Great Loop: OBX The shallow waters of Ocracoke

Days 70-72: March 28-30, 2023

The end of March took us to North Carolina’s Outer Banks or OBX for short. Steve and Barbara are engrossed in the Outer Banks TV series and were excited to go.

This voyage pretty much switched me from Navionics to Aqua Map. Or maybe at least favor Aqua Map. I’ve had many people ask how you run aground. Usually with the added comments don’t you have charts? Don’t you have a working depth sounder? The answer is yes! Well then how? The reality is the southeast coast is shallow and it’s not always the same as the charts. The hurricanes and storms cause shoaling. Then what about the depth sounder? Yep, it will certainly tell you when you are aground. You will not necessarily be able to stop when the sounder tells you one second you are in 7 feet of water and the next you are on land. It just happens that fast.

As we approached Ocracoke, there were two ferries that went inbound, and I actively tracked their AIS track in Coastal Explorer. I dropped a waypoint anytime there was a change to course. This gave me the correct course to follow as it was a good assumption that if they could make it, we could make it on the same path. I took a screen shot of the troubled area and sent it to the group. Upon approaching the channel, one of the ferries was making the return trip out. I told Tonia it was too narrow to enter with a ferry and we’re going to have to wait. Normally, that isn’t a problem, but the waves were not being friendly, and we had to bob around for about 10 minutes. She was not a fan though a trooper and put up with it, and in hindsight was glad she did as we did not run aground.

When entering the channel, I strayed a bit to the starboard of the planned line and went into 4 feet of water. I quickly corrected course and, phew, was through. Not the case with Saga and Coda. Coda can go aground without damage if going slow and if it’s not rocky. Luckily it was a sandy bottom and Coda was able to back up, change course, and push on to find deeper water.

Saga was not as lucky. It came in at the same time as another ferry was leaving so was pushed too far to the starboard edge of the line. And to make things worse, it took a big wave at the exact time it was in the shallower area. Thus, Saga was picked up and slammed down. What was that loud noise? About 5 grand!

To the right are the boat tracks through the area. Red-orange (far right) was the correct route. Blue was Lil Sudden’s path and pink was Coda. Green was Saga that ran aground. You can check out their first-hand account of the event on

The first thing you are going to say is the chart above says 2 feet so of course you are going to hit. However, the chart is wrong. The red-orange track maintained 14 ft depth the entire way through this area. What? Yep, it was dredged, and the NOAA chart was not updated. Plus, one of the biggest problems is the green buoy that is shown right in the middle of the chart is not actually in that spot. I added a pink dot where the green buoy is actually located now. So, saying to hug green, which makes sense from the chart, will run you into trouble unless you find the sliver of green area (see left graphic) and turn precisely on it.

You mentioned Aqua maps? Yes, I did. What makes it better is that it has a setting allowing you to overlay Army Corp surveys over the charts. It also has a config that lets you choose if you want old surveys or just new ones. If you choose older ones, it fades them out, so you know it’s older data. As you can see with the image to the left, the channel is nice, deep, and straight. Just keep you boat in the middle – barring any oncoming ferry traffic, and you’ll have 14 feet.

We made it! Ocracoke has a great government dock. You just pay per day and, if you have the annual park pass, it’s half price. A great deal at $28 a night including power.

The surrounding area definitely has the touristy island feel. Golf carts and bicycle rentals everywhere. We were a bit ahead of the tourist season so it was quieter, though that can be nice other than some limited shop hours.

Tonia and I ventured out for a walk of town, which was about one mile down the main road from the boats. At the end we found 1718 Brewing Ocracoke that offered a fun selection of brews as well as a local Wild Pony White wine for Tonia. We treated ourselves to some beverages on the rooftop seating area.

After Tonia’s much-needed massage, a special treat from Mayli, we checked out the Ocracoke lighthouse…

…and took in the sights of the town, including a British Cemetery…

…and other sights, refreshments, and signs.

