We departed the expensive docks of the City Marina, Charleston, and headed north for Cape Fear Marina, also known as Bennett Bros. Yachts on June 23rd at 6:50 a.m. Remora was in the lead as we headed out the inlet to point our bows north. We arrived at Cape Fear Marina shortly after 2 p.m. on the 24th, after having to wait an hour or so for a bridge to open to permit passage underneath it.
Charleston is a very fun and exciting town to visit, and we had great fun while there, and I healed up, finally from my boobonic plague. Little were we to know that Beth and John were next on it’s hit list. Beth had to visit with a doctor and get some prescription meds, while John toughed it out and went on willpower alone. Yes, I do know how to properly spell boobonic, but I like to refer to it this way.
Our sail north was a good one, gentle winds pushing us north. This was to be an overnight trip, but we’ve done a few of these and were well prepared. The winds were forecast to be 12 to 18 during the day, and increasing to 15 to 20 knots that night. It’s always a crap shoot on whether the winds will be stronger or weaker than forecast, and this time they were stronger that night, running fairly steady at 20 knots and gusting higher. This kicked the wave action up a lot, and couple this with the shallow waters off the coast in the Carolinas, and we were sailing in what we refer to as a washing machine. The waves become confused, and come at you from every which way. And, it is not pleasant. (Except for the dolphins that hung around with us for about 45 minutes just before dusk)
By the time we were outside the Cape Fear River channel, the waves were kicking up big time. Yup, we were caught with our pants down. Now, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t crazy big, but large enough to make sailing quite uncomfortable. John had just informed me that he wanted to do a couple of figure 8 turns to waste time and wait for daylight to arrive. When the trip was planned we did not think that we would be sailing as fast as we had to get that far. We were making our first turn when an unexpected wave threw Beth off of the cockpit seating down onto the floor. She hit her head on the open companionway on her way down, and I really was expecting the worst knowing the companionway hatch was not in place. Moments later I knew she was ok so to speak when she started crying and telling me that she was bleeding and a goose egg was quickly forming on her head. I put Moorahme on autopilot and went ahead to check her out, a quick check due to the conditions which were not real friendly. I did a quick check on her head and checked her pupils for dilation, made sure that she had not passed out, then made her as comfortable as possible on the cockpit floor. I then informed Remora that we were heading directly in at our best speed possible. Remora replied that they were going to continue on their planned route, and we forged on ahead into the channel. As you traverse the channel towards land, the water becomes quite shallow, and you have to stay in the channel, which is well marked with lighted buoys. This shallower water becomes quite rough under the right conditions, and that’s where we were. The wave height picked up as we closed in on land, and with the wind pushing behind us, the tide going in, and the shallow waters pushing the water up, we had an exciting ride into the calmer waters of the Cape Fear River. Once inside the calm waters, we were finally able to anchor so that I could check Beth over more extensively, and she could once again sit on the cockpit seating. Beth assured me she was fine, there was a goose egg, but not a real cut, more like a scrape on her scalp. Thank goodness for her thick hair! We continued on up the river towards Wilmington, which was a few hours away yet.
The 24th turned out to be a very hot day, mid 90’s, so forward progress kept us in some breeze and a cooling effect. Upon our arrival in Wilmington, there are two bridges to pass under. I contacted the first bridge operator and asked him his clearance height, and that day it was at 69 feet, plenty of room for our 66 foot mast height. We proceeded on upriver, knowing that we would have to wait for the second bridge to open at 2 p.m. for us to get to the marina. We docked at a set of brand new docks in downtown Wilmington, and once I had the boat secured and set to wait for a couple of hours, we were told that we couldn’t tie there, the new marina had no insurance coverage. Beth asked if we could just drop the anchor beside the dock, and the two gentlemen said sure, no problem, and went on their way. So, time to untie the boat, move it off the dock a foot or so, and drop the anchor. Pain in the butt in mid 90’s heat.
Remora arrived some time later, buddy boated with us, and we waited for the bridge to open at 2 p.m. The, it was a short run, a couple of hundred yards to the marina. Finally there!
Beth suffered with nausea and a headache for two days, then we went to see a local physician who assured us she would be fine, prescribed some strong anti nausea meds, and told Beth to take some Tylenol 3’s, which we have on the boat. The next day, she was fine, and almost back to her normal self. (Sorry there are no pictures for this part of the trip; I completely forgot about the camera)
So, what did we learn on this trip? If we have to, we can enter a marked channel in the dark. Not something you want to do on a regular basis, but it can be done. If it is rough outside, go inside using the marked channel. You can’t read enough weather reports, including wind forecasts…and even when you do, you really can’t believe them. Already knew that part. We also learned the cockpit seating can be slippery in rough conditions, I am thinking of different methods to rectify this and still keep the seating comfortable. Just today we purchased a set of grab rails which I will install at the head of the companionway beside the sliding hatch door to assist us when accessing the companionway.
Well, that was pretty much our passage. I didn’t mention how pretty it is travelling up the Cape Fear River, nor did I mention that we did not see Robert De Niro or Nick Nolte. Traversing the waterfront area of Wilmington is very nice, and there is a U.S. Navy Battleship just down the river that we have yet to tour. We can see it from Moorahme. I also didn’t mention that the 4th of July party here at the marina was great fun, enough food to feed a small city, and that the fireworks were really amazing..not quite Windsor/Detroit amazing, but very nice, and lasted a long time. It was a real treat sitting in the cockpit of Moorahme sipping on a cocktail watching them light up the starry sky. I also didn’t mention that we have safely gone to beaches in the Carolinas and not been bitten by a shark, no small feat these days.
That is long winded enough for now! More updates to follow, and I’ll talk about the heat, updates on Moorahme’s ongoing repair status, our new friends here at Cape Fear Marina, and possibly even our plans for departure.
Keep your stick on the ice!