Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wrightsville To Holden Beach

Holden Beach, North Carolina... I think that's where we are.   Anyway, the name of the marina is Holden Beach Marina.

Yesterday was a fairly short day.  Skipper Bob showed no marinas between here and mile marker 345, a distance of 23 miles.  That's three or possibly four hours for us.  We had a lot of current against us already, plus we had to go at a low wake speed past floating docks, so we decided to not try to make the 23 mile hop to South Carolina.  What's another day?

The day started out fine.  We left Wrightsville at 8:50 AM in a fairly strong current.   Pam and I are getting pretty good at our boat and line handling, if I do say so myself.  I handle the helm and Pam does the dock lines.  I haven't had to go back to get her yet.    Within a short time, we had dolphins on the bow.

The dogs now know where to look for dolphins.  Chevy even checks for them as part of his guard dog perimeter check.  Pam decided to shoot another video, this one a bit longer than yesterday's.

Remember the ICW school bus I posted about a couple of days ago that turned out to be a crane?   Here is the real deal.

Nope, no idea.  I just took the picture.

It was another gorgeous day, even by North Carolina standards.  Pam and the dogs decided to soak it all in.

We soon arrived at Carolina Beach.   It looked like one of those congested kind of places where condos are built on top of condos.

I got looking at all the gaudiness and the hundreds of boats docked everywhere.  Some boats were nice, some were just awful.   And look at how everything is piled one on top of the other!  ... and then the ICW dead ended.    Huh????   I zoomed out on the chart plotter and saw that the ICW took a right, and I did not.   I was too busy sight seeing.  I didn't even notice that the channel markers lacked the ICW symbols on them.  I did a 180 and backtracked for a mile, as the chart plotter below shows.

Hey, it's not my fault!  Look closely at the chart plotter and you'll see that the dashed lines lead right in there.  And why isn't there a big sign at the turn labeled "ICW" with a big ol' finger pointed to the right?   This has probably happened thousands of times to others, a vile plot by the Carolina Beaches Chamber of Commerce to drum up business.

We went through the cut and came out on the other side to the most confusing cluster of buoys I've ever seen.  It was the Cape Fear River, with channels and buoys leading all over the place.  Luckily, Pam realized that she needed to help and took the helm while I sorted everything out on our big paper chart.   We did, of course. 

We flew down the Cape Fear River.  We had a strong current that pushed us to over 10 knots.  We might make Myrtle Beach yet!

It didn't last, of course.  As soon as we took the right into the Southport channel, which you can see in the pic above, we were slowed to 5.5 knots.  Knowing that we couldn't make it to Myrtle Beach, we called Holden Beach Marine and made a reservation for the night.

It was sunny and the temp was in the 70s.   Pam was driving, so I decided to bask in the sunshine on the foredeck.  I even had to put a hat on so I didn't burn my bald noggin.

Meanwhile, the crew were in their usual positions.

It was so nice, I moved up to the fly bridge.

You can see a lot more things the higher up you are. 

Sometimes the view aft is very nice too.

There's the Boston Whaler that I need to get running so we can anchor out.   Maybe at Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach.

We were flying again, pushed with a strong current.   When we passed Lockwood's Folly Inlet though, the current was again against us.  With the tide ebbing, all the water in this part of the ICW was rushing out the inlet.   It scooted us along as we approached it, knocked us around as we passed it, and then slowed us when we were against it.   No matter though, because Holden Beach was right in front of us.

We've never been at Holden Beach Marine before, of course. Pam had called on the cell phone to make the reservation.  We were told to tie up at the fuel dock.  The chart book said the marinawas at the bridge.  I looked through the binoculars.  The fuel dock was right under the bridge outside the channel. It's really close to shore. Is there enough water in there?  I stopped the boat.   Pam called on the radio and got no answer, so she called on the cell phone again.  We were told yes, there was enough water, so in we went.   I thought we'd be docking alone and so I knew I had to nail the landing, but the dockmaster came down to take our lines.  I nailed it anyway, perhaps my best docking ever.

So here we are.

The row of pilings behind Drift Away is the channel to the bridge.  You can see how tight it is in there.  But it was cheap at $1.25 a foot for the night, so what the heck.  Of course, that's offset by the fact that there's no electricity on the dock, and so we've been running the generator since 3 PM yesterday.

We took the dogs for a walk, and on the way back decided to let them off leash to play in the water by the bridge.   Pit bulls LOVE to play...

and play...

and play...

Afterwards, the five of us (Pam, me, Ruby, Chevy, and Gertie) sat on the foredeck and basked in the warmth of a gorgeous North Carolina day.   Just to top it off, the sunset was beautiful.

So today will be a 50 mile run to South Carolina.   I figure on an average of 7 knots when planning a trip, which is 8 miles per hour, or about six and a half hours.   The days are getting longer now, and it's light until 6 PM.   Still, there could be delays at bridges or more adverse currents, so we'll get underway by 9 AM.  It's 4:30 now.  I'd better go back to bed to see if I can grab a few more winks.


  1. your gonna love the approach to Osprey. Nice folks there and fuel is usually a good price as well.

    1. It is a nice place, and the folks here said it's fine for the dogs to run off leash. It's also fresh water, so the dogs run, swim, and then drink the water. They also got a big kick out of the goats yesterday.

  2. Enjoying your Blog.....brings back fond memories of the several trip back and forth that I have made. It's a GREAT trip...enjoy.
    BTW, I'm sure you have been warned of the "Rock Pile" on the ICW around Myrtle beach...I don't remember the mile marker. Give a call on the radio to make sure there is no commercial traffic coming north. It's pretty narrow...and the name rock pile fits. You can't see um at high tide, but they are there.

    1. MPJ- I read about the rock pile in one of my cruising guides. It sounds scary. It's about 20 miles south of here.

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  4. You guys are old pros now so don't worry.
    I'm starting to think you might make it Florida before having to turn around and go the other way!!! Thanks for giving us so many details, I'm really enjoying it!

    1. MarkJ- At this point, we're south and out of the cold. We don't care if we make Florida. We want to visit Charleston and then probably Savannah, and after that it's whatever we feel like.

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