Monday, October 31, 2011

Wahoo River - at anchor

Five other boats in our anchorage - Hoolie stands guard!
From here south to St Augustine, we are mainly anchoring. In the part of the ICW north of here, there are a dearth of good anchorages but south of here there are plenty - and not many marinas. We're out in the middle of nowhere, no lights and no civilization in sight. However, the current in only 1.5 kts, a pittance compared to Edisto River, no problem. Taking Hoolie ashore is another matter. The banks of the anchorage are pure mud and Hoolie is a sight to behold coming back into the dinghy! Mud on the dinghy, mud on the floor, mud on the life jackets (mud on us!) So, we washed everything down and sort of got it clean. On Tuesday morning, we'll repeat the cleaning procedure again!

Hoolie "mud bank" is just to the left of the boat
The anchorage here is beautiful and it's full of boats. We commented last year that we seemed to be the only boat going south. This year we found out that most cruisers plan ahead and take the difficult cuts in the ICW only during a high tide. We were oblivious to that last year, what did we know? We just plowed ahead (not figuratively!) and made it through while everybody else either went earlier or later to take advantage of the high tides. This year we're in with the crowd - wiser I hope.

Tuesday it's on to Jeckyll Island and the anchorage there. They have a public dock for Hoolie relief for which we're grateful, sure makes it easier on both the dog and us!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Savannah at Thunderbird Marina at a dock

Morning at Beaufort City Marina - with a typical ICW swing bridge in the background
It was chilly here this morning with a low around 45 - cold for here. We find ourselves more in the thick of the migration south than last year. Part of the reason I think is that this year we've timed our passages through the shallow sections for high tides and most of the other snowbirds have the same plans. At any rate, the route south is much more relaxed this year than last (except for Edisto River anchorage!!)

Found on the ICW!
Just to add to the excitement, the Garmin chartplotter stopped displaying depth soundings for some unknown reason. Everything else seemsed to work fine, just not depth readings. And, oh yes, the genset didn't pump any cooling water so I had to shut that off too. Does that count as three events? The genset adversion to passing water was soon cured with a good cleaning but the chartplotter still doesn't display depths. Luckily, I have the iPad2 and it's four charting programs - so we've been using the iPad2 for depths until I can either fix the Garmin or buy another unit.

High today was 66 with winds 15 to 20 kts out of the north but we were toasty in our enclosure as we motor sailed south. There are so many turns in the ICW that it's difficult having any stretch in any one direction which makes it tough to sail even with good winds so we put up the mainsail and did the best we could.

Huge bow for ocean going waves?
Thunderbird marina is a huge complex with ocean going vessels in for outfitting and/or repairs. The entire facility is first rate and I would highly recommend the marina for an overnight stay. On Monday we're headed for a remote anchorage, the Wahoo River. It's not supposed to have such a severe current as our last disaster anchorage. Meanwhile, we can't access our remote cameras back home in Lagrangeville, NY due to a power outage from the winter storm that dumped a foot or so of snow in the area. Well I'm sure everything will sort itself out, we'll take our time down here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beaufort - at a dock - and a current story

A peaceful end to the day - that's the new moon causing the extreme tides and currents!
After reachoring last night, we went to bed for a good night's sleep - but, alas, it was not to be...

At 1:00 am, "Slap, slap", "What's that sound?, Is the boat hitting something? I'd better get up to look. Wow, it sure is black out, can't see a thing, no lights anywhere, cold too, is that rain?"

