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.