We left St Augustine yesterday morning as soon as the fog lifted, which was around 8:30. We got the Bridge of Lions opening and continued south with a fair current. By 3:30 we were anchored by the Memorial Bridge in Daytona listening to the high rev engines over at the speedway. The 24 hour classic is Saturday and night practice was Thursday. We awoke to more fog, but light enough to depart at sunrise. Our goal was to get to to the NASA Causeway bridge at Canavaral before the closed it for the evening rush. We made it with over an hour to spare. We anchored at Cocoa and went in to town for dinner. The sleepy, funky village is now built up a bit more which I guess is good for the economy but a bit disappointing. Had dinner at the bar overlooking the anchorage. Beer and sandwiches, all we needed. Lows tonight are forecast in the 70’s, but the weather is taking a turn for the worse next week. It’s been so good that it’s hard to complain. Tomorrow Vero!
We left the dock in Besufort around nine, raised the sail and motor sailed out the Port Royal Sound passing Paris Island. After we got to the ocean the winds filled and we killed the engine. The winds built to about 20G24 so we put in a reef and carried on at 7+ knots. We sailed all night enjoying the lack of engine noise. Just after sunrise the winds died and the engine was back on. We had never been into the inlet but with 3′ swells from the NE it was a piece of cake. All of the markers were in the right place, tide was near slack high and the fog was lifting. We called the Municipal Marina and they assigned us a mooring by the old Spanish fort. Being Veterans Day we were treated to a parade while sitting in the cockpit. Went ashore to visit and have lunch then back aboard for Tina to nap. A very nice ocean run bypassing all of the Georgia shallow spots.
After spending a few days in Charleston enjoying the sights and food we moved on down towards Beufort,SC. The waterway is beautiful down here and very desolate, only marshes for miles. We are anchored for the night waiting for a front to come in with wind and rains. Glad we have a good heavy anchor and lots of chain.
The front arrived about 4AM and blew 28 gusting to 36knots, about 40 mph gusts. Boat seemed to stay put, but it woke us up for a few hours. Winds are back below 20 so we will pull up the anchor and head off soon for a slip in Beaufort where we can refuel, do laundry and celebrate Tina’s birthday.
After 2 more travel days, one in the ditch and one in the ocean, we arrived in Charleston Harbor. We made a quick pass by Ft Sumpter and then found our slip at the Mega Dock. We are having drinks and then out to dinner with friends. More later.
After Wrightsville Beach we moved on to Southport, one of our favorite small towns. It is located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. First we went to lunch at Fishy Fishy and sat out in the heat.
We always call our friends David and Pat who live in the area when we know when we might get there to see if we can do something together. As luck would have it they were around and came down to the boat for a glass of wine and then we were off to Mr P’s for dinner. Great food and great company! This morning we left for Grand Dunes Marina in Myrtle Beach. The swing bridge after the Marina is broken so the marina is swamped and they lost our reservation. Ultimately they found space for us so here we are waiting for the rain to stop.
Today was a short 45 miles, but 3 opening bridges and 3 areas that have shoaled in. Shoaling on the ICW is always interesting. There are many places that have silted in or where currents have piled up sand, all invisibly below the surface. This means you can be chugging along in 15 foot deep water and then hit a pile of sand 3 feet below the surface. Merlin is a relatively deep draft boat and needs 6.5 feet of water. The controlling depth oft he ICW is 8-10 feet, so 6.5 foot draft should be no problem,….right? Well yesterday 4 boats got stuck at the same place and time at one of these areas. We made it through be leaving the marked channel and going thru what should have been shallower water. We knew to try this from comments other boaters have left on a boaters website called active captain, a real help to us. Here is the comment and screenshot of our chart that got us thru without getting stuck
The currents here run to 2 knots and tides are about 5 feet, just to confuse things. Anyway these tools are great. Then there are the bridges. Our mast is about 60 feet tall so we need to wait for low bridges to open. 2 of the bridges open only on the hour, and the other one opened on the hour and half hour, so we time our approaches carefully. But with currents that can help or hurt your speed by 30% this can be a challenge. Couple that with arriving at the bridge early with 15 other boats and a current trying to push you into the bridge, it can get really interesting. But we made it and dropped anchor at Wrightsville Beach and went ashore for a beach walk.
We left early this morning to take advantage of lighter current in the marina and a rising tide for most of the day. There was one area where many boats ran aground, but we followed advice on Active Captain and left the channel and went closer to shore to the north and had no problem. There are 25 boats in the harbor here and we had cocktails on one with some folks who have taken their boat around the world twice. It makes us feel like real amateurs. Here is the anchorage at sunset.
We left River Dunes around 8:45 after waiting in the checkout line. Then it was an easy trip down to Morehead City Yacht basin with a little motor sailing. The current at the yacht basin was approaching 2 knots and they assigned us crosswind down current slip a shot way down the fairway. Not the most graceful landing, but we didn’t hit anyone. We took a taxi over to Beaufort and visited their museum and enjoyed their exhibit of artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge; Blackbeard’s ship. Then a stroll on the docks, a bit of shopping and a great dinner at Aqua. Here are a few pix.
It was forecast to rain for a day so we decided to spend 2 nights in one place at River Dunes. It is a marina basin in an upscale development near Oriental. It has very nice facilities and they host buffet dinners for cruisers and residents from the community. There were at least a dozen other cruisers there so we had fun at dinner catching up with those we knew and meeting quite a few new people. It gave us a chance to do laundry and make a run to Walmart. Ed updated all the ham radio email software and modem firmware so now that’s done too! And of course it was time to sign up for another year of weather forecasting from Chris Parker. Today is sunny, clear and in the 70’s. The warm weather continues without any complaint from us.
We left Coinjock around 0730 headed for the South end of the Alligator River. The Albemarle Sound was very quiet and we made good time not even slowing down for the Alligator River Swing Bridge opening. The wind built to 15 out of the north so we unfurled the jib and motorsailed to the mouth of the Pungo Canal and decided to push on for the motor thru the Canal. We anchored about an hour after sunset just off the ICW in 10 feet of water. Other than Ed’s cold peaking we spent a nice quiet night in 15 knots of breeze. Slept in a bit and departed in 18-22 knots of breeze NNE, so we unfurled the jib and sailed for an hour and a half until we arrived at Belhaven. We have anchored in about 10 feet of water inside their breakwater. We are having dinner with good friends who have moved to Washington, NC at a place called Spoon River. It is a farm to table restaurant that is exceptional and worth stopping for alone. The Sail to the Sun Rally, a guided group of 20 boats is arriving here today, a day ahead of their schedule. We have scheduled our stops to avoid them, but town should be hopping for a couple of days. We will move back ahead of them tomorrow.
We later met a couple of the rally participants and the Waterways Magazine guide on the docks and at dinner. They seem to be having a great time.
Dinner ar Spoon River was fantastic, Ed had yellowfin tuna over jasmine rice with bok choy and Tina had Wahoo. We left the specific wine choices up to the owner and ended up with a very complex Pinot Noir and a good Cab. A very enjoyable evening with Richard and Janet.