Upon getting up on deck in the pitch black darkness, I turned on my flashlight and saw that Fleetwing was broadside to the 3 kt current. The anchor rode was directed aftward off the anchor roller on the port side, slapping against the side of the hull with the wave action and then disappeared under the boat. Ann came up on deck and between us we rev'd in reverse to try to relieve tension on the rode, no good, the boat wouldn't budge against the 3 kt current. Standing on the bow, you could hear the rush of passing water, like water cascading down a mountain stream. Forward or reverse, it didn't make any difference, no movement. I tried getting in the dinghy with the motor roaring with the hope that I could push against the bow to get it to turn to unwind the rode which we surmised was wrapped around the keel, no luck - the boat acted like it was frozen solid - cast in concrete. We spent a couple of hours in the darkness, kind of scary in the pitch blackness with the water rushing by at breakneck speed and with the anchor rode tight as a steel rod. Then, the anchor started to drag as the outgoing tide peaked (what else could happen!?) I let out more rode, all the way to 210 ft and the anchor held! (as we approached the shallows in the darkness). Exhausted, we watched the portable GPS in our forward bunk to be sure the anchor continued to hold and eventually retired to bed to await the next slack tide at 6:15 am.

We slept fitfully with one eye on the GPS showing the location of Fleetwing and again got up in the darkness, sunrise wasn't until 7:30 am, over an hour later. Again we were unsuccessful and finally gave up and called SeaTow of which we are a member. They sent a boat out from Charleston, over two hours away (five hours for us!). He probed on the starboard side of the boat that was facing the onrush of current and could feel the rode. With that, it appeared that the rode was against the port side of the bow and then went under the boat and wrapped around the keel, exiting on the starboard side. He proposed a simple solution, tie a float to the end of the rode and let the current pull it free of the boat. At first we were concerned that the rode may be wrapped around the keel more than once, perhaps upon itself, and that it wouldn't free up and then we'd have a real mess but one we couldn't get to.

Having no better idea, we tied a float to the end of the rode and let it rip. We watched as it slid down the starboard side and disappear upstream - we were free! There weren't multiple wraps as feared and it didn't hang up on the prop or rudder. With the tension relieved, the rode had dropped off the keel.

The outside face dock - the only place to be in 2 kts of current
The rest was easy. SeaTow retrieved the float with the rode attached (and our anchor!) and we loaded it back in Fleetwing's anchor locker. I noticed the anchor was polished as if someone had taken steel wool and rubbed it for hours. I think we'll never go back to that anchorage!! Lots of anchorages have a swift current but some, like Edisto River, have champion currents! There is a huge difference between 1.5 kts and 3.0 kts of current. We're told that the current often runs up to 5 kts in that river!

Getting a late start, we only made it to Beaufort, the one in South Carolina. This time we had the outside face dock (to avoid the near disaster of last year - but that's another current story). On Sunday we're heading for Savannah at Thunderbird Marina for one day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Edisto Creek - At anchor

Ann's sunrise photo
I'm glad we came through this area during high tide! We passed through one section that was only 5 ft at low tide, certainly some nervous time if we had to pass through then. However, we had a high tide of 7 ft and all was calm on the passage.

We anchored at Edisto Creek which we chose because of the public boat dock which allows easy access for taking Hoolie ashore. Otherwise, it's mud time getting ashore, not fun. Coming back to the boat, we noticed that it had moved. The wind was against the tide and the boat was sideways to the 2.5 kt current and producing quite a wake in the water. The rode was wrapped around the keel and with the rocking of the boat, it was too much in the 10 ft water for the anchor. So we hauled anchor and went to deeper water and had no further trouble. One has to pay more attention to the direction of the tide and wind and put out more rode, I only had 60 ft out, too little for the conditions.

Heaven for us - a dock for Hoolie!
We are out in the boonies for real here, no lights at all. Except, as we were having our wine in the cockpit we saw another boat approach and turn to anchor far to the east of us - fine we thought - but then he thought better of that and headed straight for us! There's not another boat for miles around but he thought a spot right next to us would be perfect!! Why, are we a magnet?? There's tons of room and here are two boats with a couple hundred feet of each other. I'll never understand that psychology - why so close?? Has it ever happened to you?

