Well it is an ill wind that blows no good, and it must be true because the temps and humidity have been wonderful. But…
After the thick rain and thin thunder in Little River, SC, we were presented with a wind from 62 degrees with a possibility of seven foot swells on the bow. Our course offshore was to have been 62 degrees.
Thus we motored up the ICW into a five day forecast of winds from the N-NE-NNE-ENE…you get the drift.
Worse, we were on the wrong side of the moon. We were in that part of the lunar cycle when low tide comes in the middle of the day and a foul current runs pretty much from sunrise to sunset (in this part of the coast).
This adds up to long days droning along at reduced groundspeed and concern about the less well maintained sections of the ICW.
We left Little River at 0800 and made Wrightsville Beach at 1730 after 25 knot headwinds in the Cape Fear River and 3+ knot foul currents in Snow’s Cut.
The next morning, we left WVB at 0700 to be sure of the 0800 bridge. Beyond that we droned…
We arrived at Mile Hammock early because it is was a short day – forced by foul currents and 80 miles with only one suitable anchorage midway. This left time for some kite flying and to watch two boats come in later and anchor too closely considering there were only six boats in the whole place. One moved. The other (that had run up past us at the WVB bridge even though they were a slower boat) appeared to have a strong faith in providence. Sadly, before dinner, I removed the jacklines we use for our harnesses offshore. From here on we are consigned to the “ditch.”
- When sunset came, the sky had a smokier tinge than usual.
- As the night progressed the air had a smokier aroma than usual.
- When the sun came up, long writhing tendrils of smoke were braided with clouds that might have been offshore fog during the night.
- The sky was flat and red-gray in the North. The 59 degree breeze came from there.
- We left early to make the 0800 opening at Onslow Beach Bridge.
- A mile or two north our eyes started stinging and throats burned.
- Visibility dropped.
- The sunlight that made it to the boat was the color of a mercury vapor lamp.
- What reflections there were on the water were Halloween orange. They flickered like the eyes of a thousand imps.
- Finally in Swansboro (3 hours later, thanks to the 1.5 knot foul current), within a half mile, we turned and left the smoke from an out of control 2800 acre burn-off in the Croatan National Forest behind us.
- It took a couple of hours to quit coughing and blinking, but the rest of the day was so nice on its own and by comparison, we really enjoyed it (if you discount the nutcases in center consoles around Morehead City).
- We made Broad Creek, off the Neuse at 1830 after enduring a 2.0 knot foul current in the Adams Creek Canal between Morehead City and the Neuse River.
- It was quiet, smoke free and still.
Early this morning we came alongside at River Dunes Marina and took on diesel, had visitors aboard from Dolphin an Allied Princess. Then we borrowed the marina car for grocery shopping and lunch. M&Ms was even better than in November. Their conch fritters, placed on a platter with their Bahamian cousins, would be indistinguishable. These folks really know how to cook shrimp! The service was enthusiastic and attentive.
While at lunch, we received a poor air quality report on the new Droid…the wind had gone south (literally) and the fine particulates from the burn-off were expected to be raining down on us all day. And between entering the restaurant and leaving the smell of smoke had returned. A few miles away, back at River Dunes the aroma was gone.
As an adventure, it isn’t much. As a delivery trip it’s pretty much the norm. As a way of life, it suits us fine.