29. Cruising Into the Apocalypse

The next morning, I felt like I’d had Domino’s and a terrible night’s sleep the night before. This is because I had. My mattress and I haven’t been getting along well lately, and replacing it is becoming a higher priority with every sore, creaky, early morning.

While coffee soaked into my joints to loosened them up, I called the Little River bridge to make sure they were still open for business. They said they were, so I warmed up ol’ Perkins, and managed to get a fairly early start. I made it about a mile down the river when the coast guard made an unscheduled marine broadcast advising me that the Little River swing bridge was down for repairs, and that I should keep a sharp lookout, and navigate the area with EXTREME CAUTION.

As soon as I was done swearing, I called the bridge again for clarification. Turns out the coast guard was never informed that the bridge was back up and running. Neat.

It didn’t matter what he said, really. If I’d gotten to the bridge and it hadn’t opened for me, I was just going to ram it until it did, or until I was short enough to fit underneath. Thankfully it didn’t come to that.

The weather was pretty much perfect as I crossed the border into North Carolina, escorted by a swarm of several hundred thousand center consoles. It was a considerable improvement in the scenery compared to the trip south. By this point, I’d gotten a bit bored with it, but I think most of that was due to several days of cold, gray, rainy January weather. Throw a little sunshine on the place, and it’s downright pleasant.

It was smooth sailing until I reached the Shallotte Inlet. A northbound cruiser ahead of me had encountered a spot of bother in the form of a small sand bar, and was on the radio with Boat US. He was able to get himself free, and once he’d determined that there was no damage, he was on his way again. Thankfully the Towboat stuck around until I passed through. The shallow spot could very easily have gotten me too if he hadn’t pointed it out. It was well inside the red buoy, and there couldn’t have been more than a couple of feet of water there.

I arrived at Southport marina around mid afternoon, and was welcomed by southwest winds blowing off the dock again. Thankfully there were no other boats moored nearby, and there were two strapping young dockhands there to catch my lines and reel me in. It took some doing, but we wrangled her to the dock just in time for the wind to stop blowing.

I wandered into the shop to check in and pay for my visit. As soon as I’d finished paying, I saw something on the shelf that I needed, so I picked it up and paid again. Then I saw something else on the shelf that I needed, and paid for a third time. I told the dock guys that it was my goal to touch the credit card reader as many times as possible, so that I would be sure to get corona’d.

‘Aw hell, we all got it anyway, so it doesn’t matter to us!’ they joked.

‘Well shit,’ I replied, ‘I’ve been in here for hours already. There’s no way I don’t have it. I guess since we’re all gonna die anyway, who wants to make out?’

I got a laugh, but no takers. Oh well, it was worth a shot. I took my swag and retired to Sylphide for the night, 39 miles closer to wherever the hell I end up going.

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