Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The view across the lake in front of our house was pretty, but it was also time for us to go to a warmer place.

It was cold and gray in the Neuse River on our first day out.  I would have been happier had I been flying south in a heated airplane.

This was one of several dredges we saw removing shallow spots from the Intracoastal Waterway.

Greetings from Irish Eyes.  At long last we are underway for the sixth year headed south.

Bill and I got away from Kingsport on Friday, January 18.  Bill had destroyed his glasses while working on the Appalachian Trail.  We waited two weeks for a new pair.  Then on the day before he was to pick up his glasses, it snowed.  Captain Bill was really antsy to leave, almost unmanageable.  He had to wait two more hours for the optician to get to work.  We drove out of the parking lot and straight to the interstate highway.  The drive through the Virginia mountains was Christmas card pretty with lots of snowy landscapes to admire.  But, one snow per winter is enough for me!  It was time to head south.

We spent the next week tied to the dock in New Bern working on boat chores and buying both our groceries and the stuff we forgot.  We were ready to leave the next Friday.  But then… New Bern had a winter storm.  It rained, the wind blew, the temperature dropped, it sleeted for a while, and the rain became freezing rain.  Irish Eyes was coated with ice; drippy wet icicle ice.  When we woke up on Saturday morning, Captain Bly, I mean Captain Bill, was determined to leave even though it was foggy, cold, and generally miserable.  So we did.  If it had not been for the fog, the four hour trip down the Neuse River to Adams Creek would have been boring.  But actually, it was terrifying.  The sky was gray, the water was gray, it was cold, and the Minnesott Beach ferry crossing ahead of us showed up on radar long before we saw it with our eyes.  Pieces of ice kept melting, falling off the rigging, and landing on me.  What a way to begin a tropical trip!

Saturday night was cold, but it was not quite as cold as the night before.  Sunday dawned bright and sunny, but it was still cold.  Our planned destination for the day was Mile Hammock Bay in the Marine Corp’s Camp Lejeune about 50 miles south.  The sun helped warm things a bit, so the day was not totally unpleasant.  Before getting to Mile Hammock Bay, we had to go through the Onslow Beach Drawbridge.  When Bill hailed the bridge tender on the radio, the tender told us the bridge was slow in opening, but it would open.  He was right.  It was slow.  We got through just fine and made it to Mile Hammock Bay before dark.  (The next two days the bridge was closed for repairs.  Weren't we lucky?  We could have been stuck anchored at the bridge for two days.)

Monday morning the temperature was warmer than it had been, but it was not tropical yet.  I shed layer after layer of clothes as the day went on. We were headed to Carolina Beach.  We saw our first (and so far only) moving sailboat just before Surf City, NC.  The boat traffic was light in January.  Not too many other nuts were out for a cruise.  The moon was full, so the high tides were extra high and the low tides were extra low.  At low tide our depth sounder showed 7 feet as we passed the Carolina Beach Inlet where we have been stuck before.  We did see several dredges near Wrightsville Beach helping keep the ICW nice and deep.  We anchored in Carolina Beach, one of my favorite spots.  It is a quiet spot although there are houses and boats along the shore.  As usual we had dolphins playing around the boat most of the night.

The next stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway went down the Cape Fear River then turned right behind Oak Island.  That part would be fine.  The worry was the next two bits that pass behind Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte Inlets.  Both can be very shallow at the best of times, and we would go through them at a full moon low tide; not good.  The Army Corps of Engineers reported the depth at Lockwood’s Folly to be 0 to 4 feet at low tide.  We needed 5 to float the boat.  The sun was shining and the forecast was favorable, so we decided to go out the Cape Fear River and make the 25 mile trip to Little River Inlet in the ocean.  That route would avoid the shallow two spots on the ICW.

The day was warm, and we both shed our coats.  The wind was not strong enough to sail, so we motored with the mainsail up to the Little River Inlet.  We came through the inlet without a problem, letting the casino ship, which had been at sea for a gambling cruise, go in first.  We got to Coquina Yacht Club in Little River, SC in time to have dinner with my sister Elaine and my brother-in-law JP at their home that night.

The next day Bill changed the engine oil and cleaned the boat while I fed quarter after quarter into the washers and dryers at the marina.  We visited with a couple from New Bern who are moving to Calabash and bringing their Pacific Seacraft to this marina.  In the evening we went to dinner with Elaine and J.P. along with my aunt Mary Ellen and my uncle Kenny.

Last night a cold front brought us rain and lots of wind.  This morning we decided we would hang out here another day until the wind dies down, and then we will be on our way south.  Today Bill set the valves on the engine only to discover that the hole in the center of the v-belt pulley on the engine's sea water pump was “wallered” out.  He has superglued a washer over the too big hole to make it smaller and put everything back together.  Will it last until we can get a replacement?  What do you think?  Stay tuned.

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