RI to FL - Day 23
Swansboro, NC to Carolina Beach, NC
We departed from Swansboro, NC this morning at 0705 hours and headed south on the ICW. There were several bridges today that timing just did not work out for us.
Actually the first bridge… Onslow Beach Bridge… we were lucky with this bridge in that the bridge tender was nice and delayed his opening for us…. We arrived 3-4 minutes after his 0830 opening and he opened it as we arrived.
Next bridge was the Surf City Swing Bridge and it opened only at the top of the hour… it was 20 miles from the Onslow Beach Bridge… so we had to make 20 miles in a little less than 90 minutes… with the current against us we could just not make enough speed to make the 1100 opening so we had to slow down and go through at noon.
Next bridge was the Figure Eight Island Bridge and if the tide is correct we can clear it without having to request an opening… We need 21 feet… it also opens on the hour and half hour so timing is not a real big issue… it is 18 miles from the Surf City Bridge… we still had current against us and I did not want to push them too hard… Once we got within VHF range of the bridge I hailed them and asked the current clearance… they responded with the tide is falling and we currently have just 3-4 inches over 21 feet… perfect… by the time we got to the bridge the sign posts read 22 feet… I dropped the antennas and mast and we slipped under the bridge with a foot of clearance.
Next bridge was the Wrightsville Beach Bridge just under 3 miles ahead… we had about 15 minutes to make it to the bridge at it’s next opening at 1500 hours… We can also make it under this bridge if we arrive at mid to low tide… as we approached we saw the bridge open and close at it’s 1500 opening… I got within range to see the sign boards through my binoculars for clearance… it read 18 feet… the bridge is arched and normally there is extra clearance at the center… more than what the sign boards read… but it looked way too low and the current was very strong on our stern… I decided to not get close enough to see if we would make it… we would never be able to stop and turn around with the current being so swift at the bridge. I turned around and headed slowly away from the bridge… we had about 30 minutes to kill waiting for the 1600 opening.
Before 1600 hours several other boats had arrived also waiting for the bridge to open. A sportfish, Grand Banks Trawler, large motor yacht and a Fleming… they all rushed up to the bridge waited. The bridge started it’s opening and I turned around to head back towards it… the four boats were all going under the bridge as we approached… This is very narrow and the current is very swift on our stern… as we passed under following the last of the 4 boats (the Fleming) the large motor yacht… maybe 100 feet… decided to stop and try and back across the channel into the marina on the starboard side of the channel… the Fleming nearly hit him and only missed by quickly reversing away from the motor yacht… the Fleming was backing right into us… I through the engines in reverse and let out 5 blasts on our horn… DANGER! He heard us and moved forward and away from us and around the stern of the motor yacht that had also decided it was not a good idea to back into the marina in front of the 65 foot Fleming… we are still sitting under the bridge trying to maintain control against the current. The 100 foot motor yacht is still sitting in the middle of the channel but not moving… the Fleming has moved past him and out of the channel. I started to move out from under the bridge and soon as I did the motor yacht decides he can now back across my bow and into the face dock of the marina. I again sound 5 blasts on our horn and quickly reverse the engines again to stop us from hitting the motor yacht that was backing right across our bow less than 50 feet in from of us. I could see people on the deck yelling to the captain… I assume to tell him to stop… which he did and he moved forward… I slowly started to move past him as I was not sure what he would do next… luckily he did nothing else and we were safely past him. Bridges and all other boats behind us now we continued south down the ICW… destination Carolina Beach.
Soon as we went past the inlet a mile or so past the bridge at Wrightsville… we again had the current against us and moving 5.5 knots… slow for the next 2 hours arriving to Carolina Beach State Park Marina and were securely docked at approximately 1810 hours Location: N34°03.000’, W077°55.138’.
We traveled today for 11 hours and 5 minutes covering 59.49 nautical miles averaging 5.36 knots.