Bullets, Bridges, Mud…and Dolphins
16 November 2010 | Wrightsville Beach, NC
Jill (Second Hand)
This morning the guys motored through Camp Lejeune. They came to a sign that said "Do Not Pass This Sign If Lights Are Flashing, Live Artillery". The lights weren't flashing, but they could hear firing in the distance. There were also warnings on the barrier islands about unexploded ordinance. Altogether not a very inviting place. Bud said the anchorage did look nice as they went by.
They had a lot of swing bridges to get past today. Most of the bridges open on a schedule, either on the hour, or every half hour. Bud was worried about the timing, especially since he really didn't want to push the engine. As it was, they managed to get through all of the bridges with a total wait time of only about 15 minutes. At one bridge, the bridgemaster opened the bridge early for three tugs taking through dredging equipment and pipes. Bud and Rick were able to follow them through, and then the tugs waved them ahead. At the last bridge of the day, the bridgemaster waited 10 minutes for them, and then held the bridge open for 5 minutes while they made the last half-mile.
Bud called me this morning about the engine. This evening he told me just after he called he had the boat on autopilot in a narrow channel. He was trying to gather up the charts and get them below and put on his rain suit as it was about to rain. He was at the front of the cockpit when the autopilot started to behave really strangely. When he stepped back to the helm, he saw his set course had taken them about 50 feet outside the channel and the depth gauge was reading about 2 and a half feet. Since our depth gauge is not offset to read either at the waterline or below the keel; that meant we had 30 inches of water from just next to the keel to the bottom. The keel is a bit more than 30" deep. The autopilot was trying to correct the course when the boat was aground. Bud was able to quickly get it out of the mud and back in the channel, but he felt lucky.
The day wasn't all negatives. They saw another group of dolphins, around 20 or so. Bud thought they were feeding and they swam right along next to the boat. He said their swimming was almost silent and they were so close you could hear when they took a breath through their blowholes.
Since Bud and Rick made such good time with the bridges, they got to the place they wanted to stay at 3:15, so they made their way to the anchorage. The anchorage was in an inlet, just west of the barrier islands, and just outside the route of the Intracoastal. The entry to the inlet was shallow, but once inside it was fine. The inlet went back along the Intracoastal for about 3 miles to a fixed bridge. Unfortunately, the anchorage was crowded and they had to go almost to the bridge before they could drop the anchor. The wind was blowing down the length of the inlet and blowing the boat towards the bridge. There are thunderstorms predicted for tonight, and the wind is supposed to pick up to 20 to 25 knots. Bud decided he'd never sleep a wink for fear of dragging anchor and clipping the mast on the bridge. So they pulled the anchor back up and went back out the inlet to another marina. Bud said had the wind been from another direction they would have had a perfect spot, only about 150 yards from a dinghy dock, so Fuzzy could be easily rowed ashore. We anticipate spending most of our time at anchor, but so far on this trip it isn't working out.
The engine ran fine all day. Bud checked after 3 hours of running easy and there was no oil leaking. He ran it hard a couple of times, but hadn't had a chance to check the leak before I talked to him. I'm feeling pretty confident that they'll make it through the week without a problem. If their luck holds they'll make it to Charleston, SC, and that's where Bud will wait for me to get back.
Meanwhile, while Bud and Rick are basking in 70 degrees and viewing dolphins, my grandson and I have the flu, back up in Michigan.