Day 40 - Wrightsville Beach, NC
11 May 2012 | Anchored in Wrightsville Beach, NC
Thu 10 May 2012
Anchored in Wrightsville Beach, NC
I am happy to report that we had no problems with the weather last night and that my back is much better. It is still very sore and I need to be careful, but it is not nearly as immobilizing as it was. I will leave it up to Diane, but I am thinking we might want to spend the whole day here and leave tomorrow. The next logical stop is probably an 8 hour run, and that would leave little time to see, much less enjoy, Wrightsville Beach.
I think moving around today by walking and riding bikes might be better than sitting/standing at the helm for 8 hours straight, too. It is forecast to be clear after the front moved through last night, but only reaching 77F. With the cool wind out of the NW, the beach should be fairly protected from the wind and thus much more pleasant than in the NE winds forecast for tomorrow.
The past 4 days or so, Duane's morning coffee gave way to iced tea, as the temperatures were warming. This morning it had to be 65F in the boat, so it was hot coffee again.
With the decision made to stay another day/night, I elected to re-anchor a lot closer to wind protection and the public dock. Guess what I found when I tried to hoist the anchor? The windlass switch failed again after a half dozen usages. I guess those contacts are permanently fried and a new switch is the only cure.
So, while Diane defrosted the freezer and cleaned the refrigerator, I was on the phone trying to find one. The best I could do was a very close-by place that called me back 4 hours later to say he can have one here by 1000 tomorrow. I almost hate to mention that I could have probably got one shipped overnight from Defender for less money, but then we have to find a place willing to accept the shipment, and the poor parts guy had obviously spent a lot of time searching.
I think it makes sense to get the switch and install it before even attempting to weigh the anchor. I will just find a closer anchorage so that when we leave (maybe 1200 or so), we can make it with daylight to spare. Continual adjustments are part of the cruising life, for sure.
Enough of the mechanical failure reports; here is the good stuff. We got our bikes (and a load of trash) in the dinghy and motored all of 150 feet to the public dock at the SE end of the causeway bridge. We used the very clean public restrooms and then set off to the SW along the sound side (as opposed to the surf side) of the very narrow island. Before long we were at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort riding through the parking lot when a lady hailed us.
At first, we expected to be chastised for riding on their property, but it turns out she assumed we were cruisers from our folding bikes and started a very lengthy, but interesting, conversation about the cruising life she and her husband enjoy. He single-hands the boat over hundreds of miles while she works and then she takes several weeks off and flies to meet him for cruising in some neat locations in the Bahamas and Virgin Islands, and then flies back. She has done many overnight ocean passages with him, too, since their sailboat's mast is much higher than the 65 foot norm for the bridges on the waterway.
She is the owner of the resort and invited us to their sound side dock for the Manager's Reception at 1730 tonight. We will be arriving by yacht (9 foot rubber dinghy) dressed in the cleanest shorts and least wrinkled clothes we have.
After leaving Mary, we rode all the way to the SW end of the island where we enjoyed beautiful views of the ocean and inlet. Next, we rode on the beach side all the way back, noting numerous public beach access locations. Just a block from the causeway road was a neat store, Robert's Market, that had everything we needed (except a value-sized bottle of Ibuprofen). We were pretty impressed with all the little shops and cafes in that general area - nothing fancy or touristy-chic, just neat places.
Back at the boat, we spread Robert's "world famous chicken salad" on bread and had a tasty lunch. Then, it was off to the beach using the public access just 100 yards from the dinghy dock. As predicted, with the wind off the sound, the breeze at the beach was moderate and comfortable. It was bright and sunny with a few fair weather cumulus clouds to offer contrast to the blazing blue sky, and just absolutely delightful with a temperature in the mid-70s.
Having been in the retirement section of Florida for 8 years, we were not ready for the fact that about 80% of the beachgoers were 20-24 years old, with many more females than males. There is much truth about obesity amongst Americans (yours truly included), but it was not evident today on this beach. As my dear admiral cuts a fine figure in her own swimsuit, I scarcely had reason to glance elsewhere and busied myself with my book. I may have to re-read a few chapters, however, as my concentration was interrupted from time to time.
This is a good place to state that we are really enjoying this spot. We are anchored for free in a great location; there is a well maintained floating public dock close by; there are public bathrooms, many shops/eateries, a grocery market, and public beach access all within a few blocks of the public dock. That is a hard combination to find anywhere.
A few words about Clyde, since some of our cat-loving friends have asked: He is doing well, but we notice he is not as social as usual. He heads into the aft cabin to his special spot in one of the baskets tucked well aft that we cannot access without difficulty. It is his little "cave" where he can escape. He has ceased to be eager to go on deck before dawn, but maybe it is just that there is often heavy dew and he doesn't care to get wet.
Unlike our cruise to the Bahamas in 2008, where we had visitors in our cockpit 3-4 times a week, we have only had people aboard about a half dozen times so far. He still comes up to visit as long as the sun is not too bright. He is eating and drinking well and seems healthy, but we know he would rather be back at home in Punta Gorda on dry land.
Skipping back to the evening activities, when we left just after 1730 to dinghy over to the Blockade Runner Resort pier for the happy hour, we decided to put on the anchor light just in the off chance we got back after dark. We already had our meal prepared for the evening and it just needed to be reheated.
We were the only ones there for a short bit because the dozen or so others were on a mini-tour of the sound by pontoon boat. We had 5 very eager staff to chat with and had very interesting conversations about how they all got there and decided to stay. Whitney suggested we stroll the grounds to see how lovely the landscaping was (and it was) and perhaps try their 4-course meal for $25, which sounded good. We also wanted to see Mary and thank her.
Whitney found Mary for us and she convinced us to have a drink at the bar while she finished up and then we would dine together. I told Diane this is one of the moments you just have to seize, so we sipped a cocktail at the attractive bar and had a terrific conversation with two visiting ladies here for a wedding. When it was well past our time for us to eat, we got a table (leaving room for Mary, if she could make it) and ordered our courses.
Mary arrived just as we were finishing the lobster bisque and ordered as well. From that moment on, the stories just flowed. Turns out she met her husband on a ski trip (as Diane and I met). We made sure she had our contact info and hope she will do so in order for us to stay in touch. Again, it got way too late and I asked for the check, at which time Mary softly told the server to just forget it. It was completely unnecessary, but very generous of her.
She walked us back to the dinghy in the cool air and we got back to the boat in short order where Clyde was awaiting us eagerly. He enjoyed some time in the now chilly evening. It was almost 2300 before we got to bed.