Dave decided after a night of PBR he needed some pizza, so after a morning of bacon, eggs and sausage, a lunch of a ham sandwich, we would finish the other parts of the pig with his favorite pizza, a redneck special (for those who don't know a redneck special is pepperoni and sausage pizza). The girls opted for salads and a veggie pizza, but whatever your flavor if you are in Southport and want pizza the Dry Street Restaurant and Pub serves a terrific pizza.A day of rest, sort of, Saturday, November 15, 2003 On Saturday we called a day of rest, we had to do laundry and catch up on the logs etc. before heading to Georgetown, SC to pick up Jen's Dad for the trip to Charleston. Day's on the boat and days at home where you "think" you are going to get a lot done you never do. After checking out the town again and doing laundry the day was pretty much a loss after that. After updating the website, sending and sending a few e-mail's and trying to get the propane re-filled, the day was pretty much over. We were unsuccessful in our quest to get the propane re-filled as everyone we asked said there was only one place a few miles up the road. Without a car, it was impossible to lug the propane tank up there to be re-filled. Hopefully we will not run out too soon. We had high hopes of updating the website among other things, but Southport Marinas free high speed web access was very selective on the times it operates. This is not of the marinas choosing, their access just seems to come on at about ten in the morning and cut off around 4, no one seems to know why. So we just packed it in for the day, Jen went for a run, we had some dinner and looked forward to our stop in Calabash, SC tomorrow (Calabash is right on the NC/ SC border but we were to be anchored in SC). World Famous seafood at the Mall?, Sunday, November 16, 2003 We were off toward Calabash, a little over 30 miles south. Calabash is home of world famous Calabash Style Seafood (I have never heard of it either), but I had read to skip the Calabash Style Seafood and just pick up some fresh Calabash seafood from the stands /fish markets right there at the docks. Jen and I were looking forward to this so we headed out from Southport around 8:30 on our we toward South Carolina. On the journey south you have to go through one of the more interesting bridges of the ICW journey, the Sunset Beach Highway Bridge. This bridge is actually a floating pontoon bridge, that to open and close they seem to pull with a wire on a crane. You have to wait for the wire to "sink" before you go through or of course you may sink yourself. We were running late to make the opening , but the nice bridge tender here was waiting for us to go through before closing. That is why we didn't get to see it open, but closing seemed to take quite a long time . Soon after we were at the inlet river to Calabash, the information we had said to anchor in the river /inlet on the way into the town and dingy in because deep draft boats may have trouble getting in to the marina (which is now closed we soon learned over the radio). Now, we have anchored in many inlets and rivers on our way south, but never one that was used as the channel for a town with a large shrimping boat population (yes shrimping boats, just like in Forrest Gump). It said beware of the wakes from boats heading in and out of the inlet. Well, once at the anchorage I thought in might be better to say beware of getting plowed over by boats entering / exiting and then have to swim though the wakes to get to shore. It was tight in there and after as we circled we saw two small boats almost hit us in broad daylight we decided we better go on. It was now after 2 and the next "free" place to stay for the night was the Barefoot Landing dock, right next to an outdoor mall in North Myrtle Beach. This was fine except for the fact that we had to go through the "Rockpile" a section of the ICW about 4 miles long that isn't wide enough for you and a barge to get though at the same time. To avoid this unfortunate situation you call on the VHF radio before heading to and see if there is anybody coming the other way. This we did, but we get no response so we headed in anyway and hoped we wouldn't meet anybody. We got through fine, but right before Barefoot Landing we discovered something that was to become a common trend in the coming days. That was abridge that was not documented on any chart or information we had. Not only that it was a bridge that we needed them to open for us to get under and it just appeared once you came around a bend. Usually you get to call ahead five minutes or so beforehand and ready the bridge tender, but here we had to wait, within sight of the free dock at Barefoot Landing. Once through the bridge we headed toward the dock which was a long floating dock with a lot of boats at it. We saw many people on there boats having cocktails and soon one of them had hoped on one of the boats tied to the dock to help us raft up to it. Soon we were rafted up to a small sailboat, that looked somewhat unseaworthy and went to introduce ourselves to the gentlemen who we thought tied us up to his boat, but it turned out we just rafted us up to other young couples boat who at the moment weren't around. It seemed, from him, that they had been there many days and get rafted up to every night. We thought this was a bit strange, but we were happy to be settled for the night so we jumped on the dock to have a look around. As we walked down the dock we soon found the friends we had met aboard Realize were just a short walk down the dock. So we had a cocktail with them before continuing our walk around the "mall". It is hard to say just how strange it is to pull up your boat to a dock step off and be in some sort of outlet type mall, it's instant culture shock the only the go old US of A can bring it to you. We walked around looking in shops that had we lived on land might have interested us, but being that we couldn't really afford or even need any of it just shrugged in wonder. Soon we found what we were looking for, the bathrooms, which were nice and clean, but seemed to be lacking heat as they were colder then anywhere in South Carolina I have ever been. The mission was accomplished though and we soon headed back to the boat and our new neighbors. Once back we did find our neighbors back at there boat, once again we met another interesting couple who had decided to take up cruising us well, a bit differently then most. They were in there twenties and after moving back to North Carolina and living at home they decided since they couldn't afford there own place to buy a boat and cruise around. So here they were living on spaghetti and working off dockage bills at marinas by bottom painting slowly cruising down the ICW. Cruising takes all kinds and this couple were yet another example of who you find out here (if you haven't guessed by now it is everybody and anybody). This interesting couple had some crazy stories to tell, as they started their journey in Morehead City, NC (Morehead City is only about 150 miles and they had been gone for awhile) and worked there way south. Most of them were just the normal groundings, but two were stories of them leaving there boat anchored and leaving to visit some friends. Understanding that currents in this parts run swift and fast they left there boat anchored and headed off. But as many fear when on anchor, boats on anchor drag, and their's was no different, the difference was they weren't around to save it. It seems the first time (yes it happened more then once) they had just come back and were rowing out to the boat when they noticed some people trying to get a boat free from leaning against a bridge by the current. Well it turned out it was there boat and thanks to the other people they safely got it back at anchor. The second time they were not so luckily, it seems after a side trip to Charleston they came back to find there boat gone. When they inquired about it seems that the boat again had gone adrift and again was caught against a bridge, but this time the town had to call SeaTow, and there boat was sitting at a dock. When they found there boat they were informed of a relatively large sum they owed for saving it, then discovered that the tow guy had just decided to cut there anchor, leaving it at the bottom of the anchorage and then when towing the boat ripped off one of there winches for the sails. After hearing these entertaining stories over some drinks with them Jen felt a little safer with me and we wished them well and headed of to bed. Beware of the Swamp Thing, Monday, November 17, 2003 We left our neighbors at about 8:45 sleeping below as we heading of into the swamps of South Carolina and the Waccamaw River. On our way down we again discover many new uncharted bridge on the way, fortunately these where all fixed clearance bridges, meaning they didn't have to open because they were tall enough to fit us under. Myrtle Beach where these uncharted bridges are also has one of the more extravaganza features you go under on the ICW. As many know Myrtle Beach is home to many golf courses with many golfers, while one course seems to have put itself on both sides of the ICW, so this created the problem of how to get said golfers from one side to the other. It seems instead of building a long expensive bridge they decided to put a little gondola over the ICW to transport the golfers across, so as you are heading down the ICW, every ten minutes or so a gondola goes over caring some golfers over to the next hole, quite a show. Soon after Myrtle we were in swamp country, it seemed there was nothing for miles except large trees covered in Spanish Moss and the rivers that winded through them. The you would get a very occasional house or and even less frequent marina to break it up a bit, but even those were hidden in the swamp a bit. It was very nice and peaceful. ABout 20 miles short of Georgetown, SC we pulled off into Bull Creek for the night careful not to anchor to shallow us the tides down here ran from 3 feet in North Carolina to as much a 9 feet in Georgia. We were in South Carolina, about a 5 feet tide and had no desire to found out what sort of swamp things were on the bottom of Bull Creek. We were anchored with one other boat, but besides that it was black with only the stars. The water was so calm you could see the stars reflecting in it and the swamp was very much alive with tons of different sounds all around us. During the day it seemed we were always being followed from above by a large hawk or falcon, it was really beautiful place to be. Soon after dinner we were in bed so we could make our short run to Georgetown in the morning with enough time to have the afternoon to look around. Don't believe what you here, Tuesday, November 18, 2003 Georgetown, SC is a working mans town, but they are slowly taking the working man out of Georgetown. Home to a paper factory and a steel mill the people of Georgetown didn't mind the sounds and the smells as long as they had jobs. Unfortunately the steel mill has closed so the future of Georgetown is a little less industrious. This working class town persona has given Georgetown the reputation of not being good to visit. We entered the town by sea and even though the paper mill was smoking it didn't seem to smell, having gone to school in Maine paper mills were not new to my nasal passages. From the sea the waterfront of the town was not much to see, with the paper mill and old steel factory on one side and the harbor, lined with shrimpers and the backside of the towns main street on the other. The towns buildings were turned away from the mills to sort of back them from view when in town, which made the town not much to look at when at anchor. We anchored near the dingy dock and rowed in to find a walkway along the waterfront, called the harborwalk, parallels the main street in town. From there we walked to Front Street (the main street) to find a nice looking street you