Coinjock Marina Going North

We had a quiet night on anchor in the Alligator River. Our anchor spot was just off the ICW and was an “easy in” and “easy out” in the morning. Note: some anchoring spots can have shallow or tricky entrances.

The sunrise was amazing.

 

We had no sooner got through the Alligator River Swing Bridge and we hailed the large cruise ship, Independence, coming up on our stern. The captain was very friendly and thanked us for giving him exclusive use of the narrow channel.

MV Independence uses AIS just like us so it was easy to acertain their ship’s name and hail them directly. I simply let the captain know that I saw they were going to overtake us and stated we would manuver to starboard and allow them exclusive use of the entire channel for a “2 whistle pass”.

Cruise Ship 1
American Cruise Lines, MV Independence

As the channel got narrow we had to get in line behind this sailboat who did not seem to have their VHF radio on. (repeated hails from us and the Alligator River Swing Bridge with no response). On the ICW you must monitor channel #16 (the international hailing channel).

Traffic 1
Canadian Flagged SV

Note: the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) designates 3 channels internationally as “Safety Channels”.

Channel 16 (156.800 MHz) – Distress, safety and calling

Channel 13 (156.650 MHz) – Intership navigation (bridge-to-bridge)

Channel 70 (156.525 MHz) – Digital Selective Calling

DSC Discussion (skip this technical section if you like)

CH 70 or DSC or Digital Selective Calling is a new technology that uses EM wave pulses on channel 70 to send digital (1s and 0s encoded in electromagnetic pulses over a radio wave transmitted on channel #70’s designated frequency)

This channel is not for human voice transmission but for ships continually broadcasting their current position and heading. The data is received by your VHF antenna and processed by your AIS transceiver before finally being plotting on your chartplotter. Instead of just a radar blip on my chartplotter, I see a triangular icon representing the ship and if I click on it I get all sorts of info like:

  • Ship Name: So I can hail them by name instead of “Motor vessel off my port bow”
  • Heading
  • Speed
  • Ship length
  • MMSI #
  • Sail or powerboat
  • CPA (Closest point of approach or how close will they come to our boat if nothing changes)
  • CTA (at what time will they be the closest to us).

DSC also has a well hidden secret function where you can use a ship’s MMSI # (like a personal phone number) to call them directly. By this I mean you don’t hail them by name (ie. “ship name, ship name, this is motor vessel Simple Life on channel 16”. Instead you type in their MMSI number and a channel that you want their VHF radio to automatically tune to. Hit the PTT (Push To Talk) button and a loud tone plays over their VHF radio and their radio automatically jumps to the channel you wanted to communicate with them on. It’s a great feature but I must say I have not used it, nor have many other boaters. Maybe it will just take some time till the early adopters start teaching other boaters how to use it?

As we approached Coinjock, NC, there were large plumes of smoke coming from shore. I saw that the smoke which had started as grey/black was now white indicating that it was burning itself out (Where are my firefighter friends here, keep me honest).  Maybe it was a controlled burn of the low lands?

 

As we were pulling into Coinjock Marina, named for the NC town of the same name,  we were aware that our port fuel tank was running on fumes. NOTE: we had some reserve fuel in the starboard diesel tank.

Diesel
I think I need to start wiping my leather helm down with lint-free cloths 😉

We had made two long runs up the coast and at almost 9 kts and burned lots of fuel. Coinjock about 20 cents more per gallon of diesel than the marina we were heading to next. While not the cheapest place to take on over 300 gallons of diesel it was convenient. I mentioned to the dockhand that the next marina North was 20 cents cheaper a gallon and he responded, “Oh, our costs are higher because we sell more fuel than them”. I just smiled and thought, I’m pretty sure this friendly dockhand skipped school that day in business class 😉

When choosing a location for diesel be sure to chose a location that sells a lot of diesel. Common wisdom says: the more they sell, the less time the deisel sits in storage tanks acculmulating condensation water or other contaminations. If you have ever had your engine die offshore due to bad fuel you’ll agree that it’s better to spend a bit more for the likelihood of clean fuel.

The cruise ship which had passed us on the ICW was now docked in Coinjock to take on 5000 gallons of diesel.

Cruise Ship Coinjock
MV Independence Docked in Coinjock NC

I believe in large ship terminology, the captain and crew talk about the amount of diesel they have in terms of weight rather than gallons. Diesel is about 7 lbs / gallon while gasoline is about 6 lbs / gallon. When you take on 5000 gallons of diesel you need to be thinking about how much that excess fuel weighs and what it does to your ship’s draft. Draft = how deep your boat sinks into the water. Air draft = how tall is your boat is above the water for fitting under low bridges.

