Isle of Palms, So. Carolina
23 November 2018 | Isle of Palms Marina
We got a bit of a late start this year. We didn't leave until Sunday Nov. 11 at about 11AM which was a calm cold clear day. Conditions were not great for sailing but good for making great time while motoring and easy night navigation with maximum visibility. We made it to the southern Chesapeake where the James River comes in from the west at sunrise, then continued south in the Elizabeth River between Norfolk and Portsmouth. With only one pause for a bridge opening, we made it to the Great Bridge Locks by 0940 and were through by 1000. This gave us plenty of time to motor the 32nm to Coinjock NC where we were tied up for the night by 1500. That was a straight through run of 28 hr and we were glad to have time for a rest and nice dinner at the restaurant there.
The next day (Tues, Nov 13) we initially thought we might wait out some predicted rough weather, but the violence in the front that passed through overnight had abated by daybreak. The deck was covered with pine needles from the blow, but conditions were fine for continuing on. So we headed out and continued south, across Albemarle Sound, and into the Alligator River with some motor sailing along the way. We kept up our speed in order to make it through the long straight canal that ends at the Pungo River near Bellhaven, in company with six or so others going about our speed. Just before dark, we anchored in a cozy bight on the north bank of Pungo Creek, ready for strong northerlies predicted overnight.
Wednesday the wind was brisk from the NW and we sailed out the Pungo, across the larger Pamlico River in company with 6 to 10 others. Once across we made our way up Goose Creek then out at Bay River and briefly into Pamlico Sound. By this time the wind had piped up to 22-26 kn from the NE so we went from the genoa to the solent jib as we rounded into Pamlico sound and south. Even rougher weather was forecast, so we decided to try a new place for us, at River Dunes Marina north of Oriental NC. This was a cozy spot with extremely well protected floating docks that is approached from Broad Creek. With it blowing 25 kn outside in the sound, it was like another day with very light breezes on the inside. There we refueled and took it easy, staying two days while the weather sorted itself out. That Thursday (Nov. 15) was very windy, and even in this super protected marina, the winds were whipped up and boats were rocking in their slips. It must have been really whipped up out there on the Sound and Neuse River and we were happy to wait it out.
On Friday morning, things were settled down and we headed out and south in the Neuse River, then Adams Creek and ICW canal to Core Creek. We had not stayed in Beaufort NC on Mystic Star before, and had both been there many years before, so we headed for the city docks there and had a nice time walking around and finding a seafood dinner, which was great.
Weather was favorable for a run out in the ocean from there so we headed out early (for us) just before 0700 and before sunrise on Saturday. It was a 210 nm sail from there straight to Charleston Harbor. At first we had winds on the quarter but eventually came from dead astern at 10-12 kn making it impractical to sail. It was a decent overnight run with much milder temperatures and clear weather. By morning the wind backed to the north and we rolled out the genoa for the rest of the trip and anchored in Charleston Harbor near Fort Sumter by mid afternoon, Sunday (Nov. 18), after staying out of the way of a couple of huge container ships exiting the ship channel there.
Monday, Nov 19, we waited at anchor for just the right time after low tide at 1030 to make our way a few miles back up north on the ICW to Isle of Palms. Due to some neighborhood business we needed to be back home for a few weeks, so arranged to leave Mystic Star in the Isle of Palms Marina for up to a month. We made it there through reported shallow spots and under a fixed bridge with close clearance by mid afternoon and got set up to stay put there for awhile. Later in the week, we rented a car and drove home on Thanksgiving Day. The 11 hr drive went well and we arrived in time to join friends for a great Thanksgiving Dinner near home. Thank you Terry & Richard!
Once our business is taken care of, we now plan to fly back to Charleston on Dec 5 and continue our trip south after that. A complex itinerary, but working out so far.