The Adventure Begins

The Adventure Begins
Skinny Dippin'

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cruise to Georgetown SC April 2011

We are just home from a week’s cruise down the Intracoastal Waterway!! It was an amazing trip from Carolina Beach NC to Georgetown, SC and back again in six days. We actually left a day later than planned to avoid the predicted storms on April 16th and we are really glad we did. The largest tornado outbreak in NC history happened that day. We were really lucky. We were on the boat at Carolina Beach. I was able to practice my full hurricane tie, simply for the practice and to inspect all of my spare lines for the first time this season. As storm cell came towards us on the boat, it split in two and went around us. Whew!

We began our cruise Sunday April 17th. We left Joyner Marina at first light - or 8am. The winds and river were incredibly calm considering the storms that blew through the day before. We caught the outgoing tide and were making 11kts down the Cape Fear -WooHoo!! Our plan for today is a 52 mile cruise to North Myrtle Beach. We’ll be passing several inlets along the way, the most notable would be Shallotte’s inlet. We’ve renamed it “Shallows” inlet. Definitely favor the greens going through here.

Sunday night, we had reservations at the Harborgate Marina, located right at the Little River swing bridge. This is a great little marina with full length finger piers on both sides. Nice floating docks and experienced dockhands. Anita was working the office and had a bag of gifts ready for us! A beach ball, baseball cap, Frisbee and beer huggies! All this and at only $1.25 a foot! There is a restaurant named “Filet’s” right there at the marina, with indoor and outdoor seating…nice view of the waterway and pretty good sushi too!


Monday, April 18th had us cruising through the notorious “Rockpile” on our way to Georgetown. Today would be a 62 mile journey, and Tom will not relax until we make it through the Rockpile stretch! We didn’t see a single rock on this passage…not a one. The waterway passing Myrtle Beach is as you would expect….some of it was natural or golf courses and some of it could have been highway 17 with all the billboards! We passed Bill and Margaret on Margarita shortly after going through the Swing Bridge. They were coming back from their winter in the Bahamas. (soo jealous)

The Waccamaw River was amazing….stunningly beautiful. You find yourself totally engulfed in parkland on both sides of the waterway. The Spanish Moss covered Cypress trees grow right out of the water. The flat calm water and the tree lined edges made it look like we were cruising in the biyeau. We saw tons and tons of Osprey and even one Bald Eagle. There are several good anchorage spots along here, but no where to pee the dog! As the Waccamaw River joined up with the Pee Dee River, the water changed into a pretty strong head sea. Skinny Dippin’s bow was bouncing out of the water and she was ringing her own bell. It reminded both of us of turning the corner at Minnesott Point on the Neuse River going towards Oriental! (no pictures of the rolly's sorry!) 

We arrived at Harbourwalk Marina in Georgetown about 2pm.Chris is the Dockmaster here. He’s got nice new floating docks and super clean restrooms. Harbourwalk also sports a nice big front porch over looking the harbor. It’s early enough to jump on the bikes for a quick tour of old town Georgetown and a stop at the Food Lion for some Fat Tires!!

We had dinner at the Big Tuna and drinks on the rooftop at Buzz’s Roost. Dusk brought with it swarms of no-see-ums, although they were very large and we could very easily see-um. Georgetown is definitely worth a stop. Lots of little shops within walking distance to the marina. There is also lots of room to anchor in the harbor here, if you prefer.

Tuesday morning we got a slow start on purpose. We were only going 30 miles today, back up the Waccamaw to the Osprey Marina. This was on our itinerary only because of all the great reviews posted online. All reviews were absolutely correct. The staff was extremely friendly and accommodating. They also do a gift bag, with cheese and crackers, dog treats, and beer huggies! Osprey has a fabulous front porch and a little grill. We ate on the boat, after another bike ride to the Food Lion. It’s funny how you run out of mustard and relish just in time for hot dogs. The Food Lion was about three miles away….not a bad ride, but not one for the faint of heart. The roads were busy and very little shoulder area to ride on. But the traffic seemed to be very friendly to bikers.

We so enjoyed our day at Osprey and thought about staying an extra day. The marina is full of super friendly boaters and cruisers, and we could stay and listen to stories for days and days, but we decide to press on back to Myrtle Beach. We fueled up at the Osprey and Tom changed the fuel filters. This left us without any spares, so we decide to go to Doc Holidays today, because it’s ½ mile from the West Marine. On our way back up, we definitely see the notorious rock ledges. The rocks really do come all the way out to the channel markers on both sides, starting at marker 18 going north all the way to Myrtle Beach proper!!

We pull into Doc Holidays, he gives us a face dock on the ICW even after we requested a real slip. No gift baskets here., no dockhands. A guy who keeps his center console there grabbed our lines as the dockmaster comes around the corner. We get tied up and walk over to West Marine for spare filters. Then we tell the dock master we’re leaving. We’re not comfortable on the face dock and frankly he’s more expensive than back up at Harborgate. He was a little confrontational about our wanting to leave, which made us want to leave even faster. So we did….Tom called up Anita at the Harborgate, and she had the same slip we had the other day available for us. We’re in! We shove off and go just a half a mile or so to where we know we’ll be comfortable. Tonight we’ll eat at Captain Poo’s biker bar that was right next door. Fun…and within walking distance.

Thursday we decide to leave so we’ll catch Shallottes Inlet at high tide. That has us leaving at 930am. We have another perfect weather day. Little wind, calm water and the temps have really warmed up. Summer is here! We are staying in Southport tonight. Southport Marina is only 15 miles from our home marina in Carolina Beach, but we don’t want vacation to end just yet. The weather is forecasting for high winds and possible storms tonight and we don’t want to get caught in the Cape Fear if one decides to blow in. Friday is forecasted for 20% chance of rain….and with only 15 miles to go, we can wait all day and still make it home.

Southport is a sleepy little tourist fishing village. Lots of marine history here. We had a fabulous dinner at Mr P’s before settling in for the evening. The winds were howling at 25-30kts, but no rain or storms came with it. I got up several times this evening to check our lines and make sure Skinny Dippin’ is safe.
Friday dawned overcast and still windy. Although the buoys were reporting only 10kts sustained with gusts to 20. The tide was coming in at 8am, high tide was at noon-ish. All morning the wind was opposite the tide, which would make for a very ugly cruise up the Cape Fear. So we waited for the tide to turn and with the wind and the tide in the same direction, the river would flatten out. It worked, but then it started to rain. So we motored in the rain against the tide and the current and made it home at 430 Friday afternoon.

This week’s cruise was totally awesome. It’s almost difficult to put into words the beauty of our coast and the joy of being on the water with my best friend. Tom and I are really learning so much about boating, about weather and about each other. We are communicating better than ever and have become a great team. If we continue to grow in skills and experience, I can totally see us being a delivery team in the future. We are enjoying the actual cruise as much, if not more than the destinations. Cruising is being totally immersed in nature….living in this moment….making memories that will last a lifetime.

This was a week that has left us both looking forward to the next cruise adventure. We’ll spend the summer on the water doing little projects and reporting those as they happen. Our next big cruise will most likely be back to the Neuse River for Hurricane Season. After that, I look forward to planning cruises to Ocracoke, The Pamlico River and the Carolina Loop! While we envy those who can cruise long distances and for months or years at a time….we’re also learning that cruising close to home is a wonderful way to spend time on the water enjoying each other’s company and reveling in the beauty of Coastal Carolina.

Fair winds and calm seas!

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