Oriental to Mile Hammock Bay (near Onslow Beach)

Trip Start Oct 19, 2008
Trip End Jan 05, 2008

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Friday, November 7, 2008

We stayed two days at Oriental due to the bad weather. We cleaned the cabin and serviced the engine and just relaxed.

We wonder a lot about boat names. The motor boat in the slip next to us at Oriental was called Nautipussy. The Marina manager was shaking his head about this one however it became apparent that there was a very large and handsome white cat on board. This cat had its own stroller (child's push chair) which the owners used to wheel it around town.

On the evening before leaving Oriental we were invited to meet on board a Canadian Tartan 35 for a glass of wine. The boat was Sea Change and we had been jouneying together since the Dismal Swamp. A pleasant hour spent chatting also with an American couple from a SeaRay - all headed south. A good meal at the restaurant that is tied in with the marina and seated next to more chatty boat people from Camden, Maine. David woke up very early before 0500 and thought the marina lights shining on a dock box was the dawn. The crew were duly called..... We were underway at 0715 and made good time across the Neuse River into the Adams Creek Canal.

We were rolled nearly on our beam ends by a large power boat that did not slow down while overtaking us. The boat was contacted on channel 16 and informed he was operating his vessel in an unsafe manner etc. We arrived at Morehead City early and as we have both been to Morehead City and Beaufort before we had decided to make a good run for the day to make up for some of the weather delays. We passed the docks and saw a ship that David had surveyed in the past. We set off towards the west and Bogue sound. The wind piped up from the west and was gusting up to 26 knots but we were still making 7 knots as we had some current with us. We passed a number of other boats. Rafiki has a 40 hp engine rather than the standard 27 hp and this becomes useful when motoring to windward however this availed us not at all when we were delayed at the Camp Lejeune firing range. There were some portions of the waterway where the marks are moved around due to shifting shoals. A chart plotter does not help and a good lookout for additional buoys is essential. Daymarks to side channels can also be misleading and the square milemarkers can easily be mistaken for port hand marks. A large Australian sail boat that looked as if it really had sailed from the other side of the world went aground in front of us by making for the wrong mark. They got themselves off a little later.

Camp LeJeune is a huge training camp for the US Marines and the ICW passes adjacent to their property. Essentially the Notices to Mariners indicates that boats will be permitted to move through the area every hour and that information will be broadcast on channel 16. This was not happening and we ended up waiting with 10 other boats while small Navy boats blocked the channel. Calls to the USCG and a conversation with the local USCG sector office on 22A obtained no information as to why the procedure for permitting hourly transit was not being followed. We were told that we could go and anchor in Swannsboro which to us appeared un unsuitable anchorage in the strong wind still blowing. About 75 minutes before sunset the boats anchored and circling with us were given a very off hand permission to proceed. Three power boats went first and we decided to try and make the next opening of the Onslow Beach bridge. Rafiki's 40 horses were duly put to work and we got close enough to the bridge to feel we could make a request to be in the opening. The bridge keeper opened the bridge a few minutes late and we made it through with 3 other larger sail boats. We made it into Mile Hammock Bay as the sun was setting. Mile Hammock Bay is a large artificial basin that was dug out during WW II. It has a mock up of a landing craft and the marines used to practice disembarking from it using nets on the side - so the story goes. There is probably room for 50 or more boats. We easily found a space and the evening had become very still with a beautiful clear sky sunset but many mosquitoes. It was so still we chatted to a neighbhour from a boat whose hailing port was Chicago. Watched three more boats come in which had to wait at the bridge including the big Aussie who had gone aground. A really good meal of Trader Joes wild salmon and a bottle of Argentine Pinot Gris to the sound of helicopters and distant machine gun fire.

An interesting and instructional day - the optimum speed for the ICW is about five knots and even the motor boats often make no better because of bridges etc. however we did make 57 nautical miles and this was our best day yet. Our extra horses perhaps help us to have a civilised breakfast and catch the others by the end of the day. Only 4 of the 30 boats here at Mile Hammock Bay are still here and it is not even 0800.

We saw dolphins at several locations yesterday and there are dolphins in the bay this morning.
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