Friday, May 14, 2021

Homer Smith - Last Day

 The post I wrote tonight was deleted by Google after someone complained of illegal content. I have no idea what material someone apparently found offensive - I no longer have access to what I published. I’ll continue my blog tomorrow. It’s a new world we now live in. 

Homer Smith - Last day (now approved by Google?)

 

What is that! It's ice. During the shrimp boat era, the room was filled with ice for keeping
the shrimp catch cold. Now it's just for transients, much less demand on volume.

The winds are finally starting to wind down but still in the 15 kt range. It's predicted to be less on Saturdayd so we're headed north. I took on water since there not good water north of here until you reach Norfolk. Much of the water you get at marinas on our trip homeward is well water and can be tained with tannin, giving the water a brownish look. Our Seagull filter takes it all out for drinking but less is better. 

This is the view from the front of the proposed new clubhouse. 
What you see should be filled with new docks next year. Home Smith 
knows where his future lies.

Homer Smith used to be a working shrimp dock but since the pandemic when all the restaurant closed, the business has gone away. They turned to transient dockage in a hurry and are expanding. They are adding docks in front of the old shrimp dock and plan on adding docks to the west of the large boat docks too. In adding the new clubhouse, they will have a first rate facility.

We saw a powerboat leave today that lost control in the high winds and hit the boat next to us. We don't want to experience the same problem so we're going to leave at first light before the winds pipe up. That entails an early departure which is not one of Ann's favorite things but this is an exception. The last thing we want to do is damage other boats! We hope to make the Pungo anchorage but it depends on what winds we encounter along the way. Then it's on to the Alligator River Marina the next day. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Homer Smith, Beaufort, NC - the winds continue!

 

Homer Smith's clubhouse plans

The winds just don't want to stop, 15 to 20 kts winds today but it has settled down tonight. The forecast is still not good for the Neuse River, northeast winds. So, we turned to other work, mainly such exciting things like laundry - oh joy. 

The winds actually dropped to almost normal - what a change!

I talked to Matt of Homer Smith today at some length. He forwarded the plans for their new clubhouse which they will start work on, hopefully, this summer but probably not due to long delivery times for critical parts like windows and siding. It will be nice when they get it done but probably not until next year.

We also discussed docks. When they installed new docks, the company insisted that the main docks had to be anchored with metal pilings, not wood. Wood pilings were okay for the ends of fingers, but not for the center section docks. Take a look at some of the marinas to see if the pilings for the mains are wood or metal. Even the sturdy construction here at Homer Smith can't withstand a Cat 2 hurricane with all boats in place. Arrangements would be made to haul the boats that had no where to go.

I asked about fuel and there's no problem getting diesel for marine use. It's dyed and not taxed for road use, only for marine use. The same restriction does not apply to marine gasoline however and there's some problems getting enough gasoline for the boats although it's enough for now.

So we are weather watchers for the Neuse River and Albemarle crossings. We hope to be able to cross the Neuse on Saturday. It was make it easy to reach Alligator River Marina on Monday. Then it's another waiting game for the Albemarle crossing, all part of boating in going north

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Homer Smith - Rain and wind all day long

 

The old shrimp house has been cut off - notice that "Seafood" now reads "eafood". 
The green lawn to the left used to be the receving area for shrimp. All that business
died off when the restaurants closed. 

The weather was terrible today, not a day for traveling the ICW - not at least for us although we did see three large powerboats leave today. With the weather forecast, we're staying at Homer Smith until Saturday morning when we'll leave for the Cedar Creek anchorage which is just below the southern entrance to the Neuse River. Sunday is predicted to be a good day for a Neuse crossing. 

On the way up the Cape Fear River the other day, we passed this dredge barge.
Where are the diamond shapes to show which side to pass on?

Then it's off to points north, probably the Pungo River anchorage on Sunday night and then on to the Alligator River Marina which we heard had just dredged their entrance. It was down to 4.9 feet in the fall. There's plenty of wate inside, about 8 feet but the entrance shoals periodically.

