36. Spooners Creek to N Myrtle Beach

The next travel segment is a relatively long one without many ports/marinas midway to break it up. Along the way there are two bridges which will require opening and the Camp LeJune firing range any of which can create a delay. Further there are some shallow areas which the US Corps of Engineers survey shows as having shoaled even more due to Dorian. So the segment is long in distance and potentially even longer that normal in transit time. Tropical Storm Nestor is out in the Gulf and is expected to cross N FL, GA, SC before exiting to the Atlantic from NC. Winds for the upcoming weekend are consistently forecasted to be gale force for the Atlantic cast along with heavy rain. The forecast is for calm conditions come Monday. With that forecast I don’t want to anchor somewhere but rather wait it out tied up in a sheltered marina. So the choice is to stay north near the southern end of the Outer Banks or make a quick run south to Myrtle Beach area. Opted to go to Myrtle Beach to wait out the weather and am breaking the trip into three legs. The total distance would be 125 nm but not easily divided into equal or near equal segments.

So I decided that Thursday would be a short run of 17nm from Spooner Creek to Swansboro (technically Cedar Point). It would at least make Friday’s long run bearable. I got a reservation at city run, unattended Church St Dock located across from the inlet to the ocean. I was told by the person at city hall that I would side tie on the T head face dock.

There was a ripping current out to the ocean inlet. The current ran parallel with the dock while the wind was heavy directly away from and perpendicular to the dock. Being at a face dock, there were no poles or finger piers on the ‘other’ side of the boat to ‘lean’ up against and towards the open side was heavy shocking. Tie was by means of cleats mounted low on the dock and of course no one around to catch a line. Between the current pushing me down the dock and the wind pushing me away from the dock and missed attempts to lasso or drop a line around a cleat, it took 3 tries to secure a midship line and hold the boat in place while securing a second line. But happily I’m got all tied up, fenders in place and power working so all is well and leg 1 of this segment was finished.

Breezy at dock
Not all the dock damage from H Matthew has been repaired yet. Posts still bent over. Dock trash including power pedestals.
Dock pier to nowhere
“All Alone Am I”

Friday was a relatively early start to a long travel day of 71.5 nm (82 statute miles). I opted to shorten the upcoming Saturday segment by bypassing a stop at Wrightsville Beach and continuing to Southport NC on the Cape Fear River. I got a slip at Deep Point Marina which shared a basin with a major ferry service to neighboring Bald Head Island, a very touristy place. Think Mac Island or Jekyll Island with no cars on the island. Nice marina. I think there are 4 ferry boats running out of the basin with one docking or leaving every 20 minutes. So there was plenty to watch..

One of the ferries taking on passengers from the terminal bldg.
Photo of Last Resort at Deep Point Marina taken from the ferry terminal bldg.

Left Deep Point Marina Saturday morning hoping to beat the rain to N Myrtle Beach. About 8 nm before MB I had an interesting experience. One of the pieces of advice frequently preached to boaters in an unfamiliar area is ‘to seek local knowledge’. I was approaching an inlet area called Lockwoods Folly, known for extensive shoaling. I had updated my chartplotter with a new, month or so old, US Army Corps of Engineers chart of their sounding of the area and it showed a large area of new shoaling on the starboard side (as you head south). I saw in front of me a commercial shrimp boat. “Why is it going so slow? What’s it doing?” I wondered. as I gingerly picked my way past, I saw that it was stopped and the deck hands were just wandering topside. They were grounded and either waiting for a tow (doubtful) or for incoming tide (a rising tide lifts all boats). So much for local knowledge. I wish I had gotten a pic but I was busy.

USACE Chart view of Lockwoods Folly. Blue is good deep 10-15’ water. Green is more shallow and yellow shallower still. Red is danger —- shoals —- water too shallow for me to transit. The solid red line with numbers is the plotted route through and the dotted blue line is the boat’s actual course through. The black box is the info on the segment track which is shown to be created Oct 17th (T[rack] 10_17_19). Note the placement of the day markers and buoys – Green 47 and 47a and Red 46a and 46b. Normally you would run the boat on a route that goes between the red and green marks. If one followed the marked channel, the boat would come to a major jolting stop as it grounded as the sand and mud has been shifted into the marked channel by the winds and current. The route through here earlier in the summer was basically a straight line. The Corps soundings are very helpful! Areas like this slow travel speeds and increase stress levels.

I had hoped to get reservations at Osprey Marina on the south side of MB but they were full with southbound boating snowbirds waiting out the storm. After a bit of a scramble, I reserved a slip at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club – actually just over the border in Little River SC. Interestingly to me, I had taken my motor home here in Dec ‘18 to look at a boat in this very marina. Anyway, the Yacht Club is located at the far end in Coquina Basin along with a couple other marinas and you pass by lots of docks and boats to get to the slip. Tied up just before 1 pm and the rain started 15 minutes later. No wind yet though. That’s supposed to blow in during the night hours. Plan on staying warm and dry tomorrow until the storm leaves, hopefully, late afternoon.

Early Sunday morning, 1:30 am, my iPhone started shrieking. Tornado warning! It was a strange warning – only for 1/2 hour and for 1/2 county. The half where I was. Not a lot of choices. Marina offices etc closed not that their bldgs looked like they’d withstand a tornado. So I got up and went up to the Pilothouse where I could sit and have a wide open view to the south and west. During that half hour only minimal rain and no thunder/lightening. When the warning expired, I headed back to bed. Later on Sunday I heard there was a touchdown in N Myrtle Bch damaging 4 homes. During the day saw nothing resembling gale force winds or winds, for that matter. Maybe 10 mph. It was a very grey, light rain and lots of drizzle day. So not nice and good day to be inside.

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