To Anchor, or not to Anchor? That is today’s question. With full intent to anchor out for the night, we slowly cruised by Wrightsville Beach. It’s too early to stop. Top Sail is just a few miles further- the reviews for Top Sail Anchorage are pretty good. Scenic, quiet, convenient to the ICW. As we approached the area, it looked like mud flats (low tide).
A closer look at the reviews and we read “need two anchors to keep from swinging into the channel” – means narrow space. Another review “we woke up on the bottom” means tide went out! Third review “ became quiet after dark” – probably means lots of local traffic during the day, wakes and rocking. We are learning how to better interpret the reviews!! The trawler traveling ahead of us was more daring- they turned to starboard and headed down the channel marked with PVC Pipes.
Result- group decision to move on to a marina, we called Top Sail Marina in Surf City and booked a slip. The marina is located on the east side of the ICW just past a new bridge (still under construction) and through a lift bridge that only opens on the half hour. We missed the bridge opening by a few minutes, so we hovered in the the basin for 20 minutes. Who should join us- the trawler we watched turn in to the anchorage earlier !! Must have changed his mind… confirmation we made the correct decision to pass on the anchorage.
54 miles 8 hours arrived at Surf City north Carolina 4:30
TOP SAIL MARINA
How many of you know that the coast of North Carolina is known for surfing? We learned this in Surf City, NC. The beach is just 3 short blocks from the marina, and there were a few trying out their surf boards.
Marc, the dock master, is a one man show. He took our reservations, helped us with lines, and processed our paperwork- the paperwork is done on the ipad- he doesn’t have an office! Marc works out of his minivan since the owners turned his office into a Spuddies food vendor to make a few more bucks.
This is a friendly stop, and conveniently located a few hundred yards off the ICW. If you go there, hang to starboard in the channel; the boat behind us ran aground when he drifted too far to port.
This is where our little Miss Pirate came aboard. Just in time to catch a ride to Beaufort NC- where the infamous pirate Blackbeard met his demise 300 years ago. More on that story next week.
FISHING PIER, SURFING AND SHELLING The long pier was busy with fishermen- I never saw such a variety and creative wagons for hauling fishing gear out on the pier!!
SURFING NORTH CAROLINA SHORES
Protected by the barrier reefs , this area has been attracting surfers for over 100 years. Made more popular by the surfing movies of the 1960s; it continues to be a popular sport.
This is what I’ve been waiting for- fresh seafood markets!!!
Steps from the marina, we purchased scallops and shrimp for a great price. After dodging the shrimp boats through the salt marshes of Georgia, and the Carolinas, we get to sample the local harvest.
To complicate cruising the ICW; add in currents, tides , water depth, and of course lift bridges and swing bridges!
DUDLEY MARINA, SWANSBORO NC
33miles 4.75 hours travel time today. Sunday May 7
I know, I know- we keep planning to anchor more — can’t help being drawn in to the marinas for convenience after a long day on the water. Our stop at Dudley marina also gave us a chance to check on our friends on Rascals Retreat. Haven’t seen Rick and Prudie since Christmas in Fort Myers. We heard they were at Dudley’s so made sure we spent one night there. Several days ago, high winds ripped their canvas fly bridge enclosure off the boat so they are awaiting repairs. Rascals Retreat is a Mainship just like Moon Shadow!
This marina proved to be convenient- right on the ICW; yet tricky to dock due to swift currents and swirling winds. They put us on the end T-dock as a side tie; Dave skillfully crab walked the boat sideways against the current to allow the dockhands to secure us to the pillars. Moon Shadow has two diesel engines, no bow thrusters- so it takes skill for the Captain to maneuver sideways.
A glimpse at a day in the life of a cruiser- Life at 8 miles per hour! Enjoy.