Sunday, November 24, 2013

Beaufort, Ossabow, Cumberland Island.

Next stop was Beaufort - actually a little south in Port Royal where we stopped for a quick overnight at a marina then continued on in the morning.  That evening we anchored in a really nice and remote tributary along Ossabow Island.

Sunset at Ossabow Island

Then the next morning it was off the Cumberland Island where we planned to stay for two full days (three nights).

Cumberland Island is an amazing place, originally the playground of the Carnegies, and now mostly a National Park with a few remaining private homes of Carnegie's descendents.  We explored the various ruins of the original mansion, walked for miles on the beach, and had a tremendous meal at the Greyfield Inn which is one of the private properties and still owned and run by a great-grandson of the original owner.  It's one of the most pristine landscapes we have seen in a long time.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my

Cumberland Island Beach

Patterns in the Sand

Georgetown to Charleston

From Myrtle Beach, our next major stop was Charleston where we planned to spend 2 nights so we'd get a full day to explore the city, and it sure was worth it.

The mid-way point traveling from Myrtle Beach was Georgetown, SC.  It looked like a nice place, but after a week in Myrtle Beach for Laurie and several days in Ft Lauderdale for me, anchoring out is a remote place was high on both our lists.  We continued  a bit south of Georgetown and anchored in the North Santee River for a quiet evening.

The next day we continued on arriving at Charleston early afternoon.  The most popular marina appears to be over on the west side of town (Charleston is a north-south peninsula), but when I called they didn't have any room for us, so we ended up at another place over on the east side of town.  Well, it was quite fortuitous after all.  The whole downtown area of Charleston is on the East side just a couple of blocks from the marina, and what a great city it is.  I know this isn't news to many people, but it was our visit and Charleston definitely lived up to it's reputation.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wrightsville, Southport, Myrtle Beach, and FLIBS

The march continues on.  From Wrightsville we continued south through a cut and into Cape Fear.  There's another great name, due to some early explorers who got in there, couldn't get out, and feared they would become shipwrecked.  But it wasn't particularly fearful the day we crossed and soon we were back in the confines of the ICW.  It was a short day with an overnight in Southport just at the southern end of Cape Fear.

The next day completed our trip to Myrtle Beach where Laurie would stay with the boat for a few days while I flew down to Ft Lauderdale for the boat show, formally known as the Ft Lauderdale In-water Boat Show, or FLIBS for short.  I had lots of vendors to visit and things to sort out relative to commissioning our Nordhavn, none of which was particularly interesting to Laurie, so she hung out on the boat and got a bunch of projects done.

FLIBS was exhausting, but a success all around.  I got a life raft ordered, figured out boarding ladders and dinghy chocks, a dinghy swim ladder, and a whole host of other things.  PAE also hosted a gathering of Nordhavn owners which was great fun, and both a chance to catch up with people we already know, and meet a few new people.  All in all, the trip was a success.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lots to catch up on, Roanoke Island to Wrightsville, NC

OK, I have a confession to make.  The last blog entry had us exiting the Dismal Swamp and having just crossed into North Carolina.  We are now actually in St Augustine, FL.  I have a lot to catch up on.

After entering the Albemarle Sound, we headed east towards the barrier islands - Kitty Hawk  and Nags Head in particular.  The actual ICW goes more to the west and cuts through the Alligator river and canal.  Originally we were thinking we'd go visit Kitty Hawk, but then realized it would involve renting a car, so we decided against it in the end.  We ended up at a Marina on Roanoke Island which is the island you pass through to reach the barrier islands where Kitty Hawk and Nags Head are.

One thing we were warned about, and I'm not sure if it's real or a wives tale, is that crabbers in the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds are allowed to (and do) use stainless wire between their floats and traps.  I've got line cutters on our running gear to deal with any errant encounters, but wire would make quite the mess.  Needless to say, we kept a careful watch for floats, but fortunately there were not very many.

The next day we made a straight run - at least as straight as the shallow water allowed - across the Pamlico Sound and rejoined the ICW at the Adams River/Canal.  Just inside the river we found a very nice spot to anchor for the night.

The next day we had some decisions to make.  The first was whether or not to spend a day in Beaufort, NC which is at the other end of the Adams Creek/Canal, or to bypass and keep moving.  One constraint was that the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show was approaching, and I had booked a room and planned to attend.  We needed to get to a spot with reasonable transportation so I could catch a flight down, and a spot where Laurie could enjoy the 5 days or so that I'd be away.  Myrtle Beach looked like the spot with a good marina, regular flights, and all the goods and services that one might need.  A few quick calculations made it clear that we needed to keep moving.  In fact, we needed to make up some time.  So the decision was made to bypass Beaufort, and put it on the list of places to visit on our return.  The next decision was whether to run inside the ICW, or go outside down to Wrightsville.  Along the ICW is Camp LeJeune, and they do regular live firing exercises across the ICW out into the ocean.  They shut down the ICW for their playtime, and there is a large section of the shoreline that is off limits at all times.  This one became another easy decision.  We headed outside, cranked up the speed, and went all the way to Wrightsville.  Along the way we encountered two warships, one hanging out just inside the keep-out zone, and a carrier off on the horizon.  Although we didn't hear any booms, I can only think that all the activity signaled playtime and that the ICW would have been shut down for a few hours.  And as a bonus, we were rewarded with absolutely glassy seas the whole way down to Wrightsville.

I hope you are enjoying this, and feel free to comment or ask questions in the "Comments" space below.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Dismal Swamp, and things that go bump in the night.

The Dismal Swamp.  You have to admit, that's a great name.  It's actually a canal that cuts through from the Chesapeake Bay south of Norfolk and comes out in the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina.  It's narrow, shallow, quite beautiful, and full of things to hit along the way.

Lock entering the Dismal Swamp
All I could think of as we slipped by it's banks of overhanging trees was "the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees".  Does anyone remember that line from "The Elephant's Child", one of Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories"? I used to read that all the time as a kid.

Great, grey green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees

On paper the route isn't too bad with 8-10' depths.  That's much more than the Rideau Canal where we traveled last summer and, by the way, never hit bottom.  But that theoretical depth doesn't account for all the crap on the bottom that seems to have crept in and died.  I suppose it's submerged branches and the like, but we went bump no less than a dozen times.  And every time the depth sounder continued to show 7-8' (we draw a little under 4').

Some people can just brush it off when they run aground or hit something, but I just can't get over it very easily.  To me the boat is supposed to be floating, not hitting the bottom.  We met a guy in Deltaville who apparently wasn't phased at all by running aground or by other gross navigational errors.  He crossed lake Ontario from Toronto to Oswego, and managed to arrive at the NY shoreline a whopping 70 miles from Oswego.  That's pretty far off course for a crossing that's probably only about 100 miles long.  But it didn't bother him a bit.  Then he told me one story after another about the rest of his trip where he ran aground, got towed, then ran aground again and got towed.  He must have grounded (and I mean hard aground, you aren't going anywhere aground) a half dozen times, all while saying how easy boat navigation is.  Go figure.

Welcome to North Carolina

Anyway, we made it through the Dismal Swamp with no damage - just a lot of cuss words.  I'm glad we did it.  After all, this trip is about seeing the inland parts of the east coast.  But I'll be happy to go around it next time.

Our trip through was rewarded by a wonderful night at anchor off Goat Island in the Pasquotank River which is the outflow of the canal.  Fall is coming too - we had frost on the fore deck in the morning.

Beautiful Morning off Goat Island

Frost on the fore deck this morning