Keep Warm and Carry on South

The weather in the Northeast continued to worsen, with strong northern winds bringing freezing temperatures to Norfolk. After biding our time through a couple particularly nasty storms, we made our way south on the ‘inside’, cruising along the system of rivers, canals, locks and waterways called the Intracoastal and somewhat affectionately referred to as ‘the ditch’.

Running this route keeps us out of the notorious Cape Hatteras and allows us a stop at Coinjock for cheap diesel and the purportedly famous prime rib. Needless to say the fish special with green curry was quite good.

Navigating the narrow and shoal ridden ditch is a challenge in a boat with 7-foot draft even though the locals claim that the hefty barges passing day and night are 10-12 feet, we dragged our keel a number of times.

At the notorious Alligator river, where I wrote earlier in the year about running aground, we were behind two very slow sail boats which were running dangerously close to the shoals well within the marked channel. We notified them on the radio and squeezed by at their insistence, in the worst possible spot. This quick passage put us steaming hard for the open bridge and saved us waiting on the next opening.

Another anchoring on the Neuse river that night and morning run through the canal into Beaufort was a rare, late fall day that felt more like spring. We secured a slip and OneWheeled to an excellent lunch and then prepared for an overnight to Charleston.

The weather was in our favor that night and around noon, we docked behind the massive, triple mast sailing vessel Adix. They like to pack them tight at the Charleston City Marina, with the stern flag pole extending nearly over our bow and their colors licking the bird’s bulb!

Thanksgiving was upon us and I flew home to Oregon to surprise my family while Luke did some improvements and repairs, including starting the daunting task of replacing the air conditioning compressors. It seems the previous three, installed just three years earlier, had all failed, likely due to improper installation; either a fouled fluid line or power grounding causing corrosion.

I had a few days after my return to provision and explore Charleston, a beautiful city, and we finally found a restaurant that exemplifies everyone’s tendency to call this city a foodie town. Magnolia’s had southern, homestyle cooking with subtle twists and an elegant flair. Highly recommended.

A series of heavy rains, lightning and wind passed through and we were stuck on board for several days, watching the weather closely, looking for an opportunity to move further south, if not all the way to Fort Lauderdale.

Finally a reprieve gave us a chance and we planned a route to Cape Canaveral where we thought we might opt to duck back into the Intracoastal and make the last 140 miles inside. We left at 1AM after Luke had secured the engine room and took roughly 4 hour shifts through the night, the following day and next night. 

The winds were from the North and Northeast for the better part of the second day and third night so we rolled out the starboard headsail and for a while, the mainsail as well. Now we can comfortably say ‘yes we do’ when people ask, do you use those things as they stare quizzically at what is perhaps the only trawler with sails.

The predicted, growing winds in Southern Florida had pushed back to Sunday which gave us a solid window to reach Fort Lauderdale, so now, as I type this, it’s just after midnight and we’re just under 5 hours from the port entrance. Running up the New River early, before any weekend traffic should make it nice and easy, with a slack tide, albeit low. 

Definitely first on the agenda: O-B Breakfast House, after securing the lines of course.