Monday, April 22, 2013
Posted by Sean
We are again pinned down by weather, at Joyner Marina in Carolina Beach, North Carolina. We had enough of a break on Saturday to get underway on the flood, and had a very nice cruise up the Cape Fear River and through Snow's Cut. We made good time, doing over eight knots with the current behind us in the river, and stopped here after just over three hours of motoring -- not even enough to count as a day towards our sea time.
We had considered continuing on to Wrightsville Beach, another two hours further along, but this place was convenient and inexpensive (relatively), and we are trying not to push too hard here in our early days of cruising. And, after all, it was just for one night -- the forecast for Sunday did not look bad.
There is absolutely nothing near here -- the marina is at the end of the developed part of the peninsula, just south of Freeman Park. The dockhand told us there was a dive-bar with some food at the municipal fishing pier on the ocean side, a half mile walk over the wetlands on a little boardwalk, and so we walked over there for dinner.
As it turns out, the bar, on the top level of the building, was closed for a wedding, and we had to march past the catering trucks to even get into the building. We ended up eating at the snack bar on the lower level, the same place you pay for your fishing permit and buy your bait and tackle. Nevertheless, we got a kick out of watching the wedding guests parading around the premises, and listening to their music, which could be heard for blocks.
When we awoke yesterday and contemplated getting under way, we discovered that the forecast had changed dramatically. Winds were already 15 knots and forecast to climb to above 20, gusting to 30. At one point in the afternoon we noted sustained winds of 28 knots. We're on the face dock adjacent to the ICW, where Snow's Cut joins Myrtle Grove Sound, and the fetch here is enough that we had whitecaps on the ICW all day, and we were rocking and rolling, the lines straining against the cleats. We ended up adding more lines and cinching everything down, then paid for a second night.
The forecast for today is only a little better. Our plan from here had been to run all the way to Hampstead, which requires timing the run through two swing bridges which only open on fixed schedules. We've been hearing reports all morning that the second of the two, the Figure Eight Island swing bridge, is closed due to high winds. The best we will do today, it seems, is two hours to Wrightsville. At least we can walk to some things there -- if they can fit us in. Our draft means we need to be on the outer face docks at any of the three places in the running, and the weather probably has more than one northbound boat laid up there.
Depths here mandate that we wait for a bit more tide to rise before we can leave, and we'll take advantage of the pumpout here as soon as there is enough water to line the boat back to it (it's seven feet here at the north end of the fuel dock, but reported depth less than six just a hundred feet further south). Once we know for sure that conditions will allow our departure, I will call ahead to see if we can book a spot in Wrightsville or Wrightsville Beach (across the ICW from one another).
Yesterday I took advantage of the downtime, as rolly as it was, to rewire the AIS receiver so that we can turn it off independently of the chartplotter, so we don't get awakened in the middle of the night by random loss-of-signal alarms. There is no way to tell the plotter to ignore loss of signal, yet it needs to be on overnight at anchor to alert us if we are dragging. I also moved the compass backlight to the same circuit as the rest of the dash illumination; inexplicably it was wired to the instrument breaker. The little bulbs are expensive and hard to find, so no sense having it on all the time during the day.