Mile Hammock Bay
19 November 2008 | Swansboro, N.C. (N34*41.135, W077*07.119) Anchorage to Mile Hammock Bay Anchorage (N34*33.087, W077*19.535).
Cooollddd again - woke up to frozen moisture on the insides of the windows. We need to stop breathing in the cold - it condenses on the windows and drips back on us during the night! Wayne's taken to sleeping with a towel next to his head because the window drips directly into his ear.
I decided to make a warm breakfast before starting today (after yesterday!!) and heated up some water for hot cocoa during our transit. I called the coastguard to see if there were live drills at Camp Lejeunes today but they hadn't heard anything so we got ready to go and picked up the anchors (set two last night - strong currents). As we did, we heard on the radio, that live firing activities would take place until 12:00 today. There were 2 Navy Warships off the coast firing live rounds towards some targets on or in shore. We could hear the thunder and see the smoke from quite a distance. Since we were getting a late start we figured we wouldn't get there until about noon anyhow so we proceeded at a slow pace. Our slow pace wasn't so slow. With the tidal current we were doing 8.87 at times and got to where they closed the ICW at 11:20. There were already quite a few boats anchored there waiting for the 12:00 opening so we set anchor too and went below to warm up. 20 minutes later we were hustling to up anchor since they opened the ICW and told us "to make our best time" they were going to commence again within an hour. It was interesting because as we approached the area (they block off 15 nautical miles) we could hear the live artillery being aimed shoreward and see the smoke of the strikes even though we had the "all clear" to pass. As we passed the area you could smell the smoke as well as see it. We really "made our best time" because we heard that they would be re-closing the ICW from 1-5pm again. You could hear this guy on the radio asking about the times. I know we were told that they could only hold you for an hour, but that's not the case. The dialog went something like this: This is the Sailboat **** (fill in a name here) I'm approaching the Camp Lejeune firing range, I understand that they're closing at 1:00 and won't make it there by then, what time will they be reopening and should I just anchor and wait? They'll be closing until 5pm. What? We heard they'd be closing the ICW for live artillery at 1:00 and reopening in an hour? No sir. They'll be closing it from 1:00 to 5:00pm. I missed that - they'll be closed from when? 1-5. They only opened for an hour? That's right. So should I anchor and wait? You could. They're closing the ICW until 5pm... I should just anchor and wait... what... 4 hours? You could... Silence... You could always go outside! Outside meant on the Atlantic. Wow...then if the poor guy did go outside - he'd have to go around the warships for 15 nautical miles (per the Warship's instructions) - and the same schedule will hold for tomorrow too the ICW will be closed 8-12:00 then 1-5 again (they actually let traffic through at 3 today, then closed again till 5). Last comment heard on this dialog - somebody broke in and said "I heard they're only firing at Canadian boats", other comments "well I better snug up closer to you - you're an American boat right?" Nope, but I'm flying that flag right now!
We did make it through and also through the Onslo Swing Bridge. They held it for us since we were the last ones pulling up the rear. I thought that was very nice of them because they didn't have to. They could have told us to slow up and wait for the next ½ hour opening - so Thank you Onslo Swing Bridge for letting us through - we sped up as fast as we could!
As we pulled into the Mile Hammock Bay the Ribs (reinforced inflatable bottoms) were busy doing their exercises in the bay (it's a marine dredged area used as an anchorage). They were whizzing back and forth doing donuts, etc... like in a James Bond movie... The large dredged basin is dredged to 12 ft for their activities and 1 to 2 ft in the eastern part but people aren't allowed to go ashore since this is their camp area. So everyone needs to stay clear of the dock area too since they're speeding back and forth during their exercises. So this is less than tranquil conditions at the anchorage when maneuvers are going on. It was cool to watch them though and they have a ship parked here for boarding practice/activities near the shore. We watched them zoom back and forth and watched the helicopters pass by and circle. It's 5pm and there are several sailboats in here with us now. Time to make dinner - pork chops and slaw tonight... Quite the wave action in here with the zodiacs (big ones) whizzing by us - but at least no live fire in the anchorage (knock on wood).