Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bill put together this map of our travels in Florida and the Bahamas.  The red line is our trip this year.  The green, blue, orange, purple, and dark blue lines are previous years.   The red line shows how we traveled across Florida in the Okeechobee Waterway, sailed out to the Dry Tortugas, passed through the Keys to Miami, crossed over to the Berry Islands, sailed down to the Exumas with a stop near Nassau, and returned to the States by way of Eleuthra and the Abacos.

These tugs and their barges pass up and down the ICW between Morehead City and Aurora, NC traveling both day and night.  This one was too big for my camera.

We are back in our house in Kingsport.  We certainly have lots more room here compared to our 34 foot long by 10 foot wide home on the water.  We now can get out of sight of each other.  Wow.

By Saturday, June 8 Tropical Storm Andrea was well north of Charleston, SC, and it was safe to leave.  Our first plan was to motor north on the ICW because the weather forecast was for strong winds and large waves out in the ocean.  We left the Charleston City Marina and went out into Charleston Harbor.  The winds were not particularly strong and the waves were not particularly large, so we changed our minds and headed out to sea bound for the Cape Fear River.  We had only one regret, we would not be able to stop in Little River to see my sister, Elaine, brother-in-law, JP, and niece, Catherine.

We sailed overnight and entered the Cape Fear River just as the sun came up.  It was Sunday.  That meant there would be lots of weekend small boat traffic on the ICW.  The small boats can be very annoying and sometimes just plain unsafe.  I would like to have a sign that says, this 15000 pound sailboat does not have brakes.  It probably wouldn’t make any difference to the guys who tow three kids on a tube right in front of us.  Oh well, I don’t think I can fix all the world’s ills.  Our plan was to anchor for a short while at Wrightsville Beach and then head out Masonboro Inlet to sail in the ocean to Beaufort, NC.  As we were going up the Cape Fear River, we listened to the weather forecast.  Rain was predicted.  Our own 'looking-at-the-sky' forecast also said rain.  Then, it started raining.  Once again we changed our plan.  We stayed in the ICW and motored to Mile Hammock Bay arriving inside the Marine base at Camp LeJeune around 5pm.  It had been 33 hours since we left Charleston, and we were both tired.  As we were anchoring, we surprisingly saw the Austrian couple we had met in Warderick Wells anchored nearby.  We did not think we would see them again because they were intending to cruise quickly up the US east coast in order to return to Austria in August.  The four of us had our sundowners in Irish Eyes’ cockpit and told each other of our travels.

Monday, we continued motoring north in the ICW with gusty winds of 15-20 knots. The highest gust hit 32 knots!  It was a rocky, rolly trip up the Bogue Sound, past Morehead City, into the Newport River, and through the Core Creek / Adams Creek canal.  Once again our plans changed.  We intended to anchor for our last night in Cedar Creek just off Adams Creek.  The strong wind from the southwest had blown the water out of the anchorage.  Our depth sounder showed 5.2 feet where normally we see over 7.  Captain Bill looked at our chart.  “No problem.” he said, “We’ll anchor just behind the red number 6 marker in Adams Creek”.  So, we turned left out of the ICW channel at the number 6 marker, dropped our anchor, and switched on our anchor light.  I was a little worried about barge traffic going by during the night.  After all, we are so small and they are so large…  Just as I was turning out the cabin lights, I heard a barge coming.  I could hear him, and worse I could feel his engines and propellers.  I went outside to see how close the barge was to us.  Even at night the barge seemed a long way away.  We would be fine where we were.

We motored up the Neuse River Tuesday morning with a 20 knot wind on our nose.  The waves were impressive in the mile wide river, and the boat was covered with salt spray.  By lunch time we were tied to the dock in our slip at Northwest Creek Marina.  In another hour we had the air conditioner installed and running.  Nice!  Cool and dry.  After five months of damp sheets, dry sheets are like heaven.  You don’t know.  Three cheers for Freon.

The next two days were spent packing our things and cleaning Irish Eyes.  We took the evening of the second day off to have a pleasant, relaxing, and delicious dinner with Robert and Susan Banks in Oriental.

We left New Bern Thursday just before noon (and just before the temperature crossed 90°) and arrived at our house at supper time.  It was a great trip.

Come with us next time.

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