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Passage from North Carolina to South Carolina

Trying to get out of the dockage area of the Joyner Marina at Carolina Beach, N.C. was a “real trip”. As predicted, the wind died down today, but the current through that part of the ICW seems to remain perilous most of the time, even in the dockage area. I was piloting the boat and at one time, I had the wheel turned as much as it would go and the boat was not turning at all because of the extreme current. I had to abort what I was trying to do and change tactics. I got the boat lined up again going down an alley in the dockage area and started in reverse again at full throttle. I backed out into the lane we needed to be in to get out of the marina and put it in forward at full throttle with the wheel completely turned the way we needed to go, and the only reason we didn’t take out a hull on a dock was Gary physically “fended” us off it. I still hit the dock with the stern, but no damage was done to the boat. That is why I was at the wheel. I don’t have the muscles it takes to manage such a task.

After getting out of the dockage area, we had to go to the pump-out station to dump the “head”, thereby fighting the current again. Leaving the dock this time was difficult but not like leaving the dockage area. I clipped the dock again with the stern, but again no damage was done. When the current is so strong  it keeps you pinned against a dock, it’s nearly impossible to pivot the boat away from the dock. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities to practice that maneuver…

We had heard through a friend, who is already in Florida with her boat, that she got word through the Cruiser’s Net that a bridge in the southern North Carolina area was closed due to construction. We really appreciated the heads-up regarding this, because that was exactly where we were traveling today. (Cruisers are really great at networking and helping each other out.) As it turned out, we delightedly found the bridge open when we got to it. (God watches over children and idiots.)

Our next hurdle was a “pontoon bridge”. We’ve never heard of this type of bridge and had no clue how it operated. We timed it right to get to it okay for the hourly opening, but the boat in front of us lagged way behind the boat in front of her, and until the bridge-tender threatened to not wait any longer for us to go through, the boat in front of us did not speed up to get through it in good fashion. After she did speed up, we had to go full throttle and still lagged behind, but the bridge-tender kept it open so we could go through as well. The lesson learned in that experience was: If the boat in front of us is not moving on up to the bridge while awaiting it’s opening, don’t worry about etiquette, and get ourselves up there. In this case, we would have had to wait another hour for the next opening if the bridge-tender decided to close the bridge and not wait for us to get through. (God watches over children and idiots.)

This is how the pontoon bridge operated: The section of the bridge that sits on the pontoon (including the Pilot’s house), swings like a swing bridge only the whole section floats right on top the water. If the wind is over 25 miles an hour, it will not open. Our hunch is, this type of bridge will some day be obsolete; so, we were glad for the experience of going through one. At the site of this pontoon bridge, a new fixed bridge is under construction and is to open in 2010.

Making it through the pontoon bridge (which is in North Carolina) by 4:00 PM, allowed us to arrive at our intended anchorage for the night (in South Carolina), just before it got dark. Actually, it’s almost 6:00 PM and I can still see the shore. When we started this trip on November 4th, it was getting dark right before 5:00 PM. So we are south enough now that we have an extra hour of daylight. We are still not having constantly warm days yet, but it’s warmer here than in Indiana. And, we don’t miss the snow. We are definitely “snowbirds” now.

Thanks again for your e-mails. If I don’t reply right away, know that it’s because we have no cell phone service in whatever area we are in at the time.

Galley slave duties are calling me, so this is all for now.

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