MV Simple Life took on about 311 gallons or 2,177 lbs of diesel while we were there. We also filled our water tanks (8.3 lbs / gallon) so that adds another 3,700 lbs to our boat. If you ever read the specs for a boat it will list it’s dry weight as well as it’s water draft. Always remember that when you load your boat up with your possessions, passengers, dogs, food, fuel, water, etc that it will sink your draft a few more inches into the water. When a boat is designed they guesstimate the weight & displacement of the boat from summing up the weight of every item in the CAD drawing. This we know thanks to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes and his “Eureka” moment when he figured out that a body (boat) displaces it’s exact weight in water.

An engineer friend of mine who also loves physics, Andy,  once asked me this fun question about a man in a canoe in a pool who drops a stone into the water and asks how high will the water rise?

Boats with sharp narrow hulls must sink lower in the water to float while boxy square hulls like that of a barge need only sink a small amount to displace their weight in water. The boxy square shape to the cruise ship allowed it to have ashallower draft than MV Simple life. So don’t follow the cruise ship up the ICW thinking… ”if there is enough water in the channel for them, we can easily follow them”.

Alligator River NC

We awoke at sunrise and just before pulling anchor, I snapped a few photos of just how still this anchorage was in Adam’s Creek.

Today’s ICW route through Pamlico Sound would end just short of crossing Albemarle Sound. Our route looked something like this.

ICW NC Route
ICW Route Through Pamlico Sound and almost into Albemarle Sound

On our way out of Adam’s Creek, I hailed a loaded tug and barge to let them know we would deviate from the channel and not impede their passage. The strong current was at their back forcing them to keep their speed up. As a tug captain it’s better to be driving the barge rather than being driven by the current. It’s always better to push a barge into a current than be pushed by it. At least that is how I understand it.

Tug Barge
Tug & Loaded Barge in Adam’s Creek Channel

We no sooner exited Adam’s Creek into the Neuse River and passed this beautiful schooner with the captain at the helm and sails set.

Schooner
Capt was still in the process of raising his staysail

Once it Pamlico Sound you realize it is a pretty large sound. Wikipedia defines a sound as, “…In geography, a sound is a large sea or ocean inlet larger than a bay, deeper than a bight, and wider than a fjord; or a narrow sea or ocean channel between two bodies of land (see also strait)…”. These geography terms can be confusing.

Pamlico Sound.JPG
Pamlico Sound

As we motored on, a USCG boat hailed us over VHF channel 16 and let us know to stay to port as we passed. They had a line around and were pulling what remained of a green daymark piling using their boat. Our best guess is that a boat hit the piling in the night and snapped it off.  We figured they were dislodging it so that it would not float away and become a hazard to navigation?

USCG Pulling Daymark
USCG with a line off their bow to a green daymark that was broken off.

We passed a several duck blinds confirming that North Carolina is duck hunting country.

Duck Blind
Duck Blind – Do they really fall for this?

As we motored on we were reminded that we are getting closer to ICW mile marker 0 in Norfolk, VA.

The predicted forecast for Albemarle Sound had the wind out of the West at only 10-15 kts.

Forecast
Albemarle Sound forecast 10-15 out of the West

We chose an anchorage with a small fetch to the West but far enough off the shore that we could open the hatches and get a good breeze while we slept.

Alligator River Anchorage
Alligator River Anchorage

As I was setting the anchor on the bow I looked up and snapped this photo of the setting sun.

Sunset Framed.JPG
Sunset in Alligator River, NC

Adam’s Creek Anchorage NC

Because it was a 98.8% full moon, we pulled up the anchor and got underway before the sun had even risen.

Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach Anchor Location

As we skirted our way up the coast, we tried to minimize the length of fetch as the winds were blowing 20 kts from the NW (with gusts to 25 kts). Recall: a fetch is a distance of water that the wind has been given to blow over the top of. Wave heights build wave heights with distance.

Sunday Forecast
25kt Gusts

Along the way we saw beach homes like these near Surf City

We saw a giant ocean-side pier near Top Sail Beach.

Top Sail Beach Pier
Top Sail Beach Pier

As we go, I’m always watching the depth sounder, ie sonar. It pings high frequency sound (like a dolphin) off the sea floor and displays the depth as a graphical chart over the last 60 seconds. It is very important to understand not just the instantaneous depth but also how the depths are trending over time. You need this info to ascertain quickly if you are running off a downhill slope or running aground. The steeper the incline, the faster in time the sea floor is rising up to meet you, metaphorically speaking. While watching the sonar,  I repeatedly saw objects between the boat and ocean floor. I believe these depictions to be “bait balls” or schools of bait fish in a tight spherical grouping. Sometimes they are formed into these ball formations by preditors such as dolphins.

