Sunday, December 28, 2008

Castle St. to Rat Island

I launched from the foot of Castle St. at the Public Water Access (just beneath the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge) and rode the incoming tide ~6 miles to Rat Island with the Geezer and his friend Pete this morning. The temperature was perfect, about 70 F, which burned off the light fog we launched in pretty quickly. There was almost no wind for the first half and conditions were super glassy. We checked a few side creeks that ran into cordgrass marsh and cypress stands that have been killed due to the increasing salinity in the river in the last few decades (due to dredging and blasting the channel for shipping). During our lunch stop just north of Rat Island the wind picked up substantially (sustained 15 mph w/ gusts to 20+) out of the SW, which made for a stiff headwind the entire paddle back. When we got back to town we did a little loop around the battleship, which was neat, and then crossed the river, which was a little hairy due to the opposing wind/tide and boat traffic. There were a lot of turkey vultures, a couple of red-tailed hawks, gulls and terns, pelicans, kingfishers, and an egret/heron or two. When the osprey get back there are several excellent places to sit and watch them in the nest at the top of dead cypress on the edge of the river. Sitting under the battleship gives you a great feeling for the sheer size of those ships. My favorite perspective was sitting under the bow. It's amazing how much stuff is rotting on the edge of the river: boats, old factories, piers, etc.

Wilmington from Castle St. launch

Bow to bow w/ the USS North Carolina

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