Waccamaw River, SC

Typical shoreline along the Waccamaw River, SC

Spectacular, breathtaking, beautiful, winding, inspiring, ever changing…that is the Waccamaw River south of Myrtle Beach, SC. This is our second time passing through here and it is more beautiful than I recall. I shot 140 pictures today in the river and none are as beautiful as I saw it. Either I need a better camera or I need a better memory, because one of these is off. Refusing to exit this fantastic river valley, we pulled over behind Butler Island and dropped our anchor just 8 miles short Georgetown, SC. Tomorrow we will leisurely meander our way down to Georgetown in the AM and explore that town where we will connect with family vacationing in the area.

Only in Myrtle Beach would you have gondolas carts taking golfers
from one side of the ICW to the other!
Grissom Parkway Bridge, Myrtle Beach and the ICW…beautiful
Typical home on the waterway at Myrtle Beach, SC
OH NO….barge traffic meeting at the bridge, he told us to keep on
and pass him to starboard…OK!
Same barge filling the entire bridge opening that we just passed
Myrtle Beach golfers along the waterway
Yachts lined up and passing through the Socastee Swing Bridge
This bridge is now on the National Historic Register and will be preserved forever
Socastee Bridge swinging closed behind us, very interesting process
Waccamaw River navigation aids
Our good friends Eric and Patricia on Cutter Loosen avigate the turns of the Waccamaw river
Endless beauty…
Spanish Moss hanging in the trees

Fantastic day running down the river valley and also a great stay at Barefoot Landing. Life is so easy, so peaceful, and so much fun when traveling the Intracoastal Waterway, especially with good friends. Island Spirit and Cutter Loose are two happy boats….

Myrtle Beach, SC Milestones

The ship that pushed us out of the channel
and pushed Cutter Loose aground

 Another beautiful day on the ICW – sunny, warm, with clear skies and interesting scenery. There were beautiful homes (many, many for sale) dilapidated docks, winding turns, and ocean inlets, some navigable, some not.  Some exciting moments were two floating casinos and a barge passing us northbound. It felt like these huge vessels took up all of the waterway. We docked at Barefoot Landing Marina, adjacent to an enormous shopping center  The best part of the day was dinner ashore with friends – see the happy photo below!

Milestones:
     500 miles since leaving Rock Hall, MD
     Mile Marker 353, halfway from Norfolk to St. Mary’s,GA, our Thanksgiving destination
     Crossed into South Carolina
     Thursday will be our 20th day on the water

Pelican convention on a dock
Holden Beach Fishing boat
Fun with color and photography, Holden Beach

Island Spirit at the Barefoot Landing Dock, Myrtle Beach
Local resident, Myrtle Beach preparing for winter
Required ice cream stop…can’t resist
90 footer docking behind and over Island Spirit
Island Spirit under the bow of a 90 footer
Dinner visit with good friends Debbie and John

Next stop….the beautiful Wacamaw River Valley and then Georgetown.

Southport, NC

Hayden, Patricia, Eric, Radeen, Jeff and Sandy
Team Island Packet Owners meet at the Causeway Diner

After a quick stop in Wrightsville Beach, NC and a breakfast gathering with Jeff and Sandy, IP380 Xperience owners Bahamas bound, we ran an easy leg today of 27 miles from Wrightsville Beach to Southport, NC where we always turn into Dutchman Creek and drop anchor. This creek is big enough for 3 to 4 yachts and lucky for us, we had it all to ourselves with our buddy boat Cutter Loose. With an Island Packet 35 and an Island Packet 460 anchored, we have called the creek CLOSED to more vessels. It is narrow, and we dropped anchor in 8 feet of water in mid creek. Your bow will point into the current as the tide floods and ebbs. Obviously the current runs in and out of the creek so your boat will face one or the other direction. Tides are 4 feet so at low we may be in the mud but that is OK. We will depart at 6:30 AM and that is also high tide, so we are good to go.

Tonight we will drop the tender and motor over to Cutter Loose where we will share a fantastic meal and some fine wine as Eric and Patricia are fantastic chefs and always make beautiful meals. Tomorrow we plan another easy run of only 43 miles to Myrtle Beach where we will take a dock at Barefoot Landing and enjoy the OUTLET SHOPS and restaurants! Where else can you dock your boat to an outlet mall? Should be fun….

