Tag Archives: ICW

Windblown!

Coinjock, NC

Thursday morning we left Morehead City Marina with an overcast sky and a slight wind blowing. We traveled the Adams Creek canal where we saw lots more homes along the ICW like we have through the rest of NC. But according to the guide book we have, these are more middle-class homes then those seen near Wrightsville Beach, or Myrtle Beach.

Middle-class homes

Middle-class homes

It was in this canal that we watched a hawk circle around several times to look for “breakfast”. He skirted the tree line looking for fish hiding out, but was not successful. Eventually he left to the land, probably looking for a field mouse.  Too bad we could not get a picture as it was a beautiful bird with about a 3 ½ foot wing span.

The weather forecast was not bad for the day, but as it progressed we realized that it was going to deteriorate. We successfully navigated through the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound with the wind on our nose and 2 foot chop for about 2 hours, and it was not fun.

Chart Plotter navigating Neuse River

Chart Plotter navigating Neuse River

We love Autopilot

The boat driving itself! We love our Autopilot!

But our experience as sailors helped us to tolerate the discomfort, knowing we were doing 15 knots and would not have to endure it long.

So our original intent was to go to Belhaven, NC, spend the night, and then today go on to Coinjock, taking the “Virginia Cut” route up the ICW instead of the “Dismal Swamp” (more on this below).   But the wind was forecasted to go from 8-10 to 25 knots on the Albemarle Sound (much more open than the Pamlico Sound) by mid-morning. There is also a swing bridge at the end of the Alligator River and just before crossing the sound that closes down if the winds go above 30 knots. So, we made the decision to get through the bridge and stay at an anchorage (South Lake) tucked in from the wind last night, then get up at first light (6:00 am)  this morning and make is across the sound early. And that is exactly what we did.

Last night’s anchorage was about a 1-hour slow drive off the ICW, but it was well worth it. It was protected from the wind out of the North and it was completely desolate. We were the only boat there and did not even have a single boat pass us all night long.  The cruising guide said that on a clear night you can see millions of stars as there is no light pollution, but it was so cloudy all we could see were military helicopters and planes going by.

Entering the anchorage - stormy skies

Entering the anchorage – stormy skies

Check out that shallow water

Route into anchorage

 The most interesting thing in the anchorage is the wooden structure located off our port (left) side. Mark believes it to be a “duck blind” used for hunting waterfowl.  Although there are a lot of birds in the area, we did not see any ducks.

Duck Blind

Duck Blind

We did however encounter numerous crab pots to get in and out of the anchorage area; it was literally like a mine field.  Come to find out, in NC they are allowed to put these pots anywhere as long as they run in a line either North to South, or East to West.  So the trick is to find your way in one of the “lanes” and stay put as long as possible. However, in the ICW it is more important to stay in the channel or you run the risk of running aground. This is not a sport for the faint of heart!

Last night we also had to have the generator run most of the night in order to run the heater. Yes, us Floridians were freezing, despite long pj’s and blankets on the bed.  It was cold!

Temp at Anchorage

Temp at Anchorage

This morning when we crossed the Albemarle Sound, it was only blowing about 10 – 15 knots and we had 2’ of chop. By the time we got to Coinjock (at 9:30 am) it was blowing a good 20kts with gusts to 30. Now as we sit here, it has rained horizontally and we are being bounced around, despite being tied to a dock.  We spoke with a boater who came in around 13:00 hrs (1:00 pm) who clocked 40 knots in the Sound. We DEFINITELY made the right call!

Because of the wind, we will most likely sit here for today and probably tomorrow, then make the last 45 miles to Norfolk on Sunday.

Dismal Swamp vs. Virginia Cut:

There are two routes to take when transiting North Carolina to Virginia on the ICW. Both routes have their pros & cons and we had to decide which way to go.  We chose the Virginia Cut for several reasons. The main reason is that the Dismal Swamp was supposed to host a kayaking event on Saturday and over 200 kayakers are supposed to be in the canal. Since it is already known to be narrow and taking this route requires slow speed (5 knots), timing of several bridge/lock openings, and 6’ depth, we decided it would not be fun.

The Virginia Cut is a little more open and you have to cross Carrituck Sound, but after Pamlico and Albemarle, this should be a non-event.  This part of the ICW also has much more commercial and tug/barge traffic, but they generally run in the evening hours so we should be ok.

Both routes require our first encounter with a lock and we are going to have to time it perfectly as they have restricted openings and have to be coordinated with the bascule bridge opening just after the lock.

To say we are anxious to leave the terrible weather of NC is an understatement. It is cold, rainy and the wind is howling.  We miss the warmth of SC, but not the heat of FL. Now we are anxious to see the predicted improved VA weather.

