Once again, you can't count on good planning to make the day perfect. You must rely on patience and flexibility. Or so we are learning in large measure.
Yesterday we had to face the Atlantic Bridge just past Morehead City, but facing it meant lapping the ICW for an hour and a quarter until the bridge boards read 64 feet. Why you ask? They call it a King Tide, the highest of the year, compounded with wind driven water. Not wanting to dock in the dark, we shortened our run for the day and tried Casper's Marina in Swansboro. Getting close to the marina was tricky, the channel was full of fishermen in small boats- anchored IN the channel! We were not the first to hail the Coast guard for assistance. A tug and barge preceded us and later we met a power boat captain who said he heard a call on the radio earlier in the day. Once tied up, we walked to town and exhausted it in less than an hour. Back on the boat we spent the night rocking from multiple boats going by or coming and going to fish. The take away here is Casper's is a bargain at a dollar a foot and it breaks up the run to Wrightsville Beach, but you have to "settle" for the night.
But King Tides need a few days to fall off so today we planned our departure to put us at the Highway Bridge, Mile Marker 252, two hours after high tide. Fate helped us on this one. We were hung up over an hour at the Onslow Swing Bridge, mile 240, due to maintenance. "It'll be just a bit, captain." This was the perfect time for Susan to practice donuts and figure eights, practice waiting for a bridge, and so that's just what we did. Once we reached the Highway Bridge we slid under it at 64 1/2 feet. The down side of this success was that we couldn't make Wrightsville Beach at Seapath before seven or eight o'clock so we tried a new option, Harbour Village Marina at Mile Marker 267. Easy in, nice protection, we expected a good night's sleep before a simple day of two swing bridges into Sea Path at Wrightsville Beach. Tied for favorite thing about today: Harbour Village Marina, or the huge brown bear we saw running through the marshes about noontime.
We got the sleep we craved, good thing, too. Three hours on the waterway felt much longer today. We had strong winds and our bridge timing was way off. Traffic had been crazy before the Wrightsville Bridge but after that one o'clock opening, hell broke loose! There were three sail and one cruiser under the bridge PLUS at least twenty five small boats, paddle boarders and kaiaks all holding while someone swam across the waterway. Add wind and current and you have a very unsafe situation. The airways were jammed, you couldn't get the Coast Guard to respond and we were really tense. We learned later it was the third annual fundraiser called Swim the Loop (around the island facing our marina.) Thirty minutes later the race ended (apparently this had been going on for hours) and we followed the nonresponsive Coast Guard into our channel and our slip. Enough work for today! No amount of funds could make up for the tragedy that could have happened on the water today. We will protest the poor management of this race on behalf of safe boaters everywhere.