Day 70 Trip Details:
Pamlico County, US to Silver Lake Marina, Ocracoke, US
Time 4 h 41 m (09:14 to 13:55)
Distance: 69.33 nm

Great Loop: Oriental

Days 68-69: March 26-27, 2023

We had a fun ride up to Oriental, NC. Well, depends on who you asked. We got caught up in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. Visibility went from unlimited to about 10 feet in the matter of a half an hour. Tonia and I with our Midwest roots didn’t mind the experience and it brought back some old memories of Iowa. On the other side, SteveO was not impressed. The lightening got too close for his comfort.

Random sightings along the way…

As we got closer to port the skies cleared. The plan was to check out the free dock, which had had enough space for two boats but not three. Therefore, Lil Sudden and Coda opted to check into the Oriental Marina and Inn. The public docks were just a few feet down the seawall, so it was like we were in the same marina anyway.

We were greeted by the marina manager, Mr. Cat. Made Tonia’s day after the crazy storm.

The safe arrival drinks were at the Toucan Grill, and we may have had one or two at the Inn’s tiki bar.

Tonia, Barbara, Mayli and the kids walked the town and scoped out the public utilities that have been converted into dragons. It was a cool idea to pretty up the town and goes with the town’s theme.

Oriental has a wonderful marine supply store and a few sites to see while walking around but is a pretty small area overall. We had a lunch over at the M & M Cafe. Tonia and I walked to the Piggly Wiggly grocery store and that was pretty much a wrap.

They also had some great sunsets!

Stay tuned next time for the shallow waters leading to Ocracoke.

Day 68 Trip Details (March 26):
Beaufort, US to Oriental, US
Time 3 h 11 m (11:52 to 15:03)
Distance: 20.53 nm

Great Loop: Beaufort, NC

Days 65-67: March 23-25, 2023

Tonia and Boris had to work so I headed into town with Steve, Barbara, Mayli and the kids. The walk to town was just about a mile so a nice stroll. It also passed most of the historical items listed on the map.

We arrived at the information center, and I gave Michael a tutorial on how to play checkers. I was able to prevail. 🙂 However, he vowed to beat me in a rematch later.

Touring didn’t last very long. There was a joke earlier in the day that if it wasn’t for Mayli’s planning that all we’d see were bars. Well, Steve got hungry, so we had to stop at the pub for 6-dollar burgers and 2-dollar hotdogs. That led us to the brewery next door and finally a Mexican restaurant for chips n salsa and margaritas where Tonia joined after work.

The stop in Beaufort was pre-planned to be longer due to storms passing thru with high winds. If you’ve been following, wind has been a common theme for our trip.

Day 2 was one of productivity. A nice walk, a jaunt to the hardware store and couple other quick stops thanks to the marina’s courtesy car—a super-nice perk, and then a stroll into town to get lunch with the peeps.

After an excellent lunch at Moonrakers, we popped across the street to the maritime museum, which had some great exhibits about the area, sea life, and well-known pirate legend Black Beard. He was said to have lived in Hammock House in Beaufort and he also ran his ship aground offshore from what’s now Fort Macon State Park.

We wandered around town a bit more, stopped at an ice cream/coffee/wine shop for refreshments, and hit up Big Daddy convenience store for a couple quick items on our way back.

The last full day in town, the guys and kids headed to the local arcade for the afternoon. It had some good vintage games though was kind of like going to Chucky Cheese.

Meanwhile, Tonia and Mayli decided to check out Fort Macon State Park. The fort was well maintained with some interesting history to peruse. They then hiked a 3-mile trail through the park and surrounding beach bluffs. The little bit of rainy misty weather did not deter them and they had a lovely time.

We found out the restaurant upstairs at Town Creek Marina was supposed to be pretty good…so much so that we couldn’t get in. We called in for a takeout dinner and they accommodated us, and the grown-ups ate on Lil Sudden. And, yes, it was quite tasty!

Departure morning: We managed to get some extra walks in while at dock, which was quite nice. On our last morning in Beaufort, the two of us popped back into town to get a morning beverage (don’t tell Steve) and cookies from Cru.

