Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Swansboro to Wrightsville NC in pictures

Sometimes I think I post too many photos.  I asked Pam about it, and she said no, keep the photos in.  So I will.

Yesterday was the best day EVER on the boat.  We had planned on leaving at 8 AM, 9 at the latest.  I got up early, as I often do, and it was looking good.  And then the fog rolled in.  Pea soup fog, just like Beaufort the day before.

I prepped the boat: checked the oil, coolant, and transmission fluid levels; turned on the fuel polishing system; measured the diesel level and recorded it in my book; and turned on all the instruments.  On the AIS I could see a tug and barge approaching.  How could he see past the end of his barge?  He couldn't.  Any small craft out there had better get out of his way.

The fog gradually lifted and we were underway at 9 AM, visibility about 1/4 of a mile.  There's not much to report for a time mainly because we couldn't see much.  But soon, Camp LeJune came into view.

See the guard tower there? 

And then dolphins!

We never tire of dolphins.  They swim just in front of the bow of the boat.  Are they using the boat as camouflage, or a cover, like hunters use a duck blind?  Or are they just playing, entertaining humans on the bow?

The lights weren't flashing, so we kept on a goin'.

The dolphins stayed with us.  Pam was on the bow enjoying the show.  She came back to the helm and I convinced her to put Chevy on his leash and show him the dolphins.   She did.   She took Chevy to the bow and pointed to the dolphins.  

"Look Chevy!  See the big fish?!"

Chevy is a dog and doesn't know the difference between a fish and a mammal, so there was no point in saying "See the big swimming mammal".  

Pit bulls are amazing dogs, but they're directionally challenged.  I learned this in the Norwalk dog park.  Point in any direction and they will look the opposite way.   This was no different.   I had the camera ready because I knew this would happen.

Eventually, Chevy did see the dolphins.  He went berserk, as he always does whenever he sees something like that.  This is a dog that actually chased a deer into Long Island Sound and jumped in the water after it.

Next was Ruby's turn.  

"Look Ruby!  See the dolphin?!"

Same reaction.

Here's a short video of what the dogs eventually saw.

The dolphins left and we came to our first low bridge, a bascule bridge.  This kind of bridge doesn't swing up like a draw bridge, but rather pivots.

A boat that had passed us was waiting.  The bridge opens on the hour and half hour, and not a minute sooner.  

The fog was burning off and it was turning into a beautiful day.  Pam and the dogs sat on the foredeck and basked in the sunshine.   I played boat, navigating and punching in waypoints for the autopilot to steer to.  I enjoyed the scenery from inside, with the helm doors wide open. 

I really like pelicans.  For such an ungainly looking bird, they're very graceful in flight.

North Carolina, like every place else with a coast line, has houses on every building lot possible, crammed in one on top of the other.  Some houses are nice, most are gaudy, and some are goofy stupid way too big.   I got a kick out of this, though.  

We saw many of these here.  It's a deck!   It's a dock!   It's a deck-dock! 

Little pink houses for you and me.
And then we had to wait for another bridge.

Remember Innisfail, the ex-presidential yacht we saw at Atlantic Yacht Basin and Beaufort?  It caught up to us while we were waiting for the opening.  As we left the bridge, he hailed me on the radio and asked our cruising speed.  I told him 7.5 knots.  He asked to pass, and I gave him the go ahead.   I kept Drift Away at a low speed so he could go by at a "slow pass", so as not to wake us.

With all the bridges and the lack of marinas to Wrightsville, I was concerned about not making it before dark.  I was very pleased to see our SOG (speed over ground) kick up a few notches because of a favorable current.

That's our speed in the upper left corner.  We even hit 10 knots at one point.  The next number, 245, is our magnetic compass heading, followed by our lat/long and the time of day.  The little itty bitty black pointy thing in the middle towards the bottom is Drift Away.  The black line behind it is the course we traveled.  The blue is water, the green is land.  The red is our radar return. 

It was getting really warm.   How warm?   I'm glad you asked.

77 degrees warm.  Yeah baby!  We're getting south!

We saw many houses for sale along the ICW.  In an effort to attract attention to his, this owner put a giraffe next to his sign.

We came to our last bridge, the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.  It  opens on the hour.  Only.  It was 3:30.  We had a lot of time to kill, so I ran the last few miles at idle speed.  The bridge has 20 feet clearance, and we need 22.  We had to wait.   Finally, it opened, and our marina was the Bridge Tender Marina just past it on the right. 

 Across the channel from us was Innisfail.

They were on the yachty side.  We were on the trawler side.

It was a great day.  We ran for 6 hours and 20 minutes, and made 45.7 nautical miles.  So far, Drift Away has traveled 972 nautical miles, which is 1,118 statute miles.   She's running like a champ.

Pam and I sat on the foredeck, enjoying a victory beer and enjoying the warm sunshine while listening to country music piped all through the boat.  Life is good.  Then we saw them.   Two dolphins slowly swimming up the channel towards us, breaching every 50 yards or so.  A beautiful ending to a perfect day.  And then the dogs saw them.


The dogs were ecstatic.   They ran from the bow to the stern as the dolphins passed and were both hopping up and down and whining and crying.  Pam was much faster than I and dashed aft and grabbed them both by the collar.    This could be a problem.  I've heard of dogs jumping off of boats to play with dolphins.  Maybe not Ruby, but certainly Chevy would do this.  He has a record.


  1. I'm enjoying heading down the ICW with morning coffee here in Maine. The photos are good and tell the details.

  2. Glad you are now able to enjoy the warmth and sunshine too, where are you planning on staying in Mrytle Beach? Or are you going to continue south more.

  3. Love the photos Dave. We'll probably never do a long stretch of the ICW. Your account is the next best thing. Great commentary and photos. Thanks for taking us along with you.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    @Sweet Pea- we hope to be at Osprey Marina Thurday night. Friday is supposed to be a crummy day. We'll stay at Osprey for a bit, but we'd like to visit Charleston and Savannah this year too, so we'll have to get underway.

  5. Yeah, I agree with Pam. Keep the photos coming, they really add to the journey we are taking vicariously with you.

  6. I also agree with Pam - the photos are a wonderful way for David & I to relive the days we spent down the ICW from Annapolis to Marathon. BTW, Weds 1.25, was a record 86 degrees in SW FL! It is SO much warmer than last January. Hopefully we'll see you when you get to FL!