With all the cool, rainy weather, we're just hunkered down inside with the electric box heater going full blast to make the cabin a balmy 76 F when it's 54 F outside with 15 to 20 kts winds. I'm doing Waterway Guide work and Ann's painting in pastels. The day passed by quickly, fun on a rainy day - better than at anchor, at least for us. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Homer Smith - Provisioning at Lowes

 

A really nice courtesy car! One of two at Homer Smith - at no charge.

Homer Smith took an extra step for boaters and now has two courtesy cars! There is no charge for their use except you ought to replace the gas you use. We took advantage of the cars with a provisioning trip to Lowes supermarket. It is a first rate store with first rate groceries. Instead of rotisserie chickens, they had smoked, whole chickens, very good!

Home Smith is growing! The planned new clubhouse is the square shape at the bottom right.
There are new docks planned in front of the clubhouse. 

We loaded up since we intended making this our last provisioning stop but I forgot the ice cream, an other trip tomorrow or the next day. Meanwhile, Home Smith is expanding. They are adding dock where the shrimp boats used to dock. The seafood business pretty much went bust when the restaurants closed down due to COVID-19. They also plan a clubhouse for transients that includes two washers and two dryers, new restrooms and showers, a captains' loungue, and a work area for boat projects. The plans for the docks include pumpout connections and fuel at every slip. I'm familiar with pump out along a dock but I've never seen fuel availability at every slip. They have big plans.

The big discussion on the boat is when to leave. We need to cross the Neuse River but that's not a good run with the wind is out of the northeast - which is predicted for the next three to four days. I remember the couple that had a catamaran powerboat that went to the Bahamas and back. They reported that the worst experience they had on their 6 month cruise was going up the Neuse against a northeast wind! We are in no hurry to had that experience to our repetoire. We'll take it day by day. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - at a dock

 

Welcome to Homer Smith Marina in Beaufort, NC - one of our favorites!

We left Habour Village around 8:00 with the intention of taking a dock at Swansboro but when we turned into the ICW channel, we found a swift favorable tide, 8 kts! As the tid continued, we considered changing our plans and going for Homer Smith in Beaufort, NC - one of our favorite marinas. 

Official flag!

Onward we motored and we continued keeping the tide with us so we decided to bypass Swansboro and go all the way to Beaufort. We had wanted to stay just two days and continue our trek north but the weatherman would not cooperate. Winds are predicted to iincrease later in the week and switch to out of the northeast - the worst possible combination in going up the Neuse River. Now it's a wait and see game on the weather. We want a southwest wind at best but anything out of the north doesn't work for us. We may be here a while.

We'll make good use of the free courtesy car on Tuesday! A great feature of Homer Smith.

Pulling into Homer Smith, we took on fuel and had a pumpout. We had heard of the pipeline cyber attack making it inoperable, at least for a while. Fuel may become scarce after a bit so we wanted a full tank. Time for some boat projects. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Harbour Village Marina - at a dock

 

Sunrise on the way north to the Cape Fear River

The current in The Cape Fear River was flooding north in the morning but only until 8:30 or so. With that, we decided to start north at daybreak, about 6:15 this time of the year. This was not necessarily a popular decision with the crew but it took full advantage of the northward flowing current and the calm winds of early morning. It also allowed for two bridges on the way that invariably caused up to a two our delay if you didn't arrive just at the right time. 

The party island by Surf City was in full swing Sunday

To our advantage, we carried the tide northward and all the way to Harbour Village so we made very good time. We were assigned a 60 ft slip so it was an easy docking. The marina was full as was the case for most marinas we've been at this trip north - everybody is out boating, it seems.

The marina's WiFi was great, no problems there. The docks here are almost new and they are among the best docks on the ICW. We had a qjuiet night, we needed it. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

St James Plantation Marina - Last day

 

It's a beautiful facility

The St James Plantation Marina is beautifully well kept. It's part of the housing complex here and they pay attention to keeping everything in tip top shape. It's only $1.50/day if you have BoatUS membership, a bargain compared to the prices I've been seeing on my trip north ($2.00 to $2.50/day). The marinas are being bought out by large companies and the first thing they do is raise prices, not so here, so far. 

