May 1 to May 7, 2011

May 1, 2011 Dock Holidays Marina, Myrtle Beach to Carolina Beach anchorage

Happy May Day! Bob got up to do some trip planning this morning while Auggie and I caught a few more ZZZs. We got up later and got things ready to leave. The boat was totally drenched in dew so Bob took the opportunity to wash down the boat from the salt. There was a fog over the water as the sun came up.

 
 
It was a cool morning of 54 degrees and the temps the last two days have been in the low 70’s. Perfect! The AICW traffic heading north started about 7 AM with quite a few boats getting an early start. It’s Sunday and you know what that means! The weekend crazies will be out in full force, so we wanted to get an early start too. The dockhand, Matt, came down to help us throw off our lines and by 8:30 we were on our way. It was a nice place with friendly people. Within a 1/4 mile of Dock Holiday’s we came to our first bridge of the day. The bridge tender was kind enough to wait and hold open the swing bridge for us after the sailboat ahead of us went through. I read that that bridge separates the saltwater from the freshwater. Hmmm. Most of the houses along the way were very tastefully done. This one, not so much!

 
 
Farther down the channel, we came to a lighthouse at the entrance to Lightkeeper’s Marina. You know how I love lighthouses!

 
 
Near Cricket Cove Marina, just down the way, we discovered 2 beached boats.

 
 
 
 
Both of them looked like they had been there awhile. Surprisingly, we passed 2 casino boats docked at BW’s Marina. One was the Big M from Ft. Myers Beach and the other was the Aquasino from Miami.

 
 
We left the Little River area of housing developments and motored into the country. It wasn’t long before we crossed the border from SC to NC and the houses began again. There was no cool little sign that said “Welcome to North Carolina”, but our chart and guide book told us we were there.

 
 
The Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge was removed and a highrise bridge took its place. It was one of the last two remaining pontoon bridges on the AICW. Now, I guess, there’s only one. At Holden Beach the homes were lined up on the beach.

 
 
The tide was going out at the Lockwoods Folly Inlet, so many shell pickers were walking the beach.

 
 
Some kids and their dog were playing on the sand dune, sliding down the mound of sand.

 
 
The scenery improved with lots of homes on the shore and boats on the move to keep our interest. A jet ski with two people aboard passed us all fully rigged for fishing – an arch set up with 6 rod holders and rods. Bob says that he read that this is a hot new way to fish.

 
 
Southport Marina appeared as we approached Cape Fear River Inlet.

 
 
We’ll put Southport on our list of possible stops on the way back.

 
 
We entered the Cape Fear River and headed north. The current against us was strong – 4 knots. We should have been going 10 mph, but we could only do 6 mph against the current. We were traveling at cruise speed in the river, when who should we see but the sailboat that was grounded in the “Rock Pile” the other day. It was good to see that he was floating again.

 
 
We pulled into Deep Point Marina for cheap fuel at 1:00 and we were on our way again at 2:00. This is the ferry terminal for Bald Head Island – where there are no vehicles allowed on the island and the beaches go on forever, or so I hear. Another stop for the way home. The dockmaster, Jeff, was very friendly and gave us the Boat US discount besides. What a deal!

 
 
We passed the Army’s Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point – the largest ammunitions port in the US. The “Danger Restricted Area” brought it to our attention. The AICW took us through another narrow ditch called “Snow’s Cut” for 2 miles to our anchorage at Carolina Beach. It must be called “Snow’s Cut” because of the white sand banks lining both shores.

 
 
Wouldn’t you know! We got behind a tugboat pulling huge pipes with another tug directing them from the back.

 
 
Trying to get past the tugs in this narrow, SHALLOW waterway was very intense!! We let another boat go first and then we followed with 2 more boats behind us. It was a nail biter to be sure! We got through it!

 
 
We turned off the AICW in the bight at Carolina Beach and anchored at 3:00. We had gone 54.2 miles today. It was an action-packed day and it was time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the beautiful Sunday afternoon. The anchorage was perfect – no current, no boat wakes, little wind.

