A Little About The Cape Fear RegionKeith, cool, calm evening - I think I can hear something eating something off the hull
We are traveling through a very historic area for the United States (and the Confederacy). Southport is located at the mouth of the Cape Fear Inlet, one of the main capes and inlets on the east coast of the US. Beyond the inlet are the frying pan shoals extending for many miles out to sea. The markers placed and maintained by the government take boats large and small by the shoals safely to open ocean. There are many, many wreaks littering the shoals. The long, deep Cape Fear River flows to the sea here. I traveled it today for 10 miles from from the cut to Carolina Beach. It was nice to be in deep water (40 feet plus) and not constantly watching the depth meter (I did anyway, but not as much). The largest ammunition loading platform in the eastern US was/is located up the Cape Fear River. Transports exit the river into the Atlantic and then head for Europe or Vietnam... now the Middle East. The original photo I chose for this entry wouldn't download. It is a memorial for the crew of a transport ship that was torpedoed by a German U-Boat outside of Cape Fear. During the civil war, the south controlled the entrance to the Cape Fear River and used that to undermine the North's attempted blockade of Cape Fear inlet and to further prevent the Northern ships from entering Cape Fear river and taking Wilmington. The futuristic looking iron topped steam battle ships were placed here to guard the entrance (and because they were too heavy and underpowered to take to sea). Eventually, of course, it all fell to the North. Now Southport is a city of peace.
Free Dog Beach In Southport, NCKeith, sunny and humid - but we are used to it and it doesn't bother. I've learned, for example, that panting doesn't mean exhausted any more than sweating does. It just means hot. The body can function if we go at a reasonable pace and stay hydrated
Town Dock In Southport, NCKeith, hot and humid
I've fallen into a daily routine which goes something like this: Wake up, make coffee, dingy the dogs to shore for a long walk, back to the boat to feed everyone clean up and get ready to travel, put up the dingy and store the outboard, head off to next destination (usually 15-30 miles away), arrive early afternoon and anchor, relax onboard listen to music and NPR news and write in log book and make sure holding is good, lower dingy and install outboard, take dogs to shore for afternoon and sometimes again for sunset walks, make and eat dinner, get ready for bed. Repeat. It's a good way to slowly make progress while enjoying every place we go. I counted and including the Oriental Harbor, Deatons Marina (remember that first night on the boat) and Whitaker Docks, we've stayed at 10 different anchorages/docks so far this trip and we've slept on the boat 20 nights. We've cruised about 170 miles in the 10 days since we left Oriental on July 24, 2008. We're presently at mile marker 320 in the ICW. Only 600 or so more miles until the Bahamas. At this rate, I could be in the Bahamas by September or earlier. I get a lot of mixed reactions about that, ranging from don't worry to stares of sorry disbelief. I've read about hurricaines hitting North Carolina in October that were disastrous. What if I had waited until October to cruise through NC. I was going to bypass Southport today since it was only 15 miles from my previous anchorage and I wanted to get some miles under me, but my main cruising guide (the one in the picture with the food) said definitely spend some time here. They were right, this town is great. There's so much to say about it but the bottom line is that it has been a haven for mariners for hundreds of years and has a little of everything a cruising sailor and his dogs could want. Another cruising guide (Skipper Bob's) explained that there is a free town dock with power and water. I couldn't find it at first and anchored in the yacht basin. The weather report spoke of heavy thunderstorms and wind this evening (which only marginally materialized) and I was worried about my holding since there isn't room in the basin to lay out enough scope. I looked over and there was a sign for the free and empty town dock space. Those guides are so worth it. We try not to skimp on cruising guides and they almost always deliever their worth and more. I called and reserved the space and managed to land with the help of a kind local. The tide range here is 4 feet, which means we sometimes climb up and sometimes down to get from the boat to the dock. And I do believe my sailboat is the coolest one in the Southport Yacht Basin tonight, which hasn't done much for me yet tonight, but still.