I’m no expert at reading the fish finder / depth sounder’s visually displayed ping returns, however, I also saw this fishing boat hauling a net.

Bait Net
Small Trawler Netting Bait Fish

The trawler’s size makes me think that they are hauling a small net sized for bait fish.

A moment later, we were passed by this Italian designed Azimut luxury motor yacht. She clearly has some horsepower in her diesels since… as big as she was, she was just skimming over Mother Ocean.

azimut
Azimut on plane

As we approached Beaufort, NC, we passed Brown’s Inlet. The ActiveCaptain description for this inlet simply says: “Browns Inlet is unmarked and used by local boats only;  not recommended to strangers.”

Soon we were off Fort Macon State Park Beach which is just before Beaufort inlet, NC.

Running a dynamic inlet whose shoals change with each storm is not advisable as even the latest published charts with depth soundings will likely be incorrect. That said, we attempted to use the latest NOAA charts to sneak into Beaufort Inlet via a narrow channel close to shore. It was low tide so you don’t get any added water depth over the low water spot soudings. We entered the narrow natural channel displayed on our chartplotter.  I checked the accuracy of the spot soundings (depth numbers) and the actual depths (reported by the sonar) were 3’ shallower than what my recently updated chart displayed. That was not comforting, but I still proceeded slowly at only 1.7 kts.

Beaufort Inlet 6.7
1.6 kts is slow forward

We will run aground at about 5’ and I was already in only 6.7’. To make matters worse, there was an ocean swell that was lifting and dropping the boat above and below the static ocean surface. I was confident that however “skinny”, “thin” or simply “shallow” the depths got that we would make it. After all my charts showed a low of about 10’ and we only needed 5’.

Well, we made it about 10’ from crossing into the deep channel when we bumped the bottom. You have to tell yourself: “resist the temptation to simply push the throttle forward and plow the next 10’ to the deep channel”. You just can’t know how shallow those next 10’ are. You could be pushing your boat up onto a shoal so shallow that the diesel engine / propeller combo won’t have the bite on the water needed to either push or pull you off the shoal. I opted to put her in reverse and spin her back the other way. We knew if we didn’t hit on the way in, we would not hit leaving.

Beaufort Inlet 5.8'
5.8 is Shallow
Beaufort Inlet 10 feet.JPG
10′ more and we could have made it into the deep channel

Note: The top picture showing the chart with 5.8’ depths displayed is not as recent as the chart depicted in the picture below it. We were literally 1/4 of a boat length from making it into the deep channel. You can see our track as we backed out. FYI: track = a black, dotted line or bread crumb path of where your boat has been. The dashed orange line with circular junction points is our plotted course. We backed out and came in the inlet via the mid-channel / safe water buoy. This buoy marks the center of the entrance channel.  Line up with this vertical red-white striped buoy and you are heading directly in the inlet.

Confidence is a good thing as a captain but … so is restraint 😉

I was emailing with a fellow boater who was getting ready to come North from Vero Beach. They have owned their blue water trawler and traveled up and down the coast. However, I still added the below statements to my reply. I did so because, I myself, am often curious where other sailors draw the line at the decision to “go offshore or not”?

Marty Reply: I wish you fair winds and seas however, checking your weather forecast on my favorite web app: http://www.marineweatherbybluefin.com/united-states/app

The NWS weather zone just above Vero Beach shows 3-5′ waves with a 6 second period and winds out of the East. I hear that and think…

1. If the winds were instead out of the West, you could run North tight to the coast.

2. I prefer 2-4′ seas because 3-5 is the average wave height not the significant wave height. 

On average, about 15% of waves will equal or exceed the significant wave height. The highest 10% of waves could be 25-30% higher than the significant wave height. And on occasion (about one per hour) one can expect to see a wave nearly twice the significant wave height.

3. Six seconds is a rather short period. I’m picturing steep waves. Your boat is stabilized,  ours is not. I would not want 6 second period,  5′ possibly 7’ waves on my beam.

On my laptop, I like to use the Windfinder web app

On my smartphone, I like to use the Windfinder Pro iOS app

WindFinder
WindFinder Pro iOS App

When you study the densely displayed data given by this app, you see that the waves during the daylight hours will be… at worst 4.5’, out of the NE with a 6 second period. The tide will go low about an hour before the sun sets (read that as… “about when you are entering the shoaling inlet from the sea”).