Saturday we're headed for Skull Creek marina for a day and more shallows along the way but we've timed ourselves so we'll have a high tide to help us along.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Charleston Maritime Center - Last Day

Golden sun, pretty sky
We paid a final visit to Harris Tetter to stock up on last minute items and then returned to the boat to enjoy the 80 degree weather! It's supposed to be cooler tomorrow with temps only in the 70's but with full sun, we'll be toasty. Friday starts the dash for Florida through a series of cuts that join creeks and rivers so there's a continuous path for boats going south. Unfortunately, Georgia and South Carolina have fallen on hard times and dredging has not been a top priority. Some places have silted in to 3.5 ft at low tide - hence the necessity of making the passage at near high tide! Luckily, the tides run to 9 ft in this area, much higher than either North Carolina or Florida which may have 1 to 2 ft at most.

Some readers of the blog have tried to print some of the sunset photos and found they come out fuzzy. That's because I reduce the resolution to speed up page loading time. If anyone wants a photo for printing or for wallpaper, just send me a note via and I'll return the full resolution photo of the one on the blog you're interested in.

On the way back to the boat, we noticed a large blank spot moving across our field of vision. It was a huge car cargo ship blotting out the lights on shore behind it. It didn't look like a ship at all! It resembled a floating brick, efficient I suppose for transporting cars but ugly.

On Friday we'll intend to anchor at Edisto Creek with a major attraction of a boat ramp for Hoolie!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Charleston Maritime Center - Visit to Hyman's

For Marion
One reader of the blog wondered why I only have photos of sunsets and not of sunrises. Well, we're usually getting ready to leave in the morning and taking photos is not on the agenda in the rush to get started. However, this morning we were not moving out so a sunrise photo was taken!

The Old Slave Market has been renovated
One of the reasons we're delaying our departure from Charleston is to get into sync with the tides. As I've mentioned before, the section of the ICW is very shallow south of us and in some cases, cannot be passed at all at low tide. By waiting for a Friday departure, the high tide will shift from early morning to 10:30 am and be 30 minutes later each day as we head south (45 minutes later for the same location but by going south, the high tide shifts in the opposite direction) So for the week we're in thin water, we'll have the advantage of 7 to 8 ft of high tide during the daytime, ideal! That also means we have to move everyday to keep in sync, no more lallygagging.

Mystery Plant (at least to me) - what is it?

Hyman's is an institution in Charleston. Everybody goes there for seafood at least once when they're in town. Each table has a plaque listing the famous people who ate at the table. Our table had a Jodi Foster plaque. So we paid our visit tonight and now we're ready to spend Thursday to get the  boat ready for the dash through the shallows on Friday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Charleston Maritime Center at a dock

The Maritine Center is a small marina - but very close to the center of Charleston
We wanted to catch the high tide which was at 7:00 but fell the rest of the day. The water south of the Awendaw Creek anchorage on the ICW is very thin with many shallow spots and narrow so I wanted the most water under the keel I could get. So we set out to get Hoolie ashore before the sun rose and found that the tide was even higher than the previous night! As we approached the spot we used before and Hoolie jumped out, he immediately sunk in up to his belly! He was not pleased. He jumped right back in the dinghy without doing any of his business. We tried another place, same thing - this was not working. Eventually we gave up and came back to the boat, pulled anchor and started down the ICW. Hoolie was unhappy. Eventually we came to a public boat ramp and as Ann "hovered" the boat in the channel, I took Hoolie in the dinghy and rowed to shore, tied up at the launch ramp and took Hoolie to grass (the relief was audible...) Rejoining Ann by rowing back out to the boat, we continued our way south. What a way to start the day.

A boat ramp, a welcomed sight for Hoolie!
We suffered through the shallows without hitting bottom and reached the Marine Center around 1:00 pm with a 2.5 kt current against us. We made it in okay and just chilled out for awhile. Later that afternoon we got groceries at Harris Tetter, one of the reasons we like this marina so much, it's less than 1/2 mile to the store! The store is a cross between Adam's at home and a full fledged supermarket, a great place to reprovision without having to rent a car. So tonight we had sesame crusted tuna steaks with fettuccine with zucchini and pecans, a typical meal prepared by Ann - we eat well.

