We left early this morning at 0645 due to weather predictions and tide tables. What we didn’t anticipate was the fog. Fortunately, we had just finished navigating around one of the ICW’s more notorious “trouble spots” of frequent shoaling when the pea soup rolled in. A few minutes later leaving that anchorage and it might have been a very different tale.
We were following three boats (S/V Resurgam was the second boat) and as soon as that fog rolled in, we were extremely glad we were not the lead boat. You know that feeling, when you are driving a car in either dense fog or a deluge of rain, and you can only focus on the tail lights of the car in front of you? This morning reminded me of the worse fog I had ever experienced prior to today. It was an evening in France in 1984, on roads we had never traveled using just paper maps (remember those?), and the fog was so thick that I looked like a dog with my head hanging out of the window, trying to direct the driver by watching the white line at the side of the road.
Okay, you get the picture of what this morning was like.
At first, we could see boats #1, #2 and #3. Then just #2 and #3. Then just #3. Then we could barely see #3, and only if we stayed closer to his stern. And we didn’t want to be that close in case he slowed down, or worse, ran aground. Yes, it was a bit white knuckling at times. There was nothing else to do. We couldn’t “pull over” because the canal is only deep enough and wide enough for two-way travel, at least for our size boat (we draw 5’6”).
So we hoped for the best, and for good lead boats. And for the sun to burn off the fog. And all of that worked, eventually. The last of the fog left around 1015, after our first bridge opening.
Patience is learned on the ICW. There was a lot of waiting today. Waiting for the fog to lift. Waiting for the bridges to open, even though we thought we had timed it perfectly but alas, the shoaling trouble spots or the fog slowed us. We missed one bridge opening by five minutes, which then delayed not just that bridge crossing but a subsequent bridge that only opens at the top of the hour. By the time we reached Wrightsville Beach, we had been moving for 7.5 hours, but the journey would have taken less than 6 hours if there had been no fog or bridge delays.
And yes, the shoaling trouble spots were troubling. But Active Captain (a web-based interactive cruising guide), our guidebooks, our notes from seminars, and the reports from boats ahead of us, all conspired to let us live another day without touching bottom. However, it got dicey a few times, with just 12” below our keel. But hey, we never saw less than 12” so that’s something to celebrate (or so I tell Captain D—not sure he’s feeling the same).
We arrived at our marina in time to check out their courtesy car for a drive to the beach. Yay! We put our toes in the sand, watched the sun set, and then enjoyed an early dinner at a highly recommended restaurant.
Perhaps I’ll make some pea soup tomorrow, just to practice more patience.