After leaving Cumberland Island, we headed north for the next several days in areas with lots of tidal currents, narrow channels and big differences in tide and channel depth. All of these factors contributed to how far we went each day and where we anchored. Having done the trip several times, we knew where the shallow places would be and therefore where we would not want to travel near low tide. The traveling through this tricky stretch went reasonably well, thanks to a number of resources at our disposal. First we would look at the notes we have made from our previous trips through here. We also could take advantage of our GPS chartplotter, something we did not have on our earliest trips. This chartplotter was generally pretty accurate and helpful along the way. Additionally there is a service on the Internet called “Active Captain” which provides lots of input from other cruisers about the shallow areas, good anchorages and what else to watch out for. Finally I have to give a hats off to the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Coast Guard has checked the ICW regularly and moved navigational AIDS when needed to help boaters avoid the shallow areas due to the changing conditions in shoaling. The Corps of Engineers in North Carolina provides a hydrographic survey of all of the trouble spots and suggests detailed routes to avoid the shallowest water. These surveys were very much up-to-date, having been done within the last month or two. I can’t imagine what it would have been like traveling here before we had all of these resources, although we did.
Sunrise in Georgia, we start early.
This stretch of the ICW offers some of the most remote areas for viewing on the East Coast. Those who travel in ways other than by boat miss some of the beauty of this area. We feel really fortunate to be able to travel through this area and appreciate its beauty. We saw lots of birds, dolphins, fish jumping and even a deer along the way. We should really keep a list of all the different varieties of Birds along the stretch. They include bald eagles Osprey other Hawks several herons egrets different kinds of gulls and pelicans of course. We’ve seen dolphins along the way just about every day of our travels. We know that others believe this area is beautiful as well, since we go by several resorts and resort islands in our travels. These include Jekyll Island, St Simons Island, Hilton Head Island and Parris Island. Oops, I guess Parris Island isn’t exactly considered a resort by the Marines who did their basic training there, but it is also along our route.
As mentioned in the last blog update, our next stop was Beaufort, South Carolina. We thoroughly enjoy this stop every time. It is a pretty, historical community with lots of good things to see. We also enjoyed our breakfast with Janelle and Bob Proctor whom we try to visit whenever passing by. Janelle taught at Hampton Roads Academy when I was there, so we go back a ways.
Our favourite pizza stop in Beaufort, made even better by the blooming jasmine.
After leaving Beaufort, we continued north towards Charleston. We had wanted to stop for a night or so in Charleston but the anchorage we’d like to use had sunken boats in it, and the marina we like had been damaged by Hurricane Matthew and is not yet repaired. The city marina near the anchorage was full and had no room for us, so we continued north. A day later we were traveling on the Waccamaw River, one of the most beautiful sections of the ICW. Part of it goes through a Cypress swamp, and there are times when you really feel like you’re by yourself.
Lots of animal life but later in the day lots of small boats zipping by. Another couple of days and we were into North Carolina through some shallow areas and on up the Cape Fear River to Carolina Beach State Park Marina. We always try to stop here, because we can get longleaf pine needles for Sandra baskets. This is important.
Sunset from the dock
After a short run two days later, we ended in Wrightsville Beach and met with a friend of Sandra’s, Priscilla, who lives further west in North Carolina. Sandra has known Priscilla for more than 40 years Priscilla often meets us as we travel through the state by boat. We got to the beach and also did some walking in town.
Beautiful gardens in Wrightsville Beach
Traveling the next day went well, thanks to the continued help of the Corps of Engineers at tricky spots. We even passed one of their boats undertaking a survey.
The Osprey along the coast of North Carolina are into the nesting season. We saw lots of nests along the way, the birds using the navigational aids as a platform for their nests. They must really appreciate those aids. The Coast Guard has become more sympathetic over time and now does not tear their nest down until the nesting season is all over and then only if the nest impedes visibility of the navigational aids.
Our next stop was a visit to Camp Lejeune Marines base. From a distance we could see and hear their training activities.
Strange plane or was it an unusual helicopter?
Then it was on to Beaufort, NC, but we decided to detour to Cape Lookout first. We’d never been there before but had heard some good things about the place, run by the National Park Service. In a couple of ways it’s like Cumberland Island in that one can only get there by boat, and while there you can see wild horses. There are lots of birds nesting, and sea turtles also come here to lay eggs. Not long after we arrived, we saw a couple surface near our boat. One was a huge leatherback who came up several times so we’d be sure to see him.
A foggy sunrise at Cape Lookout
The next morning we awoke to fog and the call of loons. How strange to hear them here in ocean waters. We dinghied over to the visitors center and lighthouse. Unfortunately, the lighthouse wasn’t open for people to climb. The interesting part of the trip over to the lighthouse was trying to find the deep route. At times we had to lift the outboard and row. This in spite of the fact that our current chart said we should be in deep water.
As we learned later, this area is among the most dynamic land masses in the world. Our charts were not accurate – not even close. Apparently the sea and wind are constantly moving the sand around. This is part of the Outer Banks. We learned that Columbus would not have found the Outer Banks if he had come this far north. They were nothing more than shoals back then, and the sea is now taking them back.
We found lots of puffer fish dead on shore, evidently discarded from fishing nets. This one was taken by a land crab who couldn’t quite get it into its hole
Today we came in to Beaufort (This one is pronounced Bofort, unlike the town by the same name in South Carolina.) for a day before we begin a five day trip to Hampton Roads. Most of this segment will be in remote areas, so we won’t go ashore to get groceries or other supplies.
Till the next update…