Our dock at night

The weather is warming up with temps in the high 70's over the next few days. We're going to spend three days here before moving on south on Friday. We're somewhat concerned over the hurricane off the Mexico coast. The forecast movement shows it passing through southern Florida and then out to sea. But then there's another one forming further east with a similar path predicted. If nothing else, it's going to produce a lot of rain, at worse, something more. You know we'll be watching it carefully!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Awendaw Creek at anchor

I know, yet another sunset picture - but I like them!
Awendaw Creek is halfway between Georgetown and Charleston, out in the middle of nowhere. Looking in one direction, you can see the ocean, although there's no waves since there is still marshland between us and the open sea. On the way down there was some tense moments as the water thinned since we just happened to hit this area at low tide - some luck. Actually the lowest we saw was 7.5 ft which was plenty since we draw 4' 9" but it was still interesting.

The anchorage is surrounded by marshland and getting Hoolie ashore was no problem at half tide but then the tide came in (high was at 7:00 pm, natually, just when we take Hoolie ashore) and Hoolie got his feet wet but did his business anyway. It is now dead still with 4 kts of wind but a rushing current. With no lights around and no moon tonight, the stars are fabulous! Ann said, as we watched the setting sun reflecting off the water, why can't we make these moments stop in time?

From here on south, the ICW getts narrower and shallower so most boaters try to pass through these areas at high tide. We'll do the best we can but at least we only draw 4' 9" so we can get through areas some can't. You just have to be extremely careful to keep in the channel, the least bit of inattention and you're aground!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Georgetown - At The Boat Shed Marina

Wine in the cockpit, a beautiful sunset and great meal, what more to ask?
Another beautiful day dawned and we headed once again down the ICW. This particular stretch of the ICW doesn't have the shallows that's on the sections ahead of us so the cruising was calm. Plus, there was only one bridge to go through it was opened on demand, no problem.

Harbor Walk in Georgetown
Gradually the ICW opened up into the Waccamaw River and the channel became very wide. We had called ahead for a dock at Georgetown since there aren't any good anchorages in the area. Besides, Georgetown is a pretty town to explore. They have a Harbor Walk and many shops in the area although most of them are closed on a Sunday. We just ate on board and relaxed to enjoy a beautiful sunset right on the boat.

Shrimp boats back after a day of fishing

On Monday we'll head through a section of the ICW that's described in the guide as "alligator infested" and pick our anchorage carefully so it's close to the sea. Alligators can't live in salt water, they lack a way to rid their bodies of excess salt. Crocodiles, on the other hand, can rid their bodies of salt by shedding tears (Crocodile tears!), alligators can't. Still, it pays to be wary at night in the dark when we take Hoolie ashore at a deserted anchorage out in the boonies.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Barefoot Landing Marina - Shopping Day

They take care to have a nice looking area for shopping
After a cool night in the high 40's, it was time to shop. Ann headed out for Chico's and similar outlets and I went for a new pair of running shoes. We both found what we wanted and met back at the boat in the afternoon. The area also features the "House of Blues" with visiting singers, "Alabama" with major bands on the venue and other entertainment establishments to separate you from your dollars. However, if it's enjoyable, why not. All that was too late for us, being sailboaters, we're early to bed and early (relatively) to rise so we're back in the boat by 7:00 at the latest.

Uh-oh, live oaks
We're meeting a lot more fellow boaters this time south. One guy came by and we learned that not only did he had a Brittney and but it was from the same breeder in New Jersey! That makes four people so far that we've met with Brittneys from Dr. Berlet. He's been down the ICW 37 times! He said that it's still fascinating to him, amazing.

A common sight here and along the ICW

We saw the first live oak trees today but it's not the season for pollen so Ann's been unaffected. We'll have to watch that carefully on the way back. On Sunday we plan on leaving early and overnight at Georgetown before moving on the next day. There are no shallows reported on Active Captain so it ought to be a restful trip.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Barefoot Landing Marina - We Survive The Rock Pile

The ledges are just off the channel - not that far!
As windy as it was yesterday, it was just as calm in the opposite direction today. Ann was at the wheel as we backed out, avoiding two large pilings on either side - then a burst forward to turn the bow, a straightening of the wheel to avoid turning too much (to avoid the piling on the return trip) and then another thrust forward to turn the bow again - straightening again to avoid the piling on the opposite side of the fairway, then a final thrust forward to complete the turn and we were free. Ann did well. Meanwhile, I retrieved all the lines and hung them by the cleats for use later in the day at Barefoot. I think it's important that all members of the crew can handle the boat, even in tight situations and you can only learn by doing.