 
 
The three of us took a ride and found the dinghy dock at the end of the bight where you can tie up for up to 3 hours. We walked over to the beach, but the wind was very chilly off the water, so we looked, but didn’t stay long.

 
 
 
 
We walked to the main drag in town and discovered a bike rally with a band playing at the Tangerine Grill.

 
 
On the way back, we found some interesting boat names: It’s All G (It’s all good.) and Fishfull Thinking.

 
 
 
 
I spotted a sea turtle near the boat while we relaxed before dinner. It was so quiet and peaceful. It makes you wonder why more people don’t come in here. The temp dropped as the sun went down. We might need to put an extra blanket on tonight!

 
 
May 2, 2011 Carolina Beach anchorage to Wrightsville Beach anchorage

It was a restful night and we woke early to clear skies and calm winds. We pulled anchor at 8:30 and made the short 14.3 mile drive to Wrightsville Beach. There was a little boat traffic this morning, but nothing compared to yesterday. I’ve been meaning to tell anyone (who’s interested) that I got 3 great responses from people about my question concerning “roanoke”. I have continued to encounter references to “roanoke” in the book, Chesapeake, that I’m reading and this information has proved to clarify things for me immensely. I’ll share it with you here, in case you’re interested, in how “roanoke” was used in the history of our country and in the Chesapeake area in particular.

Indian Money Their Money is of different sorts, but all made of Shells, which are found on the Coast of Carolina, which are very large and hard, so that they are very difficult to cut. Some English Smiths have try’d to drill this sort of Shell-Money, and thereby thought to get an Advantage; but it prov’d so hard, that nothing could be gain’d. They often times make, of this Shell, a sort of Gorge, which they wear about their Neck in a string; so it hangs on their Collar, whereon sometimes is engraven a Cross, or some odd sort of Figure, which comes next in their Fancy. There are other sorts valued at a Doe-Skin, yet the Gorges will sometimes sell for three or four Buck-Skins ready drest. There be others, that eight of them go readily for a Doe Skin; but the general and current Species of all the Indians in Carolina, and, I believe, all over the Continent, as far as the Bay of Mexico, is that which we call Peak, and Ronoak; but Peak more especially. This is that which at New-York, they call Wanspum, and have used it as current Money amongst the Inhabitants for a great many Years. This is what many Writers call Porcelain, and is made at New-York in great Quantities, and with us in some measure. Five Cubits of this purchase a dress’d Doe-Skin, and seven or eight purchase a dress’d Buck-Skin. An English-man could not afford to make so much of this Wampum for five or ten times the Value; for it is made out of a vast great Shell, of which that Country affords Plenty; where it is ground smaller than the small End of a Tobacco-Pipe, or a large Wheat-Straw. Four or five of these make an Inch, and every one is to be drill’d through, and made as smooth as Glass, and so strung, as Beds are, and a Cubit of the Indian Measure contains as much in Length, as will reach from the Elbow to the End of the little Finger. They never stand to question, whether it is a tall Man, or a short one, that measures it; but if this Wampum Peak be black or purple, as some Part of that Shell is, then it is twice the Value. This the Indians grind on Stones and other things, till they make it current, but the Drilling is the most difficult to the English-men, which the Indians manage with a Nail stuck in a Cane or Reed. Thus they roll it continually on their Thighs, with their Right-hand, holding the Bit of Shell with their Left, so in time they drill a Hole quite through it, which is a very tedious Work; but especially in making their Ronoak, four of which will scarce make one Length of Wampum. The Indians are a People that never value their time, so that they can afford to make them, and never need to fear the English will take the Trade out of their Hands. This is the Money with which you may buy Skins, Furs, Slaves, or any thing the Indians have; it being the Mammon (as our Money is to us) that entices and persuades them to do any thing, and part with every thing they possess, except their Children for Slaves. As for their Wives, they are often sold, and their Daughters violated for it. With this they buy off Murders; and whatsoever a Man can do that is ill, this Wampum will quit him of, and make him, in their Opinion, good and virtuous, though never so black before.

