On Saturday America's newest nuclear submarine was commissioned and named USS North Carolina. The ceremony took place in Wilmington NC.
I was planning to go ever since I first learned that this was to take place just a few miles from where I live. It's not everyday that you get to see the latest nuclear weapon technology. After the submarine arrived I learned that it wasn't going to be open to the public. You wouldn't even be able to see it from the shore because it was going to be docked at the State ports. The only time the public would be able to see the sub was when it made the short journey on the Cape Fear River as it was arriving and as it was leaving. Since I had already missed the opportunity to get pics as it arrived, I only had one shot left to get pics as it was leaving.
This is harder than it first seems. There was nowhere on the shore that I knew where you could get close enough to get decent pics. I'm sure there are some spots but I didn't know of any. There are uninhabited islands in the river that blocks the view of the channel. So there was no place that I knew for sure I could get to and get good shots of the sub.
There is one island that I visited last year that was perfect for getting pics. The problem is that they close the whole river down when they brought it up the river and I they would do the same when it left.
There is a military port just down the river called Sunny Point that ships military equipment and explosives. From watching them bring in cargo ships full of explosives, in the past, I kind of knew what to expect. When they bring those ships in, the military does a sweep of the river with helicopters and the coast guard sweeps with small boats.
Both the helicopters and boats have machine guns mounted and the guns are manned. They are ready to deal with any threat they face.
I expected the same today. The main reason I picked the island I did was because there was a small creek just down river from the island. I've paddled this creek a few times. I knew that once it came out into the river I only had about 1000 ft that I had to paddle to the island. If I could make it to the island undetected, all I had to do was hide in the wooded area until the sub came into view. Then take the pics.
I was running a little late, so I hurried to my launch point. Got my equipment and jumped in my kayak and headed down the creek towards the island. The tide was falling so the current was very fast. I was headed down stream so this was a good thing. Because of this it only took a few minutes to get to the river. From past experience, I knew there were VERY large alligators living in this creek. On the way I saw four alligators.Three jumped from the bank into the creek as I approached. One was about 9 feet long, one was about 6 feet, and one about 3 feet. The fourth surfaced about 20 feet from my kayak, saw me and then was gone. I can't tell how long he was because I only saw a portion of him. He was probably about 7 or 8 feet long. On a previous trip down this creek I saw one that was about 12 feet long. No sign of him today though.
I reached the river and I didn't see any signs of the military. So I paddled to the edge of the bank and slowly looked around the corner to see if I saw anything between me and the island. It was completely clear. So I took a little break so that when I made the short paddle to the island I could do it at top speed.
After about a two minute break I gave it all I had. The island was upstream so I also had to fight the current. It only took me about two minutes to reach the island. I jumped out of the kayak and pulled it onshore into the reeds. I looked around to see if there were any boats headed my way, there was none. So I rested and then got my equipment and headed to the wooded area of the island to find a good spot to wait for the sub. Since I wasn't sure what kind of surveillances they had I made my way though the reeds and marshy part of the island instead of taking the easy walk down the beach. I found a good spot sat down and waited.
Here's my view of the river.
Of course I had planned that when I heard the choppers and escort boats coming I would move closer to get the pics. I soon got bored and went ahead and moved toward the beach. I took some practice pics of different things to entertain myself.
Here is a pic of another island.
Here is the same island with my camera zoomed all the way in.
This is the direction the sub is suppose to be coming from.