Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

image

Probably the most photographed swan on the ICW.

image

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

image

I like it.

image

280 mile marker.

image

No wind today.

image

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.

image

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

image

Sunset at Bear Point.

image

Punto – Alligator River canal.

image

Same area.

image

It’s beautiful down here.

image

Alligator River swing bridge.

image

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. 

image

The tow back to Ocean City.

image

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.

image

The rudder shaft was twisted.

image

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

image

Boarding ladder.

Attacked by pirates in hurricane Kate!

image

Yes, that’s Skylark on the beach and no, I can’t  believe it either.

Wednesday November 11 was a tough day.  Just another adventure day but a tough one.

image

Sand in the head came up from the thru hull for three sink drain.

image

Sand driven into the cockpit by the surf.

image

This toolbox was closed and in a locker under the dinette seat.  I can’t imagine how seawater got in here.  Pretty much everything on the boat got wet or broken or both.

The original float plan called for a two to three day nonstop run from Haverstraw to Norfolk where I’d pick up the intracoastal.  We’d run a few miles offshore, far enough off to keep out of shallow water and close enough in to keep away from ship traffic.  The plan was for Frank and I to take turns keeping watch and keep the boat moving day and night.  Frank got badly seasick off the New Jersey coast so we pulled into Shark River inlet for the night.  We continued from there to Ocean City,  MD where we anchored to hide from some unfavorable weather.  Frank came down with a stomach virus and had to get off the boat.  With 120 nm to Norfork or about a 25 hour run I made the decision to break the trip into three parts as I didn’t want to try to make this run alone as I wouldn’t be able to sleep for the duration of the trip.  I left Ocean City around 8 am heading for an anchorage at the south end of Assateague Island around 30 nm south of Ocean City.   I planned and followed a route based on the water depths shown on the charts, followed the route south running around 6 kn in a 15 kn offshore westerly breeze and arrived at my turn in point around 2:30 pm.  Heading due west to the inlet I dropped the sails to motor the last mile as the water began to get shallower.  I knew from the chart the area was shallow and prone to shoaling and soon realized the chart didn’t look anything like the shoreline ahead. 

Now a number of people have suggested I tell this story and weave in something like going out in hurricane Kate looking for adventure and then being attacked by alien vampire pirates and chased onto the beach but one of the reasons I’m writing this blog is to pay forward the experiences, the hopes and the truths of the cruising experience.   I wouldn’t have found the courage to be out here if it wasn’t for those who had gone before me and shared honestly the experiences they had as well as their thoughts and feelings about those experiences so I feel it would be a disservice to the mission of the blog and those before me to embelish or minimize any part of this accident to save my pride.

I saw the surf ahead and knew I didn’t want to be anywhere near there, the  water depth suddenly went from 13 to 6 feet and as I slowed and began to turn back I hit the shoal.  Turns out the area is prone to quickly shifting shallows and changing shoreline driven by the weather and currents.  Skylark was heeled over in shallow water, being lifted by each succesive wave and being pushed closer to the beach.  There was an offshore breeze and I was quite confident I could sail off so I unfurled the jib and had at it.  I could keep the boat pointed offshore but couldn’t make any headway so I was slowly moving torwards the beach and when the boat heeled torwards the ocean a wave would frequently break into the cockpit filling it and sloshing green water below.

I tried contacting Tow boat unsuccessfully but was able to reach the Coast Guard.  Unfortunately I would find out later that the Coast Guard was only interested in saving me, not the boat.  We had a three and a half hour exchange on the VHF as the boat drifted closer to the beach.  They eventually sent a boat and a helicopter, neither of which would pull me off the beach. 

The surf didn’t seem particularly strong or unusual but the effects on Skylark were violent and brutal.   Despite a bow anchor being deployed Skylark was turned beam to the sea and the waves would force her to lean one way and then the other, flopping over with a great crash.  When the cockpit faced the waves much water came aboard with every breaker and a good amount made its way below where all the drawers and lockers had burst open, dumping their contents on the cabin sole where they mixed with the sea water and sand being driven into the boat.

To be continued…….