So Much to Write About… But What?

We’ve have some windows of good weather, followed by rainy days. But, we are anchoring out and exploring. So, Bird Island near the Little River Inlet on the North/South Carolina Inlet or the Waccamaw River and the surrounding wildlife refuge. Perhaps I’ll give you a little of both. But there is also a “how to” on launching the dinghy. I’ll save that!

Bird Island

I love maps (or charts in the boating world). I use both and am always looking for the fun, interesting, off the beaten path spot to visit. Can’t help myself. Bird Island. Part of a North Carolina Preserve on the north side of the Little River Inlet. A good strong current, in and out twice a day, but quite sheltered given how close it is to the ocean, maybe a quarter mile away across the dunes and vegetation. And, we can see the ocean over the breakwater south of us.

To the left is the southern breakwater for the Little River Inlet. The ICW is to the right about a mile of twists and turns through that little slit of water you see. We had great weather and rainy and rather windy weather here. But our anchor held like a champ as we did 360 spins with the tide and weather.

I’d wanted to visit Bird Island as there is a mailbox here called the Kindred Sprit Mailbox. It made me think of our visit to Post Office Bay in the Galapagos where you leave messages, objects and paraphernalia. Although Post Office Bay is only accessible by boat and I thought that was the case for Bird Island, it turns out you can reach it by walking down the beach from a Sunset Beach; but WE came by boat! So, we are special!

Kindred Spirit Mailbox. The story is the mailbox helped in getting this island saved from development and made into a preserve. There is also a very nice nature trail. As well as the sand dunes, and grass marsh, there are permanent trees and shrubs. Turns out this is a wintering spot for Yellow-rumped Warbles and Cedar Waxwings and those ubiquitous American Robins. We saw 40 or more of each species which was very cool!

Rincon Feliz was anchored on the marsh side of the island and we launched the dinghy, anchoring using our anchor buddy to keep Rinconcito in the water as the tide was rising. Worked like a champ!

We spent 3 nights in this little bay. A view of Rincon Feliz across the marsh grass from Bird Island.

The Autopilot Needs Work

On day two of our anchoring at Bird Island, we headed out into the big beautiful Atlantic Ocean. This was our first time in the ocean without a training Captain. We were nervous (no reason to be) and giddy. Another first which is fun. We are still trying to get our autopilot to work as well as it did before be had our drive shaft and rudder rebuilt. One needs open water and fairly smooth seas for the calibration. There were long swells which got Chicha urpy, but it worked pretty well and our autopilot is working better.

A bit of our breadcrumb trail getting the autopilot working correctly. Part of the calibration needs you to do circles. it is not doing the slow waggle it was before this new calibration. Better, but not perfect yet.

Of course, one mostly uses their autopilot offshore. Very RARELY on the ICW. Too narrow, too much going on, etc. After the calibration, dumping our poop tanks 3 miles off shore and trying to make water (the water maker needs work), we headed back to our same anchorage which was so nice.

The Waccamaw River

The Waccamaw River runs from North Carolina down to the ocean near Georgetown. Part of it is common with the ICW and runs through lots of wildlife refuge and protected lands. We thought a side trip up the Waccamaw to Conway, SC would be fun, a challenge and a chance to be in the swamps. The challenge is that it is not all charted. But, “sources” say it is 10 – 20 feet deep in the channel, so we should be OK as our draft is 5 feet. At least the charting tool on my tablet does show the whole course which is quite “meandery.”

Not sure which flood caused the marking on the trees, about 12 feet up. Could have been Hurricane Florence or Isaias or just heavy winter rains which they had last year. We came through this area on the ICW in June, there was still severe flooding then.

The Waccamaw is also a Blue River Trail, meaning a Kayak trail. (https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resources/rrformer/waccamaw-river-blue-trail/). Get out your kayak and do the 140 miles! We can’t do the whole distance on Rincon Feliz. Conway is as far as we could get. We could have gone further, but decided to stop at Cox lake, just south of town.

A rainy day today. But beautiful and peaceful here in the swamp.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunnier and we’ll drop Rinconcito in the water and visit Conway as well as walk some trails very close to our anchorage.