It’s a Small World in Southport, NC

We ventured out of Wrightsville Beach and back into the ICW towards Cape Fear River. Yes, Cape FEAR, the treacherous sounding body of water that does not have an inviting name. The shallows of Frying Pan Shoals extend 30 miles outside of the entrance to Cape Fear River and are known to be dangerous, or at the very least, to be avoided.  And, remember the movie, Cape Fear, starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte, and Jessica Lange (1991)?  To avoid the fearfulness of Cape Fear, you just plan accordingly. We checked the currents and planned our trip down that part of the river to miss the fiercest current. It worked – we had a very peaceful run and arrived in Southport, North Carolina in mid-afternoon.

View along the ICW in southern North Carolina

View along the ICW in southern North Carolina

Sandy edges along the barrier islands

Sandy edges along the barrier islands

A view of the ocean through the Carolina Beach Inlet

A view of the ocean through the Carolina Beach Inlet

Saw a lot of pelicans today, flying diving and just perching

Saw a lot of pelicans today, flying diving and just perching

One lonely little  bird in the grasses

One lonely little bird in the grasses

Southport has been the location for a number of movies, most recently  Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven (he lives in New Bern, NC.) Other movies filmed here are Domestic Disturbance, Crimes of the Heart, Spies, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Summer Catch. I think we will have to rent some of these when we return home. The town is very walkable and very charming. We liked it a lot.

Southport docks

Southport docks

We entered the very tiny harbor of Southport, passing the docks and restaurants

We entered the very tiny harbor of Southport, passing the docks and restaurants

Kindred Spirit at anchor

Kindred Spirit at anchor

Southport homes

Southport homes

Fun signs in Southport

Fun signs in Southport

The world is truly small! We had barely set foot on the street just behind a little restaurant, Fishy Fishy, right on the dock, when a man came right up to us to tell us he was from Middlefield CT and saw our hailing port of Durham, CT!! Middlefield and Durham are neighboring towns and share the same school system. Both towns are quite small so it is out of the ordinary to run into someone so far away. He was so excited at the coincidence. Frankly, so were we! His wife and their friends, visiting from Middlefield, joined him and we had a nice little visit right there on the docks.

After our walking tour, with a little shopping thrown in (we needed more cold weather clothes so we bought sweatshirts,) we decide to have dinner at Fishy Fishy. Its reputation is well-deserved. We had a great dinner and were able to watch Kindred Spirit at anchor through the entire meal.

Keeping a watchful eye on our Kindred Spirit during dinner

Keeping a watchful eye on our Kindred Spirit during dinner

 

 

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

We continued our travels down the ICW in North Carolina to our next port – Wrightsville Beach. My only knowledge about the town is from Nicholas Sparks’ book, Message in a Bottle, and the movie made about it. Ahhh, reality vs novels and movies. No resemblance. 🙂
This leg of our ICW trip required timing because of the three bridges we would encounter – two swing bridges and one bascule. The distances between each and their opening schedules (either on the hour and the half hour, or just the hour) meant that we had to carefully monitor our speed and progress. Lots of mental math for rates and times, and conversions between statute miles and nautical miles, but no algebra really required. 🙂 We passed through the Surf City Bridge, The Figure Eight Bridge and then the Wrightsville  Beach Bridge. Most of the 15 boats anchored with us back at Mile Hammock Bay were also traveling today, so we hung out waiting for openings and then passed through like a line of school children on their way to lunch. It’s actually fun to call the bridgetender to request the opening and to thank them after you are clear. The “request” is mostly to inform them; evidently they record the names and time of the boats who pass through.

Opening bridges and the line of boats behind us

Opening bridges and the line of boats behind us

This part of the ICW is very different from the past week. No swamp and swamp marshes , and more homes. Sometimes we could catch a glimpse of the barrier islands and even the ocean through an inlet. There were a few nerve wracking shoaled areas during which we held our breath as we carefully moved over them.

The sandbars just past the marker.

The sandbars just past the marker.

More homes along the westerns shore - from simple trailers to very grand places.

More homes along the westerns shore – from simple trailers to very grand places.

A glimpse of the ocean through an inlet

A glimpse of the ocean through an inlet

A charming old oyster boat jugging away going north

A charming old oyster boat jugging away going north

And then there some more curious sights. Please keep  in mind that when you travel at 6 knots of speed, you have plenty of time to look around you!!

~A giraffe statue as a "for sale" sign ~ A fake palm tree marking a shallow area ~ Who knows what this statue is!! An ICW mythical goddess?

