Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 3-9, 2011 (Week 31, Day 211-217)

Tues. May 3, 2011 (Week 31, Day 211) Destination: Port Royal, Beaufort, S.C. (Mile 537) to Church Creek (Mile 288.2) Departure: 0740 hrs. Arrival: 1610 hrs. Mileage: 48.8 SM/35.87 NM Weather: magnificent blue skies & warm sun in the Low Country Winds: S calm at sunrise then built to gusty 11-20K mid am to throughout the afternoon, a calm after sunset then increased again to gusting 10-15K
Pleasant south winds + flood tides created a whopping sound of the water against the dinghy & against the stern at about 0430 hrs.; now I was wide awake so made my way in the dark to take a good shower onshore. When walking back down the long pier to the boat dawn was approaching & the view was amazing, breathtaking, beautiful & peaceful; I was awestruck! Wind & current conditions were such that when we left the face dock we simply drifted off so effortlessly. We made our way north in very slow forward & often in idle as the current was pushing us by 2-3K towards the Lady Island Bridge (swing)--> scheduled opening at 0900 hrs. We met a young Canadian couple from Brockville after the bridge who were travelling in a Rob Roy, only 22 ft.! Also in the Brickyard Creek we had barely passed a catamaran therefore little separation between us (200 ft.) when this huge powerboat ‘Minute Man’ without hailing barged between us & the catamaran; what a ____ prick! Then into the wide Coosaw River where the south wind picked up to 10-13K, we unfurled the jenny & motorsailed along on a beam reach for the most part at an average of 7.4K. O.K. depths through the Ashepoo-Coosaw Cut #2, Rock Creek, A-C Cut #1, & Ashepoo River; we furled the jenny & motored only through these caution zones as there were lots of narrow & tight twists & turns. Ditto for Fenwick Cut especially the caution area of R162A & R162 into the South Edisto River. We avoided the vertical log stuck in the mud just south of R138 (warnings X several days by the Coast Guard). We were now 2-->1-1/2 hrs. from maximum low tide when we crept through the shallow water exiting North Creek before the fixed bridge (R132—only 5’5” depth) & the infamous Dawho River between R116 to R110; several green cans added to aid but still saw only 5 foot depths + the Wadmalaw River at R82-G81 (6 ft.). Just prior to Tom Point Creek we decided it was too early to stop for the day so we continued & anchored at maximum low tide in 12-15 ft. mud in Church Creek with 100 ft. chain out. Now we were poised to do Elliott Cut towards Charleston at high slack tide tomorrow am--> high tide= 1014 hrs. Once anchored the feeling of exhaustion overcame us for some unknown reason. Since Savannah there has been no advantage to going offshore as the distance is in fact greater & the winds have been slightly high but more importantly the seas have been high & for the coming few days with an approaching cold front. I sat down & planned a tentative schedule from now till arriving back in Deltaville--> a possible leisurely 16 days! An obscured sunset & slightly red sky. A late supper in the cockpit= leftovers again of ham for Graeme & coq au vin for me with potatoes, celery & a dill pickle. Entertainment were the 5-6 dolphins splashing all about. Stars high above in a clear sky & the south winds increased again & gusty in nature.
