April 21 -22
We left Wrightsville Beach via Mott’s Channel without incident -- only memories of TowBoat US pulling us off that shoal last fall. The channel was dredged over the winter and now has plenty of depth.
We arrived at Mile Hammock, our planned stop for the day, at noon and decided it was too early in the day to drop anchor. “Painted Skies,” a Tartan 412 ahead of us, had called on the VHF asking if we were the same “DeLaMer” that had been at the Jax Naval Air Station Marina last winter. They were there when DeLaMer took her solo trip across the St. John’s River. Catherine and Lael were headed to Swansboro to anchor and invited us to join them for wine and hors d’ oeuvres aboard “Painted Skies.”
By mid-afternoon, the skies ahead were black. Our radar showed a large cell of heavy precipitation over Swansboro. We tuned in to NOAA. They were issuing a severe thunderstorm warning, lightening strikes, and quarter-sized hail for the Swansboro area and urging mariners to seek safe shelter. Swansboro was six miles ahead! We slowed to give the storm time to pass and waited almost an hour before it had cleared.
Skipper Bob’s rating of the Swansboro anchorage was: no protection from wind and strong current. He’s right! The first two times we dropped the hook, it dragged. On the third try, it caught. After testing our hold twice, we put the dinghy down and enjoyed a pleasant evening with our new cruising acquaintances. They’ve invited us to stop at their home in Horn Harbor, Virginia in the Chesapeake.
By late evening, the winds had picked up to 15-20 kts, gusting to 25, and radar showed more storm cells in the area. Between the thunder and lightening, checking our anchor and proximity to the two other boats nearby -- it was a restless night. Morning brought no weather relief. We decided to go into Dudley’s Marina and wait the weather out on a dock. We docked in 20 knot winds with a 3.5 mph current. Dudley’s was a good decision; it poured and howled most of the day.
“Island Spirit,” a 35 foot IP anchored with us, also came into the marina. We enjoyed meeting Hayden and Radeen. Hayden teaches computer science and Radeen is an elementary librarian. They are both on sabbatical taking online master’s degrees from their boat.
We took Dudley’s loaner car, drove into Swansboro and found a delightful place for lunch, Church Street Deli. The food was excellent, the chef gregarious, and the hand-painted murals on the walls and tables fun to see
I’m beginning to wonder if being in Saratoga for the winter will satisfy me. We are meeting so many nice folks and having so many new experiences cruising!