might find in a 1950's movie, filled with small antiques shops, diners/ restaurants and governments buildings. The town had seen hard times but it seemed that the downtown area had started to recover and most of the storefronts seemed to be occupied. The harborwalk and streets of the town seemed to be filled with artists that were taking some sort of a community art class. We walked the streets having a look around and hoping to find a place to shower, the library for the Internet and a place to pick up some groceries. Soon we were at the marina inquiring about showers, which were $3 per person for less then satisfactory facilities, but we needed a shower, so of course we paid the ransom for the key to the showers and were soon feeling a lot cleaner. Afterward we headed down Front Street and passed a place called The Humidor, selling cigars among various other things, so since Jen's father was going to be on the boat for a few days I figured I'd get him a few. We walked up the stairs and into a place that more resembled an apartment then a cigar store. After entering we immediately met the proprietor who was quickly befriended us and asked about what had brought us to Georgetown. Soon we were talking about all sorts of different things over some coffee and before we knew it we had been there for a couple of hours. Since we wanted to see more of the town and find a grocery store we bid farewell to our knew friend and headed off into town, but we knew we would be back because his shop also had wireless Internet. We walked around Georgetown and found a nice town that seemed between stages. With the closing of the steel mill the town seems to be working on other ways to stimulate it's economy, so slowly it is relieving it's downtown. The main street is lined with beautiful old buildings which are being filled with many different type of antiques shops and other speciality shops, like the humidor. Walk off front street a block and you get into tree lined streets of old houses dating back to the 1700's. The trees have grown over the street enough so you drive through a tunnel of trees. These streets go on like this for many blocks, and the houses are nice old architecture of all sorts of different periods. Soon we found ourselves back at The Humidor checking our e-mail and again talking with the owner. His business he plans to grew from a small cigar store to a small private club where the members can enjoy playing chess, drinking fine spirits and coffee as well as a place were local artists and musicians can play or sell thier works of art. It seems the place was going to have a little of everything, it even had a dock with two slips that he plans to let boaters stay there for know charge so they experience Georgetown more easily. The time had come for us to get some dinner so after deciding to stay away from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store we stopped by the fishing dock to go to the seafood market there. We picked up all the fresh seafood we needed and went back to the boat to cook dinner. We had been impressed with Georgetown and looked forward to stopping on our way back, hopefully in years to come the town will get more popular for cruisers as more discover the better parts of the town and overlook it's industrious side. Tomorrow we would pick up Jen's Dad on the dock and be off for Charleston we only hoped we had good weather for the journey. Anyday on a boat is a good day, Wednesday, November 19, 2003 We awoke in the morning to wind and rain. This was not what we had hoped for when we asked Jen's Dad to join us for the trip to Charleston. We weren't even sure he would want to go anymore, but we headed in anyway to pick him up. Soon Jen's parents were there and I rowed out the supplies including the refrigerator which we had my father send to them to bring down. Afterward everything was aboard we bid farewell to Jen's Mom that we would meet in Charleston in a couple of day and headed off. The winds were from the south at about 20 to 25 knots so as we left Georgetown and into ____ Bay we had steep 3 to 4 foot waves right on our bow. This made for an uncomfortable trip for the 6 miles until we reached the smaller creeks and river that wind there way threw South Carolina to Charleston. It had at least stopped raining for the time being and soon we turned into a creek out of the bay and much calmer waters. No sooner did we do this then the rain started again, only this time it was much stronger then before. As we winded our way down through the marshes we soon found the rain finding it's way through our defenses and into the openings in our rain gear. Cold and wet we figured this was not want Jen's Dad had signed up for but when we asked him if he would rather be driving down with Jen's Mom he announced "Any day on a boat is a good day." With that we continued on our way toward Charleston. Since from Georgetown, Charleston is 60 miles we decided to stop along the way to break it up and give him more time on the boat. The only logical stop was near Meclannensville. There we had a small marina and a few anchorages, because the wind had died we went to one of the anchorages. After a quiet day on the ICW where we saw few others boats because of the rain, it started to clear as we neared the anchorage. As we put the hooked down the sun burst from the clouds and lit up the marshes that surrounded us. We sat in the cockpit having a snack and cocktails while dolphins swam around us, pelicans drove into the water getting dinner and a pair of rainbows appeared in the distance. All this topped off with a wonderful sunset made us forget about the rainy day we had just been threw. Any day on a boat truly is a good day. Taking the fort by sail, Thursday, November 20, 2003 I awoke that morning ready to get going, but had pity on the rest of crew and let them sleep in a little. I had again used two anchors and while they slept I hauled one up from the bottom. Soon the sun was rising and Jen's Dad started to emerge from bed. Soon we were all up and underway in the bright South Carolina sunshine. Today was the total opposite of the day before and we wound our way in the sunshine toward Charleston. As dolphins guided us threw some tricky parts we neared the Isle of Palms with a boat hard aground and TowBoatUS helping them off. We had almost gotten threw another day without grounding, but earlier Jen had gotten nervous in a tricky part and headed me the wheel just in time to allowed me to run it up on a shallow spot. We easily backed off and now we were passing this boat that was not so lucky. At the bridge right before you get to Charleston harbor we of course narrowly missed the opening and had to wait, but this time we didn't know how long as the bridge was having "work" done to it. After about 45 minutes the boat which was hard aground found it's way to the bridge and soon after the bridge opened allowing us to spill out into the Charleston harbor. The wind was nice in the harbor and we raised sail as soon as we were out of the canal. Since I had never seen Fort Sumter up close I announced we would be "Taking the fort by sail" and started over toward the famous landmark. We get as close as I dared hoping they wouldn't fire on our Yankee boat and then headed up toward The Battery. We gave over the wheel to Jen's Dad and let him get in some real sailing, we even got to turn off the engine, a first since we got to Norfolk. It was a nice short run and we even got in earlier then we expected. We got a slip at the Ashley Marina and once we got fuel and pumped out Jen's Mom picked us up so we could get some showers at the hotel, the Anchorage Inn right in downtown Charleston, and head out on the town. After cleaning we walked around Charleston to scope out the restaurants for dinner that night. The main attraction with Charleston once you have checked out Rainbow Row and The Battery is of course the food. Since we would not be eating out again for a long time we planned on doing it while in Charleston. The main tourist section of Charleston is filled with history and inside the historic buildings seem to be restaurants, a lot of very good restaurants. On our first night we choose Slightly North of Broad or S.N.O.B. (to get the story we will have to go), there we had our first of what would become many great meals. From there we enter in to a food coma reminiscent of after Thanksgiving before getting dropped back of at the boat to climb into bed. Unless moral drops the feedings will continue, Friday, November 21, 2003 Our first full day in Charlestown found me completing a task that was suppose to be done before we embarked on the journey, the refrigeration cold-plate. It had not arrived before we decided to leave so we went without it, with plans to pick it up along the way. May dad sent it to Jen's parents who in turn brought it down with them to Charleston. Now that I had it, I actually had to install it. Fortunately for me Jen's Dad was there, who is a knower of things, so between the two of us I knew we could figure it out relatively well. For those of you who think I am actually installing some sort of refrigerator on board let me explain. A normal prevaricator on board would burn my batteries so fast that I would actually have to run the engine all the time just to keep it going. Most boats start out with a basic "icebox" which is pretty much a glorified cooler like you take to the beach. The main difference is the one on a boat you hope has a lot much installation (3 to 4 inches is considered good). The refrigeration system we would be installing works on the same idea as a regular fridge only on a larger scale. Yes larger, most fridges cool a small plate that in turn cools the whole fridge, on a boat it would cool down to quickly so you need to help that. So basically you have a big box, that freezes / cools itself down and because of it's size doesn't cool down as fast. So basically we install something that turn itself into a big block of ice that in turn will cool our icebox. Since we have a small boat we also have a small icebox, with only about three inches in installation around the side and basically none on top. I plan to fix the problem before installing the box, but time ran out and none the unit will go in as is. To install it all we had to do was mount the compressor (it cools the plate) in the sail locker, ran wire to the fuse box and temperature gauge, then install the actual cold plate in the icebox. I ran the wires beforehand, and by the time Jen's Dad got there in the morning I had mounted the compressor on the floor I had removed from the sail locker. After successfully getting the floor to the sail locker back in with the compressor attached we started main task, which was drilling the holes for the cooper tubing to run threw to the compressor. Fortunately the icebox and sail locker were on the same side of the boat and the tubing would run a straight line threw the head (the bathroom) to the compressor in the sail locker). But that still meant we had to drill a 1 and a 1/4 hole through the icebox and into the head underneath the sink. AFter that the tubing could run into existing holes for other wires etc. until we drilled another hole into the sail locker. This sounds easy and for the most part it was, but when you are using a drill on a boat around on near the waterline there is always that fear that somehow you are going to drill through the hull instead, I was relived to see that both hole were no where near the hull and the boat was not taking a water rapidly. After that we just feed the cooper tubing through the holes and mounted the cold plate in the icebox. After everything was hooked up we read the directions, something we hadn't done when we first started, to check if we had done everything right before we turned the switch. It seemed we had so we then turned her on. It seemed that nothing had happened, we couldn't hear the compressor and I thought I had just installed a large heavy weight