~A giraffe statue as a “for sale” sign
~ A fake palm tree marking a shallow area
~ Who knows what this statue is!! An ICW mythical goddess?

We also  had our share of nature sightings. The dolphins really do run along side of the boats in the ICW. There are no  good pictures because I got too excited to hold the camera steady and focus and watch the dolphins. I chose to do the watching without the camera most of the time. But here is one photo — If you look closely you can see the dolphin just alongside of our bow, keeping up with us.

Can you see the dolphin?? This is just so cool!!!

Can you see the dolphin?? This is just so cool!!!

We think this is an eagle. Maybe a bald eagle?

An eagle inspecting the ICW travelers

An eagle inspecting the ICW travelers

Our view of Wrightsville as we entered the channel was mostly very large waterfront homes and docks.

More homes along the westerns shore - from simple trailers to very grand places.

More homes along the westerns shore – from simple trailers to very grand places.

Wrightsville Beach waterfront homes

Wrightsville Beach waterfront homes

Those of us who anchored in the little harbor also had waterfront property.

Southbound sailboats in the Wrightsville anchorage. Can you find us?

Southbound sailboats in the Wrightsville anchorage. Can you find us?

We spent an extra day here rather than move again. Sometimes you need to take a break from daily travel.

Beach time!! Yes, it was cold but we sat on the beach anyway.

Beach time!! Yes, it was cold but we sat on the beach anyway. The sea gulls kept us company.

In our walk to town we found a lovely little park – one of the nicest we have ever seen.

~Welcome arch ~Al relaxes in a butterfly chair ~ table and benches ~ A fountain designed for cooling off - for children in hot weather ~ a little playhouse

~Welcome arch
~Al relaxes in a butterfly chair
~ table and benches
~ A fountain designed for cooling off – for children in hot weather
~ a little playhouse

Are you ever to old to play? We tried the see saw. Silly, isn't it?

Are you ever to old to play? We tried the see saw. Silly, isn’t it?

prep

The PPD Beach to Battleship Triathlon is Saturday. Lots of preparations going on!

Which explains why we saw so many people swimming in the channel and bay near us. Brrrrrrrrr!

Which explains why we saw so many people swimming in the channel and bay near us. Brrrrrrrrr!

Another glowing sunset. If you look very closely, you might see Venus.

Another glowing sunset. If you look very closely, you might see Venus – tiny pinpoint of light in the upper left.

We may be in the south, but we are cold!! It has been in the high 40’s at night. Our cabin registered 56 degrees this morning – that’s 2 degrees colder than we keep our house at night in the winter. But the sun is shiny brightly during the day.

Just a quick update to last night’s blog post. We awoke today to a very chilly morning  – 38 degrees outside and only 52 degrees inside the cabin. Brrrrrr. And I thought we had headed south!
It’s a good thing we studied the currents and planned our route today around them, resulting in a late morning departure. Why? No boats would be leaving this anchorage this morning until after the swimming part of the PPD Beach to Battleship Triathlon. Remember yesterday’s photo about the preparations for this triathalon? At that time we had no idea just how big this event is.

PPD

You can see the bicycles in the back.

Bags for clothing change after the swim are placed here.

Bags for clothing change after the swim are placed here.

This triathlon is Internationally recognized iron distance and half distance. The title sponsor, PPD, supports the event to educate the public on the vital role of clinical research and trials for new medicines. The distances are:
Swim – from Wrightsville Beach, 2.4 miles
Bike – 112 miles from Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington
Run – 26.2 miles around Wilmington, ending at the USS North Carolina battleship

While we ate our breakfast, we had a front row seat to watch the swimming – the swimming was right past this anchorage.

Volunteers on paddleboards and kayaks are spread out along the swimming course

Volunteers on paddleboards and kayaks are spread out along the swimming course

One mass of swimmers coming up the channel

One mass of swimmers coming up the channel

US Coast Guard boat waits at the back to prevent boats from entering the channel there.

US Coast Guard boat waits at the back to prevent boats from entering the channel there.

A mass of swimmers passing the buoy that marks the turn point

A mass of swimmers passing the buoy that marks the turn point

The lead swimmer passing by

The lead swimmer passing by

It must be so cold in that water today

It must be so cold in that water today

This was for all those athletic friends and family members of ours who have run, biked, and swam competitively-  Meghan, Maureen, Adam, Colleen, Alicia.

