Wednesday, April 24, 2013
No maid service?
Posted by Sean
Conditions were quite blustery for our departure from Carolina Beach on Monday. We thought we'd just line the boat back the 100' or so to the pumpout station, but I had the engine running and was at the controls on the flybridge anyway. Louise had to hop-scotch the lines four times, and I ended up shifting and thrusting enough that, in hindsight, it would have been easier to just cast off and drive back up to the dock in the right spot. We were a bit concerned about the depth, though, and thought we'd get in less trouble by lining.
Between the lining exercise and the half hour or so it takes to pump out, we were on a more favorable tide when we left. Unfortunately, I think delaying my phone call till just before shoving off (in case we decided conditions were not good enough for departure) made us miss any chance for the "cheap" tie-up in Wrightsville, at the Dockside Restaurant. Fortunately, the Wrightsville Beach Marina across the way had space available on their face dock, which we took, but at $2.50 a foot, it is hands down the most expensive place we've stayed. Including the extra $10 for electricity, that was $140 -- more than most hotel rooms in the area, which come with more amenities, and someone else makes your bed and cleans the bathroom.
Still, any port in a storm, and we were glad to be making progress. Also, as it is immediately south of the bascule bridge, timing departure for the bridge opening was a piece of cake. We walked next door to the Bluewater Grill for a nice dinner -- in for a penny, in for a pound. It's fair to say we are not eager to return to Wrightsville Beach; as one commenter on ActiveCaptain wrote, they are not cruiser-friendly.
While timing the bascule bridge was easy, the same can not be said for the swing bridge at Figure Eight Island, which was broken when we arrived. We ended up station-keeping for a full hour, and while we had shoved off from Wrightsville Beach at the 1pm opening, we did not clear Figure Eight until 2:30. We knew with the two bridges it would be a short-mileage day, and that put us here, at Harbour Village, the only marina for miles in any direction.
This place is really a private marina for the adjacent condominium and housing development, but they offer transient dockage on a call-ahead basis. Again, it's pricey, at $2 per foot. At least that includes power, but unlike, for example, Wrightsville, there is absolutely nothing else here. We would have loved to continue on a few miles to Surf City (past yet another hourly bridge), but the lone marina there went out of business last year. A restaurant in town offers overnight dockage, but only has four feet of water.
For the last week or so, we've been timing our departures to leave an hour or so past low tide, so we would have a rising tide the whole day. That happens later and later every day, and today it is so late as to be impractical. Instead we will leave on mid-tide and falling, timing our trip to hit the lowest points on the flood, just in case. We should make the 12 noon Surf City bridge opening, and, with any luck, we will be anchored tonight on the other side of the New River inlet.
In other news, since the last time I posted, we've been to the Mediterranean with the boat. At least, according to the chart plotter. We've noticed that, on occasion, the Northstar plotter gets a spurious GPS position reading, and when this happens just as it is recording track data, we will see a track line dart off in some random direction. These have varied from a few hundred feet to a few dozen miles; usually we notice it at anchor, when the plotter gets left on for hours or days at a stretch. When we left Price Creek, our track looked like a 40-mile-wide asterisk centered on our actual location.
Yesterday before I turned off the plotter I noticed such a track, but it ran off the screen to the right. I zoomed out as far as I could, but the track still did not end on the same screen, so I had to scroll right. It went right through the Strait of Gibraltar and ended in the Med. Fortunately, when these single-dot errors occur, they don't seem to add the same erroneous amount to our trip log, or else we'd lose track of our daily mileage.