Thursday, June 19, 2014 (Charleston to Bald Head Island (outside): We are underway, finally. A litany small but consequential failures held us back. The AC system got balky—the worst of the problems—due to plugged raw water hoses. Traveling sans AC is not the end of the world. However, without humidity control everything below decks would get damp and mildewy. The fix was not bad. Marsh Marine came to the rescue and during the repair he found a basic design flaw in the raw water handler. The builders did not control water supply to the five AC units from a single manifold; every plumbing joint became flow restrictive plus the overboard waste connections were made with reducing barbs—5/8 to 3/8 of an inch. Marsh changed all that. With the increased water flow the AC has never been so efficient.
We pulled out this morning at the dawn of a brilliant day, already feverishly hot and humid. The harbor was flat calm but for the wakes of numerous fishermen heading for deep water. We turned toward the northeast and drew an open water rhumb line to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Except for a light chop over long period ocean swells, our passage was smooth a quick. We were docked, fueled, libated, and victualed at the Bald Head Island Marina by 13:30. At the right, Old Baldy, has warned mariners off of the shoals at the southern end of the island for 200 years.
We spent the afternoon tooling around the island in a golf cart. Bald Head is hilly and covered with the typical growth of Virginia pines and marsh grass. The interior of this roughly 4- x 3-mile land mass features a country club and a golf course. The island is girdled by beaches and dunes on all sides.
The marina is well managed. Although completely enclosed it is scoured by southerlies because there is no elevation to the island facing south. High winds make docking especially on the north end of the marina a challenge. If docked on the north side of a dock finger, as we were, expect the lines to creak and groan all night. I softened the annoyance by wrapping the fairleads with towels. On the south side of a dock finger the noise comes from fenders being squeezed between hull and dock.
There are several restaurants to choose from in the marina area. The most recommended is Mojo. Despite many vacant tables the wait was long, the service terrible, and the result hallucious. Who could possibly bugger up a salad! The best restaurant on the island is our galley.
Despite the sketchy eating arrangement we would go back. The island is quite beautiful and not overbuilt. The only access is by ferry or private boat. There are no cars except for police, emergency, and service vehicles.
Friday, June 20, 2014 (Bald Head Island to Morehead City, NC): Last night’s weather featured thunderstorms and lightening shows. NOAA weather, our “gumint” weather forecaster foretold of evil portents. We made a plan to do the run to Morehead City in the ICW with a substantial trawler, Ragtime II, captained by Rick Graham from Somewhere, Florida, and Boston, Massachusetts.
Daybreak today was fair with a cloud bank out to sea. NOAA advertised 3- to 5-footers offshore, which means 8-footers, most of the time. The ICW was dead calm and easily negotiable in the ripping currents of the Cape Fear River and tributaries, that is until we ran out of tide. Then, typical of our friends in the USCoE, they forgot to dredge critical places. We rang up Towboat US for some local knowledge when we were coming into Wrightsville Beach. Wouldn’t you know it? The open sea featured 0- to 1-foot over short period swells. We bolted for Masonboro Inlet and got out of the ditch and all of the brain damage that implies. The run up to Beaufort ship channel and Morehead was quick and comfortable, not a cloud in the sky. Once again, we were fueled and docked by 12:30.Ragtime II stayed out too but, at 10 knots of cruising speed, got hammered by late afternoon thunder squalls. The only benefit to the squalls is that Mother Nature does the washing of the caked salt from hull and fittings.
Morehead City is not the garden spot of North Carolina. The marina staff at the yacht basin was very helpful. They have a convenience vehicle, ten dollars for 2 hours, plenty to get the feel of Morehead City. Beaufort Town docks are desirable because downtown Beaufort is quaint and lives. Diesel at $3.48 per gallon at Morehead City is hard to pass up. Next stop Dowry Creek on the Pungo River.