These are visible, many ledges are located about 3 ft under water, closer to the channel
We learned that in building the ICW, they unexpectedly ran into rock in this section. As the money started to be used up from the heavy going, they compensated by making the channel narrower. It's deep enough, just narrow. If you stray from the centerline, rock ledges await on either side as punishment for your transgression. Heaven forbid that you ever meet another boat coming in the opposite direction! This narrow section with rock ledges on either side is called the Rock Pile.

Barefoot Landing Marina is one long dock, over 1000ft long
So as we approached the entry into the Rock Pile, Ann got on the VHF and called twice on channel 16 and again twice on channel 13, asking if anyone one was headed north through the Rock Pile. Receiving no answer, we proceeded forward. However, we were part of progression of three boats and we were in the middle - and carefully paid attention to being on the centerline of the channel. Even so, it's rather daunting to see the multiple ledges just visible on either side, not that far from you. Regardless, we made it through without mishap and without meeting another boat headed north which made us happy.

Adjacent to the marina is the shopping area surrounding a small lake
Barefoot Landing Marina is a shopper's paradise for those who like outlet stores. All the major brands are represented along with others I've never heard of but all the stores look well kept and interesting to look through. It's also the home of Greg Norman's Australian Grille restaurant and I took Ann out for dinner there tonight, very good. We'll be here for another day so Ann can make good use of all the shopping opportunities. After being shopped out, we plan on leaving Sunday for points south.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

St. James Plantation Marina - Last Day

The area is very nice and well kept
The wind blew and blew and blew last night and all day today. We registered a top gust of 29 kts so we just stayed another day at the marina. We could have moved on if we had to but then we didn't have to so why not go in better weather? Nice not having a schedule you must keep.

We had one of our maintenance days of cleaning the boat and doing laundry while the wind blew like crazy and the temperature only reached 67, very cool! However, it's supposed to warm up into the 70's for the rest of the week. We heard a long range forecast from NOAA that the northeast will have a colder than normal winter but not as bad as last year but the part we liked the best was the forecast for Florida - warmer than normal and dry!

The local pet bird - a great blue heron that hangs around the marina
I met several boaters down the dock that were interested in my navigation setup. Many boaters are looking into using a tablet PC at the helm. I chose the Apple iPad2 but there are other choices. The software being written for the tablets is much less expensive than traditional software for the PC or dedicated marine electronics. With the expanding application base and user feedback, the capabilities being included in the software (apps) are awesome and put the dedicated marine equipment to shame in many cases. You can look at some of the apps I use by clicking on the link at left under "Pages"

Eventually everything was done and the wind finally died. We're off for Barefoot Landing on Friday for two days to explore the outlet shops and one of our favorite restaurants, Greg Norman's Austrialian Grille. Along the way we'll pass through the "Rock Pile", a famous stretch of the ICW that's very narrow and lined with ledges to catch your prop if you stray off the centerline! Here's advice from one guide,

"Within Pine Island Cut exists a three mile section unofficially dubbed "the rock pile" . The rock pile is considered by many the most treacherous part of the ICW. Dangerous not because of wind, wave or storm but because of the hidden and uncharted hazards below the surface, primarily rocks and stumps from the eroding banks of the cut. The advice of the many victims of the rock pile is to steer a course dead center in the ditch and give way to no one"

On our trip last year, we didn't meet a boat coming in the opposite direction on either our northern or southern passage so we stayed in the middle. You can be sure we'll be very careful this year too. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

St. James Plantation Marina - Day 2

Very high end - note the palm trees
The storms passed through last night and early this morning, lots of rain but not too much wind. The wind part is coming right now behind the storm with gusts to over 30 kts for all of tonight and tomorrow. We may move on tomorrow or we may stay and choose a calmer day to pass through the "rock pile", a section of the ICW that's notoriously narrow with rocks along either side if you wander outside the channel. Many boats have come to grief when they strayed too far to one side or the other or when passing another boat coming in the opposite direction. I'm guessing that we'll probably stay another day and do some boat cleaning.