Thanks to those who did the research for me! We entered the Wrightsville Beach area and followed the marked channel to the east and the beach which led us to our anchorage for the night. We picked our spot and dropped anchor at 10:20.

 
 
We did some trip planning before lunch in preparation of a cold front with rain and winds moving in on Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning. After lunch we took Auggie to shore to stretch his legs and brought him back to the boat for a nap.

 
 
Bob and I then took the dinghy back to shore to check out the area.

 
 
We strolled along the beach towards the Johnny Mercer Fishing Pier watching the surfers and beachgoers, like this patriotic lad.

 
 
(Maybe he was celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden). Notice the three cases of beer that they are carrying. The ocean temperature at 75 degrees was refreshing and had to get my feet wet.

 
 
We walked across the bridge to the post office and headed back to the dinghy. We rode to the other end of Banks Channel to check out the other anchorage. We were back at the boat by 2:30 and ready to relax. The afternoon entertainment was to watch two new boats come in to anchor. Bob gave one the “evil eye” when he anchored a little too close to us. We had an early dinner and dinghied to shore for some custard at the nearby ice cream shop. Auggie got to go along for his last walk of the evening.

May 3, 2011 Wrightsville Beach to Dudley’s Marina, Swansboro, NC

The wind calmed down overnight and we got a restful sleep. We had to make some decisions about where to go for the next two days based on the weather forecast. We pulled up anchor at 8:00 after spending the night with 12 other boats in the anchorage. Today we would need to time our arrival at two swing bridges. We are lucky, in that, our profile is low enough that we can get under most bridges (18′). Sometimes we can even do better if we take our antennas down (14.5′), but the clearance of the two swing bridges is 12′. Not many cruising boats can get under that. With our other boat, the 46′ Ocean Sportfish, we definitely would have had more height issues. We arrived in time to make the 10:00 opening of the bridge with 4 other boats. We passed 2 guys who had loaded up their surfboards and were paddling their way to somewhere distant. Bob said they looked like they hadn’t shaved for months. How adventurous!

 
 
As we neared New River Inlet, we passed this house that really wanted to be noticed!

 
 
The tide must have really been up to put this palm tree and straw umbrella in the water.

 
 
Bob keeps asking “When are we going to start heading north? We’ve been going east for days!” We passed some Marines in 7 amphibious assault vehicles practicing their amphibious landings from Camp Lejeune. They looked like they were waiting for the word to cross the river.

 
 
Farther along, we came upon their camp and had their military helicopter traveling above us.

 
 
The next five miles was part of a restricted area that the Marines use as part of their firing range. We saw 3 armored personnel carriers that had obviously been used as target practice.

 
 
This sign would warn you when the AICW was closed because of live firing practice. That would have been cool to see…..and hear.

 
 
The color of the water here changed to a pretty aqua blue. We had a partly cloudy sky with temps in the low 80’s. The wind was starting to pick up and we decided to spend the night, and maybe tomorrow, at Dudley’s Marina. It all depends on the weather tomorrow. We arrived at Dudley’s Marina at 1:45 and got tied up with the help of 3 dockhands because of the wind. The price was right!

 
 
The place was busy with lots of boats arriving all at once. Everyone at the marina was friendly and helpful. We hoped to sit out the weather, if it materializes. Other boaters must have the same idea. The marina filled up quickly. After we got all situated in the slip, Auggie and I took a walk. He was very anxious to get off the boat. We checked in at the office, looked around a little, and borrowed the courtesy car to check out the town. We would have ridden our bikes or walked, but Bob sprained his back a little and thought that it would be a little too much for him. Swansboro is known as the “Friendly City by the Sea” and the historic district of Swansboro was just a 1/2 mile from the marina over the bridge. The majority of homes in the downtown area are marked with historic plaques, many from the turn of the century.

 
 
We checked out Casper’s Marina, the small antique shops along Front St., and stopped at Piggly-Wiggly farther out of town for a few items. The town was larger than we thought and had an abundance of restaurants to choose from.

