It was my plan to leave Town Creek Marina to catch the 6am Gallants Channel
|When you don't pay attention to marks|
I was waffling about whether to go inside or not until a passing comment about Camp LeJeune firing exercises came up. With a bit of searching I found out several things: 1; the AICW is closed while they're firing across it, 2; there is only one 1 hour opening at noon to allow vessels to pass, 3; there's a site to get the schedule, and 4; the US Coast Guard has the phone number for the Fire Control Officer.
So off into Onslow Bay I went. The wind was 10kts or so and seas 1 to 4 ft in
|A hitchhiker comes aboard|
|Banks Channel looking at Wrightsville Beach|
The next morning with current with me I flew down the ICW towards Snow's Cut through to the Cape Fear River.
There was enough wind, eventually, to pull out the jib. Sadly, the right turn towards Snows Cut was really close! Back in went the sail.
|Entering Snows Cut|
The marina has a band shell, a wide main dock, and its own pump out boat. Apparently, every two weeks they have some shindig at the band shell. I happened to be there the weekend that Dwight Yoakam was putting on a show and the Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise was to be there for tours and good will as part of its Atlantic trip this year.
|Pender's Cafe Wilmington NC|
After breakfast, I took a walk along the Riverwalk - a boardwalk that goes from one end of Wilmington to the other. It's a lovely long walk and well worth taking the stroll. Because it was morning (early-ish) the shops alongside were closed. I'll bet it's really bustling during the summer months.
|Wilmington River Walk looking north|
Bill and I took advantage of the free tours of the "Arctic Sunrise". We wanted to see the engine room but that wasn't to be. Still, interesting enough.
|Pot Luck Dinner|
|Greenpeace "Arctic Sunrise"|
The next day, Sunday, Bill and I went to a ribs place - Mission BBQ - where you get dry rubbed ribs. Really good ones, too. Highly recommended. If I ever go back I have the cup that allows me free iced tea. So there's that.
Monday morning. I had planned to go out the Cape Fear River and outside to Charleston - about 20 hours. The wind was right, the current was right and I was flying down the river motor sailing. As I left Bald Head Island to port and entered the Cape Fear channel the waves were pretty steep - I buried the bow a couple of times. One actually lifted the 75lb anchor off the roller. Fortunately the restraining cable kept it aboard or it could have been a real disaster.
Anyway, about two hours into the open ocean the engine problem returned with a vengence. I checked the Racor and great, honking bubbles passing through. This is not good - I had checked the whole fuel system except the Racor. So I bypassed it. Hey, presto! Engine runs fine.
I called my friend, Cory, for an opinion about running another 20 hours with no fuel/water separator. His comment was, "What's the worst that could happen? Water gets to the injectors, they plug or water gets into the cylinders and you ruin the engine." Sometimes, it's best to change plans.
New course: Little River Inlet. I finally got a slip at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club and ordered a new Racor from Boater's World in Little River. That took me two days, or rather I had to wait until 2:00pm the next day for the filter. Amazing enough, but by the time it was replaced there was no where I could go in the few hours remaining.
Also, West Marine and Boater's World near by. Helpful.
In order to miss all the stupid little bridges between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown I left the next morning for Winyah Inlet out the Little River Inlet (current with me yet again). It was a calm and beautiful day. I took the opportunity to add cleats to the main mast that I've really wanted to do for years. They allow me to organize the halyards.
|Sunset North Santee River|
The next morning I headed out with the plan of passing through Charleston towards an anchorage south. I would have stopped there but there's no room to keep Pelican for the month I want to come home. New plan is to leave her in Brunswick, GA. It's a beautiful day and the tide rising so I can get through the ICW near Isle of Palms (notoriously shallow, even though recently dredged).
|Charleston from the harbor|
getting stuck right in the middle of a channel. Fortunately, it was a quiet day and only a few small boats went by. None of them laughed, for which I am grateful.
|Wapoo Creek to Stono River|
From there, it's just scooting down the ICW easily until it's almost sunset. I had chosen Church Creek to anchor feeling it would be empty. But surprisingly, there was a big yacht there! That's ok. We saluted each other with a cocktail at sunset, which was incredible!
The night was gorgeous! A full moon so bright you couldn't see many stars with the water like glass. It was almost so bright you could read in the cockpit. If I hadn't made plans to meet friends Ken and Sherry in Port Royal I'd've stayed another day!
I was underway just past moonset with the sun still under the horizon. The day was so clear, the water calm, and the current with me again, at least for a while. Port Royal was only 35 nm away, straight line. Six hours, I thought. Let's all laugh together now. Eight and a half hours later I ended up at the fuel dock of the Port Royal Landing Marina.
Sadly, my friends weren't available that evening and so I decided to stay a couple of nights so I could have lunch with them the next day. Sadly, because the stated Boat US discount wasn't applied to either the fuel or dockage. When I asked about it they sort of indicated it would apply the next time I came there but they'd apply it if I really wanted. That's not how discounts work. There won't be a next time even though their docks are new floating concrete and very nice.
The people running the place were very nice and helpful. This was not their issue.
What I did do, though, is meet Bob and Sally on Endaxi, a Little Harbor 38. I helped Bob out with his autopilot install.
Ken and Sherry showed up around noon for lunch and we went to a lovely cafe in downtown Beaufort SC. It was really pleasant catching up with them. I hope to see them when they cruise Long Island Sound next year.
The next morning I left with in company of Endaxi towards Isle of Hope, or at least that was the plan. I could have gone out Port Royal outside to Brunswick but it didn't seem to be useful. Also, now I was early for going home by several days. It was foggy and cool, but not so foggy we couldn't travel safely.
Eventually the fog cleared and we continued across the Savannah River which was worrisome because of shoaling, but with the tide high it wasn't a problem at all. Got through Causton Bluff bridge with no issues, and passed Isle of Hope Marina too early to stop. Bob on Endaxi had chosen an anchorage in the Vernon River about an hour from Hell Gate, a well known 300 foot channel between Racoon Key and Harvey's Island. The plan was to go through at high tide the next day.
The next morning dawned with fog so thick visibility was no more than 100 feet. Since I had to keep moving I asked Bob to follow me with my chart plotter, AIS, fog horn and charts. At high tide there should be no real problems. We planned to leave around 7 am, except for this: He did not have enough power to start his engine and moreover, the battery charger had failed so that even running his generator wouldn't charge the batteries.
I had to leave him and Sally because I've had issues more than once at Hell Gate and I wanted to be there on a rising tide. As I was cautiously making my way to there I got radio contact from Twocan, a Kadey Krogen 50 something. They were following me, looking for information.
With great hesitation I entered the Hell Gate channel. Visibility down to about 50 feet. Fortunately the tide was so high that even out of the channel was 6.5 feet below the keel. I was hyperventilating the whole time. That said, it was over in like 4 minutes.
As the day progressed the fog lifted. I heard over the VHF that Endaxi had called TowBoat U.S. for help. I hope they made their goal of Doboy Sound. Before I left, I had indicated to them they had about 4 hours to make it through Hell Gate.
|Morning in New Teakettle Creek, Twocan in background|
The next morning I saluted Twocan as she left for Fernandina Beach before I weighed anchor for Brunswick. I do hope I get to see them again and take them up on the cocktail!
By 11 am, I was docked at Hidden Harbor Marina where I met Jason, Jeff, and Cindy. I have several projects to complete before I leave and so I'll be doing that and visiting with friends for a few days before leaving Pelican here while I go back to Connecticut for a few weeks.