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    • Baird Creek Adventure, Upper Neuse River, off the AICW near New Bern, NC

      Baird Creek, charted as Beard Creek,liess on the north shore of the upper Neuse River north of Wilkinson Point. As Cat. Ben points out, it is marked by a single marker #1. All of us who have done any gunk-holing will enjoy this delightful tale of keel versus bottom, which will also explain why this particular creek is NOT in our North Carolina Anchorage Directory. Thanks for sharing, Capt. Ben.

      Cruising News:
      The long keel, forever hallowed be its name.
      I may not lay claim to being the dumbest boater, but I strive for the top-five.
      In North Carolina, we have three types of bottoms, pecan-sandy, chocolate-pudding mud, and occasionally rocky-road-oyster shoal. Hungry yet? We love to gunk hole. It’s almost not an adventure if I cannot jump out of the boat and pull it along with the rope or kedge the anchor. Where’s the fun in being sensible? Markers in our waters are usually inaccurate because last month’s hurricane made a shoal where the channel used to be. Soft groundings come with the territory.
      What has saved us in our limitless search for shallow waters and low-cost barnacle scrapings has been our beloved full keel. That and our craft tops out at about eight knots. With a wind. In shallow waters I have the deep sagacity to reduce speed to around 3 knots, so as not to bump anything too hard. One day, I hope to be a smarter captain, but our current mode of gunk-holing has provided hours of adventure, angst, and amusement to my first mate, and I for one refuse to deprive her of the joys of seeing mud churn off our stern. She’s become quite the expert at spotting it.
      On our last adventure, we decided to explore the deep reaches of the Northern Neuse River on Baird Creek just after Thanksgiving. It is marked by a single green “1” daymark and a smattering of private PVC pipes with colored tape jammed in the ground. If you were a golfer, you would call this one hazard-filled course. For a boater it generally tracks around 5 feet deep if you are mostly lucky and very careful. Ours is a single-screw trawler with the aforementioned full keel. Believe me, this captain needs it. Drawing a hair over 42 inches of water, I make it a point to scout out sailboat masts in any unfamiliar harbor, because it’s a good bet that that captain will need a full five feet to knock around in there. Seeing a few masts, we gingerly entered Baird Creek in the afternoon, threw out anchor and proceeded to lounge a bit. I had some minor wiring repairs to do with the generator, so went about that a little after some engine cooling.\
      Around dusk we fired up the generator, only to realize the repairs made did not fix the root problem, which was the transmission of current from the output leads to the rest of our craft. Including the Two-cycle AC (It’s November and a little chilly. After some mutual frowning and head-scratching, my first mate advises me that with the low temperature forecast, we might do better comfort-wise back at our slip, about 10 miles up the Neuse. So after some long deep breaths, inhale/exhale style – to draw in air for the work ahead of course, I agreed with my mate and decided to get about hoisting the anchor.
      Now, this is where the real adventure begins – Anchor, up, no worries. Despite scrubbing and rinsing we still brought a good amount of chocolate pudding aboard as we pulled chain in the dark. In addition, what I failed to notice upon coming into little Baird Creek, was that the wind had shifted to the North, blowing water up the Pamilco Sound and draining the Neuse a bit – lowering the water with one of the Neuse’s famous – or infamous – wind-tides. Our depth finder gets psychotic under 4 feet and we start showing about 700 feet of water whenever this happens – so 700 feet showing usually means we’re near a touch-point, and we were seeing this. We get going about a hundred yards and feel the slow, gentle shudder of bottom. OK- no good. Adrenaline and dismay. We back off a little, free ourselves, and try in a different direction. OK, not so bad, but not for long. We find bottom again. Gentle shudder. Chocolate pudding again. It’s pitch black out except for the small lights of the relatively few homes on Baird Creek. So we back off again and track slowly and surely very close to some of the homes with modest piers. This seems to work. Eventually, gingerly, and nervously we were able to exit Baird Creek with our running gear and some portion of our wits intact. But I can assure the reader any future trip there – in or out – will be in daylight and with a south wind keeping the water high in the Neuse. For Baird Creek – boater beware!
      Thanks once again to King Neptune for providence and our long keel for its patience – it’s saved us from ourselves many a time.
      Capt. Ben
      M/V Sand Castle
      Neuse River

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Beard Creek

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    • Belhaven Town Dock Open for Business, Pantego Creek, AICW Statute Mile 135.5

      Construction on this municipal dock was begun this past fall and its completion is very welcome news for folks wanting to visit the charming town of Belhaven. Docking is free with a 24 hour limit and the dock also provides dinghy dockage for cruisers anchored in the nearby Pantego Creek Anchorage.

