Tag Archives: NC

Staging

CarolinaBeach

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!

Barges, Bridges and Bozos

BBB001We are a quarter of the way to our jumping off point for the Bahamas — we have already encountered the same number of towboats and barges we saw from Fort Pierce to Norfolk last year. This is good. Their use of the ICW is all that keeps it viable for the rest of us. These two were chatting on ship-to-ship. Both were captains from other waterways, and neither were impressed with the condition of the ICW. Between passing them and our destination we shook our heads over what it must have been like to push those double barges through the narrow twists, shallows and tidal side sets– what a skill!

After a showery night at Mile Hammock on Camp Lejeune (serenaded by helicopters and hovercraft from 1700-2100), we woke to fog and let it burn off before leaving. We encountered quite a side set at Snead’s Ferry. There was a dredge barge anchored in the channel and the water accelerated either side of it to a torrent. We were the most crabbed I can remember — nearly 45 degrees. The day ended up being defined by currents, and we spent a total of 90 minutes in gray and showers waiting for bridges we just couldn’t quite make because of nature’s watery push and pull. It’s a new moon, and tides range higher and lower, and currents are swifter.

We approached Wrightsville Beach Bascule with 55 minutes to kill (yep, we just couldn’t go fast enough to make up five minutes). We hovered a mile north of the bridge and motored in long ovals that saw us moving up current (in idle forward!)  at 0.8 mph and down current at 4.8 mph — I’ll save you the math. In this narrow spot the current was running 4 mph. This is why we stayed a mile away from the bridge until just minutes before it opened. The sight below at 1500 was quite welcome. [note the musical notes above the water]BBB002

As to the Bozos, when you are Tail End Charlies like we are this year, the discourteous have all blasted their way south ahead of you. Traffic is light. Anchorages are open. Only the person using a strobe for an anchor light has left us shaking our heads.

These pictures aren’t colorized black and whites. It’s just been a hazy shade of winter.

A Welcome Sight

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We left the poop dock at River Dunes at 1100 today. The above is the view that greeted us as we turned out of Broad Creek into the Neuse River. We don’t care for any of the marinas in the Morehead City area, so we anchored in Cedar Creek off Adams Creek just before the entrance to the canal down to Beaufort. Nice in these light n’e’ly breezes. Tis good to be moving again.

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Don’t Judge a Restaurant by its Corrugations

Silos by night
When I first drove by The Silos, I sincerely thought it was a farm supply store. We are surrounded here by cotton and other crops, so it seemed reasonable. Then we found out more in the midst of all the Christmas hoo-hah. We called to make reservations and oops, closed Sunday and Monday. We ended up going with Marsha and Joe Tuesday night in the rain. As we drove out toward Marsha’s much customized and personalized Nautical Cottage, The Silos’ parking lot made it clear reservations were not necessary (and hinted the recommendation might have been one of those “best of a bad lot” types).

When we drove back two hours later, we went in two cars and got the last two parking places. The joint was jumpin‘. We’re talking friendly, funky, and scrumptious.

The decor is unreconstructed grain silo. The inner walls are the backs of the outer walls (visually, at least). The decor is music focused, the seating is kitchenette four tops with linoleum and vinyl. “Vinyl,” the musical kind, lines quite a few square feet of wall, and guitars of various stripes hover overhead like musical angels waiting in the unfinished rafters. And even more than half full, it was quiet enough to have a non-shouting conversation…about sailboats and the racing of them. This is a post-race hangout and one heck of a pizzeria+++! [We’ll have to come back to try some of the other items.]

We arrived on “free cheese pizza with each specialty pizza” night. So, we went home with breakfast and lunch. Our specialty pizza was heavily garnished with the items we wanted and thin, thin, thin with limited sauce and cheese — just the way we like it. It was a 12 inch pizza with every square inch baked to perfection (stone oven). The Cesar salad was OK, but we are really hard on Cesar salads, and few stand up to our reviews. [Here in Oriental, the best we had was at “Trawl Door.” I would go back for one garnished with shrimp.]

The bar has 16 micro-brews on tap. I had a dark, half wheat called “Shock Top ShockTopEnd Of The World Midnight Wheat” which I thought was excellent until I discovered the micro-brewery was Anheuser-Busch, Inc. —  about as micro as Microsoft. So excellent dropped to good.

We would definitely come back to The Silos, and we’re are beginning to feel a bit more than visitors here, thanks to the welcoming people of Oriental, especially Marsha and Joe.

Marsha’s Cottage and Village America on Parade Slideshow

A few years ago, Janet went to Virginia Beach with friends. One of those friends invited a friend, Marsha. I met her last year. This year, as we were eating pancakes at Brantley’s Village Restaurant contemplating the impending Nor’easter due on our (no longer) planned departure day, Marsha came over to say, “Hi,” which led to retail therapy at her boutique, which lead to an invitation to her “reviewing stand with libations” for the Christmas Parade. This slideshow reminds us of a village parade in Oak Harbor, Washington July 4, 1985. That beautiful day started with pancakes, too.

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Studio 55, a Kudo

KUDO LINKSince we broke our travel for the trip to Texas, we made several other adjustments as well. Instead of Janet cutting my hair (23 yrs +), I had to find a place before I started braiding. Questions led me to Studio 55, 705 Broad Street, Oriental, NC 28571 and Jeanette Parrish.

Studio 55 is clean, bright, professional, welcoming, and Jeanette is very, very good with men’s and women’s hair styling. Hey, I liked it, and Janet and her sisters approved.

On returning from Texas, I needed another cut, and Janet wanted a cut and color. Jeanette was fully booked, but came in on her time to take care of us! We are both quite pleased with the results. If near Oriental and in need of these services, give Studio 55 a call — but call when you arrive, they are VERY popular.

252.249.2887