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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Mile Hammock Bay
11/19/2008, 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 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).

Oops Aground again
High 37 with a windchill of 31. Low in the 20s tonight. Winds NNW 10-25 gusts of 35 (supposed to die down over night)
11/18/2008, Cedar Creek Anchorage/Adams Creek, N.C. (N34*55.972, W076*38.707) to Swansboro, N.C. (N34*41.135, W077*07.119) Anchorage

A pic of me after the snow melted - don't I look happy?

What a day of dichotomies! It started out cold, then in Core Creek we had our first dolphin sighting! Dolphin must be crazy - it's ccccoldddd.... There were actually 3 of them that must have come in from the ocean inlet. It was very nice to see them and made me think that it was a bit warmer than it felt - after all DOLPHINS! It must be getting warmer! Two hours later we were frozen by the cold northerly winds, then pelted with sleet, then I was navigating by my depth sounder and chart plotter because we had a whiteout. SNOW FLURRIES! Hey Gary (our favorite mechanic)? If you're reading this - we told you so... The cold is following us down to Florida this year LOL. Seriously though the snow covered our dodger window and I couldn't see through it and Wayne said that half of me was white (covered in snow). He didn't think to get a picture of me until it was all melted, then I was wet standing in the sub-freezing winds.

We saw a couple pods of dolphins later in the day and there were a couple very small ones with the others - it was so cool to see them. I tried to get pictures but they kept going underwater and getting further away. One time when I as following my route scanning the water for debris and deadheads (submerged logs) one had come up and gone directly under the bow of the boat scaring me to death. I thought I was about to hit a log then it clicked "dolphin" and I was worried about running over it. Wayne laughed at me and I realized "duh - no way"...

Then a snow flurry again, briefly, and we were cruising along following the channel pretty good when I looked down and saw 3.5 feet, "thunk"... Shit! We ran aground IN the channel, and this wasn't supposed to be one of the danger spots to look for. I looked around to make sure I was still in the channel because we just passed a green buoy and were coming up on a red one. We were, so I tried nosing to the right more - no go. I shifted to neutral and felt the wind pushing me more to the left, then nada. In looking around, I noticed all the sandbars, and houses on sand and decided that with the winds and waves, a new shoal had formed. Time to call TowBoat US again... TowBoat US, Tow Boat US, this is the Sailing Vessel Kolibrie, Over. Yes Kolibrie, this is Tow Boat US, how can I help you? Yes, we've run aground between buoys G35 and R36. Okay - I'll be there in 10 minutes... Time to make some hot chocolate... When he got there, he said I don't mean to insult your intelligence but you were probably blown off the course by the strong winds. I said, no - I'm in the channel. He said if you look behind you when you're going you'll see... That I'm in the channel? Um... yes, must have shoaled in I guess. Yes, thank you. He had us towed off and thanked us and we continued on to Swansboro to anchor for the night. We asked him about any further problems heading to the anchorage and he said nope - just stay in the channel... yep - right...

We were both frozen to the bone and opened the Drambui that mom bought Wayne 15 years ago that was aged 15 years before that. It warmed me all the way down and between that and the left over beef pie I'd made the night before, by the time I called it a night - the chill was gone from the bones.

On a side note - we have cell coverage again! Picked up all the messages - Hi Nate & Allie, and returned the calls. It's amazing how disconnected you feel just knowing that you can't just pick up the phone to call anyone. Don't know how long the coverage will last, but it's good to know it's there again!

Good bye Oriental...
Sunny, 55 degrees Winds 5-10mph
11/17/2008, From Deatons, Oriental Whittaker Creek, N.C. to Adams Creek Anchorage

Man it was cold last night. It went down to 34 so needless to say we went to bed in sweatshirts, jeans, and socks and had 3 coverings over us. The weather man is predicting a low tonight of 28... I can't believe that we stayed in Oriental 11 days - wow... After we got up and had our morning coffee, we topped up the water, got a pump out, said a sad (on my part) farewell to Linda and Cat's Cradle and took off for Adams Creek. It was tight getting out because Sail Craft had boats double rafted into the creek so we couldn't turn the boat around. One of the guys at the boatyard backed it out and then into the lift area (where we got a pump out). Today was a short hop day - perfect day to cross the Neuse River and get our feet wet again (so to speak)? We went a total of 6-7 miles because with our later start figured we couldn't do a 50-mile day so tomorrow will be around 44 miles depending on if we can stop somewhere else or not. Wayne wants to put in at Spooner Creek but the entrance has been shoaling so we may not be able to. So we're planning on going further to Swansboro in case we cant get into Spooners. It looks like anchorages are not so abundant anymore (unless you have shallow draft boats) until we get to S. Carolina so we'll probably be doing short, long, short, long days (alternating).

I can't believe it's a month and a half to Christmas. We're going to have to start making some serious time to make the gam in Florida at the beginning of December. Something tells me we may not be making this one either depending on the weather, etc... It may not have been meant to be this year. This is a small anchorage right off the ICW path with a few homes scattered around the little inlet and shrimp boats. I saw a water snake when we came in, but couldn't get a picture of it. By the time we got anchored it was nowhere to be seen, but I kept looking for it! It's the first time I saw one in the water - very cool.

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