Day 10 – Tuesday, September 15, 2015

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC TO SOUTHPORT, NC

Left Wrightsville Beach around 1100, and meandered through the canals to rejoin the ICW. This area is packed with beautiful homes and yachts, with equally beautiful marshes adjacent. We made our way south to Atlantic Beach then headed west on Snows Cut, a manmade canal connecting the sound with the Cape Fear River. You have to plan your trip through here so you catch an outgoing tide once you reach the Cape Fear. Otherwise, you would have to fight the Cape Fear current all the way to Southport or the ocean, which can run up to 4 knots. Once we entered the Cape Fear, we were making 10 knots going downstream with the engine barely idling.

Cape Fear has been in my life since childhood. My mother’s side of the family are from Erwin, a small town on the fall line of the river in central North Carolina. I would spend my summers there at my Grandparents house, where my Uncle Billy also lived. He bought a horse for me, and me and my cousins or friends that had horses would stay gone all day riding down by the river. In, 1983, a week after I met Karen, we came down to Erwin and went white water canoeing on the Cape Fear. Dan Spurlock, my friend and roommate at the time was also along for the trip. But that story is for another time.

We reached Southport and proceeded to the marina where we had reservations, only to find they had booked us at another one of their marina’s 3 miles back upstream. After touching bottom in this small marina, we decided to just go to the Southport Marina adjacent to the town harbor. This is a beautiful marina and the transient rates are high, but we discovered the fulltime rates were less than we had been paying in Norfolk, just in case we decide to live here in the future.

We then walked into town and soaked in the history and charm. A few sailors we have met winter here, or move here permanently. The housing is expensive downtown and there’s not much job opportunity here. According to the dockworker I talked to, and our waitress at the bar, you have to have money before you come, or make it outside the area. We then went back to the boat for a nice dinner of fresh Spanish mackerel.

Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach

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Wrightsville Beach, NC
Wrightsville Beach, NC

WB lv

Last bridge for us on the ICW before going offshore. This is at the Snows Cut Canal, towards Southport
Last bridge for us on the ICW before going offshore. This is at the Snows Cut Canal, towards Southport
Tide board at bridge - we have to see '65'
Tide board at bridge – we have to see ’65’
Southport, NC
Made it to Southport, NC
Town Harbour
Southport Town Harbour
Bald Head Island through the eyes of a Southport bar
Oak Island through the eyes of a Southport bar
Flip and Karen
Karen (left) and Flip (right) – kinda hard to tell!
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Town charm
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Town charm, everywhere

Day 9 – Monday, September 14, 2015

CAPE LOOKOUT, NC TO WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC

We rose early in anticipation of our first offshore leg of the trip. We are tired of the confined ICW canals with all the bridges you either have to wait for to open, or hope you make it under.
We had light favorable winds the entire day. I caught a nice spanish mackeral right away and quickly filleted it for future meals. We witnessed our first flying fish(es) but they are so fast, Karen wasn’t able to catch them on film. They skim the water for hundreds of feet as their means of escape from whatever fish is chasing them. We also saw dolphins. They are becoming an every day occurrence, but still always exciting.
For the middle part of the day, we couldn’t see land and had no cell signal. We thoroughly enjoyed the peacefulness and dreamed of doing this forever. As we got closer to shore, we started seeing bait balls. These are schools of small fish in a tight ball, being pursued by larger fish. They ‘boil’ to the surface with fish jumping everywhere, trying to escape their death. There are always a bunch of gulls circling above these balls, waiting for any remains of the unlucky fish.
We entered Wrightsville Beach around 1830 and anchored just south of the main bridge to the beach. We dinghied to the town dock and met my cousins, Tom and Karen Shields, and one of their three sons, Nathan, and his girlfriend, Mary. We had a nice visit, catching up over drinks at a local Mexican restaurant. Tomorrow, we head to Southport for a few days.

flip4
Heading to Wrightsville Beach
Fish on
Fish on!

Calm ocean about 12 miles off coast between Morehead City and Wrightsville Beach


Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach

Day 8 – Anybody know what day it is?!

