Welcome to November! I don’t know how the Fall season has been by you, but it certainly has been different for us on Adventures Await! In Michigan we are used to it getting colder, pulling the boat out of the water for the winter, wrapping the tarp over her and then having to start raking leaves at home. It has been a bit chillier for us lately but probably nothing like it has been back home. And we certainly aren’t going to pull the boat out of the water for winter as we get to continue traveling south on her! This past Tuesday marked a milestone where we passed the 2000 mile mark on our adventure! We thought that was a big deal and are excited about continuing on instead of wrapping her up with the winter tarp.
We absolutely loved Beaufort, NC! We ended up staying three nights there as the day we were going to leave turned out to be very nasty with high winds, rain and quite a chop out on the water. So we had an extra day to relax and enjoy the town. It is not a big town by any means, but is very cozy and quite historical. Many of the buildings and homes have placards on them that designate they were built in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. One evening we also attended a presentation at the Maritime Museum by a noted historian and author from Scotland on Blackbeard the Pirate and his plundering. It was very informative and fascinating! Blackbeard is particularly pertinent to this area as his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sank nearby.
It also seemed to us that Beaufort seemed to be the beginning of the South for us. It’s hard to totally put that into words, but the atmosphere and environment was now so totally different from what we have been used to that it felt like we were now getting South. Does that make sense? People really do speak with a southern drawl, and the town was just so laid back and comfortable that it felt like somewhere different for us. It also probably hit us a bit more as the ocean was just over the island off to the east of us and from here we would certainly be traveling much closer to it. We were on the Atlantic south of New York City, but it just felt different here. Still not totally sure, but the whole trip is to get south, and here it just felt more like the South.
We did leave Beaufort after our third night without hitting any other boats or damaging ours. We had to back out of our slip straight into a 15 knot wind coming at our stern, and directly into a 2 knot current which was trying to push us back into the slip. Try that once! I knew just trying to power out and turn to starboard (to the right going backwards) wouldn’t work as our port walk would be trying to pull us to the left – toward other boats. Thankfully the dock mastery, who looked like he had been there forever, helped us and along with two other dock hands they worked magic on three spring lines as we backed out and we ended up looking like pros! Whew!
Into the ICW we went again and had our first taste of the current of an ocean inlet. Yikes! It initially felt like we were headed out to the ocean and then had to make a starboard (right) turn, and as we approached the turn the chop and turbulence in the water was incredible. We also went from pushing into a 1.5 knot current to having a 2.5 knot current pushing us from behind. We went from about 5.8 knots up to 9.2 knots per hour in a matter of minutes. All while trying to keep the boat going in a straight line instead of slewing all over. Amazing! We certainly don’t have those issues leaving or entering Muskegon Channel back home!
We left Beaufort on Sunday, Oct. 28, and reached our destination of Swansboro, NC about 1:30 that afternoon. We anchored with no difficulty and then watched something happen we have never seen before. Even though we were just off the ICW proper and in another river area, there was a 2 knot current coming from the river out of the NE. This was good in that it kept the bow of our boat turned into the current. However, there was a 10 – 15 knot wind coming from the West – from the stern of the boat. It wasn’t enough to turn the boat, but it felt weird sitting in the boat at anchor with the boat anchored one way and the wind coming from the back of the boat. It just didn’t seem like it could even do that, but I guess with a current like that it certainly can. Just as it did in New York, it made getting back onto our boat from the dinghy a challenge after being ashore!
I don’t want to belabor this current thing, but it was amazing to watch what happened that afternoon and then during the night. We gathered as a group on shore to talk about the next couple of days and we sat and watched most of the anchored boats absolutely swing all over on their anchors. We were on a second floor of a clubhouse and I stood there helpless while our boat did a complete 360 degree turn on our anchor and then continue to “dance” around. I knew we had set the anchor well, but I was doing some serious praying that she would not come free and head off on her own! One other boat, which I think was anchored too close to ours, did start dragging her anchor. Her owners did go out to retrieve her, but only after hitting another boat down current of her. Of our group, there were probably about 9 of the 18 boats were out there anchored, and they all were swinging around like crazy. Had never seen anything like that before
About 2:30 am the next morning I woke up to hear the wind had picked up dramatically. I poked my head into the cockpit and saw one of the catamarans in our group desperately trying to re-set their anchor – in the dark, in the howling wind, against the current, all while being quite cold. I also saw another boat near us doing the “dancing” on her anchor and swinging around coming a lot closer than I liked to our boat. She never hit us, but it sure was spooky. All while watching our boat doing the “dance” as well. Finally, about 4:00 am the wind had started to die down a lot and I actually was able to get back to sleep – all while thanking the holding ability of our Rocna anchor.
We left Swansboro (good riddance!) at 7:00 am that morning, Monday, Oct. 29, and headed to Wrightsville, NC. We had almost 50 nautical miles to go and had to go through four lift bridges which had to all be timed in order to not arrive too early. The reason it was so important to not get to a lift bridge too early on the ICW is the current can be so strong, depending on the tide and your timing, and the channel you are un us so narrow that it doesn’t allow much room to circle around to wait. So we would time it to be almost ¾ of a mile away and then slow the boat down and put in neutral. This usually meant we were going anywhere from 1 to 1.5 to 2 knots in boat speed and we would creep up to the bridge and then go through without having to circle. It really worked out great that day and it all went well. A number of our group’s boats did end up grounding in sand, necessitating calls to Boat US for tows, but we only briefly hit once (which this time could hear and feel was gravel and not sand – Yikes!)
We were rewarded that night with a beautiful anchorage in Wrightsville, NC, with even a short walk across the barrier island to see the Atlantic!
We only had a short distance the next day, Tuesday, Oct. 30, to go to Southport, NC, and it went off without a hitch. We did pass even more ocean inlets and even entered a major shipping lane in the Cape Fear area, which meant the currents were once again very strong, but it all went well. We are getting good at watching the turbulence of the water ahead and anticipating how it may slew the boat around and trying to then steer “ahead” to not have us end up sideways!
We woke Wednesday morning only to realize your shore power connector totally shorted out and melted. It’s probably not good to have that happen on your boat as it could start a fire, I suppose, but we only had melted plastic and no fire. Thank goodness! And to be fair, I kind of knew that connector was a bit iffy, so I had brought a spare connector along which I used to replace the melted one. We also realized, because it was chilly, that our reverse osmosis onboard furnace, which is actually part of our air conditioner, doesn’t seem to be working and cranking out heat. So, I’ll have to figure that one out at some point too.
We did some other projects during the day on Wednesday and got together with our Rally group for a Halloween Potluck up by the pool. There really are some fun people in our group and we had a lot of laughs, especially with the glow-in-the-dark fangs someone bought for all of us. Too much fun watching a bunch of old people like us playing with fangs!
To end this update, we took off about 7:45 am this morning and are now in a lovely marina in the Myrtle Beach area. This also means we are now in South Carolina instead of North Carolina. We went just over 46 nautical miles today and only had one tricky area we had to maneuver around. Shoaling is a very real issue on the ICW so we had to be very careful both with shallow depths and with crazy currents around the inlets from the ocean.
I’ll end this now as I see I am writing maybe way too much again. But the ICW is definitely getting busier with more boats and we are seeing way more homes and condos along the edge – most of them look huge and very expensive. We are also seeing a lot more palm trees. In my thinking, that’s how you know when you are getting South!