Island Spirit and Cutter Loose at anchor, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Anchored off Wrightsville Beach, NC, what a great town!
IP380 Xperience and IP460 Cutter Loose on the ICW southbound
Notice the piling height for hurricanes! I am guessing 20 feet.
Brown Pelicans work the scraps at a fishing boat
Destination: Dutchman Creek among the grasses….BEAUTIFUL spot
Cutter Loose anchors off our bow, the creek is now closed.
Only room for 2 boats….so we say

Tomorrow….we take on the Myrtle Beach Shopping Outlet Stores at Barefoot Landing Marina!

Wrightsville Beach, NC

The fleet passing through the Surf City, NC swing bridge

Running the ICW south from Mile Hammock Bay is so simple and so easy that a “caveman could do it” as the commercial says! All you have to do is stay in the middle between the shore line 25 yards on either side of the boat and also follow all the other boats. Yes, we have a boat parade going south. Today was really fun with boats from New York, Maine, Maryland, Canada and even New Zealand in a pack of about 15 boats.

Everyone bunched up at the bridges to wait for the scheduled openings and then we all ran through the bridges in a single line. “Bring it on, keep it coming, get up here” are the calls from the bridge tenders as they urge the fleet of southbound yachts to get close and keep the speed up. Boaters really get nervous when close together and they all tend to slow down to a crawl. This compounds the problem of getting through the bridge and then getting OUT OF THE WAY and moving on. Sailboats seem to take FOREVER to get back to full speed after these bridges, whereas powerboats make the bridge and then HIT IT. Sailboats like to putt-putt through the bridges at 2 MPH and then slowly, like 10 minutes worth of slowly, come up to speed and get back to 6 or 7 knots of speed….whoa…hold on, Nellie!

So, it was bridge #22 today as we approached Wrightsville Beach, NC. This is a wonderful beach town, where you can dock the dinghy and walk one block to the ocean beach! Pizza, ice cream, pubs, and many shops make it a joy to explore the town. Yes…Wrightsville Beach is a place I could move to, it is a great town…..

Sand dunes at the Swansboro, NC turn

Two Pelicans fly by the dunes, Swansboro, NC on the ICW

Yes, it is really PINK…a pink house on the ICW, and we are not even in Florida yet!
Yacht YEHBUDI II from Auckland, NZ
An interesting dock to the water from a huge shoreline home

Figure Eight Island Swing Bridge with IP460 Cutter Loose

The Wrightsville Beach Bridge is #22 since Norfolk, VA

A cottage on the Motts Channel, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Finally….access to our first beach from the boat. We love to take our boat to places where we can walk to a beach!

Bogue Sound

Dinner was delicious Beef Pot Roast and warm biscuits and WINE

Sadly, we departed Beaufort, NC, where we were totally spoiled by Greg and Kate, IP350 owners and gracious hosts. Greg and Kate provided shelter from the strong Nor’easter low pressure that was blowing 35-40 knots for 2+ days. Friday we stayed out of the rain and then went to the Ruddy Duck for dinner in Morehead City. Saturday, we toured Fort Macon, had lunch at the Beaufort Grocery Restaurant and re-visited the waterfront. Then we capped off our visit with the most delicious home cooked pot roast in the history of the world! Yes, we were spoiled indeed, with good wine and many laughs at the Home for Wayward IP Sailors!!

We needed to press on to points south, so we untied our lines and powered along with a strong 25-30 knot wind at our backs. Exiting Beaufort & Morehead City, we entered into Bogue Sound which is protected and secure from the ocean rollers offshore produced by the gale winds that have been blowing. Our buddy boat, Cutter Loose, was boarded and inspected by the Coast Guard off Swansboro. They passed the routine safety inspection with a 100% and kept moving on. These boardings are intimidating, yet I guess needed when looking for yachts breaking the law. Possibly due to the current Coast Guard Auxillary Inspection sticker on our mast, they skipped over us and then selected the next boat after us to board and inspect. The 44+ mile day ended in Mile Hammock Bay, a basin inside the Camp Lejeune Marine training base.

Fort Macon, a beautiful restored fort
Departing Beaufort in 25 knot winds
Peak winds of 33 knots true….Gale winds are 34…close
Sand dunes along Bogue Sound and ICW
IP460 Cutter Loose is boarded by the Coast Guard
Bogue Sound with a parade of boats running south
ICW has these MILE MARKERS, here is #245
The is the number of miles from Norfolk, VA, mile #1

Beaufort, NC

Eric, Hayden and Greg, what fun we had…

Everyone in the cruising community always talks about the real treasure of cruising is not the journey, but rather the people you meet and connect with along the way. That is what makes this life so special. Our trip into Beaufort, NC was one of the finest examples of this as we were invited to visit with a fellow Island Packet Yacht owner and enjoy the town and a home cooked meal. No cruiser, living on a boat, can refuse such a generous offer and we took Greg and Kate up on the plan. Arriving at their private marina and docking next to Greg’s IP350, ei’Lean, we backed Island Spirit into a slip and tied off to the pier. Greg welcomed us and made us feel right at home with a full tour of the grounds, clubhouse, and bathhouse. Kate is a dream! They are like your long lost college roommates! We feel like we have known them for many years, yet this is our first meeting. We have never visited anyone’s home for the first time where they made us feel so welcome and so comfortable. Truly amazing….

