12/22/2011, Charleston, SC
The most critical piece of this day's trip was to make the Ben Sawyer bridge by 4pm. It closes from 4 to 6, and missing an opening meant spending the night in Isle of Palms or arriving in Charleston Harbor after dark . We called the bridge at 3:30, requesting an opening and got through it and to City Marina by 4:30 pm!
The day was spent dodging shallow spots on the waterway and watching dolphins leap out of the water, alligators sunning themselves on the mudflats, and several types of birds catching fish. The terrain changed markedly going from scrub to forest to grassy beaches. It was beautiful!
Tasha did what she does best, stretch out and relax.
We changed latitudes on this journey to Charleston, moving from 39 degrees N to 32 degrees N and that really makes a difference in weather!
The day was great. We will be sailing around the Charleston area during January and then plan to head South.
12/21/2011, Georgetown, SC
We should have known better than to dawdle and let the barge pass us before we started out. We just had to have that last cup of coffee before we pushed off for Georgetown. About 10 minutes out we saw the tugboat pushing the barge. ok. It was ahead of us. Then we realized it was moving really, really slow. We slowed to 5 knots, then 4 and then finally realized it was moving at 3 knots. The channel is narrow for 25 miles and although we asked him if he would move over for us, and he agreed, we decided that nudging that rock yesterday was enough of a reminder and we assurred the captain that we were ok with staying behind him. So for 25 long, excruciating miles we followed the tug and her barge. The slow journey gave us a chance to really see Myrtle Beach from the waterway. Jim didn't fall asleep because there was enough excitement keeping the boat from getting too close to the edge. The area isn't called the 'Rock Pile' for nothing.
Twenty five miles later the tug captain slowed and told us it was ok to pass. We gunned the motor and waved goodby. I took a nap and woke when Jim said he needed me to look for flotsam. What is that? Usually debris, logs, etc. It was raining and blowing and there was flotsam in the River. We had reached the Wacamaw River and it was full of flotsam. So I grabbed the binoculars and tried to decipher if a bunch of leaves in the water was indeed attached to a log or if it was bobbing along by itself.
We survived the rain, wind, and flotsam, but as we approached the turn to the marina a tugboat called and requested that we wait because they would be using our side of the channel because of shoaling. So we turned around a few times, then were able to find the HarborWalk Marina and dock.
Dinner was excellent at the Portofino Restaurant in the quaint, tastefully decorated village of Georgetown. I would like to spend more time here.
12/20/2011, Myrtle Beach, SC
We left Little River late, knowing that we only had three hours of traveling before we reached Barefoot Landing at Myrtle Beach. Carefully Jim edged Al Di La through the canal, avoiding the rock edges. Then, as we were preparing to go around a barge, we heard a clunk as the keel struck a rock. Luckily the tide was flowing towards us and pushed us away from the rock. Jim was able to maneuver us around the barge and we continued to our next stop.
Docking at Barefoot Landing was easy as Jim slid Al Di La into place. We had help from Mark and his dog, Otto.
We explored the area, had a delicious lunch at the Flying Fish, and browsed the many small shops. Exhausted, we participated in Happy Hour at TBonz, then headed back to the boat to get ready for the show at the Alabama Theatre. We had always wanted to see this Christmas show, but never did. It is called "The South's Grandest Christmas Show" and it lived up to it's name. We enjoyed every minute. Jim said it was 'corny' in spots, but he liked it too. I was feeling like I wasn't able to enjoy Christmas this year because we are moving the boat, but this was special and I think I can deal without a Christmas Tree on the boat.
12/19/2011, Little River, SC
There was a great deal of shoaling on the waterway from Wrightsville Beach South. We found the best way to avoid getting stuck is to slow down and watch the depth, steering around the shallow sandbars. On one of my brief stints at the helm I was challenged by a deep curve in the waterway at an inlet. Water from the ocean pushes sand into the waterway. It was tense, but we made it!
After we were underway we received a call from Don and Cindy, a couple from New Bern, NC making their way to Charleston on their Hunter Passage. We met them at Casper's Marina in Swansboro and have kept in touch as we follow each other down the waterway.
As we passed down the waterway we saw a fishing vessel that had sunk while tied at the dock. We wondered if it had been a victim of the last hurricane. We also passed beautiful homes and estates that faced the Intracoastal Waterway.
It was a sunny, calm day until we surfed down the Cape Fear River. The tide was going out and it propelled us swiftly at 8.5 knots.
Then we meandered down the Little River to South Carolina!
12/18/2011, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Another cold morning so we will keep heading South. (that's our plan anyway) The sun warmed the cockpit and by noon we were shedding layers. Wind was over 20 knots on the beam at times. It blew us on a shoal but we were able to turn our way out. Unfortunately we were then late for a bridge opening. No worries... we slowed down and were able to take a closer look at the beautiful homes lining the waterway. We decided to stay at Seapath Marina in Wrightsville Beach and had a great dinner at a local sportsbar, watching football games. All in all another really great day!
12/17/2011, Swansboro, NC
We left Oriental, NC in the early morning, heading to Adams Creek and the canal to the coast and the Bogue Sound. We spent the day cruising down the sound, admiring the homes on one side and the wildlife on the other. Just after we passed Swansboro NC, we heard on the radio that the Navy was closing the Intracoastal waterway for the rest of the day to conduct "live fire" exercises near camp LeJuene. NC. A big boat coming back our way called us on the radio to say that they had been turned back by a Navy vessel and that we would also be turned back if we kept going. About this time, we started hearing very loud explosions in the distance. We came back to Swansboro and got a slip in "Casper's Marina" for the night. The loud explosions in the distance continued until after dark. The adventure just keeps getting better.
We hope to make it to somewhere near the South Carolina border tomorrow.