Thursday, October 18, 2018

Osprey Marina - at a dock

Osprey Marina is as good as ever
We left around 8:30 and headed to our first challenge of the day, Lockwoods Folly. In order for it to be maximum fun, we scheduled it at low tide. Fortunately, low tide was actually 1.5 ft above datum (the 0.0 level) so we had a plus 1.5 ft over a real dead low - and we needed it! I didn't use the USACE route which involved a scary pass on the wrong side of a green can. Instead, I use one provided by Hank Pomeranz that took a more natural route honoring the buoys. It resulted in a low of 4.6 MLW in one small spot, the rest was deeper. Since I had a 1.5 ft tide, I was fine with my 4 ft 9 in keel but it's still exciting to see the depth numbers drop so dramatically before rising again. My path will be reflected in my track today which I will upload tonight and in a new GPX route for Lockwoods Folly dated 10/18/2018. I would strongly recommend having a half to full, rising tide to pass through this inlet.

Look how high the water got!
Shallotte inlet was rather dull. It's well buoyed (2 reds, 2 greens), just go right down the middle so defined by the buoys to get 9.7 MLW as the lowest spot.  So we motored on and the rest of the trip was uneventful. The famous "Rock Pile" just north of Barefoot was benign. There were lots of ledges visible along the sides but as long as you stayed in the middle, no problem.

Watch out for those ledges in the "Rock Pile"
Barefoot Landing is redoing their docks so they were out of business for transients. As a result, I guess, Barefoot Marine across the way raised their rates to $2/ft from $1.50 last year so we passed both by and went to Osprey Marina for $1/ft. They survived with no damage although they had to ad 4.5 ft to the tops of their pilings. They have now welded extensions on the pilings to make the added height permanent.

Normally our next stop would be Georgetown but they are having a Wooden Boat Show so we'll stop upriver from them at Heritage Plantation Marine before moving on to the Isle of Palms the next day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

St James Plantation Marina suffered almost no damage from Hurricane Florence but they
did have a lot of trees down that blocked the roads.
We had intended taking a mooring at Carolina Beach but the weather was so good and the next day was so bad, that we decided to push on to St James Plantation Marina just south of Southport, NC. Along the way, the inlets required some moving outside of the channel to find the best water. There were a lot of 8 to 10 ft MLW stretches with some places down to 7 MLW. The track I uploaded avoids all depths less than that.

South from here is the Atlantic with the sunset
One of the reasons we came this far today is the calm winds on Cape Fear River. Although we had the current against us, it was okay with light winds. We've stayed here many times in the past. The marina is very well protected although we didn't nee that protection today. They also have fuel so we're set for our next leg. One thing they do not have is a nearby grocery store. They have a short-order store and a small restaurant if needed. 

We are not well staged for the shallows. We should hit them just about at low tide all along the Isle of Shoals. At least it will make for interesting traveling. We had wanted to stop in Georgetown, SC but once again they are having their annual wooden boat show and a dock cannot be had anywhere. We seem to hit that every year. Instead of Georgetown, we will take a dock at Heritage Plantation Marina, about seven miles north of Georgetown. I'll let you know how it is. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Topsail Island Marina at Surf City, NC - at a dock

The Surf City Pier is fully operational
We had a 52 mile day to reach Surf City so we had to leave around 7:30 am, not a favorite time for Ann. We used the "backdoor exit" from Homer Smith which resulted in a least seen of 5.4 MLW.  We had a one foot tide, so it was not a problem for our 4 ft 9 in keel.

The IGA Supermarket is up and running
Once underway we found that no one was working today on the Atlantic Beach Bridge. There was a notice to mariners that a 30 minute advance notice was required before passing through the bridge but that was only when they are actually doing work and that wasn't today.

He was very popular with the local seagulls!
The shallowest part of the trip was just after the Atlantic Beach Bridge between R6 and G11. It got really skinny, down to 5.7 MLW! I searched and found the most water possible which is reflected in the track I uploaded today. It also shows a path through Browns Inlet and New River plus a few other shallow spots.

BoatUS was roaring but the boat was not moving! Watch out for those shallows!
Surf City is still recovering from hurricane Florence but a lot of stores are open as is the marina. You'll still find the local IGA supermarket open and serving local customers. The Surf City Pier is open as are most of the local businesses. At this marina, there is no one present. You pay over the phone for your slip. We paid $1.50/ft for our dockage which includes electric and water if needed.

Our plan is to pick up a mooring at Carolina Beach and then move on to St James Plantation the next day if the weather is right which means not having wind against tide on Cape Fear river.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Homer Smith at Beaufort, NC - Last day

The downtown Beaufort marina - empty!
We got all our work done: provisioned, did a wash, refilled the water tank, filled up the outboard tank with non-ethanol gasoline, walked into town - time for a rest. Beaufort looks the same as always. Once again, reacting to the news, I expected a lot more damage. It was hard to see any. There was some debris piled in spots along the sidewalk but not that much. Most of the houses showed no damage at all, a few showed a shingle or two missing.

There was an announcement of the Atlantic Beach Bridge shown above required a 30-minute notice
before passing through due to construction. Nobody yet has seen any signs of a work barge blocking traffic. 
The docks at Homer Smith had no damage at all. So I walked down to docks in town to see how they did. It was the same story, they looked fine except that there were very few boats on the docks. They were 90% empty. All of the stores were open for business except one or two.

