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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC
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Thread: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-21-2013 12:23 PM
TQA
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Always good to hear of a safe passage made according to plan. We tend to hear of the ones that go wrong.

BTW I think expecting to average 7 knts on a 33 ft is optimistic. 5 knts is more realistic.

I have a 44ft fast old lady and do my passage planning at 6 knts expecting to do a little better but over the years have rarely made a 7 knt average.
05-21-2013 12:33 AM
PBzeer
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Good to hear everything went well ... other than the finger.
05-20-2013 10:13 PM
jslade8581
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I think its useful to close up the thread with a quick after-action report, so here it is. We did the trip with no issues (besides my chronic sea sickness).

About a week before the trip I got really serious about the weather. I used the following sites (no monetary compensation, just for information): Weather Underground, PredictWind (I have a basic annual membership), and NOAA. My brother (who was crew) is an airline pilot, and he backed up my weather with NOAA's Aviation Weather.

Navigation-wise, I always use GPSNAVX for Macintosh and the associated iPad and iPhone apps (iNAVX). I prefer raster to vector because I love charts! I had worked out four options:
1. Little River Inlet, SC to Beaufort Inlet, NC outside passing through Frying Pan shoals 12-NM slue
2. Little River Inlet, SC to Cape Fear Inlet, NC (outside at Little River, to go inside to Masonboro)
3. Little River Inlet, SC to Masonboro, NC (outside through Frying Pan shoals to ditch into Masonboro)
4. Stay inside the entire trip

For pre- and post-"Outside Travel" (specifically marina information), I used Cruisers Net as recommended above. I also used ActiveCaptain.

I expected to leave Sunday (5/19) but the weather was looking very iffy for me. Saturday (5/18) looked much better, so we all bit the bullet and compressed our weekend schedule to drive to Little River a day early on Friday, prep the boat, and depart Saturday morning. We intended to get underway at 8 am initially, but based on re-comparing the distance (123 NM) to the wind speeds, we decided to go with an average speed of 6.5 kts (using 5 kts as the minimum average speed expected). As noted by PBzeer, who said we'd probably arrive earlier than we expected, we shifted our departure to 10:30 am.

We arrived onsite, no issues until I pulled my shore power cable and took a good chunk of skin off of my finger by scraping it against the housing (ouch). After the bleeding stopped and a good heaping goop of Neosporin was applied, and after I settled the bill for the marina stay, we got to the fuel dock at about 11:30 am. By 11:45 am we were underway.

We cleared Little River Inlet, SC by 1:05 pm. It was very well marked and a good depth. There were a lot of small beaches with a lot of boats nestled up there. Obviously, the beachgoers were having a great time. We followed the Jacks or Better casino ship out to sea.

The seas were about 2 feet from the east and winds mostly from the south. My brother and I had a great time initially, but eventually we both got the mal de mer. I've been in the Navy ten years, and I'm always sea sick the first couple of days at sea. It's miserable.

We got to Frying Pan shoals 12-NM slue about 7 pm. It was well marked with daylight available. The seas were about 2 feet, and seeing the breakers slightly to the north of the markers was pretty cool. My brother described them as mountains of water. We passed through with no drama.

Night watches were 3 on/3 off. There were isolated thunderstorms getting thrown out to sea, and we watched them to the east all night. (Before we had started the night watches, we put a reef into the sails so we wouldn't get caught unawares.) Despite the sea sickness, we had a smooth night. Unfortunately, the wind died down and disappeared - totally different than the forecasted 10-15 kts. This being my second time on the boat during night watches, I had packed a pair of headphones to listen to podcasts and music (I only used one earbud to I could maintain my Rule 5 lookout by sight and hearing). My brother slept in the cockpit settee across from me in the chilly night - sometimes he can do some amazing things. It was too cold for me. When I slept, I did it in the warm cabin.

Sunrise found us about 20 NM from our destination. We enjoyed a dolphin show and a gorgeous sunrise as the sun passed behind the clouds. Not much traffic. A Navy ship made securite calls all night.

We pulled into Beaufort docks a little after 11 am. We averaged just about 5 kts - overall, the winds weren't as high as forecasted after we passed Frying Pan shoals. I was disappointed because I expected 6.5 kts easily, if not 7 kts, under sail alone. Instead, we motorsailed the entire way because I felt that we were possibly being bracketed by the storm front (which I expected Sunday evening and never did materialize) - I wish now that I hadn't... Sailing is more fun when the diesel isn't running the entire time!

Thanks for all of the assistance, especially from JeffreySiegel and PBzeer.
05-10-2013 10:26 PM
PBzeer
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

You might also want to check Cruiser's Net for any news on shoaling if you do go inside. When I was last through a few years ago, Snow Cut from the Cape Fear over to Carolina Beach was a bit dicey. Probably been dredged or remarked since.

