They say 64 is the magic number for the ICW. If your mast is over 64’ you can’t get under some of the fixed bridges. That’s what they say.
The charts and guidebooks said there isn’t a problem. You might have to check the bridge clearance signs posted beside each bridge and wait for low tide, but if you’re careful it’s fine. Lies.
In reality the “magic number” is more like 62.
With our mast right at 64’ we were nervous. Rumors were floating around about mismarked bridges and ones that were too low for our mast. It didn’t help anything that this had been an especially wet year and the canal was up.
Our second day on the canal I called ahead to a few marinas near Wilkerson Bridge, just south of Alligator River where we wanted to stay. The chart said the clearance was 64’ but we weren’t taking any chances. It was a good thing we did. The woman at the marina told me sympathetically that because the water levels had been high the bridge clearance was 62’ ½.
Unfortunately Umineko wasn’t equip with a retractable mast so we couldn’t play limbo with the bridges. If a bridge was too low, even by inches, we could lose the mast. We would have to go outside to the ocean.
We decided to stay in Ocracoke a historic beautiful island that all of the guide books talked up. Boasting a musical population (reportedly almost all of the nearly 1000 residents play an instrument), historic buildings, and incredible seafood I was surprised that I had never heard of the place. Its neighbors Roanoke and Hatteras took all the charming little fishing island’s glory. Part of the reason for its low profile could be that it is only reachable by ferry or private boat, but that is also part of its charm.
Long past the “season” the island was all but deserted. Even with a grey day and brisk air (yes, it went from being nice and warm to chilly drizzle. So far the south was not living up to expectations) it was nice. There was publicity everywhere about the island’s “claim to fame:” this was where the dread pirate Blackbeard had met his untimely demise.
Unfortunately the local seafood market was closed and there wasn’t a shrimp boat in sight. It had been ages since we had had anything Greek, so I decided to make a Greek rice dish.
It’s amazing the things you can transform rice into with just a change of trimmings. A different seasoning, add some cheese and the grain that was just used in a curry can now pass as Mediterranean.
Genoa Greek Rice
- 2 C rice (uncooked)
- 2 C water (for cooking rice)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 T dried Oregano
- 2 t cumin seeds
- 2 t ground pepper
- 1 T salt
- Juice from one lemon (about 3 T)
- 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- ¼ olive oil
- Cook rice in water. Boil 5 minutes and set aside to steam.
- Sautee onions and garlic in 1 T olive oil over med-low heat about 5 minutes in large skillet
- Add bell pepper cook 2 more minutes
- Add shitake mushrooms
- Stir in spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour over rice and mix thoroughly
- Add remaining 3 T olive oil, lemon juice, and feta.
- Serve with olive garnish (kalamata or green)