'Sailing' down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) is a dull as dull can be. True, there's some spectacular scenery, but when you get right down to it, it's a slog. Get up, get going, decide on an anchorage or marina, stop, go to bed. Repeat as necessary until you get somewhere interesting.
Having said that, I've looked to stop in marinas that are sort of off the beaten path with good rates or good scenery or both.
When I was getting to Wrightsville, NC for a meeting (also a catching up with friends, doing laundry and looking for an oil pressure gauge), I decided that rather than wait an hour for the Surf City swing bridge, I'd stop at the Beach House Marina. The dockmaster is Earl and the place is clean, very friendly, and at $1.25/ft including electricity a true bargain. Highly recommended.
Surf City, NC is quite a place, too - there's a really nice park that straddles the east coast of the AICW and has long wooden walks suspended over swamps - very pretty. They are clearly new-ish.
Contained in Surf City within easy walking from the marina is everything you could want including an IGA, a slew of restaurants (Daddy Mac's is pretty good - and eating on the deck overlooking the Atlantic is pretty special). There's a little breakfast nook, too, that is dirt cheap - a full breakfast 2 eggs, toast, home fries, coffee and bacon is like $4.99. Can you beat that? I submit not.
The downside to these places is that smoking is allowed in them. Yech!
Ok, so after spending the next day with friends and business discussions and eating and laundry, I got Pelican ready to leave for the 8 am Surf City Bridge opening and promptly ran aground. Fortunately, it was only for a minute. As someone once said, there are two types of sailors on the AICW - those who run aground and those who lie.
So, after a stultifying day, I'm at Bald Head Island Marina. This is a little hole in Bald Head Island across from Wilmington, NC and at the entrance to the Cape Fear inlet. This is a cute little marina on a very exclusive island. There are no cars, just golf carts. It's well manicured. There's a restaurant (Eb & Flo's) that in the season provides conch fritters that I'm told are better than you can get in the Bahamas. Sadly, the season is over and so I can't get any. Feh. Also, if there's a slip that's the farthest from the bright center of activity here on the island, I'm in it.
The winter montly rates here, including electricity, are very reasonable! Hmmm, well, I'm just sayin' here.
Why am I here? Because tomorrow at 5-ish or so I'm leaving for an overnight sail to Winyah inlet for Georgetown, NC. I may spend a couple of days there before going to Charleston. But the point is to have an overnight sail straight away and arrive in daylight.
The weather is supposed to be very nice, if cold. Tonight it's supposed to get to 38 degrees! Eww - I left Connecticut to get out of that crap! Still, Saturday night is supposed to be awesomely clear so I'll be on either autopilot or Monitor Windvane laying on the deck watching the incredible stars! But I'll also be watching.
I hope also to be able, finally, to test the shaft generator. I'm hoping there's enough wind to sail but not so much I'm terrified. I guess that's pretty much what all sailors want...
See you on the water! If I don't, though, steer clear - I'm stargazing!