20-29th Nov 2011- Wintery ICW down to Beaufort NC

Tue 29 Nov 2011 14:09
After all the thrills of our departure from Great Bridge, we had a fairly uneventful motor sail for 11 hours and 63nm to our overnight anchorage at East Lake, just south of the Albemarle Sound.  We arrived as the sun was setting and the temperature started to drop very quickly, so it wasn’t long before we were both down below to the warmth of the Webasto heating and a hot meal.
This vulture captured in flight on our way down the ICW
The next day, another early start (0730) , but the air was noticeably warmer than the previous morning.  The wind was blowing SE 10-15 knots, which was creating short wavelets as we headed down the Alligator River.  However, as we followed the channel markers toward the Canal, Nimue’s echo sounder was showing zero under the keel and within seconds we felt Nimue jolt in the soft mud.  Undeterred, Michael just kept the engine revs up (as we had been advised by many fellow American sailors) and for the next couple of minutes, we ploughed our way through the mud.   We  soon realised that we were just a couple of feet out the channel, which makes all the difference in the ICW!  After a long motor down the Canal to the Wilkerson Bridge (the bridge our mast ariel touched on our way north), we could see by the bridge clearance markers displaying 65ft, which we knew would give us sufficient room to safely pass underneath; which of course we did!
With gale force winds expected in the next few days, we had decided to head for an anchorage in Belhaven, which although not particularly sheltered gave bags of swinging room for both Nimue and Scott Free.  We took the dinghy ashore before the arrival of the bad weather, but it was very sad to see the devastation that Hurricane Irene had done to Belhaven.  The waters had breached a lot of the town and as a consequence many of the shops had shut and had not yet re-opened.   As the launderette in town was closed to due flood damage, we took the dinghy to River Bay marina and managed to find what could only be described as a room full of antiquated washing machines and driers!  Again the whole place looked in need of some renovation, but at least we managed to get some clean clothes.
Some of the more ‘well to do’ properties on the shores of Belhaven
The strong winds came as forecast and we had 20-30 knots blowing through the anchorage all day.
The storm approaches Belhaven anchorage, followed by sheets of rain!
Michael on deck fixing another line to secure the anchor
The storm clears over River Bay Marina
Another beautiful sunset!
By the following day the wind had subsided to 10-15 knots, so we headed out across the Pimlico River.  It was at this point that we noticed that the wind speed/direction instrument wasn’t working, so it was back to looking up at the wind indicator at the top of the mast.  Another 7 hour and 41nm later we arrived in Oriental and anchored in the tiny anchorage with just 0.6m under the keel.  Celebrations for Thanksgiving Day (24th Nov) were underway, but there was ‘no room at the inn’ for the 4 of us!  No worries, as we ended up back on Nimue for a turkey meal (oh I forgot to mention it was turkey mince).  We spent the next day chilling out in Oriental going to our favourite coffee shop for breakfast.
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‘The Bean’ coffee shop in Oriental and Michael and Steve at the top of the dinghy dock
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Having a play and this is not washing hanging out to dry;- it’s the entrance to a gift shop/come canvas maker!
Nimue at anchor in the tiny anchorage and a couple of smart fishing boats in the dock opposite
With just a short 24nm trip down to Beaufort the next day, we had time to fill up with water and diesel before dropping off to anchor in the Taylors Creek.


Reluctant Michael puts on his SF50!

Again, one of the casualties of Hurricane Irene
A deer swimming to get out of the way of Nimue coming down the ICW


Beaufort and the Taylor Creek anchorage

The dinghy dock (above) and the marina (right)