MM82.

Day 10 – 3 bridges. 53 miles. There is 20-ish mile man-made land cut between the Pungo River and the Alligator River on the ICW. It’s very straight, and surrounded by tall pine trees.

This was the last section of the ICW to be completed in the 1920s to allow passage from Norfolk to Miami. We took that cut today, and were able to put the jib up for an extra knot or so. Along the way we slid past bald eagles, Canada geese, white-tailed deer and lots of small birds.

After exiting the land cut we sailed up the Alligator River, which is huge. We had wind-driven waves but luckily they were on our stern, so it made for comfortable sailing.

As we turned off the ICW to anchor, a hellacious squall arrived. Lori saw 32+ knots as I was on the bow dropping anchor in the rain. Trident’s anchor held like a champ, as usual. We were treated to a double rainbow for our efforts.

We are anchored tonight right where the Alligator River joins Albemarle Sound, which we will transit tomorrow. It’s the last big body of open water that we cross on this trip.

MM135.

Day 9 – 1 bridge. 45 miles.

The view from our anchorage in the South River at sunrise.

We pulled anchor early and crossed the Neuse River, under sail. It was a beautiful morning with no other boat traffic.

Then we had to drop sails to motor through a very straight, but pretty, land cut. But today had us mostly crossing wide, open rivers like the Neuse, Pungo, and Pamlico Rivers.

Tonight we are anchored outside of Belhaven, just off the ICW. Gratuitous sunset photo…

MM180.

Day 8 – 3 bridges. 22 miles. We finished up last minute chores this morning, and left the slip at slack tide, around 2pm. Goodbye Beaufort!

Since we left in the afternoon, today was a short mileage day. We passed lots of small boats and shrimpers.

But we took a looong time to get there. We pulled out the jib and gained two or more knots. Tonight we are at anchor off the Neuse River, in the mouth of the South River. We anchored exactly at sunset here. A few minutes later, the full moon rose over the trees. Just beautiful!

Tomorrow’s a new day on the ICW.

MM202.

Day 6 – 2 bridges. 27 miles. When we left this morning there was a parade of shrimp boats and tugs; more than we’d seen so far.

Today was supposed to be a short day but we were fighting mysterious tidal currents so we ended up going between three and four knots for most of the day. Coming into Beaufort Inlet we passed this beautiful catboat. This one’s for Monte…

Tonight we are at a marina in Beaufort, NC. We are 3 slips down from this badboy, the S/V Miniskirt.

When Lori checked us in we got two wooden nickels for free beers at the marina bar. Let me tell you, my Yuengling went down fast. It was HOT!

I enjoyed visiting with friends of Lori’s from way back. They gave us a quick driving tour of the area. We walked out to the Atlantic.

MM229.

Day 5 – 5 bridges. 56 miles. The new thing today was having to time our arrival at bridges that only open on the hour, or on the hour and half hour.

We had to dodge some hellacious thunder and lightning storms by doing circles for a bit. The currents seemed to be fickle today. There are so many inlets to/from the Atlantic that one minute we’ll have the tide with us and then we cross an Inlet and then the current turns against us. Where inlets and rivers cross the ICW, sand builds into shallow shoals. We passed this one where the locals had erected a flag, a palm tree and a parking meter with a cleat on the side for boats to tie up. 🙂

The ICW in these parts flows right past the Marine Corps’ Camp LeJeune. The ICW is sometimes closed here for hours due to live ammunition fire exercises.

Target practice…

There were no live fire exercises today. But we had originally planned to anchor right off the ICW here. We had to abandon that plan due to the anchorage being closed for military exercises. We saw a space age amphibious vehicle enter right in front of us.

I wonder what they would have done if we pulled in there to anchor.

So we continued 15 miles farther north than we’d planned to be today, and are at a lovely anchorage at the town of Swansboro. We grilled kebabs, watched a wedding reception on the waterfront, watched the boat swing until the currents changed 3 hours after high tide, and took in another lovely sunset.

MM285.

Day 4 – 2 bridges. 30 miles. We got off the dock easily this morning and headed on our way by 9AM. Every stretch of the ICW has been a little different each day. Today took us through the Cape Fear River. We had the tide against us for a couple hours and it was slow going through mostly sea-like conditions in the wide and deep shipping lanes.

We then turned back up into the ICW. Lori found a website where the Corps of Engineers posts images of current depth soundings all along the ICW, which provide the latest status on shoals and problem areas. We referred to that along the way. So we knew we were in for a couple of very low stretches today. We actually bumped bottom once today!

We pulled into Wrightsville just in time to get hit by our first thunderstorm/deluge as we were anchoring. Not bad. I’ll take it.

We grilled on the boat and rocked out until sunset. It was another lovely night.

MM315.

Day 3 – 17 bridges (yes, 17). 58 miles. Today brought us across the South Carolina border into North Carolina.

Captain Lori picked the departure time perfectly, which isn’t easy with tides and currents being different all up the ICW, and worrying about clearance under bridges and up the channel given changing depths.

Again, we lucked out and were not hit by the storms around us. Today’s challenges were long stretches where the current was against us, which slows us down, and navigating the areas of the ICW that cross river inlets to the Atlantic Ocean. The coast guard temporarily moves the channel markers to safely navigate changing shoals in these areas. Oh, and there was that one jackhole in a fishing boat who nearly ran into us from behind at high speed as he wasn’t paying attention. Luckily he looked up at the last minute and we only got water from his boat spray in the cockpit.

We started the day running up the ICW behind Myrtle Beach. Lots of homes and boat traffic.

Civilization, bridges and traffic from air and from sea. ICW kitsch… Swing bridges that opened when asked nicely… More kitsch…First channel marker in North Carolina…

It turned beachy at Shallote’s Inlet. If you look closely you can see the surf breaking on the Atlantic side… And we got to see the back side of many beach homes…Home for the night…

MM373.

Day 2 – Two bridges. 47 miles. We had storms all around us but were only hit by a few sprinkles. Still, we move along at about 6 mph, looking at tide tables, currents and the waterway guide to time arrivals along the way. We just keep following the magenta line on the charts.

We hit some of our shallowest water today, only about 6 feet deep, which is a little close for our 5 foot deep keel.

The ICW scenery changed for us today from a narrow ditch surrounded by low, grassy marshes, to a very wide and winding river surrounded by tall moss-covered cypresses and pines.

Morning scenery…

Afternoon scenery…

We are staying the night at Osprey Marina, which is fitting, because we saw about a hundred ospreys today!

MM420.

Day 1 – Four bridges. 52 miles. We decided to go 10 miles farther than we’d planned today. We are anchored in the South Santee River for the night. There is one other sloop a couple hundred feet away, which is odd since we only passed one other sailboat all day.

But this is a really beautiful spot; surrounded by nature preserve on all sides. AND we, surprisingly, have two bars of cell signal!

We saw much of South Carolina’s marshy Low Country today. I logged many birds through binoculars. A Great Day!!!

A far-away view of Charleston waterfront from the harbor…

We celebrated Day 1 after we anchored with a glass of bubbles.

This is what a 63′ mast looks like when it passes under a 65′ bridge. Whoa Nellie!

It’s beautiful here at our anchorage…

Sunset!