The weather calmed down and it was time again to brave the shallow waters around Manteo. We made it out of the shallow channel with only a few “pucker up” moments. After that excitement, the rest of the day was a lazy cruise up to the Coinjock Marina.
This is another relax destination. We walked around the property and down the street a bit, though there just isn’t that much to see. We had a happy hour at the restaurant and then prepared for the night’s dining experience. Steve and I decided it was Hawaiian shirt night. We were the only ones that participated thou.
The marina at Coinjock is known for their restaurant and the restaurant is known for their prime rib. So, you know what we had for dinner! Ok, in full discloser I had the ribeye, which was still amazing, and Tonia had a seafood fare. The others had the prime rib.
Our final stop in the OBX (Outer Banks) was Manteo, a small town on Roanoke Island. We headed out for the day’s trip with a beautiful sunrise. The transit from Ocracoke to Manteo had some narrow channels and the entrance to Manteo basically required a hard ninety degree turn to get in but we navigated successfully and docked up at the Shallow Bag Bay Marina.
The town of Manteo is a nice tourist area. It has a small downtown area with shops and restaurants. Next to downtown they have the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse. It shows a great example of the historic lighthouses of the area. Also close to downtown is Festival Park. The park sports the Adventure Museum, an American Indian town, and a full-size reproduction of the Elizabeth II sailing ship. They tell the experience of what it would have been like for the early English explorers. The museum was pretty neat and showed a lot about the travels and adventures of the explorers. It also told the story of the missing Roanoke settlers—the ones that were to be left for a few months and were actually left for a couple years. What happened to those settlers is still a mystery today.
The ship was very cool to see. I don’t know how 50 people lived on a ship of that size crossing the Atlantic. We have enough angst just going out in the Atlantic up the coast for a few hours.
We found out that close by was a trampoline park that had an axe throwing range. After Michael was done bouncing off the walls, we tried throwing a few. It was a bit tricky getting the timing and distance figured out though after a while we got the hang of it.
The Christmas Shop
On one of the afternoons, Tonia and I walked about. During that walk we passed the Christmas Shop, we saw many interesting things in the window, from a whole two-story window of wind chimes and another window with a creepy doll peering out. We decided that we’d need to visit the next day when it opened.
We recruited Mayli and Barbara to join us, and we headed to the store the next morning. The shop has been open for over 50 years and during that time they kept expanding with new rooms and areas. There was so much to see. My favorite was the Bob Ross ornaments! Tonia was partial to Who-ville.
The Christmas Shop had pretty much any kind of ornament you could every think of and much, much more. While shopping the General Store area with lots of food stuffs and candies, we hit up the wine section where they were doing free tastings and, well, couldn’t pass that up. Found a cool mini keg on the sale rack that passed muster.
There was even a Halloween section, where we found the creepy doll window from above spotted the day before. It sported many scary items and was fun, except Tonia said she’d have nightmares. We did think of a couple friends (Jamee and Paula) that would have really enjoyed this part though.
The girls did a thing at the place! Okay…time for Tonia to chime in here…
Mayli really wanted to check out the gardens at the north end of the island. The kids and guys were less keen so she grabbed Tonia and Barbara to check it out. While it was still early in the season for some blooms, it was still quite pretty and a lovely little getaway.
Just outside the gardens was the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site where there was a well-detailed museum and there was also The Lost City theatre.
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 JustABitLoopy.com.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.