10/06/2008/1:38 pm, near Southport
We departed Georgetown SC about 7 am on Monday and headed north. Southport/ Cape Fear makes a convenient point to head out to the ocean again so it was the ICW route for us. The weather has stayed blistering hot - around 30 + all day every day. Sue says this is more typical of August than June. We'll need to do something about fans before too long.
The Waccamaw River was beautiful, with tree-lined banks, birds, turtles and lots of fish. Just as on the way south, we marveled as we moved north at the number of long, long docks that stretch like fingers out to the waterway. The houses are tucked into the trees on shore and the walkways go out over the marshes. The view changed steadily from rural trees to wide open marsh, to beautiful mansions and docks to stucco clutter and docks. We gave a wave to Anchor Marine and Captain Poo's as we passed. We had a wonderful time there in the spring, but we had to keep moving this time. We saw lots of children out in boats and playing along the shore. School's out in South Carolina. It seems so early but apparently that's the way it is here - and they don't go back until after Labour Day either.
Because we had current against us almost all the way, we had to stop at Calabash Creek again. It took us close to 12 hours to make 53 nm. We stopped here in the fall and there were 7 or 8 boats - just 4 this time. The boat next to us left almost immediately afterward and we were a bit worried that they felt we were too close. We didn't think so, and they didn't say anything to us as they passed, but we were still pleased to hear them say later on the radio that they moved because they were concerned about tide and depth. This is a narrow little spot to get out of the channel - essential because big boats go through early and late from Calabash - but there is certainly room enough to manage it.
As we sat with our books, we overheard what we thought would be an "impossible" conversation on the VHF. Salty Paws, down on the Georgia/Florida border was talking with Coast Guard in Beaufort, NC! They both commented on it too - that's about 300 miles. The coast guard officer said there have been very strange skips in transmission lately.
Because we needed to time our transit of Shalotte Inlet and Lockwood's Folly just right for depth, we waited till 9 am to leave. We also had to time it right for the Sunset Beach Pontoon bridge that opens on the hour (and not at all at extreme low tide) and to navigate carefully across the shoal at the opening into Calabash Creek. (Hug the ICW Red 2 - there is also a Red 2 for the Creek and the shoal stretches out past it.)
We crossed the tricky bits between mid and high tide and by staying in mid channel for Shallotte, and almost kissing the reds at Lockwood's we had at least 7 feet all the way across the inlets.
In North Carolina, there are acres and acres of land that hold back-to-back houses fronting on canals dug into the marshland. Every house had a boat or two - or three. We noticed a number of for sale signs and wondered if these were signs of harder economic times. On the other hand, the huge numbers of sport fishing boats, floating patios, speedboats and sea doos would indicate that many folks still have dollars to spend on toys and fuel.
We just stopped at South Harbour Village Marina for 25 US gallons of diesel ($118.35). They have wifi so I'll get this up. Once we get to Cape Fear Inlet, we're off to the ocean - arriving in Beaufort NC on Wed.
08/06/2008/1:31 pm, Georgetown SC
We had a sweltering hot and very interesting weekend in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Sue and Terry arrived late morning, and after a short visit out to Madcap, we trooped off to town. First stop was the Goat Island Grill where we all lunched on crunchy salads and swilled down glass after glass of iced tea. Next stop: the Rice Museum, part of which is housed in the former Kaminski Hardware Store. We hadn't seen it when we were here last fall and it was worth a stop. I learned that the land was all cleared and leveled in order to make it suitable for rice growing. Somehow, I had thought it was already in that state and that's why rice was selected as a crop. Not so. Cypress trees were felled, stumps removed, irrigation ditches dug, and the rice planted, tended and harvested - all by slaves. In the heyday of plantation days here, 90% of the population were slaves! One display board gave a first person description of daily life of a young slave boy - detailing all the jobs he and his family did, and, beside it, an account of the daily life of the gentleman/owner. The contrast was marked.
We viewed the remains of a ship, thought to be from the late 1700's - a low, open cargo ship that would have sailed up and down the rivers, collecting and delivering cargo from one town to another. It was loaded with bricks and a couple of millstones when it was found, and some of those bricks are on display as well.
Also in this museum is an exhibit about "Miss Ruby" - a teacher for over 50 years. She must have been quite a woman, and her views on discipline and values were interesting to listen to. She was a lot tougher that we were.
Despite the heat and humidity, we strolled along some of the streets and stopped by the Kaminski House to spend a fine half hour in the shade as we listened to a steel drum band made up of a group of 8-10 year olds from a nearby school. They could really play, and we enjoyed selections made popular by Harry Belefonte, Bob Marley and Bobby McFerrin. It's the first school based steel drum band I've heard of.
After a stop at Independent Seafoods where we picked up some nice fat local shrimp and a couple of triggerfish fillets, we headed off to do a little grocery shopping. We managed to fill Terry and Sue's trunk with "essentials" and then transported ourselves and all our purchases out to the boat for the evening.
We introduced them to "Dark'n Stormies" - that Goslings rum, ginger beer and lime drink, and then spent the next few hours enjoying a cooperative dinner. Jim grilled the triggerfish, Sue and Terry boiled up the shrimp and I made Bahamian Peas'n Rice and steamed some fresh green beans. We took turns in the galley, seeing as it holds one cook and about half a helper at a time. Because it was so hot - over 30 C - we were all glad to move out to the cockpit whenever our turns in the galley were finished. A nice white wine, accompanied the meal and we followed it with a Canadian treat - Ice wine.
