Rhode Island to Florida - Day 11
We went to bed at Bucksport Marina with the water freezing on the docks and decks... surprisingly we woke to find that it had warmed up a bit... the temperature was above freezing for the first time in days... :)
We departed from Bucksport at 0645 hours and headed out into the Waccamaw River. In the spring and summer this is a beautiful area to cruise through... it's a narrow river that winds around like a snake with thick vegetation on both banks and not a sign of civilization anywhere... but I must say that this particular day the Waccamaw River was not that beautiful... the water had a deep brown muddy color and the surface was full of debris... weeds, branches and logs... and the banks because it is winter was a dingy gray rather than the rich green color in the spring and summer... :(
The good thing was we did have a good current on our stern so we moved right along and before we knew it we were passing Georgetown. Up to this point the winds were non existent... then suddenly as if someone flipped a switch we had 20 knot winds on our bow and within 30 minutes they had built to a steady 30 knots with gusts into the 40's... it did not get rough as the area is fairly protected.
We soon were a few miles below Georgetown and leaving Winyah Bay and turning south into a narrow stretch of the ICW more like a canal than anything else and this is where we lost our boost of current that had been on the stern pushing in excess of 8 knots most of the morning... now with the wind at 30 knots plus and the current squarely on our bow we slowed to what seemed like a snails pace... 5-6 knots and we carried these speeds the rest of the day.
We arrived to the Charleston area at approximately 1800 hours... and approaching the Ben Sawyer Swing Bridge... it was not opening due to the high winds... it has a 30 foot vertical clearance so we were able to lower the VHF antennas and proceeded under the bridge easily... SAILS requires 29 feet vertical clearance with the VHF antennas down so we had a foot to spare.. :)
We proceeded on past Charleston and down the ICW entering Wappoo Creek that leads to Elliott's Cut... we were only going as far as the Wappoo Creek Bridge and stopping at the Charleston Crab House dock located just under the bridge and to the port(left)... The cruising guide stated that they had a 75 foot dock that was FREE to stay overnight. YIPPEE a FREE dock is always nice. Anyway, as I passed under the bridge and looked to port(left) for a 75 foot dock... what did I see was a dock maybe 50 feet long... SAILS is 45 feet and we filled the entire dock. We were secure to the dock at 1900 hours.
So we are at the Charleston Crab House dock (N32°45.960' W079°58.479') for the night... having traveled 12 hours and 15 minutes and covering 81 nautical miles for the day... the dock has no power or water but it's nice to be able to walk Beecha without having to use the dinghy... which so far this trip we have not had to use the dinghy to take Beecha to land.... good thing as it has been way too cold... :)
Posted at 9:45 PM
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 10
We had a great evening at Carolina Beach State Park Marina... we were the only boat in the entire marina... the marina has been totally renovated and I highly recommend it.
Anyway, we departed from the marina at 0645 hours and headed out in to the ICW and the Cape Fear River. As anticipated we had a strong current on our stern that boosted our cruising speed to over 9 knots at times... it was awesome! Temperature was still below freezing and just ridiculous that it is so cold here in North Carolina. Looks like things are forecast to warm up a bit towards the weekend but that's still two days away.
We had a couple of bridges to contend with on the day’s trip but none caused us any major delay... I take that back we did have a problem with a bridge that we thought had been removed... being replaced with a new high rise span... the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge... but when we arrived about 25 minutes early we found that it was still active... not for car traffic but for the demolition crew to haul away bits and pieces of the bridge as they demolished it... the car traffic was using the new high rise bridge... so the bridge was still on it's once an hour opening... we made it through at 1200 hours.
Then the thing that I thought I would never see happened... just south of Southport, NC the ICW was skimmed over with ICE... yes… it had a layer of ice from bank to bank and as we moved through it we pushed slabs forward as it broke up... actually was kind of cool to see... that lasted fro about a 1-2 mile stretch at ICW mile marker 315... it was crazy! Even as we continued on south the banks had ice sitting on them with areas where it extended out into the edge of the ICW... :)
We were lucky and most of the day we had a push from the currents on our stern and we made very good time and traveled 70 nautical miles today in 7 hours and 15 minutes... We docked at Bucksport Marina in Bucksport, SC (N33°39.052', W079°05.679') at 1700 hours. The great thing was that we called the marina as we approached and spoke to the owner... he said they were in the middle of major renovation and they were not really open but we were welcome to stop for the night and plug in power... get some water and we could do this for FREE... WOW! He just asked that we stop on our next trip by in the spring as we head back north... very cool of him... :)
Posted at 7:37 PM
Rhode Island to Florida - Day 9
We departed from Swansboro, NC at 0700 hours destination... SOUTH! It appears the cold weather is following us... forecast to be in the teens again tonight.... BRRRRRRRRRRR!
No open bodies of water to cross today so even though the wind is still blowing 25-30 knots it will be a smooth trip. We did have 4 bridges to contend with today that have restricted opening times... Onslow Beach Bridge opening on the hour and half hour so it was not a real big issue and we paced our speed to arrive at the appropriate time... the second bridge was the Surf City Bridge which only opens at the top of the hour... we had current on our nose and checking the plotter we were not going to be able to make it at our full cruising speed... we would arrive 11 minutes after the hour missing the scheduled top of the hour opening... so we had to slow down and enough to add 49 minutes to our time and make the next oh the hour opening... The next bridge was the Figure Eight Island Bridge and it opens on the hour and half hour so timing was not a problem with it and we make it at it's 1430 hours opening... the problem was the next bridge only opened on the top of the hour and it was 5 miles away... we had 30 minutes to travel 5 miles in order to the make the Wrightsville Beach Bridge's next scheduled opening at 1500... that would make us have to travel at 10 knots in order to cover the 5 miles in 30 minutes... since we cruise at best 7.5 knots no way could we make it to the 1500 hours opening... so we would have to go through the Wrightsville Beach Bridge at 1600 hours... so we now had 1.5 hours to travel 5 miles... with the winds directly on our beam so we did not want to sit at the bridge and wait... the thing to do was pace your speed to cover the distance... that meant we had to slow down to approximately 3 knots in order to reach the bridge and not have to wait for it to open... 5 miles at 3 knots is really slow... LOL but that is what we did and we passed through the Wrightsville Beach Bridge at 1600 hours.
Our planned stop for the night was at Carolina Beach State Park Marina (N34°03.009', W077°55.154')... which is located at the junction of Snow's Cut and the Cape Fear River. It was recently totally redone and it is pristine marina facility and the price is right to stay overnight. It would also set us for the proper current to cruise down the Cape Fear River... the current can really slow you down if you do not have it running with you... :)
Have to change the oil and filter on the generator tonight after dinner and then a little TV and off to bed... plan to depart at daybreak.
Posted at 7:57 PM