April 15 – Stay in Osprey Marina
April 16 – Osprey Marina to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club (29 miles)
April 17 – Myrtle Beach Yacht Club to Southport – Cape Fear (36 miles)
April 18-19 Stay in Southport
April 20 – Southport to Harbor Village Marina (Wilmington, NC) (42 miles)
April 21 – Harbor Village Marina to Beaufort, NC (63 miles)
April 22 – Beaufort, NC to Oriental NC and River Dunes Marina (36 miles)
April 23 – Stay in Oriental, River Dunes Marina (rain and wind)
Miles traveled this blog entry: 206
Total Miles Traveled: 4476
After a hair-raising docking at the crowded fuel dock and even tighter slip, we stayed two lovely days in the Osprey Marina, the entrance marked by an real Osprey nest high in a huge tree. It was the first rural stop in a while and we welcomed the peace and quiet. Our slip was literally across the fairway (20 yards) from a forest, much like any in Michigan. The trees are now pines and hardwoods, the forest floor has a variety of spring wildflowers and the cacophony of peepers, and birds look and sound much like Michigan but most fun were the turtles that came right up to the boat whenever we were on deck. I fought the urge to feed them with Sammy giving me the meanie look. We took some long walks, did laundry, enjoyed the people (Horizons and Best Day Ever) and great wifi. The dock hands here were smart and strong as we needed their expertise and muscle on the lines to get us out and on our way again even with little wind or current.
It was a short stay at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club where we simply docked, took Uber to provision at Publix and were off again the following morning. It was a nice and friendly place where we would have stayed longer but our itinerary dictates that we keep moving to make the Looper Rendezvous in Norfolk by the end of the month.
The days have been chilly to downright cold when the wind is blowing out on the water. I keep layering clothes until we reach our destination and usually have a blanket or two on the bridge for the gusty, open stretches of water. It is always 15-20 degrees warmer once in the protection of a marina. I think we will wait in Norfolk for summer to catch up!!
Thirty-six miles later, Southport was our next stop. Not only was it a top marina just prior to Cape Fear (more about that in a minute) but a great little town. As special treats, the first evening we were greeted by Kathy and Jack, a great couple who are friends of Pat and Heather and for whom Kathy was Lexi and Ashleigh’s Mrs. Heffelbower many years ago. Ash still visits her every summer. We had drinks on the boat and then dinner at Oliver’s, on the water, ending with the promise to meet again next year on our way through. The next two evenings we attended an ICW briefing by Hank Pomeranz and received perhaps some of the most important navigation and weather information of the Loop thus far. Hank is a meteorologist and sailor who through support of the marina presents every single evening for 60-90 minutes during Spring and Fall when Loopers are passing through. His handouts and websites would get us safely through the next 250 miles. Next best in Southport were the long walks, flowers, and sunsets!
We set out early to cross Cape Fear, an inlet to the Atlantic, just outside of the marina and where the wind almost always blows. Now the name truly exaggerates the actuality, but historically, ships have wrecked here and thus it is a point of caution and concern, very near Cape Hatteras. Specifically, when the current (flood or ebb) is at its maximum, you can be carried up to 6 miles per hour without the engine (not recommended) and if the wind happens to be blowing hard in the opposite direction of the current, the waves increase such that the experience resembles white water rafting. Our experience was slightly uncomfortable but far short of any real concern. The good news is that it only lasted for about an hour and we were safely in a more controlled river.
On to Harbor Village Marina. Now, there isn’t much to say here except it is a nice (read expensive) marina where the dockmaster and I were not on the same page as to the directions for entering his marina. Apparently, I was to call at red bouy such and such to report our arrival and to receive directions. Well, I never received that instruction, we were tired and challenged by a difficult day and annoyed by his denials, and we sat outside his entrance while several other boats were docked. We had a continuing little “conversation” about this throughout the docking process and I am embarrassed to report that neither of us could let it go until Captain Jim gave me one of his gentle eye rolls. Additionally, there was nothing nearby and the facilities (restrooms/showers/laundry) were 3/8 of a mile each way around the basin. The good news was that an Albin 36, Liquid Therapy, and looking just like us, was in the next slip. We had great conversations comparing our boats, their issues, interior decor, and future plans.
Camp Lejeune is a military training center that is bisected by the ICW. No kidding, they shoot at one another across the water. Above are examples of the cement tank targets that do give it a “real” feel. The procedure is to call ahead to make certain that there is no live-fire scheduled that day. As an extra precaution, they have lift bridges on either end of their territory to prevent stray Loopers from wandering into big trouble. Patrol boats and helicopters are everywhere.
All of these quaint towns remind us somewhat of those along the shores of Lake Michigan. Beaufort, in particular, reminded me of pulling into the harbor on Mackinaw Island. We shared dinner with friends and their delightful adult children and, as a small world story, a couple from Frankfort, MI whose sister we met in the Frankfort marina three years ago as we departed on our Loop! Long story about how we put all that together!
It has been a travel slog up the coast of North Carolina and again, we must keep moving to reach Norfolk by the end of the month. Our final day of this blog entry was traveling the 36 miles from Beaufort to Oriental, NC. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and easy going most of the way until we reached the Bogue Sound. Again, this is an opening/inlet to the Atlantic and can get very rough with easterly winds which is what was happening. Fortunately the winds weren’t high and Jim figured how to keep the bow into the wind most of the time for a reasonably comfortable crossing. Delightfully, we arrived into one of our most favorite marinas yet. River Dunes in Oriental, NC. This place has history for us in that Jim took his captains course here some 10 years ago and has wanted to return. Here we are! The facility is five-star and the tiny town has the best women’s store yet, Marsha’s Cottage. Perhaps I was in the mood for some new clothes or perhaps the buyer has boaters in mind, let’s just say I went on a spree while Jim bought paper charts for the Chesapeake! I spent two hours in the hot tub, we have celebrated Elizabeth and Louise’s birthdays two evenings in a row over dock-tales and dinner along with Melody in Sea, Contentment, Total Eclipse, Ned Pepper, Nine Lives, Island Girl, Reflection, and Xtasea, . Today, raining and blowing all day long, we are enjoying two days to catch-up with ourselves in this lovely place.
Sammy Sayz: All good here but I just don’t get how occasionally the floor, or sofa, or bed move under me in unanticipated directions. It makes me jump. When I look around, nobody is there so I need to figure this out. Got any ideas? Also, my friend Mac is docked right next door and there is plenty of room nearby to run and be crazy. The other day somebody pooped on the dock, can you believe it?
Boat Name of the Day: Ned Pepper – An interesting name to be sure but when asked the naming story, Tammy related the saga of being Canadian where you cannot register more than one boat under a name. They tried in vain four or five times to send in their registration paperwork waiting up to two months for the response that their selected name had already been taken. Mike, watching the John Wayne movie True Grit, decided that the character, Ned Pepper struck him as being their perfect boat name. Guess what, it quickly went through the Canadian registration system just before their departure on the Loop!
Boat Name of the Day: Troubled Pirates (don’t know the story here but one has to wonder. . .)
Quote of the Day: “Thank you everybody for a successful shake-down cruise. We validated the structure (bolt joint), the buoyancy calcs (free board), and the stability (tumble-home hull). The boat glides true. I am relieved and everyone was wearing a smile.” Thank you Shawn McFall
Happy Belated birthday to: Jackie, Mark, Norma
Happy Birthday to: Beverly
Rest in Peace: Barbara Bush