Friday, October 29, 2010

Charleston, SC to the North Newport River, GA

I awoke Monday, October 18th, to find a beautiful red rose, a wonderful card and a fresh Krispy Kreme donut from the Captain for my birthday. What a guy!


From my in-laws, via Todd, I also received a very cool portable ice machine that I have been putting to good use. Thanks again, Bill & Marilyn. I love it!


A sampling of ice from the Admiral’s new toy.


That afternoon we kicked around town, did some shopping at Harris Teeter and then went back in to town for a nice dinner. We decided on Italian and tried Mercato but were very disappointed in the veal marsala, which we returned and did not reorder. But everything else was good and we still had a very enjoyable evening. (We had Sticky Fingers ribs the previous night for those of you who may be wondering!)

A shot of downtown Charleston.


Enjoying a nice glass of wine at Mercato.


We left Charleston Tuesday around noon with about 25 miles to Tom Point Creek. A very slow four hours later we arrived. The current in this part of the cruising world makes a huge difference in your travel speed! After we anchored, Todd decided to fish for a while but didn’t have any luck.

Our anchorage at Tom Point Creek.


Wednesday we took the day off from traveling. Todd went fishing again that morning for a few hours but again came back empty-handed.

A beautiful sunrise on Tom Point Creek.


And off he goes….


Then Gail & Maureen aboard “Blue Heron” arrived in the anchorage and Gale fished all afternoon to no avail. That evening we had Gale & Maureen over for dinner, followed by the game Drink While You Think, which is always fun to play.

Thursday we hauled anchor about 10:30 a.m. and covered 40 miles. We ended up anchoring just south of Beaufort by 4:00 p.m. “Blue Heron” anchored north of the Lady’s Island Bridge and spent a few hours exploring Beaufort while we had a quiet evening on “Life’s2Short.”

One of many shrimp boats along this part of the waterway. Notice the birds on the rigging getting a free ride!


Our destination Friday was Bull Creek, another 30 miles south. We left Beaufort at 10:00 a.m. and we anchored by 1:30 p.m. “Blue Heron” again joined us in the anchorage and Todd and Gale were fishing within the hour. This time, however, they had success!

Todd and Gale were very pleased with their catches!




In addition, a local shrimper came by about 5:00 p.m. and asked if we wanted to buy some fresh shrimp for $5 a pound. They were very nice shrimp so each couple bought a few pounds.


That evening we enjoyed fresh fish and shrimp for dinner on “Blue Heron.” Todd had caught a flounder so we had shrimp-stuffed flounder along with grilled red fish and shrimp, rice and salad. What a special meal!



Todd did a little more fishing Saturday morning but the bugs (no-see-ums, sand gnats/fleas/flies – whatever you want to call them) were eating him alive so he gave it up. We’ve had this problem in several of our recent anchorages. Unless the wind is blowing hard enough to keep them away, they tend to be a real nuisance, especially when you’re out fishing next to the marsh grass on shore. They love hanging around that stuff!

Maureen & Gale enjoying a lovely morning on the bow of “Blue Heron.”


At any rate, the Captain decided to spend a few hours on the boat changing the oil in the generator and both engines. Late that afternoon he went out to catch a fish to supplement our dinner and was back in no time. Then the shrimp guy stopped by again with more fresh shrimp, so we bought some to share with Bob & Stephanie on “September Song” who we will be seeing in a few days.

Our local shrimper in Bull Creek. What a nice mess of shrimp!


Sunday we were underway by 8:30 a.m. We crossed the Savannah River, thus entering Georgia, and arrived at the Isle of Hope marina, just south of Savannah, about noon. “Blue Heron” was headed up the Savannah River to spend a few days exploring downtown Savannah. We plan to meet up with them again Halloween weekend at Blackbeard Island in southern Georgia.

This interesting-looking mega yacht was docked at Thunderbolt when we passed through.


Sunday afternoon our friends Howard & Sue, who live in nearby Richmond Hill, picked us up at the marina and took us to their lovely house for dinner. We had a fun afternoon catching up on travels and activities over the past few years (we last saw Howard & Sue in October of 2008) followed by a wonderful dinner, thanks to grill-master Howard and the very talented homemaker Sue!

Howard & Sue with their cat Buttons.


Since the marina has courtesy cars and a nearby Wal-Mart, Todd decided to make a shopping run early Monday morning to purchase engine oil, filters and other bulky, heavy items that we needed to resupply.