      Just thought you might like to know the Belhaven Town dock has been finished. I have attached three photos of the 1st two boats to dock. The BYC (Belhaven Yacht Club) found and assisted the town of Belhaven in getting the grant to do this project.
      Andy Fisher

      Cruising News:
      Had the opportunity to be the first boat docked at the ‘New’ Bellhaven Town dock. Spent the night of 28 December there while aboard a Pearson 424… found pleanty of water for the 6′ draft. We took soundings in the dingy before we went in, and found 8′ all the way in (stay close to the old pilings). The entry channel has good water just stay in the middle until you see the new dock (near the hospital). Stayed the night with a friend on a Southern Cross 31 and were joined by another sailboat the next day. Local paper came out and officially pronounced the dock “open” (we made the front page).
      The dock was constructed with money from a grant, and while no signs are up now, there is to be a 24hour limit. Trash disposal is available, and there is a public restroom across the parking lot. Close to the hardware store, and restaurant… great stop!
      S/V Faith

      Great News! I will make it a regular stop. And if there is any $$$ left over, how about installing a HarborCam so I can see from the waterway if there is room at the dock? Just asking.
      Roger Hitchner
      Painter, Hershine 41

      Amenities? I don’t see power hookups,etc.
      Al Ross

      There is power and water as well a pump out.
      At the very end of the main channel just before the bridge. Have to go in through a very small channel lined with rickety pilings. Looks improbable, but it is there. Wouldn’t have found it without the photos.

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s North Carolina Anchorage Directory Listing For the Belhaven/Pantego Creek Anchorage

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of Belhaven, NC

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    • Markers Off Station on Capri Pass (north of Marco Island)

      We have just had another recent posting here on the Cruisers’ Net about marker #11 in Capri Pass being off station, extracted from the Local Notice to Mariners (see /?p=77777). Captain Bob’s report below confirms this abberation! An SSECN Navigational Alert has already been declared for these waters. Follow the Chart View link below for more details.

      Last week, December 30, my wife and I entered the Capri Pass into Marco Island and found next to the red marker #2, a green can bouy with #11 markings. The green can bouy was about 10 meters to the left of the #2 red marker while the #1 green marker was probably at least 70-90 meters to the left of the red marker #2.
      When we left on January 1, the green can bouy had moved down near the #4 red marker. I hailed the Coast Guard on VHF channel 22A and was referred to a land line which I think was the Marco Island Fire Department–not really sure. I reported the situation but, having left the area, I have no idea if anything was done about this.
      This marking can be very confusing to any vessel entering or leaving Capri Pass–especially if one is not familiar with the markings.
      Bob Peterson,
      Isles Yacht Club Fleet Captain

      As of 1/16/2012 this marker is still off station and is very near marker #2 as entering from seaward. In the daytime it is not that confusing, but coming in at night, tired from a long passage and unfamiliar with Capri Pass could cause some confusion.
      s/v John Galt

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To A “Navigation Alert” Position at the Position of Marker #11 at Capri Pass

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    • GREAT Anchoring Tale

      Yours truly recently started a discussion about how the Florida Anchoring Rights controversy is impacting marine business in the Sunshine State, on the “Boating Writers International” Linked-In group. This group is NOT open to the general public, BUT, by special permission, we are reprinting below, a short, but side-splitting anchoring tale from fellow nautical writer, Captain George Bason. And, no, the incident described below did not take place on Southeastern USA coastline, but we still think it’s very much worth a read by ANYONE who takes to the water!

      Not long ago off Narragansett Bay, a yacht was preparing to drop an anchor when a Coast Guard boat came alongside. The skipper was informed that he couldn’t anchor in this location. The skipper proceeded to chew out the poor coastie and told him that he was free to anchor where ever he wanted.
      The coastie took a moment to respond, pulled out a chart and pointed out that he was about to drop the hook in an area that was well known to have un-exploded torpedos laying on the bottom. All he said was … “yes sir, you can indeed drop anchor here. Please wait for me to put a good distance between us before you do.”
      George Bason

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    • More on Markers in Cumberland Dividings, AICW Statute Mile 704

      This troublesome stretch lies at the intersections of the Brickhill River, Crooked River and the Waterway, and Pascal’s report confirms earlier September reports of good depths here. Capt. McGuire addresses another of the problems in this stretch: the magenta line at red markers #60 and #60A is charted on the west side of the red markers rather than on the east side where one would expect it to be. Jim wisely reminds us to ignore the magenta line at those markers and pass them on the east side, i.e on your starboard when southbound and on your port when northbound.

