Red nun 36 on the Elizabeth River, Virginia, marks Mile 0 of the Intracoastal Waterway. The ICW is marked in statute miles and the miles count upwards as you go south.
This dolphin exudes sharp edges and nasty bits. With care and fenders we survive to see the next locking.
Traveling by boat is a lot of hard work but I am getting the hang of it...
An osprey warning us off his nest.
Broad Creek anchorage. Well protected from wind, awesome scenery, and positioned conveniently near Albermarle Sound.
Another cruiser longing to put Albermarle Sound behind them and slide into the calm of Alligator Marina.
An unfriendly pine tree reaches out and smacks us on the way by.
The Captain amputating limbs on aggressive pine trees.
Mat I made for the top step. Barney thinks I made it for him, hence, there is now a cat on the top step most of the time.
Messing around with left over bits of line. Voila', a coaster.
One of the wild horses of Shackleford Banks, Beaufort, NC.
Boys sailing a Sunfish in a brisk wind. If anyone wants to get me a birthday present, a Sunfish would be great!
House for sale just north of Mile Hammock Bay.
The youngsters having sailing lessons. These two are part of the older group.
Two yellow labradors battle for the ball. They dive of the boat, race to the ball, and swim back...repeat...
The yellow pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant. This one is in the Carolina beach state Park.
A decorative gate in Southport, NC.
Fishy Fishy Cafe in Southport, NC.
One of the brightly colored, very fast speed boats racing at Bucksport, NC.
Alligator eyeing us for lunch.
|Day 1 - VA (June 11)
0700 Ship's Log, Bonny IV Rover, for southbound ICW trip. Our little ship boasts the same four souls aboard as when northbound.
Our journey starts at Mile 0 of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in Norfolk, VA. Mile 0 is conveniently in the same place as red nun 36 on the Elizabeth River.
From Mile 0 southward on the Elizabeth River, one encounters a lot of bridges. Most vessels have to wait for the bridges to open on various schedules. Getting from downtown Norfolk through the Great Bridge Lock can take awhile. We can slide under most of the bridges as our "air draft" is under thirteen feet.
The Steel Bridge boasts a clearance of twelve feet at high tide. Hmmmm, can we...? Easing up close to the bridge and eyeing our mast, I jump up on the house top to get a better view of the clearance. No way. I scramble down to warn the Captain, but am too late. We are going under the bridge. Fortunately, I was wrong and we made it with almost two inches to spare.
We arrive at the Great Bridge Lock with perfect timing for the 0900 locking. Unfortunately, the lockmaster is locking through a northbound tug and barge first. We tie up to an evil-looking dolphin of vicious steel wires and bolts to await our turn.
(If I played bridge and lived in Norfolk, I would start a club called the Great 'Great Bridge' Bridge Club.)
After we are locked through, we enter the Albermarle-Chesapeake Canal. Eventually passing North Landing Bridge and entering North Landing River. No more bridges or locks for the foreseeable future.
1400 Blackwater Creek at Mile 32 is our anchorage for the night. We pass up and around the first bend and are surrounded by seas of grass dotted with red-winged blackbirds. This feels so much better than condominiums, shipyards, and marinas.
Day 2 - VA/NC (June 12)
0700 The morning is overcast, humid, and dead still. We get underway just to start a breeze. A barely perceptible rain moistens the deck.
The two crew demand delicious Friskies chunks for breakfast. They receive these delectables because the one crew, Barney, has been ailing and loosing weight. It may be my imagination, but I think Barney may now be gaining weight.
0945 We are in no hurry and stop at Midway Marina in Coinjock for the rest of the day and night. The owner, Terry, and the Captain are old acquaintances.
In the office, the dock master recognized the boat as a Merritt Walter design and bent the Captain's ear with facts and sea stories. As the Captain turned to leave the office he told the dock master to look at the name on the credit card receipt... Then came several more minutes of talk and chit-chat until the Captain eventually returned to the boat.
In the evening we dined at Crabbie's, the marina's restaurant. The owner, Terry, came in and sat with us as he and the Captain reminisced about deep sea diving, wreck hunting, navy, and characters larger than life. A pleasant evening and a great meal.
Day 3 - NC (June 13)
Today is our weather window for crossing the Albermarle Sound. The weather radio reports southwest winds with waves of one foot. The next two days will be windier with north winds 10-15 mph.
