January 31, 2012We backed out of our slip at Northwest Creek Marina and left it empty for the next five months. The boat on the right, Freedom, is a Crealock 34 like ours. One of the owners of the boat on the left was a student of Bill’s aunt Liza in Kinston decades ago.
The camp stool lets Bill sit high up so he can see over the dodger. It saves him from standing for eight hours each day. Doesn’t he look regal on his throne?
Although it was January it was warm in the sun. The turtles in the Waccamaw swamp woke up from hibernation to enjoy it.
This spoil bank island north of Charleston is the first spot with naturally growing palm trees. Bill messed with the color to make the water blue. He thinks it looks like the Bahamas. Not!
Well, we are off again, fifth time, can you believe it? Five winter trips to the Bahamas.
On Sunday, January 15 Olivia, our youngest granddaughter, was baptized in Kingsport. Our house was full of family and friends all weekend. Most thought the party was for our fifth grandchild, but really it was for us. What a great send-off we had!
Captain Bill wanted to leave on Monday, but that would not work. It takes me a while to decide exactly what I will wear for the next five months. I mean, it is hard to choose between bathing suits with snow on the ground. We both worked as fast as we could crossing things off ‘The List’, and with one exception, we were ready to leave on Thursday at noon.
Bill’s prescription dive mask was our dilemma. Neither of us could remember which boat he had left it on. Just to make sure the mask wasn’t on our little sailboat, Canary, we decided the smartest route to New Bern should be by way of Watauga Lake. That proved to be a good idea; Bill found his mask where he left it, sitting on the shelf over his bunk on Canary. The distance to New Bern via Watauga Lake and Boone was about 25 miles shorter than the usual Interstate highway through Wytheville, Va. The only problem was that it took eight long hours rather than the usual seven because of the curvy mountain roads.
It was after dark when we arrived in New Bern. We unloaded everything in the car that night, then spent the next three days getting things stowed away and doing our last minute grocery, West Marine, and WalMart shopping. We were ready to go on Monday, January 23. We were ready, but the weather wasn’t. It was foggy; really, really foggy. It was so foggy we could not see the river bank across from the marina. Bill used the opportunity to take some things back to West Marine and to WalMart. It gave him something to do while I waited for the fog to lift.
At noon we did the hardest of our jobs; we untied the dock lines and left. It was something like jumping off a high dive. So much can go right. So much can go wrong.
Just like every other trip, our first night was spent anchored in Adams Creek, three or four hours from our slip. The short first day made us feel that we are on our way, but if we had forgotten something major or something vital broke, we could easily go back. I say that, but it would have to be very serious before Bill would ever backtrack.
We next anchored in Mile Hammock Bay then in Carolina Beach Harbor before spending two nights dockside at the Coquina Yacht Club in Little River, SC. My sister Elaine and brother-in-law JP (who live in nearby Little River) came to Irish Eyes the first evening for drinks, and we went to their house the next evening for a great dinner. My Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Ken joined us for dinner. It was good to be with family we had not seen since summer.
The trip from Little River to Georgetown, SC went through two very different parts of the ICW. The first part was in the dreaded “Rock Pile”. The Corps of Engineers blasted an arrow straight canal through old rock leaving jagged limestone ledges just below the water surface at the edges of the channel ready to tear holes in wandering boats. It was a good idea to stay in the middle of the canal while passing by the lovely backsides of the Myrtle Beach restaurants, bars, and sewer plant. We managed just fine. The second part of the trip was down the winding Waccamaw River which makes up for the un-lovely first part. It was beautiful. The leafless but moss draped cypress and gum trees in the swamp were set against the light brown reeds in the abandoned rice fields. In the unusually warm January weather the turtles were out of the mud sunning themselves on every available log.
We made it to Georgetown before sunset and had a pleasant quiet night at anchor. Up to that morning the weather had been pleasantly warm. After a brief attempt to get by in light clothes, I gave in and wore my heavy coat and light long underwear bottoms. Still, it was warmer than previous years.
With another 50 miles behind us, we anchored just north of Charleston, SC in the part of Deweese Creek that is on the west side of the ICW. The Ben Sawyer Bridge does not open during the morning rush hour, and its first morning opening is at 9:00. We got up early and timed our arrival perfectly hitting 9 o’clock on the nose only to learn that the bridge was broken and an electrician had been called. We anchored and waited. Finally, after a couple of false starts and with apologies from the bridge tender, the bridge opened, and we passed through just over an hour late. I could have slept later. Although it was cool in the early morning, the light weight long underwear was off by noon.
We passed through Charleston and wound our way through the creeks and rivers behind Johns, Kiawah, Seabrook, and Wadmalaw Islands anchoring for the night along the Fenwick Island shore in the South Edisto River. Bill started to fret about fuel; worrying if the last 5 gal jug along with the last bit in the tank would get us to Beaufort and a fuel dock. Well, it did with gallons to spare. But, we did not get there fast. Unknown to us the Ladies Island Swing Bridge did not open from 11 to 1. So, once again we anchored and waited for a bridge before passing through, stopping for fuel, and continuing on to Hilton Head where we are anchored tonight.
So far the weather could not be better, at least not for January; no snow, no ice, no frost. Georgia tomorrow, Florida in just a few more days.