Wednesday, April 11, 2018:
Finally some sunshine! But it’s still cold; only 44 this morning. I finished the last blog and got it posted. I’m not a writer and it’s a tough chore because I’m so slow, but determined to keep documenting this delightful journey. Jane took care of completing the switch of the MMSI registration number from the former owners. I guess that will help the searchers know who they are looking for in the event of emergency. We decided that we’d be leaving Charleston in the morning and Jane got our reservations switched from Myrtle Beach Yacht Club to the Marina at Grand Dunes on the advice of friends. It will help keep the Uber costs down being more centrally located there. The ship’s bursar has noted that we spent $137 on Uber in the month of March. We used the marina’s courtesy car to go up to the Harris Teeter grocery (adequate, but not Publix) and got lunch at a Mexican restaurant, Zia Tacqueria (filling, but not remarkable). After we returned, Jane did another load of laundry and we waited for our friends, Jerry and Susie Pick whose boat the Happy Ours has been here at SJYH awaiting their return from home in Tennessee. They had to go home to do taxes like the good citizens they are. We said screw it, filed an extension, and sent Uncle Sam a lot of money. We hope enough but we’ll know the answer in October. Once they arrived at docktails hour we chatted a bit before heading out in their rental car to Wild Olive (yes, Wild Olive again – it’s that good). It was great to see them again. We had not visited with them since we started the Loop.
Thursday, April 12, 2018:
We got up early and made the decision to leave on the high tide instead of waiting until 1300 for the slack low. We scrambled around a bit skipping breakfast and extracted from the slip at 0816 without help as the tide had not yet begun to move. We needed a pump out of the holding tank so I eased her over to the fuel dock that doubles as the pump out station. I tried radioing, but Jessica and Stan saw me coming and rushed down to help secure us. By the time we were pumped out and ready to go at 0830, I was surprised by the amount of current that had picked up in just that short time. As we were facing down current, I couldn’t get the bow to swing around fast enough to keep from hitting the lift docks, so I kept backing up to return along the fuel dock. Jessica was awesome and kept helping get us back far enough so I had the room to turn. The third time was the charm and I was able to goose it hard to port to get away from the dock and not have to file an accident report. Once clear of the marina we headed north up the Stono River to rejoin the ICW at Elliot Cut. After we entered the Ashley River on the east side of Charleston proper, we could see that we would encounter some interesting traffic in the area of Fort Sumter.
It was a pretty day and by 1000 we entered Breach Inlet. There are some nice homes here.
We intended to go and dock with Leland Oil Company in McClellanville and by 1400 we passed Jeremy Creek and changed plans cancelling our reservation with Leland and continuing towards Georgetown. We realized that we wouldn’t make it to Georgetown before the marina closed so we researched and found what looked like a good anchorage just off the waterway in Minim Creek. It sounded like an ideal spot without houses and surrounded by nature. We crossed the South Santee River at 1510. When we arrived at our targeted anchorage we discovered that another vessel flying the AGLCA burgee, Babe, was also anchored there. I felt bad that we had to encroach on their private spot, but there was plenty of room and we set the hook at 1552 in 13 feet with an ample 120 foot rode well off their bow. Once we had everything set, I tried to contact Babe on the VHF. I just wanted to get acquainted and somewhat apologize for disturbing their peaceful spot. Apparently, their radio was off for the night. I wanted to give them something, but not to the point of launching the dinghy and take ‘em a bottle of wine, so that’s when I hatched the idea to give them some entertainment. I went online to the AGLCA website and looked them up in the member roster and got the cell phone number. I called the number and got no answer, but left a voice message that went something like this: “This is Sargent Leslie O. Bobo of the South Carolina Department of Wildlife. I’m trying to reach the captain of the motor vessel Babe. Our radar and monitoring system have determined that your vessel is anchored in a restricted area protected for the mating habitat of the rare Minim Creek Squid. We require you to remove your vessel and appreciate your assistance in the protection of the very rare Minim Creek Squid species. I will call back shortly to make sure you have received this message.” I waited several minutes observing to make sure they weren’t pulling anchor and then called back.
I had to leave another message, this time instructing them to call me. Shortly, Mrs. Wheeler called and wanted to know what to do. I quickly let them know that it was a spoof and we all had a great laugh. Apparently, Mr. Wheeler is also a practical joker so I’m sure there will be some payback later. They sound like a fun couple and we are looking forward to meeting them in person at the AGLCA Rendezvous in Norfolk.
Friday, April 13, 2018:
It was sunny and the high predicted at just above 70. There is a slight SW wind of 6 to 13 mph. The run to Georgetown should only be about two hours. We pulled up the anchor along with lots of tiny creatures (possibly the rare Minim Creek Squid?). So I left the rode and chain out on the deck to wash off later when we dock. By 0945 we passed the floating pontoon swing bridge. You don’t see these too much anymore.
It got warm and we both changed to shorts. No sense arriving at dock in the tighty whities. We docked at Harbor Walk Marina in Georgetown at 1105. We were arriving midway of the falling tide which made me a little nervous especially when I saw the tight spot they had for us, but we snuggled right up to the dock gently and safe. I cleaned the boat and called Tommy Howard. Tommy is a distant relative that I’ve never met but had talked to him a few months ago after doing some genealogy research. Our mutual antecedent is James Bush Howard, my great grandfather and Tommy’s great-great grandfather. Tommy used to be the editor of the newspaper here and wants to write a story on our navigation of America’s Great Loop. Tommy arrived and we walked to a long time local breakfast and lunch spot that looked like it probably did in the ‘40’s. They offered home cooking and we stuffed a gut on large veggie platters. Then Tommy gave us a personal walking tour of the town.
