Carolina Beach

Wrightsville was wet and wintry when we woke up Monday. So we went back to bed. The plan for the day didn’t call for departure until local high tide around 1100. When we finally got up, Wrightsville was just wintry.

The anchor chain came up clean, and we headed down Banks Channel on the first bit of ebb. We entered the ICW from Shinn Creek and were immediately passed by an 80 foot Hatteras aimed at Boca Raton. The whole thing went smoothly, but if the boat had AIS it wasn’t using it — we got the usual “sail boat ahead, yada yada” call.

The current stayed negligible till Carolina Beach Inlet, but by then we were pretty much there. We entered Carolina Beach’s harbor just over an hour and a half after raising anchor. This slot harbor has a reputation for bottom conditions like cheap black bean soup. Anchoring here is just prepositiong for drifting into the confining shallows. For this reason, we have never come here. Now, they have ten robust moorings with a cheap nightly tariff ($20) and a very friendly harbormaster, Randy, and assistant Matee, a mature female yellow lab. (Since we weren’t planning to go ashore, he came out to collect and offered to bring anything we might need from a store — with no fee, no problem. He comes out to the mooring in Matee‘s boat…she just let’s him use it.)

If there was a problem, it is the pendants on the mooring balls are TOO SHORT.  At full extension they just reached our deck level and there is no thimble. We had been forewarned, but this is something that needs fixing.

So why did we come here after motoring just 120 minutes? The Snow’s Cut Bridge (a third of a mile southward from here) has suspended work platforms and nets which reduce its high-water clearance  to 61 ft, and we needed low tide to clear the drooping nets strung below it. Why did it have to be today that we passed? Tomorrow they are pulling a barge between the bulkheads and horizontal clearnace will be reduced to 50 feet — till April.

We whiled away the breezy, cool and brilliant afternoon on the mooring checking the depth hourly since the nearest tide station is well away from here. By 2000, we had determined low tide here was really two hours later than the tables indicated — and whoopee, that coincided with slack water in the Cut — which can run (and swirl) at 4 mph.

The net result of this staging was we left at 0745 with three feet of clearance above the VHF antenna; only 0.2 mph current against us in the Cut; the calmest Cape Fear River in a long time; mid tides or better at the notorious Lockwood’s Folly and Shalotte Inlets; and a helping current almost the entire trip!

The air had been swept clean and washed clear of salt spray and dust, and we had to squint most of the day. We started the day wearing layers and were looking for short sleeves by the time we docked at Myrtle Beach Yacht Club at 1400.

Now showers, laundry, pizza and thunderstorms!

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