Lonely Days and Lonely Nights

I've definitely noticed a trend on this migration south. We are all alone. In marinas, at anchorages, there are really no other cruisers out here. Last time south, we traveled in a pack, lots of us grouped together each day, headed towards warmth. The anchorages were full, as we all jockeyed for our little piece of bottom grabbing.

We are very late this year and it shows. We see a few crabbers and small fishing skiffs out doing what they do, but outside of one or two big power cruisers headed fast towards the sun, we are really bringing up the rear this time around. So as we head south, we are turning out all the lights. We are the last ones in the ICW.

We made it to Southport Marina today around noon. Our batteries are overcharging, and Al has it isolated (we hope) to the internal regulator on the alternator. I figured it would be a lot easier on him to change to our spare alternator in a marina, plus if it turns out we are wrong, we can get parts since we are in town. He changed it out and says it is working fine so far. Here's hoping!

We must be invisible. I say that because the other day we had the kite boarding guy zig-zagging in our path like we weren't there and today it was fishermen. Now here we were, headed down a distinct channel, shallow water to each side. A small john boat type skiff can be seen ahead, far in the distance, barreling towards us. No problem, there is plenty of room to pass us on each side in a small boat like that.

But wait, the guy pulls short a few hundred yards in front of us and his partner tosses out a bouy. They proceed across the channel in front of us (one side of the channel to the other) laying a freaking fishing net! What the Heck?? Then they proceed to signal us that they have a net in the water. Oh yeah, get it deep buddy, 'cause I'm about to go right over your several hundred dollar investment. No way I'm running out of the channel, or coming to a dead stop because you were too lazy or stupid to go 100 yards further and lay it behind me. It's not like there another boat out here for 50 miles. So over it we go, with them mouthing off at me like there's no tomorrow. I play as deaf as they played at being blind. 

I told Al: next time we pull the boat, I am installing one of those line cutter thingies. Nets under the boat, crab pots in the channel, with the line cutter, they will all be fair game.

Finally going the right way

We got away from SailCraft Boatyard this morning at 8:00. At 8:04, I was aground. I was still in the channel, just not where enough water was. We draw 5ft., not 4'7", and that's what the depth meter read. I backed Journey off, and took her real wide, and we were finally underway.
We stopped at SeaGate Marina for fuel and water, great place with nice folks. I had a few reservations about the small turning area and my big hulking boat, but I was able to get in and out with no problems.
We didn't really consider ourselves headed south until we passed the turning basin at Beaufort. Until then, it's all home cruising grounds to us. So as we headed into Bogue Sound, we truly felt the trip had begun.
Down near the south end of the sound, there was a kite surfer cutting back and forth across the channel. Now Bogue Sound is huge, and this guy needs like, what? six inches of water under him? But here he was, as we approached,  weaving back and forth in front of us like an idjit. We decided if he got his kite caught in our rigging, we would drag him until we couldn't hear his pleas for help anymore, then cut the mess loose. We had him pass less than fifty feet in front of us, in a pretty good headwind, then he weaved a scant thirty feet behind the boat. For him: fun-100%, brains-2%. After all, he can ride a kite board, so that's worth something.
Next we kept an eye on the cold front as it bore down on us. Winds kept building during the afternoon, and the dark line of clouds were heading our way from the mainland. It looked as though a good soaking was imminent, but it never materialized. The sun finally peeked out around four PM, and felt good on our wind blown bodies.
Cherry Point had their Harriers out in force. They were landing as we passed, and I swear they all planned their descent path to pass right overhead. What noise! They would come over, slow down, hover and land. Mega decibels for the duration.  I still can't hear right.
As the afternoon waned, we started thinking about an anchorage. Swansboro was the first place within the barest reach of daylight arrival, and that was going to be iffy. We had been running against the current for most of the day. Al read the report on the anchorage: "strong changing currents, two anchors required".
We called Casper's Marina. Yes they could take us. Wait... after dark? No we can't dock boats after dark, it's too dangerous! Shoot Lady, if I can bring it in after dark, the least you can do is help tie me up!
So we called Dudley's. Yes Yes Yes, come on we are here for you! And we are almost half the price of stuffy Casper's. Well alright, I said that, not them, but it's true!
So I am warm, Al is watching TV, and I have power for the computer! Dudley's even delivered us to a local restaurant, where we had a wonderful dinner, and the restaurant brought us back to the marina. Great Day indeed!