On Sunday, May 16th, we traveled 48 miles through the Myrtle Beach area to Calabash Creek on the South Carolina/North Carolina border, all but about 15 miles of which was new territory for us.
One of many extravagant homes along the waterway in the Myrtle Beach area.
This sky cab ferries golfers from the parking lot to the golf course on the other side of the ICW. What a unique concept!
Someone has “colorful” taste!
We were off before 7:30 Monday morning to catch the 8:00 a.m. opening of the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge which only opens on the hour. It was a cloudy morning with rain expected most of the day, but we ended up only having rain for the first three hours. Thirty-eight miles later we arrived at Southport about 12:30 p.m.
Shrimp boats along the ICW on our way to Southport.
Susan aboard “Allegria” called to let us know that they were already tied up to the free dock in Southport and offered for us to raft to them. As we were pulling up next to “Allegria,” the wind caught our stern and we ended up perpendicular to it. Before we were able to get the lines untied so we could back away, we put a few gashes in their fiberglass with the flag holder on our bow pulpit. And all this before noon!
Monday afternoon we wandered in to town to the Visitor Center, had lunch at a little soup, salad and sandwich shop called Baked with Love and toured the local art gallery where the Captain purchased a cute little pottery pelican as a memento of our first stop in North Carolina.
This very old, gnarled live oak, called Indian Tree, sits in a park next to the Visitor Center.
Downtown Southport looking east toward the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic.
“Life’s2Short” rafted to “Allegria” in the distant background.
With easy access to the Atlantic, Southport is home to many commercial shrimp boats.
That evening we walked over to the Provision Company for a cold beer and some spicy steamed shrimp.
On Tuesday we traveled 64.5 miles over and eight-hour period from Southport to Mile Hammock Bay, a basin dredged out by the military for use with Camp LeJeune. We left at 9:15 a.m. and motored about ten miles up the Cape Fear River toward Wilmington before reconnecting with the Intracoastal Waterway. As we passed through the Wrightsville Beach area we noticed a significant positive change in the water color due to numerous ocean inlets very close to the ICW.
The Captain took these pictures of the Southport basin Tuesday morning before we untied from “Allegria.”
We came across this interesting house between Southport and Mile Hammock Bay. Love that pink! Even their boat had a lavender hull.
When we arrived at Mile Hammock Bay there were already at least ten boats in the anchorage and several more joined us within a few hours. We also saw a few military helicopters conducting maneuvers and heard a lot of exploding munitions throughout the course of the evening.
Along with four other boats we left the anchorage just before 8:00 a.m. Wednesday to catch the 8:30 opening of the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge four miles away. Just as we started up the Intracoastal, a moderate rain shower hit but it had blown through by the time we reached the bridge.
Forty miles and five hours later we reached Morehead City where we tied up to a 50-foot floating dock in front of the Ruddy Duck Tavern. We left “Life’s2Short” around 2:00 p.m. and spent a few hours walking around downtown Morehead City, including a visit to the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce to gather local information. Later we enjoyed a very nice dinner at the Ruddy Duck.
We left the Ruddy Duck dock Thursday about 10:00 a.m. and headed out the Beaufort Inlet to an anchorage about seven miles offshore that Todd found on Active Captain and was very excited to try. It is called Cape Lookout Bight and is the home of the Cape Lookout lighthouse. The anchorage is a big basin next to the Shackleford Banks at the extreme south end of the South Core Banks, part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The basin is mostly surrounded by sand dunes and is very beautiful; its downfall is a 25-foot anchoring depth with dubious holding. Contrary to the many “excellent” and “good” anchor ratings we reviewed on Active Captain, we made three attempts to get a decent hold, even getting out our Danforth and giving it a shot, but nothing wanted to hold in the soft mud. We finally ended up using our CQR (our main anchor) and putting out 125 feet of chain, keeping our fingers crossed that we wouldn’t have any unsettled weather during our stay.
Leaving Morehead City, bound for Cape Lookout.
Late Thursday afternoon we dinghied to the beach rimming the basin and walked over the dunes to the beach on the Atlantic where we spent a few hours shelling and enjoying the beauty and power of the ocean.
Anchored in Cape Lookout Bight.
“Our” beach on the Atlantic side.
While I was preparing dinner that evening the Captain went back over to the Atlantic side and took several sunset photos from our earlier vantage point.
Early Friday morning Todd took off in the dinghy hoping to catch some fresh fish for dinner but returned a few hours later, disappointed and empty-handed.
These dog sharks seemed very interested in Todd’s dinghy when he was out fishing.
We then dinghied across the basin to explore the area around the lighthouse. The Cape Lookout lighthouse is unique in that its checkered pattern provides direction. The black diamonds point north and south while the white diamonds point east and west. The 163-foot lighthouse is currently undergoing maintenance and is off-limits to visitors, but it is expected to reopen in July. Too bad we won’t have an opportunity to climb the 201 spiral iron steps to the top!
Another shot of the Atlantic beach south of the lighthouse.
Friday afternoon we repeated the previous day’s trip to the beach to enjoy the nice weather and the sounds of the ocean.
After two calm nights at anchor, we decided to head back to Morehead City Saturday morning. We pulled in to the Morehead City Docks, ran a few errands and decided we would walk over the bridge to Beaufort. Just before the bridge we spotted the Morehead City Yacht Basin which is where our friends Rick & Lynnie keep their boat “Rickshaw.” We met Rick & Lynnie in the Exumas last year and hadn’t seen them since they returned to the states.
Todd had spoken with Rick earlier in the week and knew that he and Lynnie were planning to be on the boat over the weekend getting it stocked and ready to go cruising. So we decided to stop in and say hello. Lynnie hadn’t arrived yet but Rick was there and he offered to drive us over to Beaufort where we had lunch at Finz and walked around for a few hours browsing through some of the gift shops and the Maritime Museum.
The Beaufort waterfront.
This is the Watercraft Center, which is part of the Maritime Museum.
When we were ready to go back to Morehead City, Rick graciously picked us up and took us back to “Life’s2Short.” Along the way we made plans to get together for dinner at the Ruddy Duck. In the meantime, Bill & Anna aboard “Knot Tide Down” were just arriving in Morehead City and ended up tying up with us at the City Docks. They also joined us for dinner where everyone had a great time. Thanks for everything, Rick & Lynnie! It was wonderful seeing you again and we look forward to crossing paths in the Chesapeake.
The Morehead City Docks with “Knot Tide Down.”
At the Ruddy Duck with Rick & Lynnie (left) and Bill & Anna (right).
After a late Saturday night, we pulled away from the Morehead City Docks at 9:00 Sunday morning, traveled 20 miles up the ICW and then and another 23 miles up the Neuse River to the town of New Bern. We anchored in the bay near the Galley Stores Marina around 3:00 p.m. and were joined by “Knot Tide Down” an hour-and-a-half later. About 6:00 p.m. a storm rolled through depositing quite a lot of rain and producing some heavy-duty lightning and thunder but limited wind, which was good since we were in an exposed anchorage.
Today is Monday, May 24th, and more storms are currently moving in from the east. We have taken a slip at the Galley Stores Marina to wait out a tropical depression that is scheduled to hit the coast within the next few days. While here we will do some re-provisioning and see what the town of New Bern has to offer. Once the weather settles down again, we will boat across Pamlico Sound to the Outer Banks to visit Ocracoke. After that we will continue north through Pamlico Sound to Manteo and then on to Albemarle Sound to check out various points of interest. “Knot Tide Down” is planning to join us for at least part of it and it should be a fun trip!