Then you say “4.5’ waves are not that bad”. However, that wave height forecast is based on a statistical wave distribution.

Statistical Wave Distribution

Make sure not to mix up “mean, median or average

The average of the biggest 1/3 of the waves you’ll see are much larger, possibly to the height of 6.5’. That is uncomfortable to most crew in an un-stabilized trawler. Note: Blue water, top-heavy, flybridge trawlers often use active fins beneath the waterline to oppose the roll of the vessel to port or starboard. This can dramatically improve the conditions underway in a sea. Naiad is one such company who manufactures marine stabilizers.

Naiad

Here is a dated but decent overview of marine stabilizers

After making our way in the inlet we passed ICW statute mile marker 200. Note: Mile 0 starts in Norfolk, VA and the ICW milage progress to statute mile 1243 in Key West.

ICW Mile 200.JPG
ICW Mile Marker 200

We made it into Adam’s Creek before having to anchor up for the night. Adam’s creek offered us the last anchoring spot before we enter Pamlico Sound and must travel the next 25 or so nautical miles to the Goose Creek anchorages.

Our current anchorage does not offer wind or wave protection but the holding is good. The NE winds are forecast to be light, at only 10kts.

I found it interesting that we had a full moon rise off the stern and a simultaneous sunset off the bow.

Moon
Full Moon
Tonight Moon
Moonrise off the Stern
Tonight Sunset
Sunset off the Bow

Wrightsville Beach NC

We got underway early, leaving the Waccamah River behind us.  Alongside the ICW we found houses like this one. This home just stood out against the others. Why? Crazy downhill fence, twisty walkway? Sawgrass? 2nd level stairway? The palm trees? Or does it all work together?

Home
Breathtaking, like that Seinfeld episode with the ugly baby

Then I passed this 27′ trailerable Nimble Kodiak motorsailer. Interesting little boat. Here is a link to a random 2002 Nimble Kodiak for sale on Yachtworld.com

Kodiak
27′ Nimble Kodiak trailerable motorsailer

We passed the “Sombrero thing” that I could not quite figure out what this place was on our way down the ICW. Now we are heading back and I still have not looked it up.

Sombrero
Sombrero thing and Yes there are propeller eating rocks on the ICW

We passed the Myrtlewood golf course right on the ICW. I’m thinking how many boats get hit with golf balls?

We also passed a home or restaurant that had all these HUGE ocean buoys all around their lot. I love red buoys and green cans but I’m not sure I’d want them as yard ornaments?

Then we came to “Little River Inlet”. You can’t miss it because it has this commercial fishing boat marking the entrance off the ICW.

Little River Fishing Aground
I guess even the pros can have an oops moment?

Kelly & I recall this inlet as one that we ducked into on our old sailboat, Skull & Swords. We were getting beaten up in a storm off Cape Fear and the moment we tucked into Little River Inlet it provided us with a place to anchor for the night.

The ebbing current was running strong as we never hit 11 kts.

SOG 11
11 kts SOG – Speed Over Ground (GPS calculated)

As you twist your way out to sea be careful of the floating steel drums that are just outside the channel.

Little River Drum
Would not want to hit that at night

Little River Inlet twists a sinuous path to the ocean.

Little River sinuous
Snaking it’s way to the ocean

The strong outflow created a distinct boundry between the brown, full of sediment water rushing out and the green water off the coast of NC.

Little River Sediment
Sediment laden waters flowing into the green sea

Friends of ours,  Jimmy and Wende had just taken their fishing boat out of Lockwood Folly Inlet and were chatting with us on the VHF. I had to raise my 45 degree lowered antennas to the upright position to get better reception. On the ICW you must lower your antennas to fit under low bridges. The reduced reception does not matter as you are really just communicating with a passing boat or a marina that you are next to. They were quick to end the call reminding me to put my antennas back up, which I just did after writing that 😉

The inlet they came out of might scare anyone who looks at it on the charts. When you see a bunch of shipwrecks dotting the inlet it might be telling you something about the inlet.

Lockwood Folly Inlet
That’s a lot of boat bones

We had planned to go offshore at Little River Inlet and run the 25 or so km to Cape Fear. However once we were outside we were enjoying making over 9 kts.

