Southbound 2020 – #9: Smeads Ferry, NC to Southport, NC

Travel Summary

Conditions: Rain, 68° to start, Sun and clouds, 74° to finish.  South Southeast winds 5-10 mph, seas light chop.

Distance traveled: 52.2 nautical miles

Time underway: 6 hours 50 minutes

Average Speed: 7.8 kts

Max Speed: 11.2 kts

Today wasn’t the day that we had planned. It started out with leaving Swan Point about 7:30 am.  We woke up to rain and dense fog.  It was so overcast that visibility was less than 150 yards.  We also had an outgoing tide, which will come into play later.

Swan Point Marina isn’t at the top of our Marina list.  It’s a working marina that has seen better days, but the dock master was kind enough to let us stop there for the night and give a place to tie up. The problem started with the tides. He told us that we needed to hug the starboard side of the entrance because there was a slight ‘hump’ in the entrance.  Both boats got stuck on the way out and we had to power through the entrance to find water.

We got started down the ICW, in the fog and the rain. There wasn’t much to see today, because, frankly, you couldn’t see anything.

We got in line with several boats all heading south, trying to time bridge openings.  It finally happened….  I ran aground.  Right in the middle of the channel. heading down the ICW.  We had the ocean on one side and the mainland on the other, there are a lot of inlets where the ICW open to the ocean.  These inlets, not only push water through, but they tend to shoal up the inlet area, making it difficult to get through.  For us it was Topsail Sound at buoy 99A.  From what we understand, we aren’t the first nor the last to run aground here. 

Stacy Lynn had gone through before us and bumped the ground.  I held too close to the port marker and ran hard aground, with a convoy of about 6 boats behind us.  They say that there are only two types of ICW boaters, those who are about to run aground and those who have run aground. Well, I’m in the later club now.  It took some imaginative boat manipulations to get us off the sand bar.  With some luck and a little bow thrusting, we were on our way again.

I’ve never driven a boat for so long in such a narrow and shallow channel.  I don’t think I saw greater than a 10 foot depth in over 10 miles.  I’d like to say that that’s the end of that, but I’m afraid I’d be lying.

The sun peaked out about 1 pm and we had sun and clouds the rest of the day. 

After a long day, we were finally able to cross the Cape Fear River and head into South Harbour Village Marina about 2:30 pm.  South Harbor Marina was hit by Hurricane Isaias in August 2020 and hasn’t quite recovered.  We tied to their t-head but there was no electric nor water available.   There was however a nearby restaurant, Rusty Hooks which was open for dinner and drinks, what else do you need?

Our view from the restaurant
Categories: Adventures, Life Aboard

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