 
 
The wind picked up a little as we relaxed in the back of the boat after our 56 mile ride today. It was an easy ride, not too much to deal with, and interesting scenery, but I feel very tired today and will probably turn in early. Donny asked for more pictures of Auggie in the blog, so here is Auggie doing what Auggie does best. Auggie says “hi”.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
May 4, 2011 Dudley’s Marina, Swansboro, SC

The skies were cloudy and after Bob checked the radar and listened to the weather, we knew the rain was coming. Most of the boats that came in yesterday left this morning. Even the owner of Dudley’s couldn’t understand why they would leave on a day where the weather was not so great. Oh well….everyone has their own reasons. The winds had already picked up by the time we got ready to borrow the courtesy car to go into town to use the laundromat. It took us about 90 minutes to do 4 loads of wash and by the time we got done, a rain shower had just finished. We timed it just right. We got back to the boat before the rain came again and got everything put away. Bob worked on cleaning up the cockpit, while I did some needed inside cleaning. Auggie and I took a walk as the skies darkened to the southwest. Another wave of rain was expected, so we wanted to get our walk in before it did.

 
 
The winds had changed direction and the temperature started to drop. The forecast is for cool temps in the mid 40’s tonight. That’s what a cold front can do. It is expected to be cooler tomorrow (mid 60’s) and warm up to the 80’s towards the weekend. Auggie enjoyed just sitting out in the cockpit watching the boats going by. He does love to be outside and is very curious about everything.

 
 
We caught up on some reading, did some more trip planning to get ourselves to Norfolk, and tried to stay out of the wind. The temps were dropping all afternoon and an occasional dark cloud blew over, but no more rain. The sun did come out, but there was very little boat traffic on the AICW going by today. We’re planning an early departure tomorrow morning, so we’ll get to bed at a reasonable time tonight.

May 5, 2011 Dudley’s Marina, Swansboro to Beaufort anchorage, NC

Brrr! It was chilly last night and got down to 45 degrees. Auggie slept with his sweater on and he was happy to model it for you here.

 
 
We put the heavier quilt on the bed, but still woke up with cold noses. We could have run the heat last night, but we didn’t think we would need it. Auggie whined a little this morning, so we brought him in bed with us and he fell right to sleep. He was shivering a little and his ears felt cold. He warmed right up under the covers.

 
 
We moved quickly this morning, partly because it was chilly and partly because we wanted to top off our gas tanks at the fuel dock at Dudley’s. Gas was pretty cheap and we were told to buy it cheap when the opportunity presented itself. We donned our long sleeve shirts, jeans, fleece, and windbreakers because the wind was really chilly, but we kept on our sandals (without socks) in hopes of seeing warmer temps today. We fueled up and were on our way by 8:45. (Over the past week, we have run across 2 sailboats from Wisconsin. One was from Sister Bay and the other was from Bayfield…both from our original home state. We also estimated that 1/4 of the cruising boats we’ve run across on the trip so far have been from Canada—and the majority of those have been from Montreal. How interesting! I hope it warms up by the time they get home. ) The skies were clear and we were driving into the wind, so the sun coming in through the front windshield made us nice and toasty. We motored slowly east (forever east) until we got to Beaufort Inlet and turned north (finally!) We passed Fort Macon on the Bogue Banks.

 
 
The view out of the Beaufort Inlet to the North Atlantic Ocean was beautiful and looked calm.

 
 
We arrived at the anchorage in front of the downtown area of Beaufort (Bo-fort) at noon after 28.1 miles.

 
 
Beaufort is the third oldest city in North Carolina and is called the “Gateway to the Caribean”. We waited awhile on the boat to make sure the anchor would hold and then we took the dinghy to shore. The town dinghy dock is in front of the old post office building near the gazebo and very convenient to the town. We checked out the town along Front St. Our first stop was the Dock House Restaurant.

 
 
We tried their nachos which were excellent and the first order we couldn’t finish. Our waitress, Crystal, gave Bob a token for a free beer and we were sold on the place.

