15 October 2010

Southport Wooden Boat Show

I've had many opportunities to study tidal currents, since leaving Jacksonville, and they aren't as simple as I first thought.

The example I gave from the "Coot Club" is the simple case: one inlet, two rivers. But in some sections of the ICW, there are many inlets. Some big, some small, most unnavigable, except for small boats.

Sometimes the inlets that connect the ICW to the Atlantic are 20 or 30 miles apart. Sometimes there is more than one inlet in a single mile. The result is many, many micro-climates, each with its own current pattern. It makes playing the currents quite a challenge.

But there is one section of the waterway that is easy to predict: the Cape Fear River. This mighty river flows out of North Carolina down to the Atlantic at a rate of 3-4 knots. And when I arrived in it's vicinity last Friday, it was flowing the wrong way. No way I was going to buck that tide, so I pulled into the charming little harbor at Southport, NC, to wait for a favorable tide.

Southport, NC -- The perfect place to wait for a tide
photo jalmberg
My cruising guide said that the town's little harbor had enough room for 3 boats. That was about right, but I had the whole harbor to myself. The lucky Blue Moon had plenty of swinging room!

I tied up Cabin Boy at the Fishy Fishy Cafe dingy dock. The restaurant looked like a typical beach shack type place. I expected the usual variety of fried whatever and hamburgers, but they had some really interesting food on the menu, including a chicken in lemon wine sauce, with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and broccolini... really excellent. Best food I've had on the whole voyage (except for Mom's home cooking of course!)

After dinner I walked around the well-preserved little sea-side town and discovered a couple of old wooden boats along the waterfront. The were on display in a small roped-off area, along with a sign saying that the 1st annual Southport Wooden Boat Show would be the very next day (Saturday.)

I figured I'd already seen both boats, so didn't think much more about it.

But the next morning, a couple of guys rowed out check out the Blue Moon. They wondered if I'd come especially for the boat show. I told them I was just passing through, and it was pure luck I was there that day. They wanted to know, would I like to participate in the show? I hesitated a moment (must catch that tide... must catch that tide...), and said, sure!

They had a slip for the Blue Moon, right in the middle of the show, so I motored over, and joined in the fun!

Just a few of the boats at the show.
The Blue Moon's mast is the 3rd from the right
photo jalmberg
I spent a couple hours standing on the dock, answering questions, and giving tours of the Blue Moon. Here she is on the dock, with her dock-mate.... a very long, narrow motor boat that reminded me of a Venetian gondola.

The Blue Moon and dock-mate
photo jalmberg
There was also a beautiful old wooden fishing boat that I really admired. After fighting their wakes for 1200 miles, I'm a bit annoyed with power boats, but this one was a beauty.

NC-built fishing boat
photo jalmberg
There were also some really fine home-built boats, like this pair of flat and round-bottom skiffs, built by Russ Ferris:

Flat-botom fishing skiff
photo jalmberg

Nat Herresoff designed yacht tender
photo jalmberg

I believe this is strip-planked. Notice the inlaid stem knee
photo jalmberg
This was an old electric lake boat. Just the thing for a picnic.

Electric lake boat
photo jalmberg
My favorite boat was a Pete Culler-designed sharpie. I would have loved to take this one out for a spin around the harbor. All the Pete Culler touches were there, including a brailing line on the main. Nice.

And she's for sale!
photo jalmberg
A reporter from the State Port Pilot -- the local newspaper -- made a video of the show:

The show was a great success, and I was happy to participate! Well worth missing my tide for. There was another one the next morning.

There's a lesson in that, somewhere...

>>> Next Episode: Oriental Wilderness


  1. Is that a Tilley hat in the video??

    Nice opportunity to show off in NC... :-)

  2. Brailing line, now I know what's going on with those Thames barges: http://www.canaljunction.com/craft/thamsevn.htm (third image from the top), as I understand it these are all loose footed.

  3. Yup. Very useful on a small boat:


  4. Great Post! I stumbled upon it while I was researching a wooden boat project for my garage. I saw the Alice Bell on Bing Images and thought Id follow the link. Alice Bell is the power boat that you refered to as "Beauty" She belongs to the Potter family. I think she was built in 1946 in Harkers Island NC. she's been in the Potter family for several generations. She's certainly a credit to the small boat harbor in Southport. they did an awesome job restoring her. Thanks for the Post. We love our little town... We're glad you came.


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