Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Southport Marina - Getting our dinghy motor fixed

Southport Marina is the home of Hank Pomeranz and his nightly briefings on weather and what's ahead going south on the ICW. If you stay in Southport Marina, be sure to atend!
The ride today from Surf City to Southport was a study in how to avoid shallow spots. There are many, many areas of 5 MLLW right in the middle of the channel. There are paths around those shallow spots if you know where to go. On the track I took, I found nothing less than 8.5 MLLW and I uploaded that track to bobicw for anyone to use.

R122A at Masonboro was pulled out of the channel (as marked
on NOAA charts) and parked by the nearby docks
We had a sleigh ride down Cape Fear River. We topped out at 10 kts which is always nice, especially with no wind. Our luck will run out on Wednesday when rain is predicted all day long so we took a dock at Southport Marina for two days to ride out the storm. Meanwhile, Zimmerman Marine is repairing my dinghy motor so I can take Hoolie ashore when we anchor.

The bridge in Snows Cut is shown here with a
1 ft tide, it's definitely not 65 ft at high tide
Southport is also the home of Hank Pomeranz who give nightly briefings on the weather ahead and the things to look out for on the ICW south of here. It's a very popular stopover for those heading south for the winter. We will definitely be stopping here again.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Topsail Island Marina at Surf City - at a dock

The fishing pier survived all the hurricanes
Heavy rain was predicted for Monday morning but it apparently came earlier than expected. We had lightning and thunder all night long with heavy rain. Hoolie, our Brittany, did not want to be alone and climbed into bed with us. He usually sleeps on the floor but with thunder and lightning, he did not want to be alone.

This is the new cut to the ocean on the approach to New River by G65A
By 7:00 am Monday morning, it had moved out to sea and we took off for Surf City. Along the way we had to pass through the shallows by Spooner Creek (8 MLLW) on the GPX line, Browns inlet (8 MLLW minimum on the GPX line), and New River (9 MLLW on the GPX line). The challenge at New River was the 2 kts of current pushing you sideways so you had to crab through although I kept the speed at 7 kts to minimize that effect. The GPX routes are good, it's very easy to find shallower water!

"I'll have that fillet"
Surf City has recovered from the hurricane of last year. Everything looks new and fully functional. The marina here, Topsail Island Marina is not very big, there's only room for 3 or four boats. However, the ice is free and so is the electric. It's $2/ft including tax but everything else is included. I did not look at showers or heads, we don't use them anyway. The free WiFi topped out at 100Mbps!

Nice docks
One of the attractions is the fish market right next door to the marina. We walked over and bought a pound of grouper and Ann fixed it up for dinner. We would rather have fresh grouper than walking over to the restaurant although they do have an excellent one here, Daddy Mac's .

On Tuesday, we're headed for Southport and, hopefully, to get our outboard repaired. Fingers are crossed.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Home Smith - Can't get outboard started

We say goodnight to Homer Smith
The outboard motor won't start. For someone with a pet to get to shore that likes to anchor out, that's a big problem. I brought on the problem all by myself. I had Fleetwing hauled last May and didn't empty the tank before putting the boat up for the summer on land. Over the summer, the outboard sat on the aft rail in direct sunlight when the temperatures reach the 90's many days. This problem happened once before when the motor sat on the aft rail in Titusville (facing south) for four months. For that incident, I had the carburetor cleaned in St Augustine and it was fine for the rest of the cruise. The problem I'm having now sounds just like the same thing. I tried carburetor cleaner by spraying it in the ports but got no results. I plan on stopping at Zimmerman's in Southport to get it cleaned.

We made use of Home Smith's free courtesy car to provision for the rest of the trip south. We bought massive amounts of groceries and now we're stocked for most of the trip to Titusville.  The weather is a little iffy but the rain, if any, is predicted to just be in the early morning. We would like to reach Topsail Marina in Surf City which would stage us for the trip to Southport the next day. The current is ebbing in the afternoon that day with light winds so it ought to be fine.

Homer Smith's clubhouse to  be
Homer Smith is still expanding. He added the 60 ft ipe wood floating docks last spring and now he's building a proper clubhouse. It will have three washers and three dryers, three showers with one being handicap, a kitchen for transients, lounge, and even a work area. It will be a two-story affair with an elevator. Tony thinks he can do it in three months but it will probably take longer.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

Our traveling companion for the last several days - Highlander
We had a day on the Neuse that will never be equaled again. It was glassy calm with winds of less than 5 kts. From past experience, the Neuse can equal the Albemarle in nastiness. It is shallow and it has a very long reach for the waves to build up. However, they can't build without wind! The large bays are behind us now, the rest is mostly protected waters although Cape Fear River can be bad if try it with wind against the tide.

