St. Mary's Inlet to Wrightsville Beach 2016
Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
May 9, 2016
We are up at 5:00 so we can catch the tide running out of Fernandina/St. Mary's Inlet. We are outside the jetty when the first light appears. Again we have good wind and set sail but the winds fall off at 10:00 and we are motor sailing. The seas are with us and we are still doing better than 7 knots.
At 14:00 the engine begins to die on us. I shut it down and go check the fuel filter below. I can find nothing wrong. I sure hope we don't have the same problems Mañana had with fuel. We start the engines and change course. We are thirty miles off shore and headed for Savannah. If the engine is going to die completely we need to be as close to shore as possible.
I work on the problem in my head and decide to shut down again and check for air in the fuel filter. I lift up the bed and prop it up so I can work on the fuel filter housing underneath our bed. I grab the fuel shut off to the filter and turn it. I look at it and realize I just turned on the fuel switch. How could we be running with the fuel switch off? I must have shut it off in Cape Canaveral when I checked the filter and then never turned it back on. Well, problem solved. I go back on deck, turn the engine on, and head for Georgetown S.C.
The engine is now sounding quite strong. We are now motor sailing at over 7 knots. We are quite confident that we will make Georgetown in the morning on the incoming tide. I go below to get some sleep at 19:30 hours and am back on deck at 23:00. Now Karen can go below and get some shut eye.
It was a quiet night. We did not have to worry about any ship traffic on this crossing. The last time we did this we were dodging all sorts of traffic headed into Savannah but this time nothing. We did get to follow one guy off of Jacksonville Florida via VHF. He ran out of fuel 30 miles out and had to call Boats US for a tow. We followed his adventure all night. In the morning they were being towed at one knot and were still ten miles off of Jacksonville. The tow boat was not sure they had enough fuel to tow the boat all the way to shore. That was the last we heard of his ordeal.
I went down below at 3:00 and was back up at 6:00 to relieve Karen at the wheel. We were 22 miles from Winyah Bay and the entrance to the Waccamaw River that will take us to Georgetown. We arrive at the mouth of the river and it is relatively flat. A huge difference from last time when we actually took water over the bimini!
We head up the river with the incoming current carrying us up the river, most of the time we are doing better than eight knots. The river is wide and flat. We see lots of fishermen along the river but no commercial traffic.
By the time we get to Georgetown, I am getting my second wind. The current is with us and we are still doing better than seven knots. Our cruising speed without current is about 6.3 knots. We are still getting a good push from the current so we press on. Our next stop is Osprey Marina on the other side of the Waccamaw Swamp.
We arrive at the Marina at 14:30. The current has been with us the whole way. We wait out in the channel until they can clear the fuel dock and then head in. We fill up taking on only 20 gallons of fuel. I calculate our fuel consumption. At 2300 RPM we are burning one gallon every ten miles we travel with favorable winds and currents.
We tie in a slip on B dock. There is barely enough room to move in there the docks are so close together. Our bow is sticking out about eight feet into the channel and we have about eight inches of clearance on either side of the boat. We start in bow forward but then turn around with the help of two deck hands and back in so we have it easy getting out in the morning. Our next stop is the showers.
Once we are cleaned we order some Italian food to be delivered to the marina for dinner. We manage to stay up until 20:30 before crashing for the night.
May 11, 2016
We are up and out by 7:00. We have to get out on the bow to fend off the boats on the other docks so we can turn and head out of the docks. We have another hard turn at the end of the docks that requires some back and forth before we can get out. It is really tight in there. We head out to the main channel and down the river a couple of miles to the next swing bridge. The swing bridge opening was perfect, we did not even have to slow down.
We are now motoring through the Myrtle Beach area where I had once played golf with a bunch of guys from work. It looks a lot different from the water than it does from a golf course. We pass a few boats along the way and arrive at our next bridge and ask for an opening. She tells us that she is going to wait to open when all the boats behind us catch up. That takes fifteen minutes. We have the wind and the current pushing us towards the bridge and we fight it well for the first ten minutes and then we get jammed up and finally turn around and head back up the river a bit. She finally opens the bridge and we pass through unscathed.
I push the throttle up and hope to leave these other boats behind before the next bridge five miles down the road. We get there and the bridge tender says he wants to wait for the other boats. We whine a bit and he lets us through on our own. Yea! No more being held up by the slower boats. We are still being pushed down the river with a favorable current.
We have no more bascule bridges to deal with and we arrive at the Cape Fear River with the tide heading out. The current is against us but the wind is blowing up the river at 17 knots so we put up the sails and charge up river. We are making about five knots against a two knot current. We gybe several times before we enter the Intercoastal Waterway about ten miles up and then take in the sails. Once we are in the waterway the current is pushing us along pretty good. We get to Carolina Beach which was our destination but decide to press on to Wrightsville Beach because of the favorable current.
The intercoastal is now getting quite dicey. We are having to watch the water depths real closely. There are many sand bars in the channel and we run into spots where there is only six feet of water. It is a bit scary with the current trying to push us onto the sand bars as we try to avoid them.
We arrive at the entrance to the Wrightsville Beach channel and the chart shows only eight feet of depth. We head in slowly worried about the depth of the water but find no less than twelve feet of water at the entrance. The water gets deeper after that and we have no troubles heading into the anchorage. We anchor in about 13 feet of water. We set the anchor in the soft mud and drag a bit trying to set the anchor, but don't like where we end up so we pull it up and try again. The bottom is a black muck. We set again but do not pull too hard on the anchor to set it. The bottom is too soft to get a hard set. We chill for the rest of the night.
May 12, 2016
The weather has us socked in. There are thunderstorms predicted for the next few days all along the coast. We check the weather in Jacksonville just a few miles up and they are predicting hail and 60 knot winds. We will stay here and wait out all the weather.
We drop the dinghy and head ashore. They have nice floating docks up by the bridge for us to tie our dingy to. We walk the small tourist area here and check out the local stores and restaurants. We were here last year visiting our friends beach house so we know the area well. We decide to eat a local bar. They have Yeungling on tap and meals for under ten dollars. Karen orders salmon and I order flounder. The meal was good. We leave there and walk the town a bit longer. We stop and purchase local made ice cream sandwiches that are to die for before heading back to the boat to chill. The thunderstorms move in late in the afternoon and we have rain for the next four hours. There were no lightning strikes nearby to worry about.