START: Broad Creek, NC 25 November
In mid-afternoon, we came alongside at Portside Marina with an unhelpful current complicating things and three guys helping sort us out. The entire staff there we very friendly, and the fishing boat wakes were not. By bedtime they had diminished, but around 0530 they started again. It didn’t mean an early start, but we certainly were awake when the time we planned on came.
We pulled away at 0800 from the dock at which the current held us tight and immediately entered the westbound flood tide which added to our speed — we were making 10.4 mph in places (normal is 7.5). This same current piled the water up at the entrance to the Atlantic Beach Bridge, and we went through with it announcing 63 foot clearance (our minimum). Close Shave #1– but there was no p’twang, no scrape, no crash on deck.
Yesterday, we arrived at Mile Hammock pretty much as we planned after a perfect pass through Camp Lejeune’s (inactive) gunnery range. The bottom at Mile Hammock is gloppy (a deeply scientific term). It took us three attempts to anchor securely. By sunset, we were in company with about a dozen boats. It was so quiet and still, we felt like we were back at River Dunes.
We don’t like to hover near bridges, especially when currents flowing toward them are involved. So we like to adjust our speed to arrive with five minutes to spare. Today, we got snookered by the current and retarded our speed just enough that when we got caught by an expected foul current, we missed the Surf City Bridge by 3 minutes. We got to hover there for a half hour for the next opening. Close Shave # 2
Figure Eight Island Bridge went smoothly even though we had to wait there too. Wrightsville Beach was another matter. There the boats bunched up. This is bad, because the channel is a funnel. The closer one gets to the bridge, the faster the current gets (up to 3 mph).
Today, the boat ahead of us got too close too soon because of this acceleration (They had managed the overall waiting well but got snookered). Just as the bridge opened, they realized they were about to get slammed into the bridge bulkhead by the current. Being a trawler, they powered out of it but had to turn and wend their way through all the approaching traffic in a narrow channel fraught with small power boats that had throttle settings of on and off. They did a good job of recovering, but did I mention we were the first boat they turned toward? To their huge credit they explained their intentions over the radio… Close Shave #3
Then, a mile south we bumped our way over a shoal extending beyond the buoy marking it. Because of our speed and the current we more or less plowed a groove through the sandy mud. Close Shave #4. We don’t feel so bad; this is an area notorious for shoaling, and we came through at dead low tide on a new moon.
FINISH: Banks Channel, Wrightsville Beach, NC