Sunday, November 10, 2013

Monday and Tuesday, November 4-5, 2013

Monday November 4th

This morning was an early scheduled trip.  We thought about trying to make Carolina Beach which would be a 53 mile day.  Instead we stopped at Wrightsville Beach (39 miles) at the Southpath Yacht Club. 

It wasn't a good day for us so we felt we needed a dock to unwind on, especially since the winds were predicted to blow strong all night long. The only anchorage is at the Motts Channel and this area is exposed to the winds out of the northeast....which is the direction the winds were coming from.

It was Al's turn to lead and we knew there were two 'trouble spots' in todays section of our trip.  We made it past the first area at the New River Inlet.  A barge was coming at us from around the corner, but we past port to port without any problems because the water was wide.  We motor sailed under the first fixed bridge, the North Topsail Beach Bridge.  Then all the excitement started about 2.5 miles down the ICW!

Colette called and wanted to know if I had read about the next trouble spot.  I hadn't and so I checked Active Captain.  The reviews all said that at mile marker 255 along Everett Bay,  boats should stay close to the G37 and definitely away from the R36.  We followed  Al who was doing exactly what we read about!  All of a sudden, Al was on a sandbar, and then we were on the sandbar.  Oh boy, what are we going to do now?  We both tried to back off but the NE winds and the outgoing tide were working against us!

Al finally wiggled off with his 4' 6" wing keel but we couldn't budge.  The trawler, Moxie, cruised close to the red 36 can and I hailed him on the VHF radio to get his reading of the depth.  Thirteen feet!  If only we could wiggle over there! 

We kept our cool and came up with a plan.....lower the dinghy and motor and push the bow of Happy Hours II to turn her around.  This way we could motor back out the way we got onto the sandbar.  Chuck was in the dinghy, but before he could attempt to push, Colette called and said they were off the bar and coming back to give us a tow. What a couple!!   Mind you,  other sailboats kept right on coming and squeezing by while Al motored back through the skinny deep water without getting stuck for a second time!!

Chuck motored over to their boat Euphoria and grabbed the tow rope.  I was at the bow of the boat and Chuck motored back,  threw me the tow rope to cleat off, then quickly tied up the dinghy and jumped inside our boat to man the helm.  This all happened so quickly it felt like we were in fast motion!  Chuck gunned our engine while Al revved up his engine and our boat pivoted 180 degrees on our wing keel!!   Yahoo, we were floating again!!  Thank you, Al and Colette!  :))  We both thought we were going to have to call Tow Boat US.  Thank you, thank you......Motoring back south close to R36, we saw 13 feet at mid tide. So much for our first bit of excitement!!

Moving on to the Figure Eight Bridge....we got
there late for the hour swing so we had to hover around to get the half hour bridge.  Since the winds were blowing predominately out of the north, they were pushing us.  We also had a strong current which was moving us right along.  Everything would have been fine if the bridge tender would have been on time...and the sailboat behind us wasn't so close.  We were running out of space to maneuver and almost got pushed into the bulkhead at the bridge.  Chuck didn't panic and was able to back us out of this jam.  The other sailboats were aware of our predicament and held back to give us the space we needed to get out of this bad situation.

Because we made the half hour opening at the Figure Eight Bridge, we knew we couldn't make it to the Wrightsville Beach Bridge for its 'on the hour' opening.   About 15 of us had 1.5 hour to travel 5 miles between the two bridges!  The winds and current were very strong at this stretch of the ICW.  We were in neutral and still drifting along at a good clip.  Soon, each boat turned and decided to motor back up the river about three-fourths of a mile to maintain control of their boat.  We decided that in these conditions, it's best to be near the end of the pack while waiting for the bridge!

Finally, the bascule bridge opened and we needed to find G25.  This is where we needed to make a sharp port turn to get to Seapath Yacht Club.  However, we couldn't end the day without more excitement!  As soon as we made the turn, we discovered that there was shoaling at the entrance to our channel and it didn't help that it was dead low tide!   A large sailboat, Dragon Fly,  was stuck and wiggling to find deep water.  We hit sand and while we were attempting to also find some water, a catamaran made the turn and just couldn't wait to get around all of the congestion.  Both of us sailboats found the water we needed and headed to the fuel docks before docking for the night.

We still had daylight for a few hours so Al, Colette, Chuck, and I walked into Wrightsville Beach....and out onto the beach at the ocean!  The Atlantic was very rough but that wasn't a surprise at all considering the winds.  There were guys surfing and a couple swimming.   Burrrrrr!!   The tourist town of Wrightsville Beach was very quiet...not much going on like in the spring and summer months.   As the skies darkened, we headed back to the marina to take  real showers and then onto our boat to plan for tomorrow's trip.

Tuesday, November 5th

Oh not a good day!  The winds were blowing like stink all night and continued into the morning.  Colette texted to see if we wanted to spend another night at Wrightsville Beach.  Why not?  The weather reports said that Wednesday was to be a much better day.  Our concerns were about cruising down the Cape Fear River.  If the winds and currents are working against each other, the waves become unbearable....and that's exactly what would be happening today!!

We thought we'd make the most of our day on shore.  Chuck and I booked
the courtesy car for 2 hours and Al and Colette booked it for the next two hours.  This gave us 4 hours to provision our boats and pick up other items that we needed.  It was too far without the car to go to West Marine, the hardware store, and Walmart. We used every bit of the four hours and plus some, to do our running and all we had to do was put some fuel in the vehicle that we borrowed.....good deal.

Later in the afternoon, we decided we needed to stretch our legs.  We walked to the park across the street from the marina, then west to the drawbridge that spans the ICW, across the bridge to the Bridge Tender Marina and back.  Happy hour was on our boat and then early to bed.  Wow, what a busy day!

Boats waiting for bridge openng
Swift current by bridge

Bridge Tender Marina


  1. Glad to hear your grounding didn't last too long. Sounds like an exciting day.


  2. I have found when using active captain, you have to go to the review tab to see if a shoaling mark is still valid. Many times it was dead wrong and was updated on the review page and corrected. Just an FYI.