Saturday, Nov 3. Our plan was to make 56nm from Southport, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC. We’d anchor in a spot we’ve used three times now, just off the ICW in a small oxbow of the Waccamaw River. Only three opening bridges near the end of the day and they were on request. ( NOTE: we’ve added a new page “Where is Ortolan?” so you can follow our path)
Our stop in Southport the previous night was South Harbor Village Marina and their best feature is the terrific Italian restaurant an easy 3 minute walk from dock to land. The food and service are always excellent and my sister-in-law Kerry would so approve of their black cloth napkins. Ever notice how the linty white ones can leave your clothes speckled white? Ask for a black napkin.
So later that evening we hear a call on Ch16 from a commercial fishing vessel (shrimper most likely) to the Coast Guard. M/V Diamond City was taking on water and needed a pump because hers weren’t keeping up. She was one mile off the coast by Southport. Based on the back and forth Q & A between the CG and fishing vessel, the problem was caused by one of the outriggers breaking and somehow making a hole below the waterline. Diamond Cityhad 1 ½ feet of water when they first called for help. The Captain was very calm. The CG sent out a boat with a pump which promptly became clogged. The last we heard was that a CG crew member was attempting to come aboard to assist and now the water was up to 3ft. Very hopeful this calamity would work out well; but we wouldn’t know for sure.
Saturday morning we passed Diamond City, the Coast Guard was there getting a report.
Alright, back to our trip on Saturday. As you may know, we aren’t big on fishing but Russ is determined to harvest fruits of the sea any way he can. One way to do this is to snag a pot, or better yet, a large net strung across the channel. If you snag a new one that wasn’t weighted properly you can easily come away with a good haul. Right. Or you can stop dead in the channel with green netting wrapped around your sail drive, all the time thankful that you don’t have a traditional shaft drive where the line can get really tightly wrapped around all that exposed metal.
Approximately 10miles before the South Carolina line in the area of Ocean Isle Beach, we began noticing very colorful floats on both sides of the channel. I pointed them out as good examples of visible floats. Minutes later we hear a noise we’ve never heard before but figure we must have snagged a pot- except it sounded like more and we never saw one. I race back to the stern (grateful I was decently dressed) and see a large green net with little float balls (about the size of ping-pong balls) near the water’s surface and trailing out from our port stern. Uttering words even today you can’t say on the radio I look around and see two men in a small skiff over near the channel’s edge. Meanwhile Russ has turned off the engine, leaving the starboard one in gear.
The men come over to help and fess up that this is their net (after Russ asked who’d be stupid enough) and it should sink to the bottom but because it was new…. The water is 18 ft deep here mind you. The nets are in for a short while and then get hauled up. Just our luck. A Krogen trawler Lili (they have AIS) is headed our way and I hail her to warn of our situation and to proceed with care. She didn’t have much choice because between the net across the channel and us in the middle, the only room to pass was between the float on our starboard side and the edge of the channel.
The net gets freed from the port sail drive (might have only been arund the rudder) but the starboard engine was still going to keep us in the channel and not hit the G87 marker. The current is weak thank goodness but it’s moving us back and slightly toward the edge of the channel. Now we see that the starboard drive has caught the net, so we shut it down. What is that noise I ask? Again I ask. Oh no says the Captain, the autopilot is still on!! Turn it off and pray that it isn’t now a piece of crap destined for Davy Jones’ Locker. So now we are just at the mercy of the wind and current; both fairly light. The men in the skiff use the netting, still attached to the starboard drive, to pull us back into the channel; wish I had taken a picture of that. We give them a line to use instead (you might recall the one- blue with burnished wood highlights?) and once they extract the netting and pull us far enough, we start the engines. They both seem OK and respond well. Thanks for your help I say as the guys toss back our line. Help? Wish we could have met under better circumstances one guy says. Hey, at least I did NOT apologize for ruining their new net.
The lesson learned is: beware of identical shiny new floats that appear opposite one another and pay careful attention to whether small boats are near the channel’s edge and close to the floats. Be extra cautious on weekends.
The sail drives and prop behave well and Herr Otto is back to being his usual stable, keep-on-course self.
And here I thought I wouldn’t have much to write about on our third trip south- same old, same old I figured. Couldn’t have been more wrong. Hope you all are enjoying the ride 🙂