Friday, April 26, 2013
Last night on the coast
Posted by Sean
This morning found us at Casper's Marina, in Swansboro, North Carolina. That made yesterday a very short day, but I wanted to see Swansboro. We chose Casper's because they are just a short walk from the downtown waterfront and several restaurants, had a reasonable rate, and offered a ride to the Piggly Wiggly.
We took advantage of this last item, driven by Mrs. Casper herself, who waited for us right outside the store. We needed to reprovision, having run out of fresh milk, fruits, and vegetables. The stop was a little overdue, as we already had to dip into the emergency Parmalat shelf-stable milk stash for our morning coffee. We had a nice dinner at the Icehouse Restaurant just a few blocks from the marina.
Today was another fairly short day, and tonight we are in Morehead City, North Carolina, across the channel from Beaufort. Low tide has moved late enough in the afternoon that, today, we finally had to grit our teeth and agree to transit some skinny sections on falling water. Last night I downloaded the latest hydrographic surveys of the channels from the Army Corps of Engineers web site, which were actually quite revealing. Consequently, we never saw any water low enough to trouble us today, even though we'd read recent reports of groundings on ActiveCaptain.
When I called our first choice this morning, the Portside Marina, they told me they were full and could not accommodate another vessel of our size. They admitted that this was primarily due to a 150' yacht they had at the dock. Portside also handles the bookings for the Morehead City Docks, a municipal tie-up, with power, adjacent to a city park another half mile down, and I asked about a spot there, even though our guide said they only accepted up to 50'.
They penciled us in for a spot at the City Docks, and asked us to call on the radio when we got close, so they could send someone to meet us there. I called as we came up to Portside, with the superyacht Cherosa dead ahead of me. Since Portside and the City Docks are the same rate, I thought I'd ask again if they might have room, and we lucked out -- someone had just left shortly ahead of us and a space had opened up. The only hitch was a tricky docking in stiff wind (we had been heeled over the last hour or so, even with the stabilizers at full-tilt) and moderate current. It took me two tries, but we made it alongside without incident.
Cherosa, of course, is taking up all the "easy" parking on the face dock. I thought it odd such a large yacht would be here; it turns out they had a mechanical problem en route and had to pull in for emergency repairs. Portside had enough face dock and depth to accommodate them, but not the kind of electric power they need, so five giant cables run all the way down the dock to a huge rental generator ashore. It puts my whining about generator runtime in perspective.
At least we're not the largest boat in the marina this time. We dwarf the Grand Banks Fandango behind us, but neither boat is visible from the channel because Cherosa eclipses both of us. Sort of a flashback to our time at Thunderbolt Marine. Unlike many of those yachts, I understand the owners are usually aboard Cherosa, but I would guess they are not here during the repairs. The yacht belongs to David T. Chase, the philanthropist, real estate developer, and Holocaust survivor (no relation to the bank). Cherosa also carries a U.S. hailing port, unusual among yachts of her size.
Everyone here at the marina is very pleasant and accommodating. They even have loaner bicycles available. We won't need them -- we've already walked the entire waterfront, down to the aforementioned City Docks (which were empty), and dinner will also be a short walk away when the time comes.
From here the ICW turns away from the coast, short-cutting the Outer Banks through a series of land cuts and river transits. We won't be in striking distance of the ocean again until we are in Virginia. I'd love to spend a couple of days here, or, more accurately, in Beaufort just across the inlet, but we'll do that on another pass, as it is an easy stop on the outside route. For now we'd like to keep moving towards Virginia and our date with the boatyard.