Saturday, October 23, 2010

Masonboro, NC – We Find Hard Water!

Yes, there are barges on the narrow  ICW!
We never pulled on the anchor at Swansboro, we hung all night on just the friction of the chain on the bottom, I could tell from the GPS readings. I had put all the bridges on the chartplotter so we could time ourselves to reach the bridges at either on the hour or the half hour – two of the bridges only opened on the top of the hour! Well, the strategy worked out fine and we could pace ourselves to arrive just in time for the openings.

So that part of the planning worked out fine. Then we came to Wrightsville Beach and the much publicized anchorage…

Hard Water Too?
“6.0 – 5.5 – 5.2 – 4.9 - ……”, “Why aren’t we moving? Let’s back up – watch out for the dink! I got it pulled in but the painter is wrapped under the dink (Ann)”. Motor in reverse, Fleetwing slides off the bottom into deeper water from whence we came. After a little disorientation, we head further to find a place to turn around to try the other side of the channel. Hundreds of boats everywhere (it’s a Saturday night), no room to turn, go further, find a place, turn and come back. Try the right side of the channel, 6.0 – 5.5 – 5.1 – 4.9 – STOP (before hitting bottom), in reverse – back out again! Look at chart (finally!) and see that the reported depth of the channel to our anchorage was only 4 ft as of 2007 and we’re at low tide – duh! Call for a dock, everyone is FULL (Saturday night, beautiful weekend). We soldier on, Ann calls the Masonboro marina and they have an opening! It’s 5:00 pm, a long day after starting out at 8:00 am. Whew!

We bought our first sailboat from a tugboat captain (of all people!) and their term for shallows was “hard water” as in “There’s hard water by the Statue of Liberty” Well, we encountered our first “hard water” today. Several places on the ICW by the inlets were very shallow. One place got down to 7.9 ft and that was with a 2 ft tide. Everywhere else the depths averaged about 15 ft.

The Moon is just extraordinary
The piloting was exhausting, looking at the depth meter, at the chartplotter, at the location of the daymarkers – it was not relaxing. When you came to a shallow part, the routine was to nudge over to one side to see if the depth increased or not, if not, then nudge over to the other side in hopes for a better outcome. If neither strategy worked, then just slowly creep forward and hope for the best.

We made good time today but we’re so exhausted that we’ll take an extra day and stay at the marina to plan for our next few stages. By the way, the marina is first rate. All the docks are floating (not the norm down here) and concrete so they’re very stable. We had a beautiful moonrise, it’s calm and warm, we’ll rest up for tomorrow.