into my icebox, but then you heard it a very faint hum you could hardly hear. When we opened the sail locker it was ever so slightly louder, the compressor was humming away. We opened the icebox, now a refrigerator and felt the first whisks of cold enter the plate, we felt like genius'. The whole thing was very easy, just as the manufacturer, E-Z Kold, said it would. So if you are looking to convert your icebox on your boat I would have to suggest E-Z Kold, as the people were friendly and helpful on the phone, the box was easy to install and best of all they are A LOT cheaper then other systems, about $1000 for ours compared to prices ranging for $2000 to $5000 for any other brands (I looked at all I could find). It actually works a little to well, since our icebox was so small before if I keep it on for to long it actually freezes things. With the day work done we took the free courtesy van offered by the Ashley Marina downtown to find the wives. We were unsuccessful in that venture so we went where we wanted to go for lunch, Tommy Condon's, an Irish pub near the outdoor market in Charleston. Happy with our mornings success we celebrated with a few Black and Tans before our wives showed up just after we finished lunch. They went to lunch at Blossom's while we sat out on the wharf having a cigar. Soon we were all together again and to pass the time before another Charleston feeding we decided to take a tour on a horse drown carriage. Normally this is the type of thing you are embarrassed to be seen on, but like a Boston Duck Tour, it seems that everybody does it eventually so it seemed it was may time, so we climbed aboard and were informed about a lot of Charleston lore, I don't want to spoil it for you, but I will say this, some it was interesting, most was not so you just enjoyed the ride around Charleston which if you have never been is certainly worth the time, if you skip the horse drawn carriage, do not skip having at least one meal at a top restaurant, it is worth every penny, which brings us to our next topic, dinner, the latest feeding. After the night before we had though about just getting a light dinner tonight, but by the time dinner rolled around it seemed another fabulous full meal was in the works. Tonight it was going to be Cypress, the new restaurant by the Chef from Magnolia's and Blossom's (these are all famous restaurants in CHarlestown owned by the same guy and the are all right next door to each other). Cypress was very, oh what the word, she , with halogen bulbs hanging down over cocktail tables for a very high ceiling to the wall of wine which was literally a wall of wine that went up three stories. The high back chairs made it almost impossible to see the tables around you so you felt as if you were alone in the restaurant, but the also gave the restaurant a stuffy feel. Not usually affected by this type of thing it made me, a person right of a boat where stained dirty boat shoe feel out of place. That did not change the fact that we again had a dinner that couldn't be beat. All this high living in Charleston was getting tough, eating out every night was a luxury we didn't have on the boat. Tomorrow would be the last day though then it was back to our galley. Good by sweet fleece, Saturday, November 22, 2003 We awoke to a morning of chores. We planned on using Jen's parents to help run our errands, going to West Marine and Costco. Since her father had just bought a boat West Marine sounded good to him and since they weren't "members" at Costco, a trip there sounded equally intriguing to them. Costco was a place Jen had never set foot into before the trip, and it has now become a staple. We gathered our things and filled there car until it could take no more than went back to the boat to find places to put it all. Since I had to change the oil that afternoon we skipped our noon feeding with Jen's parents and planned to do a big dinner and dessert for our last night. As I started to change the oil Jen went off to meet her parents since to change the oil on a sailboat it requires you to make a big mess Jen was happy to leave me alone to do the job. The Westerbeke engine I have makes it really easy to drain the oil and the oil is not all that time consuming after you heat the engine so the oil comes out smoother and easier. The engine is located right under the companionway (the stairs/ ladder that goes below) so you have to remove them to get to the engine. Today I had neglected to move our jackets (they are hung on a fire extinguishers near the companionway), before started the process. So as the oil is draining into a pan right below them I decided it would be a good time to do this before they drop into the oil pan. Well I successfully moved all but one without dropping them into the oil, unfortunately the one I did drop happened to be my favorite zip down fleece jacket that I wear almost everyday. This was a major problem as I discovered that fleece absorbs oil VERY well. Before I could get it out the jacket seemed to absorb an amazing amount of oil. So I figured I'd soak it in a bucket full of water and laundry detergent. I really appreciate how hard it is to clean up an oil spill now as the when I remove the jacket it seemed to have coated the sides of the bucket with oil, but got very little out of the jackets. So I started to wring the jacket out with detergent, water and my hand. It seemed to be working but every time I would open my hand after wringing it would be coated with oil, not very pleasant either. So I decided after doing this for a half hour I would wash the jacket, so before I showered I put the jacket in the washing machine with a lot of detergent and hoped for the best. By now it was time to meet everybody for dinner, so I caught the van to downtown and we had yet another excellent dinner, this time at Magnolia's, followed by dessert at Kasizinkies, which if you ever go there has cakes so high you can't believe it. After this excellent meal we headed back to the boat where I went to check on the jacket. As soon as I opened the machine I know I was in trouble for the inside of the machine seemed to have a film of oil around it, and the jacket of course still coated your hand with oil when you touched the oily spot. So after I cleaned the machine I had to leave the jacket hoping that whoever found it could find some us for it, perhaps it could be used to clean oil out of there bilge. Upset at the death of my favorite jacket I headed of to bed thinking of our journey to Beaufort, SC where we would might some friends in a couple of days. To Thanksgiving alone or not to Thanksgiving alone, Sunday, November 23, 2003 Dancing on the South Edisto River Dancing on the South Edisto River Sunset on South Edisto River Sunset on South Edisto River Jen at anchor, South Edisto River Jen at anchor, South Edisto River As we headed out of Charleston the big question was where we would spend Thanksgiving. We had a good friend who was going to spend it with has family on Amelia Island and he had invited another friend of ours to join him. Before we left he mentioned we should try to make it as well. But now we were still 250 miles away and it seemed that there was no way to fit in both Thanksgiving in Amelia Island and meeting friends in Beaufort. We decided we would just have to have Thanksgiving by ourselves and hope to make Amelia Island on Friday or Saturday. So we headed out on Sunday with plans to meet some family friends in Beaufort, SC on Monday night. Not far out from Charleston we entered Fenwick Cut, this is a place that the books say has a really strong current. Well the books for once weren't exaggerating and we entered the Cut with the current hard against us. Our speed went from may 6 knots to under 1 knot immediately and it took a lot of work just to hold the boat straight so the current didn't turn you right around and shoot you back out the cut. Slowly we made progress, but the Cut which was only about 100 yards long and 20 yards wide was tough to navigate. I went from one shore to the other looking for a place that had slightly less current, finally to avoid being swept onto the shoreline I just kept to one side and made the slowest 100 yards I have ever experienced in a motorized craft of any sort. We did finally make it threw but not before a boat coming the other way had a good laugh as it shot by us. Once the current lessened it's grip we made much better progress and soon it was getting late so we headed toward the next anchorage. We anchored in the South Edisto River just 20 miles from Beaufort, from there we had a nice dinner and headed of to bed. Grounding just isn't Wright, Sunday, November 23, 2003 Hilton Head Lighthouse Hilton Head Lighthouse Skyline of Beaufort (Bu-Fort), SC Skyline of Beaufort (Bu-Fort), SC Blue Angel's practicing south of Beaufort, SC Blue Angel's practicing south of Beaufort, SC Blue Angel's practicing south of Beaufort, SC The next morning we found the tide with us and before we knew it we were watching the famous Blue Angles, the Navy air show flying team, buzz us overhead as they practiced just north of Beaufort. It was still early in morning and we still harbored thoughts of being able to see our friends in Beaufort and get to Amelia Island so I called them hoping they could inform me of a place where I could anchor farther along so we could put some more miles under our belt before seeing them. Hearing our predicament they told us we should just keep going so to make Thanksgiving in Amelia and stop by to see them on the way back. Knowing neither Jen and I really wanted to spend Thanksgiving in some deserted river in Georgia by ourselves we decided that we would take there advice and head on. They had to settle for watching us go underneath the bridge in downtown Beaufort as we quickly headed out of town. With the tide taking us along we put Beaufort behind us quickly and soon we sailed out across the Port Royal Sound leading out into the Atlantic and into the protection ICW behind Hilton Head. We thought we might have to anchor near Hilton Head, but wind and tide was taking us farther. Soon we were going through the Ramshorn Creek near the Wright River only 10 miles from the Savannah River and the Georgia border. I get a little careless and went to a new chart in the chart book a bit early as we were leaving Ramshorn Creek. Soon near marker #39 it happened. The bow dipped hard toward the water as the boat slowed to a stop and settled. I had driven the boat hard into a mud bank. 5 and a half knots seems slow, but when you go 5 and a half knots head long into a mud bank you realize it's really not that slow. As I let the shock wear off I realized that the soft mud really didn't have that good a hold on us and soon I was turning the boat around and powering out into deeper water again. Afterward I looked again at the chart I had turned to early and noticed the very shoal I had meet up with clearly marked on the previous page. It just goes to show you shouldn't get ahead of yourself. After then shock of the grounding we were glad to be anchored in the Wright River with four other boats just a few miles from the Savannah River and the Georgia State line. We had gone over 100 miles in two days, with 150 to go to Amelia Island and two and a half days to do it, it was looking like we just might make it, even though we my be a little late for dinner. Slow and steady wins the race, Tuesday, November 25, 2003 That night after dinner a strong north wind started to blow, and the river we were anchored on was setting us with our into the wind. This combined with the chop the wind was creating made for an uncomfortable night. Because of this I had no problem getting up and watching another sunrise, the problem was keeping from wanting to start the engine and get underway before daybreak. By 6:45 enough light had graced the sky to pull up anchor and as we neared the Savannah River the sun rose from the east. We were now in Georgia, the tenth state since our