After four full days of settling back into life aboard after a nine-month absence, we…
Distance traveled: 65 statute miles
Time underway: 7 hours
Average Speed: 8 kts
Max Speed: 19.3 kts
Fuel used: 54 gallons
After a very long prior day, we were happy to have a “late” 8am departure from Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach. It was our first day traveling without Sean aboard since he joined us over a week before so we had to retune the new procedures we had adopted while he was on board. Unfortunately, Jasper was still of no help in getting us off the docks. It was another cool morning in the 50’s and we spent the first couple of hours running from the pilot house before retreating to the bridge where it was just warm enough to be outside and enjoy the sunshine. Definitely cooler than it should be this time of year for where we are, or so we think. The departure was thankfully a bit less tight than it would have been had the power cat on the dock off our stern not headed out earlier in the morning.
One thing you hear a lot about on this leg of the trip is the “Rock Pile,” a section of a few miles north of Myrtle Beach where the edge of the Intracoastal is lined with, you guessed it, piles of rocks. It’s not visible at high tide and many a boater has drifted out of the channel to find themselves high and dry and in need of expensive repairs. Sounds intimidating but, the truth is, it’s really not a big deal if you stay in the channel and pay attention. We announce ourselves on the VHF as we enter the Rock Pile in the event there is any concerned traffic like, say, a really big boat that we’d have to pass along the way. Doable but not always desirable depending on the conditions so better to be safe.
As we crossed over into North Carolina, our fourth state so far, the landscape goes from a lot of wilderness to a lot of development and a decidedly beachy feel, not surprising given the proximity of the ICW to the Atlantic through much of this stretch.
We had to travel through extremely long stretches where the waterway is lined with floating docks which is reflected in our eight-knot average speed for the day. You just have to settle into it because it’s simply how it is. We could go faster, blow a big wake and rock the docks, but as we constantly remark, you are responsible for your wake and it’s poor seamanship. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this practice which is why you see a lot of destroyed docks along the way.
Perhaps it was because he remembered that they have good treats in their office as Jasper was going nuts as we approached the dock at Southport Marina, our stop for the night. It’s his third time here and yes, the gentleman who grabbed our lines was quick to reward Jasper for all of his noise. Great. I mean, thanks. We do love it here – great marina with a terrific staff and a most excellent Zimmerman Marine service center onsite. We decided to take advantage of our stop here to have our stern thruster batteries checked out as we sensed they were starting to fail. We had reached out while we were underway and they were quick to respond and let us know they would take care of us in short order even though we were arriving late in the day. It was a good move as two of them had gone bad meaning all four (it’s a 48-volt thruster) had to be replaced. We can’t say enough about the quality of service Zimmerman provides – thanks, guys.
One of the things we were looking forward to most about our stay at Southport Marina was attending the famed weather and navigation briefing held each night of the “migration” seasons. We’ve known about these nightly information sessions for years but each of the two prior times we’ve been through Southport has been off-season. All are welcome and the sessions are hosted by retired US Navy meteorologist and passionate cruiser Hank Pomeranz who is in his sixth year of offering the briefings, free of charge, every night in season. With the support of Southport Marina and Zimmerman Marine, this is a trip highlight for so many ICW cruisers and now that we’ve attended, it’s easy to understand why. Hank has a very easygoing personality, great sense of humor and presents a wealth of information in a concise way that’s easy for old salts and newbies alike to enjoy. He covers all of the known problem areas along the remainder of the ICW (heading north in the case of the spring migration), looks at the weather for the upcoming week with a terrific primer in understanding fronts and patterns and encourages everyone to participate and share information. He does all of this with a great powerpoint presentation, a hard copy of which is distributed to each boat in attendance.
We can’t say enough good things about Hank and this program. Southport Marina is fantastic in its own right and always a great stop, but Hank’s talk is reason enough to be sure to include a night there should you be passing through. He’s making cruising better for all of us. Thanks, Hank!
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to leave as early as we’d like as the battery replacement will spill over into the morning so we don’t know exactly where we will next land just yet. But it presumably will be north of here!
See you out there…
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