Carolina Beach State Park

The view of the Cape Fear River from atop Sugarloaf Dune at Carolina Beach State Park.

After departing Charleston on Saturday, we stopped over in Georgetown and North Myrtle Beach, respectively, but our visits there consisted only of a short walk for Chloë, shower, dinner and sleep, before beginning again in the morning.  On our trip south in the fall, we passed a new marina at Carolina Beach State Park that appeared to be empty, despite being listed in our guide-book as insanely cheap.  We thought something must be too good to be true, but on this trip by, decided to check it out.  We found it to be a quiet location with good docks, all the power we could need and yes, insanely cheap.  It was also reasonably well protected, so with the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl hot on our trail, we thought it would be a good place to wait it out.

The weather was good most of the day Tuesday, so we went out to explore the park’s trail system, which is a flat, easy walk through maritime forest and swamp.  Chloë nosed into a snake that was scary looking enough to possibly be poisonous, we didn’t inspect it too closely.  There were supposed to be venus fly traps and pitcher plants, but after seeing the snake, we weren’t willing to go tromping around after them.

Wednesday morning brought bands of heavy rain and wind as high as 36 knots (42 mph).  We rode it out comfortably and, by late afternoon, the skies cleared into a lovely, calm evening.  During our stay at Carolina Beach we had neighbors, Bob and Sandra and their cute puppy Maddie.  They are cruising north on their 36′ sailboat, Carpe Diem, and were kind enough to invite us for cocktails on Tuesday evening with local friends of theirs.  Mark was anxious to try out his new pizza dough recipe from Charleston Cooks, so we invited an unsuspecting Bob and Sandra to be our guinea pigs on Wednesday night.  Mark is much braver than me in these matters.  Needless to say, the pizza was a success (as if I ever really doubted).  Having guests also gave us the opportunity to bring out some of the larger bottles of beer that we have difficulty drinking by ourselves (stop laughing).  We started with a Dogfish Head Namaste, switched to wine with dinner and then a Southern Tier Crème Brûlée for dessert (see, it’s hard to drink that much by ourselves).  Sandra makes pine needle baskets and was kind enough to bring us one as a gift.  It was a fun evening and a nice surprise to make friends in an otherwise isolated location.  Carolina Beach will certainly be added to our list of stops in the future.

We departed on Thursday morning and tied up in Swansboro, where we took on fuel and some groceries.  We have now stopped in Oriental and are at anchor for the first time since January (Mark is a little sheepish about this).  We will go ashore here only to air the hound and then take off again in the morning for we’re not sure where yet.

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