Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Into North Carolina

The Atlantic Section of the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) technically runs about 1,097 statute miles down the east coast from Norfolk, VA to Miami, FL (some claim it really starts somewhere around Boston, MA) and must be maintained to keep it navigable. Various political entities have various responsibilities which vary from state-to-state.

Many sections of the ICW, both natural bodies of water and man-made canals, must be dredged to keep them at the proper depths. These also vary from as little as 5 or 6 feet at low tide to much greater depths which are necessary in channels which are also designed for the transit of large ships.There are dredges of all sizes and shapes.

The ocean inlets in which large tidal currents move the sand around a lot are a particular problem.

As we continued north, we anchored in another shallow creek in Southport, NC before going up the Cape Fear River in surprisingly calm seas. We looked back at the lighthouse marking the mouth of the river.
Much of the Carolinas along the ICW is used for training by the Marine Corps. We went past Parris Island, their major training facility, near Beaufort, SC. Just north of Topsail Beach, NC Camp Lejeune has many acres on both sides of the waterway on which they run mock battles and landings . We have been stopped a couple of times while they have live-fire exercises across the ICW. This time, we went straight through to anchor in Mile Hammock Anchorage right in the middle of the facility (no landing is allowed anywhere!). We caught up with Mel and Jean aboard our sister ship Dovekie and spent some time with them swapping stories.
We looked back at the anchorage with its old rusty landing craft as we left in a fairly heavy fog the next morning. Luckily it burned off before we got to the first bridge. We spent the next night in the large mouth of Cedar Creek and had Mel and Jean aboard for another gam and dinner.
Sea Fox
Although the ICW is a major waterway for all kinds of yachts, great and small, it is also a place where once beautiful yachts go to die as owners run out of money or the desire to go on. We have watched Sea Fox, a wonderful old wooden Wm. Hand motorsailor go downhill for a few years as it sits in an old boatyard. We hope that someone who has the will and the wherewithal will find it and restore it before it is too late.

We parted company with Dovekie after Cedar Creek as they headed on to visit family and friends and we decided to avoid the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds for a couple of days because of threatening weather which had already created some major tornadoes further south. So we headed across the Neuse River to Oriental, NC which is one of our favorite places. We missed a spot at the free dock downtown by about 5 minutes as a sailboat sneaked in ahead of us. So we anchored up Greens Creek and anchored for the night.

From the Webcam
Under the Bow of a Shrimper
The next morning, we checked the webcam on the internet where we could see that one of the two free slips was empty. We pulled the anchor at about 7:15 AM and arrived in time for our first stay at the free dock in about 6 stops in Oriental! We were also in time for a marine tag sale and a farmers' market. We were even on the webcam (http://www.towndock.net/harborcam/).

Oriental was originally named "Smith's Creek" but was renamed after a ship's nameboard ("Oriental", obviously!) washed up on the beach. Now there is a dragon (their official icon) in the pond beside The Bean (see the webcam --the dragon moves) and a dragon is featured in their annual parade.

The bad weather is extending our stay here (we have moved over to the Oriental Marina which we like a lot because it has a friendly staff, showers, water, electricity, and cable TV -- all at about half the price of marinas back home) and we are getting in some R & R as well as some long-overdue boat maintenance and cleaning. We are three days from Elizabeth City (the entrance to Dismal Swamp and a very friendly town to boaters) and then another two days to or through Norfolk once we get moving again.

Then it's Chesapeake Bay which can also have some tricky weather but also holds the attractions of seeing family and eating more blue crabs! We may also do a quick haul of the boat to get the bottom cleaned and painted.

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