Greetings from Wrightsville, NC, on the ICW! We have now traveled a ways down the ICW and pulled into the large rectangular anchorage area in Wrightsville. This is now our third time here so it is a familiar area to come to. It is a large anchorage and even though we thought there would be a lot of other boats anchored there are only a few yet. Probably before the end of the day it will fill up more. We’ll see. The wind has been pretty hefty from the east today, directly from our stern all day, and it was interesting anchoring here. There is a strong 2+ knot current coming from the west and with the wind trying to turn the boat because of the 10 – 12 knot east wind we experienced the phenomenon of the boat turning sideways to the current and sideways to the wind. On top of that the anchor chain seemed to go directly under the boat because of where we anchored and now where the boat wants to go because of the current and wind. Strange! But we seem to be holding, so that’s the good thing.
We left Dowry Creek Marina last Friday morning and instead of only going 25 miles to Gale Creek we went an additional 13 miles to Broad Creek which is on the north side of the Neuse River. We were concerned about Tropical Storm Nestor going over top of us in the next couple of days so Broad Creek was a great anchorage to sit out any strong winds. It was reported to be good holding in this creek and well protected from the winds coming from all directions, which is where the wind was predicted to come from as Nestor went overhead. We stayed there three nights and didn’t budge an inch even with wind gusts up to 30 knots. Nestor went over top of us Sunday morning, resulting in strong winds that morning and a lot of rain, but we rode it out well. Saturday morning was quite cold, it got down to 43 degrees, but it warmed up into the high 60’s during day so all was good. We do have a propane Mr. Buddy heater that allows us to take the chill out of the air in the cabin, which is very nice on chilly mornings.
Monday we took up our anchor and headed to Beaufort, NC. We anchored right across the channel from the town docks and had a delightful couple of days there. It rained some on Tuesday during the day but we had a couple of great walks anyway. The history of Beaufort in the buildings, cemeteries and of Black Beard the Pirate is incredible.
Anchored in the channel right next to us was a boat by the name of Saint Roberts that had a young couple traveling with their three boys – the oldest was 5! They have a 49 foot sailboat with a mast height of 68 feet so they can’t travel on the ICW (the tallest fixed bridges are only 65 feet high) so they always have to go outside on the ocean to get to Florida and eventually the Bahamas. We had dinner at the same restaurant they were eating at and it amazed us how much energy those three boys had! We give them credit with traveling with three kids so young on their boat! And we thought Max was a handful!
8:30 Wednesday morning we pulled up our anchor in Beaufort and headed down the ICW once again. We went past Morehead City and then around Bogue Sound. The wind was 12 – 15 knots from the NNE and we were headed sort of west so we happily put out our headsail as there was a 2 – 3 knot current going against us. At times the current was slowing us down to 4.3 knots SOG even though our boat speed was 7.5 knots. Leaving the motor on and putting out the headsail helped tremendously as we were able to get up to at least 6.0 SOG. The gusts of 18 – 20 knots made for a more frenzied ride as the channel was so shallow but we welcomed the extra speed. We have found on the ICW that depending on where the inlets to the ocean are the currents vary quite dramatically. One minute you can be pushing a current and shortly thereafter the current is going with you – all depending on the inlets.
We eventually made it through Camp Le Jeune, the military training camp the ICW goes through. Thankfully Sharon called the day before to make sure there were no live fire exercises going on that day! (If there are, they close down the ICW for a few hours at a time until the exercises are over.) We anchored that evening in Mile Hammock Bay which I think is right on the edge of the military land as we saw lots of military helicopters flying overhead – one was even carrying a Humvee below it suspended by straps.
This morning we left Mile Hammock Bay and had a good trip to Wrightsville. We had to wait for one Swing Bridge and one Bascule Bridge, but other than that it was a pretty straightforward trip. There are numbers of areas of shoaling we have to be careful for, but thankfully Sharon stays on top of those with the updated Aquamaps software on her iPad. There are a couple of particularly skinny and shallow areas we will traverse tomorrow so we hope it all goes well. There is a guy, Bob423, who records his tracks every year up and down the ICW for people to follow and Sharon has been faithful in getting his updates and knowing where he has gone so we can follow. A ton of cruisers rely on Bob423 and he has been a huge help all along the way.
Tomorrow we will be leaving a bit earlier, at 7:00 am, to go about 52 miles to Calabash Creek. This will allow us then to get to Osprey Marina on Saturday where we will be meeting up with friends from the Rally of last year, Tom and Trish. They have kindly allowed us to have some things shipped to their condo in Myrtle Beach, nearby the marina, and we are looking forward to spending some time with them. We might even get a bit of a tour of Myrtle Beach and will definitely go to dinner with them. We will stay at Osprey Marina through Tuesday and then head south again.