Entries

Moving On - December 9, 2006

Southport, NC - December 11, 2006

Charleston, SC - December 18, 2006

Savannah, GA - December 29, 2006

Florida - January 6, 2007

St. Augustine - January 7, 2007

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send email to Neal

 

Moving on
by Mary

December 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 trip.

Mile 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.

Anchored at Mile Hammock Bay - Camp Le Jeune, NC
         

The 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.

Mott's Channel Anchorage
 

In 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.

Southport, NC

December 11, 2006
by Mary

Getting 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.

Tuesday 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.

Southport 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.

On 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 on Friday.

South Harbor Marina - Southport, NC
click here for more photos from Southport
         

 

There 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.

Dock Holidays Marina, North Myrtle Beach, SC
 
         

 

Lovely Anchorages

December 16, 2006
by Mary

Saturday 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 place.

Anchored at Bull Creek
       

 

South 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.

Leaving 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.

This 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.

Anchored at Five Fathom Creek
         

Charleston, SC

December 18
by Mary

We 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 money.

City Marina, Charleston, SC
Click here for more photos from City Marina
         

We 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 cooking.

         

We 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 to see.

         

Christmas 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.

We 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.

Anchored in the South Edisto River
 
   

At the 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.

Hilton Head Harbor Marina, Hilton Head, SC

 

Savannah, GA

December 29, 2006
by Mary

On 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 seen.

         

So 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 sightseeing.

         

On 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.

Georgia 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.

ICW South of Thunderbolt
 
         

We 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.

Anchored at Cattle Pen Creek
Anchored at New Teakettle Creek
         

On 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.

Anchored on the Fort Frederica River
   


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