Ahoy from Myrtle Beach, SC!
You definately know that you're getting further south when you see more and more Confederate flags...
The last two days have been very busy. On Sunday we were up at 5:15 and moving down the ICW by 5:45. I won't mention that it was 36 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like mid 20s...We had three bridges to make it through which had horrible schedules, so to make sure that we made it to the first one on time we departed in the cold and dark. The problem with moving a boat when it's cold out is that you're just sitting there in the open cockpit without moving. The best analogy that I can think of is standing in a ski lift line for hours. It's cold!
We made the 1st bridge with 15 minutes to spare and then we idled towards the next bridge which was 5 miles away because it appeared that there was no way to make it to the next bridge in half an hour. There was a 4+ mph current going with us for the last section and it appears that the bridge operator held the bridge for 5-10 minutes, so some of the sail boats that we had been with made it. Had I realized all of the above, I would have put the pedal to the metal and tried for it. Instead we putted along and got there 1 hour later and then waited another 10 minutes for some boats to make it to the bridge! Arghhh!!!
The common event over the past two days (other than waiting for bridges) was going aground. In general the ICW has 10-15' of water, but at ocean inlets there can be significant shoaling. It was low tide as we approached the Carolina Beach inlet at about 7 MPH. The inlet was on the left and I was on the right hand side of the channel when we came to a sudden stop next to buoy R 154A. Luckily I was able to back off and keep moving, but it certainly got the adrenaline running! Similarly, we were going through the Little River inlet and I had just said "this looks like a dangerous spot" when we went aground. The inlet crosses the ICW and I had confused a buoy from the inlet crossing with the ICW buoys. As it turns out, the cruising guides mention this, but I hadn't been reading the guide as we went along. We didn't get off the shoal until a boat went by and its wake floated us free. As I said to Sue, "This certainly has been an exciting section of the ICW!"
One of major differences between the ICW before Beaufort, NC and the ICW after Beaufort is that the coastal ICW has strong currents. Water flows in and out of inlets depending upon the state of the tide in the Atlantic. The tidal range is about 4.5' and that generates strong currents. I swear that every time that we had currents with us, that we were idling waiting for bridges and that when we had to make miles, we had the currents against us. I'm sure that isn't true, but it sure felt that way. It's great when you've got 4 MPH with you, but it's agonizing when it's against you.
We spent last night on Bald Head Island (Cape Fear, NC) where some friends from home, Jeff and Karen Saunders, were staying. We had dinner with them at the house that they were renting and we had a wonderful meal and a great time.
I had wanted to head off-shore when we hit Cape Fear, but there's a strong low pressure system moving up the coast and is supposed to generate 20-25 kt winds out of the SE during the night. Had we left this morning, we would have been on our way to Charleston when the front moved through. Not fun. As a result we headed down the ditch and we ended up in North Myrtle Beach. Tomorrow it's supposed to be windy and rainy, so we'll see how far we're going to make it. I sure hope that the weather cooperates and lets us off-shore so that we can make some serious miles.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
Bald head island is a wonderful stop and should be included on any itinerary. Be sure to spend time touring the island and make it to the top of the lighthouse. The marina rate was $1.25/ft. The Barefoot Landing marina in N. Myrtle Beach is no longer free and doesn't allow rafting. The docks have been rebuilt and have power and water and are $1.25/ft.
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