Fresh filleted fish
We are now in Homer Smith Marina on one of their 60 ft docks which are a pleasure to tie up to. They have free laundry and if the fleet is in, you can get shrimp and the fish of the day. We will take advantage of the free courtesy car to get groceries on Sunday so we can stock up for the rest of the trip south.

Red Snapper, outstanding fish for a dinner

There is quite a community here of long termers and we shared happy hour with our neighbors. It's a nice group of people. It doesn't hurt that the weather has turned warm and sunny without rain!

Friday, October 11, 2019

RE Mayo - at a dock

This guy is right behind us
Finally, finally, we made it through the Alligator River swing bridge! They did the first opening last night at 5:00 for a north bound barge which proved that everything was working as expected. The bridge engineer, who I've come to know, held a special opening at 7:30 am just for those on the docks at Alligator River Marina who had waited so long to get through. Out we filed and lined up for a mass exodus. The bridge opened as promised, we all went through!

Wilkerson bridge is always a tight fit - here it is only 63 hight
It was a great day to travel with north winds, no rain, and full sunshine. We made it to RE Mayo by 4:20 pm and got a dock for $0.40/ft. For our dock, there was no electricity and no water but that's okay since we were only going to be there one night. The docks here are not for everyone. They look broken down, there are two outhouses to serve as transient bathrooms and there are no showers. If you want all that stuff, you go elsewhere.

This is why you need 17 inch round fenders along
What does attract us are the flash-frozen locally caught seafood, especially the shrimp and scallops. They are packed flat so they fit in the freezer without any wasted space - and they are good! They also feature a heavy-duty marine store with items you won't find elsewhere. We're happy with the stop and always look forward to restocking our freezer with their seafood.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Alligator River Marina - Last day (we hope)

What are they looking at?

Lots of crabs to look at
The marina is a haven for crab boats. They come and go all during the day. There is a young couple with kids that went to investigate the latest catch of crabs. They were fascinated with the blue crabs. It's always a wonder to watch kids and their surprise and appreciation of everything that's new to them. As adults, we tend to lose that sense of wonder as we grow older. It was fun to watch. 

The first barge through in over a week!
The big news of the day was the progress on the repair of the bridge. They were successful in getting it to open using the backup system and they let a barge through than had been waiting for several days. Our turn will come Friday morning at 7:30 am for the boats in the marina. Later on, there will be a limited schedule published for the bridge operation until the primary system that was rebuilt is installed, probably in a couple of days. The limited schedule is not official yet but will probably be something like 9:00, noon and 3:00. 

We will head out at 7:30 with the rest of the marina crowd and likely reach RE Mayo for the night and, hopefully, Homer Smith the next day for a two day stay. Then we'll look at the weather and decide our next stop. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Alligator River Marina - things get dark

Well, there's still room, so far.
We arrived here Monday but some have been here since Thursday waiting for the bridge to open. Today was supposed to be the day they first tried to open the bridge as a test. The test failed. The bridge engineer will not promise any date and now it's very open-ended. In truth, we have no idea of when it will be repaired. There are a dozen boats piled up in the marina (but there's still room for a half dozen more) and the mood is not optimistic. The bridge crew works from morning to 7:30 but are now looking to Thursday for even a test run. All they say is that they are "working on it".

The dark picture matches our spirits
Meanwhile, life goes on and we did a laundry today. The marina has two washers and two dryers but unfortunately, none of them worked! You only found that out by throwing your laundry into the washer only to find out that it would not pump out the water. So now you had soaking wet clothes which we hang rung to put in the dryers. Just like the washers, they were nonfunctional. What to do? After a call to the manager, we were taken to the residence house and finished the washer there - but only after finding the dryer there was also nonfunctional - but al least that was fixable by unblocking the exhaust tubing.

In the middle of all this, I gave a 1.5 hour presentation on the status of the ICW south of here to a group of boaters similarly stuck north of the bridge. So we are all waiting. I saw a post today asking whether we thought the bridge would be fixed by the time he arrived in mid November!

So we wait and wait. There is an option to go around by the outer banks but it's a big detour and not possible with strong winds. Towards the end of this week, it becomes a possibility. It's a daily wait and see, ugh.