May 28, 2022
Since the last update Chris, Paul and I have continued to push on, further and further North and tonight we will drop anchor near Belhaven somewhere.
When we left you last, we had just pulled into the ICW near Georgetown and ever since we have been moving on the inside to avoid the bad weather. For those that may be new to the blog (Chris and Paul’s family and friends), this boat was built with bad weather in mind. It is a CE Class A Ocean capable trawler. That means pretty much anything up to a ‘full gale’. And I have taken it through a ‘full gale’, so I can tell you for sure, it keeps you safe. But still it isn’t fun to be in bad weather. So inside we go.
The anchorage I chose on Thursday was picked to keep us very close to the ocean in case we wanted to travel outside on the ocean on Friday. Unfortunately the fishing vessels that went out starting around 4 am on Friday were all planing hulls going 20-30 knots and it was tough to sleep in that. The weather reports were not great and I polled the crew and decided that we should run inside (on the ICW). A lot more work, probably a lot longer, but calm. So we pulled up anchor and started towards Cape Fear.
We ran from Georgetown to Cape Fear River and anchored opposite to Price Creek. The river can run fast in either direction, but our little anchorage is tucked behind a couple of mounds in the river and it was so calm. A very nice change after Thursday night.
Friday morning we were up early to repeat the same. We passed through ‘Snow’s Cut’ very early and at high tide (this is one of the more difficult areas in the ICW) and were on our way North.
The antics on the radio on Friday were exceptional too. We were chastised by a little tug boat that thought we were too close to them (really, they pulled in front of Home Free while going slower. I was close but not that close!) A little bit later, I was hailed by the captain of Alamo. Former owners of a Nordhavn 43, we had a great chat about boats and boating adventures. That little conversation netted us some great insight and fodder for storytelling. First off, they highlighted that we needed to pass through a couple of bridges (I had never been through this section before so I had no idea) and we increased our speed to meet the bridge timing.
The first bridge was the Wrightsville Beach swing bridge, the second Figure Eight swing bridge. At Wrightsville Beach one boater decided to get snippy with the bridge operator. It is a good thing they can’t drop hand grenades on a boater’s deck when they pass through!
[What does snippy sound like in boating? Bridge operators, ‘tenders’ use VHF channel 9 in most places, and so we all turn to channel 9 to talk to the ‘tender’/operator. Many bridges open at set times, such as on the hour, etc. In this case the bridge hadn’t started opening at 8:59:50 (I checked), and so the lead boat, who also had the fastest boat, sniped, “Are you going to open the bridge or what?”. Not cool.]
After making it through Wrightsville Beach Bridge and Figure Eight Island Bridge, we were chatting with Alamo when a storm hit. I often mention crazy weather in my blog posts and this was another example. We were about 1/2 mile behind Alamo and they disappeared into a clould and were hit by rain and wind up to 43 knots. We had rain and 10-12 knots of wind. It was all over within 15 minutes, but it was a little exciting for Alamo at least.
You do get to see a lot of very different things when travelling by boat. Of course none of it is very unusual if you do it often, and some of it is strikingly beautiful. Here are a few unusual sights from Fridays excursion (Chris took the photos).
As the day wore on, it was decided that a Friday night re-fueling was better than Saturday. The tanks were down to 100 gallons (about 1-2 days worth), and we found a marina with ‘good’ diesel prices. We pushed the boat a little bit to arrive at Caspers Marina in Swansboro around 4:30 before they closed at 5. Our plan to pull into the fuel dock was complicated when we found that the winds pushed up to 25 knots and the fuel dock was full of boats staying the night.
In the end we pulled into a slip near to the fuel dock, put on 500 gallons of fuel (about 40% of capacity) and decided to end the day early and stay the night at the slip. We also had the opportunity to meet some other awesome boaters, Tom and Pat on ‘Slip Away’ (with crew Mike and Patty), as well as Steve and Claudia on another Nordhavn 47 (47-25) ‘Ranger’.
My crew also bought me dinner (Thanks guys) and some pain killers. I think they saw the fuel bill and felt guilty, or perhaps it was a reward for me letting them touch land for the first time in a few days.
We are now well underway for our evening’s destination at Belhaven, and have enjoyed amazing weather, the flat seas of the ICW and for me at least, I continue to be lazy while my crew enjoys running the boat.
Early this morning our decision to stay inside was validated when we heard the excitement in the Beaufort inlet. With waves 6-8 feet, even some larger boats were finding it too rough to go out, but more importantly, some poor boater with poor judgement and an 18′ boat was turned upside down in the inlet (that we avoided by staying on the ICW). The radio chatter was exciting as they tried to find the location of the vessel and passengers. The passengers were found after they had been transported to shore, and the boat was discovered upside down about 30 minutes later. The Coast Guard is still warning of the debris field late in the afternoon. Boating and bad decisions don’t go together.
As we moved North, the sun came out and it has stayed out all day which was totally unexpected, but greatly enjoyed. The boat is now safely North of the official hurricane zone line and we are very close to anchoring for the rest of the day and perhaps enjoying an adult beverage.
Here are some pictures!