Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 Greetings from Onboard Irish Eyes.

Bill lights the 'Yacht Lamp' in a vain effort to warm the inside of the boat while it snowed outside in Carolina Beach.

This is the last pontoon bridge on the ICW. The part with white house has been floated off to the side. Now that we have passed, it will be moved back into place connecting Sunset Beach with the N. C. mainland.

The Marines keep this old landing craft tied up in Mile Hammock Bay. It must have some historical value.

The Ben Sawyer Bridge to Sullivans Island is typical of the swing bridges on the ICW.

We passed from the Cooper to the Ashley Rivers in front of the Battery in Charleston.

The Wapoo Creek Bridge south of Charleston is a bascule bridge. These are the quickest opening of the bridges.

Bill and I had so much fun in the Bahamas last year; we decided to go again this year. We are on our way to the Exumas, as far south in the Bahamas as we got last year.

We left Kingsport January 26th. We passed through Salsibury, NC spending the night with Bill’s Dad before making our way to New Bern.

Bill did boat maintenance while I did the boat provisioning (shopped). That means I was away from the boat while he pulled out at least one thing from every locker on the boat and made a great mess of everything. It was a good thing for our relationship that I was not there. While we were in New Bern, we had a lovely dinner with Jamie Mills and his roommate John. Jamie has become a very good cook, and John is a sailor, so we had a wonderful evening.

We agreed on Saturday, January 31 as our departure date. That was fine except the temperature was about 28° then we left the dock. Now, 28° is not too bad when we have 120v electricity, but it is entirely another thing when we cannot plug in our little heater.
We had a lovely three hour downwind sail on the Neuse River to the Intracoastal Waterway and Adams Creek where we anchored for our first night out. It was cold, so we were to bed early which was exactly what we needed… warm and restful.

The next day we made it past Beaufort, Morehead City, and Swansboro to Mile Hammock Bay in Camp Lejeune only touching the bottom twice. Score: Bill – 1, Adair - 1. After another full day motoring, (I say we go sunup to sundown, Bill just says quit whining) we anchored Monday night at Carolina Beach. Our next hurdle was to go down the Cape Fear River. That trip is twelve miles of open water exposed to the wind and twice daily tidal currents. Being the cautious sailors that we are, we actually listened to the weather forecast before we left. What a surprise! The high temperature for Tuesday was to be 34°, and on Wednesday NOAA said snow showers and a high of 32°!! And I thought I left the nasty snow stuff behind in Tennessee! We decided to stay put for two days. It wasn’t too bad inside Irish Eyes. Bill worked on the boat, and I read and knitted. If cold old Tuesday was not bad enough, we awoke on Wednesday to gray skies & snow showers! Yuck! The high temperature inside Irish Eyes was 51° which occurred while I had the stove lit cooking supper. I am not sure what Bill did that day, but I spent the day sitting in the vee berth under the covers with my hat on, reading & knitting. Nights weren’t bad at all until we looked up in the morning to see our frozen breath hanging as icicles from the metal frame of the hatch over our heads. I don’t know which is worse, having the cold drops of water fall in to my ear or looking up to see ice looking back down at me.

Bill’s 58th birthday was February 5th. The day dawned bright & sunny. The forecast was for 10-15 knot winds from the northwest. Great wind for a run down the Cape Fear River, and even better, the current in the morning would be with us. The only problem was the temperature! After much discussion, we decided to go on to Little River, SC. The prospect of seeing my sister Elaine & my brother-in-law, Jean Pierre, a hot shower, and electricity for our heater spurred us on. I had on two pairs of long underwear; Bill had three. We each had three shirts, heavy pants, coats, and hats. In addition for me, an ear warmer, gloves, heavy coat, numerous pairs of socks and my coat’s hood. The Cape Fear was a piece of cake, and in the afternoon we made it through the two shallow inlets between Southport and Little River with only one light bounce on the bottom even though it was dead low tide.

