We made it home late Saturday, with rising winds and drizzle threatening to turn to sleet. There were several possible places to stop & dock or anchor, but the weather was predicted to be even worse for the next few days. So we decided to keep chugging on because we were in our home waters and know them well; we arrived at our home slip at about 10:30pm. Our diesel furnace had been running for 6 days straight!
North Carolina D.O.T. has a great ferry system. This one is headed down the ICW for some reason... maybe headed south to avoid cold weather?
Our last night was at Hampstead, a few miles north & east of Wrightsville Beach & Wilmington. A visit from newlyweds Guy & Jennifer was a nice occasion; Guy & Doug are old-time sailing buddies. We're looking forward to hearing about their adventures cruising together!
Here is a rare photo by Doug. Hank enjoys his last night of adventure, while Kathie prevents him from chasing animals or birds into the marsh.
The Winnie W.'s last passage on this Great Loop began early, so as to make a time slot for a low bridge that only opens on the hour. There was a 'winter weather warning' for the area although the forecasters also tempered this by saying the worst freeze & snow would be more likely inland; there was also a gale forecast for the coastal & offshore waters for the next day. What a nice combination! Driving all day and into the night was not a pleasant prospect, but being stopped by gales & frosts within a few hours of home would be far less pleasant.
Looking across the barrier islands at Topsail Beach, birds & marsh & beach front development... this is the standard mix along the Carolina coast.
One of the nice things about cruising nowadays is that it's easy to keep in touch, and it's easy to gather data about your cruising area. For example, we heard about navigation difficulties & shoaling at several places along the ICW. Some spots have been known for trouble for years, such as Lockwood's Folly. However there is now a set of temporary marker buoys near Brown's Inlet (south & west of Swansboro), placed to guide cruisers around a new sandbar.
That's some sandbar- you can tell how shallow the water is by the land sticking up above it! This is marker 62, going thru this area is pretty straightforward although the buoys are well off to the side.
We kept going. Fortunately we made it thru the difficult parts, like the Newport River (above Morehead City) with its twisty channel & strong tidal currents, before dark.
Doug shows his confidence in navigating Adams Creek & the Neuse River at night by smiling for the camera... or is he grimacing at having to wear his glasses to read the chart?
The new camera takes great photos, it was much darker than this picture looks... the commercial vessel 'PAMLICO' is pushing a barge ahead of us into lower Adams Creek. Visibility was not good and the rain tended to blind the radar. From here it is about a 4 hour run until we docked.
So, now we have our feet up at home! It is comfy and Hank doesn't appear to miss his morning dinghy ride. The boat was still well stocked with canned food so we brought that up to the pantry. Now we're seeing friends & family face to face, in some cases for the first time in a year... there are a few changes to get used to.
Life moves on and we are already thinking about our next adventure! We'll post updates here about prep for future trips and trips in our local area at erratic intervals.
Here is a photo of Winnie W. leaving her slip for the Great Loop, back in May of 2007. Thanks to John J. for this shot!
Thanks so much for your attention to our travels! Best wishes to all- Doug & Kathie