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ICW sites yesterday & today:

"Leslie will you marry me"

“Leslie will you marry me”

Just the slip? How much for the house?

Just the slip? How much for the house?

Typical ICW barge traffic

Typical ICW barge traffic

Hobucken Coast Guard Station

Hobucken Coast Guard Station

ICW foliage - a different look

ICW foliage – a different look

South Lake Anchorage

South Lake Anchorage

Fresh shrimp dinner

Fresh shrimp dinner

Cleanup after dinner

Corelle – break resistant not proof! Cleanup after dinner!

The Carolinas!

Charleston, SC. To Southport, NC. – Thursday, 4/23/15

Well we have officially entered our 3rd of what will be 22 or 23 states on the Great Loop.

We left Charleston yesterday a little later than planned so Denise could get in a short run before leaving now that she has her shoes (YEAH – thanks Kim). The run included a park near our marina, around the Citadel campus and into their football stadium.

The Citadel Stadium

The Citadel Stadium

Once she got back we untied the lines and headed north to Georgetown, SC.  A small town on the ICW that we knew nothing about, but discovered a little gem.  This is your quintessential small town America with a clock tower (now the rice museum) and old fashioned angled-parking in front of the stores.

Rice Museum and Clock Tower

Rice Museum and Clock Tower

Harborwalk

Harbor Walk

 

The stores are all unique and cute, and we ate dinner at a terrific restaurant (Alfresco Bistro) that gave us leftovers for another meal.  This town also has a waterfront near the marina with restaurants that overlook the small harbor and a very nice boardwalk with two parks that border the beginning and ending of the waterfront. There is a paper processing plant that now does all types of recycling (we think) and works 24/7 – which we could hear going all night long. However, it didn’t stop us from getting a good nights sleep.

Plant near marina

Plant near marina

The marina is first class, with the cleanest bathrooms and friendliest dock master (Larry) we have yet to experience. Great Place!  You should visit this town by car if you get the chance.

Harbor Walk Marina

Harbor Walk Marina

Larry at Harbor Walk Marina

Larry at Harbor Walk Marina

 

 

Today we took the ICW from Georgetown, SC to Southport, NC for a total of 84 nautical miles (nm).  It took a lot longer than normal as there are many “no wake” zones in the upper part of South Carolina, especially around Myrtle Beach, but we were tied up to the dock by  3pm, the boat washed by 5pm, and our showers and drinks in hand by 6 pm.  It was windy and cool, but a second day of pure sunshine!

The motoring up the ICW in South Carolina provided some very diverse scenery.  We started out with typical South Carolina low-country marsh and grassy area. Then we saw trees and it began to look more and more like parts of north Florida, with pine trees and cypress. Finally lots of big homes not unlike Charleston area, or condominiums with private docks.

Passing Golfers

Passing Golfers

But the funniest thing we have yet to see on the ICW was the Waterway Hills Golf Club in Myrtle Beach. The course is built with half the holes on each side of the ICW, and then golfers and their bags use gondola (aerial trams) to cross the ICW. This has got to be a “bucket list” course to play for any golfer!

As we moved from South Carolina to North Carolina, the ICW became more and more populated with houses along the way and each with private docks. Most of these have boat lifts that keep their boat out of the water. However, since a boater is still responsible for their own wake, you must slow down to prevent damage to others property.

NC ICW Houses
NC ICW Houses

 

This slows the journey quite a bit in our go-fast boat, and has Mark clamoring to go off-shore for part of our future trips. Denise keeps reminding him he will get the chance in New Jersey where it is required in order to get to New York.

 

Swing Bridge #1

Swing Bridge #1

We also passed a swing bridge that had to open for us (and other boats) and two small inlets that were quite squirrely to get through due to tidal currents. The second one was the most stressful for Denise who was driving, as there were 3 barges and active dredging going on in a very narrow channel.  Of course our boat handled it well as did the Captain!

As far as the weather goes: well we could not have asked for two better days. It has been cool (in the 60s – low 70s) and we have had cloudless skies of pure blue.  I know the Florida people will find this hard to believe, but we have had to use our heater at night and Denise frequently wears a long-sleeve shirt during the day – it is always cooler on the water.

Other sites we have seen:

Smiley pirate

Smiley pirate

River Cruise Boat

River Cruise Boat

Tomorrow we will stay in Southport for a few hours to experience the town, and then move the boat 22 miles to Wrightsville Beach for a night at anchor. Our plan is to go from there to Morehead City so we can be close to an airport; Denise has to go back to Atlanta Monday – Wednesday next week and Mark will stay on the boat to take care of things there (like laundry, grocery shopping, repairs, etc.).

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We will try to publish an update on Saturday or Sunday.  We hope you are all well and that you have a great weekend.