Saturday, November 5, 2016

Putting Away Those North Carolina Bridges

It may seem repetitive to nonsailors, but we are preoccupied with those bridges on the ICW. The air draft under a bridge can be influenced by tides and/or winds, full moons and the wake of other boats. Just because Catalina has promoted our model with a 63'10" mast as Intercoastal friendly doesn't mean it is. The Army Core of Engineers never dreamt we would all crave bigger, taller vessels when they set that 65' standard. Time and settling have reduced some bridges, like the one we pass under tomorrow, to 64' in the best of circumstances. Now there is also the excess rainwater backlog from Hurricane Matthew that is flowing out to sea to add to our planning. 

We pushed really hard to get to River Dunes in North Carolina so we took two days to rest. It was a nice visit with other travelers and a pair of 80 degree days to renew our spirits. The restaurant offered a simple but delicious mariners supper for $15 that we didn't pass up. It gave us a chance to network and relax in their stunning clubhouse. 

When we did leave, we timed our late day departure to manage Core Creek Bridge just before Beaufort. We love this town and Beaufort Grocery and Blue Moon Bistro restaurants so the fact we stayed four days to stage for the next bridge was not a hardship for us! We took a ferry ride over to Shakleford Bank for the afternoon to do some shelling and enjoy the last day over 80 degrees with all the sunshine you'd expect on the Crystal Coast. Since the hurricane, the wild horses have been hiding and sure enough, we did not see any here or on Carrot Island either. Our souvenir from this stop is new custom sheets for the forward cabin compliments of Beaufort Linen Company on Main Street- beautiful and highly recommended. The shop is as adorable as the couple, Christina and Richie, who own it. 

Today we played the tides under the Atlantic Bridge just after we left Beaufort. A 7:30 departure took us under it at low tide, all we needed. It felt strange to be tied up at Dudley's Marina in Swansboro by eleven, and tied up in 15-20 knot winds, but it's all about the staging for tomorrow and not feeling beaten up by long days. Our only real stress today was the flotilla of small fishing boats in the channel and under the Emerald Isle Bridge. They are anchored and do not move, like we are able to maneuver a sailboat quickly! Caution if you travel this way (mm 226) on the weekends. 

For those of you monitoring hurricane damage, or for those of you who dislike Brown and Bear Inlets, we can share that all markers are back on station. We are leaving here at a reasonable hour to take those at high tide and still approach the U. S. Highway 210 Bridge, (milemarker 252.3, and just 64') at mid tide falling. We invested in large water jugs to fill and swing from a halyard off the bow in addition to all of our other tricks to lean Promise just a few more degrees. Fingers crossed, sailors. We are off to Harbor Village and then Wrightsville Beach for two days. The weather keeps holding though it's chilly, and setting clocks back tonight buys us an extra hour of daylight to keep on checking off those bridges each day.