Yesterday morning found us at the Harbourgate Marina and Resort, in North Myrtle beach at an area of the ICW known as Nixon Crossroads. That put us squarely between the historic swing bridge, which had to open for us at the end of our cruise Wednesday, and the newer high bridge which carries US-17. We had, of course, just spent the previous night at a marina as well, and it turns out this is a marina-intensive stretch of the waterway for us.
There are few anchorages between the Waccamaw and Cape Fear rivers, and none could really accommodate Vector. So we had already resigned ourselves to marinas through this stretch, and we chose Harbourgate because it was completely beyond the notorious stretch of waterway known as "the rockpile," had a decent rate, and was well reviewed. They put us on the face dock adjacent to the ICW and just past the fuel area. We walked around the marina basin to dine at Capt'n Dilligaf's Tiki Bar, the waterfront part of Filet's restaurant, on a perfect evening for patio dining.
Yesterday we left on the flood so we could cross two inlets, where shoaling was reported, on a favorable tide. We made it across both Shallote Inlet and Lockwood's Folly with no trouble, but at a couple of points the depth sounder registered just 8.3', and we had 2.5' of tide with us. If we had tried to cross at low tide we would have been aground. We had no trouble at all, by the way, with the rockpile the day before.
We ended the day here, at the St. James Plantation marina. The marina is completely surrounded by an extensive, gated, golf course community, and most of the boats here belong to residents. But they do welcome transient boaters and had a favorable rate, even if the entrance channel was a bit tricky in the wind and current. We asked for a T-head but were assigned instead a narrow slip off a fairway just long enough for Vector to turn around. The T-head that had been held for some catamaran that had called ahead sat unused all night. We're also too far from the office to get any WiFi signal, so this place is off our list.
Even so, we decided to stay another night. Not because of the accommodations, but because today's forecast for our travel route called for winds 15-25 knots, gusting to 35 knots, and we'd end the day someplace having to dock in those conditions. Good call, as the winds were clocking 24 steady when we checked our proposed stopping point just a little while ago.
That will give us the chance to walk over to the little restaurant here for dinner tonight. Last night we had leftovers, but walked over there afterwards to check out the general store and have a beer on the patio. The store and restaurant are just what you might expect of the kind of captive audience at a remote gated community; nevertheless, the place was absolutely hopping last night. I gather St. James Plantation is quite large.
Tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, we will shove off on the flood and transit the Cape Fear River and Snow's Cut, ending the day somewhere near Carolina Beach or Myrtle Grove. It feels good to finally be out of South Carolina, and in due time, we will be in Virginia.