Beaufort, North Carolina – a mix of chores and travel

We left Oriental on Monday, October 21st  and headed down the ICW again to Beaufort, North Carolina. The trip, mostly through Adams Creek,  was uneventful, but cloudy….. again. We did see two of my favorite ICW signs, so far —-

Dangling Mile Marker 185

Dangling Mile Marker 185

A proposal on the ICW! Did she yes???

A proposal on the ICW! Did she yes???

We anchored for our first day in Beaufort and spent the afternoon walking around Beaufort. We had a nice tour through the museum (does every town have its own museum?), the North Carolina Maritime Museum. The museum combines maritime history, pirates, shipwrecks, whales, fishing industry, sea rescues, and boatbuilding, The volunteer tour guides are exceptionally friendly and willing to spend time with you. Our guide, Tom Myers, took us to the top of the building to look out over Beaufort Inlet.

Looking out at Beaufort Inlet

Looking out at Beaufort Inlet 

The skeleton of a whale that was beached and died nearby on the Outer Banks hangs overhead in the museum. North Carolina’s whaling industry lasted from the 1700s to 1916 when the last whale was reportedly killed off the coast.

The whale skeleton hanging above

The whale skeleton hanging above our heads

The museum also displays artifacts recovered from what researchers believe to be Blackbeard’s pirate ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge.  The wreck of the sunken ship was discovered off the shore near Beaufort. The museum displays the items and also how the archaeological excavation is done.

Is this a statue of Blackbeard or Johnny Depp????

Is this a statue of Blackbeard or Johnny Depp????

Our second day in Beaufort was a “chore day”. We needed diesel fuel and were pleasantly surprised to learn that we averaged .8 gallons per hour since the last fill-up. Although we haven’t been able to sail much, using the jib or main on a good day really helps the engine out.

We had  a cloudy, but dry, day so doing chores was ok. While waiting for the laundry to finish drying, we played a round of corn hole. Michele was ahead most of the game and then Al caught up to tie the game. Yes, the game ended in a tie, and ensured that marital harmony would continue on Kindred Spirit.

How else do you pass the time while waiting for the laundry to dry? A game of corn hole!

How else do you pass the time while waiting for the laundry to dry? A game of corn hole!

The next chore was grocery shopping. The Town Creek Marina had a courtesy car for cruisers to borrow. Yeah! We could buy heavy items and much more than would fit in a backpack or bike basket.

We really feel like cruisers now that we have used a marina courtesy car.

We really feel like cruisers now that we have used a marina courtesy car.

Al was thrilled to go more than 6-7 knots - 30 mph seemed really fast!!

Al was thrilled to go more than 6-7 knots – 30 mph seemed really fast!!

Kindred Spirit also received a thorough cleaning outside on her deck (no more tannin stain thanks to toilet bowel cleanser) and an inside straightening. Wednesday night brought lots of showers – you could hear the rain all night on the deck. We left early the next morning for another 38 mile day down the ICW.

The day brightened and became quite nice. We even used sunscreen!!  This part of the ICW had a different feel and look. The water became more blue/green as we passed the sandy marshes and barrier islands of the Outer Banks. On our port side was —

Marshes along the ICW

Marshes along the ICW

Sand bars very close to the channel

Sand bars very close to the channel

Many homes and docks lined the western side of the ICW channel —

Homes along the western shore of the ICW

Homes along the western shore of the ICW

The best part of the day was seeing the wildlife (the natural kind, not the night kind.)

A group of pelicans just ahead of us

A group of pelicans just ahead of us

One Pelican takes off just as the bow comes close

One pelican takes off just as the boat comes close.

And the very best of all —–

A dolphin swimming right by us!!!

A dolphin swimming right by us!!!

Our resting stop for the night was Mile Hammock Bay, near the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. This is a small man-made harbor within the base that permits public anchoring, but you cannot to go ashore.

Marines pass right by us in the channel as they perform practice drills

Marines pass right by us in the channel as they perform practice drills

There was no doubt whatsoever that this was a military area. All afternoon and into the evening/night, there were practice exercises overhead. Helicopters take off, circle around, return and pick up practice cargo.

Helicopters take off, pass overhead, and land again over and over again

Helicopter going up!

Practicing cargo lifting

Practicing cargo lifting

It was noisy, but it is important work so we didn’t mind. By nightfall there were 15 boats anchored in this harbor, all traveling south.

The sun sets over Mile Hammock Bay. Another day comes to a colorful close.

The sun sets over Mile Hammock Bay. Another day comes to a colorful close.