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 by:Jay