The smaller boats are packed inside a very large building - evidently strong enough to last out a hurricane

In addition to the marina, they have dry storage for over 300 boats in a fully enclosed building on site. You place an order for being put in the water, and they do the rest. The building withstood Hurricane Matthew so it must be sturdy.

On Sunday, we're headed to Harbor Village about halfway to Home Smith in Beaiufort, NC. It's just an overnight visit before leaving the next day. We plan on catching the last of a flood tide on the way north up the Cape Fear River - if all goes according to plan. With light winds predicted, it ought to be okay. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

St James Plantation Marina - we brave the Rock Pile, Shallotte, and Lockwoods Folly, now at a dock

 

This was near Socastee, want to buy a house here for 1.6 million? (do you like high water...?)

The weather was beautiful for us but in the last several days some strong storms have come up during the afternoon. They all missed us but some of the northern migration crowd saw one inch hail and 40 kt winds. 


"I don't understand, the consultant said they would sell like hotcakes!"

We passed by Barefoot Landing and sadly saw the new docks they put in. No longer are any docks available for us boaters transiting the ICW, they are all devoted to small powerboats supposedly for the day crowd to visit the "many" attractions of Barefoot Landing. You can see from the photo just how popular their new dock design is on a Friday afternoon. 

Stay inside those daymarks!

One can only imagine the conversation with a "consulant" on what they should do with their docks. Do you think a consulant would ever say, "Naw, what you have in place is better than anything I can come up with, bye". Synomonus with "consulatant" is "do it differently, do it my way and here's my fee"  (if I just said keep it the way it is, I wouldn't get paid...) The amazing thing is that people actually fall for this line (I used to work in manufacturing, the consultants would come around periodically, hired by upper management in the hope of finding "a better way". They never did).

The rocks in the Rock Pile are fascinating - but they are all outside the channel

Oh well, onwward to the Rock Pile which is no challenge at all with the USACE survey show exactly where the deep water is and where the rocks are not. The B423 track goes right down the middle. 

Entering St James Plantation Marina

Shallotte and Lockwoods Folly was no challenge either, both have been dredged and the B423 track once again goes down the middle, oh hum. We were behind one boat that suddenly veered off to the right at Little River where it splits with the ICW. He was headed out the inlet to sea. Pretty soon we saw him turn around, head back at us, then turn into the ICW. He mistook the red marker for the inlet as an ICW red marker - an all too common mistake I've seen before. He obviously was not following the B423 track.

St James Plantation Marina is one of our favorite places. The marina is protected by a 12 ft high berm on which sits three story houses. It is very protected and one year we sat out hurricane Matthew here as the eye passed over us. We came out to look when in the eye, very eerie. We'll stay here another day and then move again on Sunday to Harbor Village. A day of rest is fine with us.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Osprey Marina - at a dock

The Waccamaw River is a beautiful ride

 It was a short day today and it would have been even shorter were it not for the 1 to 2 kts of adverse current! We had the foul tide all day long. Apart from that, it was a great day with mild winds and warm weather without any rain. 

Typical oprey nest atop a daymark - all seemed occupied

The dockage rate here cannot be beat, it's $1.00/ft. That's lower than anywhere else I can think of (well, for a real marina - there's always RE Mayo at $0.40/ft and B&B Seafood at a flat rate of $25/night). We always used to refuel here due to their low prices but the cost of diesel has climbed in the last two weeks. It's now up to $3.09/gallon. It was $1.99/gal on the way down in the fall. 

The docks are first rate - ipe wood and new

We have our slip with elecctric and good WiFi (tested at 78 Mbps this afternoon!). Osprey still has their goody bag, Ann likes the hot pepper jelly best of all. With the good WiFi, I got some work done updating Waterway Guide alerts. 

