Location: ICW, Mile Marker 472.5. Anchored in the Stono River, just past Charleston, SC
Weather: High 60s and cloudy, and the high winds have subsided
• Miss Alignment (see picture)
• Thanks John
• Final Lee
• Slip Aweigh
• Simple Life (I’m including this only because it made me think “Simple Life”?! – they’ve got to be kidding!)
For those of you who didn’t follow our last trip journal, and for those who have forgotten, the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) is an inland waterway, running north and south along the eastern seacoast. It is made up of existing bodies of water: bays like the Chesapeake Bay or the Ablemarle Sound, and dozens (hundreds?) of rivers, as well as man-made canals - or ‘cuts’ as they are usually called- that connect the bodies of water. You can go from Cape May, NJ to Florida and never go out in the ocean.
Or, you can choose to go ‘outside’ – or offshore - into the ocean through the many inlets along the coast.
On our first trip we only went offshore a couple of times – mainly to avoid the ICW in Georgia which is shoaled/shallow – or at least for our 6’ draft boat. On this trip, perhaps because we are more experienced, or because I am braver, we have already ventured offshore twice and we’re not even in Georgia yet!
We left Ben and Mo’s last Saturday after a wonderful week visiting them. A highlight of the week was a day we took the boys to the NC State Fair. What FUN – for all of us. It was magical for the kids to milk the cows and see the Agri-cadabra Magic show, among many other things. Best of all for them, I think, was the chance to sit in the NC Forest Rangers Fire Fighting helicopter.
We got busy on Sunday getting the boat ready – and took off Monday morning. It’s been NON stop since then and as you can see from our location, and lack of Trip Journal posting, we have really made tracks southward.
At 3:30pm last Monday as we reached Beaufort NC, after traveling all day from New Bern, we decided to head outside and try to get to Wrightsville Beach (Wilmington NC) because the weather and waves were predicted to be calm for a few more days. In spite of the weather, it was a very scary night for me – being out there on the big water with only lights in the distance from passing boats and markers is unnerving. And to make matters worse, we were transiting a military “restricted area” and I kept thinking someone was going to come and arrest us, or perhaps we’d run over an old bomb! A first for us was that we arrived at our destination about 5:30am, when it was still dark and we entered the inlet slowly, using our spotlight, compass and paying close attention to the charts. It worked – though it nearly did me in! We dropped anchor before sunlight and finally got some sleep.
We slept much of the day, with breaks to eat and dinghy to town to take a long walk to West Marine (for parts, as usual), a nice dinner out, and ice! Then after a good night’s sleep, we set off at 7am the next morning, made our way down the ICW speedily, as a result of the outgoing tide on the Cape Fear River. At the river mouth, after listening to weather, we decided to head offshore to Charleston – we had a 24 hour good weather window and needed to get in by noon the next day. We made it; we arrived at 11am! And it was a bit easier for me – as I am now getting more used to the loneliness. In the whole night, we spotted a couple of BIG boats in the distance and only 1 other sailboat far off our starboard side. I called them on the vhf radio, to comfort myself, and spoke to Tinkertoy, a sailboat out of New York that had been traveling offshore the whole time! That certainly boggled my mind.
In both offshore passages there was little to no wind, so we used what sailors affectionately call the “iron sail”. It’s amazing that it goes for so many hours, with no need to refill as the diesel tank is pretty big…almost 3x the size of our VW Passat gas tank.
In spite of my anxiety, there are some small pleasures: beautiful sunset and sunrise because of the panoramic 360 degree view, a rising crescent moon behind us, a star filled night with a planet (Venus?) on the low horizon shining brightly, dolphins splashing in the night nearby. And best of all, I’m still here to tell the tale.