We tied up at Coquina Yacht Club and plugged in the heater. We had a great birthday dinner for Bill with Elaine and J.P. at the Mongolian Grill with dessert and drinks later at their house. The next day, Bill changed the engine oil while I had a girly lunch with Elaine and her friends. While I made good use of their washing machine, JP cooked us a spectacular dinner delivering us back to Irish Eyes where the heater was already running and life was good.

It was not nearly as cold on Saturday morning when we got underway. Elaine & JP waved goodbye to us from the road overhead as we passed through the Little River Swing Bridge and began our motor trip down the ICW and Waccamaw River to Georgetown. I made our first loaf of boat bread on the trip while we were underway. We anchored in the Georgetown harbor to warming temperatures. The next day’s journey from Georgetown to Dewees Creek (north of Charleston) was fairly uneventful except for a slow couple of miles around McClellanville where the water was shallow and the tide low. We saw more than a couple or 6 foot spots and never more than 8 in one two mile stretch. (We draw 5 feet.) At low tide it was hard to tell where the mud ended and the water began. Sunday’s anchorage in Dewees Creek was pretty. The porpoises were frolicking around while on one side of the boat the sun was setting and on the other side the full moon was rising.

Monday, we came through Charleston harbor with warming temperatures and clear skies. We could see the bridges across the marsh grass from miles away, and the houses on the Battery shown in the morning light. Bill was even barefoot for a while. We both took off even our light long underwear. We are headed south toward that place where Jimmy Buffett says “the weather suits our clothes”, well not these clothes. That night, we anchored in the South Edisto River off the side of the channel behind marker 157. The forecast was for highs in the seventies the rest of the week, but rain Wednesday and Friday.

The names of Tuesday’s places roll off your tongue. South Edisto River, Fenwick Island Cut, Ashepoo River, Ashepoo-Coosaw Cutoff, and Coosaw River. Suddenly, we are in Beaufort and Paris Island with its underpaid Marines in their barracks, then after a quick sail up Port Royal Sound to the channel behind Hilton Head Island and Calibogue Sound where we are within rifle shot of the overly wealthy in their grand mansions. Past Daufuskie Island, but before Georgia, is the Cooper River, abandoned by the Intracoastal Waterway, where we anchored among the salt marshes with the day’s freshly baked bread, roast chicken, vegetables, salad and wine for supper and the night.

Wednesday took us into Georgia across the Savannah River after a monster container ship crossed ahead of us going downriver. There are two drawbridges in Georgia and we passed through both of them today. In Thunderbolt we fueled the boat, topped off our water tanks, and emptied the trash. We get about 10 nautical miles per gallon. The aptly named Hell Gate connects the Vernon and Ogeechee Rivers. Our guidebook says that the water depth is 2 ft in the centerline of the channel at low tide. We need 3+ feet of tide to get our 5 ft draft through it. Our timing was bad. The tide was +3 ft and falling as we approached, so we have anchored for the night in the Vernon River near some houses in a place the chart calls Montgomery. Tomorrow morning should be a better time to go through. It is the 11th of February and we are four days ahead of ourselves last year.


Margaret said...

And they're off! While you sail, Jay, Marquita and I are learning stewardship techniques in Gatlinburg, everyone's favorite place. And tomorrow starts this year's diocesan convention. What a relief not to be worrying about last minute details. Charlie was saying yesterday that the email communications hasn't worked all that well and he left the office staff scrambling to get info out and money in. Thanks be to God they didn't decide to go paperless on our watch, eh?
I will enjoy reading about your adventures as I get ready for my own after Easter. This year is Umbria for two weeks. I can't sail but I can walk!
Take care.

diane said...

Great to read about your trip. I will follow along as you travel. Now I know why I did not see you at the preconvention meeting at St. Christopher's. I will miss you at convention tomorrow and the spring COM meetings. Have a fun trip, take lots of pix, I love looking at them!