We’re on our way to Oriental, NC today after stops in Southport and Swansboro. On the way to Southport, we got stuck at the Sunset pontoon bridge at low tide. It’s the only remaining pontoon bridge on the ICW. When the tide is too low, the roadway that sits on the pontoons can’t move to allow the bridge to open. This means that no boats (other than a jet ski) can get through. It creates quite a log jam! We anchored on the south side of the bridge and waited about 2 hours until the bridge could finally open. Once the floodgates opened, boats went screaming past us with no regard for courtesy. We were just as frustrated as they were, we just can’t move as fast!
We stayed an extra day in Southport because I just couldn’t face going out there again with all of the crazed holiday weekend boaters. It’s a little different on the ICW than on the Chesapeake. At least on the Bay there’s plenty of room to maneuver around. Not so on the ICW. Think South River on a weekend but with a very narrow channel. It really makes me wonder why there aren’t any licensing laws for boaters. We saw so many clueless people not only putting themselves in danger but other boaters as well. There were boats loaded down with passengers (do they have enough life vests?), small children bouncing along on the bow without life vests, boats moving at unsafe speeds and passing too close to other boats, children on floats being towed behind a fast moving boat with only a driver and no one to alert him if the children fell off (a good way to save on the college fund??), etc. Anyway, I saw enough to write myself a big note — get home before Memorial day next year!! BTW, we saw very few cruising boats last weekend so they must have received the memo.
It was a nice stopover in Southport. We stayed at the same marina in the fall when we visited Ken and Cathy McGill. We spent the morning cleaning up the boat and then walked into town. Almost all of the homes along the main road have historic markers – some go back as far as the mid-1800’s. All are beautifully restored with elaborate gardens and porches. We found a fun pet store and bought Bailey a new toy, a ‘chill pill’. Now I can say ‘take a chill pill, Bailey!’ We enjoyed a relaxing lunch at Fishy Fishy right on the waterfront. We had planned to go out to dinner but the recommended restaurant was closed on Sunday (as were many of the businesses.) So, a big lunch was a good alternative. Ken and Cathy came by in the evening and we had fun getting caught up with them. They took us out for ice cream — I had my favorite vanilla/cookie dough sundae!
An early start on Monday put us on the way to Swansboro, NC. It was a 4 bridge day – all of which opened on a schedule instead of on demand. That make timing openings tricky because we’re not traveling at a constant speed. We have strong current either pushing us faster or slowing us down. We put the headsail out to gain some speed and made one of the bridges on time. The others involved slowing down and waiting. I’m always nervous when approaching bridges, especially when we have to slow down and wait amongst other boats in a crowded, narrow channel. Skip let me take the boat through the last bridge. There weren’t any other boats around so it allowed me to see how the boat handles when trying to wait for the bridge to open. I almost approached too fast but the bridge tender warned me that the bridge would swing towards me. It was a little hairy but I did fine!
We docked at Dudley’s marina where we had stayed in the fall. You can’t beat $28.50 a night! The docks are run down but the people are so friendly and helpful. We got started a little later this morning (7am instead of 6am!) and are making our way to Oriental. It’s so nice and quiet out here!
We think we can make it to Hampton, VA by the weekend. Pretty soon, we’ll be back in familiar territory on the Chesapeake!