Thursday, 18 October 2012

Monday October 14, 2012

Sometimes the hardest part of the day is deciding if we should untie the dock lines or not.  This morning the skies were kind of grey & they were calling for showers & chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  We walked over to Portside Marina & got talking to the owner, Denard Harris.  He gave us a tour of his facilities, remodeled after Hurricane Irene & explained a few things about the ICW to us.  The key thing was the channel markers.  There are 3 different types :  the red & green markers on poles, the red & green markers on poles with lights on them that indicate a turn, & little short stubby ones that indicate there has been shoaling in the channel.  This is something we probably learned in our Power Squadron course, but have long forgotten.  It has become very important as we head south on the ICW.  We finally decided to let go the lines & head down the ICW around 9:00 am.  This part of the ICW is very close to the ocean & is blocked by the Barrier Islands, some of which are below water.  We only travelled as far as Swansboro because of the threat of bad weather & tied up at Dudley’s Marina.  Dave talked to the owner of Dudley’s & asked him if he knew of any shoaling hazards through Camp LeJeune.  He knew of several tugs that drew 10 feet who routinely travelled that area and if he followed the marker buoys, he’d be fine.  

On Tuesday we headed down the ICW towards Camp Le Jeune.  Camp Le Jeune is a marine corp training base that crosses the ICW.  It is known for two is shoaling at the inlets from the ocean & the other is, they sometimes close the ICW in this section when they are doing live fire exercises.  We dodged both these bullets, making it through the shoaling area and picking a day when no live firing exercises were blocking the ICW.   We ended our day in Surf City, NC at a yacht club within walking distance of shopping so we stocked up.  There was also a Dairy Queen so we just had to go for sundaes for dessert!  

On Wednesday our timing was off.  We had to wait for three bridge openings, the third being the worst waiting an hour.  We’ve been noticing different trees in this area on the way down, one is a pine with really long needles (5 to 6 inches long), & the other looks like a giant Bonsai tree, all bent & twisted.  We got a slip at Carolina Beach State Park Marina for the night.  We went for a walk on one of their nature trails & noticed these same type of trees.  Dave asked the park ranger what they were & he explained, the tar from the long needle pine used to be collected (much like our maple syrup) & was used for coating the ropes on ships & tarring the seams on ships.  The tree that looked like a Bonsai tree was called a Live Oak.  These also were used in ship building, the bent & twisted part was used for building strong corners on the ship’s frames.  

Leaving the State Park the next morning we headed down the Cape Fear River.  With the current, the GPS showed we were doing over 8 knots.  This was a lot of fun until we had to make a 90 degree turn across the current into the canal, off the river. This was a bit too exciting, but once we got into the canal, our speed dropped & things calmed down again.   We stopped early with the hope of doing some boat maintenance.    

The next morning we left North Carolina for North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  On the way, we went aground twice near the Little River Inlet.  This area had no indication of shoaling but when we got to the marina, the dockmaster was explaining that because of a new moon, the tides were more extreme than normal (about 2 feet more).  We were close enough to walk to shopping & picked up some oil for an oil change on the engine, got a few groceries & I (Anne) got a hair cut.  Not quite the same as my Port Elgin “summer doo”, but okay.  
Saturday we headed south again, going through what is known as the rock cut.  This 26 mile section is cut out of rock rather than a dug ditch.  This section includes Myrtle Beach where we saw lots of golf courses & lots of really tacky looking mansions and condos.  This stretch of canal turns into the Waccamaw River, a very scenic section of the ICW.  It is a Cypress swamp where the trees grow out into the canal and are draped in moss.  We stayed the night at Osprey Marina which was recommended by another boater we had met, a great spot - friendly, helpful, quiet and bug free.  
Sunday we continued our scenic trip down the Waccamaw River.  We blew a fan belt on the engine and it was so quiet and remote here, we were able to drop the anchor in mid channel and change it right there.  That night we anchored in a nice looking anchorage in Minim Creek.  It only looked nice until dusk, then the mosquitoes arrived.  They were so small they were able to go through the screens on our portholes & hatches!  We had to close up all the portholes & hatches, & spent the rest of the evening swatting mosquitoes.  
Barrier island along the ICW near Morehead City, NC

Live Oak Trees, they look like full size Bonsai trees as you travel down ICW

Time 2 Go at Osprey Marina really nice marina  in  a Cypress  swamp

Typical view as you travel the ICW in South Carolina 

South Carolina School Boat

Scenery along the Wacamaw River  
We had these clouds all around us and managed to miss the storm 

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