King tides, rain and high winds bring flooding throughout the southeast. We saw some of the worst of it, starting in Southport, NC.
Day 40, 11/23
We woke up on the day after Thanksgiving to a beautiful clear, crisp day, much like Thanksgiving Day had been. The morning temperature was 38, so we were glad we were dockside where we could plug in to have heat (that pesky battle with our diesel hydronic heat, which would provide warmth without a shoreside connection, continues). After our very pleasant Thanksgiving Day, we were ready to continue our trek southbound.
The weather forecast had warnings for coastal flooding. We noted them, but weren’t really aware of what it meant locally until we got the dogs ashore for a walk and discovered the waterfront in Southport was flooding over the wharves and into the parking lot. Hmmm. The flooding was real.
After getting the boat pre-flight checks done and secured for travel, we cast off from Southport Marina, which had been a very pleasant stop, and headed back out into the ICW. More signs of high water: the signage at the entrance to the marina not only showed lingering hurricane damage, but the water level was well up over the lower portions of the sign. It looked like at least three and maybe four feet over normal high tide levels. Food for thought.
This section of the trip down the ICW offered more narrow, winding, shoaling passages, and a lot of private infrastructure that kept us throttling back to no-wake speeds. We are finding this to be one of the frustrating aspects of travel in the ICW. While we don’t typically run fast inside, we do run fast enough to throw a pretty good wake unless we slow to speeds that are…slow.
There were several inlets, — Lockwoods Folly, Shallotte and Little River — that forced us to focus hard on tricky shoaling and complicated twists and turns. We took it easy and had no trouble, but it was tiring at times. One of the challenges to navigating in this electronic/internet age is the sheer volume of information available from countless different sources. It sometimes takes time, and can become quite tedious, to sift through it all and decide which information is relevant, accurate and helpful. Brain exercise.
We continued to see signs of hurricane damage to waterfront property, docks and boats, especially sunken shrimp boats that had not yet been salvaged.
The route took us through the narrow and congested stretch of North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach. This included the infamous “Rock Pile” section, where the waterway is carved through ledge rather than mud, and only the bare minimum width was blasted out so it is very narrow with hard, rocky ledge on both sides. There is not enough room to pass safely if you should encounter any commercial traffic coming in the opposite direction. We were lucky and did not come upon any other vessels, but it was still a stressful section to get through.
We struggled, as we sometimes do, to decide where to stop for the night. We called Osprey Marina, as that seemed a good distance, but surprisingly they were full and could not accommodate us. Plan B was Grand Dunes, and they said yes so that’s where we went. Easy-in, easy-out. That’s often nice to find at the end of a tricky and tiring day. “Grand Dunes” sort of telegraphs the kind of facility it is. We saw no dunes, and it was all modern commercial infrastructure, impersonal, corporate, and high-rise. The restaurant on-site is a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. For us it was simply a convenience stop, not a destination.
The folks at the marina were nice enough and the whole thing was easy and efficient. The one highlight of our visit was meeting Brian on the Flemming 75 Dress Gray. A West Point grad like Bruce’s father, Brian is now in the corporate world and was good fun to chat with. He and Bruce, as well as his guest Charles Beard (probably a distant relation, we all decided), shared much common interest in all things mechanical, so the conversation was entertaining for all of them. A nice encounter in every way.
We spent a quiet evening, and were off early the next day. Making tracks, with worse flooding ahead.