SOG 9.2 Off Shore
Making good time

We decided to see if we could find a way through Frying Pan Shoals rather than around them. I spent some time plotting a course that in the end had us seeing 8.7′ at the lowest. Normally we would simply plot a course around Frying Pan Shoals but the added distance could mean a nighttime arrival. A check of the tides showed that we were not going to get much of a lift from the tide.

cape Fear Tide station
Barely 2 hours after a negative low. won’t add much water to the chart soundings

The swell presented a bit of a challenge as well. Ocean swell can push a boat closer to the sea bottom when you slide into the trough of a swell. The swell also can cause “breakers” (think breaking wave tops) where the shoals are shallow. Today however, as we cautiously motored over the shoals our path was uneventful. If you want to cross the shoal there is a path that lies about 3 nautical miles off the point of Bald Head Island. Just take your draft and everything else into consideration before you attempt.

cape Fear 3
Our Actual Path over Frying Pan Shoals – 3 miles out

Once we rounded Cape Fear we were making good progress toward Masonboro Inlet and Wrightsville Beach. You can see on our iPad navigation app the boat icon that is us, a black dotted track line that is where we were as well as the magenta 3 mile offshore dashed line.

Cape Fear
Us rounding Cape Fear

Once inside the inlet we quickly anchored up and watched the sun go down

While the sun was setting the full moon was already up.

Moon

OK, it’s not technically a full moon but 98.8% is close enough. Tomorrow we’ll have a full moon.

St. James Plantation with Friends

We are leaving St. James Plantation Marina in Southport, NC this morning but made a promise to come back and spend more time with our friends Jim & Wende. They were very gracious hosts while we were here and we got to share in the experience of being in a “private town”. So very interesting though I must say Kelly & I will have to investigate exactly what that means?

Wende Kelly Jim Marty

Thanks Jim & Wende, you showed us a great night off the boat and we promise to come back and spend more time.

The night before we had anchored in Sloop Point, NC and the trip down to Southport was an interesting one. We saw heavy equipment dredging around what looked like a new pier going in. I know what salt water does to steel and I still shudder at the thought of dipping an excavator’s arm into salty water. I’m sure the water in the ICW is brackish but still.

Dredging Excavators

I was checking my ICW bridge list and realized that I would not make the Figure Eight Swing Bridge in time for their restricted opening time. This meant that I would be waiting for the next opening. However the bridge tender who I had hailed on the VHF asked me about my air-draft. Your “draft” is your vessels depth in the water and your “air-draft” is your vessel’s height above the water. I replied that I believed it was somewhere between 21-22 feet. The bridge tender remarked that he currently had 22′ of clearance. Every bridge along the ICW has a “height board” that is partially submerged under the water with height markers at the waterline. While all bridges on your nautical charts will list their height at an average high tide, the actual vertical clearance varies with the height of the water. The bridge tender offered to come out of his office and stand under the bridge to check my clearance if I wished to approach the bridge slowly. This can be a tricky maneuver as there was a current pushing Simple Life toward the bridge. I slowly edged the boat idling in reverse to the bridge and bridge tender assured me that I had a good 6″ of gap between the top of our boat and the bottom of the bridge. MV Simple Life’s air-draft is 21′ 6″.

Below is a stock photo of the Figure Eight Swing Bridge as I was too busy at the helm to snap pictures. You can see I circled the “height board” and at the time this picture was taken there was slightly less water under the bridge giving even more clearance than the 22′ we had the other day.

Figure Eight Swing Bridge

Just a few more miles down the ICW and we had to pass through the Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge located at statute mile 278 along the ICW. This is a restricted bridge that only opens on the top of the hour.

Wrightsville Beach Bascule Bridge

As we continued on to Cape Fear (Southport, NC) we were delighted at the scenery.

High Sandy BluffOcean InletMarshy Islands

Dock at Water Level

We passed many Atlantic Ocean inlets that had high sandy bluffs and marshy islands dotting the entrances. You could see and hear the surf breaking in the shallow inlets and it makes for nice scenery. The last of those 4 photos is one of a fixed dock that just barely exceeds the height of the water level. Interesting choice of fixed dock heights as this surely must be slightly submerged at times? Slightly submerged docks must be fun to walk along but just like submerged rock jetties that often protect many of the ports we enter they can be dangerous if boats come into contact with them.

As we got the point where the ICW connects with the Cape Fear River via “Snow’s Cut” we were passed by a US Army Corp of Engineers survey boat. These folks use sophisticated sonar to accurately probe the depths of these constantly changing waterways. He kindly slowed down as he passed and got back on plane once he was in front of us. However, just then the VHF crackled on channel 16, “Trawler in Snow’s Cut, are you OK?”. I quickly answered the hail with “comeback to the trawler in Snow’s Cut”. It was a boat in a marina that was hailing us stating that they “saw what had happened”. I replied, “If you are referring to the ACE boat that passed us, yes we are OK”. I found this communication amusing and I can only guess that the survey boat had passed the marina giving a large wake and making the marina boat unhappy and maybe this was her way of shaming the ACE boat publicly on the VHF?