New docks shown at the far right will
be added to Homer Smith in a couple of week.
Back at the boat, I prepared the route for Tuesday. I integrated all the USACE routes into my overall route and I'll be recording my track as usual. Somebody said it may become the "new" magenta line. All of my tracks can be downloaded at bobicm.com

Our plan Tuesday is to leave around 7:30 or so and make it to Topsail Island Marina in Surf City, a distance of 52 miles. Then we'll pick up a mooring at South Carolina Beach followed by a stop at St James Plantation on Thursday. It's time to start moving south in earnest.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

Bock Marine is up and running
The winds were supposed to be less than 8 kts out of the northeast by they were actually 15 kts out of the east. It seems that you can always just double the wind prediction for the Neuse and Albemarle. The predictions are never right, they always seem to under estimate the wind. This statement includes PreidictWind, NOAA, PocketGrib, Windy, etc.

Some houses were damaged, most were not
Fortunately for us, the wind was behind us once we turned the corner to head down the Neuse. It was very rocky before that. One thing you never want to do is to go against a 15 kt or higher winds on the Neuse. It's shallow and the waves tend to be very short period and build up nicely.

We didn't see any debris except for one lone piece just north of Adams Creek. The creek itself was completely free of debris. I was surprised at the lack of damage by Florence. I had expected to see many houses badly damaged or destroyed, not so. The houses showing damage were in the minority. I would bet that a TV crew would focus on the damaged houses as opposed to giving a balanced overview of the effects of hurricane Florence.

Always a sunset
Here we will do doing a wash and pay a visit to the nearest supermarket to provision for the rest of the trip to Titusville. We are out of everything fresh. The marina here has a free courtesy car which we'll take advantage of on Monday. The next day we'll see how ground zero fared as we head down the ICW.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

RE Mayo - at their dock

This was RE Mayo during hurricane Florence - not a good hurricane hole
After a quiet night's sleep, we got up at our leisure and weighed anchor around 8:30. It was a beautiful day but the wind started to pipe up more than what was predicted (what else is new?) Nevertheless, it was out of a good direction for going south so it wasn't so bad. We put up the sail and bounced along with the northwest winds.

In getting down the dock, you had to avoid a few obstacles! 
Our planned stop for the night was at RE Mayo to have dinner with friends of many years who live in the area. The usual dock there was taken up by another huge shrimp boat so we docked farther down. Our 75 ft electrical cord barely reached the outlet. 

And also avoid a few missing planks
The attraction of RE Mayo is not the low price dockage ($0.40/ft) or the free electricity. It's the seafood. We were able to pick up 1.5 lbs of fresh shrimp (never frozen) for $8.00. They still had the heads on but I got them ready for Ann later that day. Ann also bought frozen scallops and a couple of small flounders. There was a lot more available but it was enough for us. They even had alligator meat available. 

The path to land is not obvious
The docks are in poor shape with some planks missing. This is not a marina, it's just a working facedock for shrimp boats. As I said, we stop for the seafood.

 But it was all worth it for the shrimp!
On Sunday we're headed for Homer Smith in Beauford, NC. We need to provision and do a wash. Home Smith has a free courtesy car and free laundry facilities plus excellent WiFi. We will stay one or two days before moving on. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Pungo Anchorage - what a night!

The Coast Guard was busy removing debris and logs from the Alligator - Pungo Canal
The wind howled like a banshee! The night was dark, the boat shook from side to side, the wind made a roaring sound (hard to describe), at times the boat would lead over from the force of the wind on the mast. We would get sustained gusts in the 40's. The wind peaked at 48 kts in one gust which pushes four times as much as a 25 kt wind. The boat responded to the pressure by heeling over. I had 12 lines securing the boat to the dock via the pilings, no cleats although I would not have trusted them anyway.

This is the famous Wilkerson Bridge with a low height for an ICW bridge which are supposed to all be 65 ft.
A quiz, what's the height? Do you read the middle of the number, the bottom? We really do not know.
The wind started out off the port side and gradually clocked around to the aft. I had added an aft line just for that eventuality and it did its job. The most amazing thing is being in a boat, even at a dock, and listening to that wind! I cannot imagine what the residents of Panama City heard when Michael came ashore with 155 mph winds! I wouldn't want to be in anything greater than 50 kts.

It's not that we were unsafe. The boat was secure, the pilings were well made, there was no wave action so we were relatively calm compared to someone anchored out in higher winds. Nevertheless, it was some experience. The combination of roaring winds and nighttime in a rocking boat is hard to describe. The winds suddenly calmed around 2:00 am confounding predictions of higher winds.

We were rewarded with a nice sunset at our anchorage tonight
There was no damage to the boat, it rode out the storm fine, it was the occupants that needed to recover. So we left Friday morning to reach the Alligator Swing Bridge before they started working on it again with the attendant delays in openings. We got through without delay and headed south. The winds freshened up again to 20 kts was they were out of the north, directly behind us, no problem.

We reached the Pungo anchorage and collapsed. Time to rest and get a good night's sleep. I was up every few hours last night.