July 10th, 2018 – Southport, NC
It was really nice taking a day off from the water in Southport, NC. Southport is the quintessential coastal Carolina town, so much so that they have filmed many movies here including Safe Haven. We ate dinner at Fishy Fishy restaurant which was Ivans in the movie where Julianne Huff, the main character worked as a waitress. Great movie if you haven’t seen it.
Robert Creech, a long time local and the AGLCA Harbor Host, stopped by our boat and invited us and Blue Sky to his home for a chart briefing before we headed out for dinner. He has lived in Southport since 1972 and has a beautiful home overlooking the waterway and Bald Head Island. He and his wife Kay have completed the loop and now they leave every year after Christmas on their 43′ Jefferson named C-Life to winter in Ft. Myers. We look forward to hosting them upon their arrival this year. Robert is a wealth of knowledge and answered our many questions. He also gave us a briefing pack with recommended marinas along the ICW and his own thoughts about where to leave the boat for the winter. Kay gave us a Directional Bouy Reference Indicator. You see, the buoys change sides based on the circumstances. I always thought Red, Right, Return but that isn’t always the case. Smart captains take something small with red on one end and green on the other. They flip it over when leaving the ICW into a main channel as to not confuse the waterways. I missed one in Georgia and promised myself I would make something. Kay took a tongue depressor and painted one end green and the other red. In the middle, she wrote C-Life / Southport, NC. I love having this addition to the helm and have already used it twice today as we entered and departed a main shipping channel. I could have talked to them for hours but dinner plans awaited. When we arrived at the restaurant the parking lot was flooded up to the steps and they were putting makeshift walkways in place. When asked about this, the hostess replied “oh yeah, new moon high tide… happens every month”. These people adapt and the water is part of the fabric of the community. We could live here!
July 11th, 2018 – Harbor Village Marina – Somewhere south of Swansboro, NC
Today was supposed to be a leisurely trip up the waterway with little to no excitement. And, for the most part, that was the case. Immediately after we entered the main Channel leading to Wilmington, we met a LARGE container ship heading in the other direction. The rules of seamanship said I have the right of way…. The Law of Gross Tonnage (and common sense) told me to stay clear and let the big ship do whatever he wanted. Amazing that we all use the same waterways
We proceeded mid channel and were hailed by a 70 foot Motor Yacht asking if I would like a port or starboard pass. This is the way it is supposed to be done but so many times these days large yachts just blow past at cruising speed leaving other boaters to deal with the huge wakes they leave behind. I thanked the vessel and told him to pass on our port and while moving to starboard. The boat was a beautiful new Sea Ray and we all gave the customary wave as they past. About 45 minutes later, we were exiting the channel into Snow Cut that resumed the ICW. We had noticed the Sea Ray had turned around and was heading back in our direction. He turned in behind us heading up the narrow passage for the ICW. I said to Amy “Guess he missed his exit!”. He was too embarrassed to ask for another slow pass so he followed for about 6 miles. I finally hailed him and told him, yet again, to pass on the port side. It was the boaters equivalent to a walk of shame! It’s easy to make mistakes out here.
After that fun, we had another 2 hours of just enjoying the beautiful scenery where the ICW and the beach compete with each other. I noticed we had a bridge coming and the clearance was 18 feet and they only open on the hour. Unfortunately, we had two issues with this situation. 1/ We are 19’2″ high and 2/ It was ten minutes past the hour. We would have to wait 50 minutes before transiting. I called the bridge tender and she said the tide was going down and I had an extra foot in the middle of the bridge. If Amy took the helm and I stepped the mast down from the bridge, I “thought” we could make it under without having to open. The bridge tender offered to go out and spot us saying “y’all go slow in case I gotta waive you off”. Here is what it looked like as we cleared the bridge by a very narrow margin.
I don’t know how much clearance we actually had but I can tell you how much if felt like we had. It felt like I could touch the trucks passing above us.
The rest of the trip was happily uneventful all the way to Harbor Village. This is an out of the way marina that rarely takes transients. We will eat whatever we have left on board and turn in early. Our trip today was just under 40NM and took 5 hours on the dot to complete. Not bad time considering the currents.
Have a great day from… Somewhere in NC!