It is darling cute and loaded with history. We saw places where George Washington visited and went to the South Carolina Maritime Museum. There were throngs of locals at the Kaminski House getting their prom photos with the beautiful house and gardens for backdrop.
We returned to the boat and later Tommy arrived to pick us up to go to a BBQ place over near Debordieu. There we were to meet the rest of the Howard bunch and there was quite a crowd. There must have been 20 altogether. They are all wonderful folks and a loving and huggy bunch. We swapped stories about ancestors and enjoyed getting to know each other.
Saturday, April 14, 2018:
We are on the move again, slipping out of the marina with several others on the 0902 high tide. Pete from Safe Haven gave us an assist getting off the dock. It is a beautiful day, but rain and cold is expected tomorrow. There is flat water but wind gusts to 22 mph are forecast for later. Being a Saturday, there is noticeably increased traffic in the river. At 1315 we had the Socastee Swing Bridge open and followed this little tug through.
At 1420 just south of the Robert Grissom Parkway Bridge, a cruiser came up behind and asked to come by on our port side. I obliged and moved over to the right of the narrow waterway in six feet of water. No good deed goes unpunished and my six feet quickly became nil and we were aground. Thank goodness the bottom was mud or sand and we were only at idle speed. I was able to back off and we were underway again in just a few minutes, resolving to stay in the middle of the channel. In another 25 minutes we were safely docked on a T-head at the Marina at Grand Dunes. We seem to have friends to see everywhere we go and in Myrtle Beach we are seeing one of my Howey Academy schoolmates, Lyn Sue Kennedy Tayloe. Lyn Sue came right over and took us to the mall so Jane could get some make-up (heaven forbid she would run out!) and then toured us around Myrtle Beach. We got to see all the touristy honky-tonk area and then drove by some beautiful beachfront homes including hers. Then we went to Publix (YEA!) and stocked up on groceries (and wine). She dropped us off at the marina and pledged to return with her husband to take us to one of their favorite local restaurants. Lyn Sue and Artie arrived back at the boat bearing a really nice chardonnay and a tin of cheese straws. We enjoyed a glass of wine and got into the cheese straws before we departed to The Flamingo Grill. The restaurant did not disappoint and we met both of the owners (2 Greek guys both named Dino) who are reportedly on hand at all times.
They have a large establishment (220 seats) and a great business going. They obviously take care of every detail. Sue and Artie wouldn’t let us pay for anything because that’s just how they are. I hereby appoint them Myrtle Beach’s Ambassadors to the World!
Sunday, April 15, 2018:
We needed some exercise so we rode bikes around the Grand Dunes resort and development for an hour and a half. We came up on a black racer on the bridge. He was quick to move on off.
Later, Jane did some laundry (didn’t really have many dirty clothes but it was a free washer and dryer and she couldn’t pass it up) and I attended to some marine maintenance and together we planned out the route for the next week. After a needed nap, we visited the Anchor Cafe for salads. A storm was coming in and we got back to the boat before it hit. We just got the tail end of it, but there was plenty of rain, wind and lightning.
Monday, April 16, 2018:
The forecast is for sunny skies with a high in the low sixties and wind out of the SW at 11 to 16 mph along with gusts to 23. I have chosen an anchorage at Pipeline Canal that looks good. It is 46 miles which by my estimate would be a run of about 6 ½ hours. Unassisted, we untie and let the wind help us get off the dock and then spin around in the fairway to exit the marina at 0937. At 1111 the Little River Swing Bridge opens for us and sometime around noon we realize that we are in North Carolina. We’ve got the waterway mostly to ourselves today and we’re enjoying the boating. By 1315 we have crossed Shallotte Inlet. We find ourselves in that water where the current is running against us and the wind at our back that creates a washboard effect on the surface. At 1420 we’re in Lockwood’s Folly and it is slap low tide. The wind has shifted, the waves are high and we bumped the bottom two or three times coming across in the rough water. At one point, I thought we were stuck because we stopped and I took it out of gear, but the wave action was quick to help and we moved on again. I was very thankful that the keel extends lower than the propeller and we’ve only just removed some moss growth or a little bottom paint on the sand. We got beyond the inlet and decided to forego the anchorage at Pipeline Canal continuing on past Southport and into the Cape Fear River at 1600. Cape Fear River seems to be aptly named as it was rougher than a cobb. Here again with the current going out and the wind coming in. We checked and found out we were operating in small craft warnings. No wonder steerage was difficult. We saw the ferries passing and got by the Archer Daniels Midland plant. There was a restricted area by the Army base to steer clear of and a couple of tugs moving a dredge operation.
By the time we got to Snow’s Cut all was calm and we arrived at the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina to pick up a mooring ball. Jane registered us and paid on line for the $20 fee. It had been a very long day filled with excitement and we were both worn out having gone 64 miles; our longest day yet. We turned in after showers and a boatcooked meal.