journey begin and fourth state since entering the ICW in Virginia. If we were to make to Amelia Island for Thanksgiving, it would also be the state we would spend the least time in on the way down. As we passed Thunderbolt, GA (a popular pot to stop and go into Savannah) we passed many of the boats we had not seen since Norfolk and Elizabeth City, it seems that our slow and steady pace had gotten us back in line with the other boats we started with and we might not be the last boat to the Bahamas after all. We heard a lot of grumbling about the ICW threw Georgia because it winds it's way down so many creeks and rivers, we even purchased a chart of the Georgia coast hoping to sail outside and skip much of the ICW in the state. Once we started we were pleased to find that even though you go a long way to make a short distance in Georgia it is certainly a very pretty journey. This combined with the fact that we started to get some wind made it a fast day going through river and sound toward an anchorage as yet determined. We basically just keep going, getting to one anchorage and then gauging our time to the next. After passing through St. Catherine's Sound we entered the Johnson Creek with hopes of making it to Sapelo Sound and anchor in the Wahoo River. It was another 10 miles which with our boat averaging between 5 and 6 knots could take up to two hours to reach. So it was about 2:40 in the afternoon and the sun didn't set until after 5, about 5:20, so we figured we should make it there no problem. We continued on and before we new it we had entered the Sapelo and were heading for the Wahoo River. Being that there was no other anchorages for many miles south we figured to have plenty of company in the river, but we could see far before reaching the anchorage (you just look over miles and miles of high marsh grass) that we would have the whole place to ourselves. After being paraded into the river by some dolphins we put the hook down we settled in for another sunset when over the marsh grass in Johnson Creek we could see a mast weaving it's way down toward the sound. It looked as though we would have some company after all. From the river we could see the boats (there was a power boat as well) leave Johnson Creek and head across the South Newport River toward the Wahoo. The power boat headed right toward the river, which is a mistake because there is a big shoal between Johnson Creek and the Wahoo River and Jen watched as the powerboat plowed right into it. Shaken, but not deterred he backed off of it and headed around, this time giving it a wide berth. Soon the sailboat we had seen wandering through the marsh grass made it's way into the river. We noticed the boat looked formilar and soon they had pulled up beside us. It was Sirius, one of the nine original boats that went through the lock together our first day on the ICW. They invited us over for a drink and soon after they anchored we rowed over to have a reunion of sorts. It's a funny thing when you might somebody on a trip like this, you don't say goodbye, because you expect to see them again. You never know when, but usual it is just like this, sitting in a river in Georgia miles from anywhere. We went over and caught up on all the information on the other boats we had passed earlier in Thunderbolt. It seemed that two others who were in Thunderbolt when we passed were anchored about five back on the ICW. After a very pleasant cocktail hour or hours depending on how you look at it we headed back to our boat. The tide was now flooding the river and before I had even really put the oars to the water we were grasping to get hold of the boat before the tide swept us past it, the 7 to 8 foot tide in Georgia really creates a current. After our cocktail hour we didn't really need dinner but we cooked the salmon anyway knowing we would us it tomorrow. Then we headed of to bed about the same time as always (8 o'clock) because it was going to be a long day tomorrow as we still had 87 miles to go if we wanted to make Amelia Island and dinner was starting at 4. How far can you go?, Wednesday, November 26, 2003 Wednesday started much the same as the day before minus the bad weather during the night. I was up early, hoping to make it out before 6:30, but since we were in a river with no markers I had to at least wait until we had some light. Again 6:45 was the departure time and before we new it we had the jib up and were sailing down the Sapelo Sound. This day would take us through much of what was left of Georgia and not until the very end of the day would we start seeing any signs of civilization. It had been this way since leaving Thunderbolt near Savannah and now we would still have to travel almost to Brunswick before getting to major settles again. It is a quiet desolate put of the ICW, one manly inhabited by small fishing skiffs and when you get to the bigger sounds, big shrimpers. As we chugged along we got the feeling it may never end, as beautiful as it was we wanted to see some signs of progress here there was none. This stretch of the ICW is also full of ranges, which are navigational aids on shore that give you two things to line up, once lined up you are in a channel and will remain so as long as they are lined up. There are so many along here you lose track, and many aren't really necessary, but you use them anyway just to keep paying attention. We entered river and river until we got in the Mackay River that headed down to Lanier Island and St. Simons Sound which lead up to Brunswick. In the Mackay we passed a small skiff shrimping directly in a channel for a range that was important (meaning if we left it we would run aground), he slowly moving and we passed quite annoyed but none the less not on the bottom. Soon the same skiff passed us headed down the river, then doubled back toward us. They were soon aside us holding a huge bag asking if we would like some shrimp. Never one to look a gift skiff in the bow we gladly took the shrimp with many thanks, then with just a have a happy Thanksgiving they were off heading back down the river. Not a half hour a go I wanted to run the down and now they just headed us more shrimp then we could eat in a week. It goes to show that those fisherman who always seem to be in our way our there for a reason, and every once in a while a wave and a little restraint can get you an awful lot of shrimp. Anyway we now knew what we could bring over to our friend house for Thanksgiving, a bunch of shrimp cocktail before dinner. After this our mood was greatly improved and we sailed past Lanier Island and across the St Simons Sound before entering Jekyll Creek on our way past Jekyll Island.I sailed down the narrow, shallow Jekyll Creek with Jen below. She had no desire to be in the cockpit as I tried to keep the boat in the narrow channel with depths of under 10 feet the whole way down. I myself was very nervous about running aground, but I kept the sail up because we were making such good time I wanted to try and make Cumberland Island that night and anchor only 20 miles from Amelia. We thought we were going to have to anchor near Jekyll Island or stay at a marina they, but as the wind kept with us we rounded Jekyll Island at about 4 o'clock. We figured we had about an hour and 45 minutes of daylight left so we were pretty sure we could it another ten miles with the speed we were going and safely get to an anchorage right as it was getting dark. So we kept going, out toward Cumberland Island, because of shoals you have to go out into the cut and into the Atlantic Ocean before heading back in and down into the Cumberland River. We made it out and rounded the buoy in great time, but after that we had the tide against us and the wind wasn't as good, so our speed dropped. The sun was quickly setting as we neared a few anchorages, one seemed unprotected, the second was in Floyd Creek which was actually an alternative ICW route and not really and anchorage, the third was the best option, but was the farthest away, Shellbine Creek. It was going to be dark by the time we reached Shellbine Creek, but since there were lighted marker along the way we decided we would go there as it was the best anchorage. At almost 6 as the very last bit of light left the sky we dipped anchorage in the creek with 5 other boats. We were only 20 miles from our destination after traveling 68 miles that day so it looked as if we were going to make it there for dinner. We were tried and ready for a nice relaxing Thanksgiving. It just a little fog, Thursday, November 27, 2003 I again awoke before daybreak, this time to check the anchor around 2 in the morning. When I got up on deck I noticed something unfortunate, I couldn't see any of the boats around us. We were socked in a very dense fog bank and I could hardly see the stern from the bow. Depressed, I went back to bed hoping it would lift by daybreak so we could get to Thanksgiving dinner. Jen awoke around 7 and the fog had lifted, but there were still some spots of patchy fog. About 8 I started to pull up the anchor and just as I did I heard the lady on the boat next to me say something, "Aren't you worried about seeing the markers?" she said. "Which markers?" I replied. "All of them," stated my wife and the lady in unison. I looked up to see in a matter of 5 minutes the channel not 50 feet from where I stood in clear skies had totally fogged in. I shrugged at her and headed toward where the channel used to be. This is when Jen put her foot down and so I dropped the hook again right at the mouth of the creek and waited. At about 8, a boat behind us pulled up anchor and headed out. It had cleared ever so slightly so I figured if he can do it so can I. I quickly pulled up the anchor and followed him out. It was about this time that I remembered the boats radar. Radar is a device I have seldom used, but the few times I had been in the fog and it seemed to work well, so I switched it on. In 60 seconds a monochrome blur formed on the screen. As I looked at the chart and then at the screen I could see the bends of the river, the boat in front of me and even some of the markers. I cursed at myself for not thinking of it sooner as I could have been enjoying myself running this river in the fog with the radar instead of sitting at anchored bored. Not 5 minutes after I turned on the radar we motored out of the fog bank and into a beautiful clear day. We continued down past Cumberland Island and soon were nearing Kings Bay, where the Navy keeps many of it's nuclear submarines. I had never seen one of these impressive beasts and hoped to see one going in or heading out of the channel we were now in. As we followed the channel markers down toward Amelia Island I didn't noticed any submarines while I peeled shrimp to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Jen noticed that the markers that were listed on our chart seemed to differ from the ones we were passing. To go to Amelia Island we were suppose to turn off at green marker 31, but when we got there it was closer to Drum Point Island than Amelia Island. This was a bit vexing, but since we knew that we were still a long way from Amelia we continued on. We of course found out later that somebody had decided it would be a good idea to re-number the markers, but our information, which was suppose to be up to date, didn't have the new markers on them. It didn't matter as soon we spotted Fort Clinch on Amelia Islands north shore and turned south toward the Island. Before we knew it we were tied up at the Fernadina Harbor Marina. Amelia Island is the only place in the US to have flown 8 different flags before setting on the Stars and Strips. We had made our destination, with more than four hours before Thanksgiving dinner. The first priority was to hit the showers. A shower was really needed as we hadn't had one since Charleston and we were feeling a bit ripe. The hair wash in the sink the night before was not cutting it. After the showers, I tried to call Dewey on our cell