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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Brown Mustache time again..
05/07/2009, Charleston, SC (N32 46.506 W79 56.935)up the ICW to Awendaw Creek, SC (N33 02.049 W79 32.258)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

We'll we're back on the Inter-Coastal Waterway again. After coffee, showers, topping off the water and diesel and last minute garbage run we picked up our belts and checked out. This is truly a terrific marina. They throw a newspaper on board every morning and just so many little touches just make it a special place.

The weather still wasn't any good - still forecasting TStorms and showers with 4-7 ft seas building to 12 ft seas so we decided to just stay on the ICW instead of going outside again. It will take longer (slower) on this route, but its safer. We both decided that we'd make more headway this way as opposed to waiting for 4-5 days for a weather window to go back out - soooooo we should be on the inside now all the way to the Chesapeake. It may be slower and more tedious, but we'll get to sleep nights instead of sitting at the helm every 2-4 hours. Passage making isn't for everyone I guess - I like my sleep. It'd be different if we had another person probably - then each 4 hour shift would allow an 8 hour off period for sleep or other stuff (like catching up on a blog).

We pulled out of the marina against the tide and current - it was pretty stiff blowing us back on the dock but we skirted out okay by 11:43am. By 1:00pm I had run aground at the Ben Sawyer Bridge... Can you say welcome back to the ICW? How embarrassing. We raced up to the bridge to make her 1:00pm opening and I was so busy watching the swing bridge to see if she was going to open or not for us (she said she would) because it was now 1:01pm that I ran into the shallows and stuck! You'd think I was trying to plow snow. Just as I did, the bridge tender came on and said Capt'n you'd better watch it. Wayne said - yes, we are now aground; so don't need that bridge opening now...

What to do... forward, backward, high speed, low speed. Time to sit and wait for the tide to come up (it was low tide) and wash us back into the channel. Wayne kept watch for any boats that might "wake" us off but none did, while I went below and made some sandwiches for lunch. Back up topside we spotted a sailboat coming our way. They hailed the bridge tender that they weren't heading towards it but in to the marina so not to hold the bridge up waiting for them. The Tender told them that we were aground but if and when we got ungrounded, she'd open for us. They found this funny and laughed to hear the sailboat was aground. The other sailboat was none other than Serenity (one of the boats at the Mega Dock) so my cheeks were really flaming listening to the conversation. We'd just managed to get free at 2:15pm when Serenity hailed us, but I couldn't talk because I was trying to reach the bridge tender. We made contact shortly after that and discovered that they're heading up the ICW to Annapolis. We'll probably run into each other along the way. They asked us what our draft was, and we told them and theirs is 5 ft. I explained my error and told them they were fine as long as they stayed in the channel... The Bridge Tender was good for her word and opened for us at 2:15pm which I really appreciated since she didn't have to (she opens on the hour except between 7-9am and 4-6pm - no openings).

We continued on and I was more than happy to let Wayne have the helm the rest of the day! At 5:30 the winds really whipped up and clouds started building and we were both glad we stayed on the inside instead of going back out. Who wants to deal with 4-7 ft waves building to 12 feet? Not us... I guess I'd rather run aground and be embarrassed by someone laughing than out there or still back at the marina.

6:25pm we pulled into an anchorage up Awendaw creek at mile marker 436. It's pretty in it's own way. Marshland, river, fish jumping all over the place, small blue dolphins fishing, crab pots and one other boat (Amazon) here. The current is pretty strong and the winds are growing. It was suggested by Skipper Bob's book to use 2 anchors here but we have a pretty good set with one. We backed down on it to 2000rpms and it's holding quite well. Time for a brown mustache again...

Time to make dinner - Flat Iron Steak with Potatoes Augratin, 9 grain bread and wine. We have a beautiful sunset again - more pictures. I should make a book of sunsets and sunrises...

I love hot, lonnng showers and of course shopping... a taste of pizza
05/06/2009, Charleston, S. Carolina

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

After coffee and a much-desired shower, we caught up on email correspondence and Internet stuff then headed for the courtesy van. We just missed it but were told that it was full anyhow and he'd take us into town when he got back.

