9 was another cold Saturday when we left Morehead City -
28 degrees outside temperature. But it was a bright sunny
day. As we headed for our next anchorage at Mile Hammock
Bay, we began to see more and more water birds including
a lot of pelicans. We were also entering the habitat of
wading birds - small and great herons and beautiful white
egrets. The guide books all caution about shallow water
on this stretch, but we had a good day and an uneventful
Hammock Bay is located at Camp Le Jeune - a principal Marine
training base. As you enter the base area, there's a sign
that instructs you to turn back if they're having live fire
exercises, but our timing was good and the ICW was open
through the base. The bay is actively used by the Marines.
We had a couple of convoys of their small boats roaring
out and back in. Overnight there were occasional artillery
booms and sporadic machine gun fire as they were probably
having night exercises.
next day wasn't so great. It started with the windlass not
working and Neal having to haul in the anchor by hand. Then
we ran aground right in the middle of the channel and really
stuck hard. It took 45 minutes for Tow Boat US to get to
us and then another 45 minutes to get us free. Losing that
much time can be a problem at this time of year when the
days are so short. We headed for an anchorage in Mott's
channel at Wrightsville Beach, NC It was after 5:00 and
getting dark before we finally got settled - again handling
anchor and chain by hand.
the morning, after hauling anchor by hand again we headed
for a marina at Southport, NC with a pile of chain sitting
on our bow. Southport is just south of Wilmington and the
Cape Fear inlet. We hoped to be able to solve the windlass
problem there. On the way we passed many huge and opulent
homes. Some people just have too much money. At least we
had adequate depth and even saw dolphins along the way.
Passed a gigantic ocean-going barge in the Cape Fear channel
- made our boat look like a fishing bobber by comparison.
We were docked at South Harbor Village Marina before 1:30.
in early gave us time to arrange for a rental car and make
plans to visit Bob & Loretta Kellerman who spend their winter
in Calabash, NC. We hadn't seen them for many years so it
was good to get together. We went out for some famous Calabash
fried seafood which is famous all over the state and beyond.
It was good food, but basically just battered and fried.
Because it was Monday, their favorite restaurant wasn't
open, so maybe there's someone who adds something unique
that we didn't get to experience.
morning a big casino boat came in for fuel. Not a fancy
one and, in fact, in need of some cosmetic work to make
it look like it had enough capital to be able to pay off
a winner. They're headed for Miami for the Super Bowl. I'd
started a load of laundry and one of the casino's crew asked
if he could get his laundry in between my loads because
they'd only be there for a little over an hour. I agreed
but it turned out that there was no rush. They wanted 3,000
gallons of fuel - but apparently the credit card wouldn't
authorize. Eventually that got resolved except that the
fuel cost exceeded the available credit. The boat's owner
couldn't be contacted, etc. etc. They finally pulled away
from the dock late in the afternoon. I'm now certain
this casino can't pay off a winner - if they'd ever allow
someone to win.
looks like a nice town but we didn't have time to really
see it. We were too focused on the windlass switch problem.
We also moved the outboard motor from the dinghy transom
to the motor mount on Sea Fox's aft rails. It just wasn't
a good idea to travel with that big heavy motor hanging
off the back of the dink. Our boat is so narrow that it
really was prone to getting banged about when we were on
a face dock.
Wednesday we had one of those moments when you realize that
you've missed something that should have been obvious. We
have a remote control for the windlass! We tried it and
it ran the windlass perfectly! We'd been obsessing over
the foot switches on the deck and had completely forgotten
about the remote. We spent the day going to Wilmington but
never found replacement switches so we're relying on the
remote control for the time being. We got the chain back
where it belongs, scrubbed the deck and were ready to move
are some stretches of the ICW where anchorages of adequate
depth for us are pretty far apart, and since daylight is
limited we headed for a marina again - this one at Myrtle
beach. Nice marina and it has a restaurant. The restaurant
has live music on Friday night and the band was probably
no more than 50 feet from where we were docked. But if you're
tired enough, you can tune it out and get to sleep. I woke
up when they began their second set but they were finished
well before midnight.We did find the posted marina policies
a little strange. Could have been worse.
took us through some infamously troublesome areas. A stretch
called "The Rockpile" is narrow with rock ledges on each
side, and not very deep but we made it through without incident.
