On Sunday am, we left our anchorage off of the Neuse River, and traveled just four hours south, to Beaufort, NC, where we got a slip at the Beaufort Docks. We stopped here on our way south in 2007, and Scott stopped here with his friend, Captain Eric, on the way north in 2013, after buying Sea Life in Ft. Lauderdale.
We took a “back way” into Beaufort, which took us under a drawbridge that opens on the half hour. As we came up to the area, it was clear that they are constructing a new, higher bridge, to remove the need for the draw. This is happening more and more along the routes south.
The construction…concrete pilings, barges and such, was strewn all across the channel that we were using to get up to the bridge. And, the markers had been moved to new spots…always keeping us on our toes. So we’re trying to jockey in place, fighting current, while we wait for the bridge, trying not to hit either of the markers or the concrete stuff in our way.
We had previously hailed the bridge tender on the radio, to let him know that we were south bound, and awaiting his next opening. This is customary, although it irritates Scott. He thinks that since we are clearly visible to the bridge tender, they should obviously know that we’re waiting for the bridge. Or, in on-demand cases, he thinks they should see us and open it. If this were true, we’d miss all the “fun” of hailing them on the radio, and waiting for them to respond.
This, more often than not, takes awhile..longer than you’d think, considering that they’re in a tiny space, and right near the radio. You always wonder if your radio isn’t working right, because sometime that happens. They can hear you, and respond, but you can’t hear them, so you keep hailing them. You’re getting irritated that they’re not responding, and they’re irritated that you’re not responding. By the time you get through, or just give up and call them on the phone, everyone is irritated.
But, I digress; apologies. As we’re jockeying, a commercial fishing boat on the other side of the bridge hails the tender that he’s waiting for an opening. The tender informs him that a cruising trawler is waiting on the north side, and that we’ll go through first. The commercial captain replies, (in my best working-man Southern drawl) “ya mean ah yacht?” Now we’re waiting to see his reaction as we come through, and he sees us with our paravanes and such (like commercial fishing boats), and calls us “posers.” We prepare ourselves for radio humiliation.
So it’s now minutes before the opening, and a little boat of idiots anchors to fish…right between us and the bridge!
It may look like there is a lot of extra room, but there’s not, and we’re also dealing with current, which tends to get “wanky” as you go under bridges. We’re also heavy and slow. Good for ocean travel and fuel efficiency, but tricky for maneuvering quickly and in tight conditions.
When said idiots in boat hear the bridge bells go off, to signal the opening, the cobwebs are wiped away, and they realize that they are in middle of the “road”! They haul up their dumb anchor, move just out of our path..and then plunk that dumb anchor back into the water….now their the next guy’s problem.
Ok, we’re good to go, no idiots, bridge opening, commercial guy chomping at the bit to come through on the other side..and a second batch of idiots comes up behind us and cut us off to go under the bridge! Thank God we’re not fast.
Of course once they buzz past us and under the bridge, they see the big guy on the other side, and swerve out of his way…back into our path. Thank God they’re fast, and move across quickly.
We get big “props” from the bridge tender as we go through, “That’s a good hull you got under you, Captain.” It’s nice to get a nod from the locals, and a bridge tender to boot. On to Beaufort Docks!
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”