We left the Barefoot Marine around 7:30 Wednesday morning And entered the “Rock Pile,” a couple of miles of water that has a rocky bottom and sides. Many boats have had unpleasant experiences in the rock pile, and we did not want to be one of them. We took it slow and stayed to the center and made it through without incident. After that section we encountered many areas where the ICW was lined with houses with piers and marinas. In these areas it’s hard to go above 10 mph because of posted “no wake” zones or common courtesy (a big boat’s wake can do a lot of damage to floating docks and tied up boats if the big boat is throwing a large wake). So for miles on end it was life in the slow lane. Jim was ready to strangle someone.
A little after noon we entered the Cape Fear River. Finally we were able to get Sea BLyS up on plane and up to about 25 mph. The only problem was we were in the Cape Fear River, which has a major shipping channel. We were running in the channel when we noticed a big freighter off to our left heading toward the channel. Jim was driving, and for some reason thought the freighter was going to continue straight across our course rather turn toward us and enter the channel. So he pulled us to the left. The freighter started to turn into the channel. Now the freighter was heading right for us. We had to continue approaching it to the left. This took us out of the channel and put us in line with the freighter’s huge wake. We re able to avoid the worst of the wake and to turn into it so it didn’t hit us on the side. Nevertheless it was a few nail biting moments.
We left the Cape Fear River and finally hit some areas where we could get her up on plane and not worry about “no wake” zones, floating docks or oncoming freighters. We were hoping to make it to Morehead City, but we were coming on 4 pm and still had about 30 miles to go. If we hit another long stretch of “no wake” zones that could take several hours. So we decided to dock at Swansboro for the night. The only problem with Swansboro was that the wind was whipping at 30 mph when we hit the marina. Jim got us to the fuel dock without any trouble. But when he asked the dock master for advice on how to get into the slip, the dock master decided to dock the boat himself. Well he didn’t do such a great job. He swung the boat around so that we could back in, but he didn’t control the bow, which hit one of the pilings at the left entrance to the slip. There was no damage because the boat has a bumper railing designed for just that purpose. But we got her in and tied up.
Swansboro is a small southern fishing village with a mish mash of clapboard houses. So we didn’t expect much when we went to the Riverside Steak and Seafood Restaurant for dinner. But it ended up being one of the best meals we’ve had this trip. Jim ordered lobster ravioli with shrimp and scallops in a tomato and basil cream sauce. I had blackened grouper with homemade guacamole and black bean salsa. Both dishes were fabulous. In addition they served the entrees with little sweet potato muffins which were out of this world. They were so full of flavor and the texture was soft and almost creamy. I asked for the recipe, but they wouldn’t give it to me. They just told me that they were made with a lot of butter. They said we could buy 6 to take with us and we did. We figured dinner was going to be steamed shrimp and burgers. We were not prepared for expertly made lobster ravioli and blackened grouper.
The next day (today – Thursday) we left around 7:30 again Heading for Belhaven, NC. The winds had died down in the morning and we had lots of runs across larger bodies of water like the Nuese River and Bogue Sound, so we were able to make great time. We arrived in Belhaven just before 1 pm. I happy to say that we had no close encounters with any freighters today.
We’re staying at the River Forest Marina. This Used to be a prosperous marina with a lArge antebellum house that functioned as an inn with a restaurant. Well the restaurant is closed and business at the marina looks pretty slow, although there are about five other boats tied up here with us. The marina does have a courtesy golf cart for marina guests who want to go into town for supplies of food. We did want to pick up a few things at the grocery store, so after we checked in we asked for the golf cart. What we got was a cart that had been around quite a few golf courses. It go forward and in reverse, do about 10 mph, offered no seat belts and had no breaks. You had to put in reverse to stop it. So we set out in this thing for the grocery store which was about 3 or 4 miles away. The marina guy assured us we could take the cart onto a real road without getting run over.
So we’re tooling along veering all over place because of course the cart has virtually no steering. Fortunately Belhaven has seen better days because there weren’t too many cars on the road in the center of town. As we passed the center we picked up more traffic. Cars were passing us right and left. What could we do? Nothing. We just kept tooling along. I was never so happy to see aFood Lion in my life! We got our groceries and made it back to the marina in one piece.
Meanwhile the wind has really picked up. It’s hitting the boat a bit sideways, so we’re just rocking and rolling. It’s going to be an interesting night. We’re off to dinner soon. We plan to go to Coinjock, NC tomorrow, which is about 90 miles away. Saturday we hope to be in Norfolk.
A few parting comments before I end for the day. First, I cannot remember having so many bruises, except maybe when. Went whitewater rafting down the Snake River. I came back from that trip pretty black and blue because I was floating down the river(with Katherine) in a lifejacket and got bounced around some rocks. This trip is going to rival or exceed that experience. Second, I think I’ve broken every fingernail on my hands. I am in serious need of a manicure. And third, some of the country we have traveled through has been gorgeous, especially the low country of Georgia and South Carolina. We’d be driving along, not another boat in sight and be surrounded by pelicans diving into the water for fish, dolphins, lots of other birds and fish leaping out of the water