We'll leave for St James Plantation Marina in the morning for a two day stay. We've noticed that although the days are still warm, the nights are starting to get cooler as we move north. It's been much warmer than we expected, no problem there. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Georgetown Harborwalk Marina - at a dock

 

Stop number 1 - Inde[pendent Seafood!

Leaving Awendaw, we had to negotiate McClellanvile at near low tide. I didn't think it would be a problem since it was dredged last year. However, it has filled in some and I saw as low as 6.1 MLLW in one spot. I guess it was too good to be true that the dredging would last. Still, it was much better than two years ago.

A fun exercise, put a 42 foot sailboat into this narrow opening 
and BTW, do a 180 so you're pointing out in the morning, all with 
tide and wind opposing your turn

The rest of the trip to Georgetown was fine, the dredging appeared to be holding at good depths. Unfortunately, the tide was against us all the way but then we didn't have far to go so we didn't mind. 

There's a reason Independent Seafood has great fish!

Arriving in Georgetown, the top priority was a trip to Independent Seafood for fresh fish. They had grouper so I picked up dinner at the market there. With that chore done, next was laundry and the marina had two washers and two dryers, a plus. In all, we refueled, did a pump out, bought seafood, did laundry, and have a dock - a full day. 

A word on that dock. We had stayed on the outside facedock in the past but this time they wanted us inside which entailed a bow first entry and then a 180 to port to line up heading out. With the wind and current plus the narrow fairway, that was a challenge! We pulled it off without banging into anybody or anything and that by itself must be counted as a success. 

We are headed to Osprey on Thursday, a short run north - but we like short runs nowadays. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Awendaw Anchorage - at anchor all alone


In the distance - it looks like a battleship from the distance but it's really a hammock

We are easing our way north, no more long days so we chose to just reach the Awendaw anchorage and we arrived by 12:30 after leaving Charleston Maritime Center around 8:30. As luck would have it, just as we undocked and backed out, four Navy boats were coming in! Talk about bad timing! The four-person boats circled back and allowed us to exit peacefully. Ann sounded the signal for backing out, we heard nothing from the small Navy boats! 

All alone - no one else here

During the week, the Ben Sawyer Bridge is on demand except for rush hours in the morning and afternoon. It's the weekend where they only open on top of the hour. We caught the first opening at 9:00 am and proceeded through Isle of Palms at low tide. I didn't expect a problem since it had been dredged last in 2019 but it is starting to shoal again. 

I was behind another boat and I saw he was not following the Bob423 track which resulted in him getting too far to the green side by a shoal. He came to a sudden stop and we passed him by on the red side with 7.5 feet of water under us, he was sitting on the bottom. He later backed out and followed us the rest of the way. There were more skinny spots but the B423 track was good.

On Wednesday, we're headed for Georgetown for one night for fuel and a pumpout. Hopefully, the fish market there (one of our favorites) will have fish Ann can cook for dinner. They also have good WiFi, OnSpotWiFi at our marina, Harborwalk.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Charleston Maritime Center - many changes along the waterfront!

 

This used to be a green lawn where Hoolie liked to play, now it's a museum

We had intended going to St John's Yacht Harbor but we couldn't get a reservation even a week in advance.  Our backup was an old favorite, the Charleston Maritime Center which is within walking distance to a Harris Tetter supermarket and downtown. Walking access to Charleston shopping and restaurants is a big plus as is Harris Tetter. 

Lots of construction - this is where the hardware store used to be, next to Harris Tetter

However, the WiFi is a bust and the docks can be noisy with rocking by boats speeding by during the day. It does settle down at night but the marina is not for everyone. It also offers free laundry in two dryers and two washers. You may have to dock with the current behind you if no other slips are available and you are unlucky with the tide. It can make for exciting docking.

We were lucky to get a slip where we could dock into the current, 
many times in the past we had to go in with the current behind us.

There are big changes underway at the waterfront by the marina. There's a huge museum nearing completion that now occupies what used to be the green area next to the marina office. On the way to Harris Tetter, there are two more multi-story condo complexes going up, construction is booming in Charleston. 