      MM704, Cumberland Dividings, all Markers have finally been moved and are marking the shoal on the red side. 12 to 15MLW throughout.
      Capt. Pascal Gardemer

      `Cumberland Island passage south. MM Marker 704-ish –Following the ‘˜recommended’ magenta line/route on the AICW south bound at buoys/daymarkers after 58A needs VERY SPECIAL ATTENTION!
      Markers FL R 60, Q R 60 and FL R 62Aand R 62 MUST be left to STARBOARD ! Yes I know that makes perfect sense but when you look at the chart, the ‘˜recommended’ path follows the magenta line passes on the wrong side. It also passes into what looks like deep water ‘“that is WRONG. Follow your `eyes’the correct rounding of all the buoys is Red to Starboard, the chart will show this is running right across the shallows and the marsh ‘“trust your eyes, the buoys and your depth sounder and you will not dig clams.
      Jim McGuire

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s “AICW Problem Stretches” Listing For the Cumberland Dividings

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To This AICW Problem Stretch

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    • Great Info on Derelicts and “Live Aboard Hulks”

      I have been preaching from my pulpit for years now, that the fly in the proverbial ointment when it comes to the struggle for Florida Anchoring Rights, is the very real problem of abandoned vessels (“derelicts”) and what I term, “live aboard hulks” (vessels that are being lived on, but which will probably never move again)! These problem vessels are the excuse that the anti-anchoring forces keep throwing in the mix every time the debate rages about Florida anchoring.
      Many others here on the Cruisers’ Net, and on many other forums, have opined that the problem of derelicts and “live aboard hulks” can be solved with existing Florida laws and regulations, thereby not penalizing all other boat owners.
      Now, our good friend, and true friend of the cruising community, Captain Jay Bliss, member of the St. Augustine Port Commission, has provided us with the means below to research derelict vessels in Florida, on a county by county basis. Thank you Captain Bay for providing this wonderful resource!

      Hi Claiborne,
      Here’s the pertinent website for the identification, procedures, for Derelict, Abandoned,and AtRisk vessels in FL

      For those that reside in any particular patch in FL, they can get an idea of the problem boats in a particular county by going to this site

      At that url, examine the Legend (rh side), then clik “Queries”. The page there allows you to type in a FL county. Do that, and press Search.
      Your county will show problem boats as colored circles. Clik on a given circle, and you’ll see further details about that boat. Stats are in the lower left side of the page. You can compare counties, etc. You can learn dates boats were identified, etc. It’s a valuable tool to see how we progress in ridding our Public waters of problem boats.
      Jay Bliss

      Comments from Cruisers (1)

      1. TonyMalone -  March 14, 2019 - 3:26 pm

        These "live aboard hulks" aren't a problem as you describe. these are peoples homes. Shame on anyone who tries to take anyone's home away from them.

        Reply to TonyMalone
    • Good Experience in the St. Augustine Mooring Field (Statute Mile 778)

      It’s good to hear of a very positive experience in the St. Augustine mooring field. We have an earlier posting here on the Cruisers’ Net describing an unhappy experience, NOT due to any failing on the part of the St. Augustine City Marina personnel, which manage these city mooring fields, but due to wake from local fishing vessels (see /?p=76385). Then, happily we also recent published a report that a local no-wake zone was going to be extended to encompass more of the city mooring fields (see /?p=76662). As you will read below, Captains Ed and Bonnie were the beneficiaries of this newly enlarged no-wake zone!

      We have spent several days in the mooring field both spring and fall and have experienced the most courteous marina operators anywhere. In regards to the no wake issue there has been a definite improvement over this spring. We found no issues with commercial fishermen however we also have no problem sharing these waters with the real men & women of the sea.
      Our Lord’s Blessings
      Ed & Bonnie
      S/V Almost Heaven

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Anchorge Directory Listing For the St. Augustine Northern Mooring Field

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s Eastern Florida Anchorge Directory Listing For the St. Augustine Southern Mooring Field

      Click Here To Open A Chart View Window, Zoomed To the Location of the St. Augustine Mooring Fields

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    • In-Depth Article Now Available About Anchoring on Boca Grande Bayou (Gasparilla Island, near St. M. 28.5)

      It was almost a year ago that we posted an article here on the Cruisers’ Net about the possibility of boaters being denied the right to anchor in popular Boca Grand Bayou (hard by the shores of Gasparilla Island), behind the Pink Elephant Restaurant, due to possible private ownership of the bottomland in question (see /?p=46788). A slightly later article provided more details (see /?p=51002).

