03/12/2009/7:34 am, Georgetown, South Carolina
It's a new day. The sun is shining - what a difference that makes. We'll be off down the ICW shortly, making our way to Charleston. We may make it a two day trip - anchoring somewhere in the marshes on the way. We got some great fresh seafood here yesterday so we'll have a lovely feast tonight!
02/12/2009/11:52 am, Georgetown, South Carolina
Tuesday morning, we left before 0700 to get a good start on our long journey. We left with 2 possible destinations in mind. The best one would be Charleston. But with the threat of severe weather starting anytime after midnight, we were aware that our more probable destination would be the Winyah Bay inlet and Georgetown. That's how it turned out. We didn't want to risk getting caught out there when the wind and waves picked up. It seems like we are ALWAYS trying to avoid bad weather.
We had good currents down the Cape Fear River and out past Bald Head Island. Once outside, we were disappointed to find that there was not enough north in the forecasted NE wind to allow us to sail. So - we put the sail up to help stability but the wind stayed pretty much behind us all the way. We'd move it a little this way and a little that way but it wasn't very satisfactory. While it was lovely not to have to worry about shoaling and bridges, it was frustrating to have all that big water and be in too much of a hurry (because of weather) to tack back and forth and just sail.
There was not one single other boat out there in the wide ocean except for a shrimper just outside Cape Fear. We were about 20 miles off the coast for much of the day and at one point I got up and yelled - Is anybody there? Imagine my surprise to see a dolphin leap right beside us about 20 seconds later!! Other than that one reply, I heard nothing else but the engine. (The pic shows a tiny bit of another one)
We turned in the Winyah Bay entrance channel about 8 o'clock and proceeded to follow the lights. Three intense hours later, we dropped anchor in Georgetown. The channel is well marked, and although there were some cross currents in the river, we weren't at peak ebb so it was never a problem. It seems strange, but those last 3 hours were actually the best part of the trip - we were concentrating and active and successfully navigating. It is an awfully long way in at this end, and leaving from Carolina Beach made a long start to the trip too. Stopping at Bald Head Island and jumping out from there makes more sense, but we want to go there sometime when we can stay a few days. Doing the trip from Cape Fear to Charleston also makes more sense, but I already mentioned the weather...
So here we are in Georgetown. It poured rain a couple of times during the day and we kept swinging with current and wind. While we were uneasy, it didn't seem bad enough to move to a dock although we spent too much of the day fussing and worrying. A few hours after we had decided that we were dug in well enough, the wind came up more strongly and we realized that even if we hadn't dragged, we were still stretched too far out into the channel. By this time (4:30), all the face docks were filled with motor yachts, it was starting to get dark, and we circled around looking for a spot to re-anchor. A fellow on a mooring ball called out that the vacant ball next to him was usually home to a 41 foot Beneteau and we could use it. After some debate, that's what we did so as I write this, (9pm) we are swinging around on it.
We've seen a few flashes of lightening, and there is enough wind to keep us rocking on the ball - one gust (35 knots) just knocked us sideways and the rain is lashing down. Jim has the engine on and is trying to take some of the strain off the mooring. A bad night looks to be still in the reports. I guess we'll see. We generally figure that we'd rather be on our own anchor than an unknown mooring, but Georgetown is this guy's home port so we hope he had good local knowledge.
We went for one fast walk around town to get a little exercise - first time off the boat since Beaufort on Saturday evening - but couldn't really stay ashore because of worry about wind.
On the good news side, the Ben Sawyer Bridge is not closing tomorrow, so we can make the shorter inside trip to Charleston over the next couple of days and then get the heck outside and down to Fernandina Beach.
This just doesn't feel like fun right now. It seems like we have had one incident after another - limiting weather windows over and over again, water tank, fridge, dragging anchor. I know it can always be worse - far worse - but tonight is a morose night!
01/12/2009/7:58 pm, Carolina Beach, NC
There is more to the Carolina Beach story...
Jim had gone to bed and I was playing around on the computer when our anchor drag alarm went off. That is not an unusual thing, since sometimes it beeps when we've swung with the current or wind. I went out to look and we had indeed swung and the wind had some up quite strongly, but everything seemed OK so I just hit the "clear" button. Back down below, I finished what I was doing and then before I went to bed, I looked out the window before I reprogrammed the alarm. To MY alarm, I saw pilings where there shouldn't be any! I dashed up the companionway steps - yelling to Jim that we had dragged. As I turned on the engine and got the boat in gear to keep us off the dock that was less than a boat length away, he scrambled out of bed, hit the windlass switch and deck lights and ran forward to haul up the anchor - shouting as he went by that the boat next to us was also moving. So - here we were - two boats circling in the dark, windy night, trying to find new places to settle down again.
There is nothing any fun about dragging anchor and almost crashing our vacation home/ investment, but it sure gets the adrenaline moving and induces huge gratitude that we were saved yet again. Two good things are that we had no damage done, and we worked in perfect symmetry. I felt sorry about the other boat, who had come into that anchorage on our advice. They also found a new spot for the night and had no damage, but I'll bet that's the last time they listen to us!!
We figure that the wind came up so strongly after we swung that instead of the anchor resetting itself, it came loose. We set the alarm to the tiniest amount of movement just in case and took turns getting up all the rest of the night to check on it. Needless to say, neither of us got much rest.