Welcome to the blog of Fred and Julaine as we chronicle our adventures traveling the "Great Loop" on Boreas, our Carver 405.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 298 – Hampstead, NC to Dudley’s Marina, Swansboro, NC - April 29, 2012

We planned our departure this morning to arrive at our first swing bridge of the day just before it opens.  Like yesterday, we have two swing bridges to go through today.  However we know that both of them will need to open for us as they each have a clearance of just twelve feet, which is considerably less than we need.  Our timing works well and once we arrive at the Surf City Swing Bridge we don’t have to wait very long for its next opening.

A portion of the intercoastal we travel today goes through Camp Lejeune a marine base near the town of Jacksonville, NC.  From the Camp Lejeune website come the following statistics.  Camp Lejeune covers 156,000 acres with 11 miles of beach.  There are tactical landing zones, state-of-the-art training facilities and live fire ranges.  The base generates almost $3 billion in commerce each year, coming from payrolls and contracts to support the structure required to train and equip Marines.  Check out the pictures below for the kinds of things a boater sees when traveling through Camp Lejeune.    

            Miles: 33.6      Bridges: 3        Locks: 0

we never get tired of seeing the osprey in their nests

nearly every channel mark has a nest

one of the more "interesting" homes along the ICW

the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge - this bridge in inside Camp Lejeune

a warning sign in Camp Lejeune - fortunately the lights were not flashing

part of the eleven miles of beach in Camp Lejeune

for target practice

another target to practice on

this is an easy sign to obey

Day 297 – Southport, NC to Harbour Village Marina, Hampstead, NC - April 28, 2012

It is a bit cool this morning and quite overcast, not a bad day for travel, but it would be even better with the sun out.  We have two swing bridges to go through today.  Both have a clearance that is very close to our air draft – we will need to check the tide boards on each bridge to determine if we can safely go under them or if they need to open for us.  The first of the two bridges opens only on the hour while the second opens on the hour and half hour.  We arrive at the first bridge and determine that it will need to open for us; unfortunately it was just twenty minutes past the hour.  So Fred got to spend the next forty minutes hovering just below the bridge while avoiding the nearby boats, the docks, the shallow water and dealing with the wind and tidal current.  That type of maneuvering is not my favorite to watch – it makes me nervous and I’m sure all my chatter about where we were and how close we were to things drives the captain crazy.  In spite of all my “help” Fred did his usual amazing job.

Once we cleared the bridge we moved right along so that we could make the next opening of the next bridge (if it needed to open for us).  We approached the second swing bridge and determined that it didn’t need to open so we went right through.  After passing by a few more inlets to the ocean we arrived at Harbour Village Marina.  This marina is in a man-made harbor on the mainland across from Topsail Island.  It was a nice quiet place to spend the night.

            Miles: 36.8      Bridges: 3        Locks: 0

traveling through Snow's Cut

Snow's Cut

it was not a very warm day, but people were partying on the
beach in their tents and campers

one of the inlets to the ocean

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 296 – trip to Bald Head Island, NC - April 27, 2012

Due to there being a bit more wind than we wanted to see, we decided not to take Boreas to Bald Head Island, but to take the ferry to the island instead.  So, along with Frank and Carrie, we borrowed a car from one of the staff at Southport Marina and headed to the ferry dock.  When we arrived at the island we rented a golf cart so we could tour the island.  There are no cars allowed on the island, so you can either walk, bike or use a golf cart.

We started our tour by cruising along the road that runs around the perimeter of the island and admiring all of the fabulous houses.  We made a stop at one of the beach parking areas and took the boardwalk over the dunes and onto the beach.  The beach is beautiful and there are very few people here, so we have the shoreline almost to ourselves.  After a quick walk on the beach we hopped back on the golf cart and found a place for lunch.

After lunch we headed to the southeast corner of the island where we could see Cape Fear and the Frying Pan Shoal.  Amazing!  That’s all there is to say.  Cape Fear is absolutely amazing.  The wind and the current and the shallows all working on the water make the most spectacular waves.  We thoroughly enjoyed walking on the beach and watching the water.

Finally we headed to “Old Baldy”, the island’s lighthouse which was built in 1817 and is the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina.  The lighthouse has been restored and we were able to walk the 108 steps (plus nine ladder rungs) to the top of the lighthouse for a great view of the island.  We then returned the golf cart and grabbed the next ferry back to Southport.  What a wonderful day!

