Friday, October 20, 2017

Surf City at Topsail Marina - at a dock

There was no live firing today but we were met with this sight after going through the Onslow bridge
We left on a high tide and took the shortcut route out of Beaufort which carried 6.3 MLW although it's marked with a shoal icon on Active Captain. That saved us about 1/2 hour at least. The current was with us on the trip south with speeds up to 9.2 kts! It was another beautiful day, a rarity on our trip south this year. We ran through Brown's Inlet without a problem by favoring the red side of the channel. There's shoaling to 3 MLW on the green side.

Like an iceberg, most of the amphibious tank was underwater
The surprise was at the next inlet, New River. The ACOE survey was not accurate. I found out that it was replaced with a new one on the very day I went through the inlet. I ran into a 5 MLW shoal not shown on the old survey but was shone on the new one dated 10/20/2017. Since I draw only 4 ft 9 inches, I survived the shoal without touching bottom. I updated Active Captain for both inlets.

Nice docks
Other than the two inlets, the rest of the ride was fine. Surf City is again open for business and has been renamed Topsail Marina. The owner is not on the premises so you pay over the phone and he assigns you a slip in advance. The docks are 40 ft long and easily accommodate our Fleetwing. There's no current and very little wind, at least today. Surf City still has the IGA store in town for minor provisioning which is very handy and, of course, there's tons of restaurants to visit if you're in the hunt for one. Don't forget the fish market just up the street if you desire something from the sea.

We have more challenges ahead of us with the Surf City bridge only opening once and hour but at least the bridge operator said the 15 min prior notice in the Notice of Mariners was not needed. Just show up and he'll open the bridge.;

On the other hand, the Wrightsville bridge will be close on Saturday until 10:00 am due to an Ironman event so we'll be delayed there too. We are aiming for St James Plantation marina for Saturday night for a two night stay, then it's on south again if the weather holds.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC - at their dock

It is not a straight shot through Brown's Inlet anymore. You have to avoid the shoal coming in from the green side that extends into the channel
We heard today that the Camp Lejune live firing exercises would not restart until 10/24. If that holds up, then we're good to go for tomorrow, 10/20. Along the way we will pass through two of the shoaling areas for the fall of 2017, Brown's Inlet and New River. the shoaling in Brown's Inlet has just developed over the last two months. Up until then, it was just a straight shot through.You can see from the survey that you have to stay to the red side of the channel to avoid the shoaling that extends into the channel from the green side.

New River has the same "dip route" it had in the spring. a GPX route is on the blog site (at the left)
New River has the same "dip route" it had in the spring. I've included GPX routes for both the New River and Brown's Inlet passages. I will be taking both of them on Friday so I will be able to comment on how good the waypoints are.

Home Smith now has an official courtesy car
Meanwhile, we've provisioned at s Lowe'Food (no connection to Lowe's Home Improvement stores) which was a step up from the usual fare. Now we're good for a couple of weeks. Last night Homer Smith came through in the clutch with 2 lbs of trigger fish which was just wonderful. It tastes very much like grouper, nice.

Our first sighting of a palm tree. Warm weather con't be too far off now...
We will be taking a shortcut tomorrow on the way out of the marina which is supposed to be good at high tide, we'll see. After that, we're headed for Surf City. It will be the first time we've visited there since the last marina went bankrupt. They are now reopened under new owners and we will see how it is. It's close to the ocean and a walk iin the evening to the beach was always a treat. The stop also positions us for the 7:00 am opening of the Surf City swing bridge the next day. We hope to make it all the way to St. James Plantation the next day.
That sailboat at right has been stuck there for about an hour, waiting for high tide. You have to watch your depth coming in. That said, the shrimp boats that carry 7 ft do just fine, just stay in the channel. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Beaufort NC at Homer Smith's Marina - at their docks

I'm not quite sure that these boat are for but we saw three today. They seem to want an angled view of the water
The winds finally calmed down to around 15 kts out of the northeast so we headed out down the Neuse River. It's a shallow body of water that can really kick up if you try to go against the wind but that was not the case today as we had the wind behind us most of the way. We used to anchor at Cedar Creek but them we discovered Homer Smith in Beaufort. He has first-rate docks and the marina is within walking distance of downtown Beaufort.The washer and dryer are free and there's a courtesy car too. Fresh shrimp is available since the marina still hosts a shrimp fleet. It has become one of our favorite marinas.

Core Creek Bridge at 1.0 ft tide
To reach the dockage area of Beaufort you can depart the ICW and take the east  branch of the channel in the area known at the "confusing area" where the ICW take a sharp turn to the west. You even appear to take one green buoy on the "wrong" side, the Russell Slough Junction Light RS. It's painted green but it's a junction buoy which can be passed on either side. We passed it on the east side when heading south into the channel leading to Beaufort.

New Bridge at Beaufort (name?) at 0.4 tide

We will be here for another day for provisioning before heading south again. We'll have to call Camp Lejune to find out the story there. Meanwhile, I continue my quest of taking a photo of every bridge height  board along the way.

A peaceful evening

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

RE Mayo - at their dock

The bridge (out in the middle of nowhere) seems impossibly thin
We rode out the high winds today (20 to 25 kts) at the RE Mayo docks. We like to travel comfortably. If all we wanted to do was get from point A to point B we'd be in a car. We enjoy the experience of the ICW and stopping often along the way to see the sights. We refuse to be on a schedule, a deadly thing for traveling on water. The weather rules, your desires are secondary.

