Our time at Snead’s Ferry must come to an end. We have untied the lines, fueled up the vessel, and started the new voyage. This new journey consists of a 62 nautical-mile sail down the shores to Carolina Beach for the next leg of our grand adventure. To say our 12 hour sail was interesting is grossly understating the trip. Like many of our nautical adventures, the cruise was not without challenges. As if the task at hand wasn’t enough, the route itself tested our sea legs, patience, and pace. Our particular route consists of 3 swing-bridges. Two of these swing-bridges operate every hour (on the house) while the third moved every half hour. Time had to be on our side. With the luck we’ve encountered thus far, neither Burt nor I were hopeful. Let’s just say: the odds were against us from the beginning. Tropical storm Ana had just careened through the East Coast and left us with outstanding winds and very little rain.
Picture this: 20kts headwind. The current pushing against us. Even pushing it full throttle, it seemed that 4kts was the best we could muster. Our first bridge looked promising. We were making great time and would be one obstacle down. Quickly we learned that the Intercoastal Waterway is full of clandestine surprises. The path to our first bridge was abruptly halted by an unforeseen sandbar. From 6 feet of water in the channel to a foot and a half. (Insert long string of expletives here).
We only had 20 minutes before that first bridge opens and we’re up a “certain” creek without a paddle. Scratch that. We’re aground in the middle of the ICW (far worse circumstances). After giving the boat hell for several minutes, we gave up on our belief that self-extraction was an option. Burt goes below deck to dial Towboat US, the only reliable backup plan we could envision.
To hell with that. We were giving up too soon. Sailing at the very basic level is about taking a chance and putting your faith in the wind. If we gave up this quickly, who the hell were we to be captains of this vessel anyway? No. I had a plan.
Remember that 20kts headwind? Yeah, I had forgotten too. I thought maybe we could use that wind to our advantage. We couldn’t have been too far onto this sandbar. We just might pull it off.
I took the last of my faith and the renewed energy from hopeful adrenaline and pushed the engine like a contestant in the Mr. Olympia competition. Pushing the engine and turning hard-to-starboard, I felt a little spin of the boat.
SHE WAS MOVING!
Slowly but ever-so-surely, our girl was spinning off the sandbar. Burt popped out of the galley like a meerkat in the safari and jumped on deck to push the engine full throttle in the opposite direction of this sandbar.
Somehow, lady luck was sitting shotgun on this journey because not only were we able to spin off the sandbar but the bridge tender held the bridge an extra 3 minutes so we could pass through.
Following the award-winning drama of the first leg to this great journey, it was smooth sailing. Quite literally, I might add.
We’re now sage and sound in our new spot: Carolina Beach. Moving here is crucial for any future sea trials. This vantage point gives us access to two inlets with plenty of depth and space; giving us an unprecedented opportunity to make short test runs and a few long passages in the season.
Until then, we’re pouring a glass for lady luck and hoping she sticks around awhile longer.
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