On Friday, we continued our northward trek up the Intracoastal Waterway. We pushed away from the dock in St. James at 7:15 a.m., and proceeded toward Cape Fear. Upon entering the Cape Fear River, we were met with 2-4’ waves coming up the river from the south. This was, to say the least, an unexpected finding. I spent the next hour or two hand-steering Beatitude to keep her pointed in one general direction – northward. Fortunately the winds and waves were from behind us. It would have been quite uncomfortable heading into those conditions.
Once we exited the Cape Fear River, however, conditions calmed once again, making for a pleasant journey up the North Carolina coast. About the only factor that produced any consternation was that we had to go through 3 consecutive swing/draw bridges which operate on a schedule. This slowed our progress considerably, since we had to wait significant time periods in between each bridge. Our last bridge of the day was a fixed bridge, the Topsail Island Bridge. We approached at high tide and had another antenna scraping experience.
Friday, we covered around 63 nautical miles in a little over ten hours. We dropped our anchor around 5:25 p.m. in 12 feet of water in Mile Hammock Bay just southwest of Camp LeJeune, the well-known Marine Corp base in North Carolina. We let out a 7:1 scope before settling down for some expected thunderstorms later in the evening. We were fortunate that all the storms stayed just to our north. We witnessed lots of impressive lightning, but, other than a few brief gusts of wind, Beatitude escaped severe weather.
Saturday morning, we arose early and weighed anchor at 6:05. Our chain and anchor came up covered with the stickiest, stinkiest black mud that you’ve ever seen. Since the anchor barely came up out of the mud this morning, I don’t think we would’ve needed to worry if the storms had hit last night.
We pulled out of Mile Hammock Bay and turned to port up the ICW. We waited on the Onslow Beach Swing Bridge until 7 a.m., and then had clear sailing (motoring) all the way to Oriental. The morning was gorgeous with pleasant temperatures and a cooling breeze. By noon, the clouds began to build and storms once again threatened. Radar showed that a line of storms was headed toward Oriental and would arrive about the same time we would. It was a race up beautiful Adam’s Creek and across the Neuse River. The strong winds arrived just before we did. Thankfully, we had help on the dock to tie up our lines. It was a little bit of a challenge with the 20-30 knot winds. At least the rain held off until we could tie to the dock and put out some fenders.
The day was otherwise uneventful. We made it through several bridges without scraping our antenna. The only out-of-the-ordinary occurrence of the day was that we had traveling companions. The motor trawler, Sanderling, out of Merritt Island, FL, left our anchorage nearly the same time as us. We cruise along at about the same speed, so we were barely 100 yards apart the entire trip.
We’ve now traveled for four days straight. We’re going to stay in Oriental for two nights and enjoy a day around town on Sunday. We’ll hopefully find a church to attend in the morning.