Friday, November 8, 2013 – We owe a special thanks to the bridge tenders in North Carolina. In each of three cases of low clearance swing bridges we were a bit behind schedule and would have had to stand by for a half to a full hour to wait for the next opening. The friendly tenders gave us that few extra minutes we needed to make the scheduled opening, and did so cheerfully!
The several days from Oriental to our current location at the Carolina Beach State Park Marina provided pleasant scenery along the coastal dunes. We saw our first sailboat aground (Spooner Creek) – well off the waterway, and two others (Trawlers) at the entrance to Top Sail Sound where we anchored. All three clearly missed the well-marked channel.
The adjacent waters are shallow… we saw this fellow walking his skiff across one of the flats.
We stopped briefly at Wrightsville Marina for fuel and a pump out. We made good time to the top of Cape Fear river, though side currents pushed us at each inlet we passed, and the current direction changed, so first we’re making 6-7mph then down to 4-5. Makes it hard to estimated arrival times.
Stuck. Good thing the Carolina Beach Park Marina is inexpensive and very nice – and well protected. We stopped here in order to time the run down the Cape Fear River which often has strong tidal currents and rough conditions. Winds we’re picking up and we missed the outgoing tide. Good thing.
We arrived here Wednesday afternoon after a pleasant day. Overnight the winds increased to 15-20 with gusts to 30 – and have stayed there till today (Friday). Forecast may let us out of here tomorrow with diminished winds. Meanwhile, we walked the three mile round trip to the grocery store, and did a load of laundry here at the marina.
We’re luckier than some. We monitored one Coast Guard rescue on the VHF of a swamped sailboat off the NC coast, and read reports today about four others rescues. Winds near or above gale force, especially off the coast, have taken their toll. My friend, Mark Doyle (author of the Waterway guides), is here at the marina with us. He just called to say that folks in Southport advised us to stay put. Conditions at the mouth of the Cape Fear are distinctly unpleasant. So, another day to relax and do minor chores.
Tomorrow is another day, and the forecast promises lighter winds and a safer time to make our next run to a protected anchorage just beyond Southport.