They stayed on board and we all sweated and melted in our various berths, fortunately enjoying a bit of a cooling down over night. Sunday morning, fortified with coffee and fruit, we piled into their car once more and drove out to Brookgreen Gardens. We knew nothing about it at all although I looked it up in the cruising guides afterward and it sits about Mile 387.5 on the ICW. This was the highlight of the weekend.
Originally a rice plantation, it is now home to the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington Sculpture Garden, as well as other sculpture collections, many walking trails, a little Low Country zoo and a cypress aviary. We loved every minute of the time we spent here. A wonderful tour guide, Alice, took us on an hour-long walk through several of the gardens, where we gazed at gorgeous statuary and colorful flowers. She knew both her botany and her history. The sculptures were gorgeous, fountains and pools set them off perfectly, and the garden walls had bits of poetry inscribed on them. It was a place we could have spent a whole day. We ate a fine lunch at the restaurant on site (big beautiful salads, chicken or tuna stuffed croissants, shrimp and grits) and then spent the afternoon wandering through the aviary and zoo.
This zoo housed birds and animals that, due to injuries or other histories, would be unable to survive in the wild. We were able to get up close and personal with a couple of bald eagles. The female is about 30 years old and suffered a wing injury about 15 years ago. Because of that, she could no longer fly and hunt so was brought here where she appeared to be flourishing.
A prehistoric looking alligator moved lazily through the swamp, and in the aviary, a blue heron did what I swear was a Michael Jackson Moon Walk. We found a night heron there too - the first I've ever been able to see.
We bade farewell to Sue and Terry back at the dinghy dock, and as they headed off on their 3 hour drive home, we settled into some planning for the next few days, ate leftovers for dinner and stretched out on our still hot berths for some sleep.
06/06/2008/8:38 am, Georgetown SC
I arrived back at Charleston on Thursday after a convoluted (and conversational) journey. Jim and I went off to dinner at the Shem Creek Bar and Grill for one more feast - this time we shared the Seafood Spectacular Platter and it was still spectacular. It was about 30 C and humid so our walk back was leeeeeisurelyyyyyy.
In contrast with my last trip and last rant, on the way from Moncton to Toronto I had a great conversation with Stefan, a pilot on his way to work,and we both managed to read our books as well. Once there, I was delighted to spot fellow sailor, Chris (Arctura) from Summerside, last seen in the St. Lawrence River last spring. My seatmate was congenial on the Toronto-Washington leg too. He had a nap and then as we were landing, told me about a neat system that links autopilot to PFD. If you fall overboard, the boat will turn itself around. Pretty cool! Washington was where the opportunities for interaction expanded beyond what I might have liked. My flight to Charleston was supposed to leave after a four-hour interval- by the time we loaded it had stretched to six hours, and by the time we sat out the second electrical storm of the day and returned to the gate, it was another couple of hours. You can bet there was lots of conversation going on. Then add the three and a half hours in line at the United Airlines Customer Service desk - lots of talk with interesting people there too, including Sue who had rented a house on Great Guana Cay a few years back.
There were companionable groans and sighs as many of us sprawled on benches and on the floor overnight, waves of recognition and wishes for smoother travels as we passed each other in the corridors the next morning. I had a nice nap on the way from Washington to Chicago - yep, Chicago! Then two hours later I headed south again to Charleston. What a roundabout journey.
Stepping back a day or two (this is a convoluted posting too), my visit to Amherst was very good. It was a chance to spend some family time with my father, my sister and her husband. Dad and I visited the Fossil Cliffs Museum in Joggins and it's a place to put on your list if you are traveling to Nova Scotia. The award-winning building is beautiful, the staff is friendly, and the information about fossils is just mind-blowing. The oldest reptiles on the planet were found there. Joggins is a tiny cluster of houses nestled on the edge of the Bay of Fundy. It was a mining centre years ago and repository of some remarkable finds in the cliffs along the shore, described by some as the "Coal Age Galapagos". Check out www.jogginsfossilcliffs.net for more info.
We went to the Dessert Theatre at First Baptist Church in Amherst, a welcoming church whose doors are wide open for tourists who want to view the beautiful building, folks who want to talk and those who want to pray. We laughed and cried and applauded the acting and dancing talents of the remarkable young people taking part. We roared with laughter at skits of Oprah interviewing polygamists from River Hebert, Martha Stewart ignoring global issues in favour of cupcakes, and a battle of the remote controls at a seniors centre. We also devoured every last morsel of delicious chocolate brownie topped with ice cream and fudge sauce and fluffy cake with lemon filling.
Mary Beth and I (and a big group of her friends) saw the new movie, Sex and the City It was pretty good, even though I hadn't watched any of the TV episodes. The clothes were great - especially for someone who has been wearing the same few pairs of shorts and T-shirts for the last 8 months. It was so nice to just hang out with her for a couple of evenings and fill myself right up with all that mother-daughter companionship.
Jim amused himself with scrubbing, waxing, and checking all the little parts that come loose, interspersed with some touring around Charleston.
We left on Friday morning after pumping in 23 US gallons of diesel (at a cost of $124.81) and pumping out a week's worth of sewage. The trip up the ICW was uneventful and after about 10 ½ hours we pulled into Georgetown, SC. The only bits of excitement were swatting at big deerflies - or horseflies - or somethings that were big and brown and took chunks out of us whenever they could, and counting fishing boats - over 30 passed us between 5:30 and 6:30 pm - heading back into the harbour. The current was with us for the first part of the trip and agin us at the last. Tomorrow Sue and Terry arrive for a couple of days of visiting. It's good to be on the water again!