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Questionable as to whether or not there is any

We are adding to our list of things we would rather not experience again whilst cruising on the boat: (1) hurricanes; (2) snagging a crab pot with the propeller; and the new one, (3) visiting Swan Point Marina, Snead Ferry NC.

But let me back up. (I wrote this on Tuesday, 6 February 2018, ie yesterday.)

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Can’t help looking back when the view is this good

We try plan the tides/current so that we get a push rather than fight the current and for the most part, we have managed this OK. Have come to the conclusion that so long as there is not interference from inlets and rivers, flood tides flow north and ebb tides flow south on the Intracoastal Waterway. I am open to discussion on this.

With this in mind, we timed our trip up Cape Fear River perfectly and got a good 3.5kt push up to Snow’s Cut. Logic and looking at the charts would suggest that the current would continue flowing with us through this very narrow cut but no, as you enter the channel, boom (not literally) the current goes from being your friend to being your not-so-friend – a complete reversal to a 3.5kt punch on the nose. However, we followed all the advice shared by previous sailors and navigated without incident. You don’t want to meet another vessel coming in the opposite direction in Snow’s Cut; it isn’t really wide enough to pass.

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Incoming

The rest of that day was a race to get to our destination before the gale force winds kicked in and the rain came. We made it to Bridge Tender Marina, Wrightsville Beach in time but with the current in full flood, sucking us towards the swing bridge about 200 yards away from the dock, docking was rather tricky. Paul had to move the boat sideways while maintaining station with our space on the dock, not hit the boat in front and certainly not clip the bridge with the stern. And the wind was blowing upwards of 20 mph by this time; all adding to the excitement.

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Me, watching where we are going

I paid for our dock for the night which was the most expensive so far on this part of our trip, then was told that the only facilities were restrooms in the restaurant next door which didn’t open until 6pm (actually it didn’t open at all) and closes at 10pm. The dock was OK but for that price with no facilities, probably won’t be visiting that one again.

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The dogs watching the dolphins

The redeeming features of this place were: the beach was just 1 mile away and dogs are allowed on the beach between November – February so guess where we went for a walk before the rain. Got back just as it started. And, there was a Starbucks and a West Marine and a Harris Teeter a half mile away. To these, we walked in the pouring, nay, torrential rain. What one will do for coffee! The dogs were not impressed but at least it washed off most of the sand they had collected earlier.

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This is as close as we could get on the ‘deep’ side of the dock

We watched the first half of the Super Bowl using Paul’s iPad while the boat shook with the wind gusts and the rain pelted down. Now the thing about the rain is that when we bought the boat, the interior of the cabins got soaked from leaks somewhere. Whilst on our way to the boatyard after Hurricane Irma and since we have been back on board, we have ‘sealed’ the windows to see if they were the source of the leaks. Touch wood, this storm was a good test and there were no leaks.

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While waiting for the tide, Capt Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl came by

To get to last night’s (cough) marina, we had to pass through 3 swing bridges – all three opening on the hour though the second one also opened on the half hour. The distance between 1 and 2 was just too long for us to make the half hour opening so we had to wait 28 minutes until the hour opening. After that, fortunately with the aid of the current, we beetled our way down to the third bridge and made it with 13 minutes to spare. Phew. Stressful. After that it was an easy cruise to Swan Point (cough) Marina.

I had made a reservation earlier and was advised to call the dock master’s phone on our approach. I called on Monday morning on our way to confirm that there would be sufficient water etc for us and was again advised to call the dock master. This really should have raised red flags but we ignored them – how bad can it be? Hmm.

Well I called the dock master on his cell phone and got no reply. Left a message. Called on the radio – no response. Nothing for it but to dock ourselves. We turned into the entrance and promptly slowed – running in the mud. The dock sticking out towards us was listing to the right so we decided to go on the higher side. After disturbing lots and lots of mud and silt from the bottom, we finally settled starboard side to. There was no-one around. No-one. But what there was, was very loud country music blaring out of a tub in the back corner and lots of derelict boats. Just weird. Ghost ‘town’.

IMG_7275Went for a walk. What a god forsaken hole. Then a short plump guy turns up, says he is the dock master and adamantly  suggests that we move the boat to the downside of the dock. Why? Because there is more water there. Hmmm. How much more? Oh, a good 6”.  That will be important at low tide. It will stop you leaning over. (How bad can this really get?) You want me move the boat now? Well, I would because in a few short minutes you will be stuck fast on the bottom. Needless to say, Paul was fuming by this time.

The idea was to back out, turn around and back into the dock. Nope, not going to happen. I remained on the dock during the maneuver and at one point, thought he wasn’t going to make it back to the dock in any direction. But thank goodness for Lehman engines. He came back in bow first. About 30 min later we were hard and fast on the bottom and as wavelets came in the boat flopped from one side of her keel to the other. We never got closer than 2.5 feet to the dock; just sat there. Even at high tide during the night, we still didn’t move closer.

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Wrightsville Beach

The internet didn’t appear as an option never mind using the password. I didn’t check out the facilities. The docks rocked and/or tilted as you walked on them. There was nowhere really for the dogs to run. There was one road in/out; every other one was a Dead End. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough though we did have to wait until 2 hours before high tide to have any hope. The dock master said that our best bet was to back out and put our stern towards the wall and then we would be able to turn and go out forwards. Every time Paul tried to put the stern towards the wall, we stopped. In the end we backed out all the way to the channel and then gunned it. Absolutely a place to be avoided at all costs.

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Camp Lejeune’s targets

Had a glorious cruise today though as if Mother Nature was trying her best to erase last night’s memories. We went through Onslow Beach Swing Bridge then heard on the radio later that it was broken and would be closed to boat traffic for at least 2 hours. It wasn’t us. We passed through Camp Lejeune firing range to the sound of live fire and jets overhead. Made it to Spooners Creek Marina just as the current was switching against us. Perfect timing. The marina is lovely – plenty of water. There is a place for the dogs to run. There is a Lowes, Wally Mart, Starbucks and West Marine all within walking distance. What was that place yesterday? Oh I can’t remember.

Thank you for reading.

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