Well let’s see… Where did we leave off? Was it Georgetown? I think it was Georgetown. It was so long ago. It’s like trying to remember a dream. Yeah, it must have been Georgetown, because cousin Myrtle had her foot surgery while I was there, and her sister’s husband’s son-in-law’s step dog’s half uncle told aunt Myrtle all about the time he had foot surgery, and about how the Nixon administration really made it difficult, what with the inflation and the interest rates, and all. So yeah, it was Georgetown.
Anyhow, I’d decided to stay for a few days after Dad had gone, and just took my brain off the hook. I slept in. I played video games. I rarely put on pants. I popped out of the companionway like a prairie dog whenever a boat came or went.
For a smallish port, G-Town had a wide variety of craft coming and going. There were tired old Sea Rays, smart little Ranger Tugs, and a big three-masted sailing vessel with the most severely raked masts I’d ever seen. A sparkling thousand-ton Selene tied up ahead of me for a night, made all the prettier in contrast to the grimy old fishing trawlers moored astern of me, with their racking-cough diesel engines and confederate flags.
Georgetown itself looked as pretty as ever, but some of the sounds and smells were different than I remembered. The Georgia Pacific plant was going full tilt, and the air was thick with the smell of microwaved week old leftover refried beans. The charming sound of the big bell in the clocktower was notably absent, replaced by the unfortunate clamor of heavy construction equipment. The Marina’s parking lot had been ravaged so that some underground infrastructure could undergo an octuple bypass. It was quite an operation, and the lads that made up the crew were even louder than their machines. One fella in particular seemed to start every sentence with a ‘HEY! HEEEEY!!! HEYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!’ It made me glad I didn’t work for him.
I walked around town a little, did some laundry, chatted with the other dock dwellers, and marveled at the fact that someone had gone to the trouble of vandalizing the marina’s soda machine. Apparently this was becoming a regular thing. It made me wonder what sort of person has time for that? Of all the things a person could do with their limited time on this planet, skydiving, reading comic books, hiking, snorkeling, weaving a basket, tending an ant farm, eating a mango, making out with someone pretty, getting drunk, making out with someone ugly, shouting at the television, baking bread, petting a cat, or lovingly hammering out a six foot bronze bust of Paula Deen… why on earth would anyone choose ‘repeatedly destroy this particular vending machine?’ Beats me!
Eventually I had my fill of indolence, and my feet began to itch again. The time had come for Sylphide and I to move along. It was a lovely sunny day when we departed, and the weather stayed lovely and sunny the whole way down to Charleston. It was a very uneventful cruise. I’d seen this stretch a couple of times before, and the scenery felt familiar and pleasant, if unremarkable.
I decided to put back in at Charleston Harbor Resort on the Point Pleasant side of town. I’d spent a month there the previous winter, and while I’d very much enjoyed it, there wasn’t much left on my Charleston Bucket List. All I really needed to do was get some groceries, and I’d be ready to continue on. I booked a couple of nights, and settled into my slip at the south end of the marina. This spot afforded me an unobstructed view of the lower harbor, and a front row seat to the commercial ship show. The channel passes pretty closely to the marina, and I frequently heard, or sometimes felt their engines before I realized one of these monsters was lurking up behind me. It never ceases to amaze me just how big some of these things are.
The next day, a strong southerly wind set in, and the weather that came with it was cool and gray and rainy. It didn’t make me want to go cruising. I spent much of my stay snuggled up in the boat with a hot cup of something and a good book. I did eventually get around to restocking the galley, but that’s about as productive as I got. The wind was persistent, and my stay stretched from two nights to three nights, and then four.
The docks were largely deserted while I was there, almost certainly due to the clammy weather. One of the few visitors I did see was a diver setting up shop on the dock next door. Presumably he was there to scrape the barnacles off my neighbor’s bottom, or at least the bottom of their boat. I had a chat with the Scuba Steve to confirm my theory, and asked if he wouldn’t mind terribly having a look at Sylphide’s undercarriage. She’d been in the water for about a year and a half at that point, and I’d never had her cleaned before. A diver had checked her out about six months prior to that, and reported that she was squeaky clean, and that there was still a good amount of meat left on my zincs. This diver reported almost exactly the same thing. He said something to the effect of ‘whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.’ Thankfully, I’ve always been pretty good at doing nothing, so that wouldn’t be a problem.
Eventually the wind did lay down a bit, just as the cabin fever was starting to set in. The sun came out, the sky turned an agreeable shade of blue, and it looked to be a beautiful day for a boat ride. I slung off the lines and I wiggled Sylphide out of the marina. There was a little bit of a chop still lingering from the long blow, but it wasn’t bad. I decided to take a quick tour around the upper harbor, since I hadn’t seen that yet. I was in no hurry, and had nowhere else I needed to be. I did a close pass of the USS Yorktown, and passed under the massive and deeply impressive Ravenel Bridge.