BEAUFORT, NC TO CAPE LOOKOUT, NC

We weighed anchor around 0800 and made our way out the Beaufort Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. It was a little rough at first, but the waves settled down after a while as we reached Lookout Bight. It’s a beautiful crescent shaped anchorage with the Cape Lookout lighthouse on the north side. We went ashore and explored the dunes and beaches on both sides of the bight. We then crossed the bay and toured the lighthouse grounds and light keepers cottage. This Light house is painted in a pattern of black and white diamonds, with the black diamonds aligned north and south, and the white diamonds aligned east and west, as a daytime visual aid to navigators.
We enjoyed a clear, quiet night at anchor, and being far from any town, witnessed the incredible number of stars in the sky.

Heading for Cape Lookout
Heading for Cape Lookout from Beaufort
waves leaving Beaufort
waves leaving Beaufort
An anchor at Cape Lookout National Seashore
An anchor at Cape Lookout National Seashore
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Photo courtesy of Flip

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Watch this
Watch this
Dinghy selfie
Dinghy selfie

CapeLO

Cape Lookout Lighthouse
Cape Lookout Lighthouse

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Day 7 – September 12, 2015

Stayed in Beaufort all day and worked on the boat due to rain and high winds.  Karen thinks her photos today are not sharp because of the 20 – 30 knot winds.  I dinghied to the Beaufort Marina fuel dock to get gas for the generator.  I asked a man working on the dock where the nearest grocery store was.  He said it was about a mile and a half away, but I could take his truck if I wanted to.  I was amazed by his generosity and trust.  This sort of thing only happens in small towns.  Driving thru town, locals were waving to me, but would look surprised when they realized I wasn’t the owner of the truck.

In the afternoon, when the winds were strongest, we watched a man, who had been anchored in the middle of the channel all night, weigh (raise up) anchor and attempt to re-anchor out of the channel and unfortunately, closer to us.  His anchor didn’t hold and apparently he couldn’t control the boat with his engine.  Next time we looked out, he had drifted across the creek and was aground against a private dock.

Tomorrow the winds will subside, and we will make our way to Cape Lookout where we will anchor in the bight and explore.  Monday, we will head south to Southport.

ohno

American Oyster Catcher
American Oyster Catcher

nice man
This man loaned Flip his truck to go to Piggly Wiggly!
tour
Sunset Cruise (in the dreadful wind and rain). WE didn’t go – just took the photo
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Day 7 sunset – the day was rainy and windy.
Wild horse on Beaufort Marsh, near Cape Lookout
Wild horse on Beaufort Marsh, near Cape Lookout

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Day 6 – September 11, 2015

ORIENTAL, NC  TO  BEAUFORT, NC

Left the Marina at 8 am and motor sailed across the Neuse River making 8 knots. Entered Adams Creek and proceeded slowly because of some shallow water warnings from the Waterway guide and some fellow cruisers we had met the first day out. Luckily, we didn’t encounter any adverse conditions.

We are in a group of mostly motor yachts that are making their way south. We see the same mega-yachts and regular size yachts every day. We leave before they do, they pass us at some point in the day, then we see them again when we get to the next port. They were all in Beaufort when we arrived, tied up at the expensive town dock. We anchored across the creek with the regular people. Took the dinghy into to old town and explored, Karen did some shopping, then we each got a craft beer at Queen Anne’s Revenge. Beaufort is the coolest  town so far.

Tomorrow we are sailing out into the ocean for a short trip to Cape Lookout to do some more exploring.

Leaving Oriental, approaching Adams Creek
Leaving Oriental, approaching Adams Creek
Capt Dump
Captain Dump
Around the bend in Adams Creek canal
Around the bend in Adams Creek canal
Gull
Bite me
pretty
Happy house
Core Creek Bridge - a good 65' - no problem
Core Creek Bridge – a good 65′ – no problem

Splash

AdamsTree
Adams Creek canal on the ICW

AdamsCrk

AdamsBend

Mega yachts
Mega yachts – over 100′ long.  The one to the right of center is Aqua Kat, whose owner also owns the Carolina Panthers, NFL

sparrow

Walk this way in Beaufort
Walk this way in Beaufort

 

Day 5 – September 10, 2015

IN ORIENTAL, NC  ALL  DAY

On this day 32 years ago we were married. We couldn’t wait till it was over so we could start our honeymoon, which involved white water canoeing on the Nantahala River in the Great Smoky Mountains, camping at the Mother Earth News compound nearby to learn about being self-sufficient, and touring The Biltmore. Our sense of adventure continues to this day. We were truly made for each other.

