ICW to Oriental

 

We were joined in Carolina Beach by our friends, Bente and Lars who will sail with us the next couple of weeks.  Lars and Vinni studied for their Yachtmaster Ocean captains tickets together and Lars was floored when we invited them to come. He is part owner of a 29 foot sailboat and never thought he would get a chance to sail the big oceans or in distant seas. But now he has the chance and he is as excited as a little kid at Christmas.

We stayed 2 days together in Debbie and Marshall’s wonderful beach house before regretfully leaving. Fortunately Debbie and Marshall have invited us to come back so we’ll move in again next fall (ha, ha, ha). There’s always something to repair it seems – this time it is our outboard engine.  We just spent $150 having it repaired in the USVI but no way it would start when we got to Carolina Beach.

Damn, damn, damn – and double damn.

I tried everything I couple and split the damn thing into nanoatoms, but I simply could not resuscitate it so off it went to Tom’s Marine Service who fixed it ($250). Turns out that the highspeed orifice was plugged and had to be drilled out.  No way I could have done that myself without a real work shop and damn the fellow on the USVI who “fixed” it.

To top it all off, our dinghy started leaking and there is no place that can repair it locally – it will ahve to wait until we get to Beaufort or further north – perhaps all the way to Norfolk.

But one morning we loaded all our baggage and food and slipped our lines from the  mooring ball and then we were off. Northwards on the ICW and with a little luck we’ll be Norfolk in 3 days or so.

Our first day on the water it rained and this is really the first real rain Vinni and I have seen in months. Vinni got a chance to try out her new “foulies”, Bente and Lars felt right at home sailing in foulies – just like home in Denmark.

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Bente and Lars enjoying the sailing

But the scenery.

I know, I know. I keep gushing about the sheer beauty and the emptiness we are experiencing but this trip really is unbelievable. There are still dolphins in the waters around us, eagles and hawks circle overhead and any number of other wildlife around us. Lars and Bente are just as struck by all this as we are and it just continues all day.

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Bente and Lars first sunrise at sea

We stopped in Swansboro for the night and had some spaghetti and red wine and talked until late about the day and everything we saw.

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logs in the river

Finally, early in the evening, we reached Oriental, a little town on the ICW.  Oriental boasts a supermarket (Yay!) a couple of restaurants and best of all, a pier that has water 8 feet deep.

One of the biggest problems we’re encountering on this trip is finding places where we can overnight. We would dearly like to anchor, but the water outside the channel is generally not deep enough for our keel – so anchoring is out. Few of the marinas are deep enough, mpst of them are only 5 feet or so. Finding a place is tough.

When I do call ahead to ask if they have a space and if it is correct as it says in the book that they have 8 feet, I tell them that we draw 7.5 feet, are 40 feet long and 13 feet wide. The response is the same every time. First there is a pause and then the say, “excuse me, I thought you said you draw 7.5 feet?”  When I confirm that we get reactions like:

“How did you get that thing in here?”

“How are you navigating up through here?”

and the one fellow who paused again when I confirmed we draw 7.5 and then said,

“Well, I am seriously, seriously impressed.”

We stayed in Oriental for a couple of days because there is a company here that fixes inflatables (our dinghy). That also gave us the chance to check out the town.  Every couple of hours the next day someone would come by to check out these crazy danes who were sailing up the ICW with a 7.5 foot keel. Within minutes of our docking, the entire town knew we were there.

Oriental is a pretty little town, 12 square blocks or as the dockmaster said – “you can walk 12 streets north and 12 streets west and that’s it” . It is a bit like a time warp. Everything is in slowmotion and the town looks like a hollywood set. We walked by the hotel bar and who was sitting out on the terrrace having a drink but our friends from the ARC, the Australians, Leanne and Darren. They were in town because their boat was in the next harbour being repaired and they had come over to have dinner and drinks

Small world.

Oriental is also called the Dragontown, because in the  small lake in the center of town there is a statue of a dragon (don’t ask me why).

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The dragon in the center of town

There was a fresh fish place where we bought some grouper and later that evening i fried them up and they were super. We haven’t had much fish so far on this trip and these were just magnificent.

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Fresh fish, the sign to the right of the door shows how high the water was when the hurricane hit 5 years ago

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Throughout the town there were sign telling about the local history. Here alongside an artesian well where all the local teens got their first kiss

 

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This is the well

But all good things do come to an end and the next morning we sailed northward, $495 poorer for the dinghy repair (sigh).

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