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Wrightsville Beach, NC

Monday

The most important morning thing is coffee. And Bill found his in a small, specialty coffee shop just across the street from the dinghy dock. Then we took a two mile walk across the island and across the draw bridge to the local West Marine store. There, we bought new flares and a baler for the dinghy. We also found towel hangers for the head at a nearby hardware store.

Returning to the anchorage, we found the ice cream shop and determined that Sandy could have their chocolate … so we did! Dinghying back to the boat, we noticed that Dianne and Peter, whom we met in Solomons, had arrived in Pearl, their Bristol 40. We talked and agreed to get together for lunch the following day at South Beach Grill.

Back at the boat, we installed the new towel hangers and settled in for the night. A rainy evening ensued, as predicted, so we decided on a simple dinner aboard and some quiet time, reading.

Tuesday

We awoke to a heavy drizzle which turned into a steady rain most of the day. Lunch at the South Beach Grill with Dianne & Peter was excellent and reasonably priced. Even though it was raining, the four of us walked across the bridge to do some shopping. One of the objectives was a marine consignment shop but we stopped short as the rain increased. We had dinner aboard and settled in for the night.

The first squall arrived about 1:30 am. The wind noise woke us and Bill went out to make sure everything was OK and it was. He wasn’t below for more than two minutes when we heard the crash! Our anchor had suddenly dragged in a wind switch and we’d crashed into the bow of an Island Packet 38, Ministry. Bill moved their spare anchor back onto their bow from our deck. Then, we let out enough anchor line to drift clear of them and deployed a second anchor.

Bill spent the rest of the night in the cockpit making sure we didn’t have a repeat as several more squalls passed through. Sandy couldn’t sleep so she knitted! Although we only saw 45 knots on the anemometer, we heard that winds had peaked closer to 60. Ugh!

Wednesday

About 6:30 am Bill bailed four plus inches of water from the dinghy and did the first civilized thing since the previous evening … he went ashore for coffee and an everything bagel. The morning was bright and clear, with no evidence of the storm the night before. Then it was back to the boat to survey the damage from the water. We lost two lifeline stanchions but there was no other damage to the boat!

We met Jerry & Diana from Ministry who were very calm and collected about the whole affair. They’ve been aboard 4 months and were on their way south from a Canadian Maritimes cruise. Bill & Jerry untangled the anchors from th night before. It turns out ours had caught on theirs so the untangling took a bit of doing.

We decided to chill out another day in Wrightsville Beach, catch up on sleep, and head out the next day. Later that day, Osprey arrived in the anchorage and we caught up with what they’d been doing. We had dinner aboard … burgers, chili and our own fresh frozen corn mixed with canned spinach on the recommendation of Pearl. Delicious!


Wrightsville Beach, NC, to St. James Plantation, Southport, NC
October 30, 2003

Coffee shop for Bill and a walk for Sandy and we were on our way. Another sunny & clear day, but a bit warmer, high 70’s. Our destination was St. James Plantation, just south of Southport and the Cape Fear River. The river has strong currents, but we timed it about right, arriving just before the end of flood tide so that we didn’t have to fight the current.

Arriving at St. James Plantation Marina, we were met by fellow Kick’n Gliders, Tom & Kathy O’Donnell, who are building a home in the Plantation. We entered the Plantation’s marina, fueled the boat, moved it to our assigned slip and showed Tom & Kathy around the boat. Then, it was off to see their home under construction, about half a mile from the marina. The dry wall crew had just arrived, moved their equipment into the house and had completely walled one room by the time we left! The house is spacious, and seems to be beautifully designed. At the rate the dry wall crew is going, we will be able to see the walls in place before we leave!

We then repaired to the house Tom and Kathy are renting, along with all our dirty wash! The two renowned cooks prepared a feast for hungry sailors. Later, we looked at the picture show Bill created for the Kick’n Gliders’ banquet this year. Not much later we were all making our way to bed.


St. James Plantation, Southport, NC
October 31, 2003

Sandy was ferried off for a morning walk with some of Kathy’s friends. It was only 48 F out but later warmed up to 80 F. Sunny and clear …. Again! After breakfast, Kathy returned to work (out of the house), Tom went to a meeting and a round of golf (why else live in a golf community in NC?) and Bill and Sandy went shopping and touring for the day in one of their cars. After touring some of Southport’s waterfront, Sandy went shopping while Bill found a spot on a shaded bench to read.

