Holden Beach (Mile 283 ICW)

Melvyn Brown
Fri 3 Dec 2010 19:23

34:13.0 N 78: 15.6W


We ended up spending an extra day at the marina at Hampstead near Surf City.  Rain was forecast ‘until lunchtime’ (Michael Fish eat-your-heart-out) and frankly we are not used to that!  Fortunately the tornadoes didn’t make it as far as Hampstead.  Melv got chatting to a live-aboard sailor and they compared notes about wind vanes and interesting stuff like that and it came up in conversation that the nearest grocery store was about 4/5 miles away (we had intended setting out on a sortie once the threat of rain had past at noon) but that his wife had a car and would give us a lift over in the afternoon.  It was quite surprising to leave the confines of the marina and find there was an entire world beyond, complete with heavy traffic, rushing here and there.


If it’s any consolation to those of you snowed in, there was ice on the deck on Wednesday morning (2nd Dec).


There wasn’t much choice of either marina or anchorages on the next stretch and so on Thursday we had a short day’s motoring to Wrightsville and an expensive ($2.25 per ft) marina.  Arriving in the morning gave me a chance to do the washing (I swear I’m going to write a book called “Laundrettes on the ICW”).  As the first transient to arrive we were at the far end of the dock, a Sunseeker-type motor boat arrived after us, then a tug, both of which dwarfed Zarafina and then a – wait for it – 110ft motor boat which dwarfed both of them!!  Apparently, a boat that size can take about 1,000 gallons to fill at a cost of $3,000.  With twin engines some monsters can get through 100 gallons an hour.  Coincidentally the lady who gave us a lift in Hampstead was saying how many Americans are simply in denial about climate change….!


We got up early and donned our thermals for a long day’s motoring to Holden Beach.  To give you a flavour of the properties along the banks here is a photograph of a fairly typical house.


The thing is there is so much evidence of bank erosion I wonder that (a) people build houses so close to the water’s edge (b) any mortgage company is prepared to lend the money and (c) any insurance company is prepared to insure it.  Many have a solid wall (as the one in the photograph) but if the banks either side are washed away the best they can hope for is they end up on their own island.


I should say many of them are on stilts, or with the garage underneath, but I can’t think that is going to help in the longer term.





Each house is different, although a flight of steps up to the 1st (or 2nd as the Americans would say, not having the concept of Ground Floor), columns, verandas and an eyrie at the very top all seem in vogue.  If there is such a thing as a planning committee, they must be fairly liberal because here is another example we passed en route.














We passed one with a huge swan ornament (which I first took it to be an upside down dinghy) – complete with flagpole on its back flying the stars and stripes.  A little further on we spotted something which trumped a swan in the front garden, and did cause us to do a double take.


Holden Beach is one of several places along the ICW where there is an exit to the Atlantic Ocean and there are a lot of commercial fishing boats and seafood warehouses along both sides of the ICW.











There wasn’t a lot of choice as regards marinas, and no suitable anchorage, but when I spoke to the only marina they were very doubtful about the fact the draft was 6ft but thought it might be just be feasible at high tide.  When we arrived it was far from high tide and we were in a bit of a quandary but then spotted a rough-and-ready dock with a sign offering an overnight berth, along with a telephone number.  We had to turn the boat around to go back and read the number(!) and Melv rang the owner who said he was out of town and we could stay for free.  All this meant we had gone past the dock and so another turn was called for.  Then a fisherman shouted out from a nearby commercial fishing dock that we could tie up there and the offer of their help to catch the ropes was the clincher.  The owner of Star Seafood came out along with three of his staff to see us onto the dock and have a chat.


They all left in one of the trawlers about 6 o’clock that evening (with the temperatures forecast to be below freezing) and weren’t back when we left next morning.