As I said earlier, the only real problem I see going outside (weather permitting) is getting to Beaufort too early. I stay outside as much as possible myself.
05-10-2013 09:57 PM
jslade8581
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Quote:
Originally Posted by PBzeer View Post
Unless you're starting your day at the Inlet itself, I'd just stay inside until Masonboro.
We'd be starting the day at the Crickett Cove Marina, which is about as close to the inlet as you can get!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffreySiegel View Post
...The Slue at 12 miles is marked by an unlit red/green and then a sea buoy on the northern side. With radar, it's trivial as the buoys are plenty far apart. There's plenty of distance for accurate GPS positioning too although I like radar because it shows where the buoys really are.
Jeffrey,

Thank you for the in-depth reply, it was really helpful. I'm very comfortable with navigation, and although I don't have radar, the slue appears to be very well marked. Based on my north-easterly route, and your information, I think I'm going to build in the option (depending on weather and with winds from either south, southwest, west, or northwest) to use the 12 NM slue. As of now, I'd be passing through the slue at around 3-4 pm, with plenty of time on either side for good daylight.

The information about the Little River Inlet is also incredibly helpful. Great local knowledge. Like you, we'd prefer to do the trip on the outside when we can - Zephyr only does 6 SM an hour under power. (Incidentally, that's why I'd rather do the slue than head inside at Cape Fear - the time savings and ease is really very nice. Otherwise, I'll be heading up Cape Fear River for about 4-5 hrs before we can exit Masonboro... And based on timing, I'm willing to bet that we'll have to anchor there before we head out the morning just due to our fatigue from jumping in-and-out of the ICW.)

Our heading-inside option will be fine too - I'd be hitting Cape Fear river with a flood tide, so that would be helpful (around 2-3 pm). We'd have a few hours before the ebb tide really worked against us.

Thank you again for the great reply.
05-10-2013 08:32 PM
JeffreySiegel
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I try to go directly between Charleston and Beaufort, NC at least once a year. It's a wonderful time saver after having done the ICW a dozen times. Zoom out and look at the scallop of both coasts there and you can see how a direct offshore jump in and out of Frying Pan Shoals saves a lot of time (1 overnight versus 5 day hops usually).

The Slue at 12 miles is marked by an unlit red/green and then a sea buoy on the northern side. With radar, it's trivial as the buoys are plenty far apart. There's plenty of distance for accurate GPS positioning too although I like radar because it shows where the buoys really are.

For your draft, there's also a "4 mile slue" - look at the charts just outside the 3 mile limit. It looks about 7-9 feet deep there and is marked as the 4 mile slue.

Weather is always the determining factor for us. Things have to align nicely and I just don't want any weather on my nose all night long. Just a month ago, the weather didn't work out - we ditched into Winyah Bay and went inside to Beaufort/Morehead City. Take it when you can get it.

I've been out of Little River Inlet many times too. We draw 6' and when Shallote and Lockwoods Folly haven't been dredged, it's a much more enjoyable day to jump between Southport/Cape Fear River inlet and Little River inlet. First, the Little River inlet isn't charted because things move. It's very well marked but you really need to count buoy numbers and stop if you see one out of turn (it means you missed one and you're moving to a bad place).

Between Little River and Cape Fear you can stay just a mile or two offshore. With westerly winds, there will be nothing big and it's quite nice. We've jumped there with 5-8' NOAA predictions for that area and found 2' with 11 second periods which is flat dead calm. It's the westerly direction that's key in that case. NOAA's predictions are for 20 nm out - weather from the west cheats that.

All of that said, the traditional way to jump from Little River is like you're now thinking - go inside between Southport and Masonboro. Only a much larger jump like to/from Charleston seems to make sense to go all the way out to avoid Frying Pan Shoals to me.
05-10-2013 08:30 PM
PBzeer
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Unless you're starting your day at the Inlet itself, I'd just stay inside until Masonboro.
05-10-2013 05:15 PM
jslade8581
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

Thanks for the information - based on what you've told me, I'll probably go outside from Little River to Cape Fear, inside on ICW from Cape Fear to Masonboro, then outside Masonboro to Morehead City.

I guess I thought that the Slue was better marked - it's pretty clear on the chart, and has buoys, and doesn't appear too terribly shallow. (I understand its a natural cut of 20' depth.)
05-09-2013 11:16 PM
sailor wench
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

I forgot to answer your question...Little River Inlet is deep and also well marked. You shouldn't have any problem in the daylight. If seas are heavy, it can get a little rough until yr well inside the jetty. Otherwise, it shouldn't be a problem. I've used this inlet several times.
05-09-2013 11:12 PM
sailor wench
Re: Sailing from Little River Inlet, SC to Morehead City, NC

This is not the ideal place to go outside. You may want to use the ICW until you get farther north because of the shoals. You have to go out so far to get around them, that you add roughly 15 nm or more as oppossed to the ICW route, which is a much more direct route. Idk if distance is important to you or not. If it is, I would use the ICW for this area.
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