Wed. May 4, 2011 (Week 31, Day 212) Destination: Church Creek (Mile 488.2) to Charleston (Mile 464.1) Departure: 0925 hrs. Arrival: 1300 hrs. Mileage: 24.1 SM/16.38 NM Weather: clouds at sunrise then partly cloudy & sunny & blue skies, but much cooler temps (75F) Winds: W variable & gusting & howling at times 10-20K, N at night at 5-10K
Dark rain clouds & winds shifted from south to west & increased in intensity by morning. A leisurely am as a later start planned to catch the tides. We were well dug into mud but up anchored with ease. In short time the sun broke through, only a sprinkling of rain & more promising fluffy clouds. The tide was rising thus pushing us along the Wadmalaw then the Stono Rivers. At 1134 hrs. we entered Elliott Cut with our engine in near idle & at a speed of 6K at the start but 8K midway & to the end of the cut as it was flooding into the Wappoo Creek; total time= 2-1/2 mins.! We waited for the noon opening of the Wappoo Creek Bridge then were still being pushed from the Wappoo Creek to the Ashley River. And there sat romantic Charleston to the east! Once past the Battery we turned to port (north), past Shutes Folly Island on the Cooper River now on a falling tide (against current) to Charleston Maritime Center. Good driving & docking Graeme! ‘Artful’, ‘Firecrest’ + ‘Sea Mist’ & ‘White Lillie’were all in the marina! A quick lunch then a shower in the newly renovated marina shower. Graeme did the admin. stuff while I took my bike to inquire about South Carolina Sea Aquarium practically next door to the marina & to Rite Aid. Then Graeme walked & I biked slowly along side him to City Market & shops on South Market St. Graeme continued to shop around while I explored the location of Charleston Historic Society Shop, St. Michael’s Church, Scots First Presbyterian Church, their architecture & wrought ironworks as well as that of gates & homes in the Meeting & Broad & Church St. area. A gathering of the clan took place at Tommy Condon at 1800 hrs. for supper & to all celebrate belatedly Karin’s birthday; supper= shepherds pie for Graeme & shrimp & grits for me--> good + stuffed! We missed sunset but there was a real coolness now in the air & a cool breeze. We had a lovely walk home along Anson & Hassell, historic homes, immaculate gardens, jessamine & magnolias in bloom. Clear night skies & stars.
Thurs. May 5, 2011 (Week 31, Day 213) Destination: Charleston (Mile 464.1) Weather: fresh, cool am (54F) with an expected high of 73F & a warming trend progressively each day, brilliant sun Winds: cool, brisk NE 10-15K + gusts, decreasing during the afternoon & shifting by early evening to S
We woke to a fresh beginning of the day; in fact it was necessary to pull the quilt out last night (not used since late Nov., 5 months ago!). Bright & early Graeme took a marina shower. We each planned our morning excursions & decided to meet up at City Market at 1330 hrs. Before departing we met with Lynn & Larry & planned our route till the end of the trip. We hope to be in Deltaville May 20th. I postponed my visit to the South Carolina Sea Aquarium till tomorrow 0900 hrs. sharp as there were too many school kids & a very long line up. I biked starting from north to south with a lunch stop by myself a little after noon at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church’s annual Tea Room (May 2-6, 2011--1130-1400 hrs. daily). Highlights of my bike excursion included historical houses (mansions), College of Charleston, shops along King St., N & S Market St. & City Market again, US Customs House, City Hall, Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, Rainbow Row, The Battery & the White Point Gardens. Graeme & Lynn & Larry, Bette & Dave lunched at “Mellow Mushroom” on King & George--> excellent pizza. All trolleys are free! Happy Hour at 1630 hrs. at A.W. Shucks by all the clan. Lynn & Larry took the pedicab home, I biked & everyone else walked. Both Graeme & I made up for the lack of exercise X several months today. Thank goodness for my bike, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done! Supper= hodge podge; Graeme had fries at Shucks + ice cream walking home & I not feeling very hungry had a few leftover meatballs later at home. A mostly quiet night, only the slapping of water against the hull of the boat & stars in the clear sky.
Fri. May 6, 2011 (Week 31, Day 214) Destination: Charleston (Mile 464.1) Weather: warmer today but cloudy & increasing dark clouds near noon followed by rain, sometimes heavy & more on than off all afternoon, some clearing & increased humidity early evening Winds: S about 10K, decreasing to calm by evening & shift to N
Another early marina shower for Graeme; I had mine after breakfast. I decided that since laundry was free that I would make a load, a mish mash that I started at 0815 hrs. We said our good byes to ‘Firecrest’ & ‘Artful Dodger’ then helped ‘Artful’ out of the slip at 0845 hrs.; Larry helped ‘Firecrest’. Graeme looked after the laundry when I left for the Sea Aquarium for their 0900 hrs. opening ($19.95 - $1.00 discount coupon)--> impressive & enjoyable 2 hrs. self guided tour. There were many school kids + adult tour groups afterwards. When I returned to the boat the laundry was done & folded, a first! We had to relocate our boat a few slips away for a huge powerboat that came in later. We were both about to leave when the heavy rains began. When they subsided some we went our separate ways, Graeme by foot & I on the bike. I took back streets to Meeting & King St. with the intention of browsing in & out of the shops, but being a Sat. traffic was heavy & it was raining a lot at times. I decided then to cycle & tour around Waterfront Park & old, historic streets in that vicinity & happened to run into Graeme. We were meeting up with Lynn & Larry about 1600 hrs. at “The Southend Brewery” (161 E. Bay St.). I had to duck into one of the many art galleries on E. Bay to dodge another downpour. With time to spare I cycled to Harris Teeter & purchased eggs, butter & bread, dropped them off at the boat then out to “The Southend Brewery”. Our foursome increased to eight; ‘Sea Mist’ & ‘Orion’ (David & Cathy) joined us. This became our supper= appetizer of brie, chutney & pita for Graeme & crab cake for moi. The clouds now were breaking up. Once back at the boat I cleaned off, dried, & packed my bike in it’s bag & into the garage. With ? internet I decided to address an apparent problem with my antivirus subscription (done), but then no internet access. A very calm night, zippo wind, but majestic palmetto palms, sliver of moon & stars in the night sky—so fitting on our last night in romantic Charleston. The palmetto palm & sliver moon are symbols on the South Carolina State Flag!
