November 2-4, 2017: New Bern to Morehead City to Southport, NC

On November 2 we left the New Bern Grand Marina bound for Morehead City, NC.  We had to leave the marina at a particular time because the Cunningham Bridge is closed from 0630 to 0830 on weekdays with one courtesy opening at 0730.  So we were ready at 0715, circling in the turning basin to make sure we wouldn’t miss the opening.  The sun was just rising as we cleared the bridge and began our day’s travels.

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Looking through the Cunningham bridge while we waited for the opening.

We motored along the Neuse River, waved hi to Oriental as we went past, and then hopped into the ICW at Adams Creek.  Immediately the traffic began.  Between shrimpers, southbound sailboats and motor boats, sport fishers screaming by, and smaller/skiff fishing boats, it was a busy place.  While we never had any shoaling problems, the traffic was a reminder of why we don’t like the ICW.  Everyone is courteous, but it’s just not our scene.

However, we did see a pod of dolphins near the Core Sound Bridge in the ICW.  That’s the first pod we’ve seen on this trip (all three days of it at that point), so we were thrilled.  I always consider them a good omen.

After a lovely day of traveling in sunny but essentially windless conditions, we stayed at the Morehead City Yacht Basin, which is a new marina for us.  While it’s comfortable to keep going to the same places and knowing what to expect, we try to keep branching out and going to new places for us.  Otherwise we’re not exploring, and that’s the whole point of this life for us right now.

I can’t say enough good things about the Morehead City Yacht Basin.  The dockhands are great, and we were able to tie up along a long facing dock.  The floating docks are in great shape, and the marina is clean and orderly.  There’s Valvtect fuel, the free wifi is smoking fast (like you-can-stream-Netflix fast), the bathrooms/shower rooms are spotless, and there’s one washer and dryer.  There’s a nice lounge that’s open during business hours, and they offer a courtesy car that costs $10 for two hours.  It’s also within close walking distance of restaurants and other interesting things.  We only stayed overnight and didn’t do anything more exciting than shower and use the internet, but I would definitely go back.

We spent the afternoon refueling and preparing the boat for the next day.

New Bern to Morehead City was 7 hours for 38.7 nm.

On November 3 we left the Morehead City Yacht Basin and began an overnight offshore journey to Southport, NC, with an arrival the next day.  We motorsailed with the main sail and occasionally the genoa, but the winds were so light that the main sail was simply acting as a steadying sail.  There was a gentle 1-2 foot swell, and the bright sun kept the temperature comfortable.

We were pretty much all alone, as we were travelling about 15-20 miles offshore.  We would occasionally see sport fishers or the infrequent sailboat, but that was pretty much it.  You don’t hear as many vessels hailing each other in the ocean as you do on the ICW, but one call that we heard made us laugh out loud.  On channel 16, someone called “Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, this is <boat name>.  Can I get a copy, Pooh Bear?” I laughed my butt off.

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We weren’t entirely alone in our trip.  I found this little crab hiding under a cushion.  He is the size of my thumbnail.  At first I thought it was a spider and almost had an embolism.

We loved seeing the transition of the water to the deep blue of the ocean.  We ended up taking three-hour watches starting at 1800 hrs, and the off-watch crew slept below in the sea berth we rigged in the salon.  It was soooooo comfortable.

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Would you look at that color? And how about the glassy calm surface.  Yeah, buddy.

We had three notable dolphin sightings, including seeing a pod of at least 100 jumping and thrashing while they rounded up fish and fed.  They formed a huge perimeter around fish in the middle, and then individual dolphins would jump in to get a bite.  Then those dolphins would return to the perimeter and others would go in.  Later in the day, a pod came up and swam next to the boat,  including an adorable little calf.  The Captain was off-watch and napping in the cockpit when that happened, and he’s lucky they were swimming on the other side of the boat, or I would have trampled him to get a better view.  Then finally a few hours later, a pod (including juveniles) came up to the boat, rode our wave, and then moved on.  Seeing dolphins just never gets old.

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More of the never gets old:  sunsets like this.

We had to try hard to slow down on this leg because we were trying to time both leaving Beaufort Inlet and entering the Cape Fear Inlet at slack tide.  The current at the Cape Fear Inlet can be as much as 4 knots, and we didn’t want to be bucking that.  It worked out great, and we kept a steady 4.7 to 5 knot pace with the engine below 2000 rpm.  The moon was almost full and was like a search light all night.  It was also cool seeing the Oak Island Light, which is the lighthouse at the Cape Fear Inlet; seeing (and actively using) a navigational aid like that makes me feel like a part of a nautical tradition that stretches back in time.

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Once the spectacular sunset was over, we got a gorgeous moonrise.

We left Morehead City at 0830 hours and arrived at South Harbour Village Marina in Southport at 0830 hours the next day.   We’ve stayed at South Harbour Village Marina before and liked it, and it did not disappoint this time either.  The dockhands are still super friendly, and the long facing dock for transients makes our life so much easier.  Since we’re leaving tomorrow (November 5) for an offshore overnight trip to Georgetown, SC, the dockhand was nice enough to put us on the end of the dock.  That way we can just peel off without being crowded on both sides by other boats.

Once we arrived, it was time to get ready for tomorrow.  We put diesel in the tank from our jerry jugs and then refilled the jugs.  We also washed the boat; it was covered in salt and bird poop.  (As an aside, the next time a bird poops on this boat, I am going to find the nearest nest and poop in it.  See how YOU like it, you dirty cretins! The world may be your toilet, but NOT my boat.) We also took a much-needed nap and had a nice relaxed dinner of fettucine alfredo and salad.  We’ll definitely be hitting the sack early tonight.

The Morehead City to Southport, NC, leg was 24 hours for 124.1 nm.

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