On the way back, we walked through the Old Burying Grounds cemetery, which has quite the history with many graves from the late 1700s through 1800s. This cemetery even had a brochure about some of the notable gravestones, including a curious grave that Mayli gave a heads-up on was the Girl in a Barrel of Rum (the one adorned with toys; see description photo below).

We then made our way back to the boat passing the former train depot, an artist’s house, and a St. Pat’s chicken. It was time to hit the seas again!

Check out the next blog entry for the day’s quite exciting voyage to Oriental, NC.

Great Loop: Bucksport, Myrtle Beach and the Last Resort

Days 61-64: March 19-22, 2023


The day to leave Georgetown arrived. First, we got up early to get Jason, Austin, and Brantley to the airport. It was lots of fun having them and Tonia was sad to send them off, though Keely was surely happy to have her boys home.

The original plan was to head north and find an anchorage. Upon passing the Bucksport Marina, the plans changed. Boris called over and they had space. Just like that we were docked and having a safe arrival beverage on their nice dock. We met Maria on her boat Do It Now doing the Loop. We had a great time getting to know her.

There is not much at Bucksport other than a dock. They have a restaurant that is probably hopping in the summer for boaters and the adjacent campground though it wasn’t yet open for the season.

Onward to Myrtle Beach and beyond

This part of the trip is up the intracoastal to Myrtle Beach and surrounding area. It’s a narrow human-made channel that is pretty populated as you expect. After coffee at Barista Steve’s and checking the weather –sunny on our coast though not so much beach worthy, it was time for our leisurely voyage that included a low swing bridge.

We did an overnight stop at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, a nice marina just off the waterway. Not much to report here other than lunch at a place called Drift and a little provisioning at The Chef’s Store.

Barefoot Landing for a little Dick’s Last Resort

We decided to mix things up a bit and do a short stop over to have lunch before resuming the longer day’s voyage. So where else do you go? Dick’s Last Resort to spice up your life. While half the group was ambivalent on this lunch location, they conceded and had a good time anyway. You can’t beat being harassed a bit during lunch.

After lunch we continued the cruise up the intracoastal thru the area named the rock pile. Don’t go out of the channel here or it would be a bad day. We navigated through unscathed. The long voyage brought us to Southport for the night and another nice sunset. 🙂

A bumpy ride to Beaufort, NC

The fleet decided that the weather would be good enough to go into the ocean and save 2-3 hours versus the intracoastal. The problem was the day was 10 hours. The overall weather was fine. However, the swells were enough to make the crew of Lil Sudden and Saga very unhappy. A few were pretty green when we arrived in Beaufort.

Below are a couple short clips crossing the Crossing Carolina Beach Inlet out to the ocean. This part was pretty choppy though doable compared to the 8+ hours of “gentle” swells that followed.

Upon arrival to Beaufort, NC, we were great by wild horses on the beach. A welcome sight to the end of the looooong trip.

Day 61 Trip Details (March 19):
Georgetown, US to Bucksport Marina, Bucksport, US
Time 4 h 11 m (08:49 to 13:00)
Distance: 26.66 nm

Day 62 Trip Details (March 20):
Bucksport Marina, Bucksport, US to Myrtle Beach, US
Time 2 h 45 m (09:42 to 12:28)
Distance: 16.52 nm

Day 63 Trip Details (March 21):
Myrtle Beach, US to North Myrtle Beach, US
Time 0 h 49 m (10:17 to 11:06)
Distance: 4.22 nm

Day 63 Trip Details (March 21):
North Myrtle Beach, US to Southport Marina, Southport, US
Time 5 h 51 m (12:57 to 18:48)
Distance: 38.61 nm

Day 64 Trip Details (March 22):
Southport Marina, Southport, US to Beaufort, US
Time 10 h 42 m (06:58 to 17:41)
Distance: 88.77 nm

Great Loop: Georgetown, SC

Days 58-60: March 16-18, 2023

On our way to Georgetown, we caught dolphins playing in our wake. Jason ran up to attempt to get video too.

