Sunday, November 23, 2014

A few tough days on the ICW but Bald Head reward

Some people say sailing is long periods of monotonous yet relaxing time interspersed with moments of sheer panic/excitement/ terror. The past two days have been a bit more of the latter. Traveling south from Beaufort after a terrific shrimp and grits dinner at Front Street Island Grill  Within an hour 5 other boats had grounded even with our advance warnings on the radio , so at one point we considered creating our own marina right in the middle of the channel as several boats anchored waiting for the tide to rise further. We have frequently run across several instances of super low tides but this was the first we witnessed such drastic difficulties in the marketed channel. Most waited an hour until the tide rose a bit but since we were a bit more entrenched in about 3 ft of water, even the rising tide wasn’t going to be enough so we had to call for a tow – our first ever. 
we traversed numerous areas of significant shoaling, and as we approached Browns Inlet just a mile south of Onslow bridge, marker 61 we saw a sailboat apparently aground near the right bank with a trawler going back and forth along the bank apparently trying to assist. We saw the red marker, but a second temporary green was hidden by the sailboat so we tried to pass on the ocean side and went aground hard. This was one of the more unusually narrow turns as these markers were but 30 ft from the right bank and only 50 ft between them so apparently what was need was a quick zig zag through the only relatively 5 ft deep water.

 Three hours later than planned and as the sun was again setting for a cold night we docked at Swans Marina in New River, and then because of that days misadventure the next day was more stressful than warranted, as every time we got into an area of less than 8 ft we slowed to less than 4 mph (we had hit the day before at full speed and bounced 3 times), so the planned 64 mile long day seemed even longer. However, the other lucky side of the day was that we caught every one of the bridges that only open on the hour or half hour along Wrightsville and Bogue Sound in perfect timing, only because wind and ebb tide were at our back even reaching 12 mph at one point. And the reward was that we were able to make it in one day, thus spend 2 nights, at one of our favorite places – Bald Head Island, Cape Fear just off from Southport.
We love being here and having a fairly relaxing Sunday but miss the fact that our good friends Ann and Gary don’t live here anymore so we aren’t sharing this part of the trip with them. Good appetizers at MOJOs and back this afternoon to catch up on some football.

 Tomorrow more shoal areas that are some of the more difficult but we should be able to get there at relatively slack tide on the high side (it has been difficult to time exactly since there are so many areas of shoaling and so few daylight hours, so we can’t leave until at best 6:30am and currently much of the time high is 8-9a and low around 3p so just depends on where they are in our day’s plan). We are both beginning to see the advantages of heading out to sea but with just two of us a little bit more difficult an option to go 150 miles at a time. Still having fun but it is stressful and wearing more times than we had anticipated, and the cold weather hasn’t helped our spirits. Today a bit warmer but raining, same tomorrow and Tuesday.

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