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?
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.
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.
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.
As we continued on to Cape Fear (Southport, NC) we were delighted at the scenery.
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?
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.
Time to push on to Georgetown, SC where we’ll update with a new post of what we saw along the way.