Our next stop is the anchorage at Awendaw, about 1/2 way to Georgetown. I'll get a chance to try my skills at dead low tide through the Isle of Palms and beyond. It should be interesting but then the whole area was dredged last year so it ought to be okay (does that qualify as "famous last words"?)


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Steamboat Creek - at anchor

 

Oyster Farm!

We had not been here for several years but it's as good as we remember. The octagon gazabo where we used to anchor is still there! Since then, we've moved farther into the creek to anchor off the dinghy dock, convenient for Hoolie shore excursions. 

The dinghy dock is perfect for Hoolie relief

On the way in, we passed by the new oyster farm near the entrance. The cages are not in the channel and easily passed by. They do not occupy the usual anchorage areas. The creek is deep (30 feet) opposite the dinghy dock but we don't care, we just lay out more scope, no problem. 

Serenity at anchor

The wind was blowing 20 kts when we arrived but has since calmed to 10 kts or less. There's very little traffic in the creek, very calm. We will head for Charleston on Monday and shop at Harris Tetter which is within walking distance of the Charleston Maritime Center where we have a dock reserved. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Beaufort SC - M/V Scout flies Bob423 burgee and we have Scott and Cathy over for dinner on Fleetwing

 

Scott and Cathy - an afternoon on Fleetwing

We had friends that relocated to South Carolina that came by to visit today. All the local restaurants were fully booked, perhaps due to the local school prom or the Kentucky Derby? At any rate, we had the best view on the waterfront anyway so we had dinner on Fleetwing with good wine and conversation. 

Their backyard, nice and quiet

Ann did her usual magic with pork tenderloin and Scott brought a salad and appetizer along with two bottles of very good wine, very nice. They are having a house built and on our next trip south, we hope to see it completed.

Don't you think it balances out the boat well!

M/V Scott hoisted the Bob423 burgee today and it nicely balances the AGLCA burgee on the other side. I hope to recruit more captains for surveying the ICW. We leave on Sunday to continue our northward trek, stopping in Steamboat Creek anchorage tomorrow. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Beaufort SC - at a city dock and we meet up with M/V Scout

 

Carriage ride through the historic section of town

It was a short trip today to Beaufort, SC from Windmill Harbour. It helped that the tide was coming in with a vengeance for most of the way. The north may be still getting winter weather but down here it's summertime! 

Many early houses in town from the plantation owners of a past era

I ran into one of my Bob423 Surveyors today, M/V Scout! He had earned a Bob423 burgee but this was my first opportunity to give him his. He surveyed the Angelfish Creek Cut in the Keys for 4.5 MLLW. We then walked into town and we learned that the town had just stopped the requirement for masks while outside, only a very few people were wearing them. Strangely, at the marina here, they have forbidden any gatherings on boats of more than three people, citing South Carolina guidelines. We're having friends over for dinner on Saturday night so we'll see how that goes. 

Nice dinghy dock for those that chose to anchor out

The marina appears in good shape. There's a dinghy dock at the south end for those in the anchorage and there's WiFi at the marina, although not very good. We will be here through Saturday and leave Sunday morning for the Steamboat Springs anchorage before moving to Charleston the next day. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Windmill Harbor Marina - Last day, a Blue Herron nest, and lunch at Hudson's Seafood

 

Hudson's Seafood - great place right on the ICW!

What better day than to celebrate our last day at Hilton Head with lunch at Hudson's Seafood! The restaurant is right on the ICW and they have docks for smaller boats to tie up for lunch or dinner. They have a huge outdoor dining area but the shade was limited so we chose to eat inside. They serve locally caught fish so I had the flounder sandwich, it was done up just right - excellent. 

Two blue herons in their nest - but where is it?

On the way home, we took Hoolie out for his afternoon walk and discovered a blue heron nest. I never thought a heron nest would be so high up, I envisioned one being near the ground but this one was way out on a limb that didn't look very stable. 

