On to Southport, North Carolina

Southbound from Wrightsville Beach, it can be an easy run down the ICW and the Cape Fear River if you have the right wind and tide conditions. On the day we made the trip, it could not have been better. It was anchor up at 0730 in Wrightsville and we were tied to the town dock in Southport at 1045. Light winds and the outgoing tide made for a fast, comfortable trip and as we entered the basin at Southport, it was like seeing an old friend once again. The basin is just off the ICW channel as you make the turn off the Cape Fear River. This is a small basin with room to anchor a few boats, and several free docks available at some of the restaurants: The Provisioning Company, Fishy Fishy Cafe and The Yacht Basin Eatery. They allow overnight dockage if you eat at their establishment. There is no power or water at the docks and these are floating docks. The tidal range here is about 5 feet.

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

We have had a love-hate relationship with the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway for over 20 years. Every trip is a journey of discovery and every trip we learn something new and encounter new experiences. There are days when we are so thankful for all of the years and miles we have experienced, and there are days we wish we had stayed in bed. Heading south from Swansboro might be classified as one of those days we should have stayed in bed. But in the end, it's all part of the adventure. Our destination for the evening would be the anchorage at Wrightsville Beach. The ICW between Swansboro and Wrightsville Beach requires traveling through one of the more troubling areas of the waterway. The weather was perfect, but all did not go as planned.

On To Swansboro North Carolina

From Beaufort to Swansboro, the distance is only 33 nautical miles. After running a few more errands, we left the docks at a little after noon. I can't remember the last time our day started this late. As we keep saying, there is no place we have to be and no special time we have to be there. The best channel to use from Beaufort heading south runs along the east side of Radio Island, out toward the main inlet and shipping channel. Then it's necessary to turn back into the direction of the main Port and connect back to the Intracoastal Waterway. As we neared the commercial docks we sighted a couple on their trawler that we had met in the Sassafras River on the Chesapeake Bay. A quick call on the VHF found that w both had plans for the same destination. The next three hours were uneventful and other than the light rain and drizzle, it was a normal and easy day. The next stop was to be a Swansboro, a small town right on the waterway at statute mile 229.

The Cold Chases Us South, Bath to Beaufort, NC

We spent an additional day at the docks in Bath, NC due to high winds on the Pamlico River. The morning of our departure brought temperatures in the middle 30s, which is way too cold for the crew. Sitting at the free state dock before the sun came up required running the generator for coffee, the toaster and the microwave, but mostly to run the heater to warm up the boat. It usually is 10 degrees warmer inside the boat than outside overnight, but that's still in the 40s. It takes about an hour to get the temperatures up, and by then, breakfast is over and it's time to untie the dock lines and get underway. These are the days when we really love the inside steering station and the laptop running our navigation program at the helm.

The Towns of Washington and Bath North Carolina

Washington, NC
About 30 miles upriver from the spot where the Intracoastal Waterway crosses the Pamlico River lays the town of Washington, NC. For the many boaters that speed south to reach their winter destinations, missing these side trips is a shame. We have been just as guilty in the past, but decided that on this transit of the ICW, we would stop and smell the fish fry. The Pamlico can be daunting and a careful eye on the weather is required. The payoff to visiting this well protected harbor and yet another historic site along the North Carolina waterway is more than worth the additional time and miles.