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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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There's fish in my what?!?!
05/13/2009, Taylor Creek, Beaufort, NC (34*42.860 76*39.831) to Town Creek Marina, Beaufort, NC

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Well we went a whole mile and a half today to get from the anchorage in Taylor Creek to Town Creek. As we hauled the anchor in, and headed out we heard another boat hail the Beaufort lift Bridge for an opening only to be told that construction was holding up his opening. He couldn't bring the gates down to raise the bridge because traffic was backed up onto the bridge. So his 10:00am opening would not be opening (he opens on the hour and half hour). We could have stayed at anchor. The bridge tender said he might be able to open at noon if the road crews took a break at noon. He didn't seem too sure of this because they didn't take a break yesterday. If they didn't break again today, then it might be a wait until 3pm before the bridge can open. We moseyed up to the bridge and dropped anchor across from the other sailboat and waited for his first available opening. Traffic was flowing pretty well, first in one direction then the other. Stop, go, stop, and go... the line of traffic seemed never ending.

While at anchor, we watched a small skiff come by and one of the guys was pointing into the water. The other guy threw a net to where the first one was pointing and when he hauled it up, it was glittering full of silver fish. He had a big grin on his face as he looked at me. I yelled across to see what they were and he said mullet and Menhaden. He was in the baitfish today! I was impressed that he could see into this coffee, mud like water to see anything and then to haul a net of fish in like that was really something. Another little skiff came by and he shared his bounty with the other boat and let the rest go back into the water. A sea bird joined in the fest as he released them, and got a breakfast out of this bounty too. Beaufort houses the only N. Carolina menhaden fish factory still in existence. Menhaden are herring-like fish abundant along the Atlantic coast. They're used for their oil, protein and as fertilizer. Most people encounter menhaden in a lot of products without ever knowing it. It's used in margarine, sports drinks and many salad dressings. It's also in pet food, lipstick, vitamin supplements (omega 3), as well as in lubricants, paints and caulking compounds. While teaching, I used to give the students an exercise called "There's seaweed in my what?". I could now do another one called "There's fish in my what?" LOL

A shrimper came by and the bridge managed to open for him at about 10:45 and we filed through behind him. Yay! I hated to think we might be stuck there until 3pm... The bridges are supposed to, and usually manage to, open for commercial vessels and this one did despite all the construction traffic...

We got to the marina and the diesel dock and refueled but couldn't pump out because their well was full. We don't actually need the pump out yet but like to pump out whenever we stop and they have an available pump out. We don't want any problems with the head so it's a preventative measure we take when we can.

The marina is having a "Grand Opening" or reopening for their restaurant (Fish Tales) at 4:30pm for the City Council, and other town dignitaries, with all kinds of samples from the kitchen. We were going to be walking Beaufort though, so had lunch before we left for our walking tour. It's a very cute restaurant that showcases local artists work (that you can buy). The staff here is very nice and accommodating. I got the shrimp tacos (good) and Wayne got the ½ lb Chuckie Burger (also good). Then it was off to see Beaufort. They have many old homes with names and dates on them and the cemetery goes back to the Civil War. It's a nice old town with shrimping/fishing and tourism that boosts the economy.

The town of Beaufort, NC is the second oldest continuously occupied city in the United States. St. Augustine is the oldest, but it was under Spanish rule (all of Florida belonged to Spain) so if you're looking at strictly U.S. states, it's probably the oldest in U.S. history.

Geese and horses
05/12/2009, Mile Hammock Bay (N34*33.163 W77*19.528) SM#244.5 to Taylor Creek, Beaufort, NC (34*42.860 76*39.831)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It was a nice quiet night - totally unlike the last time we were here. No maneuvers last night so we were able to get some sleep. We left Mile Hammock about 8:14am. We were next to the last boat to leave. Most of the boats left at sunup. I heard one boat warning another of a shallow area on the waterway where the mid-channel was 7 ft at Brown's Inlet. This must have been about mid-tide (low tide was around 4am). We hit this spot on a rising tide (high tide is about 10:15am here) with about 10 ft of water, so hey we didn't run aground today at all.

We slid past Camp Lejeune with no closures today - it was nice that we didn't have to wait for the live fire to end this trip (no shooting at us LOL). It's definitely cooler out today. Yesterday and today are the first days in a long time where I've worn sweats. High temps today in the 60s/70s and lows last night about 52. Today was pretty uneventful but with all the shoals along this stretch we were on high alert all day.

I saw my first two Canada geese (since last fall) today on the water, then 12 after that on someone's lawn (LOL). They really are a welcome, pretty sight. I wonder if they're all over the place at home. They like to raid the cherries and mulberries and sleep on the lawn and the lot next to us. They're amazingly smart birds that are very protective of their goslings and always a welcome sign of warmer weather working it's way to us back home.

Pulling into Taylor Creek in Beaufort NC the current is running about 2 knots. There are mooring balls all over but they're all private. Boats are anchored in between the moorings and in the channel too. It's kind of crazy. We circled several times, tried to p.u. a mooring only be told THAT'S PRIVATE PROPERTY when I called across to another boat to see if it was a rental. THERE ARE NO RENTAL MOORINGS HERE! Oops... drop that sucker like it's poison... we're now anchored between Green day markers 7 and 9 right on the border of the channel. I called Town Creek Marina to see if we could get in there tomorrow because the water there looks pretty shallow. I've heard really nice things about them and am looking forward to visiting them tomorrow. She was really nice on the phone and they give discounts to Boat US members for dockage fees and discounts on Diesel/Gas prices too ($.10/gallon).

Time to go and think about dinner... then post some blogs. Looks like the end of April was my last online entry (wow - what a slacker aye?).

Looking across at the marsh area - I keep looking for some of the Shackleford Horses but haven't seen any. They're feral horses/ponies that may be descendants of the conquistadors or from shipwrecks that graze on the salt marsh cordgrass. I haven't seen any, though I know that they're here...

Military anchorages and manuevers
05/11/2009, 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.

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