Our weather is distinctly different today, with low dark clouds threatening rain.
We are still blessed with little or no wind, which is what I care about. It usually means flatter seas, pretty much the only kind I like!
We’ve had many inlets, the largest being Cape Fear, below Wilmington. It’s HUGE! The sea comes in there and all of a sudden you’re going in a different direction as a current catches you.
ICW (IntraCoastal Waterway) marks are unique. Normally when you’re cruising on any waterway you have routes that you can take instead of roads. While the roads on the water aren’t as obvious, there are marks (green squares and red triangles) on poles in the water (or on cans or buoys) indicating where the channel is, and if you coordinate that with your charts you’ve got a pretty good idea of where you are and where you need to go. When you are going into an inlet or channel or river, you keep the red triangles on the right: “red right returning.” But all the way down the coast on the ICW we keep the red on the right (which I guess means that we are “returning” south) . . . and all the way back up the coast we keep the green on the right. Unless you are in or near an inlet, or river, etc., in which case the river or inlet marks prevail. Can be VERY confusing, especially if you’ve got channels going off into several different rivers. So we’re booking along with the current in the Cape Fear River and all of a sudden I realize that the channel is wide and unobstructed by land. . . we are heading out to sea! Whoa, I don’t THINK so!! Lots of marks, green, red, red, green, red, but what I need to find is one of these:
See that yellow square up there at the top? That means that it’s an ICW mark and it should be on my left. The red triangles have yellow triangles at the top. Whew!! Close one there. I am not ready to go into the ocean.
We are seeing more dolphin as we head south. I KNOW I will be able to get some great shots as we go along, but so far I’ve only managed fins.
We are also seeing more pelicans too, which I love. These are the most graceful ugly creatures you can imagine! Pterodactyls are not too much in the past for these birds, and their great soft throat (which I can tell you can accommodate a fish nearly the size of the bird’s body!) is naked and floppy. But let them fly, oh my, let them fly! They coast along with wing tips like fingers, splayed along the top of the water, never quite touching but al-l-l-lmost close enough. . . I will get some photos of these birds, and hopefully do them justice.
We had lots of inlets, some of them absolutely right there, the ocean coming in. . .
And how’s this for a wave of birds? Like water flowing!
And more soup to nuts houses along the way. . . which ones are soup, and which ones nuts? (Frankly, I’m beginning to think they’re ALL nuts to be so close to the water these days. . . I grew up on Long Island at a time when the Army Corps of Engineers was still under the impression that they could “do something” about the ocean. My father was an architect with many very wealthy clients who managed to convince the Army Corps of Engineers to “do something” in front of their dune mansions. It never worked. Ever.)
We saw lots of Shrimp boats today, coming, going, drying and clearing their nets. Can I just tell you I can hardly WAIT to be able to buy fresh local shrimp and . . . marinate and grill them? No, sautee in white wine with garlic and parsely. . . with a bit of bread crumbs and olive oil? Or not. I hope to have opportunities to do it all!
We are at Barefoot Marina in North Myrtle Beach tonight (wait. . . that means we’re in Sath Ca’lina!) and the last bit of our journey was through a part of the ICW called “The Rock Pile.” This is a particularly narrow part of the channel, with rock ledges on either side, some of which you can see just below the surface, or being sloshed by your wake. The bottom is hard shale or rock. You DO NOT want to touch anything here, sides or bottom. Dead center in the channel is the key, and there’s a certain “pucker factor” if you will, as you navigate this area. It only goes about 18 miles, but at 8 1/2 knots, do you know how LONG THAT IS??
As if we needed warning!