We got off at 7 this morning with two other boats, soon to be joined by two more. The protected little pocket at the marina was frosty but fog free, however once we really got under way we were in dense fog. DENSE. As in: can you see water beyond the bow? Can you see the shore? Thank heavens for radar. Radar, chartplotter, gps, etc., etc. (Some time soon I will photograph the “navaids” we have on board . . . “Navigational Aids”. . . and explain what they all do to make us feel more comfortable with figuring out where we are and what we’re seeing.) We could “see” the marks, the shoreline, and the other boats. Our two chart plotters keep track of us via GPS, so we know when we’re in the channel, but imagine seeing only wooly white in front of the boat!
The first trouble mark (according to Active Captain, our primary internet resource for warnings) was going to be between the Green 127 and Red 128. Well. . . it was WAY-Y-Y before that! The fog was only spotty now, and we were following two boats, a small sportfisher was in the lead, a very large one behind him, and they both stopped mid-channel. I’m sorry they didn’t just say hey, we’re aground. . . Our plan had been to go farther out than the “normal” channel, but they just muddled around, not giving us any idea of what was happening. On the charts there are warnings all through this area about shoaling — which is when the waves and currents move the shallows around, sometimes creating surprise grounding areas. Both boats were backing, turning, searching for the “deep water,” which is only 7 or 8 feet deep in this area. So pretty soon we saw 6’, 4’, 2.5’, . . . .5. . . Mid channel of course, which is what they warn you about farther south. Ultimately it was not a problem as it was a soft grounding. We all ultimately maneuvered off the shoal and continued in spotty fog, but it was an area of shoaling that we hadn’t expected, so we posted it to both Active Captain and the SSECN.
This is a fascinating area of cuts, canals, and sounds. Cuts are (as it sounds) narrow cuts through what would otherwise be extensive land areas, canals I would describe as “cuts with a history,” so they’ve been there for a long time and everyone knows they’re there and they are established waterways, sounds are IMMENSE! Wide and shallow water, an ocean inlet, and a marked channel which helps the cruiser cross what would otherwise be a flat plain of shallow water. Think of it as a road crossing a desert. You don’t want to wander off the road.
One of the things that I find most fascinating here, in the calm waters of this narrow channel, are the reflections. We’ve all seen kaleidoscopes, which are images that are divided by mirrors, usually into eight pieces. Well here we have kaleidoscope images that are only divided in two pieces. . . and they are REAL!!
We have stopped at the Dowry Creek Marina for the night, which is a well known, highly revered, oft visited, marina on the ICW. Mary, who owns and runs the place makes people feel comfortable and easy. There is a traditional BYO gathering in the “club house” at 5 or 5:30, so all the cruisers who have come in can gather and share “war stories” and histories. It was AWESOME! Lots of wonderful people on interesting boats, LOTS of stories to share. And a man named Ted, who had arrived on a DeFever 57 called “Boomer Too,” had oysters. . . Chesapeake Bay oysters. . . and he kept them coming, shucking them, and finally steaming them in the microwave. . . I gave Ted a hug, and a kiss, and my earnest, heartfelt thanks for a spectacularly delicious and very special Happy Hour. WOW!!!!! (Sorry I didn’t take pictures, but those who love oysters know what they looked like, those who do not have no desire to see them.) I’m just sorry that we can’t bring Ted and his oysters along on the next leg of our journey with Aqua Vitae.
12-2-12 To Morehead City
Pardon me if I plaster this blog with sunrise pictures from Dowry Creek Marina. . . I got too many good ones and couldn’t narrow it down any more than this!
Our trip today was down the Pungo River to the Pamlico Sound (one of the four most dangerous bodies of water on the ICW, according to the chart book. . .) to the Neuse River (another one of the four most dangerous bodies of water on the ICW!) to Adams Creek Canal and on to Morehead City, which is on the coast of North Carolina. Here is what we saw entering the Pamlico Sound.
And here is the Neuse River (“Pokey-Hokie” has been with us for several days. . . it’s what happens, you see some of the same folks at the next stop.)
I will tell you that this kind of “danger,” nail-biting, palms sweating, heart thumping, I will take EVERY DAY for the rest of this journey. This is why we call what we’re doing “low adventure.” We just don’t like the “high” kind!
Turning south from the Neuse River we entered Adams Creek Canal, which is very much like other Canals, Cuts and Channels we’ve been through. But this one is north of Beaufort, NC (pronounced “bow” as in archery, unlike Beaufort, SC pronounced “biew” as in view) and Morehead City, NC. This is an up and coming area, and there is evidence along the canal that developers are trying to take advantage of the location.
Our dockage tonight is in a marina called the Morehead City Yacht Basin. It’s full of sport-fisher boats, all sparkling bright white and clean. . . when we first arrived we watched a man wash his boat for a good hour, scrubbing, hosing, wiping. . . and all I could think was that if we had used the hose like that on Aqua Vitae we would sweep an awful lot off crap off the decks, side decks, fore deck, and aft deck. We would lose lines, buckets, rags, and a number of other items that might or might not be useful when we get to a place where we might start STOWING STUFF. I tell Hans we look like we are from West Virginia, with everything but a tire planted with pansies in the front yard. We’re just not READY to be clean, and if we admit that we don’t have to be embarrassed by it. . . do we?