 
 
After lunch, Bob shared some boating info with a boater and his wife in a Viking Sportfish called Live Wire. He remembered seeing this boat on Lake Michigan over the past few years we boated there. Sure enough, it was the same boat and they were on their second year of doing “the Loop” and wintered the boat here in Beaufort. They were prepping the boat and would be on their way again soon.

 
 
The town has a beautiful boardwalk along the water.

 
 
Of course, every small town has their “General Store”

 
 
Don’t forget the diagonal parking on the main street (Front St.) and the great old buildings.

 
 
The homes along Front St. were as old as 1781. They even had row houses.

 
 
I especially liked this little house set high atop a hill and this large home with beautiful flower gardens.

 
 
 
 
We were headed back to the boat to get Auggie for a dinghy ride when we noticed two wild ponies on Carrot Island, part of the Rachel Carson Preserve, just across from us.

 
 
We picked up Auggie and took a dinghy tour down Taylor Creek along the Beaufort waterfront. If we would have gone all the way down Taylor Creek, we could have gotten a great view of Cape Lookout out to the Atlantic Ocean., but we didn’t. Maybe next time. We then went down Town Creek to check out the other anchorage and marina. The marina there was very nice, with a restaurant and tiki bar.

 
 
Back at the boat, we broke out the cocktails and enjoyed watching all the action in and around town. Boats of all sizes continued to arrive all afternoon. Temps cooled off once the sun went down and we hunkered down in the boat with the heat on. It’s going to be another cool night.

May 6, 2011 Beaufort anchorage to Oriental anchorage, NC

We woke to warmer temps this morning and no DEW! So nice! We didn’t have to wipe down the boat at all. Auggie fell asleep on the setee last night while we were watching TV all wrapped up in his blanket and wearing his sweater, so we added another blanket and decided to let him sleep there.

 
 
It was his first night sleeping outside of his kennel. We went to bed and at sometime during the night, we were awakened when the boat started rolling side-to-side. Someone went by and laid down a HUGE wake. That was all Auggie needed to scare him into jumping off the settee to come looking for us. I heard him and got up, found him in the dark, and brought him into bed with me. There he slept soundly until morning. We pulled anchor at 8:00 and were underway. It was partly cloudy and breezy today, but should warm up to the mid 70’s. The ride was interesting and Auggie got some “Dad time”.

 
 
The crabbers were working the area in Adams Creek. We hadn’t seen them in a long while and the creek was littered with crabpots everywhere.

 
 
We crossed a 3 mile section of the Neuse River heading towards the town of Oriental. It was the largest open water crossing we’ve had in quite some time. We ran a little faster here just to avoid getting covered in salt. The waves were 1-2′ on our port side, with a few whitecaps mixed in. As we neared the city, we found 3’waves, as we surfed our way into the protected harbor. (We learned that the boat does not like a beam sea and doesn’t handle very well.) We checked out the free dock in town and it was already inhabited by 3 sailboats, so we went with plan B… to anchor out in Greens Creek.

 
 
We chose a spot back in the creek in 6 ft. of water, out of the wind and waves. We dropped anchor at 11:00 after a short run of 27.6 miles. This picture was taken from our boat, looking across the anchorage to Oriental just past the bridge.

 
 
We dinghied to town and found the dinghy dock near the Oriental Yacht Club.

 
 
Oriental is the “Sailing Capital of the Carolinas” and a cute little fishing village. It surprised us with some nice shops, restaurants, but 2 small marinas. They would have been difficult for us to get our boat into. We walked along the waterfront and through town, feeling sorry that we would miss the Saturday Farmer’s Market and the Town Yard Sale. From the park on the waterfront, we could see across the Neuse River to the other side.

 
 
The wind was starting to drop off a little as we made our way back through town. Auggie enjoyed his walk along the shore and found lots to sniff.

 
 
We stopped at The Bean, the local hangout, for an ice cream and sat on the front deck there, noting that one of the sailboats had left the free dock, but there was still no room for us.

