Head Over Heels in Love

All this writing of anchoring brings to mind our new loves, often called marriage saving headsets. These are wireless, lightweight sets made by Eartec. Full duplex allows simultaneous talking.  They aren’t completely wireless though. A wire connects the low profile head-piece to the transceiver unit which you clip to your belt or stick in a pocket and hope it doesn’t fall out. Bet the next generation is Bluetooth for total wireless-ness!

We’d heard good things about these sets, from fellow cruisers as well as the Siegels on m/v aCapella (the creators of ActiveCaptain) who wrote about their experience. During our ordering from Defender frenzy in Vero we bit the bullet and got a set since they were on sale. They use rechargeable batteries which are soldered in to the transceiver and you just plug the whole thing in to a charger.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t pushing to add one more thing to our inventory of stuff on board. We managed quite well thank you using hand signals and the occasional wild gesturing, yet at times they’d be not simply marriage saving, but anchor chute saving!

Russ wearing the Master headset.

Russ wearing the Master headset.

Lori sports the Remote set- better name would be Commander!

Lori sports the Remote set- better name would be Commander!

The first few times I forgot I could talk and was still doing the hand signaling more than verbalizing.  Once I got the hang of it, I have to admit that I do love these sets, aka talking heads. Even the wind doesn’t interfere with clear and clean communication and they’ve taken our anchoring choreography from satisfying to incredible. 🙂 Don’t need them when we raise anchor unless we’re dealing with a lot of wind and then Russ can give me better directions on how much throttle is needed to keep us straight-on to the chain as it comes up. As an unexpected bonus, the sets help when we drop the main, a process that requires many “go lefts” and “go rights” as we work to get it down inside the lazy jacks and stack pack. Guess we’ll find them useful when docking too. Directions given to me by the dockhands can be relayed to Russ who can’t hear them.  With only a few weeks of use we can say that the money was well spent; they are comfortable and easy to use, deliver perfect clarity and our anchoring looks better than ever! Makes me feel a bit like a yachtie.

Calabash Creek: Shutterbug Scenic

We met a boat in Charleston; one of their first statements was, “Marilyn hates the ICW.” True that; their Q flag was flying as they entered the harbor, a sure sign of Bahamas being their last port. If Ortolan drew more than 5ft we’d wouldn’t be so keen on the ICW either. Fortunately we only draw 3ft, but mostly Russ behaves like we need more.

Have I mentioned bridges lately? No doubt I’m due to whine about them again.
Snows Cut connects the Cape Fear River, north of Southport, NC, to the ICW at Carolina Beach. A fixed bridge spans the cut for vehicle convenience and boater annoyance. A couple of weeks ago we checked the Coast Guard’s Local Notice to Mariners, an extensive (but not exhaustive) listing of stuff to take note of, such as missing channel markers, dredging projects and bridge construction/repairs. One cannot go along the ICW fat, dumb and happy… and remain that way. If so, kudos to you! By the time we’re done checking weather, notices, ActiveCaptain, more weather, I’ve got a headache. Maybe I need more wine.

So we see that the span is being re-painted from Dec 2012 until April 30, 2013, with clearance reduced 4ft. Um, perhaps we could dawdle more. Years ago the old paint would have been removed and the new paint applied. Environmental regs require that the area be curtained off and a big vacuum used as the old paint is sandblasted off as well as remove new paint fumes. A corrugated platform is hung under the span and pieces of canvas are used to cover the span, forming a cocoon. This is what causes the clearance reduction, meaning that at normal high tide 61ft is available and 65ft at low. We need approximately 62 ½’. Hang on I’m getting to the scenic stuff. Not trusting the accuracy of the info and knowing that we have a mast top air tube that doesn’t bend, we wanted to pass under closer to low tide, which was either going to be around 6:30 am or 6:30 pm. We opted for evening low tide and could stop for the night at Carolina Beach, just a mile away.
Based on that schedule, we opted to begin our bad bridge day 40 nm away at Calabash Creek.

A trawler squeezes past a shrimper preparing to head out the inlet.

A trawler squeezes past a shrimper preparing to head out the inlet.

Really the end of Calabash River just off the ICW where on the other side it continues out to the Little River Inlet; a stone’s throw to the North Carolina border. The creek offered tree-lined North to East protection with marsh on the opposite shore. One m/v and s/v already anchored, but I think we got the best spot in between them. Low tide was showing the mud along the shore where happy egrets and a heron made their dinner selections. Spied an osprey, heard but didn’t see a woodpecker and as you may have already guessed, played Sally Shutterbug. Oh, plus we talked with Benj almost an hour; life is good.

Reflecting or ready to strike?

Reflecting or ready to strike?

Our evening shoreside view at Calabash Creek

Our evening shore side view at Calabash Creek