We just left Beaufort NC and passed mile marker 200 on the ICW–just 200 more miles to go and we’ll be back in the bay (and done with bridges!!)
The trip from Georgetown to Myrtle Beach went very quick on Monday. We had a good current with us and only a few bridges to negotiate. Even the notoriously snarky bridge tender at the Socastee bridge was very prompt and courteous. We stopped for the night at Lightkeepers marina in North Myrtle Beach. It was a very nice place–friendly staff, good rates and very clean showers. Our friends on Fiscal Stray (Tod and Anne) also came into the marina and joined us for drinks.
We know several retired Social Security people in the area and called them at the last minute to see if they were available for dinner. We were happy that Bev and Al Ibbott and Cathy and Ken McGill could join us. They took us to The Boundary House where we enjoyed the delicious food and hearing all about the good life in North Carolina.
Another early start got us safely through the Sunset Beach pontoon bridge before low tide. They’re building a new high-rise bridge so maybe next year we’ll have one less bridge to deal with! It was a slow trip up the Cape Fear river as the tide had not yet turned and we were going against it. I kept a lookout for large ships, barges, ferries, etc. that make their way up the channel to Wilmington. We were passed by one container ship (we stayed at the edge of the channel as it passed!)
Coming into the anchorage in Wrightsville beach is always a treat. It’s one of my favorite spots. We dropped the anchor and put the dinghy down to take Bailey ashore for a run on the beach. As we were heading to the dinghy dock another boat waved us over to tell us that the sailboat between their boat and ours was adrift and may swing into us as the current changes. The owner was supposedly on his way. Since there wasn’t any wind and the tide wasn’t changing for a while we still took Bailey ashore. We had to cut his beach romp short to get back to the boat.
As it turned out, the drama was way overblown. The woman who told us about the drifting boat called Towboat and had them come out to help with the situation. When the towboat showed up the owner was aboard and he took his boat way far away to reanchor it. Crisis averted!
The next day we followed 6 other sailboats out of the inlet to head offshore for Beaufort. This was after much discussion and debate over continuing on the waterway or going offshore. Skip said that the weather forecast looked good. I wasn’t real keen on going offshore but I could see the advantage of avoiding the next 4 bridges with their ill-timed opening schedules. I could tell that Skip really wanted to try the offshore route so I said ‘let’s go’.
It was pretty rolly once we got out there with the wind and waves behind us. We rigged the preventer on the mainsail and set the course–a straight line to the Beaufort inlet. The conditions weren’t awful (yet) so we settled in the cockpit for the long day of motor sailing. I describe traveling on the waterway as ‘boring’ and I like it that way. The trip offshore was mostly boring but the difference is that it’s much more comfortable for me when I can go below, read or do crosswords, make lunch or nap when we’re on the waterway. Offshore, the only thing I could do was look at the water and watch the time tick slowly by. I much prefer the other ‘boring’.
About 2 hours before we were to arrive at the inlet the wind piped up and became gusty. We were sailing with just the main out and should have reefed it before heading into the inlet. It was a lot of wind and waves behind us and difficult to keep the main from jibing. I was so happy when I could see the calm water ahead. Bailey and I were about ready to mutiny!
We pulled into the Beaufort Docks marina and I kissed the solid ground! We were too tired to shower before going out so we just settled into the Dock House restaurant and had our free beers (courtesy of the marina) with a light meal. Lots of other boats came into the marina, including several large motor yachts. As luck would have it a large motor yacht pulled in near us with a bunch of loud mouthed delivery crew on board. I had to close the hatches to get some sleep–I love it how some people feel they’re entitled to make as much noise as possible in a crowded marina!
Yesterday was a nice layover in Beaufort. I cleaned the boat and even tried to scrape some of the green yuck off of our waterline. Skip changed the oil and I did laundry–hopefully for the last time before we get home. Another Sabre named Briezi came into the docks flying a quarantine flag. They left the Abacos and headed straight for Beaufort. It took them 71 hours and they had some pretty rough conditions. Well, it took us 2 weeks to get from the Abacos to Beaufort and I’m not complaining!!
After lunch we strolled around town. They have a free maritime museum and a large shipbuilding workshop where you can observe volunteers at work. Skip went back to the boat for a nap and I continued exploring the town. As I headed back towards the boat I ran into Anne from Fiscal Stray. They had just pulled in right next to us! Tod borrowed a courtesy car and I went along with them to the grocery store. In the evening we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at The Beaufort Grocery.
Today we hope to make it to Belhaven or somewhere near the entrance to the Pungo/Alligator river canal. It’s too early in the day to decide!