After the somewhat rough night at Whitaker Point marina in Oriental, we did what we seem to do every day now when we get up. We have the "does it sound too miserable to continue on to the next stop" conversation. The weather windows, if you can call them that, seem to be getting smaller and less open. Do we go if the high temperature isn't supposed to get out of the 30's? Or if it is in the 40's and forecast to be raining all day? Do we take the outside route to Southport or just take the ICW all the way?
We decide to press on as the only forecast that day was for the winds that rocked us half the night to continue to calm down as the day progressed. We only had a short stint in the Neuse river before being back in the protection of "the ditch" for most of the rest of the journey to Morehead City. Offshore, there are still gale warnings and small craft advisories. The idea of bouncing around in 8 foot seas with short periods between the waves is completely unappealing. So, we decided to take the ICW all the way down. I think we only managed to unfurl the head sail for about 10 minutes the whole trip that day. It was a motorboat sort of day.
We make it through Morehead City, hang a right around the shipping docks, and continue heading down the ICW. We make it to the stop for the evening, a marina I found in Active Captain that gave us the most daylight mileage and sounded pretty nice. And it was. The entrance into Spooners Creek marina is a bit tight, but once you make it through the cut and the sharp turn into their basin, you find a nice, calm, well protected facility. This marina is probably the second nicest one we have stayed at (Palm Coast being the first). The marina is part of a condo complex and has nice new floating docks, a well appointed clubhouse and bathhouse. They were reasonably priced for the area at $1.50 per foot including electricity.
The next morning we were greeted with forecasts of temperatures in the 40's and rain. Again the continue-on question is asked, and we puzzle about it for a while. We finally decide that we really want to get south so we push on. It was a pretty miserable slog for much of the day. Rain reduced visibility, and the wind would swirl around just enough to keep us from being dry in the cockpit. We finally make it to the stop for the night at Swan Point marina in Sneads Ferry, NC.
The reviews called this place rustic, and maybe my view is a bit colored by how nice the last stop was, but I'd call this place dilapidated. It all started when we were trying to dock the boat. The winds were up about 30 knots blowing...naturally...across the dock. I try to get a line cleated so I could pivot the boat up to the dock, and we end up pulling up the cleat with the dock board attached to it. While the cleat was bolted down OK, the boards are only nailed into place and the decaying wood let go of the nails. After some work we get the boat docked and I add lines directly to the pilings in addition to the lines on the cleats (that I had little faith in). This "marina" is really a boatyard with docks. The facilities are very utilitarian with cinder block walls and concrete floors and pipes strapped to them for the showers. The laundry machines didn't look like they would work, or if they did, you would likely end up with rust stains on everything. To top it off, it was the same price as the place the night before. The only positive was it did have electricity, so we could run the heater.
|Not the cleat, or dock, you want to use.|
That night it was cold. When we got up, frost was covering the docks and the boat. The "do we go" decision was pretty easy though. It was going to be colder than yesterday but the sun was out and we definitely wanted to go. We didn't get an early start since we wanted it to warm up just a bit, but we departed the dock around 9:30AM. After we start down the ICW, we were greeted by a small pod of dolphins as if to tell us we were definitely making the right decision. Other than the usual wind on the nose, the trip was uneventful. We even had moderate luck with the bridges. The first bridge had an early unscheduled opening for a barge that we were able to sneak through to gain a little time. The currents seemed to be with us and gave us a speed boost that helped us with the timing at the other bridges. We made it to the next destination, the Masonboro Yacht Club, an hour ahead of schedule.
This is where we sit now, waiting for temperatures in the 20's this evening. We are using one of those round metal dehumidifiers (heating coil with a fan) to help keep the outside locker that holds our water tanks warm enough to prevent freezing of the water lines. The reverse cycle heat is getting its exercise once again to keep the cabin warm.
One more shorter trip and we will be in Southport, NC, where we intend to stop for a few days to recuperate. Now, for my boat drink...and dinner.