Military anchorages and manuevers
11 May 2009 | Wrightsville Beach NC (N34*12.441 W77*47.965) SM#283.2 to Mile Hammock Bay (N34*33.163 W77*19.528) SM#244.5
Monday, May 11, 2009
It was an interesting day, with weather and running aground, we still managed to put in 33.5 miles. The day started out looking gray and drizzly. I got up to close the ports at 2:30am when I felt raindrops on my face but it was a nice light patter on deck and I went back to sleep with no problem. I woke up again at sunrise (around 6am) to the sound of the laughing gulls - haw haw; haw haw, haw hawwww haaawwww.... Hey, I remember you guys LOL. It looked like it was going to be a rainy day and the gulls were laughing at us already.
After we took off, the winds picked up and we could see towering cumulus building on the horizon. Then about 10:30am the weather channel broke into channel 16 with a special Thunderstorm warning. Radar had picked up a line of thunderstorms with a history of damaging hail and winds up to 35mph with gusts in excess of 60mph. Mariners seek safe shelter if possible and put on life vests. At 11:11 at SM 270 the thunderstorms hit us but we didn't see the projected gusts or hail. Sheeting rain, lightening, thunder, strong winds yes, but no 60mph gusts thank goodness. It was difficult to see through the rain but we progressed slowly - there's nowhere to put into along this stretch of straight-line ditch, and if we anchored and somebody came barreling through they'd have wiped us out. So we decided to keep going slowly. After it passed we picked up speed again.
We made it to the Surf City Bridge with a lot of time (45minutes) before it opened again (it only opens on the hour). So I decided to lie down and Wayne got to wait at the helm for the bridge to open. While going back the way we came and turning around, we turned into a hard spot and were... yep... aground. It was interesting because I was laying in the V-berth and could feel us as we nudged, then slid along the bottom of the ledge that we grounded on. I realized what had happened and I don't think I've ever jumped out of bed so quickly... We tried backing off, then forward and backward, nothing seemed to help - it just didn't work. We spotted a couple of powerboats approaching the bridge and their wake didn't budge us. Another one we asked to wake us (he was a big one) and he slowed down instead of waking us. He probably thought we were being smart a**es. Needless to say - we missed the 1:00 pm bridge opening. Our first call to Towboat US. We were on a falling tide this time so needed assistance to get off. They finally got to us around 2:30pm and got us off the mud ledge and we made the 3pm opening of the Surf City Bridge.
It was a stressful day with blinding thunderstorms, high winds and currents at the inlets, a hard grounding, and cold temperatures. I made more brownies (good stress food), started them while we were grounded (hey when life hands you mud, improvise and make brownies) and figured the comfort of warm brownies would even out the day.
We made it to Mile Hammock at 6:00pm and anchored in 12 feet in the dredged out basin that the military uses for practice maneuvers. This basin was built during World War II for the marines to practice their amphibious landings using a full-scale mock up of a troop transport ship. Trainees would practice climbing up and down netting with their full packs and weapons here. There was a threat of German U boats at the inlet so this was a safe place to practice for Camp Lejeune. They still have about 40,000 marines come through here per year. We were treated with the Osprey helicopters doing maneuvers over us and landing somewhere onshore out of sight. Last time they had zodiacs doing landings with clandestine midnight raids by helicopters on the ship. Looks like that's out this time.
I wanted some hot soup for dinner - it's in the 50s and I felt frozen to the bone. Wayne wanted "real food". So it's spaghetti for dinner. A good compromise as well as warming.
I definitely won't forget to turn on the anchor light tonight. Last time it felt like the copters were landing on our mast - everything shook - so we need to make sure we're seen. There are a lot of boats in here - about 14 of us tonight.