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

the lighthouse on Oak Island as seen from the Bald Head Island ferry

a tug and barge going out the Cape Fear River Entrance

one of the roads through the middle of Bald Head Island

the beach near Cape Fear on Bald Head Island

a bit of information about Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals

Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals

the forces of wind, tide and shallows acting on the water

not a place I would want my boat!

a sandpiper

"Old Baldy" lighthouse - at the bottom  looking up

"Old Baldy" lighthouse - at the top looking down

a view of the marina on Bald Head Island from the top of "Old Baldy"

from the top of "Old Baldy" looking over the marshes on the north
side of the island

Julaine and Carrie survived their climb to the top of the lighthouse

"Old Baldy" lighthouse

Day 295 – at Southport Marina, Southport, NC - April 26, 2012

We spent today taking it easy.  We relaxed around the marina and the boat in the morning and then walked into Southport for lunch and a bit of shopping.  When we returned to the boat the sky was beginning to get dark and the weather radar showed that rain was coming.  We watched an amazing lightning display from the back porch of Boreas and then the hail started.  Fortunately the hail was only pea-sized and didn’t last for very long.  The hail was followed by on and off rain showers for the remainder of the afternoon and into the night.

It was extremely windy all day today and we were glad to have a secure spot in the marina.  We are hoping for less wind tomorrow so that we can head over to Bald Head Island and spend one night in the marina on the island. 

            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0
you can just barely see a couple of pieces of hail on our dock

dark clouds = rain and thundershowers

Day 294 – Myrtle Beach to Southport Marina, Southport, NC - April 25, 2012

Bonnie dropped Neal off at the marina this morning so that he could travel with us to Southport.  She will meet us in Southport later this afternoon.  Today’s travel takes us through a section of the intercoastal called “The Rock Pile”.  The guidebook warns us to watch for rock ledges along the edge of the channel, some of which are marked, but many which are only visible at low tide.  Since we are following our usual plan of traveling near high tide most of the rock ledges will be under water.  The water here is so brown with tannins that I don’t know how we would ever see a rock ledge though it.  We will just need to pay attention to the marks and stick to the center of the channel.

We also crossed a number of inlets today.  Because the intercoastal is so close to the ocean along this stretch, there can be significant shoaling at the inlets.  Again, we are careful to pay attention to the marks and we have no issues.  Fred enjoys having someone else on board who likes to drive (I will drive when necessary, but I don’t drive all that much) so Neal gets plenty of time at the helm.

We passed under one of the more interesting “bridges” we’ve seen.  It is actually not a bridge but gondola cars on a cable that take golfers and their clubs over the ICW.  We suspect they built using this technology so they would clear the 65 foot requirement for new bridges over the ICW – this was probably less expensive than building a 65 foot tall bridge that only golf carts would use.

We had on and off rain for most of the day today, so I got to play the role of windshield wiper – this involves unzipping the front window, sticking my arm through and using a squeegee to wipe off the rain spots.  The rain stopped by the early afternoon making docking more pleasant (especially for me since I’m the one who tends the fenders and lines).  All in all it was a great day and we were glad to be able to share a tiny piece of this adventure with Neal.  
            Miles: 43.0      Bridges: 12      Locks: 0
a warning sign in "The Rock Pile"

even at high tide, some of the rock ledges are visible

more rock ledges along The Rock Pile

Once Around heading through the Little River Swing Bridge

goats on Bird Island

the Sunset Beach Bridge

one of the inlets we crossed today - lots of wave action just outside
the inlet

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 293 – at Marina at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, SC - April 24, 2012

After getting some boat chores done in the morning, we (along with Frank and Carrie) spent the afternoon with my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Neal.  Our first stop was at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach.  My uncle works at this non-profit museum and was able to give us a private tour.  The museum has several themed galleries and exhibits about the natural history, environment and culture of the Coastal Carolinas.  It is a great little museum and we learned a lot about the animals who make the Coastal Carolinas their home.

From the museum we headed to the Ingram Planetarium in Sunset Beach (another non-profit where Neal works) where we got to watch a laser/music show in the sky theater followed by a visit to the Paul Dennis Science Hall with its hands on science activities.  These were both fabulous places to visit and we were happy to hear that many area school children get to visit them as well.