That evening we went to a local Mexican restaurant with two other St James’ couples living in homes in Tom & Kathy’s new neighborhood. The food was good and plentiful, including a 40 oz draft for Bill! The company was even better!


St. James Plantation, Southport, NC, to Calabash Creek, SC
November 1, 2003

Sandy had her morning walk with Kathy & friends. Then, Tom and Kathy ferried us and our “clean” gear back to the boat, we loaded up and headed back down the ICW. Within an hour or so we heard Osprey call us on the radio, saying they had anchored in a canal just a few miles north of St. James Plantation and were headed to Calabash Creek. While our intended destination was Barefoot Landing, we opted, instead, to join them for the evening.

We caught up with Osprey waiting for the Sunset Bridge to open. This relic bridge is the only one of its type remaining on the ICW. It consists of a barge with a road surface mounted on it that spans the waterway. Every hour it stops automotive traffic and swivels out of the way so that boats may pass. An interesting side note on this bridge is that at times of extra low tides it cannot open because it runs aground in the shallow channel!

We both anchored in the oxbow channel on the land side of the ICW just opposite Little River Inlet. We launched our dinghy to explore the inlet area. We quickly came upon an anchored shrimp trawler who agreed to sell us some fresh shrimp. During the transaction he asked if we also wanted some of the tiny squid that also were caught in the net. We declined, saying we didn’t know how to clean them. His response was to clean, bread and sauté two each of the squid and shrimp. Bill sampled them … delicious. Noticing that the shrimp still had their heads, we also asked the best method to take care of that detail. He said he’d do it … simply pinching the heads off with his fingers! After flash freezing them (to make them easier to peel) and accepting $10 for the 3½ pounds, he bid us farewell.

Returning to the boats, we picked up Bill & Susan to explore the Calabash River. Though we could see no signs of them, we’d heard there were a couple of restaurants upstream. We thought, maybe, we’d find a couple of mom and pop places. Wrong! It turns out there are, perhaps eight substantial restaurants, all specializing in seafood, gift shops and lots of shrimp trawlers and head boats! There’s even a stoplight in the middle of town! We walked the area and returned to the docks to watch as the shrimpers brought a catch in for sale to locals. People lined up with their coolers to carry home their very fresh fish and shrimp. Interesting. Back to the boats for the evening.

Cleaning the shrimp, Bill remarked that he now remembered why he generally only bought large shrimp. Ours were ungraded, a mixture of large, medium and wee little shrimp. Note that it takes just as much effort to peel a small shrimp as it does a large one. Dinner was on board Whistwind tonight. We marinated, sautéed and ate them all along with the salad, rice and melon that Susan and Bill brought with them. An excellent finale to a great day!


Calabash Creek, SC, to Barefoot Landing, N. Myrtle Beach, SC
November 2, 2003

After a beautiful night at anchor, we parted ways, again, with Osprey as they headed to a marina farther south to catch up with one of Bill’s high school buddies. We were headed through “The Rock Pile” to Barefoot Landing, a large resort shopping area with a free dock right along the ICW. The Rock Pile is a narrow section of the ICW with rocky shores rather than the usual mud and sand. Pleasure boaters are leery of meeting commercial tugs and barges along this section as there is little room to pass. Since none seemed to be heading south, we plunged ahead without incident.

Swing Bridge North of Barefoot Landing
Swing Bridge North of Barefoot Landing

Arriving at Barefoot Landing, there was open dock space and we tied right up. It is the custom to raft boats two or more deep along this dock and a few hours later we helped a French Canadian couple tie along side. Truth be, the place is a tourist trap. But that was fine. Sandy walked and Bill found a late breakfast at a Cracker Barrel across the highway. We cruised the shops and mixed with other boaters along the dock. (Creamers may recognize Steve & Carol aboard the Viking 43, Mystery.)

That evening we headed to the happy hour at T-Bonz Gill & Grill with Bill & Mike (a gal) aboard the DeFever 49, Footprints. Steve & Carol were there, too, with Hank, single handing on Armistad. Later Bill and Mike gave us a tour of Footprints … wow! Space to spread out on a very well-built trawler. Nice folks, too!