We left Southport close to low tide since the Cape Fear River has reported currents up to 6 MPH between slack tides. The inbound tide gave us a little bit of assistance once it kicked in and we enjoyed the ride inland. We've been fortunate to have great weather for crossing the sounds and bays the past few weeks.
Rhonda got a couple of good local fishermen shots.
We crossed a narrow area called Snow's Cut with a single large sand dune along the bank that really stuck out.
We're also starting to see a little bit of orange/red dirt/clay in the banks as we get deeper into NC. The moss/algae was pretty on the rocks exposed at low tide.
There was a lengthy stretch of more homes along the western bank as we moved north toward Wrightsville Beach. I was reminded of the occasional "dome home" that we saw in the 60s and 70s. The fad never caught on but there are a few still scattered across the beach areas. Remember these?
Wrightsville Beach had really clean water and beaches but the town seemed crowded and "busy" to us so we decided to press on and make a long 88-mile day to Swansboro. The Coast guard was working on a marker when we came through.
We barely made it under the bridge in Wrightsville Beach. With the tide still out a bit, we had about 18 to 19 feet of clearance. We need a little over 17! That sounds like plenty but sometimes we wonder about the accuracy of the depth markings at the bridges. It was close.
Like I said, the water has really cleaned up in this area. The picture doesn't do it justice, but this water is as clear as the water in south Florida. One anchorage near here is supposed to be just like being in the Bahamas, but the upcoming weather is keeping everyone from going there today.
In another residential stretch we saw an unusual statue along the bank. At first and from a distance it looked like "Tin Man" but not sure of the intent or purpose it serves after a closer look?
We soon found ourselves in the Camp Lejeune stretch of the NC coast. There have not been many good anchorages so far in NC but this one is nice. The only problem is that, without prior notice of any kind, the marines may order you to leave at any time. That could be a little risky at night or in bad weather.
Speaking of "leaving" - these folks are not going anywhere anytime soon. I checked the tide tables as we passed and it was still on its way out with about 7 more hours to get enough water to lift them off.
We had 2 swing bridges to get through. Both were too low for us to pass underneath so we had a short wait at both. One opened only on the hour, the other every half-hour so our timing was pretty good. Three of us were waiting for the one with the hourly opening.
The landscape has changed a lot by this point. Lots of open land and a really pretty gray marshland.
Lots of windswept, angled tree-lines.
And lots of good views of the beach.
A kayaker in the area enjoying the afternoon.
There was lots of helicopter activity in the Camp Lejeune area.
There were several abandoned tanks in this area where training maneuvers are conducted. Rhonda took this shot and then said "maybe I shouldn't have" - it looked to her like a soldier was inside, but I think it's the way the light and surroundings inside the tank make it only appear that way. You be the judge.
You might want to be careful through here at certain times though, huh?
One of the marina operators said the marines will sometimes shut down the waterway without any notice for hours or even most of a day, especially during the summer. So I guess our timing was good in that regard also. It was one of the prettiest stretches we've been through.
After a very long and tiring 88-mile day, we docked at Casper's Marina in Swansboro.
Their logo had a whale in it so I thought their wind vane was cool and very appropriate.
We had a nice meal at Church Street Irish Pub and Grille. I knew I was back in NC when I saw hot dogs with slaw and chili on the menu - not to be found anywhere else in the country that we've lived or traveled. It's been a while so I couldn't pass it up.
Swansboro had a very small historic district compared to some of the other towns we have visited. We kept riding our bikes thinking there would be more but all we found were a few blocks of old homes, a few shops, and a small city park.
Fellow loopers recommended a fudge shop in town. We stopped there and were disappointed to find it closed so we decided it was time to move on - next stop Morehead City.
This was a short 28-mile run in open water but a narrow channel. Another beautiful day though.
As we approached Morehead City the homes definitely took on a different look, very pretty.
We docked at Morehead City Yacht Basin and I took time to clean the moustache off of the hull again. Fellow loopers have been harassing me lately so it was time to get it done.
And on a very sad note, my uncle, Bill Moore, passed away today at age 91. I have been very close to this family all of my life so while we are in traveling distance of my hometown in Lancaster, SC, we have decided to just keep the boat here for the weekend and rent a car to attend the funeral on Sunday. Please keep the family in your prayers. My aunt "Neet" is still living at 90 years of age and is the last remaining Hammond on my mom's side of the family. The children that many of you will know are Mike, Phil, and Janis (my first cousins) and there are several grandkids and one great-grandkid. We'll return to Morehead City on Monday.