We ended the day with a wonderful home-cooked at Bonnie and Neal’s house.  Although we often fix meals on the boat, nothing beats a real home-cooked meal (cooked in a real home).  All in all it was a great day.
            Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 292 – Georgetown, SC to Marina at Grande Dunes, Myrtle Beach, SC - April 23, 2012

The day started out clear and cool – jeans and fleece jacket weather.  Tom and Barb are headed back home this morning, so we packed up their car before casting off the dock lines.  We commented on how nice it was to see blue sky today since we’ve had rain and clouds for the past couple of days.  Unfortunately the blue sky didn’t last.  High clouds began to move in and although the sun managed to peek through every so often we were still back to clouds.  Still, the clouds could not take away from the beauty of the area we travelled through.  We spent most of today cruising the Waccamaw River – our guide book says this is one of the most beautiful sections of the ICW and we agree.  The trees are spectacular and we saw many osprey in their nests.

Fred found a good stop for fuel at Wacca Wache Marina part way along today’s journey, so we stopped and filled up the fuel tanks and pumped out the holding tanks (so did Frank and Carrie).  Our friend Tom told us that the restaurant here had excellent burgers, so we decided to stop for lunch as well.  They let us stay tied up to the fuel dock and we enjoyed lunch at the Hannah Banana Cabana.  Tom was right – the burgers were excellent!

With our stop off for fuel and lunch, we arrived at the Marina at Grande Dunes just after 3:30pm.  Once the boat was all secured we called my aunt and uncle who live just north of Myrtle Beach to let them know we had arrived.  They stopped by for an hour or so in the evening to make plans for the next few days and to deliver a new salon chair to Once Around (Frank and Carrie had ordered the chair awhile ago and when they got the info that it was ready for delivery they had it shipped here).  The chair looks great and we now have plans for the next two days.

            Miles: 40.8      Bridges: 7        Locks: 0
the beautiful Waccamaw River

blue skies and easy travel

these trees are in the water at high tide

an osprey nest on a channel mark

another spot for building an osprey nest - in the top of
a very large dead tree

something did some damage to this tree (perhaps a wind
storm or lightning strike), but it continues grow

an osprey keeping an eye on her nest

trees along the Waccamaw River

Socastee Swing Bridge

Day 291 – at Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown, SC - April 22, 2012

We stay another night in Georgetown to have an extra day to explore and because rain and thunderstorms are forecast.  Since we have Barb and Tom’s car available, we use it to make a WalMart run.  We get everything we need but find that the rain has indeed started while we were shopping – in fact it is raining so hard you can’t see across the parking lot.  We wait for a few minutes for it to let up, but get drenched anyway getting all the bags into the car.

The rain clears somewhat in the afternoon, but a trip through downtown reveals that many of the stores aren’t open on Sunday.  So we end up relaxing on the boat and getting a bit of laundry done. 

             Miles: 0           Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

Day 290 – McClellanville, SC to Harborwalk Marina, Georgetown, SC - April 21, 2012

As a result of our stop in McClellanville, we get another short travel day today.  In fact we are getting almost spoiled with all these short travel days.  So far we are doing well on keeping pace with the high level schedule Fred put together for the next few months.  As long as that keeps up, we can stick with this slightly leisurely pace.  I’m sure at some point we will want to cover more ground, but for now we are perfectly happy.

The intercoastal today was a mix of tree lined shores and salt marshes.  There were a couple of spots where the guidebook warned of possible shoals and strong currents, but we passed through them without incident.  

            Miles: 23.4      Bridges: 0        Locks: 0

a really straight portion of the Atlantic ICW

we are still seeing lots of salt marshes

a salt marsh with trees in the distance

Day 289 – Charleston, SC to Leland Oil Company, McClellanville, SC - April 20, 2012

We enjoy another beautiful (and relatively short) travel day today.  We are off the dock just after 8:00am and tied up at the brand new floating dock at the Leland Oil Company before noon.  Prior to the opening of this new floating dock, transients would tie up with the shrimp boat fleet just a little bit further up Jeremy Creek.  This new dock is a welcome addition to McClellanville for the transient boater and makes a great stop if you don’t want to run 57+ miles from Charleston to Georgetown all on one day.  It doesn’t take long to explore McClellanville, but you do get to see some absolutely beautiful (and amazingly large) live oaks – one that they estimate is over 1000 years old.
             Miles: 34.1      Bridges: 2        Locks: 0

the "Megadock" at Charleston City Marina

Fort Sumter with sailboats heading out to their racing area to
compete in Charleston Race Week 2012

much of today's scenery was quite boring

a rather interesting house along the intercoastal - we thought
it looked something like a bird

still plenty of salt marsh