Friday, December 12, 2014

Masonboro Yacht Club

In Masonboro Yacht Club just south of Wrightsville Beach. This is the kind of place that always gives me pause. As one travels down the ICW there are channels leading off to the left and right to various marina facilities. Never, and I mean never, do the signs say anything about depth. So one looks at the chart and sees 2 feet, or 3 feet, with this channel. Is it deep enough? The only way to tell seems to be to go in. The channels are always too narrow to turn around. Have you ever tried to back a sailboat? The result is that I avoid them. That is a shame because some, like Masonboro, have really nice people and decent facilities. Note to marina owners. Want to increase business with a cheap fix? Put up a depth sign.

Spent Wednesday night in Mile Hammock Bay with 7 other boats. Seemed like a lot of boats for this late in the season. The manager at Masonboro told us that there are a lot of late transits. The weather (as I well know) in November was terrible. Apparently lots of other people decided to wait it out. Major fail. The temperature dropped to 32 F and was still there when we got underway at 6:30 AM. Since the sun didn't rise until 7:01 AM our first mile was under twilight conditions. A little spooky but the channel is well marked.

Second to Bogue Sound in my I hate the ICW list is the run from Mile Hammock Bay to Wrightsville Beach. The trip itself isn't particularly worse than any other part of the ICW. The problem is that there are three bridges, all of which open on schedule. Miss a bridge opening, wait an hour. It is very hard to time one's arrival as there are numerous channels leading through the marsh out to sea. One minute you are going 4 knots. Pass a channel, now you are doing 6 knots at the same RPM. First you are late, then you are early for the next bridge.

Of particular note is the Wrightsville Beach bridge. The problem here is current, very strong current. While waiting for the bridge it is not unusual to be swept down on it at 2 knots. The nearer one gets to the bridge the stronger the current. My solution is to point up current and run the engine so that my speed over ground is near zero while my speed through the water approaches 2 knots. This confuses all the other boats who are backing and turning and trying to stay in place. It is also possible to run down or be run down by another boat while maneuvering to get under the bridge. People forget that they are still making 2 knots toward the bridge even though their bow is pointed elsewhere. Not fun. We were blessed with a medium tide. That gave us a  little bit wider channel to work in. I came down once  with a pack of snow birders at dead low tide. About 6 ran aground. Four hit each other. And the bridge of course refused to open even though a whole bunch of people were in extremis.

Ed (Hooligan) has been in Masonboro a number of times so he led us in. They set aside two spots on the "T" head even though they were full. I decided to stay for two nights to warm up and finish up tying everything down to go offshore. It is tough to get motivated after freezing all day when it gets pitch black at 5 PM. If conditions remain as forecast Saturday I will head down the Cape Fear River and go offshore and south. That way I will be able to avoid freezing behind the wheel with my eye on the depth gauge all day long. I should make about twice or better the distance each day.After a couple of days hopefully I will be in warmer climes.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS: The air temperature is 34 F as I write this.

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