 
 
There is really only room for 2 good-sized boats and they limit your stay to 48 hours. It’s a nice amenity that the city does for it’s traveling boaters. We would have had a hard time getting our boat to the dock there. Bob noticed a bright green lizard summing himself on a hose as we made our way back to the dinghy and took the short ride back to the boat.

 
 
We were all a little tired after our 2 hour walk around town today. The weather forecast said that we might have some showers later tonight so we’ll prepare for that. Some dark clouds started rolling in, off and on around 3:00, but none of them were threatening or dropped any rain on us.

 
 
We watched a few more boats enter the anchorage for the night. I did some reading while Bob made good use of the binoculars. Later in the afternoon, it started to sprinkle and then around dinnertime it started to rain a little heavier. There was no additional wind, lightning, or thunder so that was good. As darkness fell, the wind completely calmed off and it was so peaceful. We watched a DVD and turned in. As we fell asleep, we could hear the soft rain on the bow above our heads. It didn’t rain long and all was quiet.

May 7, 2011 Oriental anchorage to Belhaven anchorage, NC

It wasn’t that cold last night and it was definitely peaceful, but we woke to heavy fog with the sunrise.

 
 
We were concerned about leaving before the fog lifted because of all the crabpots in the area. Bob wiped down the boat from all the dew and did some checking on his electronic charts. Our destination today was Belhaven. The fog lifted off by 8:30 and we were good to go. The boat was covered in bugs attracted to the anchor light last night. (Note: It has been working flawlessly since Bob repaired it.) We pulled up the anchor which was covered with muck and shells. We motored out into the Neuse River and turned north for about 20 miles. (The Neuse River is considered one of the “meanest” rivers on the AICW because it can really kick up some waves with the right winds.) Today the winds were out of the west so we were protected from the wind as we traveled up the western shoreline. It was an easy ride at 10 mph in the 1′ waves. The sun was shining brightly on the water which made it somewhat difficult to see any crabpots in the water. We took a slight turn to the NW and the wave height increased to 2′ as we took waves on the bow. With the wind direction today, many sailboats were actually sailing on the wide Neuse River. Once we got to Bay River the wind and waves calmed down as we re-entered the protected AICW. Bob spotted a fawn swimming across the river in front of us. We watched him make it safely across.

 
 
We heard on the marine radio that someone had spotted some endangered Right Whales off the coast of North Carolina making their migratory passage. That would be exciting to see. Traveling on Goose Creek towards the Pamlico River, we passed a huge tug pushing a barge. We hadn’t seen one of those in a long time.

 
 
Crossing the 4 miles of the Pamlico River was easy and the wind seemed to have calmed down a bit. We turned up the Pungo River headed for Belhaven. We saw only 1 cruising boat going in our direction today after seeing the same boats day after day. Where did everyone go? We decided to anchor out in Pungo Creek near a sandy beach after a ride today of 49.3 miles. The anchorage was very pretty, surrounded by trees, and very quiet.

 
 
After lunch, we all hopped in the dinghy a took a ride over to Belhaven. Belhaven is protected by a storm barrier, which they built to protect the city after flooding from hurricanes in the 2000’s.

 
 
We found the dinghy dock near the hospital and the Belhaven Marina. It was a small marina and difficult to get into.

 
 
We walked around town and gave Auggie some exercise.

 
 
Bob and Auggie posed for a picture with Crabby the Crabber.

 
 
I checked out Belhaven Memorial Museum/Police Station/Town Hall. Quite a unique old building.

 
 
We saw some nice old homes along the waterfront, but other than that, the town didn’t have too much to offer.

 
 
 
 
We dinghied back and stopped at the Pungo Creek Marina for some outboard gas. It was also a small marina and not big enough for us to dock there, but the people were friendly and they offered some nice services. Then we headed back to the boat to relax. It was a beautiful afternoon. Auggie enjoyed relaxing under the stairs after catching some bugs in the cockpit.

 
 
We had dinner and played with Auggie out in the back before the sun went down.

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