning at 0630 hours and continued south on the ICW... planned destination of Southport, NC. We had a great boost of current as we left Swansboro and were able to make 7.5-7.8 knots even at our reduced "fuel saving" rpm.
We had several bridges to deal with today and opening schedules that can cause some delays. The only thing that worried me today with the bridges is that the first three were swing bridges and do not open if winds are 30 mph or greater... I was already seeing gusts over 25 knots (29 mph)... the opening schedules are easily dealt with but to be held up due to high winds and the bridge not opening would be tough.
The first bridge was the Onslow Beach Bridge and we had no problems making it... winds were gusting over 30 mph but not sustained so they opened at their normal scheduled time.
The second bridge was the Surf City Bridge and 20 miles ahead of us... it opens on the hour only so making it can be a problem... according to the chartplotter and our current speed we would make it with no delay... but the current can change and first thing you know you're ETA is 5 minutes late so you have to either pick up your speed or slow down to cover the same distance taking an extra hour... luckily we did not have to slow down and made the bridge with no delays... also the wind had slowed slightly and we were only seeing 20 knot sustained winds with 25 knot gusts so wind was not an issue.
The third bridge is the Figure Eight Island Bridge... it has a 21 foot clearance and we have a 21 foot air draft so with anything below high tide we can make this bridge if I lower the antennas and mast. Although I did not have to as we arrived at the bridge at 1300 hours just as it was opening for a sailboat... we slipped right through with no delay.
The fourth and final bridge of the day is the Wrightsville Beach Bridge and we have to have it opened except at a low tide... and they only open on the hour... it's 5.1 miles from the Figure Eight Island Bridge to Wrightsville Beach Bridge and so we hade 1 hour to go 5.1 miles... we would have to move at just above idle speed to not have to sit and wait at the bridge... and with the high winds we did not want to sit waiting for the opening... checked the tide and low tide was at 1412 hours... I decided to continue on at our normal cruising speed and see if the tide would be low enough when we arrived at the bridge to clear it. We arrived and the sign boards were unreadable due to barnacle growth on them... I lowered the antennas and mast and we moved forward slowly... Susan went out on the upper deck to check clearance as we approached... we had a stiff current on our stern so stopping if we lacked enough clearance would be difficult... but again luck was with us and Susan gave me the thumbs up that we would clear and we passed under the bridge with several inches to spare.
From this point south until we reached the Cape Fear River we would have current switching back and forth as we passed the small inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. I also found this area to be very shoaled in at each inlet... several times seeing less than 6 feet of water... the channel for the most part ran 8 feet deep... don't remember it being this way in the spring as we went north... must have been Hurricane Irene causing some of this... not sure.
We reached Carolina Beach and we had the current boost back full force... back to over 8 knots all the way through Snow's Cut and down the Cape Fear River to Southport, NC.
Just before Southport I was met by a Coast Guard small boat (27 foot RIB) and was directed to move away from an Army Corp boat that was doing survey work of the ship channel.
We arrived to Southport and turned into the Southport Basin... we docked at the free city dock... just big enough for us... Robert Creech the MTOA port Captain for the area met us and helped with us with our lines. We werfe securely docked at 1645 hours.
There were a few other MTOA members also here and we all met and went out to dinner... 10 of us total... we had a nice evening.
We traveled today for 10 hours and 15 minutes covering 69.23 nautical miles and averaging 6.75 knots.
Trip totals to date:
Distance: 861.66 nautical miles
Hours: 136 hours 46 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.34 knots
Days not moving: 3
Posted at 10:12 PM
Oriental, NC to Swanboro, NC
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 18
We departed from Oriental, NC this morning at 0950 hours and headed south... planned destination Swansboro, NC. Protected waters the entire trip so did not even check the weather forecast... it was sunny and less than 5 knots of wind... so off we went.
It was actually a beautiful day of cruising... the kind that you wish every day was like... we picked up a slight boost from the current as we approached Moorhead City, NC and the inlet... reaching 8 knots for quite while... but once past the inlet at Moorhead City we had the current on the bow against us and we slowed to 5 knots... but we were at the switch from ebb to flood so we soon lost the current against us and were heading down Bogue Sound towards Swansboro at 7 knots.
We did see a lot of boat traffic today... going both directions south and north... why someone is heading north is baffling to me... LOL
We pulled into Swansboro and docked at Duck's Restaurant it's a Dock & Dine... we have stayed here before... normally, the restaurant is different each time we have stopped... they do not seem to last long... but this one had been here for two trips now... maybe they will make it... :)
We were securely docked at 1625 hours at coordinates N34°41.176', W077°41.854' Swansboro, NC.
We traveled today for 6 hours and 35 minutes covering 42.69 nautical miles and averaging 6.48 knots.
Trip totals to date:
Distance: 792.43 nautical miles
Hours: 126 hours 31 minutes
Avg Spd: 6.12 knots
Days not moving: 3
Posted at 5:39 PM