Thursday, April 19, 2012

St. James Plantation Marina - At a dock

St  James Plantation Condo Complex - houses are nearby too
We average 7.3 to 7.4 kts when under power so we are rarely passed by a sailboat but today we were overtaken by a motorsailer, At our cruising speed, he was barely able to pass but he got by throwing a huge wake. With him ahead of us we noticed he didn't keep a very straight route, weaving side to side as if hunting for deeper water. Okay, so far so good but when we approached one of the many inlets by the ICW we saw him take off to the right - for the open ocean! The inlet was marked as red right returning (exiting the inlet, the reds were on the left) and the ICW in this section was marked also with reds on the left. I told Ann at the time that I bet we'll see him turn around pretty soon and get back on the ICW since the inlet was not rated for sailboats! Sure enough, as we looked back, we saw his mast stop and his boat turn around and head back in our direction. Looking at a chartplotter, it was obvious which way to go but just looking at the markers it was not so obvious. The markers and buoys associated with the ICW have a special symbol on them, a yellow square (on a green can) or a yellow triangle (on  a red nun). The yellow squares are always passed to port when headed from The Chesapeake to Key West, the yellow triangles are passed to starboard. Once out of the ICW route, you no longer will see the yellow squares or triangles - enough reason to turn around and go back.

The wonderful art store
Pretty soon the motorsailer was gaining on us again but as we approached the next inlet, he backed off and let us lead the way - twice through the next two inlets! We found the deep water and had no problem so I guess he was happy.

Once at St. James Plantation Marina, we got a face dock and settled in for the night, not bad at $1.05/ft. The area has luxury condos and upscale houses, a great development if you like that sort of thing. The other pluses is the 360 degree protection from wakes and wind and the two small stores on the premises. One is a small grocery store for necessities and the other is the best shop I've ever seen for personally designed items - all done by local artists. If you ever visit St James Marina you must go in that shop! It's almost impossible to walk out without buying something (we didn't survive that temptation).

Strange birds down here...

St. James is also an excellent point to launch the next phase of the trip which involves a trip up the Cape Fear River. You must pick a time-frame when the tide is coming in. If you chose to go against the tide, you could see 2.5 kts against you! On Friday we'll leave at first light (6:15 or so) so we can catch the incoming tide before it reverses. Our goal is Surf City but we'll have to pass through two bridges that only open once per hour! If you miss the opening, you'll have a long wait!