0630 Underway. After a couple of hours, and reaching broader waters, it is evident the winds are higher than predicted. We decide to slip in to Broad Creek and anchor. Just thinking of the cats.
0845 Broad Creek, Mile 62. One of my all time favorite anchorages. We wind up the creek around a turn or two and find a picturesque spot.
After the Captain joined Barney in a refreshing nap he checked weather and decided we would cross Albermarle Sound.
1220 The crossing was a bit rough. We were headed into the wind so that helped. The cats definitely did not like it. Seasick cats make a sorry sight.
1620 Enough is enough. No more thrashing along or rolling gunwale to gunwale. We put in at Alligator Marina for the night.
Day 4 - NC (June 14)
0700 Albermarle Sound was dead calm, much to everyone's delight. We scooted under the Alligator River Swing Bridge and in to Alligator River.
With calm winds and in no hurry the Captain decides today is for exploring Milltail Creek, understanding that one must travel three miles or more up the creek to find the most secret and wonderful of anchorages. This is an excellent decision!
Milltail Creek keeps its secrets well. The entrance is undetectable until one is almost upon it. Then the creek comes in to view, enticing and mysterious. The low hanging branches are further evidence that a little known treasure awaits us.
The Bonny Rover nudges up the creek, branches brushing her sides and snagging across the house top. Debris falls like rain. The Captain gets the [hand]saw out (I had wanted to bring a chainsaw) and starts trimming back the intrusive limbs. Reaching over the side to push back some bushes, the Captain drops the boat hook...which starts sailing merrily upstream with the current. He eases the Bonny Rover along trying to catch up. We are snagged by some more brush stopping our progress. I suggest we lower the dinghy and retrieve the boat hook. At that point the current swings the stern slowly but steadily towards the far side of this narrow creek, where the dinghy comes to rest firmly amongst a generous growth of poison ivy.
By now the Captain has remembered choice words and phrases from many years sailing with nothing but lots of other men. I think this may have exacerbated the irritable mood of the pines. Suddenly, a large pine leans over and, with great disrespect, grabs our flag and tosses it overboard into some bushes. That was the deal breaker. We're out of here! Retrieving boat hook. and flag we left Milltail Creek unexplored still harboring its secrets. Next year I say we bring the chainsaw.
Back to the Alligator River, through the Alligator River - Pungo River Canal, and out into the Pungo River. We anchored in a creek with no name at Mile 127. This is a much friendlier creek, and so several other boats settle here for the night, also.
Day 5 - NC (June 15)
0630 Underway. Today is Arts and Crafts day. One window in the pilot house needs a hanger to keep it open. The top step going down below needs a little rug. My goal for the day is get these done.
Day 6 - NC (June 16)
0530 Underway. We stop by Jarrett Marine to top up on fuel and get an estimate for painting hull sides before moving on.
We arrive Beaufort NC and take a tour down the waterfront and back admiring the scenery including the wild horses of Shacklefords Banks.
The grasses and sandy areas are ripe with egrets and herons, and boats are anchored in the center of the waterway almost all the way to the other end. We anchored near a small inlets as I wanted to dinghy over and go swimming. Captain is still convinced the dinghy is covered in poison ivy. Also, he is not comfortable leaving the Bonny Rover in our current anchorage. Ok, maybe next time.
1345 We take a slip at Beaufort Town Docks. The slip comes with two tokens for a free beer at the Dock House. Good marketing. We went for our free beers and got a plate of chili cheese nachos. Somehow conversation started with the couple at the next table. They were interested in the logistics of traveling by boat. The conversation ended up with them saying "you might have changed our lives!". We encouraged them to email us and ask questions. Nice evening.
Day 7 - NC (June 17)
0605 We get an early start to catch a bit of the ebb current. The Captain uses this current to push our bow around as he backs out of the tight slip.
During the morning there is the drama of the Coast Guard communications with a boat taking on water eight miles of shore. A near by boat was able to help offload most of the passengers. Last we heard, Coast Guard issuing a Securite message warning all boaters of this damaged vessel coming in at high speed and to stay away. Sounds like it all worked out alright.
0740 We go in to Peletier Creek at Mile 208 to wait out the rest of the ebb current. Breakfast is in order and, between a late night and an early morning, so is a nap for Barney and the Captain.