Not only did we have beautiful scenery and reasonably deep
water, but it was actually finally warm enough to eliminate
one layer of clothes and we doffed our sweatshirts for part
of the day. We anchored in Bull Creek - a quiet and lovely
Carolina - at least this part of it - is much prettier than
what we saw in North Carolina. Maybe it's the variety of
plant life along the shore plus there are more water birds
to make it interesting.
Bull Creek we encountered a lot of debris in the water -
a lot of small tree branches and some pretty big logs. Crab
pots also began re-appearing so we were dodging both debris
and buoys. Spend another night at anchor this time in Five
Fathom Creek. We went aground again briefly as we left the
channel to find a place to stop so it's certainly not all
five fathoms deep. This anchorage is in the middle of a
huge wildlife refuge near McClellanville, SC. There were
some fishing boats coming in but it was quite a peaceful
place. And it was even warm enough to sit out in the cockpit
for a while once we got settled. A Coast Guard boat came
near and stopped to observe us for a few minutes then went
on their way. Later they came back by with a small fishing
boat they'd apparently nabbed for some infraction.
is what it's all about. Just us afloat in peaceful and beautiful
surroundings. Pelicans glide inches above the surface looking
for a meal then land on the water and paddle over to check
us out. The sun dips below the horizon and we lie silently
at rest. In the morning we wait a bit for fog to lift and
then there are dolphins as we get ready to raise anchor
and head south again.
headed for Charleston with a plan to spend a couple of days
at a marina and do some sightseeing. Charleston City Marina
is a bit pricey but they have laundry facilities and a courtesy
van to take us to town so we won't have to rent a car to
get around. The surprise when we got there was that we had
to parallel park! They put us on a long face dock lined
with boats of all kinds and we had to get between another
sail boat and a catamaran. The available space was exactly
relative to parallel parking spaces for cars. Even with
help from a dock hand it was a real challenge. They call
this dock the Mega Dock because it can handle large boats
and there sure are some big ones here. All I can think of
when I see these giant motor yachts is the cost of filling
the fuel tanks. I repeat: Some people just have too much
did the walking tour of Charleston and liked the city so
well we decided to stay through Christmas. It is a lovely
city with buildings that go back way before the civil war
- or as they call it here: the war of northern aggression.
That war left Charleston physically intact but mostly impoverished
so that people did everything they could to maintain and
preserve what they had. The result is beautiful. Homes were
built with wide verandas facing lawns and courtyards and
were situated for maximum cross-breezes through open windows.
They look gracious and inviting. This is a very clean and
well maintained city. Charleston even has a downtown shopping
district! Because we were staying put for Christmas we decided
to exchange gifts and went shopping. It's nice to shop downtown
instead of in a mall. Salty Mike's restaurant in the marina
is where Neal discovered shrimp & grits. As Yankees, we
didn't realize just how many ways grits fit into southern
went to see the USS Yorktown - a retired aircraft carrier
that is now a museum and memorial. It was impressive and
since Neal served on a carrier, he was able to give me a
lot of insight into life on a carrier. We also went out
to Fort Sumter where the first shot of the civil war was
fired. There's not much left of it, but it was still interesting
day was stormy with very high winds that kept slamming us
against the dock. Since we were on a face dock we were tied
only on the one side. Our fenders were a little to low and
we had a difficult time adjusting them. Luckily the only
damage was cosmetic - the stripe on the port side got rubbed
off in a couple of places. It is a terrible sound to hear
your boat banging against something as solid as a dock.
finally left Charleston on December 27. We anchored one
night in the South Edisto River then docked the next night
at Hilton Head Harbor Marina.