We spent this morning straightening the boat and addressing the engine issue. Still not 100% fixed but better, and it has not hampered our progress.

The rest of the day we went exploring Oriental on bikes the marina loaned to us. We checked out the waterfront and downtown area. Pretty dead on a Thursday. Stopped by The Bean and had ice cream and coffee, then asked the dragon in the pond to grant us a good voyage. My front tire went flat on the way back. Dinner, then some Netflix and bed. Neither of us could sleep in anticipation of going to Beaufort tomorrow.

 

Courtesy of the Waterway Guide
Whittaker Creek, in Oriental, where we spent the last 2 nights. Courtesy of the Waterway Guide
OMarina
Stayed here at Sailcraft Marina for 2 nights
Got ice cream and coffee at The Bean
Got ice cream and coffee at The Bean
Celebrating our 32nd anniversary by eating ice cream!
Celebrating our 32nd anniversary by eating ice cream!
dragon
Boating tradition in Oriental – “Pay your respects to the dragon in the pond, and you will have good luck on your voyage”. Next to The Bean ice cream and coffee shop.
freelibrary
At The Bean Coffee Shop, this is one of those “Little Free Library” boxes. They are popping up all over!
freelibrary - Copy
Plaque on the little free library

 

BikeFun karenbikereflect

crabby dock

Day 4 – September 9, 2015

BELHAVEN, NC TO ORIENTAL, NC

We left Belhaven at 10:00 am and were able to motor sail down the Pungo River and across the Pamlico Sound. The weather was perfect but thunderstorms were in the forecast as we would soon experience. As we made our way up Goose Creek it started to lightly rain. We then entered the Goose Creek / Bay River canal as it started raining heavier. We had to go under another 65’ bridge, The Hobucken, and when we got to it, the thunderstorm was in full swing with lots of lightening and strong winds. I slowed to a crawl and hoped for the best. We don’t know how close we were because we couldn’t see the top of the bridge. The storm passed as we came into the Bay River, and we had nice weather for the sail up the Neuse River to Oriental. Saw a large pod of dolphins in the Neuse River. Coming into Whitaker Creek the channel was shallow and we touched bottom once, but made to our slip at Sailcraft Marina by 5:00.

Goose Creek
Goose Creek
Chart Plotter
Chart Plotter – We use this electronic chart along with printed paper charts to guide us.
Hobucken Bridge
Hobucken Bridge
Nuese River
Nuese River

NueseDolphin

Oriental, NC
Oriental, NC
Oriental
Oriental

Day 3 – September 8, 2015

BUCK ISLAND, NC TO BELHAVEN, NC

We enjoyed our first night at anchor off Buck Island. It was so calm and tranquil. Then I came on deck and discovered thousands of mayflies had spent the night on the boat, and half of them were now dead. We started cleaning up and discovered several tree frogs were also on the boat, and had certainly enjoyed a fine dinner. We were a quarter mile from the closest land so those frogs must be real good swimmers.

We weighed anchor at 7:30a and headed down the North River to the Albemarle Sound. The weather was perfect crossing the sound and we were making eight knots under sail and power.

After passing the Alligator River swing bridge, it started to rain and continued for several hours. We entered the Alligator River / Pungo River canal around noon, and motored for four hours down this straight canal. We saw the most wildlife so far, including hawks, bald eagles and great blue herons. We had to pass under two 65’ bridges on this stretch. Our mast is 64’ with a wind vane that sticks up another 4”, and a VHF whip antenna that sticks up one foot. The first was the Fairfield Bridge and the antenna touched every girder. The second was the Wilkerson Bridge. The antenna touched and the wind vane scraped on the last girder. There is no tide here so the bridge height is just mis-stated. Fortunately, no damage was done. I can’t wait till we go outside at Southport, NC. These bridges are too stressful.

