Ocracoke to Morehead City:
We time our departure this morning to exit Silver Lake just after the two car ferries depart. This way we won’t have to worry about meeting the ferry in the narrow and shallow channel. Looks like eight other sailboaters have the same idea. We delay and let the sailboats get out just ahead of us. It should be an easy departure. We recorded our track when we came in the Big Foot Channel so it should be a piece of cake leaving. Exiting Silver Lake, we have a lumpy transit with three foot seas on our beam. It should improve once we get out into the Pamlico Sound and make our turn south. Half way out of Big Foot Channel, we see four shrimp boats trawling. Continuing to follow the four sailboats, we notice the shrimp boats heading towards the channel entrance. Surely they are not coming in now. Yes, they are entering the narrow channel. Their nets are now up but their outriggers are down with their big heavy doors swinging freely. Great! We are now rocking and rolling with three foot swells on our beam, we have a shallow channel to get out, and 4 shrimpers are headed our way with their outriggers out and taking up the entire channel width. The sailboats look like little ants scattering as they go to every which way trying to get out of the path of the approaching shrimpers. No one is talking on the VHF. Looks like we are going to meet them in the worst possible place. You couldn’t have planned this if you tried. We sneak past the first shrimper with a few feet to spare as the second one is now heading right for us. His outriggers barely miss the side of our boat. As we make the dog leg turn around our green buoy, the third shrimper is now directly in our path. We are now 100 yards from each other and on a collision course. If we move any further to our starboard, we will be aground. At the last minute, the shrimper cuts directly in front of us. We make a hard turn to port hoping that we have enough depth over the shoal. There is not room for both of us in the channel. We cross paths within inches of his outriggers. What is this guy doing? That has to be the craziest thing that has ever happened to us. Once out in Pamlico Sound we look back and see that one of the shrimpers has come to a stop. We think he ran aground. That was probably the most dangerous situation we have ever experienced. Why they decided to enter the channel with the nine boats heading out is beyond us. Possibly they just didn’t care. If they had just waited one minute, this situation could have been avoided. We question our actions and ask ourself what we could have done differently. Perhaps we should have turned around but with the seas and narrow channel that too would have been dangerous. We also should have broadcast our intentions on the VHF. Things started happening so quickly that we barely had time to maneuver let alone call on the VHF. They too were not talking on the VHF and probably would not have answered us. Hopefully we will never experience anything like this again.
Arriving at Morehead City Yacht Basin, we see the Krogen 48 SiSu III at the docks. It is great to finally meet Ron and Jan. They shipped their boat from Mexico to the East Coast this spring. We have emailed each other back and forth with boat questions so it is finally nice to spend some face to face time together. A few hours are spent showing them some of our favorite cruising areas of the East Coast. They also share some info of their Pacific Northwest cruising. Docked just behind SiSu III is the Nordic tug Quest. We last saw them in Maine about eight years ago. In the boating world, you never know when you will see an old friend.
Shrimp and scallops from the Ocracoke fish market cap off our day.
Total Miles Today: 66
Total Miles This Year: 2568
Morehead City to Carolina Beach:
Today’s travel takes us out the Beaufort Inlet for an offshore run to Wrightsville Beach. The weather is perfect for our 78 mile run. By going outside we will avoid some of the problem spots on the ICW. SiSu III and Quest follow close behind as we pull away from the docks just before sunrise. Lots of other boaters are headed out enjoying this fine weather. We pass a dredge half way out the channel. We have seen dredges in this channel every year that we pass thru. It is a big ship channel and they do a good job of maintaining the waterway.
We have a great offshore run with only 2 ft. rollers on our stern. While offshore we hear sailboat after sailboat calling Tow Boat US stating they have run aground. I don’t know why anyone would run inside today with this perfect weather window for an easy offshore run. The day is uneventful (always a good thing) and we enter the Masonboro Inlet at Wrightsville Beach. We have another 12 mile run on the ICW to our destination of Carolina Beach. There are several problem areas along this stretch and we are traveling at low tide. We squeak through the shoal areas with only 1 ft. of water under the boat and we are soon attached to mooring ball # 7 at the Carolina Beach mooring field. The engines are shut off at 6:00 PM. We enjoy a wonderful fall sunset in this quiet harbor.
Total Miles Today:92
Total Miles this year: 2660
Carolina Beach to Bald Head Island:
We have a short 19 mile day to our destination of Bald Head Island. We time our departure to arrive at the entrance to Bald Head at 11:30 which is slack current for the entrance into the harbor. The Cape Fear River has up to a four knot current at it’s peak ebb. This makes the entrance into the harbor tricky with a 90 degree side current. That excitement we don’t need and we plan to avoid. Other than navigating around the huge dredge Atlantic, we have an easy trip through the Snows Cut and down the Cape Fear River. IT is soon nestled in her very familiar and comfortable slip A4. We have this slip reserved for the next month while we spend time enjoying this special place.
Total Miles Today:19
Total Miles This Year: 2679