US ACE Survey Boat

Snow’s Cut Graffiti

It would seem the kids in Snow’s Cut like to party at this old bridge abutment. “Party on” Capt B.

Once in the Cape Fear River it became quickly apparent from the size of the docks that extend out into the river that this river is used by large ships. Passing these behemoths must be done at a distance.

A quick turn back onto the ICW, by a dilapidated building and we arrived at St. James Marina.

Dilapidated Building

St. James Marina

Time to push on to Georgetown, SC where we’ll update with a new post of what we saw along the way.

Prince of Tides

Beaufort, North Carolina is your quintessential small southern town. It is the 3rd oldest town in North Carolina and as you walk through this quaint small town, you can’t help be taken a back by it’s charm.

Santa’s Satellite Workshop in BeaufortClock on a StickCenter of Beaufort

As we came ashore there were two monuments to local heroes within feet of where we landed. The first was Michael John Smith who gave his life for the pursuit of space exploration. Michael was a NASA space astronaut. Like so many, I believe that every human owes a great debt to astronauts who risk their lives so that the human race may have a better chance at surviving this hostile universe. They take risks that many of us might think too great. Michael was aboard the Challenger space shuttle when it exploded only 73 seconds after launch. The entire nation stood in horror at that moment, Like so many of you, I recall the shock and disbelief of this tragedy. The whole nation was forced to mourn the loss of these 7 heroes.

Michael John Smith

The second memorial stone was dedicated to a local oceanographer named John G Newton who discovered the U.S.S. Monitor using side scan sonar technology. Side scan sonar is an improvement on the DSM (Depth Sounder Module) that MV Simple Life uses to determine our depth as we came into Beaufort.

John G. Newton

Leaving Beaufort was as tricky as getting in. The currents here in Beaufort are swift. When we arrived, I had to swing MV Simple Life into a narrow fairway with an extra strong 3 knot current directly on our beam. Simple Life’s full keel gives that current a flat surface to push her down-current quickly. With some fast movements at the helm and some help from the thrusters we landed her gently into our assigned slip. The trip out of the slip was made easier by the fact the strong current was on our bow. I nudged her out of the slip and simply swung the bow a few degrees off the current and she quickly pointed out of the fairway.

The currents can be seen pulling this green can under as we were exiting Beaufort and rounding the Southern point of Radio Island.

Green can pulled under by strong current

Currents are brought on by the tides and our friend Rebecca informed us the the movie “Prince of Tides” was filmed on location here in Beaufort. Knowing now that the movie was fillmed in Beaufort, maybe it’ll make a good first-time watch while on anchor?

Prince of Tides Movie Artwork

Youtube link to 1991 Prince of Tides trailer

Our last night in Beaufort was a late one and the morning’s light was unwelcomed. We had a long trip ahead of us if we were to make Sloop Point anchorage by sunset.

Route Leg From Beaufort to Sloop Point Anchorage

We needed to make up time so we used the fast currents to our advantage and raced westward through Bouge Sound.

 MV Simple Life moving at a rare 11.4 knots thanks to fast currents

Bouge Sound is an East-West body of water trapped between main land North Carolina and a set of barrier islands. The sound has a narrow channel and marshy islands that abound. While the ocean was lumpy, Bouge Sound was a flat and reflective, like a mirror.

The only boat traffic we passed was a tiny little tug and barge with a piece of heavy equipment on it as well as one of those awkward looking front-loaded boats where you drive from the bow.

304CR CAT - I wonder what they are using this piece of equipment for?

Just looks strange to me.

A little further South and we were reminded that Camp Legune is around us. Signs along the river warn of possible live fire events.

Incoming!

This picture of a shelled APC (I’m just guessing this was an armored personnel carrier, military expertise needed here)  reminds me of a Monet or maybe a watercolor painting.  The marshy grasses in the foreground simply mush together while the island and threatening clouds in the background appear to bleed and wash out the watercolors on a canvas.

With sunset approaching we had to race to make it through the restricted Onslow Beach swing bridge.

Winslow Beach swing bridge

Every morning we research where the shoals are along the ICW. It seems the ICW’s bottom is in a constant state of evolution. You need to use sites like activecaptain.com/livemap/ to be able to use the knowledge other ICW boaters have posted to avoid running aground like this poor sailboat did.