      Gasparilla Bayou Anchorage

      Then, over this past Thanksgiving holiday, yours truly and the first-mate, first-mate spent a wonderful week in Boca Grande. I personally observed only two vessels lying at anchor in the Boca Grande Bayou Basin anchorage, where formerly there were many more. In asking around, I began to hear rumors that vessels anchored on the northern end of the basin were being asked to move along, as the bottomland was claimed to be private property.
      Last week, a fellow cruiser sent me a “Letter to the Editor” which appeared in Gasparilla Island’s superb weekly newspaper, the “Boca Beacon.” Here is a link to that article:

      Most importantly, I learned in a telephone conversation last week that the “Boca Beacon” editor, Ms. Marcy Shortuse, was working on an in-depth article concerning this very complex issue. I shared my insights on this subject, and sent Ms. Shortuse a link to my “Whence Come The Anchorage Regulations” editorial (/?p=4958). Last Friday, 12/16/11, Marcy’s article was published, and it is linked below. Her excellent, in-depth study of this situation is a must-read for anyone interested in the Florida anchoring issue:

      We solicit additional input on the issue of anchoring in Boca Grande Bayou from the cruising community, particularly those mariners who frequent the waters of Pine Island Sound and Charlotte Harbor. Please follow the “Click Here to Submit Cruising News” link on the upper right of this page, and share your point of view.

      I deleted Boca Grande from my website, too risky to suggest it as an anchorage.
      Mary Dixon

      Very simply and to the point the U.S. Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue.
      `1.U.S. Supreme Court, Lewis Blue Point Oyster Cultivation Co. v. Briggs 229 US 82
      When overturning a lower court case the U.S. Supreme Court said: `If the public right of navigation is the dominant right, and if, as must be the case, the title of the owner of the bed of navigable waters hold subject absolutely to the public right of navigation, this dominant right must include the right to the use of the bed of water for every purpose which is in aid of navigation.’’
      Robert Driscoll

      Driscoll nails it. It doesn’t matter whether or not the bottom is privately owned, there is still a right of navigation that trumps that. Anchoring is considered to be a normal part of navigation. Take a look at St. Augustine where the city has claimed they own the bottom land since forever, yet they were unable to prevent anchoring in those waters until they built mooring fields over most of the anchoring area.
      John Kettlewell

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    • South Carolina AICW Bridge Opening Woes And Schedule Changes

      Bridge opening schedules can be confusing even with the best wording and with the frequent changes that seem always to occur during the busiest seasons; Chris experienced two of such changes. We have confirmed and listed below the most up-to-date schedules of openings for three of the busiest bridges in SC.

      We are very late this year in our trip south. One thing we have encountered is “on signal” bridges which are no longer such. Socastee and Ben Sawyer have new restrictions. Socastee was on the half hour and BS was on the hour on a non-holiday Friday.
      Chris aboard Brilliant Star

      Socastee Swing Bridge
      Opens on Demand with closures required every 15 minutes when vessel traffic is heavy.

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s South Carolina Directory Listing For Socastee Bridge

      Ben Sawyer Bridge:
      Opens on request Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Does not open at all Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, the span opens on the hour from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Opens on demand after 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and after 7:00 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s South Carolina Directory Listing For Ben Sawyer Bridge

      Wappoo Creek Hwy 171 Bridge:
      From April 1 to November 30, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (last opening at 3:30), and on Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, the bridge opens on the hour and half-hour. From December 1 to March 30, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, the bridge opens on demand (last opening 3:50). From April 1 to May 31, and from October 1 to November 30, Monday through Friday, the bridge does not open at all between the hours of 6:00 am to 9:00am, and from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. From June 1 to September 30, and from December 1 to March 30, the bridge does not open at all between the hours of 6:30 am to 9:00 am, and from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm.

      Click Here To View the Cruisers’ Net’s South Carolina Directory Listing For Wappoo Creek Bridge

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    • Cruisers’ Letter to Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept. Concerning Blackburn Bay Anchoring Incident Pays Off

      Earlier, we posted a letter copy here on the Cruisers’ Net of a missive sent from Captain Arthur Richard, to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s department, concerning a less than happy meeting with a deputy, while anchored on the waters of Blackburn Bay (see /?p=76631). As you will see, Captain Richard’s note got a favorable reply, and it undoubtedly clued everyone in the sheriff’s department to the latest Florida state laws concerning anchorage.