phone. AT&T seemed to pick this place to not give us service , so we had to use a pay phone which cost us $2 in laundry money, a great annoyance. We were looking forward to seeing our friends so much that it was difficult to deal with just this little inconvenience. But when they finally arrived, all of this faded away. It is amazing how much you miss friends and family on trips like this. We were ready to do anything to get here on Thanksgiving day, but it was not about the dinner and all that comes with Thanksgiving. It was the fact that we were dying to see good friends and catch up with what was going on in the world. Dinner at the Price abode was wonderful as expected. Their family embraced us as if we were part of the family. Soon after dinner we did what everybody seems to do (almost fall asleep), before a game of hearts got us going again. The next day we moved on to Spades. Dewey and I decided to team up against the girls for this little game. We lost, which was to become a common theme over the next few days. Soon we were in an all out war of Spades that lasted most of the weekend. As it turned out, the girls wound up beating us 4 out of 5 games. We even got Dewey's sister, Pam and husband, Anthony involved at one point. They beat Hepsen and Jen, but we beat them, so I guess by default we were the real winners. Jen and Hepsen will of course protest this statement. Golf Anyone?, Friday, November 28, 2003 Because we were now in Florida we decided that golf should be played. So at about noon we headed off to the links. Now thankfully, golf is a game where 99% of the people who play it suck, because our foursome was by no means going to tear up the course. But we headed out just hoping to make it around 9 holes without the ranger kicking us off the course. After the first few holes and a bunch of people playing through the ranger did come by. Fortunately he only told us to make sure faster groups got to play through. Since we were very versed in this tactic already we had no problem complying. On the 9th hole it started to rain and soon we were happily inside after a round that could be called less than stellar. After a few more lazy days, touring Amelia Island, doing laundry and Dewey and I loosing many times in cards to Jen and Hepsen, we had to head on down the waterway. So Sunday night we thanked Dewey's family for their hospitality and headed back to the boat. It was sad to again be leaving our friends behind, but we hoped to see them in the Bahamas in the winter.
Oh thank you Chesapeake, Saturday, November 1, 2003 I woke up early the next day, around 5AM hoping to be able to sneak out of the creek before day break. Up on deck I decided it would be wiser to wait for some more light before venturing out. So at about 5:55AM when the light of day started to brighten the horizon to the east we headed out of Indian Creek. Jen was just getting up, but if we wanted to have any chance of making Norfolk that day we needed to maximize the light of day. The wind was favorable so we raised the jib hoping to get a lift from it as long as we could. As we headed south around Windmill Point (don't expect to see any windmills there) we were pleased to still have a favorable wind as we cruised south at over 6 knots. As I thanked the gods of the Chesapeake for finally delivering us favorable winds, we flew down the coast making great time passing Deltaville just as the over boats (the ones who made it there the day before ) started headed south. The day was beautiful and sunny. It appeared that the Chesapeake was going to lessen her grip and let us get to Norfolk that day. Just after ten we passed New Point Comfort Lighthouse, just over half of the way there, I knew we would be spending the night somewhere in Norfolk. This was much earlier then I ever thought we would. It was so beautiful out we decided to do a little grooming on the deck before we got to Norfolk. Neither of us had shaved in a few day so we took advantage of the warm weather to shave on deck in the sunshine. This was actually a very pleasant experience compared to shaving is the confines of our head (the bathroom on board), which makes a port a-potty seem roomy. We decided to spend the night in Willoughby Bay, anchored out so we could go past the Naval Yard tomorrow while we were fresh and rested. We made our way in and headed to the Willoughby Bay Marina for diesel. This proved futile as Hurricane Isabel had watered down all there fuel and they didn't seem to have a hose to fill up our water tanks. We looked across at another dock that had an open space and a hose so we decided head over to fill up our tanks and inquire about a shower. We were tied up by a local dock worker who informed us that if we wanted to tie up for the night it would be 75 cents a foot and that they had showers, ice, etc. As he walked away I grabbed the hose intending only to fill up and then go out and anchor before the proprietor came over and threw us off the way they do in New England. Soon he did come over and sensing that I was not interesting in docking for the night offered us the option of laying up on the dock for a few hours so we could have showers, water and even borrow his truck to go to the store if we needed to. All this was only going to cost $5 dollars so we forked it over and relaxed while we prepared to have a shower. After showering and doing the rest of the chores Jen called her Aunt and Uncle who lived in neighboring Virginia Beach. We had planned on anchoring for the night in the bay, but when the best plan to see Jen's Aunt, Uncle and Cousin's was to spend the night at there house we decided to pay the night for .75 cents a foot and leave Bumbre protected at a marina while we were gone. I talked to the owner once again, who was up the mast of a catamaran, and he said that I could just deduct the $5 dollars from the cost and settle up with him in the morning. So with that taken care of we packed up and prepared to spend our first night off the boat since we had left Martha's Vineyard almost two weeks before. As we headed out to the parking lot to wait for Jen's Aunt and Uncle we passed the sign to our marina. It seems we were truly in the south now by the fact that Bumbre would be spending the night on the dock of Rebel Marina. But now that we were in the south we were noticing changes for the better, gone was the formal, all money and no play attitude of the north, it was now a mix of relaxation and down home good old boy friendliness that was much more pleasant and made everything a lot more enjoyable. Jen's Aunt and Uncle picked us up and we were given the royal treatment, a home cooked meal, laundry, lights and water we didn't feel bad for leaving on while brushing our teeth. As wonderful as the trip was it is always nice to enjoy the comforts of home, you truly appreciate them more when you can't take them for granted. After dinner we headed into Norfolk to meet her cousin who was out with some friends. Having not stayed up past ten in a long time it was strange to be headed out to a bar at 10. We met him at a piano bar at Waterside in downtown Norfolk where he was at a party for his friend's Mom. We settled in at the bar, Jen talking to her cousin and me watching Virginia Tech beat Miami in college football. Before we knew it we were at another bar and it was past twelve. I had pretty much reached my limit so when it was suggested we try another bar I opted for heading home. All the comforts of home, Sunday, November 2, 2003 The next morning we awoke in a nice soft comfortable bed and got up and took a shower. When we got downstairs there was breakfast waiting for us. It was almost to much, the whole way down Jen was surprised to find how much our friends and family had gone out of there way to help us and make sure we were happy and comfortable, as we sat there in Virginia Beach eating breakfast at her Aunt and Uncle's house it was sad to think that soon we would not be seeing our families again for quite some time. They took us to do some chores, like returning the wireless card at CompUSA before dropping us at the boat. We wanted to move her down into Norfolk or Portsmouth about 10 miles south before heading into the Dismal Swamp the next day. So at about one o'clock we threw off the lines and headed out of Willoughby Bay and past the aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers and toward Downtown Norfolk. We had planned to anchor right near Red Nun #4 directly off of Downtown Norfolk but once there we saw many more people anchored off of Hospital Point in Portsmouth on the other side of the Elizabeth River. This made us think that there must be a reason for this so we decided that the wisdom of many should be our wisdom as well and headed toward Portsmouth to get diesel before anchoring off of Hospital Point. After getting diesel at the Tidewater Marina we ran into some friends we had met aboard the yacht Contessa in Chesapeake City, since we were going out with Jen's Aunt and Uncle our time was short but it was good to see familiar faces again, soon after we anchored with many other boats off Hospital Point. I needed to change the oil before we headed down the ICW, so I started that task while Jen enjoyed the sunny day writing in her journal. Once the dirty but necessary job of changing the oil was done we headed in to Portsmouth to have dinner with her Aunt and Uncle. They treated us to a wonderful dinner and afterwards we had drinks at the Tidewater Marina's Bar, where we again ran into our friends from Contessa who were going to head into the ICW tomorrow as well, but they were going to take the Virginia Cut. We were going to chance the shallows of the Dismal Swamp, so we would have to try and catch up with them later on down the line. After we were done with our drinks we headed back to the boat for a good nights sleep before our first day in the canals of the Inter-Coastal Waterway. The not so Dismal Swamp, Monday, November 3, 2003 In the morning I deposited the old oil at Carter Marine Services before heading back to the boat to raise the anchor and get underway. The locks (one at the beginning and end of the Dismal Swamp) opened four times a day, 8:30, 11:00, 1:30 and 4:00, and we had decided to not get up early and catch the 8:30, but to lock through at 11:00 and stop at Deep Creek which was the town right after the lock that had a free town dock you could tie up to for the night. So just after 8:30 we raised anchor and headed toward the first of many bridges we would have to raise on the journey down the ICW, the Jordan Highway Bridge. This bridge is the sort that the raises the whole road up vertically so it remains flat, when you ask for the bridge to be opened you tell him the overall height of your mast and the bridge tender opens the bridge enough for you to pass through. Our mast is 45 feet up (from the waterline) and all the books assure you that the bridge tender we raise the bridge enough, but as you pass under it you swear that there isn't enough room. We pasted under it without incident with a catamaran named Allways Sunday, since our little boat only has a 13 hp engine we were soon passed on our way to the next bridge before the fork off from the main route of the ICW (the Virginia Cut) and the Dismal Swamp. Time was quickly passing and it was 10:30 by the time we had turned off onto the Dismal Swamp route, with another three miles to go before the lock. After waiting for all the bridges to go up we were now in jeopardy of missing the 11 o'clock lock. Jen was at the helm and I had goosed the engine to the maximum (6 knots with wind and current), after calling the lock master he assured us we would be fine so we relaxed a bit. Right about this time Jen was rounding a turn in the canal with a marker on it, before we know it we were aground. It seemed we had wandered a little outside the channel and had gotten ourselves stuck in another mud bank. Jen who was already a little nervous about grounding seemed a little confused so