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The tide

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Last night I was reminded I need to keep an eye on the tide.  That’s the cabin in Skylark around 11 pm Tuesday night.  I pulled off to the side of the ICW about 50′ from a marker to anchor.  I was heading for an anchorage nearby but it was getting dark and I didn’t want to risk pulling into an unknown Creek to anchor in the dark.  I pulled over and had about 7′ of water under Skylark, plenty I though.  I didn’t realize the tide here is 5′.  4′ Skylark in 2′ of water and the cabin looks like that.  I just forgot.  No big deal except it’s pretty hard to sleep like that and I didn’t think to close the seacocks for the sink drain so the sink filled via the drain since that side of the boat was deep in the water.  By the time I got out of my bunk to investigate a noise that’s sounded like running water the sink was draining into the cabin and the locker below.  OK I’ll be more mindful next time.

283.2 Wrightsville Beach

Nothing much to report today.  I wanted to go outside, to Ocean sail from the inlet near Mile Hammock Bay to Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach inlet but I couldn’t see any markers at the Mile Hammock Bay inlet so I stayed on the ICW.  I really don’t want to take any risks, had enough adventure like that for a while.  It’s slow going on the ICW.  Waiting for bridges, the chanel twists and turns all around and I’m always hunting for the chanel.  I can be in 17 feet of water, look away for a minute and it’s nine foot.  Then I need to slow down and swing the boat from side to side to search for deeper water.  The weather for the next 5 days at least isn’t good for going offshore, southerly winds all week.  The other concern is which inlet to use.  Some are large, we’ll marked and deep.  Some are labeled on the chart as “use only with local knowledge”.  The curve of the coast is perfect for jumping outside in a mostly any breeze with a northerly componen and there’s a great inlet just 20 miles south of here but I won’t go out due to the weather.

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Probably the most photographed swan on the ICW.

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Here’s where they hang out when they aren’t posing for pictures.

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I like it.

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280 mile marker.

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No wind today.

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Looking across Banks Chanel at Wrightsville Beach, tonight’s anchorage.

ICW

Low energy tonight but here are some photos of the ICW.  Tonight I’m anchored just off the chanel at mile 187 from Norfolk.

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Taken a few miles into the ICW.  I actually ran aground here looking for a spot to anchor.

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Sunset at Bear Point.

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Punto – Alligator River canal.

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Same area.

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It’s beautiful down here.

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Alligator River swing bridge.

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Sailing the ICW.  It was blowing 20 knots today.

The beach and the ungrounding.

There’s so much to talk about, it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  I’m on the ICW in North Carolina now and I’ll tell you all about it.  This was supposed to be an adventure and it certainly has been! 

In the previous post I described Skylark on the beach south of Ocean City, MD.  Jim and Mark, two fish & wildlife officers, helped out a lot, we waited to see if Skylark would float off at the evening tide but she did not.  They gave me a ride to a local motel and picked me up at 6AM to get back to Skylark for the morning high tide.  As we were driving down the beach we saw a guy walking with a bag of gear in the direction of the boat.  We stopped and sure enough he had read my friend Tom’s Facebook post about Skylark being on the beach.  This guy had driven all the way from New Jersey just to try and help. I never met this man before and was quite surprised when he slathered on his wet suit and dove into the surf to try to kedge Skylark off.  Mike, you are amazing, thank you.  Later that day Mike and the officers retrieved Skylark’s anchor and Mike delivered it to Ocean City where Skylark had been towed. 

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The tow back to Ocean City.

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So what happened?  I really should have known better but I followed the chart.  I thought I had plenty of water depth but I hit a shoal, couldn’t get off and the surf dragged me to the beach.  The area is prone to shifting shoals, bars and shoreline and I had seen evidence of this while trying to anchor just south of Ocean City. I saw the surf, knew I didn’t want to be there but before I could turn around the depth went from 13 to 6 and bang Skylark was on the ground.  Just like that.  I KNEW I could sail off but all I could do was keep the boat pointed away from shore but still being dragged back.  At this point there were two things I might have done to improve the outcome.  First, I could have dropped an anchor right there.  I didn’t as I never thought I’d end up on the beach.  Second, I didn’t use the engine as I was afraid I’d suck sand into the raw water pump.  Sure would have been less damage than what happened.  Also I made the mistake of thinking someone would come help before I landed on the beach.  Either the Coast Guard or Towboat US.  After three hours on the radio with the Coast Guard during which time they sent a cutter and a helicopter, I was told I needed to find a commercial tow company to pull me off.  Way too late for that…. 

Anyway Towboat couldn’t come that night so the boat spent the night in the surf and they pulled it off in the morning.  They used a jetski to shuttle the tow line from the towboat to Skylark.

I didn’t see any other option except to have Skylark towed off.  There was a forecast of high winds and seas and I didn’t think Skylark would survive.  After one night she was beat up pretty bad so I still feel I made the correct decision.  Perhaps it would have been possible to kedge off in succesive tides but I just didn’t see it happening.  I also knew she was bouncing on the rudder for many hours and that meant the steering was suspect.  Even if I got yhe boat off the beach I’d be in rough seas in a questionable boat.  Not smart.

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The rudder shaft was twisted.

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Anchor platform broken, one of the whisker stays was chafed through by the anchor chain too.

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Boarding ladder.