Underway at last.
07/13/2012, Swansboro, NC
Yesterday, July 12, we concluded our terms with Bennett Bros. Yachts and Cape Fear Marina in Wilmington, and departed downstream the Cape Fear river at 10:15. We squeezed under the Isabel Holmes bridge with perhaps less than a meter to spare. We motored down the river past downtown Wilmington, past the battleship U.S.S. North Carolina and Coast Guard cutter Diligence, past the Port of Wilmington freight gantry cranes, and down to Snow's Cut. We passed through Snow's Cut and entered the ICW northbound.
At 15:15 we arrived at the Wrightsville Beach bridge and had to lay over 45 minutes for the next opening. We used the time to enjoy some delicious seared tuna with salsa and chips at the al fresco restaurant right next to the bridge. We also topped off our gas tanks there.
We scooted through the draw bridge that opened just for us, and continued northbound all afternoon. At 1815 we suddenly and very jarringly ran hard aground directly in front of tiny Hampstead Marina. They had a little side channel of their own dredged, and apparently the spoils had been tossed aside of it, making for a perfect place to trip up a sailboat with 4' draft.
I knew we would run agound, but I had hoped it would not be on our very first day out. :-( And we were HARD aground; we were motoring at full speed when we hit. To make matters worse, the tide was ebbing so we were getting further aground with each passing minute. It soon became apparent that we would have to call in our towing insurance to solve this - we weren't going anywhere on our own.
TowBoatUS was there in less than an hour, and the courteous and skillful captain had us off in just a few minutes. Many thanks to our new friend skipper George Cooper in Wilmington who reminded us to get full towing coverage before setting out. That decision saved us hundreds of dollars, and perhaps our trip...
Here's the video!
We continued north into the fading daylight. We arrived at our anchorage at Sloop Point at 21:15, and dropped the anchor in the last vestige of twilight. We had had a long day, but it was good to be at anchor in a snug cove. Oh, and we ran aground again there at the anchorage, but it was a soft grounding and we were able to back ourselves off, thankfully.
On Friday the 13th we weighed anchor at 0820 and continued north. We cruised right through USMC Camp Lejeune, and stopped at New River Marina where we topped off, got ice, and enjoyed the complimentary showers! 55 minutes later we were underway again. Within minutes we were aground in the ICW again! But this time we were not going very fast, and I thought we had a chance of backing ourselves off. It wasn't easy, but we did it by putting the engine in reverse at moderate throttle, and rocking our body weight together, like a weird dance, on the foredeck of Swedish Fish. We did this funny looking exercise for 3 or 4 minutes, and finally, we were free again! We were getting very skittish after this about the depths of the ICW. There are few to no large sailing yachts to be seen in this part of the ICW, and I suspect this is because of the numerous treacherous shoals. At 1605 we arrived at our destination for the day, Caspers Marina in Swansboro, NC. We walked around the quaint historic downtown area, had baked potatoes on the barbie. Helena made a homemade slaw to go with it. Mmm! We spent the evening hanking on the mainsail, tidying up the cabin, and installing our new GPS plotter. It will come in handy tomorrow. We hope to make it to Oriental, NC tomorrow night, and plan to do some sailing (finally) in the Neuse River delta on our way over.
About to set sail!
Today we passed the last big hurdle standing between us and departure from Wilmington: we sold our car. I haven't been without a car of my own for 24 years, so at this point, it is an uneasy feeling. The only remedy for it in my life today is to go cruising.
We plan to leave Wilmington via the Atlantic ICW tomorrow (July 12, 2012) morning. We are more than ready to go. We've made friends here and had a world of heartbreaks and laughs, but it's time to GO. :-)