Way up there, can you see it? (out on the middle limb leaning to the left)

I was further surprised when I saw one of the two herons walking around on their tall, thin legs in the nest. They certainly go for heights when they settle in for the mating season. I would think it wouldn't be very stable in a high wind, but then they can fly so they have an out. 

On Friday, we head north again to reach Beaufort, SC, and meet up with friends the next day on Saturday. We are slowly moving north. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Windmill Harbour Marina - quiet day at the dock

All in a row, ready to race!

 I caught up on some Waterway Guide work and Ann enjoyed the excellent weather in the cockpit. There have been a lot of changes in the ICW so I wanted to update many of the hazard alerts so boaters would be warned of the dangers. 

It was a scramble to get out the lock

In the afternoon, we took our usual walk with Hoolie and discovered the regatta that was scheduled for Wednesday evening. They were small sailboats and some seemed to scoot around against all odds against the wind. I later found out that many of the "pure" sailing class boats had a small electric motor for getting out of the harbor. A procession lined up and towed the ones without the electric convenience out to the sailing area. 

Meanwhile, we spent the day on Fleetwing

I don't know who won the average age of the contestants rivaled our age, although I think we still had a leg up in years. We had a luncheon scheduled for Thursday which we're looking forward to. Ted is providing transportation to a place that has an excellent reputation, Hudson's Seafood, we're looking forward to the luncheon!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Windmill Harbour Marina - At a dock, friends, and a dinner at the yacht club

Wine with friends, a perfect way to spend the afternoon!

It was a short run to Windmill Harbour on Hilton Head Island, we arrived by noon. Ted Arisaka, a moderator for ICW Cruising Guide Facebook page, met us at the lock. For those not familiar with Windmill Harbour, the marina sits behind a lock. The level of the water in the marina is level with high tide but when the tide goes out, the lock gates are closed to keep the level of the water in the marina constant. So when you enter, you must lock in to be raised to the level of the marina. 

The front porch of the yacht club was very inviting

The lock system keeps the level constant in the marina and very calm, no currents. All the docks are fixed since there's no tide. We were assigned a dock right next to the South Carolina Yacht Club. During the day, we were visited by Ted and his wife Patty along with Chris who sat in the cockpit (see photo). It was our assignment to finish a bottle of fine northern Italian wine selected by Ted for the occasion. we managed.

We were invited out for dinner at the Yacht Club under the stars which was an experience we would highly recommend. The South Carolina Yacht Club is first-rate, a beautiful building with welcoming members, don't miss dining there if you stop by the marina for the night. 

Due to some rainy weather due, we will be staying here for the next two nights and moving on Friday to Beaufort, SC. Before then, there's a regatta on Wednesday that ought to be interesting, lots of activities going on. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Thunderbolt in Savannah - at a dock

 

Typical boats in for refitting - and these are not the biggest one there

We wanted a short run today and needed to refuel, pump out, and provision. Thunderbolt is very convenient for refueling with its easy to dock at facedock. It's also the home to some very large boats for renovation, larger than anywhere else on the ICW. 

The WiFi did not reach the end of the dock where we were, so we moved
to the picnic area under the WiFi antenna, can't miss our biweekly Zoom with family

Instacart is alive and well and I signed up for a one month membership for the trip north for $9.95. The one thing it has going for it is convenience. Just use their app and order the groceries you want and one of their shoppers will pick it out and deliver it right to the marina. We ordered around noon and had our groceries by 2:00. 

A view of the docks here, all cement, sturdy

Thunderbolt has a courtesy car for use by transients but we had laundry to do and we ran out of time so we used the Instacart service instead. The laundry room has two washers and two dryers that did the job as expected, one of the reasons we stop here. Tuesday morning we expect the usual delivery of Krispy Kreme donuts! During the check in, you're asked if you want donuts in the morning. The donuts are delicious but they are calorie intensive! 

We will head for Windmill Harbour on Tuesday and perhaps stray an extra day, we need to relook at the weather report before deciding for sure.