Bridge Damage May Cause Us to Change Course

March 19, 2023

While hanging in Georgetown, we received news last Friday that made us stay for a few extra days.

Our original plan was to continue along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and stop at Barefoot Landing (North Myrtle Beach) and then to Southport, NC. This route would take us under a few small bridges, including the Little River Swing Bridge.

Unfortunately, this bridge was hit by a tractor trailer and was structurally damaged with no date of reopening.

Our options:

  • Waiting: Wait until it is repaired
  • Going onward: Venture north in hopes it will be repaired by the time we arrive
  • The Atlantic: Go out on the Atlantic

The issues:

  • Waiting: We don’t know how long the wait would be and we have to get to Norfolk, VA in early April.
  • Going onward: If we venture north and it remains closed, we have to backtrack back to where we are as it’s the opening to the Atlantic. This wastes time and fuel.
  • The Atlantic: There’s a storm coming. The best weather window days to enter the Atlantic is Sunday and Wednesday, otherwise it will be too rough. Additionally, we would have to travel for 9 hours and if the weather turns, we would have to turn around or push through.

We decided to wait through the weekend and see if there would be any news as we couldn’t leave until Sunday. Thankfully, by Saturday, they announced that they would offer marine traffic time slot openings for passage.

Sunday, we depart Georgetown and head north towards Myrtle Beach, stopping at Bucksport Marina for the night. On the way, we’ve entered fresh water on the Waccamaw River. The trip is scenic, surrounded by bald cypresses and wildlife.

The marina was a combination of marina and campground with RVs. The people were extremely friendly. In the area, there were also a bunch of kids; Michael quickly made friends and we didn’t see him until the evening while Annette joined me in some kayaking.

March 20, 2023

It’s another day of travel. Boris is working and asked that I take the helm for a bit. I’m ok with driving if it’s a wider channel with no bridges, but I’m not so fortunate this time. We are the lead boat. As I’m cruising along, I notice that there’s a small blue bridge in the distance (it’s not the Little River Swing Bridge). Peering through my binoculars, I can tell with certainty that we will not fit underneath it.

I promptly stop the boat so as to not get any closer to THAT bridge and radio my buddy line Matt on how to contact the bridge. Thankfully, Boris sensed the stop in motion and came up to assist and we made it through. Now I know how to call bridges on the radio and request openings.

We continue cruising until we reach Grand Dunes Marina in Myrtle Beach.

With just the afternoon available for exploration, I take the kids and Barb to the Boardwalk to explore. It’s off season, which means the amusement parks are closed, but the Sky Wheel and shops are open. We found an ice cream shop that made rolled ice cream and dragon’s breath balls.

One benefit to doing the Great Loop is running into other Loopers. The Great Loop Association also has Harbor Hosts, volunteers who provide information or services in specific areas. We met the Myrtle Beach Harbor Host and was delighted to get more information on the surrounding areas.

March 21, 2023

We left Myrtle Beach and continued our journey north, stopping for lunch in Barefoot Landing.

Barefoot Landing is a shopping village along the ICW with restaurants, shops, and a boardwalk. We braved a trip to Dick’s Last Resort, a restaurant where the service is rude and not politically correct. It was an entertaining meal. Afterwards, we continued our journey north, passing through the now open Little River Swing Bridge, crossed into North Carolina, and stopped for the night in Southport, NC.

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