Friday, April 29, 2016

Carolina Beach State Park - at a dock, Rock Pile and the weatherman lies

Today was the day we headed through the "Rock Pile". It's a section of the ICW where they encountered rock instead of sandy soil but still had to maintain the dollars per mile budget. Their solution was to narrow the ICW to make up for the added cost of clearing the ledge. With that the custom has always been to announce yourself when entering the "Rock Pile" stretch of the ICW, especially valuable if an oncoming barge is entering from the opposite direction. So we announced ourselves and heard nothing in return and entered from the south.

I dare you to pass the red marker on the wrong side!
This time we passed through at low tide so we could see all the ledges on either side. They are just beyond the markers which is why they reinforce the rule of never going beyond the markers in the Rock Pile. At low tide you can see the ledges but at mid or high tide you cannot even though they are still lurking just below the surface. They have done untold thousands of dollars of damage to boats that wandered, typically a ruined propeller and a bent propeller shaft if you're lucky and the boat doesn't sink. We came through the middle of the channel and had no problems. In a dozen traverses of the Rock Pile, we've never yet met another boat going the other way.

You can't see these ledges at mid or high tide but they are there just below the surface
The weatherman really told a whopper this morning. He said there was only going to be 5 to 10 kts of wind out of the east or southeast when going north on the Cape Fear River. What we encountered was 15 to 20 kts of wind with occasional gusts to 25 kts out of the northeast which was the direction we were headed. The Admiral was not pleased! We took the usual water over the dodger in seas like this and it was rock and roll time. Gradually the waves lessened as we moved up the bay but not by alot. One wonders how a prediction can be so wrong?!

A view of "A" dock, note the inefficient use of big docks for small boats, the park rangers know nothing about marinas
Regardless, we eventually made it into the Carolina Beach State Park and found it almost full. They do not take reservations so when we arrived all the slips were taken except on C dock which is the shallowest and hardest to get to since you want to be facing bow out in the morning. I was successful in backing in after a few tries with the adverse wind and we're settled in for the night. It's now at low tide on C dock and we still have 4.8 ft, barely enough to float our 4 ft 9 in draft. We plan on leaving in the morning with a 1.2 ft tide, just enough to leave on, we hope. I think I did myself in by making this place so popular. It's a great deal and now it's being recognized as such by more and more cruisers.

Our sunset for the night
We're headed for Swan Point Marina on Saturday. It's located at a convenient point for us. It's just before the Marines training grounds and situated so we can make Cedar Creek the next day.