Monday, October 23, 2017

Osprey Marina - at a dock

We pushed off at 8:30 and passed by Jim and Eileen's house along the way
We used to always stop at  Barefoot Landing marina with all the shops. However, it's not what it used to be. It was taken over by a national outfit and they raised all the rents by 30% or more which resulted in many of the best stores leaving. So this year we just skipped the marina and went on to Osprey which is less expensive too at $1/ft.

Height board at the bridge by the
Socastee Swing Bridge with a 2.4 ft tide (not 65 ft!)
Osprey tried to go the extra mile and they have excellent dock hands. The marina added a long face dock that parallels the route coming in. It adds room for a lot more boats. The docks they added are first rate, made with IPE lumber - top of the line. They just recently added an extension to the first face dock even closer to the ICW but they are having trouble getting electrical towers for the docks. It seems they are in great demand in Florida due to Hurricane Irma and they have been wait-listed.

Osprey's one long face dock, nicely made
For those following trouble spots,  both Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte Inlet are no problem. They have both been properly buoyed and all  you have to do is just honor the buoys to stay out of trouble. For more details, just read my Active Captain posts I entered today.

They now provide golf carts for the long ride
to the main office
We are due for thunderstorms tonight but we're tucked in well and they are all supposed to be gone by morning.Then we'll head out for Georgetown and a dock in town to stage us for the Isle of Palms.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

The plantings of pampas grass is all along the marina
The marina is part of the St James Plantation complex with over 4000 homes. They are all built to very high standards. It's the most beautiful complex of this type we've ever seen along the ICW. If anyone wanted to retire to North Carolina, this is the place to be.

It's nice to have friends share dinner with you. We are so grateful for the shelter they provided during hurricane Matthew
We had friends over for dinner, Jim and Eileen McKay. They were the ones that took us in when Hurricane Matthew's eye went right over us. We were happy to be off the water during the height of the storm. Ann did her usual magic and the dinner was outstanding.

Hank Pomeranz put eyeballs on Lockwoods Folly today! Follow the black route shown above
Meanwhile, Hank Pomeranz took a trip down to see Lockwoods Folly for himself. We had receive conflicting reports on where the buoys were located and what the best path through was. Now we know. The way through is just to honor the buoys in place which have been moved to avoid the shoaling in the middle of the channel. I will go through both Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte on Monday and will report on conditions in the next blog. We are off the Osprey Marina for Monday night

Saturday, October 21, 2017

St James Plantation Marina - at a dock

This area has one of the nicest houses along the ICW
It was another wonderful day on the ICW.We've had so many windy, rainy, and stormy days that when they come this nice, it's a real surprise. The Surf City bridge only opens on top of the hour so we were ready for the 8:00 am opening and got right through. The next bridge, Figure 8 Bridge is not a problem since it opens every 1/2 hour. The real challenge is to make the Wrightsville Bridge which only opens on top of the hour and it's very hard to make since you have to average about 8 kts for the run. You never know about the tides, they can help or they can hurt. We had both this morning and in the end we were six minutes late for the bridge. However, there were no other boats so the bridge operator opened the bridge a little late just for us. We were thrilled! His consideration saved us an hour of waiting time.

As we passed the inlets along the way, we either sped past at 8 kts or slowed down to 6 kts, depending on the details of the inlet. It's very hard to plan ahead for the tides along this route. Our trip today included a run down the Cape Fear River which is usually a bear of a ride due to the speed of the current and any winds in the area. Today it was totally tame. The winds were less than 5 kts if that and at one point we were doing 11.5 kts (which is a 4 kt current)! We will never have such a great ride again down the Cape Fear River as we did today. The standard could not possibly be exceeded.

The view off the back of Fleetwing. The clubhouse is at the left. They have an all you can eat buffet of salads and soup for $11! 
We are now docked at the St. James Plantation Marina which is private but they do rent out slips as they are available for transients. We were able to get one of the last ones they had. It seems we are in the midst of the fall migration and competing for slips along the way.

The weather is trying to make amends for all the terrible things it did to us on the way down so we expect nice temperatures and less wind for the rest of the trip to Titusville. At least we can hope.

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.