I took a lap around Drum Island, and skirted the coast of the peninsula that makes up downtown Charleston. I recognized a lot of the places I’d visited with the family the previous year. I passed the commercial docks, with its rows and rows of sparkling new Volvos waiting to ship out on some big ugly car-carrier shoebox. I passed the Maritime Museum, where we’d taken the ferry to Fort Sumter. I was able to pick out the waterfront park with its famous pineapple fountain, and the Edmonston-Alston house we’d toured. We rounded the battery at the south point of town, and headed up the Ashley River to check out the City marina. I was curious to see if I’d been missing out while staying on the other side of town. It seemed nice enough, but I like my regular marina better.
I doubled back, and with the city skyline now behind us, Sylphide and I made our way into Elliot Cut, and were officially southbound on the ICW once again. Until then, Charleston was as far south as we’d been, and it was all fresh new undiscovered country ahead. This appealed to my inner explorer, who always seems to find new scenery more interesting. There was a nice mix of narrow cuts and big wide open rivers. Million dollar homes lined the banks in many areas, but there was still plenty of unspoiled marshland to make for a good view.
As the sun sank lower in the western sky, I scanned the chart for available anchorages. I decided on one that Active Captain called Church Creek 2. This turned out to be a good call. It was a beautiful spot. It was very well protected from all sides by wooded islands and low grassy marshes. There was one sailboat already moored in the creek, and I didn’t get the impression he was interested in having neighbors. Fortunately there was still gobs of room left, and I was able to post up with plenty of buffer zone between us. He’d be able to do whatever kind of weird nudist cult stuff he wanted to, and I would be none the wiser.
I did an informal survey of the area with my depth sounder, making a few big loops around where I wanted to be. I didn’t see any trouble spots. The anchor dug into the thick, gloopy mud like a raccoon into a trash can, and I settled in for a beautiful night on the hook.
I ran my cheap grocery store lantern up the mast as an anchor light, since my regular one was still out of service. That lantern has been one of my more successful four dollar impulse buys. I probably should have bought two.
The next day started off sunny and clear, but the skies grayed over as the day wore on. It was threatening to rain by the time we reached Beaufort, SC (pronounced BeAuFoRt.) It looked like another round of strong winds would be blowing through, so I assumed that I’d be staying put for a couple of nights. My batteries were in good shape, and I had plenty of water and fuel and food, so I was minded to find a nice anchorage to ride out the weather. There weren’t many options around, and the one I was most interested in turned out to be less than ideal when I finally saw it for myself. I expected it to be surrounded by grassland, but it was wide open to the elements on all sides. It would most likely be roly and uncomfortable in a blow.
By the way, is it ‘rolly’ or ‘roly?’ They both look wrong to me. I feel like ‘roly’ is probably the better option, like ‘holy.’ ‘Rolly’ looks like it should rhyme with ‘trolley’ to me. The google tells me neither is correct, but google ain’t never been anchored in a wobbly sloppy-ass gunkhole, struggling like an idiot to keep the litterbox from sliding down the companionway into the engine compartment, amirite??
Hell, I don’t know. I just work here.
Anyhow, I thought about snagging a dock at the town marina, but after passing their mooring field, I thought maybe I would give that a try. In all the time I’d been a cruising boater, I’d never picked up a mooring before. I was honestly a little intimidated by it. Sylphide isn’t the most maneuverable craft, and with some wind, some current, and me being single handed and slightly clumsy, I wasn’t entirely confident I could pull it off without it becoming a minor catastrophe.
I studied the situation, and cobbled together a plan. I’d sidle up to windward of one of the more isolated mooring balls, and let the weather set us down toward it as gently as possible. I put on my most confident ‘I know what I’m doing’ face and waddled up to the bow with my longest boat hook at the ready.
The plan worked, and the boat did what I’d hoped she would. As the ball approached the port bow, I snagged the pendant with the hook. As I reeled it in, the hook suddenly decided that it didn’t want to be a boat hook any more, and promptly folded itself in half. I managed to get ahold of the line just before it broke off completely. Its severed head splashed into the drink and started down stream. Not wanting to add any more junk to the ocean, I thought about trying to pick it up, but I’d need a boat hook for that… In any event, tying up the boat would have to come first. I got the line around the bow bitt without any further trouble.
By that point I’d already lost sight of the hook. It was officially off on its own journey, now. Maybe it’ll start its own blog. Good luck little buddy!
I stayed there for the better part of three days while the wind blew and the rain came and went. I cooked, I ate, I rattled off one of the blogs that you may already have read, and did some route planning for the next few legs of the trip. I watched some movies, and talked to family. I decided that I liked mooring balls, but that I would like them a lot more if I had a dinghy I could use. I spent some time shopping for one (Spoiler alert, I’ve since bought one, and am looking forward to using it!) I wished I could go explore town and stretch my legs a bit, but for the time being, Beaufort would have to stay undiscovered country.