Sat. May 7. 2011 (Week 31, Day 215) Destination: Charleston (Mile 464.1) to Minim Creek (Mile 415.4) Departure: 0840 hrs. Arrival: 1700 hrs. Mileage: 48.7 SM/51.4 NM Weather: fog most of the night & am, damp & thus cool; blue skies & sun early pm Winds: flat calm till 1530 hrs., then E 8-13Kefore 0500 hrs.
We were woken by the fishing boat docked beside us that was preparing to leave; chatter & big engine noise. Instead of fuming, I got up & took a marina shower. We were unable to leave at the planned scheduled time as the fog was thick that visibility was only ¼ - ½ mile & NOAA recommendation was to delay departures if possible. There was some improvement by 0800 hrs. although there was no sun to completely burn off the fog. Off the dock with ease & we motored Charleston Harbour intentionally slowly against the current to make the Ben Sawyer Bridge (bascule) opening at 1000 hrs. Clouds persisted till early afternoon then blue skies & warm sun but at this latitude the wind & air had a cooling element; we still were able to wear T-shirts & shorts comfortably but bathing suits were questionable. We managed to maintain a good boat speed > than 6K till McCellanville, then we were fighting the current. Dolphins were pleasantly abundant. The Shrimp Festival was this weekend in McCellanville. As we were approaching G35A the Auxiliary Coast Guard had us slow up as the fleet of shrimp boats all decorated up with streamers & abundance of people aboard had just been blessed & were crossing the ICW into Five Fathom Creek. Carrying on, the ICW winds through Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge & the South Santee & North Santee Rivers intersect the ICW through the connector called Four Mile Creek. It was through here that we kept our eyes open for alligators; success—we spotted at least 4-5 alligators; looked like slim floating logs at the water’s edge. Despite our late start, favourable speed & good fortune of longer light hours in the Spring, we reached our planned destination, Minim Creek, in good time, anchoring in 10 ft. (low tide) close to a dock with 60 ft. chain. Supper= beef & vegetable stir fry with rice; no leftovers tonight. Sunset was at 2006 hrs. And night brought calm wind & water, clear skies & stars & that bright South Carolina ¼ moon. Best of all was the feeling of peacefulness & tranquility that words cannot describe but must be experienced, in an anchorage once again away from a big center! Travelling offshore has it’s lure & excitement, but it cannot be compared to anchorages away from everything, utter bliss are some of the anchorages of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina & even the Chesapeake! There is a feeling that you don’t want to leave! You want to be here forever & ever!