Too much Champagne is a GOOD thing…Kate, Radeen and Patricia

After touring of the facilities and their beautiful home, we were swept off to town for a walk down the waterfront, the main street and around town. After seeing the area, we returned home where we were treated to a spectacular Italian meal with homemade bread, salad and plenty of wine and Champagne.  With lots of lively stories and conversions and plenty of laughing we party into the night nearly up to midnight! Most boaters pass out around 9pm, but with the endless hospitality of Greg and Kate, we had no clue we had stayed so late. We walked back to our boats at midnight and slept in with no worries of the building Nor’easter off the coast.

Today, we will stay in dock, enjoy the company and friendship with Kate and Greg, sincerely appreciating their hospitality!

Island Spirit meets ei’Lean
Custom homes surround the private marina
The Marina is home to the Morehead City/Beaufort Yacht Club, this is the pool area
Look….just like on our boat….china from France and linen table cloths with candles
What a treat….Thank you so much!

Pamlico Sound

Tug Pamilco pushing a loaded barge

Departing Belhaven, we sailed down the Pamilco Sound heading to Oriental, NC….BUT….we could not withstand the draw of the newest planned community called River Dunes! This community has the most beautiful marina, clubhouse, bathhouse, workout rooms, pool, hot tubs and manicured grounds in the area. Se we diverted and used our Buy one Get one Free card given to us at the Annapolis MD Boatshow for two nights of dockage and relaxation. Unfortunately the restaurant and bar are closed during the week and only open on Fri, Sat, Sun and we arrived on a Tuesday…oops! No worries, as we had the entire place to ourselves and they also provide a free car for your use if you dock here. So, we used the free car to run into Oriental, NC to see Penny and go out for a nice lunch at M&Ms where we also bumped into another friend and IP owner named John. John lives aboard in town and was at M&Ms when we stopped in. We enjoyed a nice visit and a wonderful lunch. Oriental is a popular sailing town and many cruisers retire to this town where they still can be connected to the cruising community. It is amazing how closely connected the cruising community is as we are always bumping into boats we recognize or people we know all along the way. What a great life….sail on…

Photos of the River Dunes, Pamlico leg…

We sailed in 20-25 knots downwind with a jib only, beautiful day
Tug Pamlico pushing a loaded barge
The floating docks of River Dunes, 45 feet long!
Our new club house at River Dunes, very comfortable
The new homes overlook the marina where we were docked.
Typical home that overlooks the marina. This single home is listed for $785,000
The canal entrance to River Dunes where all the canal front lots have been sold
This is the house on the point, 1.8 million dollars!

So after enjoying River Dunes for two days, we sadly departed and made ourselves move on. There are so many beautiful places along this ICW, and we are only 200 miles down the road with 800 more miles to the Florida Keys. We know how diverse and how beautiful it is, and we are enjoying the ride once again….

Pungo River Canal

Sunrise entering the Pungo Canal

After a beautiful sunset at anchor just before the Pungo Canal, the day presented us with the most beautiful sunrise! One aspect to the cruising life is the way you live fully in the weather and you take in all aspects the weather presents for the day. When living in a home, you rarely take time to watch a sunrise or a full sunset because you are usually inside the home and not taking in the beauty of the weather. Where as on a boat, you are always outside or at least it seems like you are, and you live by the weather. This day we were so lucky to be transiting the canal in beautiful high pressure where you get these beautiful days. The Pungo Canal is 22 miles long and the southern end brings you to the town of Belhaven, NC. In Belhaven we dropped anchor and spent a spooky Halloween off the town where Popeye arrived with trick or treats via the dinghy! WHAT?

Photos of the Pungo Canal….

Sunrise as we enter the canal with the swamp trees
AM fog rising off the canal along the shore lined trees
Cutter Loose, our boat buddies in their IP460 enter the canal
Happy Halloween from the Pungo Canal
American Bald Eagle keeps watch over the canal
The beautiful, but hostile shoreline of the canal
Popeye visits the harbor with treats

Pirate Radeen off Island Spirit heads to town