20 November, 2014
Dock at Morehead City Yacht Club was a “side tie” affair, with current and wind blowing us off. Made “parallel parking” the Girl a challenge, but she was up to it. M.C. is pretty much an overnight for boats on the Intracoastal, as there isn’t a whole lot going on here. We take a quick walk around (what there is of a) town, and grab dinner at the Ruddy Duck. The food is good, and delivered in copious quantities-leftover Jambalaya will feed us another day. The location is good, overlooking a back creek. Looks like it might be a rockin’ place in the summer, during season. Back at the ranch, we ask the dock dudes about getting over to Beaufort, and find out that it’s not a very pedestrian/bike-friendly couple miles. As we want to get over there to visit a museum, and get a glimpse of the wild horses that inhabit some of the barrier islands off Beaufort, many from shipwrecks on this coast ,“White Star” is launched for tomorrow’s expedition. Sunday dawns cloudy, and threatens rain, but what’s a little more water? It’s a five mile trek by sea, but now that we can trust our outboard, no worries. While we’re in Beaufort, we’ll look for a little flip ICW chartbook that the Admiral has been lusting after since seeing another cruiser with it many weeks ago. Our day-long field trip was a total success. Horses on one of the Rachel Carson (remember “Silent Spring”) islands-check. Aforementioned chartbook-check. Beaufort Historic Museum, with a beautifully done video on Edward Teach’s (Blackbeard) life and artifacts recently recovered from his sunken vessel, “Queen Anne’s Revenge”-check. I shouldn’t forget to mention $4 Bloody Mary Sunday at “Finz”. After dodging the drops all day, even seeing a little sunshine, we felt some sprinkles on the way back that evening. Almost not enough for our rain jackets, but we put ‘em on anyway, as the wind was brisk, and as evening fell the temperature was dropping. Weather report didn’t look good for the next evening-cold front, and winds 35-40 knots. No need to brave thunderstorms while on the hook, we decide to stay another day and give the Girl a bath, and a coat of wax on her high-weather spots.
Good call on staying another night. Lotsa thunder and lightning, and the cold front left us with 40 degree temps, winds 24 knots, but crystal blue skies for our morning departure. On our way down Bogue Sound, the dolphins are playing in our bow wave, right beneath our anchor. The sun is in the wrong place for snappin’, so we’ll get some pics another time. We don’t make great time today, as we’ve got a bridge to wait for, and have to time our transit past Camp LeJeune to coincide with the Waterways’ closed every-other-hour schedule where it passes the firing ranges there. There’s no shortage of entertainment, as the Marines are playing with their toys, the most interesting being a heavy-lifting helo picking up and dropping off a 40 foot long steel I-Beam. Mile Hammock Bay, our anchorage for the evening, is on the base, so shore excursions are strictly verboten, and enforced by men with big guns. We’re not too interested in getting the dinghy down anyway, as the temp has held around 40 degrees all day, and on this cloudless night, it’s gonna drop like a rock. A couple of sailboats that we passed earlier in the day, with their occupants dressed in down jackets and hats pull in right around sundown. I love my diesel furnace. Next morning, its anchor up at 0645, and man, is it cold! Temperator says 24 degrees, and the anchor washdown hose confirms it. #$%@!!! Frozen solid. Had to hose down anchor/chain with our drinking water hose, and am I happy to get inside when the tackle’s up. Three bridges today, all open on a schedule (as opposed to “on demand”), so timing will be key. On the way out of the anchorage, we overhear the sailboaters talking to one another on the VHF-seems they slept in their jackets last night. Along the way, another trawler, who has been behind us for a few hours, requests to pass us-no problem? As we’re chatting on the radio, he tells us that they have a long day planned. “Oh, really? Where ya’ headed?” “The Bahamas”. Cool-they’re taking their turn at the plate, and so it goes. Nine hours later we’re pulling into Southport Marina. Hank, who is a retired meteorologist and now owns a yacht service company, does a nightly weather briefing there, and covers trouble spots on the ICW at this marina, and we want to hear what he has to say,. There isn’t a whole lot to Southport, NC, but we need a walk, so we get a couple hours in before dark. Dinner at “Fishy Fishy” overlooking the ICW (not remarkable), but nice location. Hank’s presentation was very informative, and we got some new weather sites. The segment on “trouble spots” between here and Savannah was actually kinda scary (South Carolina and Georgia don’t spend a lot maintaining the Waterway-so shoaling and shallow spots require some timing of tides). All in all, though, a great service for cruisers.
Bald Head Island was recommended as a must-see, so we’ll backtrack a few miles, and head out there. It’s blowing like stink as we head across the Cape Fear River, and we’re happy for the short trip. Bald Head Island is the anchor for Cape Fear, and has quite a history, from the Revolution, through the War of 1812, and the Civil War. The oldest lighthouse in NC, “Old Baldy” is there and open for tours. There are about 1,000 homes on this sparsely-inhabited, 3 mile by 1 mile island, and none of the residents have cars. Transport is by golf cart or bike. Suz and I spend the better part of 2 days riding bikes, and exploring. Definitely worth the trip, and we’ll be back next Spring. The marina is well-maintained, and protected from all winds. Oh, so we’re at the hardware store in the middle of the island picking up a new tube for Suzanne’s middle of the ride dead-flat tire, and she strikes up a conversation with Margo, whose brother was the architect for many of the homes here. Next thing you know, we’re invited for a 5-7 at their place, which is down by the marina, where their boat is docked. Margo’s husband, John, has been out fishing all day, and is ready for a sip. Both of them have just retired this year, and they’re getting ready for their Turn- just aren’t exactly sure what that’s going to look like. A couple bottles of red pop, a tour of their boat, a tour of our boat, and we all agree that we need to stay in touch, and get together on our way through next year. We’ll be heading down to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club tomorrow, which is actually in Little River, north of North Myrtle Beach, where we have a car rented for our road trip to my sister’s place in Ohio for Thanksgiving.