I took over the wheel. Worried that we would miss the lock raising I revved the engine in reverse and then forward, turning the wheel side to side, in effect digging us out of the mud. Fortunately for us it worked and we were soon free, but I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge of the engine figuring the raw water cooling system had just had a big gulp of muddy water. We did make it into the lock and as it turns out we weren't the last boat in, there were six boats who were going to lock into the Dismal Swamp with us this day. We quickly got to know some of the other lock mates, like the cat "Allways Sunday" who was ahead of us most of the way there and the couple on an Island Packet named "Purpose", there were also "Sirius", "True Luv", "Orienta" most were retired and taking the cruise of a lifetime after they were fifty-five, but other were like us taking a break from the everyday grind of life. Just as the gates closed in the lock two boats pulled up, just missing the 11 o'clock lock, they would have to wait until 1:30. Soon the lock master Robert started flooding the lock, if you imagine a miniature version of the Panama Canal this is the sort of lock it was. The Dismal Swamp Canal was surveyed by George Washington in 1763 and completed in 1805. There was even a ferry that used to run the canal from Norfolk to Elizabeth City, NC, but those day are long over, now most of the boats who go threw are sailboats going south in the fall and north in the spring. We were going to be raised nine feet up into the Dismal Swamp and as they pumped water into the lock a strange foam filled the lock as well. We had heard that they only raise and lower the locks four times a day to lessen the impact any salt water could have on the water of the swamp. As we were raised we noticed the two boats who had not made the eleven o'clock lock now just 9 ft below us. Once through the lock we had to wait again from the lock master Robert to raise the bridge not far from the lock, after he raises the bridge and opens the lock he blows his conch shell (probably given to he by one of the many boats who go through his lock to the Bahamas each year), and wished everyone well telling them he will see them again in the spring. It is the sort of hospitality we had gotten used to in Virginia. Right after the bridge was the dock we were going to tie up to that night, it wasn't much, just a small bulkhead next to an old brick building. Most of the others were headed to the North Carolina Welcome Center near mile marker 28 on the Dismal Swamp so we decided to join them as well. It was over 15 miles to the Welcome Center so I settled in at the helm catching out the scenery and just enjoying the easy run. The Dismal Swamp is straight, it is the sort of thing you had to draw in art class when learning perspective (remember drawing the train station with the train tracks going into infinity, same thing but with water and trees). It might sound boring but it actually was interesting except for one thing, the submerged trees. Since Isabel had gone threw just over a month before there were a lot of downed trees and clean up was still going on. The Swamp is not that deep, in fact most boats over 5 feet in draft go through the Virginia Cut (we draw 5' 3"), but since I wanted the more "scenic route" we choose to give the Dismal Swamp a try. I expected to run up on a few mud banks and work my way off, what I did expect was to be bouncing off trees on the bottom. You would be motoring along and see a tree laying in water on one of the banks, so you would go as far over to the other bank as you dared (it is only between 50 and 25 yards wide), sometimes up would get over without incident and other time you would feel a slight bump. This only happened a few times and only once really hard. Since the boat didn't spring a leak afterward it seemed to take them pretty well. The main issue was most of the times this happened Jen seemed to be at the helm which made her believe that it was her that was doing something wrong instead of just dumb luck. Even with all that we made it to the Welcome Center in one piece where we found plenty of folks there to help us tie up. We were one of the last people there (because we have one of the smallest / slowest boats) but the others we had locked through were there to greet us and help us tie up. The dock, which is just about 150 ft long, was put on the sight because it is a rest stop and Welcome Center in North Carolina for Highway 17 that parallels the Dismal Swamp from Norfolk to Elizabeth City never more than 50 yards away. The amazing thing was during the journey besides a few breaks in the trees where you can see cars go by you would never know it was even there, you feel like you are in one of the most secluded places in the world. Some intelligent official in North Carolina thought to put a dock at the welcome center as well and now just on this one night there were going to be eight boats rafted up with each other to spend the night. If you guys are thinking that you have slept at a welcome center on a long road trip and would no less want to do it on a boat then you did in a car you would be missing out. Since it is not interstate 95 it doesn't have that rest area feel, in fact you hardly notice the cars there at all and they probably didn't notice you either. So the boaters who are all rafted up together, including the two who missed the earlier lock (Barramundi and Good News), had a nice party on the picnic tables by the docks. I would bet that with all of the welcome center rest areas in the US this little one on Highway 17 in North Carolina is one of the most utilized ones in the country. Very rarely have I ever seen people at a rest area not just going to the bathroom, sleeping in there cars or walking their dogs, here you had a group of people having a cocktail party. It made it quiet an interesting stop. This was also our first real opportunity to meet people who were doing the same thing we were, living aboard there boats traveling south. Most were retired, but there was also a family of four on a 27 foot sailboat who had rented there house for a year and decided to by a boat and go sailing for a year. Both were very experienced sailors and they had to be for they had their two children on board (4 and 6). They were from Toronto (many people we have met are from Canada) and were doing it as inexpensive as possible. This means ANY way possible, for instance they had engine problems in Lake Ontario and since there wasn't a good diesel mechanic around they bought a 6 hp outboard which seems to give them enough power to get them where they need to go. This is just one sort of cruiser we met that night, but the wonderful thing was that no matter what the reason or what the budget we all had the common thread of going out there and heading south. This seemed to bridge all the gaps necessary and makes you feel quiet close to the people you meet along the way. It also made us feel safe at night knowing that if something happened to one of our new neighbors all of us would be quickly up and checking if everything was OK. So everyone slept soundly that night and before we new it morning had come. The one thing that did spoil the party that night was the fact that I got a call from my uncle in Richmond that my Grandmother had passed away. So we would have to leave our new friends to go up there and say goodbye, we were thankful to be so close and able to easy make it since my friend Dave had discovered that there is a rental car place in Elizabeth City, our next stop. The Harbor of Hospitality, Tuesday, November 4, 2003 That morning everyone seemed to rise at similar times, just before 7. We all wanted to get going with enough time to make the 8:30 lock at South Mills. We had to get lowered down into the Pasquotank River which would wind us all the way to Elizabeth City, NC, the Harbor of Hospitality. It seems that besides being the only place in North America that still makes blimps Elizabeth's City's other claim to fame is the famous Rose Buddies. It all started back in 1983 when the city decided to put in 14 free slips to attract ICW boaters to stop and spend time in there town. This was very nice of the town, but the real reason these 14 slips became famous was that two life-long friends named Fred Fearing and his partner who died in the 1990's. They decided to come down to the dock every day to greet the boaters coming to stay in Elizabeth City. They would give the "First Mates" roses and if there were enough boats on any given day have a wine and cheese party for everyone. This would give all the boaters would get the chance to meet everyone else and Fred gets the chance to tell you about his home town of Elizabeth City. Today this was our destination and as we all headed off from the Welcome Center at a little after 7 and before we new it we were all floating in front of the lock waiting for it to open. Once it did all 9 boats squeezed in and we were all lowered together. Once in the river we paraded down it in a line until the faster boats started to pull away and we were left by ourselves winding along until we reached Elizabeth City. We backed into our slip and were soon met by Fred himself driving his Rose Buddy golf cart. He was happy to see so many boats and immediately arranged to have a wine and cheese party for us at 4 o'clock. Hospitality Harbor was a very friendly place, but it lacked basic amenities like a bathroom and showers. This was soon taken care of by the fact that another very nice woman named Nora offered to take whoever wanted for showers and shopping in her van. Before we knew it a bunch of us were piling into her conversion van for the ride to a local health club where we could take showers or even soak in a hot tub or sauna. Elizabeth City certainly seemed to know how to make it's guests feel at home. After our shower we were there with Fred as he told us about Elizabeth City while we all slipped wine and drank beer. We had a wonderful few days with the people we had met in the locks just the day before, but tomorrow our little group would break up as we would head up to Richmond for the funeral and they would all continue south. That night after dinner we shared some leftover cake and food with the couple on Orienta, they were the ones in the 27 footer with the outboard and since the weather was suppose to get bad they were going to head out that night and cross the Albarmare Sound. It was nice to get to spend some time with them and soon we were watching them head off into the darkness. When I woke up the next morning I helped many of the others untie so they to could head out across the sound, as I waved goodbye I wondered if we would catch up to them down the line. We were headed to Richmond and would not be leaving until Saturday, the dock at Elizabeth City is suppose to be 48 hours for each boat, but they were happy to let us stay for a few extra days. It is a small world after all, Friday, November 7, 2003 We got back from Richmond on Friday after seeing my family and celebrating the life of my grandmother. The drive was interesting as we had to drive highway 17 the very road we had just paralleled on the way down in the boat. We looked in at the Welcome Center on the way down but didn't see any boats there. We did see 9 boats in the swamp on the way up and about equal that on the way back down. Once back in Elizabeth City we walked around the city more and discovered that besides the Rose Buddies and the other friendly people we had met, Elizabeth City didn't have to much to offer. It had just enough to keep a boater happy for a day or two, but except for a few historic buildings it lacked the overall look and charm that many other small southern towns have. As we prepared for our departure the next morning a trawler named Sea Shell pulled into the slip next to us. Jen thought she had seen them anchored next to us at Hospital Point, in Portsmouth,VA. I helped them get tied up