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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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Aground again in NC
05/09/2009, Bull Creek, SC (N33 36.667 W79 06.228) to Shallottes Inlet, NC (N33*54.913)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Around 5am we heard and felt a bump, bump. I originally thought it was Wayne (sometimes he hits the wall or his foot kicks it) but he said it wasn't. I got up to check on things but couldn't see where we had turned into the curve of the riverbed or where any logs had come downstream and bumped us. Whatever it was was not viewable. The birds were so sweetly singing as the sun came up and as I look around it feels like I could be back home surrounded by trees and birds. I wonder if my tulips and daffodils came up this year...

We left our little outer bend anchorage at 9am. I saw an eagle in a tree - very cool... Traversed through the mighty Rock Pile again. This time it's a bit busier - there are water skiers, tubers, and boats all over the ICW - it's out and out crowded! We played dodge-em with fishing boats who didn't realize we're not as shallow draft as them; chicken with power boats that didn't want to move over and we couldn't; and how long can you circle with the bridges that are supposed to open on demand but changed to opens on the hour (and we'd just missed them); to "oh I see another sailboat cap'n 2.5 miles back so we'll wait for them before I open (only to watch them pull into a marina a quarter mile from us - sigh). One power boater out enjoying the late afternoon dropped his beer over board and was franticly trying to retrieve it - funny except he turned and circled right on our nose - not so fun. It got downright hot today. The weather forecast said it was the hottest day of the year so far 92*.

Our selected anchorage for today was Calabash Creek. Unfortunately after trying to get in there 3 times, at 3 different spots, and running aground 3 times, then watching another sailboat from Montreal do the same right next to us while we were aground (he tried a little further away from us), we gave it up. After 2 hours of this grounding and un-grounding we decided to move further north before we ended up traveling in the dark. We finally put in near Shallottes Inlet - but first we had to run aground again (because we know what we're doing now LOL - per Eileen Quinn's song). The shoaling here is pretty bad and the anchorage is between Green Markers 75 & 77 near the mouth of a winding creek. The current here is 1.5 knots and quite strong. Trying to anchor, Wayne lost his grip on the anchor chain and it started tearing out of the boat and we started screaming backwards toward that 5 ft, 4.5 ft depth again then Wayne got the chain snugged and we yanked to a stop. Poor Wayne's hands are raw and sore from the friction of the chain. It's 8pm and getting quite dim out. It's been an interesting day to say the least. We've now set a new record 4 groundings in one day but at least this time we were able to back out after waiting and our mighty little engine in full reverse. Strange to watch that engine revving at 2700rpms in reverse and not see anything moving...

Do Gators eat flies? They really should...
05/08/2009, Awendaw Creek, SC (N33 02.049 W79 32.258) to Bull Creek, SC (N33 36.667 W79 06.228)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wow, we're into the flies - large yellow ones that are just irritating and black horse flies that have a vicious bite. Somewhere along the line though we lost the carnivorous, man eating ones. The others seem to be plaguing us the entire day.

The ICW is straight in areas and flowing, following rivers in other areas. The trees are still hung in moss but seem much greener than when we came through before and the Osprey nests now have baby chicks in them. A couple parents didn't like us motoring by as they were trying to feed the babies (their nests were on the marker posts). They kept screaming at us - in Osprey talk. I was waiting for one to dive bomb me but none did.

A couple of Motor Yachts had passed us and the first one asked if we'd spotted any alligators because they were all over the place. Unfortunately I didn't because I was downstairs in the cabin writing in my journal (playing catch-up). They said to look for the things that look like logs and, they'd hail me if they spotted any up ahead. It's my luck that they didn't after hearing about all the ones they'd seen further down stream. Finally one was spotted in the water at noon o clock (with the assistance of Soul ahead alerting me) so I grabbed my camera. It looks like a blurry lump with two glowing yellow eyes... Oh well... can't get all the shots.

From the Waccama River we detoured onto Bull Creek - a place we anchored at before. Lobster, salad, hard crust bread and wine for dinner - a bit late though 8-8:30pm. It's just as pretty if not more so than the first time we were here. The birds. It's so nice to hear birds singing again in the trees. After dark we could hear a thrashing in the water across the creek. It sounded like something caught dinner (a gator?). There's an owl in the distance that sounds so incredible as he hoots - I'd love to get a picture but that's not an option.

56.8 miles today mostly against the currents.

The pic is a gator looking at us in the water - couldn't get a good shot of him.

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...

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