We arrived in Georgetown in the evening in time to take the kids to a nearby park and it just happened to be the Sip & Stroll night so after the park, Mayli, Barbara, and Tonia popped into a few stores. It was a fun time with very friendly shopkeepers, sips of wine, and bites along the way. The guys checked out a nearby pub for the March Madness basketball games. Random Georgetown pics follow.

Fun antics on the boardwalk!

Coda at anchor in the sunset.

A preview of tomorrow’s activity…?

Yep, the kids were 100% on board with visiting the cat cafe! Aunt Emily would be proud!

Random pics from March Madness, St. Pat’s celebrating, and more…

Day 57 Trip Details (March 15):
Charleston, US to Charleston County, US
Time 7 h 1 m (09:24 to 16:26)
Distance: 38.63 nm

Day 58 Trip Details (March 16):
Charleston County, US to Georgetown, US
Time 3 h 14 m (13:19 to 16:34)
Distance: 24.59 nm

Day 60 Trip Details (March 18):
Georgetown, US to Georgetown, US
Time 0 h 14 m (13:39 to 13:54)
Distance: 0.19 nm

Day 60 Trip Details (March 18):
Georgetown, US to Georgetown, US
Time 0 h 13 m (19:04 to 19:18)
Distance: 0.28 nm

Great Loop: McClellanville

Days 57-58: March 15-16, 2023

To Steve’s delight, we left Charleston. He had been there over a month prior to us meeting him and was chomping at the bit to get moving north.

Passing Fort Sumter when departing Charleston

The trip took 7 hours, and the kids were not impressed. The first question from them was whether this was all the faster we were going to go. They are definitely not into long cruising and the South Carolina back country did not hold their attention. They did enjoy the multiple dolphin encounters though and played some games along the way.

Before anchoring for the night, we stopped in McClellanville to take on fuel. Boris had called around and they gave us a bulk discount if we paid together. Nice experience and we got permission to tie up by dinghy the next day to check out the little town.

After fueling we headed out to the anchorage. Steve wanted to try something new. Coda and Saga anchored separately and when we arrived, we took a line from Saga and pulled them over to Coda with Lil Sudden in between. It took a bit of finagling. and at one point we were perpendicular to both boats. Bow at Coda and stern at Saga. But we got it to work. Two anchors down gave us extra security for slipping but opens us up to wrapping the anchor chains together, which thankfully did not happen.

We were thrilled to celebrate Austin’s birthday with his choice of Oreo ice cream cake and lots of football cards.


Boris, Annette and I spent the morning fishing. We caught a few rays, both from the sun and literally sting rays. There were also a lot of small fish biting, so it was a fun even with them being too small to keep.

Meanwhile, in McClellanville…

Everyone else took dinghies and headed into the small, quaint town of McClellanville. There they found tree swings – an obvious hit with the boys, saw Deerhead Oak – an over 1000-year-old tree, had lunch at T.W. Graham & Co. – great seafood, and walked around a bit. Made for a great day!

There was even time for the boys to kayak!

Day 57 Trip Details (March 15):
Charleston, US to Charleston County, US
Time 7 h 1 m (09:24 to 16:26)
Distance: 38.63 nm

Great Loop: Charleston

Days 52-56: March 10-14, 2023

California Dreams

We voyaged into Charleston in the afternoon. Given our anchor woes the last few days the Hodaks decided to anchor separately. Steve was already anchored when we arrived, and I took the easy option and rafted on him. Tonia was on a work call and thus I did it single handed. After her meeting she came up to have lunch on Coda and couldn’t figure out why Saga looked different. Took her a quick minute to realize we were rafted to Coda and not Saga. It was very amusing.

That night we decided to check out the nearest restaurant called California Dreaming. It was mostly due to proximity and them having a dinghy dock that led to the choice. But it was a great decision. They had amazing food. Best on the loop so far.

That night we also had a great sunset. Sunsets never get old.

