July 03, 2008
Well, we’re into July and it is hot as a firecracker. We’re currently at Myrtle Beach at Dock Holidays Marina (cute name) and proud to be tied up in a slip, and not on the face dock where the crazies will be running up and down the channel making wakes.
We left Harbour Village after spending a layover day there to recover from the Weekend Warriors. We met several nice couples. It so happened that the trawler next to us was also next to us in Beaufort. We had briefly met them, but hadn’t really talked with them. Bill and Barbara live in Hampstead at the Harbour Village and had been to Beaufort on holiday. We spent our last night at cocktail hour talking with them. We cooked the steaks we’d bought in Beaufort for dinner and had a nice evening. We exited our slip with a lot less stress than we entered it and were soon back on the ICW. We had a couple of bridges to go under on our way south with restricted openings. As luck would have it, the tide was with us and was causing us to reach the bridge well before the opening, so we throttled back and tried to time it correctly. We missed, but only by about 10 minutes. The same thing happened with the next bridge. Finally, after another day of small boaters buzzing erratically through the narrow channel, we arrived at the Southport Marina. I felt badly that Bill had to be at the helm the majority of the day, but the water was skinny, and contrary to the forecast, the wind was again on our nose most of the day.
The marina was really nice and close to restaurants. The dockhands were nice and the facilities were in great shape. I quickly headed out to the Laundromat as we really needed clean sheets, towels, and clothes. Unfortunately, I headed out so quickly, I didn’t get a swipe card for the bathrooms/laundry. Fortunately, the office was right there and the young man there lent me his card. Once in the Laundromat, I filled the washer with the sheets and towels and tried the bill changer machine. The red light was on saying the machine was not functioning, so back I go to the dock to get quarters. Then a trek back to put the coins in. Back at the boat, I managed one beer and then took my shower stuff, and with Bill’s help took the rest of the laundry up. I got that in and we both got showers. By the time I finished the shower, the sheets and towels were dry, so back to the boat to make up the V-Berth, always a struggle. Then time to head back and get the two loads of clothes. Bill and I folded the clothes and took them to the boat. Then we walked about three blocks to a restaurant recommended by our Southport friends – Fishy, Fishy. We enjoyed our meal on the deck and walked back in twilight where we soon were in bed.
Bill had called the Sunset Pontoon Bridge earlier to get a report on the opening. The bridge is the only one on the east coast, and is stymied if there is a really low tide, which, naturally with our luck, was happening. We had heard yesterday that the bridge was closed from after the 12:00 opening until around 2:15 because of the extremely low tide. Low tide was around 1:14 the next day and was lower than the day before, so the prediction was that 12:00 opening was “iffy” and closed until 3:00 or thereafter. We knew there was no way we could make the 11:00 opening unless we left shortly after 5:00 a.m., so we opted to start later and be there for the 3:00 opening.
We left Southport around 10:00, bucking the tide as usual for a few miles. The canal was pretty deep, 10-13 feet, so I was able to give Bill a break at the helm for an hour or so. Then we approached Lockwood’s Folly and Bill once again took over. We traversed that pretty easily, but when we got to Shallote Inlet, we ran right through a sand bar – a bump and then a slow forward, but we made it through. Then the tide took over and we were going too fast, so Bill slowed the motor, but still we made it to the pontoon bridge with 40 minutes to spare. The whole trip down we were plagued by small motor boats, kicking up wakes and coming within 10 feet of us, boats pulling floats and skiers weaving in and out of the channel, a million jet skis, and a few kayakers straying into the channel. We had to use the horn more than a few times. Bill said, “Make a note. Never travel on the ICW in North Carolina unless it is winter or very cold.” We anchored before the bridge, and the tender’s best guess was around 3:15 – 3:30. About 10 minutes before 3:00, he said he’d open at 3:00. Just as we were about to pull up the anchor, he came back on the radio to say he had EMS personnel crossing the bridge and wouldn’t be opening after all. Can you believe the luck? Could this possibly happen to us twice? YES. Obviously, they have some rule that once the EMS vehicles cross, the bridge won’t open until they return. Luckily, we hadn’t pulled up the anchor, so we sat for about 55 more minutes until the vehicles had re-crossed the bridge. During this time out, we got confirmation from our real estate agent that the potential buyers for our condo had backed out. Guess this economy is scaring everyone, including us! Finally, a little before 4:00 the bridge tender called and told us to pull the anchor. We did and finally made it through. We breathed a sigh of relief when we passed marker 116 – we were back in South Carolina. However, it seems we have more than our fair share of the wild water wakers and yellow-jacket (buzz, buzz) jet skiers. Of course, we were approaching Myrtle Beach – during the afternoon on the 4th of July week. And, we had one more bridge, but it was open on demand and we passed through easily. Soon, we were turning into our slip, but, even though the dockhand Matt had told me starboard tie, I had put the lines on the port side. I think my brain was scrambled by that time. Bill went as slowly as possible allowing me to change the lines, but we still had another challenging docking.
We are staying here at Myrtle Beach for two nights since we’d arrived so late. We had dinner at the on-site restaurant with a DJ and loud music, but we had a table as far away as possible on the waterfront. We were enjoying our beers when a real estate agent came and stood about 4 feet from our table, facing us, and began discussing her latest real estate transaction in great detail. We asked if she would move somewhere else or turn around. She completely ignored us. Then we asked our waitress to ask her to move, which she did. She said “no,” and continued talking at an increased volume. We asked for the manager and after arguing with him for a minute or two, she finally moved on. It is hard to believe that there are so many rude people who seem to relish causing unhappiness, even when asked politely to discontinue their rude behavior, and it is even harder to believe that we seem to attract them like a magnet! I had a dream about her that night in which she was stalking me!
Today we rode our bikes to the Food Lion for what we hope is our final grocery store trip and Bill is currently at West Marine buying a light fixture, more fuel filters, and a hose for the diesel engine which is leaking. Oh, yes, our motor blower doesn’t work anymore, but the water pump is hanging in there. Thank God for small blessings. Hope everyone has a happy 4th of July. We’ll be starting as early as possible tomorrow to try to get through Myrtle Beach before the crazies get back on the water.