March 5, 2018 – Snead’s Ferry

Once again it’s time for the early morning check of the issues relative to our planned cruise. After my first cup of coffee I call the Camp Lejeune number for firing rang info and get confirmation that there will not be any range activities today. Since we already know that Brown’s Inlet is clear of shoaling, we decide to call BoatUS to discuss shoaling in New River Inlet once we’re underway. The shoaling info is not required for a go or stay decision, just for safe passage at that location.

Next thing I need to do is pay my bill at the office for Kevin’s work on the dinghy outboard, so I go up to fill up the courtesy car that we borrowed the previous evening, return it and pay my bill. Kevin only charged us for one and one half hours working on the motor and we thought that to be very fair to us.

Our plan is to depart at either the top or bottom of the hour because there’s the Onslow Beach Bridge 16 miles away that only opens at the top or bottom of the hour. So we plan to go 8-9 knots for two hours and be right at the bridge minutes prior to an available opening. So at about 9:30 am we start all preparations for departure including changing the docklines for on-board retrieval and retrieving our shore power cords.

Kailani blows the horn at 10:05 am and we’re off to Snead’s Ferry and Swan Point Marina. This is a short two hour and fifteen minute cruise today but it’s the best marina site for staging our cruise through the Surf City Bridge coming up on the next travel day. Besides, our home is our boat and location really doesn’t matter. Our only commitment is to be in Savannah by April 6th, 2018 so we have plenty of time to cruise.IMG_20180228_115453627_HDR

The water and weather today are very nice for cruising. Seas are calm and winds are negligible as we head southward on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Within 30 minutes we’re entering Camp Lejeune property and home to the Live Fire Range, but as we confirmed earlier this morning, there is no activity today that would constitute a shutdown. We do however see some aerial activity with a VTOL aircraft – Vertical Take-Off and Landing. She’s flying training exercises directly above us as we cross the Camp Lejeune property. She does her take-offs on shore to our starboard (right) side, then circles around above us and returns to the starboard shore for a landing. Then repeats the training exercise again, providing us with our own show.  See following videos- tc

After the VTOL show we safely pass through Brown’s Inlet and shortly thereafter, we can see the Onslow Beach Bridge ahead. It’s 11:05 am and we’re two miles from the bridge, so we’ve timed this one perfectly. When we are within a mile of the bridge, I call the bridge master to request his next opening for a southbound trawler. He confirms he can open at 11:30 am but we must be in position to immediately pass the bridge, if we are one minute late, we’ll be waiting until the 12:00 opening. He’s not being mean or cantankerous, it’s just, them’s the rules and the rules don’t get broken, simple as that. So at 11:23 am we’re waiting in position for the bridge master to start the 11:30 am opening. At 11:28 am he radios that in two minutes he will start the opening process and since it’s a swingbridge, we’re allowed to start our pass before he’s completely open, but the safety of the maneuver is our judgement call. After safely passing thru the bridge, we radio that we’re clear and thank him for the opening.

Our next confrontation will be with the New River Inlet, so Tracy calls BoatUS and asks an available captain to return a call to me so we can discuss the maneuvering strategy for avoiding any shoaling at New River Inlet. We also had timed this cruise to make this crossing at mid-tide. High tide was at 9:45 am and at 12:00 pm we’re still on the high side of mid-tide. Soon my phone is ringing and the BoatUS captain explains to me that the shoaling is not really too much of an issue as long as we stay in the channel and he also suggests that we favor the red buoys side of the channel since any potential shoaling will build from the green buoy side of the inlet. So we feel confident that the crossing of the New River Inlet should be relatively issue-free. Within ten minutes we’re navigating the inlet and favoring the red buoys as suggested and just as quickly, our depth sounder alarm starts beeping. I back her down to idle speed and the water depth continues to decrease until we’re cruising through 4.6 feet of water in a boat that drafts 4.0 feet! Thank you Furuno depth alarm.

Once Kailani is safely through the inlet, we’re looking at our destination for the night, Swan Point Marina. I’m on the radio with Jim and he talks us right onto the dock, ties us up and connects our power cords. There was a little bit of wind out in the ICW but the water and the wind are nice and calm here in the marina. It’s 12:10 pm and we’ve made great time on this short cruise from Swansboro to Snead’s Ferry. There’s plenty of time this afternoons to get some laundry done and enjoy life a bit.

Around 3:30 pm a 42 foot Down Easter pulls in right across the dock from us with John, a transfer captain along with the Owner. I had just completed washing down Kailani of the salt water and I offered him the hose for his boat. As we talked a bit, he brought up the shoaling in the New River Inlet and he was as surprised as we were but he also got through safely with his 4’2” draft and full keel.

Tracy served up some delicious pork chops for dinner, we made reservations for Wrightsville Beach Marina for tomorrow night and our day was coming to a close. We had a good travel day, we were safe, and we were fed. Life’s good!

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