Nope, definitely not in a pot
Since we're retired, we'd thought we would take a day of rest from all this retirement business and just read and walk around the area. It's tough job  but we're up to it. Actually, the area is very well kept and spotless in appearance and the price is right at $1/ft. for dockage. This is the first place we've seen with palm trees that aren't obviously kept in pots and moved in for the winter. I talked to one of the groundskeepers and found that Irene deposited about 3 to 5 inches of rain and 40 to 60 mph winds but didn't do any permanent damage.

Alligators aren't usually a problem this far north but there was one in a pond by the  back of one house where the owner kept 18 cats. She noticed that the number of cats seemed to be decreasing over time and thought they had just wandered off. Eventually she noticed she had an alligator in the back pond that was very interested in her cats. When she was down to 9 cats, she called for help and the alligator was disposed of.

Our next stop is at Barefoot Landing with all the outlets and a good Greg Norman restaurant. We'll probably go there on Friday, we'll see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St. James Plantation Marina

A favorite boat of the seagulls! Suppose anything is left?
We had intended staying at Carolina Beach but we reached there around 12:30 and thought it much better to continue onward to get the Cape Fear river behind us while the weather is still good. There is a tropical storm coming up the coast, the same one that dumped 18 inches of rain on Sugarloaf Key. Hopefully, we won't get that much but it's better being tied up at a dock here in St. James than at anchor with all the projected wind and rain tonight.

Mystery picture of the day - what is it? (I have no idea)
Docking here was not without some excitement however. We fueled up and then were directed to a dock supposedly for 40 ft boats with an allowance for them to be 44 ft. Theoretically we should fit but the calculations didn't account for the other boats down the aisle that were also bigger than 40 ft and had anchors projecting out, defending their turf I suppose. Complicating matters was the presence of a piling separating the right and left half of the slip. You had to maneuver to go straight in but there wasn't room for that. After several attempts and raising the blood pressure of all concerned, I backed out and concluded it wasn't doable with the size boat I had. In the end, it's all up to the captain - nobody knows your boat like you do, least of all the dockhands telling you where to go!

Figure 8 bridge - typical swing bridge of the ICW
Meanwhile, the end T-dock was unoccupied but they apparently wanted to "save" that dock for a bigger boat (it's still unoccupied as of tonight!) and we were directed to a larger slip. We did escape without marring Fleetwing or hitting another boat at least. Now we're waiting for the storm to arrive along with the high winds and we'll see what tomorrow brings. According to grib, there's a window for a dash to Footloose Marina but it may be too tight, we'll see.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beach House Marina at Surf City, NC - at a dock

Always nice to see a fish market with its own boat
From here to Charleston, there's very few places to anchor that also allow for Hoolie relief. Plus, we'll be traveling through some truly alligator infested areas and you always think twice about an evening visit to the local sand bar in the dark! So for the next few days we'll be using marinas.

As noted, it's not fancy - but fresh!
Today we had a very good day for motoring south with a high of 80 and fair winds. There's a storm that's almost tropical in nature headed up the coast so we're planning on ducking into St James Plantation Marina for two days to wait it out. The marina is a true hurricane hole, protected on all sides and a pleasant place for an extended stay. It's actually an upscale condo development that also rents slips to transients.