On day two Saga headed into the dock to meet up with some old friends. We ran some project errands, checked out the marina (with a very organized dock plan), and then met up for Sangria Saturday happy hour on Saga.

A little commotion in the neighborhood

The next morning over coffee we noticed some Coast Guard activity going on. There was a sailboat that seemed to have been tied up to posts alongside the bridge, which isn’t typically allowed as it blocks transiting and, well, you just don’t tie up to bridges. We watched the Coast Guard boat relocate the sailboat and anchor it out of the way. Shortly thereafter, the two bridges opened for a boat to pass through.

Relaxing Day

Tonia, Barbara, and I went out in search of pizza. We found a candidate and headed that way. The place was called “Toast! All Day.” Turns out they have wood-fired pizza on the menu but discontinued it many months ago. Oh well, they also had pitchers of peach bellini. I may have ordered two and got Tonia and Barbara a little bit loopy. Ha Ha Ha.

The outing was cut short when Steve messaged that we were swinging closer to other boats, and he was going to the dock. The message was basically “get your butt back here and move”. We didn’t slip anchor, but the area was tight and had a lot of derelict vessels. One sailboat tenant was pretty vocal that we were too close. The marina had enough space, so we cruised over a day early.

Dinner that night was at the Blind Tiger. We had a friendly Uber driver who gave us the rundown of the celebs with homes nearby in Charleston, like Darius Rucker, Bill Murray, and Dan Marino. The driver even had a list of restaurants and sights that tourists could take a quick photo of for suggestions of where to go.

Arrival of Jason and the boys

Tonia’s brother Jason and our nephews Austin and Brantley flew in to visit. They arrived later in the day so not much to report as it was a work and prep day. Just excitement to have them visit.

The next day we decided to head over to Patriots Point and check out the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and the destroyer USS Laffey. The kids were so-so on the adventure though troopers overall. I had a good time exploring the ships and seeing how the sailors lived and worked. Jason got to see what the dental setup would be on the ship too.

When the exploring was over, we walked over to the closest restaurant. It was the Charleston Harbor Fish House. They were running a great burger and beer special. The burger was pretty tasty. Which is saying something for a fish house. I’d have to say I’ve eaten a lot of fish on this trip, and it was nice to eat something different.

Indoor trampoline park

After lunch, we met up with the Hodak kids to play at the indoor activity center. We’d find out later this would be a (or “the”) favorite part of our nephews’ trip. They had some massage chairs so Jason could get some relaxation in on his vacay too. Tonia and Mayli went next door briefly to check out the gluten-free cookie options – always on the lookout for a goodie for Annette.

Last night in Charleston

We got back to the boats for a quick breather. Then decided it was time to find some dinner as it was getting too late to make something. We found a restaurant that would take our large party of ten and while waiting for the reservation, the kids played some football in the park by the water. It had a cool pineapple fountain and spectacular views.

Dinner was at Hyman’s restaurant. The hushpuppies passed out while waiting for our table were a hit. The restaurant had a long history and seemed to have been frequented by many celebs. It seems the Beach Boys sat at our table!

While the adults finished their beverages, Jason and Tonia took the boys next door to Peace Pie for ice cream sandwiches. They had your standard “pie” flavors like pecan pie, which was yummy, and chocolate mint. They also had some interesting combos, like “The Elvis” featuring chocolate ice cream, banana butter and peanut butter chiffon sandwiched between chocolate cookies, which Tonia had to try out.

Day 52 Trip Details:
Colleton County, US to Charleston, US
Time: 4 h 50 m (06:58 to 11:48)
Distance: 35.24 nm

Day 54 Trip Details:
Charleston, US to Charleston, US
Time: 0 h 36 m (14:24 to 15:00)
Distance: 0.51 nm

Great Loop: Beaufort, SC, & Monkey Business

Days 49-51: March 7-9, 2023

Fresh off the anchor slipping experience we headed off to Beaufort, SC, to anchor again. You know the saying: Get right back on the horse. This anchor session went fine. However, the topic of the day was that Boris needs a bigger anchor. The added weight of Coda pushes us to the capacity of the current anchors holding power. A topic for later discussions.

