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Bridges…bridges…and a snails pace on the ICW

Wrightsville NC to Myrtle Beach SC on the ICW

We departed Wrightsville NC at 6:30am, with the goal of making it under the first fixed bridge 10 miles south at low tide around 8am. We arrived at the bridge at 8:20….eased thru…as our mast cleared by at least two feet. Whew.

Some of the notable sights for the day include:
-sea grasses along the North Caroline coastline
-a happy Captain Pat after getting thru the first fixed bridge of the day
-Fisherman hunting for oysters and crabs along numerous inlets

The next fixed bridge was in a narrow ICW stretch…and had no depth markings. Thus…it was pure guesswork if we would get under it successfully. The height of the bridge looked short to me…but miraculously we cleared this one too.

Now we are traveling along the Cape Fear river. I keep checking to see if Robert DiNiro is hanging under our bridge deck. All of the ICW reference manuals noted big currents, rip tides and rough navigating through the Cape Fear River. Guess they were referring to some other Cape Fear River…because we got to Southport NC (exit from Cape Fear) in no time…with no problems. I’m not complaining. Now the dilemma is deciding if we should stop for the day (11am) or keep going and try to get under the next fixed bridge when the tide is coming in. We decided to keep going. I’m feelin’ lucky today.

The next fixed bridge turned out to be higher than 65′ and we cleared under this with no problemo. With…one more fixed bridge to go. I hoped we weren’t pushing our luck today. It would be practically high tide for this one. Technically, the bridge clearance of 65′ is for high tide…but don’t always count on it. Better to be safe with $30K in rigging…to just travel under these bridges at the lowest of tides. Here we go…our last fixed bridge of the day…and it’s high tide.

Derrick first spotted the depth markers along the bridge. These markers indicate how many feet clearance you have – based on the tide. This one shows 68 feet. Should be plenty of room. We slowly approached the bridge to be sure….and we did have about 1 foot of clearance. Note to self. Do NOT trust the bridge height markers along the ICW.

Our final bridge of the day to get by – was a pontoon barge swing cable bridge. This is a fascinating contraption. The bridge keeper only opens the bridge on the hour…and we arrived at approximately 2:10. We would idle and do circles for 50 minutes until the 3PM opening. 3PM finally arrives. The bridge is actually a barge on pontoons with a bridge tender house, and cables to hold it together with the fixed part of the bridge. Once it opens, you have to wait for the cables to drop to the bottom of the channel Once the cables have dropped, the bridge tender hails you thru.We finally crossed into South Carolina.

Today’s destination is the Myrtle Beach YC marina. It is a bit upscale….but at least a place to tie up, get heat…(tho the temperatures are warmer here)…and take showers. I’m trying not to look scraggly anymore. At an “upscale” place such as the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club, I thought I might be able to find a decent restaurant, pizza or even grocery store within walking distance. To my dismay, there is nothing but 4 lane highways with lots of billboards and a few convenience stores selling cheese whiz & chips. Seemed like everyone in this town was a sport fisherman high on testosterone. It was creepy, redneck, and I was ready to get right back onto Cat Maudy. Yes, I’m ready to be in South Carolina, but not Myrtle Beach. We ordered out for pizza – and luckily they deliver to the boat.

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