1000 Underway. Once again we survive the Marine's firing range and pull into Mile Hammock Bay about 1545. A trawler comes in right behind us. They have some trouble anchoring. The technique for anchoring in the pluff mud is to let out plenty of rode, wait for the anchor to settle well into the mud, then pull back to set her.
Day 8 - NC (June 18)
0625 As we leave Mile Hammock Bay we take a turn around Silver Boots but there is no sign of life yet.
1205 Wrightsville Beach, NC and we are anchored up just off Mott Channel. Sailing lessons are on at the sailing club and the waters are covered in Optimus'es and Lazors. The kids are having a great time.
All was well until the wind kicked up. The young sailors were loving it, speeding along in every direction. The three "shepherds" were running around madly, in skiffs, rounding them up and ushering them back towards the club. However, for us the fetch kicked up white caps, albeit small, and we were rocking uncomfortably.
1650 There is a little basin to the left as you enter Wrightsville Beach. No one anchors there. We decide to check it out. No one anchors there because it's shallow - two to three feet - just enough water for us. Shortly after we are anchored a runabout anchors nearby and the owner starts exercising his two yellow labs. He throws the ball and they dive off the boat to retrieve it. They love this game and it goes on for some time.
Next thing was two young men swimming over and hailing us. They came over to see the boat and chitchat.
Day 9 - NC (June 19)
0700 The high winds are slated to continue for a couple more days. This has been the windiest trip ever! We move down near Carolina Beach and pop into the Carolina Beach State Park marina just at the SW end of Snow's Cut. This puts us within easy reach of the Cape Fear River once the winds lay.
The marina and state park are great. There are trails through the park including a carnivorous plant trail, where we saw a yellow pitcher plant, Sarracenia flava. Also, Food Lion is about one and a half miles away. A long walk, but do-able.
There was a McGregor sailboat docked besides us, Honeymooner, and we struck up a conversation with the owners, Robert and Janet. They consider themselves beginner cruisers learning what they can before they do some serious cruising in about a year. They offer to run us to Food Lion, an offer we accept grateful.
Day 10 - NC (June 20)
0545 We want to catch the ebb current on the Cape Fear River and we do, getting a lift of about 2.5 mph. We're cooking now!
0715 Yes, you read that correctly. Less than two hours today. We tie up at the free dock in Southport, NC. There is only one free dock, the T-head of the pier, and it is run by the Southport Police. We dutifully called the police but they don't start work until 0830 so we took a stroll around town.
Southport is a great town. I could see living here- if it didn't get so cold in winter. Later in the day the place is hopping with tourists just dying to spend their money.
Southport is home to the Cape Fear River Pilots. It also boasts an excellent [free] marine museum which is well worth seeing. My favorite piece was the periscope going through the roof allowing a 360 degree view.
Come evening we dined at Fishy Fishy Cafe. The Captain went in determined not to enjoy the evening but came away admitting the food was good and the atmosphere more tolerable than he expected. High praise from the Captain.
Day 11 - NC (June 21)
0800 Today we are headed for the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club and arrive there about 1500. There is a fish fry that evening and all transients are invited. We met our friends, Bob and Jinny, there and had good food, conversation, and fellowship.
Day 12 - NC (June 22)
We were passing Osprey Marina and took the opportunity to top up the fuel tanks before heading to Bucksport for some Bucksport sausage.
We never made it to Bucksport sausage. Bucksport was hosting speed boat races and we were held up for almost an hour before being allowed to pass. We weren't about to try tying up there and getting stuck for another round of races.
1450 Anchored up at Georgetown, NC. It rained and poured and poured and rained. We were scheduled to row the dinghy ashore to go Mexican with the Captain's son for the evening. We opted to up anchor and move the whole ship to the dock. About the time we finished getting all lines secured it stopped raining.
Mexican dinner was excellent. Company was entertaining.
Day 13 - NC (June 23)
0630 A long day today, eight hours. We saw the first alligators of the trip and was able to get a photo or two before they sank out of sight.
1430 anchored in a creek at Mile 461. The creek was deep, as these inlet creeks tend to be, and we had out a lot of rode. We thought it was high tide, but a couple of hours later the grass along the edges of the creek was disappearing under water. Let out more rode.
Day 14 - NC (June 24)
0630 Off we go merrily merrily.