      Reference my earlier report on Anchoring in Blackburn Bay, Sarasota County, FL. It seems that our anchoring rights in Sarasota County, FL are in accordance with
      Florida law. Apparently I experienced and ill-informed, overzealous part time deputy Sheriff.
      I received the following response from the Sarasota County, FL Sheriff’s Office”

      From: Richard Mottola
      Subject: RE:Anchoring in Blackburn Bay
      Date: December 19, 2011 10:31:25 AM EST
      Mr. Richard,
      This is Captain Mottola from the Sheriff’s Office. The Marine Unit is one of the
      areas under my command (Special Operations Bureau). I checked with our two
      full-time boat captains and neither recalls speaking with you about this. It
      could very well be that you spoke with one of our part-time captains. I could
      most likely determine this if you could provide a date and time of the contact.
      Despite that, it appears you are correct in your interpretation of the statutes
      I can only surmise that the captain you spoke with, for some reason, believed
      you were actually living aboard your vessel and therefore assumed that county
      ordinance 130-42 may have applied. Otherwise, it would not be applicable.
      County Statute 130-42. Mooring of Vessels used as dwelling units:
      Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions (861-4049) – Or you
      may contact Captain Shipp with the Florida Wildlife Commission (Southwest Region
      Thank you.

      Arthur Richard

      And, with the comments below received after publication of the above article, the plot thickens CONSIDERABLY! Looks like the Sarasota Sheriff’s Department is using their own version of what constitutes a “live aboard vessel,” and, by the way, this definition is in contravention of Flroida state law!!!

      I would like to make a comment and pose a few questions pertaining to this important subject and more specifically my recent experiences anchoring on Blackburn Bay. I have been visited by the Sarasota county Sheriffs Dept. Marine unit on 3 occasions once when my vessel was not even actually present for apparently violating the 24 hour time limit for live aboard vessels, this most recent warning requires that I move my vessel by December 22 2011 or be subject to fines of 250 to 500 dollars a day. The Deputy asked me with issue of this most recent warning if I understood the reason why he had delivered it, to which I again replied something to the effect that, and to the very best of my knowledge and understanding of the applicable Florida State Statutes regarding anchoring outside of approved mooring fields and the definition of a live aboard vessel, that I have actually never been in violation of any of these law’s. He became visibly agitated and spoke to me as if I were an insubordinate child indicating that it had absolutely nothing to do with the Florida State statutes, I thanked him and said goodbye, I am very thankful that he left. My sailboat is in fact anchored outside of any mooring field and is a fully navigable vessel with all required safety gear. Can anyone comment on the enforceability of these muni-codes in light of the Florida State Statutes regarding anchoring?
      Cap’n Ron

      The county code referenced, strictly interpreted, is favorable to people who live in houses and cruise for extended vacations. For those of us for whom our boat is our home, the code invites us to leave in 48 hours.
      Nice of the Sheriff to be civil, though.

      Below you will find more from Captain Richard, with his reply to the Sheriff’s department, and their subsequent message to him:

      Captain Mottola,
      Thank your for your response to my inquiry. A Sarasota Sheriff boat visit to my vessel in Blackburn Bay occured on the afternoon of November 30, 2011. The Sheriff’s boat remained at least 10 yards from my vessel, and I was not boarded. The operator of the Sheriff’s boat did not give his name, nor request mine.
      I am pleased to find that my anchoring in Blackburn Bay was not in violation of county ordinances. It would be beneficial to the boating community if all of your officers were made aware of this.
      Thank you,
      Arthur M. Richard

      From Captain Mottola (Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office):
      My pleasure, and yes we are ensuring that ALL boat captains are made aware so that we do not have any further misunderstandings. Happy Holidays!

      Chris: That is incorrect. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are living aboard for more than 48 hours. As long as you vessel is used for navigation and not solely as a residence you are not a liveaboard by Florida law, which trumps any local ordinances. Florida statute says this:
      327.02 Definitions of terms used in this chapter and in chapter 328.’”As used in this chapter and in chapter 328, unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the term:
      (17)`Live-aboard vessel’ means:
      a) Any vessel used solely as a residence and not for navigation;
      b) Any vessel represented as a place of business, or a professional or other commercial enterprise; or
      c) Any vessel for which a declaration of domicile has been filed pursuant to s. 222.17.
      John Kettlewell

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