Sun. May 8, 2011 (Week 31, Day 216) Destination: Minim Creek (Mile 425.4) to Osprey Marina (Mile 373.3) just south of Myrtle Beach Departure: 0750 hrs. Arrival: 1425 hrs. Mileage: 42.1 SM/41.66 NM Weather: warm, blue sky & sun at dawn, hot sun & few clouds even a rain shower in the late afternoon Winds: W < 5K, periodic gusts of 10-15K mid am & pm Happy Mother’s Day! And 3D birthday celebrations tonight at my brother’s--> Dean (May 8), Dave (May 11) & Darren (May 18). A large school of dolphins met us this am exiting Minim Creek; no better way to start the day! Both shorelines were alive with vibrant, bright green new growth of saltmarsh grasses as were as the trees just beyond. In no time we were through the Estherville Minim Creek Canal & into the Western Channel of the Winyah Bay where the winds were light but enough to carry the jenny. The current pushed us into Georgetown at about 1000 hrs. Surprisingly we discovered ‘Artful’ & ‘Firecrest’ here. But the anchorage was too full or at least too tight for comfort especially if winds picked up &/or change direction as anticipated. I phoned Osprey Marina where we had reservations for tomorrow night & asked if they had availability for night instead--> yes. We pressed on for the additional 30 mi. via the deep Waccamaw River & with the current (boat speed= 6.6 -7.1K); bonus! Brilliant sunshine & hot (90ishF)--> bathing suit weather. As soon as we entered the Waccamaw the colour of the water was like dark chocolate milk, the scenery was stunning with moss draped cypress trees, the vibrant greens of other shrubs & trees with a brilliant blue sky backdrop, osprey nests built on most channel markers with mother& babes in the nests, fish leaping out of the water & turtles. We unfurled the jenny until the river became increasing tortuous & the jenny ineffective. We arrived at Osprey Marina 2 hrs. ahead of our ETA. To the fuel dock first then we were assisted at tying up at the end of ‘B’ dock stern to stern to another Canadian boat, Gordon & Suzanne (Camelot II--Tanzer 35). This is a first class marina at only $1.00 per ft.! One female, one male shower, 2 washers ($1.50) & 2 dryers ($1.50) & good WiFi at office. Drinks & snacks on ‘Twomorrows’. I phoned my family at 1815 hrs. expressing Happy Mother’s Day & Happy Birthday Wishes while we were having a heavy rainfall lasting 15 mins. Supper = BBQ steak, potatoes & peas. Gordon, Suzanne & Graeme & I were feeding the turtles in harbour. Sunset & a pink sky followed. We each took marina showers--> the best showers on the east coast! And internet in laundry area. Extremely calm, clear night sky, stars & South Carolina ¼ moon!
Mon. May 9, 2011 (Week 31, Day 217) Destination: Osprey Marina, Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Mile 373.3) to St. James Marina, N.C. (Mile 315) Departure: 0800 hrs. Arrival: 1645 hrs. Mileage: 58.3 SM/50.77 NM Weather: pleasant temps, blue sky, warm sun, cool wind Winds: cool ESE to ENE 10-15K then E at 10-15K
There was a little rain during the night otherwise calm, no thunderstorms. A gorgeous South Carolina May morning with lots of moisture on the enclosure windows. I got another marina shower in after breakfast. What might have been a tricky exit off the dock ended up being a cinch with Miles’ assistance on turning the boat around by pulling from the bow for both ‘Twomorrows’ & ourselves; 4 boats departed at the same time. We had good winds but they were right on our nose, but the current was falling & running NE towards Little River Inlet thus pushing us. Also are bridge openings were pretty good. We reached our planned destination, Calabash at 1255 hrs., too early to quit for the day so carried on; this in fact will set us up better to do the Cape Fear River tomorrow than on Wed. Lynn called St. James Marina (8 mi. south of Southport on the Cape Fear River) & they had transient availability. The wind had shifted enough that we were able to motorsail with the jenny all afternoon from Calabash, where we left the state of South Carolina & entered North Carolina at R116, under the newly built Sunset Beach Fixed Bridge (Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge totally removed), to the Saucepan Creek & Shallotte Inlet, to Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing. Our boat speed varied from 4.8 to 7.4K depending on our position in relation to an inlet. I happily drove most of the day. We arrived before the marina office’s closing time (0800-1700 hrs.), tying up on ‘C’ dock, slip 23. St. James dockage fee =$1.05/ft. + $5.00 for electricity for another topnotch facility. One female & one male shower, one washer ($1.00) & 1 dryer ($1.00). Already there was a coolness in the air; changed into capris & a sweater. Supper was at the marina restaurant, Tommy’s Thompson Grill = burger & homemade chips for Graeme & mixed seafood grill of salmon, shrimp & tuna with rice pilaf for me. St. James Plantation is a beautiful huge gated community with 4 golf courses, private beach club, tennis, swimming & fitness facilities + walking trails & parks; the marina is an important part of the community. After sunset the winds died & darkness showed clear skies & a bright near ½ moon.
N.B. If one looks at a map of South & North Carolina coastlines, you will notice how heavily the southern portions hook to the east, travelling south to north of course. This can be disconcerting when you are wanting to be home which is north!

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