Life continues down the Intracoastal Waterway. We have been gone for three weeks now and have been covering a lot of ground. You see all sides of life as you pass through communities – from this guy who is making the best of being without a boat at the moment, to some magnificent, extravagant homes. Many of them a stone’s throw from each other.
We love the waterway. You slide through some totally remote areas where the beauty is unspoilt and completely natural. Nothing happens. The water in the Waccamaw River in South Carolina is dark brown – tannins leach from the fallen leaf debris. Apparently it was believed to have healing properties and people used to travel to fill containers and take them home. We saw turtles sunning on logs, but no alligators this time. Wonderful birdlife.
We stopped at Georgetown SC and had hoped to anchor there for the night. Two things against that – it was a Sunday and nothing was open, and the anchorage is right underneath a paper mill, which was belching noxious fumes. It’s OK when the wind is blowing away, but this day it was not! So we stretched our legs and wandered around this very pretty town. When commerce was governed by access to water, it grew into a booming little town on the river with close access to the sea. It was in the center of a rice growing area – they have a rice museum which we had wanted to visit – closed on Sundays. The town has done a great job of revitalizing and it is a definite stop on our way back.
The Waccamaw opens up into marshlands and we spent the night at anchor in Minum Creek. A very special night – not a breath of wind, a perfect sunset that was golden on one side and pink and mauve on the other; but the best was that flock after flock of birds flew over the top of us to roost (somewhere) at sunset. It was as though they had laid on this show for us. Herons, egrets, ibis, even some roseate spoonbills. With swallows darting around at water level eating the bugs (but not enough of them as that is what eventually drove us inside with the screens in place!).
We were anxious to get to Charleston and get the engine work done – success! It took a lot of clearing out of the back cabin to make room, and a lot of cramped bending double and working with no view of what his hands were doing, but Garth replaced the seal and all is good in engine land again! Gary’s help was invaluable; and what were Mel and I to do but a little bit of shopping? It’s a sad fact that it was only a visit to Trader Joe’s to pick up provisions – but in a cruiser’s life access to a good grocery store is way more satisfying than the standard retail therapy! We were very grateful to Ben for driving us around.
The buildings in Charleston are amazing – every corner presents something photo-worthy. I restrained myself as last time we came through I took hundreds of photos.
Love the green building – whose kids would ever know what dry goods and notions are??
Also, tons of great restaurants. (Although Ben told us that some of the proprietors are having a tough time – so many people are moving to Charleston that downtown property values are going through the roof. Taxes follow, and it is hard to find reliable workers and make the fickle restaurant business worthwhile. Some people are closing their restaurants and selling their properties – the same money at the end for much less headache and hard work). We had a great lunch at Jestines – a local institution serving low country food – corn fritters and fried green tomatoes, collard greens and okra gumbo alongside fried chicken livers and meatloaf! Across the road was the Chareston Fire Department. We poked our heads inside and were intrigued to see how prepared they are – shiny fire pole from the floor above, and their suits sitting with boots already in place (two sets right by the cab door!) so all they have to do is put their feet in and pull them up! A trick from which I think many a schoolchild could benefit!
For those who have not been on our boat, I thought I would send a couple of pictures so you could imagine what our life aboard is like. It’s very comfortable for two – everything you could need. Kate, Will and Penny will be joining us for Christmas – it will get a little tight then, but worth every minute. I hope then we will be living outside more than in.
Some more pictures of the life that happens every day ….. one would think that it would get boring and you would have to find things to keep you busy. But somehow the things you pass are more compelling than a book; we love it.
St Mary’s Sound is at the bottom of Georgia, just before you cross into Florida. There is a very large submarine base there – regular submarines as well as nuclear. Mel and Gary were quite a way ahead of us, and messaged back to say that they had seen a sub coming up the river. By the time we got there the patrol had contacted us asking us to wait for the sub to pass – right in front of us. Not a problem! It was fascinating – with patrol boats buzzing around, two large tugs came out and lined themselves up for the sub to pass between. They then maneuvered to lead it into its pen. Not sure whether or not I was allowed to take photos, but better to ask for forgiveness than permission! They then proceeded to escort us past the rear – fully armed, ready to shoot!
We stayed overnight in Fernandina Beach – a quaint town that although touristy has so much charm. Sorry, again no pictures because I took them all last time. The decision whether to take the camera or just go and enjoy the evening tends to favor the latter!
I can finally rest easy – I have my dolphin picture! It has become a standing joke that no matter how many dolphins are around us, as soon as I pick up my camera, they dive down. Every time!!! But the other morning, at sunrise, this boy obliged and now I never have to worry about it again.
But better than that, at anchor that evening, there was a lot of stirred up water and we saw this group of dolphins doing something – couldn’t work out what. I remembered a story I had heard about how the dolphins swim in circles and “herd” the fish closer and closer together until they have easy dinner pickings. I can only imagine that this is what was happening. In the first picture you will see four fins in a circle, facing each other. And then lots of diving and writhing and snorting and spouting …. wish I knew more about these beautiful creatures.
Passing through Florida you have long, straight stretches – literally for miles. You set your autopilot and keep checking every now and again but there is nothing you have to do. The day was beautiful, the water was like glass. Lots of dolphins and manatees – but they do dive when you get close.
We are now tied up in Vero Beach. Just a quick stop to get fuel and water and get some laundry done and the boat washed down. We believe that it will be a good window to cross to the Bahamas next Tuesday, so it is all systems go to get down to Lake Worth, do final provisioning and be ready first thing Tuesday morning. We hope to stop in Stuart tomorrow and visit with our friends and RV partners Dick and Carol Tuschick. If we don’t go on Tuesday, it looks as though it will be a long wait at Lake Worth for another weather window – we want to GET THERE!!!
Thanks for following – I see your comments but am often not in service range to reply. I do this blog mainly to share the pictures and experiences with those who are interested, and as a record for ourselves. I have no pretensions about being a writer!