We went to CVS (for scripts), the got some pizza at the Mellow Mushroom (a throwback to the 60's and Plum Street) that was tasty, then headed for the Market where vendors set up baskets, and other items to sell. When I asked for directions to the Old City Market from our waiter, he assured me we were heading in the right direction but that locals just referred to it as "the Market". I thanked him for that tidbit. I don't know if I mentioned it when we were on our way down before but "the Market" is a collection of sheds and such that was an outdoor fish and produce market. It was turned into a collection of craft stalls, shops and restaurants (we replaced our flag here at a Civil War Store - the old one looked like it survived a battlefield). Sweet grass baskets are sold all over the Market and you can watch the locals (descendents of slaves) sitting and making them in their stalls and sheds. The baskets are beautiful and range in price from $50 - $500, depending on the intricacies. They're also called Fanner baskets and slaves cultivated rice on the old plantations by tossing the grains into the air so the wind blew the chaff from the rice using this type of basket.

All this walking and doing nothing is hot work so when Wayne spotted an ice-cream place, we got some ice cream even though we were both still full of pizza. From there we went to the grocery store (Harris Teeters) and called the courtesy van to bring us back to the marina. Harris Teeters is really something else. Very upscale, large, with just about everything you could ask for in a grocery store - from gourmet, to inexpensive, fresh seafood or frozen meals. We re-supplied our wine and pop (soda). The pop was a surprise though. A sign said buy two get three free. We hemmmed and hawed over what this meant then decided it wasn't like buy one get one free or buy two get one free but actually buy two 12 packs and get three 12 packs for free. This was the actuality so we bought our pop for $.10/can. Such a deal.

Tomorrow we're supposed to head back out after we get Otto's belts. From here we're supposed to go to Beaufort N.C. but the weather is really looking like it's falling apart off shore with showers & thunderstorms and 4-7 ft waves growing to 12 ft predicted along our path. The other boats are talking about holding off for a couple days but then another front is supposed to be coming through on Sunday or Monday. We went over our options and decided we could jump outside for 24 hours and go to Cape Fear instead of Beaufort/Moorehead City and after going over all the weather patterns and scenerios, we decided that we'd just stay inside on the ICW again. We could wait a week and sit here, or take the slower route and sleep at night and still come out about the same place around the same time. Soooo we'll look again in the morning at the weather and see if anything changed.

A return visit to the Megadock and our McGyver worked one mor time :)
05/05/2009, Charleston, SC

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

At 0100 Otto decided to separate again but still seems to be holding up. I guess around 0200 while Wayne was at the helm it came apart again because when I came up at 0416 Wayne was in control, not Otto. With both of us up, we got the auto helm (Otto) pieced back together then Wayne went below for sleep. At twilight Otto is still holding.

7am and sunrise was awesome. I love sunrise. I spotted a fin in the water, not a dolphin, but I don't know what it was. Weird fan shape.

9am - the salt from the sea splash on the dodger windows is crystallizing into individual little crystals that glitter like diamonds in the sunlight. My own little sea diamonds to gaze at while at the helm J

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful and we pulled into Charleston SC at 1500 (3pm). It was strange to know where I was going to this time. Less confusing than the first time we came here.

We pulled up to the Megadock and got tied up just before the rains started. After tie-up I called Wendell real quick before going to the office to check in. The weather forecast there was still the same as when we left Florida, sunny and nice with southerly breezes. I sometimes wonder about NOAA forecasts. I'd checked the forecasts for the coastal weather all along our track to Charleston and showers and severe thunderstorms were not supposed to be a factor until the upcoming weekend. It was good to hear my bro's voice though, if only so briefly. Coming into Charleston Harbor the radio crackled alive with a severe Thunderstorm Warning so it was a race to get in and tied up.

We're on the outside, end of the Megadock, which tends to get currents pushing you into the dock. The last time we were here it was rainy and windy, but not like this time. After checking in, covering the sail, taking off our wet raingear and having some chicken salad, we looked up the West Marine here for Otto's parts. They don't have them and it was after 3pm so we couldn't have ordered one to have it shipped next day to us but were given a number in CA to call to see if they could (3 hours makes a difference in next day shipping). Our belt should be here Thursday (good because I don't want to do a 48 hour stint without one).

Wayne had just dozed off and I was trying to catch up on my journal when we really started rocking and pitching on the dock. I heard a loud pop and thought one of our dock lines broke. It was really howling out there and there were white caps on the river. I went topside and Wayne came shooting up out of the cabin as I was checking fenders and lines. One of our fenders popped from being pushed so hard against the dock and our boat was playing bumper boat with the mega dock. Althea, Our Turn, Serenity were all topsides with their lines and fenders too and came by to help us push off and secure our little bird too. Gotta love this boating community. It seems like people are always helping each other out. Now it's time for some much wanted and needed sleep if we can sleep through this weather...

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