and noticed that one of the men onboard was wearing a Waterfront Restaurant T-shirt. The Waterfront is a restaurant in Camden, Maine. A friend of mine, who I went to Gould Academy with, parents own this restaurant. I mentioned this to the gentlemen who immediately took interest. It turned out that this man was part owner in the restaurant with my friends parents and he turned out to be the father of a good friend of mine in Boston, Gus. Now we were meeting up on the docks in Elizabeth City of all places. That night after another wine and cheese party thrown by the Rose Buddies we were having dinner on deck when Graham, the owner of Sea Shell invited us over for an after dinner drink. We hung out and talked sipping brandy until we turned in later that night. Into the teeth of the Alligator, Saturday, November 8, 2003 My wife was nervous to leave that morning because the forecast was not great, 15 to 20 knot Northeast winds. I wanted to leave as the forecast was not suppose to get any better and I didn't want to be held up any longer, having spent those days up in Richmond. As Gus's Dad wished us farewell, Jen seemed to soften on the idea of going. Graham helped us untie the lines and before long we were heading down the river toward the Albemarle Sound. The Albemarle Sound is one of the bodies of water that separates the Outer Banks from the rest of North Carolina. Even though it is a protected waterway, high winds can make waves build to very large heights quickly. This is the reason Jen didn't want to go today, but since the wind and the waves were going to be with us I assured her we would be fine. Once we left the Pasquotank River, passing the blimp factory along the way, we entered the sound. I put up a sliver a jib and we were flying along between 6.5 and 7 knots, occasionally even climbing over 8 knots, which is good for such a small boat. I was at the helm as Jen looked nervously ahead, good thing, too. If she was looking behind us she would have seen the front of the large 6 to 8 foot waves breaking, instead of their backside, as they washed in front of us. Thankfully we were not the only boat out there, a few other boats had left Elizabeth City and there were a few boats coming out of the North River from the Virginia Cut (this is where the two waterways meet up again). As I rocketed along I broke the speed record for the boat at 8.5 knots, but this announcement didn't seem to make Jen happy. She was anxious to get into the Alligator River, when hopefully the waves would die down a bit. After a little over 10 miles of the Sound we entered the Alligator River only to hear the bridge tender at the Alligator River bridge announce that the winds were to high to open. It seems that while we were out in the sound the wind had gone over it's forecasted amount and now there were gusts of forty miles and hour. The bridge doesn't open in that much wind so we headed into the Alligator River Marina to get some diesel and hopefully wait on the bridge to reopen. We got some cheap diesel (.95 cents) and decided to get a slip for the night since it didn't appear the bridge would be opening that day. It was only about 2 in the afternoon, but the anchorage we wanted to go to that night was too far if the bridge didn't open soon. Just as we pulled into a slip the bridge announced over the VHF that it would open again in 10 minutes so we dropped our lines and headed out into the big seas. We got through the bridge and started down the Alligator with three other sailboats. The waves had dyed down a bit and Jen said she was ready to take the helm. So with the jib out we flew from marker to marker. The waves were now down to 4 feet, perfect for our little boat to surf and Jen soon announced that she had gotten her up to 8.7 knots easily breaking my speed record. I was a little upset, but since we were making great time and would now easily make the anchorage, I got over it pretty quick. We rounded Newport News Pt. at around 4:15 and by 4:30 were on the hook of Deep Pt., which was where the river started to narrow. It was a nice anchorage expect for the fact that it was still blowing over 25 knots with gusts at least up to 40 or 50. The anchorage was calm but the trees didn't stop the wind from rocking us and whistling in the rigging. After dinner the cold air drove us into bed early, but sleep didn't come easy as we worried about the anchor dragging all night. After many turns going up on deck I managed to slip off to sleep while Jen lay awake all night listening to the sounds of the wind. Would you like to take a Cart?, Sunday, November 9, 2003 That morning we were the first of the 8 boats there that night to leave. Jen was anxious to leave this place quickly and get to Belhaven, NC, our next stop. Soon after the anchorage we entered the Alligator-Pungo River Canal, which connects the Alligator River and Pungo Rivers (obviously), along the way we ran in a catamaran that we had seen on and off from Cape May on. He was seemly just anchorage on the side of the canal near some downed trees. We wave to the captain as we headed by and continued on our way. Soon before leaving the canal we watched a TowBoatUS guy zoom past, a common sight our whole trip, again we waved and continued on without much thought to it. Since we left before 7 that morning we were soon at Belhaven. After last night's harrowing experience, with no sleep, and the wind forecasted to continue, we decided to stay at the River Forest Marina instead of anchoring out in what looked like a pretty exposed harbor. Here I experienced what was certainly my worst docking experience of the trip. With the wind strong against me, I had to leave Jen at the dock, not being able to get my stern in. Finally after many attempts I was able to dock only loosing a vent cap (unfortunately the one to the holding tank) and a lot of pride. The River Forest Marina seemed to be a nice place that had not been kept up very well. It redeemed itself by having showers and laundry, two things we needed badly. They also had golf carts available to use so you could run yourself into town or to the Food Lion about a mile and a half to get groceries. After starting the laundry we got a golf cart to do just that. Their golf carts were in a bit of rough shape as well because ours seemed to go just a little faster then walking speed. We enjoyed our ride, almost as much as the locals enjoyed watching us crawl along there city streets in a blue golf cart. We eventually did make it to the Food Lion, stocking up on a few essentials including a case of beer which I had never heard of before, Southpaw. We loaded up our cart and started our journey back only to find that either the cart was running low on juice or the extra weight from the Southpaw was too much. Either way, it seemed that the only way to keep her moving was to help her along like the Flintstone's did, by pushing with our feet. This kept the cart going almost walking speed, but since I was wearing flip flops it was not an easy task. Not far from the Food Lion a truck pulled up in front of us and offered us a ride. He saw me in Flip Flops and since it was getting dark and cold he thought he should stop. So we loaded our groceries into his truck and he took us back to the marina. The dock attendant was sorry for giving us such a faulty golf cart and headed off to collect it. We went to put our groceries away and pick up our laundry. At the laundry we met a lady who had been at River Forest Marina for two weeks waiting for their engine to be fixed. She, like many boaters, liked to gossip and the subject of the catamaran that we had seen in the canal came up. It seems that a barge had come along in the canal when he was passing through and forced him aground. As more information came out it seems that this catamaran had been a frequent caller to TowBoatUS (we had actually heard this from other us well), calling yesterday as well when he got in trouble in the Alligator River. Since we had heard he had trouble in Annapolis and seemed to be having trouble off of Cape May we assumed that this was a boat that we should avoid at all costs. After our gossip session we went back to the boat and while the sun was setting over Belhaven Harbor. We also noticed the TowBoatUS with the catamaran in tow behind it coming into the harbor. By now, the dock was full. We were right next a boat who had been docked in Elizabeth City the day we left so we struck up a conversation with them. They were another nice couple who had moved onto there boat, Realize, with there two children. After a quick tour of there boat we had some dinner and went off to bed. Leading the pack, Monday, November 10, 2003 Once again I forced us out of bed early so we could attempt to make Oriental, NC that day. At 6:50 we followed numerous boats out of the harbor for a sail down the Pungo River and across the Pamilco River. The sail was nice and by this point on the ICW you look forward to any chance you have to raise sail. Unfortunately, as we entered Goose Creek and the land cut to the Bay River the sails had to come down again. As we left the land cut we ran into crab pots everywhere. This must have freaked out most of the boats in front of us because soon there was a big bottle neck near the markers which lead out into the wide expense of the Bay River. It seems that one boat had run aground and didn't want to venture forward except under extreme caution. After being waved through to lead the pack I quickly negotiated the channel and out into the river. In the river we raised sail and headed toward the mouth of the Nuese River. We were again making great time because of a favorable wind (which again brought large waves) and after getting into Nuese decided that we didn't need to stop in Oriental so we headed off across the Nuese toward Adam's Creek. Once in Adam's Creek we found a nice anchorage only 15 miles from Beaufort (pronounced BU-fort, our destination the next day) and settled in. It was still somewhat early and we enjoyed the afternoon and even casted a line out catching nothing as usual. When dinner was over, I as usual could no longer stay awake and fell asleep around 8. Fog and shallow water, Tuesday, November 11, 2003 I awoke early again, anxious to get going so we could have most of the day in Beaufort. We had heard a lot of good things about Beaufort and we both looked forward to getting there. Before 7 the anchor was up and we were heading toward the Adam's Creek Canal that lead to Beaufort. A funny thing happened between getting up to a beautiful clear sunrise and the canal, a thick fog bank engulfed us so visibility was only about 50 yards or less. This was a problem as once we left the canal we were going to be in a very narrow shallow section with no markers. As we got closer and closer to this section we got more and more worried, but just as we were upon the tricky section the fog suddenly lifted and we had clear sailing all the way to Beaufort. As we passed the Gallant Channel we were joined by a pod of Dolphin's who put on a show for us following us and jumping out of the water. There were a lot of them, to many to count, but soon they were off playing by themselves again so we continued toward the bridge and the entrance to Beaufort Harbor. We rounded Radio Island and entered Beaufort, tying up to a fuel dock to get diesel, ice and water before anchoring out in the harbor. The docks where strange, it seemed that it was all run by the town and everything was very spread out. The dock attendant come from one direction and asked to walk down the other direction to pay. It was a few blocks to where I had to pay from where I filled up. Once there I also asked about pump out, which was $10 dollars in Beaufort (it is normally under $5) so we decided to make use of as many facilities on shore as possible. Even the slips looked old and run down, strange for a town that everyone seemed so impressed with, so far we were not. Since the harbor in Beaufort is actually just a small creek