in the South Edisto River
restaurant at Hilton Head Harbor, Neal enjoyed a very elegant
Shrimp & Grits. This is a common combination and we discovered
that every chef has his own recipe and method. We're finally
far enough south that pretty much everything is green -trees,
shrubs, grass - it sure looks good.
the 29th we got to Thunderbolt Marina near Savannah. This
is a popular stop for ICW boaters.There are other marinas
here but we're glad we chose this one - every morning we
had a newspaper and 6 warm KrispyKreme donuts delivered
to the boat. It's a tradition here and we're very traditional
type people. We walked to the famous Tubby's Tank House
for dinner. We took a city bus from Thunderbolt to Savannah
and so our first impression of the city was a series of
pretty run-down neighborhoods. Our first stop was the Visitor's
Center and then we made the mistake of taking the free shuttle
around the city instead of taking a guided tour. The bus
zoomed around at well over the speed limit and even though
we had a map, we had no idea what we were seeing most of
the time. After that we walked around a bit but we weren't
very impressed after our first day. Back home on the boat
we watched Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which
did give us a glimpse at parts of the city we'd not really
the next day we took a taxi to the river front and started
with a fresh perspective. We spent time at the river front
area and then headed for the heart of old Savannah.. Savannah's
squares, especially the ones down Bull Street are wonderful.
The day was mostly cloudy with some light drizzle; and the
dense and lush foliage in the squares along with moss on
the statues and monuments made for a somewhat mystical atmosphere.
Savannah has some beautifully preserved homes and buildings.
The neighborhoods around the central squares look very interesting
and livable. I'd like to go back again. If we go to Savannah
again, we may consider tying up right at the city waterfront.
We'd miss the donuts but it would be more convenient for
January 2 we left Thunderbolt but got only as far as the
first drawbridge. As we approached I made my usual radio
call to request that the bridge be opened for us. The bridge
tender came back with the information that the bridge was
down. This confused me because I could certainly see that
the bridge was down - that's why I was asking that it go
up. After a few more radio exchanges, I finally understood
that the bridge was "down" in the sense that it was not
functional and he could not put it up. He said that it would
likely be the following week before it was fixed so we headed
back to Thunderbolt to regroup. On the way back we passed
a couple of boats headed for the bridge and radioed what
we'd learned, but they'd heard that it would be working
again. Once we got back to the marina, the harbor master
called the bridge and learned that, yes indeed, it had been
repaired and was working. It was frustrating but at that
point it was too late in the day to start out again so we
stayed another night.
worried me because I'd read so much about how badly the
ICW is shoaled in many places. Georgia hasn't seen fit to
fund dredging operations. We played the tides going through
known trouble spots and made it through Hells Gate and Florida
Passage with no problems. In St. Catherine's sound we encountered
a shrimper with so many birds flying around the boat that
they looked like a swarm of gnats from a distance.
anchored in Cattle Pen Creek and woke up the next morning
to dense fog. It was 10:30 before we got going and going
was slow through patchy fog so we did only 20 miles before
anchoring again - this time in New Teakettle Creek. A guy
in a small boat put in along the opposite shore and began
collecting mussels or oysters - we couldn't tell which.
A pelican tried to land on the solar panels but they tipped
and dumped him off. A pair of dolphins came up just alongside
the boat then went on their way. Fog again the next morning
but not so dense as to keep us from getting going. It finally
cleared. This part of Georgia is desolate. Just marshland
as far as the eye can see. There are birds and fish and
dolphins and no sign of civilization other than the channel
markers and the occasional other boat.
at Cattle Pen Creek
at New Teakettle Creek
January 5, we Anchored just opposite Fort Frederica on the
Fort Frederica River. This fort was founded by James Oglethorpe
in 1736. Little remains except a few walls and some archaeological
excavations but it is a national monument open to the public.
We didn't take time to visit. We had good holding here in
winds up to 20 mph. It was calm the next morning with light
fog which dissipated quickly.
on the Fort Frederica River
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