Sailboat hard aground @ New River

We anchored in Sloop Point behind green daymark 15 and it was a peaceful night as we listed to the rain pitter-patter on the boat. The perfect background noise as we whisked off to the master stateroom.

Supermoon Where Are You?

Yesterday morning we awoke before sunrise and got underway to Beaufort, NC.

The first & last supermoon of 2017 was helping slice through the dark as we pushed away from the dock.

Supermoon 2017
Supermoon Reflecting the Sun’s Rays

 

Supermoon infographic
Supermooninfographic

Supermoons happen when a full moon approximately coincides with the moon’s perigee, or a point in its orbit at which it is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

December’s supermoon is actually the first of three back-to-back supermoon full moons to come in the next two months. On Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, the full moon will also occur near the moon’s arrival at perigee, according to NASA, which billed the line up as a supermoon trilogy. The Jan. 31 supermoon is also the second full moon of January, making it a Blue Moon, and also occurs during a total lunar eclipse.

 

As the sun got ready to sneak over the horizon there was a beautiful orange-pink hue reflecting off the water.

Before Sunrise
Before Sunrise

Today’s leg of our journey takes us from Hobucken, NC to Beaufort, NC

The Beaufort of coastal North Carolina is “BOH-fert”. The Beaufort of South Carolina is pronounced “BYOO-fert”. Established in 1709, Beaufort is the third-oldest town in North Carolina.

Leg Beaufort
Beaufort Leg of Journey

As we made our way out of Goose Creek and into Pamlico Sound, the only traffic we passed was a tug pushing a barge.

Tug and Barge
YATPB – Yet Another Tug Pushing Barge

The dominant wave set was coming from the NE and that meant we had a following sea as we turned and made our way down the Neuse River. A following sea that is slightly to one side of the stern can be annoying when you are at the helm. The waves catch up to the boat from behind and lift the stern pushing it to port or starboard. This can swing the bow as much as 30 degrees at times and it starts to feel like you are pointing the boat all over the place. I made a quick adjustment to increase the autopilot’s response rate and the bow heading deflection lessened considerably. Being a slow boat (6-9 knots) you are often at the helm from sun-up to sundown to make your destination. Autopilot is an electronic device with some firmware loaded on it that drives a hydraulic pump which turns the rudder. There are many settings that you can control but the response rate is the one you will want to adjust so that the rudder position changes are swift or slow enough for how you want the boat to point.

As weekend boaters, we were boating in destinations like Block Island, Nantucket or Provincetown. These locations are anywhere between 6-12 hours from our home port in Warwick, RI. We would be forced to run the boat at 8.5 knots and only get about 1 MPG. Now that we are full-time boaters, we slow the boat to about 6 knots and get 4 MPG. You can go 4X farther if you simply reduce your speed by 2.5 knots. (Recall 1 knot = 1.15 MPH so approximately every 6 knots you would simply add 1 to get the speed in MPH).

Even knowing this, we made the decision to up the speed to 8.5 knots and reduce the amount of time spent in the following sea.

Happy and Chief Martin Brody appreciated that we burned a a bit more fuel for their comfort.

Brody and Happy
Chief Martin Brody and his Big Sister Happy
Wake
Wake in the Neuse River

As we turned into Adam’s Creek the ride smoothed out and we dropped back down to 6 knots. The current in Adam’s Creek was swift and the DSM (Depth Sounder Module aka. Fish Finder) was showing asymmetric rippling of the creek bottom. I believe this is caused by a swift bottom current.

Adams Creek Rippled Bottom
Asymmetric Rippled Bottom of Adams Creek

The fish finder was also well, finding fish. The DSM uses sonar or high frequency sound generated by a device that protrudes through the hull and is sending a column of sound waves straight down beneath the boat. These sound waves not only reflect off the bottom but when they hit a fish the sound resonates in the fish’s swim bladder (a small air-filled sack that helps control a fish’s buoyancy) and this echo is detected and colored sharply to allow you to spot fish on the screen.

DSM Fish
Look Swim Bladders

Adam’s Creek is a lovely place with lots of sights to see.

Youtube Video of Bald Eagle in Adams Creek

Adams Creek spills out into the Newport River and it’s marshes and shallows are something that you will want to avoid.

Newport River
Newport Marshes as you Head South to Beaufort
Shallow Birds Standing.JPG
Kelly & I Often Joke… “If You Want to Know Where it’s Shallow; it’s Where the Birds are Standing”

As we pulled into our slip in Beaufort we hailed the dockmaster who warned us about the swift current running transverse to the slip we were assigned. As we pulled in to the fairway the current slammed into our full keel and began to push the boat toward the bows of the boats across the fairway. I was forced to back out quickly and reposition so that I could now take the swift current into account and position the boat for rapid spin and quick back into our slip. Kelly was quick to toss lines to the dockhands and soon we were checked in and given the keys to a “courtesy car”. Up North, I’ve never stayed at a marina that offers a fee courtesy car to marina guests. The car was a welcome treat and we put it to good use re-provisioning the boat with more food & beer.