About 10:00 a.m. “Blue Heron” showed up unexpectedly to take a slip at the marina for a couple of nights. They had elected not to fight the current for another eight miles up the Savannah River on Sunday and spent the night at anchor just outside Turner’s Creek, south of Thunderbolt. Since they had bypassed Savannah, they are going to spend a few nights at Isle of Hope and explore Savannah from there.

We left the marina about 11:00 a.m. and spent the next five hours covering 40 miles to arrive at Bob & Stephanie’s home dock on the North Newport River, home (for now) of “September Song.” Bob & Stephanie are in the process of selling their beautiful waterfront home and will soon officially become “homeless boat people,” not that anyone who has seen their boat would feel very sorry for them!

Not too shabby, eh?


Stephanie was on the dock ready to catch a line for us and Bob arrived a short time later. That evening we steamed some of the fresh shrimp we had purchased in Bull Creek and finished off a very tasty lamb casserole that Stephanie had prepared. Then we introduced them to Drink While You Think and finally called it quits at midnight!

The next day Todd did a couple of loads of laundry at Bob & Stephanie’s house while I kept myself busy in the kitchen, enjoying unlimited use of the appliances! That evening Bob & Stephanie treated us to Popeye’s chicken (a.k.a. the best fried chicken in the South!) when they returned from Hinesville. And for dessert we had raspberry walnut shortbread bars that I had baked earlier in the day.

The four of us spent the afternoon in the Savannah area on Wednesday taking care of a few errands and doing some shopping. We also had a very nice late lunch at a newly re-opened restaurant in Richmond Hill called 69 East Eatery, formerly the 606 East Cafe.

Todd spent a good part of Thursday washing the exterior of the boat while I did some interior cleaning and food preparation. Norm & Vicki on “Tide Hiker” arrived early afternoon and Joe & Julia on “Sea Pearl” arrived about 5:30 p.m., just before the skies opened up!

Tide Hiker” arrives!



Captain Norm promptly starts washing the boat.


The dock is filling up!


The gang all watches and waits as “Sea Pearl” approaches the dock.



Once the rain let up a bit, we all piled in to Bob & Stephanie’s van and went to the Sunbury Crab Company for a fun dinner with good food and a great group of people!


Today is Friday, October 29th, and we awoke to a clear, cool morning after three days of record high and/or near record high temperatures. And the weekend forecast looks wonderful!

The gang is all here but there is still room for one more.


Later this afternoon we will use Bob & Stephanie’s van to meet Steve & Lisa, our friends from the Tampa area, in Darien, GA. They will travel with us aboard “Life’s2Short” to Blackbeard Island on Saturday where we will spend the weekend before returning them to their vehicle on Tuesday. We will be joined at Blackbeard Island by “September Song,” “Tide Hiker,” “Sea Pearl” and “Blue Heron.” Should be a fun-filled weekend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Trek South

On Thursday, October 7th, we entered the Deep Creek Lock at 8:30 a.m.

Heading into the Dismal Swamp, 22 miles of no-wake speed but a beautiful trip nonetheless.



Bill & Ana left their mark on the lock wall when we were there with them earlier this year.



After locking through we tied to the wall on the other side of the Deep Creek Bridge and killed a few hours at a nearby Food Lion, a treat for the Admiral!


We then continued through the Dismal Swamp, all 22 miles of it, to arrive at the South Mills Lock at 3:30 p.m. Needless to say, it was a long, slow four hours!




There was no northbound traffic waiting to lock up so we were through the lock by 4:00 p.m. We continued toward Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River and were anchored about a mile above the Elizabeth City bridge by 6:00 p.m.

We arrived at the Elizabeth City bridge Friday morning for the 8:30 opening. Then it was down the remainder of the Pasquotank and into Albemarle Sound, dodging hundreds of crab pots along the way with the sun right in our faces – not fun! We made it to the Alligator-Pungo Canal entrance about 3:00 p.m. and anchored at Tuckahoe Point. A fifty-five mile day with a cloud-free sky and temperatures in the low 70’s.

The anchor was coming up at 8:00 a.m. Saturday and we headed into the canal. After another 55 miles we were anchored in Bear Creek on the Bay River by 3:30 p.m. on another cloudless, calm day approaching 80 degrees.


The Admiral trying to get a cell phone signal, pretty remote in this part of the country.


