Southport, North Carolina

Our choice of Broad Creek as anchorage worked out very well. The strong gusty winds we were experiencing most of the day, started dying out as we dropped our anchor. We had to do some minor repair work to our engine’s throttle. The screw holding it to the steering column had broken earlier in the day. Although our vice grip did a fine job as a substitute, we wanted to get the broken screw bit out so we could use the real throttle. Luckily, our new inverter was up to the task of supplying electricity to our power drill and we were able to make the repair without too much trouble.

This anchorage was where we were covered by midges (insects that look like mosquitos but do not bite) back in May of 2011. No problem this time. It was way too cool.

Pungo River Sunset

Pungo River Sunset

The wind picked up in the morning blowing out of the north as we set out to cross Ablemarle Sound. We had a very lively sail until it was time to pass through the Aligator River swing bridge. We tried sailing down the river below the bridge but the wind was dying. The calm did enable Amy to get considerable work done logging video for the Red Dot movie she is working on. We anchored just in time for sunset at the top of the Pungo River not far from Belhaven, NC.

Saturday was warm, sunny and very calm. We motored all the way to Adams Creek across from Oriental, NC. Amy again, was able to work down below while I steered. We were a stone’s throw from Beaufort and contemplated pushing onward, but decided to just go there in the morning and hopefully, have the pick of the Town Creek anchorage.

It turned out that the anchorage was empty all day and even into the night. We’ve stopped here on all our trips south and back, and have always had to squeeze in to this spot. We couldn’t figure out why everyone anchors on the “front” side of Beaufort where the current is very strong when Town Creek is almost as convenient but a lot saner.

We went to the nearby marina’s restaurant for brunch and had to wait a whole hour as our order ticket fell off the table in the kitchen. Although annoying, we were enjoying the warm sunshine and were given complimentary mimosas to placate us. Full of frittatas, we walked to the Piggly Wiggly about two miles down the road. What better supermarket to go to when you are feeling like a stuffed pig. Getting back to the marina was easier as a driver took pity on the guy with his arm in a sling and gave us a ride. Turns out he had recent surgery on his shoulder and was very sympathetic.

The rest of the day we walked the streets of Beaufort traveling down the waterfront for what seemed like forever. We wanted exercise and we got it. Later, we had a light meal at Cru Wine Bar on Turner St., one of our favorite places in town.


Hard aground

We continued our push southward on Monday, motoring all the way to Mile Hammock Bay. Unlike Town Creek, Mile Hammock was fairly full of other cruisers making their way south. And, since we were hoping to reach Carolina Beach the next day, we were one of the first ones out in the morning. Our trip was uneventful until I found a large hump in the ICW as a green marker was missing. We are well aware of all the tried and true techniques for getting off when grounded, but the one we like best is calling Towboat US on the radio. That’s what we buy insurance for. They sent a guy out in about 30 minutes who was able to pull us off the mud into the deeper side of the channel. We were very impressed with his gentle method that did not endanger either the crew, the boat, or other boaters. He told us that the marker had been moved because the Coast Guard felt it was causing boaters to go aground! Huh? Anyway, we got off and made it to Carolina Beach before sunset.

It had been a cold and drizzly day but later, it just poured. It was worst as we, and about 10 other boats, were waiting for the Wrightsville Beach bridge to open. It was an unpleasant situation with the rain, the strong current and the large number of boats. Fortunately, no one got in trouble and all made it through the bridge safely.

We continued on to Carolina Beach where they have a new public mooring field. We were greeted by Randy, the caretaker, who told us of all the services offered by the city. Although we have anchored here a few times, we were happy to take the mooring as the wind was really starting to pick up and the rain continued to fall. Our first attempt at anchoring a half hour earlier did not go well.

In addition to our grounding, our engine had been periodically surging all day. We had this problem on our way up the Delaware Bay back to Maryland and had thought we cured it with a new fuel filter. So, the next morning we changed one of the two filters and went on our way. Within minutes, we heard the surging again and knew we had to stop in Southport for help. The filter we can easily change was not the problem. The filter on the engine required a change but that one is in a very awkward place and with my shoulder in a bad way, we wanted to hire a mechanic to do the job.

Our trip down the Cape Fear River went quickly as the wind and current were with us. So, we were in the Southport Marina by 11:30 AM. By 4:30 PM the new filter had been installed and a short test seemed to indicate that the problem was solved.

We could have left the next day but the forecast was for cold, windy, rainy weather, so we opted to spend another day and night with electricity. This allowed us to get some editing and web work done, not to mention have electric heat to warm up the cabin.

The next day we did a dining sampling of Southport: Loco Jo’s, Mr. P’s and Fishy Fishy. We enjoyed them all very much. Southport itself is a pretty little town with a lot to see in short walking distance from the marina.

I’m writing this from the anchorage in Charleston, SC, harbor. We’ll be spending Thanksgiving day with our friends, Raffi and Lisa and Lisa’s sister, Lane, aboard Windfall. There’s more to tell about our trip from Southport to here, but it will have to wait.

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