|A brief stop at Carolina Beach|
Leaving Carolina Beach it was a short 12 mile trip to Wrightsville Beach with a few hairy moments in the Motts Channel as we made our way up at low tide. We had arranged to meet some old cruising buddies from the Caribbean who we had not seen in three years and live in North Carolina. Jim, Linda and Jennifer from SV Opus drove down to meet us, we had a fab reunion lunch at King Neptune’s in town where they introduced us to our first grits - truly delicious served with the local shrimp. Linda had to go back home later that day but Jim and Jennifer stayed with us and helped us take Wandering Star 70 miles up to Beaufort NC, via the ocean. It was a long day getting up at the crack of dawn, at first we didn’t think the wind would co-operate as we motored the first 20 miles but the wind filled in with the sea breeze later that afternoon and Wandering Star took off, quickly clocking off the miles. We heard a bang, bang, bang from a nearby plane – guessing it was some kind of anti missile practice. This area is known for its military training. That night we anchored right by the coastguard station just inside Beaufort inlet, not mentioned on any charts or guidebooks but a good place to stop as long as there is no northerly component to the wind.
|Sim, Linda, Jim and Jennifer|
It was up again early the following morning wiping sleep from our tired eyes as we lifted anchored. Bock Marine is a boatyard that Sim had wanted to check out along Core Creek for our impending haul out. The currents are strong and there is no place to anchor in the narrow river so we went alongside to take a look around. The place seemed laid back yet efficient – just the kind of thing we were looking for......and we have looked at many yards. They can deal with our steel work, will let us DIY and have nice clean lounge and shower facilities. Happy with what we found, as to be honest we are tired of constantly moving and weren’t relishing the thought of continuing up to the Chesapeake, it was time to leave again to meet Linda in Oriental where they keep their boat sv Opus. Only we couldn’t get off the dock with the strong currents and wind blowing us on. We did eventually move but had to wait for the tide to ease. I have to say it was a fraught day for me. I do not like the anticipation of bad weather but not only had our weather man forecasted winds in squalls the strength of hurricanes but some toothless local was also lamenting the bad weather to come. I dislike turning up at the end of a day trying to find somewhere to anchor in deteriorating conditions. Plus if we wanted to do any kind of entertaining with our friends we needed our boat to be safely secured. We had hoped to get on the town dock at Oriental but when we arrived it was already taken. There was one other dock available but the depth of water was dubious – the guide book and the guys both thought it would be ok and by this point it gusting 30kts from behind, we had little choice but to give it a go. Even though Oriental barely has a rise and fall of tide, unbeknown to us it has a phenomenon known as a wind tide. Its the first time we heard about this, apparently in SW winds the tide blows out and in NE it blows in. Sure enough we had a strong SW wind and the tide was down well over a foot. Wandering Star sank into the mud 3 or 4 ft away from the dock. People gathered around shouting their instructions including one helpful lady who told us to leave as other boats wouldn’t be able to get out. No chance of that! We managed to winch ourselves closer to the dock (probably sinking our wing keel further into the mud). Safely secured and seeing as we weren’t going anywhere we went out for pizza and a glass of wine with our friends.
|Didn't quite make it all the way to the dock!|
Oriental on the Neuse River is a neat little town popular among boaters. They have two free docks, accommodating four boats - though you'd want to make sure you have enough water on the old dock! You can check out the town dock web cam to see if space is available. It has a great coffee shop "The Bean" right across from the dock. A marine shop, a marine consignment shop, supermarkets, gift shops, restaurants and lots of real estate agents – apparently it’s a popular place to stay. And it also has dragons. Originally being conceived as a way to celebrate New Year over 40 years ago – this is the oriental after all, dragons have worked their way into the everyday and you can find them scatted about town. If you look very hard you might even find their eggs.We have had a fun few days with our friends from SV Opus, days out at the Aurora fossil museum hunting for (our first) sharks teeth from the Miocene age in their sandpit donated from the local phosphate mine. They introduced us to our first biscuits (American style savoury scone type things) and made delicious dinners on board with corn on the cob and tasty burgers and masses of meatballs. Our waistlines have done some serious expanding! They kindly took us shopping in their car – a real help when everything is so far apart in America. When the wind changed direction the tide flooded back in and Wandering Star was floating again. We took both boats up to Broad Creek for a night at anchor and a last celebration before we waved farewell to them the next morning.
|Dragons in Oriental|
|SV Opus - Broad Creek|
We have a few days until we haul out, already we have taken the genoa down and shortly the staysail. We’ll make the final preparations and a couple of days of rest before we sink our teeth into "Project Boatyard".
Jim driving Wandering Star while we all chill out
Taking it easy while sailing from Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort,NC
Jennifer and I chill out in the shade
Ali finally stops hissing at Jennifer
Linda and Jennifer in Oriental
Dragon in the pond opposite the town dock
Dragons eggs about town
Wandering Star alongside the shrimp boats
Linda and Jennifer on Opus
Jim and Jennifer on Opus - we had a delicious BBQ with them
Braidy and Jennifer
Sun setting on Broad Creek
25ft Opus spent three years in the Caribbean