you just anchor on the southern shore of the creek across from Beaufort. The current runs swiftly through the creek so they suggest using two anchors. I have read about putting out two anchors, but had never done it myself so I figured this might be a good opportunity. Well it didn't seem to work the same way it showed in the book and even though I did have two anchors down I figured perfecting the technique would take a little time. After the dingy was launched we headed in to town hoping to get a shower, the Internet, lunch and have a look at Beaufort (not necessary in that order). Since we were hungry we started just walking down main street having a look at the local offerings. It was a beautiful day so we hoped to eat somewhere outside on the harbor. After walking the whole of Main Street we came to the Maritime Museum and decided to have a look and also get some local information on where to eat among other things. The museum was nice and the person at the information desk gave us enough information to find everything we needed, even a courtesy car if we wanted. In the gift shop we noticed some friends we had met in the Dismal Swamp had toured the museum just two day before. We decided on lunch at the Dockside Restaurant because it had an outdoor deck and fried shrimp. Jen was in the mood for fried shrimp and since it is very rare that she has a craving like that I figured we'd better accommodate it. So we had our shrimp and our cheap beers while enjoying the view from the deck. The deck offered us a lot of excitement as while we looked over at the island on the south part of the creek we noticed a bunch of horse running around. We were quickly informed by a local that those were descendants of wild horses brought over during the colonial times. As interesting as that was, it was topped when we then got to watch as a man was hosted up his very tall mast by his wife on the dock just below. All that excitement got us ready to accomplish our other tasks. But we soon found out that the library was closed because it was Veteran's Day and there was no place else in Beaufort that had Internet access. So now we only had to get a shower, which we arranged ($2 a person) at the same place I had to pay for the gas. We had to be escorted down a few blocks to be let into the showers. It seems they keep security tight at the showers in Beaufort, so to make people who anchor pay, but it seems the money from the showers doesn't go to keep up the docks or the shower for that matter. Soon we were back on the boat having dinner and going to bed, tomorrow we would head through the Camp Lejeune Military Base and hope that they didn't bomb us on the way through. In the war zone, Wednesday, November 12, 2003 The next day we started the long run past Morehead City and Camp Lejeune, that night we planned on anchoring in Mile Hammock Bay in the southern end of the military base. It was going to be a pretty boring run, so we thought. It started off boring enough until soon after Morehead City the Hairier Fighters Jets started to circle over head. They would take off and do a short loop around before hovering back over the base to land. At first it was really cool to see, but after the first couple of times the sound of the jets was deafening and it was more annoying then anything. Soon after that the Dolphins came back playing around the boat again, there is just something about watching them so I slowed the boat down hoping to get a better look. Soon they had moved on and so did we toward the Camp Lejeune Firing Range. The ICW cuts right through the firing range and as you approach it you have to call or look for the guards to find out whether you can proceed. There were no guards or answer to our calls so we headed in hoping not to be blown up by an errant shell. Going through the base is spooky as your not sure whether you are under surveillance or even have a gun trained on you. That combined with the helicopters going over and random amphibious vehicles you encounter in the waterway makes it a stretch you look forward to getting out of. We got to Mile Hammock Bay and found a few other boats there. Jen was nervous about the high winds and reported poor holding ground in the bay, but after putting down the anchor with 10 to 1 scope and experimenting again with a second anchor I was not worried. Jen was and the banging on the shore behind us combined with the helicopters still going over assured her of not getting to sleep that night. Me on the other hand, had dinner and quickly drifted off to sleep leaving Jen on the couch awake most of the night. $1.00 PBR sounds good to me, Thursday, November 13, 2003 I awoke in the morning to Jen on the couch, she had hardly slept so I told her to head to bed and I would get us underway. It was after 6 in the morning and the wind was still blowing. After a little breakfast I pulled up the first anchor without a problem and decided to warm up the engine before working on the second. This was going to be a tough one with the 25 to 30 knot winds pulling hard on the anchor line, I was going to have to use the engine to get slack on the rope, then cleat it down and repeat. Soon I had all the rope and chain I good get up in the boat, but the anchor still didn't want to let loose. Jen's sleepless night had been for not as it looked as this anchor wasn't coming up off the bottom without a fight. After goosing the engine a few times the anchor finally let loose it's hold on the bottom and we were underway at about 7 o'clock. We were on our way to Wrightsville Beach to meet my lifelong friend Dave and his girlfriend. He was driving down from Chapel Hill, NC to spend the night and then sail with us to Southport the next day. We had a beautiful day, with temperatures in the high 60's , but the wind was still gusting. We were only about 5 miles from Wrightsville approaching the Figure 8 Island Bridge when I realized that we might miss the opening. The bridge opens on the hour and half hour, we were about 5 till the hour and about 7 minutes from the bridge so I called the bridge tender on the radio to see if he would wait and open a bit late so we could make it. Most bridge tenders are happy to wait, but it seems that this bridge tender was on a power trip and told us if we wanted to make it we should go a little faster. The tiny Westerbeke in Bumbre does a great job, but the one thing she doesn't do is faster. We cruise between 5.5 and 6 knots, right then I was pushing her at 6.2 with a close watch on the gauges. As the bridge opened I thought we might make it if the other boats waiting there went through pretty slowly. It was not meant to be as we watched the bridge close no more than 100 yards off our bow. Pissed off, I circled with a 60 foot motor yacht who had thrown off a huge wake into us trying to make the bridge as well. Now the wind and current were making us play chicken in the narrow channel all in full view of the high and mighty bridge tender. After a half hour of hell, the bridge again opened and as I passed under it I watched us the bridge tender again closed the bridge with a boat nearly at the bridge. We pressed on hoping to the make the next bridge in Wrightsville Beach. Missing this bridge would be costly as it only opens on the hour, and as we approached it very near the top of the hour I again called the bridge tender hoping she would hold it for us. This time we were about a half mile away and I didn't think we would come close to making to as it was just about to open. This proved true as we got to the bridge five minutes after it closed. Now because of missing the previous bridge, we would have to wait another hour before this bridge would open. It was even worse knowing that just underneath the bridge were the marinas in Wrightsville Beach where we would be staying that night. While fighting the wind and current with my stern toward the bridge I heard the familiar horn that indicated a bridge opening. It had only been about five minutes. I looked around to see the bridge opening, so I swung the boat around in a timely fashion and quickly made it under the bridge. We thanked the bridge tender who informed us she hadn't done it for us, there was suppose to be a commercial fishing vessel that needed the bridge to be opened, but as we looked around we saw no vessel so we just thanked our lucky stars and headed on our way toward the Sea Path Marina. Once there we picked up some diesel and got one of the last slips available for the night (it was actually the fuel dock). From there we enjoyed some much needed showers and cleaned the boat for our guests that were to arrive soon. We decided to check out the local fare because we planned to go out to dinner that night. We chose Crabdaddies, a casual crab shack because it seemed like good simple fare and they had TV's that they would tune to Survivor at 8. Our friends met us there and we had a little dinner before heading over to their friends apartment in Wrightsville Beach. We were going to hang out before heading to the bars across the street for some drinks. There I met one of the more interesting chocolate labs (the dog) I have had the privilege to met. It wasn't that the dog was a great looking dog, it was the dog's unique talent. This lab, when asked, would run to the kitchen, open the fridge, grab a beer in his mouth and deliver it to you on the couch. No kidding, just look at the dog and say, "Get me a beer" and in shorter time then you could get one yourself you would have it delivered to you. This was so exciting that we ended up with quiet a few beers on the table we really weren't ready to drink, but you just couldn't help yourself, you just wanted to see it one more time. So after having a few Southpaws we headed over to the bar where we discovered $1 PBR (that's Pabst Blue Ribbon) was on special. Being on a budget I figured I better have the PBR, so we settled in to a night of catching up and PBR. Soon we had enough and we headed back to the boat for some much needed rest. Touring Southport, Friday, November 14, 2003 We awoke the next morning to a pounding in our heads that could only be the fault of $1 PBR. Dave who had experience with this sort of thing took us to the Middle of the Island Diner, for The Sampler. This is a breakfast with a little bit of everything, bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, hash browns and biscuits (grits were also included but we don't count them). Dave and I had the sampler and soon felt full but our headaches were still there. So we all headed back to the boat for the trip across the Cape Fear River and on to Southport, NC. We headed out about 9 and started down the ICW toward the Cape Fear River. The Cape Fear can be a rough ride when the weather isn't right (so I've heard), but today it was beautiful and calm so we put up the jib and slalomed the big buoy's heading up to Wilmington. Before long we were off of Southport and as we circle the city we headed into the ICW again and then into Southport Marina for the night. We get a slip and prepare lunch, we had hoped our guests would stay longer but they had to get back to Chapel Hill that night, so we had a few hours to tour the town and get dinner before they had to head up the road. The visitors center provided us with a map to tour the town ourselves, so we set off on foot to look over what Southport had to offer. It was nice little town, and soon we understood why the visitor's center had a sheet that talked about the films and TV shows that featured Southport. One in particular was a show that none of us seemed to remember watching but we could tell that many of the scenes we had somehow caught were filmed all over Southport. The show, Dawson's Creek, always had teenagers having heart to hearts on docks that were out in long marsh lands. We walked these very docks and could picture Joey and Dawson talking about there relationship on the very spots we stood. It was all very creepy so we headed off to the boat to escape the horrible images.