Beaufort to Myrtle Beach
Trip Start Jul 21, 2001
45Trip End Apr 22, 2002
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In the haze of predawn light, we left Beaufort, North Carolina which is pronounced "Bo fert"as opposed to the city we will visit in a few days called Beaufort, South Carolina, which is pronounced "Bew fort". At the channel entrance we cut inside a buoy and either we were lucky or were closer to the marker than our friends on Nicou because we were fine while they went aground on the rocks. There is a saying in the ICW that it isn't IF you'll go aground it's WHEN you go aground. Ninety nine times out of a hundred it is into sand or mud. This was the one time that a boat hit rock and steel from an old Navy pier. While their keel took a bit of a beating, everything else was fine and they soon were on their way again. We learned later in the day that another of our group of boats, which had left about 15 minutes earlier, had done exactly the same thing with the same results. We haven't been immune from grounding ourselves but thankfully it has been in mud each time.
Passing Morehead City at mile 205, we entered a whole new area of the ICW. The channel is behind what is termed the "Outer Banks" or the "Barrier Islands" which separate the mainland from the Atlantic Ocean. We traveled through a relatively narrow dredged channel while to one side was 2 miles of open water leading to the outer banks but that entire area only had depths of 1 to 2 feet at low tide. It was hard to look at all this open water and know from your map that you could get out of your boat and walk several miles without even getting your bathing suit wet.
The picture shows a row of pelicans sunning themselves much like cormorants or seagulls and far in the distance is a seaside community facing the Atlantic Ocean. Our passage would follow this type of terrain for much of the day. By mile 229, we started to pass inlets to the Atlantic. You had to be very careful of your course as you motored past these as there were rip tides and currents which could quickly take you out of the dredged channel. Buoys were often some distance away and it was easy to be set sideways while you thought you were still headed straight to the next mark. It is important to look behind at the last passed buoy and adjust for any leeway.
For the next few days we would encounter another phenomena about cruising in these waters. You could go for miles with the tide against you, come to an inlet and find your speed over the ground doubled as you picked up the tide going now in the opposite direction. This meant your speed could drop or increase by about 3 to 4 knots in a distance of a few hundred yards.
We finally anchored for the night at Mile Hammock Bay (mile 244). This is a dredged area cleared by the marines at US Marine training center at Camp Lejeune.During the day, we had been passed by numerous marines out on training exercises and every 20 minutes or so a fighter plane or helicopter would pass over head. One boat seemed quite friendly as they waved while Margaret took their picture.
This was a great anchorage and soon our five boat flotilla was invited over to Fortune, a 50 foot replica of a Chesapeake Skipjack. They are sailing to Florida and intend to use it as charter boat.
It certainly had a huge aft area for parties and Ed from Valhalla with his guitar and Cheryl from Fortune on her bagpipes were soon entertaining the entire anchorage. Great evening, great people.
Up before the sun and off for another long day. This time Acclaim goes aground at the entrance, just mud and gets off easily. Soon they just miss a large blue barrel and just clip it with their dingy. Today just isn't John and Alida's day as later on they run into a length of fish floats which wraps around their prop and stops them dead in the water. While Valhalla and Fortune continue on, Nicou and Mystic Loon stand by while they get untangled only to find that their engine linkage broken. Since David and Judy aboard Nicou had towed them in the Dismal Swamp when their engine quit, this time we towed them as John worked on his engine. An hour later, he had it running again and finally was finished with their trials and tribulations for the day. We anchored in Carolina Beach (mile 295.5) and had everyone over for well deserved drinks after our long day.
Another morning awake at 5:30, up anchor shortly after six to travel down the Cape Fear River. This is a large river and can be quite a challenge. We had mixed blessings. The tide was against us for the entire distance but we had strong winds from behind so by motor sailing we were almost able to equalize the negative effect of the current. Although it has been quite cool during the nights and the early part of the morning, for three days in a row by noon we were sailing in bathing suits. The temperatures were in the low 80's (27-28C) in the sun.
We continued on to Myrtle Beach. What a beautiful area. We passed some gorgeous homes/estates and FIVE golf courses along the banks of the ICW. When we stopped for the night at Barefoot Landing (mile 354.0) we found a free dock beside a shopping complex of about 50 stores. There were about that many boats rafted up for the night along the 300 feet of dock provided free of charge by the stores. It was like an outdoor mall, with a lagoon in the center, floating walkways, a $150,000 carousel, and for an hour tiger cubs at play in an enclosed area promoting a nearby zoo. After shopping, Dave and Judy had everyone over for refreshments.