Well, the goats might not know, but they are walking down wind. (We don’t know if these were feral, but they looked pretty healthy.) This cold front brought wind. It has been gusting to 30+ knots since about 2000 hrs Sunday. And from the NE which is the direction we are going. The wind has even reversed the normal current flow in the narrow channels we travel. Today, it blew us into the shallows and aground as we waited for the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge (the last pontoon in NC) to open. We were able to twist the boat off the sand before the opposing traffic finished coming through the Bridge.
This bridge is like a double-ended ferry that sits with a ramp down on either side. When it opens they raise the ramps and a cable swings the entire assembly away from the channel. A siren blows when the cable has dropped to the bottom. A new high rise is under construction here. (We think the disruption of flow caused by the construction barges put the five foot shoal where eight foot water was supposed to have been.)
We normally run the engine at 2500 rpm to optimize miles per gallon per hour. The engine-prop combination tops out at 3250 (more rpm does not make the boat go faster). It took 3000 rpm and rudder waggle to get us off. I wouldn’t want to hear the engine at 3250. It wasn’t unhappy, it just overcame the sound insulation.
From there on, things were uneventful since the Corps of Engineers had dredged the Shallotte (long “o”) and Lockwood’s Folly inlet-ICW intersections. We slowed to a near stop to let some very large and very impatient powerboats go by. Some waved. The last one, Fabiola, came on the VHF and thanked us in a French accent for our courteous maneuver.
We pulled into Southport Marina (no good places for a boat our size to anchor around here) at 1640, a six hour run that under normal wind conditions would have taken five. This whole trip has toned up our skills at maneuvering alongside docks and piers. Situations that used to look daunting don’t so much anymore. Plus, this Marina also had a dock crew that reminded one of a Grand Prix Pit Crew. Here, I met the delivery captain of Fabiola. He thanked us again and commented on how impatient the others had been. We are exposed to wakes from passing ICW traffic, but the wind still has teeth. We think we’ll stay here another day to let it diminish. The next challenge is Snow’s Cut between the Cape Fear River and Myrtle Sound. We’d just as soon not have a near gale on the nose when we negotiate that space.