Thursday, October 10, 2013

Carolina Beach - at a mooring

Carolina Beach - we had expected more wave action from all the winds we've been having
The winds were only going to be 10 to 20 kts and the rain wasn't supposed to be very heavy so we headed south again, this time for Carolina Beach. The thing to watch out for on this leg of the ICW is the timing of the current on the Cape Fear river. The incoming tide can run 2 kts and the outgoing tide can reach 3 kts. So you don't want to transit the area against the tide when you can only do 7.3 kts. Carolina Beach is the last stop going south before you enter the Cape Fear river so it's a good staging area for timing the best departure for a good tide.

The dinghy dock for the mooring field, well kept
On Saturday, we'll get up at first light to take full advantage of the ebb tide to get to Barefoot Landing by late afternoon. Not only will we experience the Cape Fear river but we also get the enjoyment of going through the "Rock Pile" on a Friday afternoon. For those not familiar with the Rock Pile, it's a section of the ICW where the builders encountered ledge, something they were unprepared for and also not funded for. As a result, the width of the ICW there is only just barely enough for one boat to pass through at a time. It is not a good thing for two boat to meet where one has to get over to one side for the other to pass. There simply isn't enough room and the sides are guarded by rock ledges. The Active Captain logs are sprinkled with examples of where one  boat got over too much and took out their props and shafts (twin screws) on the ledges which are only 2 to 3 feet under the water immediately adjacent to the channel.

We are deep into palm tree country now
So the procedure is to call ahead on channels 13 and 16 (and maybe 9 for good measure) to announce your intention of entering the Rock Pile and ask if anyone else is headed towards you. If no reply is received, then you enter. Over the last few years, many captains have gotten lax and no long announce their presence much to the annoyance and surprise of boat going in the opposite direction. So far we've never encountered an oncoming boat for the 15 miles or so of Rock Pile (knock on wood).

Carolina Beach just this year installed moorings for visiting boaters for $20/night. The anchorage where the moorings are located was not known for good holding so the moorings are welcomed as far as I'm concerned. It's totally protected from waves and has some protection from winds. There's dinghy dock for Hoolie relief and a downtown typical of a beachfront area. I'll get up before dawn and take Hoolie in so we can be off the mooring by first light to take full advantage of the ebb tide down the Cape Fear river.