Out of the canal we raised the sail and had a nice ride to Belhaven, where we tied up for the night at the free city dock. We had read in Waterway Guide that there was live bluegrass music on Tuesday nights, so we made our way into town. We found the venue (a closed gas station) and proceeded to find a seat amongst mostly octogenarians. It wasn’t really bluegrass but mostly old time gospel and country, more of a practice session where audience members would come up and sing. We enjoyed the singalongs a while and made our way back to the boat to prepare for the next leg.

Morning visitor
Morning visitor
Crossing the Albemarle
Crossing the Albemarle
Alligator River swing bridge
Alligator River swing bridge
Alligator River
Alligator River
Fun in the rain!
Fun in the rain!
Entering the Alligator river / Pungo river Canal.
Entering the Alligator river / Pungo river Canal.
Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Wilkerson Bridge
Wilkerson Bridge
Sailing on the Pungo River
Sailing on the Pungo River
Big sky
Big sky
Belhaven City Docks
Belhaven City Docks
Part of the audience
Part of the audience
Live music in a gas station in Belhaven.
Live music in a gas station in Belhaven.

Day 2 – September 7th 2015

GREAT BRIDGE, VA TO BUCK ISLAND, NC

After three false starts, we finally made it under the highway 158 bridge and motored all day with out further interruptions from the engine. We made it past Coinjock, NC to the North River where we anchored for the night. Not much to see on the Virginia cut portion of the ICW.  We had a few Mega Yachts pass us, which we later saw in Coinjock stopped for the night. But pretty much everything passed us.  We are however starting to really like life going by at 6.5 knots.

The biggest excitement of the day was going under the Pungo Ferry Bridge.  We have a 64′ mast with a 1′ antenna on top. The Pungo Ferry Bridge states 65′ clearance but our antenna scraped all the way through.

We stopped briefly in Coinjock but decided to go a little further to a secluded anchorage for the night.  It was worth the extra effort.

Hi, everyone! This is me, Karen - the photographer and Flip will be your host
Hi, everyone! This is me, Karen – the photographer and Flip will be your host
On our way, finally
On our way, finally
Trying to keep up with some new friends
Trying to keep up with some new friends
Railroad Bridge
Railroad Bridge
Third time's a charm
Third time’s a charm
Centerville Turnpike twin swing bridge
Centerville Turnpike twin swing bridge
Pungo Ferry bridge, our antenna on top of the mast scraped..
Pungo Ferry bridge, our antenna on top of the mast scraped..
Cypress Knees
Cypress Knees

DSCN7655

Cormorants
Birds, Green herons maybe?

DSCN7608

Our anchorage for the night.
Our anchorage for the night.
Final Show...
Final Show…

Day 1 – September 6th, 2015

LITTLE CREEK, VA TO GREAT BRIDGE, VA

 

After many years of dreaming, we finally set sail today for Florida, the Bahamas and beyond. Since I am known in my family as the dreamer, it’s fitting the boat I found for our adventure is named “Reverie”, which is defined as “a dreamlike state”. That’s me.

I always imagined the day we would leave would be picture perfect, after all the planning and preparation we had done, but it was cloudy and spitting rain, with winds blowing 15-20 knots in the bay. Then the engine kept cutting out. So we just put up the jib and sailed through downtown Norfolk, all the way to Great Bridge. We will continue tomorrow or when the engine issue is fixed.

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Ready to go
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Pulling out
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ready for anything, including what I drop overboard
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Having fun now!
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Mile marker one on the ICW. Only a thousand more to go
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Lots of bridges
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And big ships
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Downtown Norfolk
Jordan Bridge
Jordan Bridge
Gilmerton Bridge with adjacent railroad bridge
Gilmerton Bridge with adjacent railroad bridge
Dominion Blvd Bridge
Dominion Blvd Bridge
Waiting for locks to open at Great Bridge
Waiting for locks to open at Great Bridge
Great Bridge Bascule Bridge
Great Bridge Bascule Bridge
Great Bridge Bridge
Great Bridge Bridge