Sunday we were underway by 7:45 a.m. with only 15 miles to the River Dunes Marina. J.C., the dockmaster, was there to greet us and catch a line. We last saw J.C. in late May/early June when we spent several nights at the marina before going to Ocracoke on the Outer Banks. On our final evening at the marina, J.C. and his wife Judy had the two of us and Bill & Ana on “Knot Tide Down” over for a wonderful shrimp & grits dinner. What a great guy and a terrific couple! Thanks for everything, J.C.!!!

Once we got situated in our slip, we spent a few hours on some much-needed exterior boat cleaning. Our friends Rick & Lynnie aboard “Rickshaw” arrived about 1:00 p.m. so we went up to the pool to hang out and catch up.

The new fire pits at River Dunes Marina.


That evening we had dinner on “Rickshaw” and introduced them to “Drink While You Think.” A good time was had by all and it was great being able to see them one more time before they take “Rickshaw” back to its home marina.


Monday we took off around 8:45 a.m., saying our goodbyes to Rick & Lynnie. Hope to see you in Florida this winter, guys!



We passed through Morehead City, home port of “Rickshaw,” and continued south another five miles to anchor in Spooner’s Creek by 2:15 p.m. We put the dinghy down and motored over to a small private dock where we tied up and walked a few blocks to Wal-Mart for a little shopping.

When we returned we joined Andrew & Vanessa on “Tally Ho” for happy hour. “Tally Ho” was one of several boats trapped with us in Deltaville, Virginia, for a number of days as Tropical Storm Nicole passed through.


We were underway again Tuesday at 7:45 a.m. and managed to cover another 55 miles in about eight hours. However, we had to kill almost an hour waiting for the Surf City bridge opening. It only opens on the hour and we couldn’t quite make the 2:00 p.m. opening.

Anchorages along this stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) are somewhat scarce, so we ended up anchoring at Sloop Point in Topsail Sound, just off the ICW. The anchorage is pretty exposed and it was a breezy day, but the holding was good and the wind died down nicely by dark.

On Wednesday we traveled 45 miles over a six-hour period to arrive at Southport, North Carolina. We tied up at The Provision Company’s free dock and had drinks and dinner there that evening. The wakes from thoughtless boaters on the ICW were a bit obnoxious at times, though!

Thursday was another long day – 65 miles over nine hours. But once again we had to waste the better part of an hour waiting for the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge opening. We couldn’t quite make the 11:00 a.m. opening and had to wait until noon for the next one.

Shrimp boats along the Intracoastal.


We left North Carolina behind and entered South Carolina just south of the pontoon bridge. That afternoon we had a few rain showers to contend with, including one that hit just as we were anchoring in the oxbow on the Waccamaw River, but all-in-all it was a nice day on the water.

I think we had this picture on the blog earlier this year, but a pink and purple house is worth repeating!


The view from our anchorage on the Waccamaw River.


Friday was a short five-hour, 40-mile day through Georgetown to Minim Creek. The sky was back to being cloud-free with temperatures in the 70’s and a stout breeze. But the anchorage offered nice shelter from the wind and we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon aboard “Life’s2Short.”

A shrimp boat in Winyah Bay coming in from the Atlantic, headed for Georgetown.


This is “Sojourn,” our off-and-on travel buddies for a few days. We haven’t met them yet, but we may have an opportunity in Charleston since we will be at the same marina for a few days.


The sailboat “Dakota” also anchored out with us at Minim Creek.


We left Minim Creek Saturday morning about 8:45 with 35 miles to our next anchorage in Whiteside Creek. We encountered a good deal of boat traffic along the way, but I guess that is to be expected when you travel on a Saturday!

The hook was dropped by 1:15 p.m. and the Captain was out fishing within the hour. He returned a couple of hours later with two sea trout that he promptly filleted and sautéed for a late afternoon snack (more like an early dinner!). This was his first catch in quite some time, but he hasn’t been doing much fishing either. Nice job, Captain!

Today is Sunday, October 17th, and we put the final 20 miles to Charleston behind us, arriving in the harbor about 10:30 a.m. We then free-floated for nearly an hour waiting for our slip to open up, but by noon we were tied up at the Maritime Center.

A pirate pumpkin as we pass Goat Island. The crew of “Life’s2Short” wishes all of you a Happy Halloween!


We are currently doing a few boat chores but will head for downtown Charleston later this afternoon to take advantage of this beautiful warm, sunny day. Our plan is to leave here Tuesday morning and continue the trek south, but we are going to slow our pace since we have plenty of time before our next appointed stop at the home of our good friends Bob & Stephanie in southern Georgia. See you in about ten days, guys, and looking forward to it!