Courtesy Car Kelly
Courtesy Car – We Got Wheels!

With all our chores completed we quickly made off to the marina bar for happy hour and spent time chatting with Bartender Kristen and fellow bar patron, Dan. Dan was an amazing fellow who told us stories of his solo sailing around the world in a small boat. He offered us some local knowledge about wild horses that roam the islands around here. I KNOW more wild horses to find!

Kelly and Dan
Kelly & Sailor Dan

After I consumed as many 50 cent pork sandwiches as a man can eat and washed them down with a great local IPA it was time to retire to the boat.

Hoppyum IPA.JPG
Great Local IPA From Foothills Brewery

We were no sooner readying for bed when we were accosted by “Monkey Bird”. This vile creature had a penetrating stare and an awful cry. I spent sometime staring into this monster’s gaze and knew it was time to lock the door and keep the crew of Simple Life safe.

So it’s off to bed.

Monkey Bird Standing.png
Monkey Bird Prowling the Docks

 

Coinjock, NC to Hobucken, NC

Coinjock Marina is a great place to stop along the ICW. The Sandbar even had an Xmas tree up.

Xmas Tree
Too Early?

While we were at the pier a 1998 Bayliner 4788 arrived during the night and as they passed us we saw the severe damage to their bow.

Bayliner 4788 Bow
Hope Nobody was Injured

It was a reminder about how dangerous boating down the ICW can be (especially when traveling at night). I hope nobody was seriously hurt. After having a crash like that you’d think you’d stay far away from everyone but as they passed us I thought for a second that they might hit us.

Bayliner 4788 Close
Yikes – This Pic Snapped Out My Pilothouse Window!

At that moment I went out in my PJs and attached two fenders to the canal side (just in case 😉  )

When we left Coinjock Marina it was foggy.

Coinjock Pier
Coinjock Pier Looking Off our Stern

Even as we headed down the canal we had to rely on our radar to see any far out vessels.

Fog
Fog Was Worse Than This at Times

As you travel down these canals you will find homes along the canal and people going about their daily business.

Coinjock Home
Me Waving from the Pilothouse to the Locals

As we traveled along we saw several boats anchored just outside the channel. Being anchored well after sunrise is a sign that someone is having a peaceful morning enjoying their coffee.

Anchored in Fog Close
Peaceful Morning on Anchor

We continued South down the North River and into Albemarle Sound. There was not a single boat to be found in the sound. We had the crossing to ourselves. While approaching the mouth of Alligator River I saw, what I thought were boats but upon closer binocular examination, I see they are some sort of mini islands? I’m not sure of their purpose? They look to big to be duck blinds?

Alligator River mini islands
I Need to Figure Out What These Are?

We anchored at the head of the Alligator River as we lost daylight. The anchorage was quiet with no boats passing but the cellular signal was dead. During much of the transit we would see our cell signal go from LTE => 3G => Extended 1X => blank. At times we would be excited to see 3G and upon trying to connect, we’d see the signal instantly drop to “Extended 1X” which did not work at all.

No Signal Extended 1X small
What Kind of Tomfoolery is this?

 

The Alligator River – Pungo River Canal was long and straight.

Canal Straight
I Can See For Miles

Along the banks of this canal you can see the erosion from passing wakes.

Canal Bank
Geology Experts of the Future Will be Doing Molecular Analysis on That Green Line

You will see many birds as you float along. It’s a reminder to me to improve my ornithological skills.

 

You’ll see other things that you’ll want to stay clear of like …

 

At times this can be difficult as you run straight down the sun heading South. While the camera does well looking into the sun, I was struggling at times.

Sun Dead on BowJPG
Staring Match With The Sun

We arrived in Hobucken, NC and tied to an old dock for the night.

 

Coinjock_to_Hobucken Edited
2 Days Journey

It’s been quiet here except for the passing tug pushing a barge down the river at night. At one point I was staring at a stand of tall trees that were illuminated on the shore and I could not for the life of me see the source of that light?

Spotlight on Trees
A Stand of Trees Illuminated

It became apparent moments later that it was the spotlight of an approaching tug and we braced for it’s passing wake.

Barge at Night 1
Barge at Night Passing Us While We are Docked