Ann is an excellent cook but she cooks a lot so I took her out tonight to Daddy Mac's, an excellent restaurant right on the water that's famous in the area for good food. We also discovered the source of the raw materials - a fish market not more than 5 minutes away from the marina! Our standard of excellence is the fishmarket at Sandwich, MA but this serves fresh fish caught from the area at outstanding prices. It's not fancy but the fish is fresh! I'll buy local bay scallops tomorrow at $5/lb and fresh tuna at $12.95/lb. They have a much broader selection but we don't want to keep fish too long.
Evidently, the pier survived Irene
On Tuesday we're headed for Federal Point YC at Carolina Beach, NC. It will be the first time we've stopped there so we're looking forward to exploring the area. The northward moving storm will pass through that area Tuesday night so we'd rather be tied up to a dock anyway.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Swansboro at anchor

Another causality of Irene
The day dawned clear and warm, a perfect day for heading south on the ICW. The dinghy motor behaved this morning and we had no trouble getting Hoolie into shore and back. We got a late start but then found the current behind us so we were tooling along at a little over 9 kts!

I found a good place for the iPad2, right up on the binnacle hand rail. I don't use it for navigation but it makes a great reference for shallow spots with its database from Active Captain. I have a bluetooth GPS for it so it shows my progress along the route and when I seen a yellow icon (caution, a hazard) I can touch it and get a detailed explanation of the problem encountered by other boaters, invaluable! Ah, the wonders of electronics.

They say you shouldn't travel down the ICW on the weekend, too many boaters but we were determined to move anyway and did encounter lots of traffic, at least a hundred boats along the way - almost exclusively small fishing boats (do they do anything else around here on weekends?) But we had no problems and dropped the anchor around 1:30 or so.

The dinghy dock is just to the left of this building
The last time we came here we didn't know about the city public dinghy dock and used the bulkhead under the bridge. This time we read Active Captain more carefully and found the free dinghy dock, it's so much easier! We also seem to be out of the range of the mosquitoes and flies, at least for the moment and that makes the evenings more enjoyable too. On Monday it's off to Surf City if we can get a reservation, otherwise we'll go further south. I've promised Ann a good dinner out and Surf City has Daddy-O's, a nice restaurant.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cedar Creek anchorage

No excuses - we just like sunsets!
The anchorage is off Adams Creek where Kit and Pete Andros used to have a house (they sold it later). Our passage down the Neuse River was before the wind piped up into the high teens so we were lucky to get in before the waves  built up.

Windy day on the Neuse River
There are five boats here in the anchorage but there's plenty of room and it's a lovely anchorage, very picturesque. We noticed a double masted sailboat up on land at the foot of the anchorage. We're sure that's not intended and must be from Irene. I can imagine that this anchorage was crowded with boats trying to escape the wrath of Irene - one apparently didn't survive.

We took Hoolie in but halfway in the outboard died! Try as I may, I couldn't get it restarted and rowed into shore. The mosquitoes were as thick as fog in the morning! Hurricane Irene has left a legacy still being felt by all in the area. So you suit up in long pants, long sleeve shirts, a hat and bug spray. However, in the afternoon we were fine on our boat which is out a ways in the anchorage.

Notice the boat up on land!

Anyway, once Hoolie was done and we pushed off, I was able to get the outboard started (whew!) and we made our way back to the boat. The outboard was fine for  the trip into shore after dinner. Not sure what the problem was with the motor?? It worked fine on our last trip in but it does shake your confidence in the motor - especially since we had, at the time, about a 15  kt wind which made it very difficult rowing. Outboards are not my favorite type of motor!

All houses are up on stilts in down here

Now we're settled in and enjoyed the sunset for a change but we're downstairs buttoned up, no insects down here! On Sunday we're off for Swansboro at their anchorage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zeisings' Anchorage - last day

The moon rose blood red, a contrast to our anchor light at left
The weather is gradually getting better with temps in the 70's. We finished our bridge tournament and wrapped up the day with another great meal. The last time Hoolie was here was last spring and yet he remembered that Bill used to run him in the front yard by chasing golf balls. Whenever he was in the house, he sat expectantly by the front door with pleading eyes for Bill to play with him. Who said dogs always live in the present? Not true, they remember.

