Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach is just north of Wilmington, NC on the ICW. Also just north of the Cape Fear River. We opted to stay here and then on the south side of the Cape Fear River after this to avoid having to head to a marina right on the Cape Fear River. The current on the Cape Fear River can be a bit challenging if you are trying to dock at max flood or max ebb tide. The current runs about 3 – 4 knots. At 4 knots that’s a bit less than 5 miles per hour. Water flowing that quickly can make your boat go in directions that you didn’t intend.

We left Harbor Village Marina about 10 am. We weren’t in any hurry this morning since the mornings are still quite chilly. This morning it’s 48 degrees when we left at 10 am. We only have about 20 miles to go today so not a stressful day. I know what you all are thinking…a stressful day on that water chasing our dreams, how stressful can that be? I guess you are right, we feel very lucky and fortunate to be able to do what we are doing and we are loving everyday on the water.

The ICW is peaceful and tranquil as we watch the houses, wildlife and other boaters pass by. Here are some views from this stretch of the ICW.

We have 2 bridges that we have to have opened for us on our journey today. The first is the Figure 8 Island Bridge which has a closed height of 20′ and the second is the Wrightsville Beach Bridge which has a closed height of 14′. We are about 56′ tall. Both bridges today open on a schedule. The Figure 8 Island Bridge opens on the hour and on the half hour. The Wrightsville Beach Bridge opens on the hour only. These 2 bridges are about an hours distance between the 2 so we want to get to the Figure 8 Island Bridge and go through on the hour so that we can travel an hour to the next bridge and arrive there when the Wrightsville Beach Bridges opens on the hour. If we don’t hit the first bridge on the hour we will have to likely wait 30 mins for the second bridge to open. Waiting at a bridge can be difficult with current, particularly when the current is pushing your boat toward the bridge.

Our timing today was good, we were able to get to the Figure 8 Island Bridge at the top of the hour at about 12 noon. Here’s the Figure 8 Bridge swung open as we were headed through.

We made it timely to the Wrightsville Beach Bridge for the 1 pm opening as well. Sometimes life on a boat is just very satisfying when you have good bridge timing.

We made it to Carolina Beach around 3:30 pm. Here we reserved a mooring ball for the night. Mooring balls are a great alternative to anchoring since generally you are more secure knowing you are tied up to something solid. Mooring balls are also much cheaper than a dock for the night too. A mooring ball here in Carolina Beach is $20 a night.

It was a bit windy today as we were coming into Carolina Beach but both Mark and I were very successful in picking up the mooring ball line and getting all connected. For those unfamiliar, a mooring ball is a large floating ball in the water that is tethered to the bottom generally with chain and concrete. There is a rope on the top of the mooring called the painter that has a big loop in it. The idea is that you maneuver you boat close to the mooring ball while someone on the bow of the boat uses a boat hook to reach and hook the loop of the rope that is attached to the mooring ball. Now this sounds simple enough, however throw in some wind, waves and the boat moving around as you try to grab a loop in a line with a long hook. Mark did a great job getting the boat close to the mooring ball and I was able to hook the line with my boat hook on the first try and get our dock lines around the loop of the rope. Mark and Rose for the win! And what is our prize? A glass of wine in the cockpit you say?

Carolina Beach looks like a great town to explore, however we are tired today and we are only staying one night and moving on tomorrow. It seemed like a lot of work to take the dinghy down and head into town, so we just hung out, had some wine, played some cribbage and made some dinner. We will be headed back through this area when we head north so we might have to stop at Carolina Beach again and do some exploring next time.

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