On to Beaufort! It’s a cool town with a public dock that allows three hours of moorage. Steve decided Coda would be the ferry boat and we all loaded up and headed into town.

Beaufort is known for some movies. The bridge that leaves town is the one from Forrest Gump a scene where he’s running across the country. Pretty neat.

We got a bit of lunch, walked the town a bit, and somehow ended up at a chocolate shop. Imagine that. Tonia thought the Tetris mural was the bee’s knees. And, thus, we have a picture of Steve by it. We liked the chocolate shop’s motto too… check out the bottom of the Chocolate Tree.

After indulging, we strolled around a bit more.

On Day 2 in Beaufort, it had been previously planned (for weeks) to visit the kazoo factory. What!?! You read that right. An actual kazoo factory! Kazoobie Kazoos had a great tour and we all got to make and keep a kazoo, yes the kids too, at the end.

After the kazoo fun, we headed that afternoon for the next destination, an overnight anchorage on the way to Charleston. We anchored the three boats just with a beautiful sunset to settle us in.

Morgan/Monkey Island & Dataw Island

Day 51 marked some real monkey business. Mayli was set on seeing monkeys at Morgan Island (aka Monkey Island, for a reason) near our anchorage and Tonia was game since those monkeys are related to her lab’s work. Coda took off to head towards Charleston and check for possible anchorages along the way. We followed Saga a little further east around the island to the tree-lined side to see if there were any monkeys in sight from the boats. We’re not allowed to step foot on the island as these are former research monkeys (see development of Morgan Island’s Rhesus macaque colony and more recent info about Monkey Island) though they can be viewed from the water, if you’re lucky.

Well, it seems luck was both on our side and also not so much. We DID see monkeys!

Yet, we also suffered from this distraction causing us to have a huge lapse in awareness of our dinghy location—meaning we ran over our own line. What a rookie mistake!

We did catch it rather quickly when we heard the engine stutter, though the line was already around a propeller at that point. We set anchor to ensure we wouldn’t drift towards the island or shallow water and called to Saga for assistance. You could say we were rather lucky that Boris is an accomplished diver and had all of his equipment along. While he hadn’t been able to use it yet on the trip given our cancelled Bahamas plans, we gave him plenty of reason now… After anchoring Saga, he donned his dive equipment and swam over to our boat to cut the wound-up line off of our propeller. He got most of it off though the current was rather strong so we called it and went to nearby Dataw Island Marina where there was a mechanic to help check things out and Boris could finish the job with the boat tied to the dock at slack tide.

With the line completely off, the mechanic verified there was no leaking. We’d need to get the backup propeller seals replaced at some point as there were not useful any longer. We were very grateful the staff and mechanic at Dataw Island were super friendly and very accommodating getting us on the dock and quickly checking things out. We were still able to make our way out that same day anchoring partway to Charleston.

Below: random pick of old Coke ice box at the marina office and Saga at dock to help us out!

Day 49 Trip Details:
Palmetto Bay Marina, Hilton Head Island, US to Beaufort, US
Time: 3 h 45 m (06:16 to 10:02)
Distance: 23.19 nm

Day 50 Trip Details:
Beaufort, US to Waterfront Park Dock, Beaufort, US
Time: 0 h 21 m (11:27 to 11:48)
Distance: 0.73 nm

Day 50-2 Trip Details:
Waterfront Park Dock, Beaufort, US to Beaufort County, US
Time: 2 h 40 m (15:42 to 18:23)
Distance: 14.04 nm

Day 51 Trip Details:
Beaufort County, US to Beaufort County, US
Time: 3 h 04 m (08:57 to 12:01)
Distance: 6.19 nm

Day 51-2 Trip Details:
Beaufort County, US to Colleton County, US
Time: 2 h 1 m (15:53 to 17:55)
Distance: 14.09 nm