For the next week we'll be moving every day and anchoring out most of the time. As we go further south, the ICW will gradually get shallower so we'll have to watch our route more carefully. We have a week of predicted good weather so we should be okay. Saturday we plan on anchoring at Cedar Creek off Adams Creek. It will be interesting to see how crowded it is, we seem to be in the thick of boats going south this year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zeisings' Anchorage - We tour Irene devastation

Sunrise at the Zeisings
Miles and miles of debris from Irene
There was a great sunrise this morning to greet us for the next day. We dinked in for coffee and decided to go out for supplies at the local supermarket. Along the way, Bill took us by some of the bay areas that were subject to the 9 ft plus surge tide of hurricane Irene. The housing code in the area required all new buildings to be above the 100 year flood plane which is at 7 ft. over maximum high tide. Irene was 2 ft above that! I remember hearing over the news that Irene was over-hyped and wasn't as strong as predicted. However, the rain and flood tide was what drove the devastation. It just washed away entire houses and put water levels at heights never seen in recorded history. The debris from ruined houses is piled high along the roads for later pick up by the county. The debris piles stretch for miles along some of the highways. It's a heartbreaking sight to see. Compared to their neighbors, the Zeisings were fortunate to escape major damage to their property and house although they certainly had to lot to repair (A/C, heat, septic, roof, front stairs, etc.).
Crabs tend to stick together before going into the pot!

It was good to get back the the air conditioned house and away from the mosquitoes that have multiplied due to all the standing water from Irene still left over in the surrounding land. Pat now has a bumper crop of crabs! They are much larger and more plentiful than at any time in the past and so she's been replenishing her supply of crab meat. Meanwhile, we've been enjoying the fruits of her labors - the crab cakes she makes are without any fillers, just pure crab meat - the only way to enjoy crab cakes!!

After dinner and more bridge, enjoyed the port wine that Rudy and Alison gave us and Bill pronounced it "excellent"! Off to the boat in the dink in the dark and time to get ready for another day at the Zeisings.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

At Zeisings' Anchorage

It's a full moon night - that's our anchor light at the bottom left of the picture
Well, we did get off okay but then then storms came and we ducked into a side anchorage off the Pungo River to await their passage. With the iPad2 app showing the weather radar for the area, we can track the exact path and timing of coming storms. When clear, we headed out across the Pamlico River with a rocky ride to Zeisings' anchorage.

We anchored and sped to Zeisings' dock and which survived Irene but there was great damage in the area. The eye of Irene came within 10 miles of their house and lingered for 21 hours. The water rose 9 ft to within 4 feet of the first floor of their house (not counting the waves!) The entire area was under a forced evacuation - for good reason! Entire houses were lost in the area but Bill and Pat's house was okay although it suffered some damage. They did lose their boat and car, both were partially underwater. The water level is near normal now but still on the high side. One side effect of all the wet weather is the increase in the mosquitoes! They are thick!.

We'll be staying a few days and plan on leaving Saturday morning to continue our trip south.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pungo River Anchorage - Day 2

The shore line for Hoolie relief - find that sand!
We had a day of bad weather, rain and wind. The wind was out of the east which is a bad direction for Zeising's anchorage so we stayed put and waited it out. With that Ann did her artwork all day and I did finances. I have almost everything on automatic payment but once in awhile you have to check up on how things are going. For us, it was an enjoyable day. We're out in the boonies, cellphone access is iffy and we're at the lowest rung of the bars for internet access but we do have it, although very slow. The last time we were at the Zeisings, we had no Verizon signal at all. If it's the same as last year, then you won't be seeing a blog update until we move on Saturday. There will still be a daily blog, it just won't be posted until then. If Verizon has since installed a new tower, then it'll be business as usual with the blog.

Done yet??
The days are getting dark early and so now we find outselves taking Hoolie into shore with less and less light at night. On tonight's trip Ann thought she heard something in the bushes and rushed Hoolie back into the dinghy. With our flashlight we look for "red eyes" which is a sign of alligators, after all we are close to the alligator river - and at the northern range of alligators, normally. Neither one of use saw anything but we hurried back to the boat anyway. Further south of here, the alligators start to be serious.

Wednesday it's off to the Zeisings and the anchorage right off their back porch, it will be good to see them again!