Jake's SpotKeith, sunny and warm - beautiful afternoon and evening
08/02/2008, Carolina Beach, NC
Going Ashore In Carolina Beach, NChumid, but otherwise nice
14.5 miles from anchor up to anchor down today. Carolina beach is not as upscale as Wrightsville Beach, at least not according to the view of it I saw. Cheap motels, touristy shops. But the basic concept is the same, an incredible beach on the Atlantic side with "beach" houses fit into every nook and cranny along it. Some basic homes, some extravagent villas. This is where the Carolinians have their beach houses - their Coronado (Coronado, San Diego is where my family goes). There was hardly anyplace to put the dingy ashore. I came into one condo building with a beach in front and asked someone on the balcony if I could come ashore for a little while to walk the dogs. They actually said no and watched as I turned around and headed off. But that is the exception. As I've said before, NC people seem naturally dog friendly. The man at the convienence store came out after we were done and brought the dogs biscuts. Many people have done so on this trip (remember the ladies walking in the mornings in Oriental). It seems to be the norm in these beach towns to pass ordinances restricting dogs completely from the beaches during the summer months. Pity. We go anyway, but only for short leashed runs to and from the water. I found this little put-in not far from tonight's anchorage. It was so nice out this evening that we tried to sleep out on deck, but it became just to muggy out there and now we're back inside before heading off to sleep in the more cozy cabin. It is cool out tonight, which keeps things more comfortable. There's definitely an art to cruising a sailboat long distances. One has to find comfort in all types of environments; most of all, one has to find comfort in one's self. That's why Jake does so well. Anne and I go through happy times and homesick times but we're happy to at least be together.
Doing Dishes (these are clean ones)Keith, hot and humid
08/01/2008, Wrightsvills Beach Just Before Taking Off To Carolina Beach
I'm learning low water use methods of washing the dishes. I've got 80 gallons of water and I've not filled up since I left Whitaker Creek in Oriental. I've got the forward 35 gallon tank turned off from the supply so that I will know when I'm running low.
Most Of The Contents Of The Fridge After Grocery Shopping And Cleaning And OrganizingKeith, getting hot and humid
08/01/2008, Wrightsville Beach, NC
I went shopping, cleaned and vaccumed the inside of the boat, pulled up the dingy, stored the outboard engine, and was just about ready to head off. It was beautiful. That's when things go wrong. And surely as I was windlassing the chain it got stuck in the device evidently designed to prevent the chain from getting stuck. To make a long story short and not too detailed, I got the anchor up and made it 14.5 miles southward to Carolina Beach, where I'm posting this entry.
Morning Sun On Wrightsville BeachNice, even though no dogs are evidently allowed on the beach during the summer
When we awoke, it was sunny and calm again. We dingied into shore and took a long walk through the beach town. Knowing that I had misread (perhaps purposely) the signs about when dogs were allowed , I only brought them far enough to take this picture. The rest of the walk was far enough to tire them out nonetheless.
Wrightsville Beach Sunset ThunderstormKeith
We traveled a short 22 miles (4-5 hours with one long wait for a broken bridge) to this happening beach town, though the beach town scene is starting to become a bit routine. What made things interesting was a fat thunderstorm that came through shortly after I took the dogs for a walk on the dog restricted beach. I was about to dingy back to town by myself to do some grocery shopping when I saw lightening in the distance. I've taken to letting out a lot of chain to give the anchor enough scope with the tidal currents that frequent this region. Even so, I went up and let out a total of 90 feet of chain. I would have let out all 100, but that would have put me too close to another sailboat. It held no problem. But what a show. Lightening all around us - long strikes that seemed not to stop as quickly as one would expect. I battoned up the hatches and made macaroni and cheese and a hebrew national hot dog sliced in (I know) while the water was sheeting off the windows. Anne stayed close, Jake seemed oblivious. When the storm finally ended, the air was cool and moist and we all had a great night's sleep. This morning is clear and calm again (for now). We took a great hike through town and I went and got those groceries. I've got some good pictures from that which will get posted this afternoon or evening. The boat is sparkling from the hard wash. Turns out my procrastination in not scrubbing the decks since we started paid off.
The Afternoon Walk Leads To The Atlantic SideKeith, warm and muggy by day, cool and muggy by night
07/31/2008, Topsail Anchorage
We landed the dingy about 200 yards from the sailboat on a little beach (formerly a launching ramp) surrounded by docks. There was even a little post to tie the dingy to so I didn't have to pull it up the beach. Jake and Anne are great ambassadors of good will. It's like everybody knows them already and many people come right on over and say hello to us. The dogs get pet by strangers every day. North Carolina people, I must say, appear to be true dog lovers. Anyway, its because of the dogs that I feel ok landing pretty much anywhere. People see that I've got animals that need to get off the boat and do their thing and walk around. We clean up after ourselves and don't stay for long. One woman commented that she sees a lot of goldens on boats. I'm not surprised. A mature golden retiever does great on a sailboat if they are taken on land walks regularly. The dogs are great at hanging out while sailing. They don't get uptight at all the little things and they enjoy just being all together. It was only a short walk from the landing spot to the Atlantic, where we walked along the beach. The waves were high and the surf was dangerous, so I kept them on leash. Returned to the boat, made a nice dinner of steamed rice and the rest of the chicken in a stif-fry with fresh vegies. We may take off later tomorrow as our destination is only 20 miles away.
Singer Family Adventures
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