We finally left River Dunes on Thursday along with many other cruisers anxious to get further south. Motoring down the Neuse River we entered Adams Creek heading for Morehead City. We stayed behind another boat that kept us informed of any large floating debris. Storms that produce higher than normal water levels wash away a lot of junk.
As we puttered along we were entertained by a call on the VHF radio for help. As the story unfolded, a foreign (possibly German) sailor went aground in the Neuse River. He hardly spoke English and just kept asking for help. When the Coast Guard responded they proceeded to give him a lecture on using the proper terminology. He was told to ask for ‘assistance’ not ‘help’. How very useful to a guy who doesn’t speak English! Anyway, they checked out his towing insurance status and found that he was not insured. Thankfully, another sailor came to his ‘assistance’!
We stayed one night in the Morehead City Yacht Basin. It’s a nice place with a long face dock that can be challenging to leave with the wrong wind direction. Joe and Cheryl (Fantabulous) also came here from River Dunes and we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Floyd’s 1921 restaurant.
On Friday we traveled to Mile Hammock Bay along with a long stream of boaters heading south. We were leading Fantabulous and Silhouette (Bob and Pam) as this is their first trip on the ICW. Silhouette is a Catalina 470 like Onward so they have to be careful with fixed bridge heights (they need at least 64ft.)
We were doing okay until everyone got jammed up waiting for the Onslow Beach bridge to open. The winds picked up, the current was strong and the bridge opens verrrry slowly–all a combination for frenetic maneuvers. It was so unnerving that we made a solemn oath to never get piled up so close to a bridge with so many boats. We will be perfectly happy to wait in the back!
As we approached Mile Hammock Bay we were happy to see only a few boats anchored and plenty of room. That didn’t last long. By sunset, there were over 20 boats there, most of whom had to try several times to get the anchor to stick (took us 2 tries!) The harbor was dug out for Camp Lejeune and is not well-marked for depths. One boat went hard aground and it took TowBoatUS a while to get him unstuck.
After a trying day we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. I kept taking pictures and it kept getting better and better!
Today we made out way through the gauntlet of 3 timed bridges to Wrightsville Beach. We decided to wait until a lot of the boats left the anchorage before heading out…our new back-of-the-pack strategy! The 3 bridges are not well-timed for slow boats and the changes in our speed as we pass inlets makes it even more challenging. We made it through without any issues although Silhouette was traumatized by their first grounding on the waterway–not fun but it’s bound to happen eventually.
Wrightsville Beach is a great anchorage, one of my favorites. We launched the dinghy and took Bailey for a walk on the beach. After showers and quick naps we were ready for dinner with a bunch of cruisers at Tower 7 Baja Mexican Grill.
This morning was cold, really cold. Skip started up our camping heater (a small catalytic heater that runs on propane) to warm up the cabin. It’s time to get further south!! We’re heading to Southport tomorrow and Myrtle Beach the next day. We want to get as far away as we can from the Nor’easter that’s going to hit in a few days.