Goal: Move Endeavor north to the Pamlico Sound area before a forecasted storm front arrives.
Obstacle #1: Cape Fear River
Going north from Southport on the inside means sailing up the Cape Fear River for 10 miles. No big deal. Unless you are in a sailboat and the tide is running out against you. The river can flow out at almost 3 mph. Subtract that from our usual cruising speed of 6.2 mph and the scenery drags by.
Most slow boats wait for the tide to change to get a boost up the river. Sadly, the incoming tide currently hits about 11:45am. Leaving that late in the morning means a short mile day. So we, like others, compromise and start earlier, say 10:30am. We have current against us for the first hour or so, but then it slows and switches direction.
Obstacle #2: Shoals
The Intracoastal Waterway was designed to allow commercial and pleasure boats to move along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico without need for ocean travel. Due to the action of tidal currents, silting forms shallow spots that must be dredged to allow boats to pass safely. ICW dredging is a favorite target of budget cutters in Washington, so boats must dodge these ever-changing sand bars . Most of our buddy boats are about 5 feet draft, so when they see the depth go to six feet they reach for Rolaids.
Even though Endeavor runs shallow, opaque shallow water is unnerving. I sure miss the clear Bahamian water. So nice seeing what is below you.
Obstacle #3: Swing and Bascule Bridges
Most bridges we pass are 65 feet above the water and thus no obstacle. The remainder are swing or bascule types. Many open on a schedule and the rest open when called. Schedules are either on the hour and half-hour, or just on the hour. We must time our approach to arrive at the bridge close to the open time. Get there too early and you have to fight current, wind and other boaters while waiting for the opening. Get there one minute late and you may be delayed an hour until the next opening.
We’re becoming skilled at using our navigation programs to estimate time of arrival; usually arriving at the bridge within a minute or two of open.
Obstacle #4: Heavy Weaponry
Camp LeJeune was along our path today. The Marines practice firing live ammo over the ICW. The Swiss cheese armored personnel carrier below has taken a few rounds.
If they shot over the ICW while we sailed by and watched… that would be COOL! But, no, they close the ICW for up to 4 hours to practice. No practice scheduled today, but we could have lost 1/2 day of travel.
Obstacle #5: The Non-Slow Pass
A slow pass goes like this:
Boat B wanting to overtake boat A calls boat A on the radio and asks permission to do a slow pass. A agrees and reduces to no-wake speed. Boat B slows to just faster and passes boat A with little wake. Once past, boat B goes back to full speed and boat A resumes cruising speed.
Most cruisers are kind enough to do this for others.
Others, not so much. The biggest offenders, IMHO, are sport fishermen. Apparently the fish cannot wait another 30 seconds, so these clowns race through no wake zones, make kayakers fearful, wake other fishermen and generally disregard all others.
Not that I have a strong opinion or anything.
Obstacle #6: Distractions
Real estate along the ICW is generally expensive looking, with flashy boats and water toys everywhere. Some of these toys are scary-distracting, like the two Sea-Doos that passed us within 20 feet doing say, 65 mph. Some are OMG-distracting, like the boat full of tanned supermodels in bikinis.
And some are I-want-that-distracting, like this personal helicopter. Better than the Sea Doos or supermodels any day.
Despite all these obstacles, we made a big dent in our Charleston to Norfolk leg.
Yesterday we started later to catch the Cape Fear River tide and took until almost sundown to reach our destination 45 miles away. The day just seemed to drag.
Today it all came together. I started sailing at 7 am. We hit two scheduled bridges on time. We had a 15-20 mph tailwind. We had current going our way most of the trip, especially the last 18 miles racing up Adams Creek. With all these advantages we made it 76 miles by 6:10pm.
We pushed the mileage to make sure we are in a protected anchorage. Heavy weather is expected to move in late tonight and last 3 days. The anchorage in Cedar Creek, just south of Oriental, North Carolina, is more secure than what was available along the ocean.
We’ve averaged 46 miles each day since leaving Charleston, so sitting out a couple days of weather will be restful.
I wanted to go ashore at Camp LeJeune and scrounge some stuff for the 4th of July, but the Admiral nixed that idea. What a party pooper.