One of the bow art in the marina
Today we stocked up on frozen seafood which RE Mayo has in frozen blister packs. It's very convenient for stocking up your freezer. Today we concentrated on shrimp, grouper and crab cakes.

Example number two, I like the effect of the tattered flag
I think we will be passed by the captains that attended the Snowbird Rendezvous since we stop so often along the way. Several passed up today headed south. No matter to us, it's the trip along the way that matters to us, not so much the destination.

A better view of the dock we're on. Believe it or not, it's been improved since the last time we were here
It's interesting to walk along the docks and see all the huge shrimp boats. There were six docked here today. They keep their boats in good shape, all painted and looking good. They all have their own bow insignias on the bow. It seems to be a point of pride on a good painting there. I took a few pictures.

John Kwak passed us by today headed for Oriental. 
On Wednesday, we're headed for the Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC. We plan on a two day visit to do laundry and provision for the rest of the trip south. By Wednesday, the winds are predicted to subside to 10 to 15 kts, manageable from the 20 to 25 kts of today. Then we'll see about getting through Camp Lejune and their live firing exercises.

Monday, October 16, 2017

RE Mayo - at their dock

As I said, this is not really a marina, just a face dock - and even that is generous
We had heard (incorrectly) that you needed to give a two hour warning to the Alligator River Bridge before passing through it. A friend traveling with us called the bridge number at night and left a message that he wanted to pass through at 7:00 am the next day. So with that, we decided to take the same opening. At this time of the year, 7:00 am is barely light but we arrived on-time. We also learned that the start of bridge maintenance had been delayed until 10/30/2017, two weeks from now. The two hour notice requirement came out in a Notice to Mariners from the Coast Guard. I still don't know if that's true but it didn't apply to us since the construction work won't start until 10/30.

The bathroom for transients
There were winds of 25 kts and greater forecast for later in the day which was another reason for the early departure. Once underway, we decided to make for RE Mayo instead of the Pungo anchorage. RE Mayo was 65 Nm distant and we didn't arrive until 3:30 pm, just before the rains started. The winds were as predicted around 20 kts but they were all aft of the boat so the ride was fine.

We found the docks empty (you just come and dock, there are no reservations) and plugged into the only 30 amp outlet. This is not a real marina. The docks are worn to say the least and there's only one electrical outlet. On the other hand, the price is right at $0.40/ft including electric. The bathrooms are outhouses, there are no showers. But it is a good place to stock up on frozen seafood. Specifically shrimp, scallops, and flounder - all caught locally. The place is home to four very large (60 ft) shrimp boats.

This is the height board for the southern bridge on the Alligator - Pungo canal
So we are tucked in for the night and probably for the next few days since 30 kt plus winds are forecast for the Neuse River on Tuesday, not good conditions for going down the Neuse. Our next stop will be the Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort.

The ICW along here is home to huge barges that pass within 100 ft of the docks
A message to first time ICW travelers: this weather is not normal! For the first seven years of our travels on the ICW, the weather has usually  been warm and the winds light (well, except for hurricane Matthew last year - was that a start of a trend?) So don't be discouraged by this year's weather. It's been much too cold and windy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Alligator River Marina - at a dock

We took on fuel and stayed for the night. We saw 6 ft coming in. 
Today was a great travel day with light winds and little wave action. On Monday yet another front is coming through with a small craft advisory for the afternoon through Tuesday. Will this weather never let up! The route from Coinjock was without incident. All the hazard markers could be passed without a problem just by staying in the charted middle of the channel. At times it seems you are far away from the greens which you have to ignore, just stay in the channel as shown on your chartplotter.

We plan on anchoring at the Pungo River anchorage just to the right as you exit the canal. We've been there many times and it's secure and protected from north winds, the direction of the small craft advisory winds for Monday and Tuesday. A small, sandy beach nearby provides for Hoolie relief.

I am now minus one whisker pole and Chris has a plus one
Meanwhile I happened to meet Chris Coleman who also has a Beneteau 423 and he was looking to add a whisker pole to his boat. Well, I had such a pole that I hadn't used for the last 10 years so I offered it to him for 1/2 price. It was a win-win for all concerned. Chris even found a way to fit the pole into his car although some of it protruded aft of the trunk. It's good to see a piece of equipment get some use, it was top quality from Forespar.

We will get an early start to beat the predicted high winds of the small craft advisory later in the afternoon. We just have to get down the Alligator River and then we're in the canal which is protected from such winds. After that we have to cross the Neuse River which can be a bear in a bad wind.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Coinjock - at their face dock

The first order of business is to get through the canal lock
The trip down was fine as far as the wind and the ride. The problem was visibility. There was a steady drizzle all day long which fogged the windshields. We were .lucky to make the 53 Nm trip in 8.5 hours given the multiple bridges that had to be raised and, of course, the lock. I think the water lowered by less than a foot.

There were no shallow spots if you stayed in the middle of the channel as shown on your chartplotter. At times it seemed as if you were too far away from the green marks but in this case, the chartplotter didn't lie. There is shoaling by the green marks, just stay in the channel, no problem.

We see this sign every year but it's still impressive to us
Coinjock is almost empty, about 1/3 full at best. It's a far cry from when I was here the last time when we were packed with bows over the aft section of a boat. We also too advantage of the restauarant which serves a signature dish of prime rib. So when you'r in Coinjock, you must have the prime ribs cut. They do a good job  with the preparation and actually know what "rare"  means.

On Sunday we will sail to the Alligator River Marina on the other side of the Albemarle Sound. It will be a short day to balance out the long one today.