Chesapeake to Charleston October 30 to November 10

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

Chuck:

After our very pleasant stay in Herrington Harbor South, we shifted gears.   Tired of shivering, mindful of a long list of improvements we had planned/ordered/scheduled for Savannah, we switched from lollygag mode to let's-make-some-miles mode.  Well, kinda.   Truth to tell, we tended to stop fairly early each day.   Our various appointments in Savannah were not *that* immanent, and we had made a commitment to be in Charleston on November 11, so we were strictly speaking in no great hurry.  We just didn't spend two nights in the same place.   Our itinerary:

10/30:  Anchored near "Warehouse Point" on the Indian Creek, on the north end of Fleets Bay, VA, just north of the Rappahannock River.  The trip had been blustery, making the absolute stillness of the picturesque anchorage all the more memorable.  We sat in the warmth on the foredeck with a drink until the sun sank and took the temperature with it.   Wow, it got chilly quickly.  But not so quickly that we missed the sights and sounds of a flock of Canada Geese passing lowly overhead in their ragged forked formation, talking among themselves in resonant, musical and loud but congenial "h-ronk, h-ronk".   We felt some reluctance to be soon leaving the beautiful Chesapeake Bay.   The wide open waters of the Bay itself; the interesting rivers feeding into the Bay; the charming creeks feeding into the rivers, with so many of the creeks featuring bucolic anchorages -- all of this we would soon pass out of, and soon pass into the much more restricted and boring ICW.

10/31:  Anchored just off the very busy waterway at mile zero of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) at "Hospital Point" in Norfolk, VA.   We had also been here on the way up, but this time it was quite a different experience.   While we had been very late stragglers as we headed north earlier in the summer, we were now part of the huge gaggle of "snowbirds" heading south.   We inched in and took what we thought was surely the last spot on the periphery of the flock at anchorage, only to be amazed at the number of vessels that subsequently arrived and pushed their way in to settle their feathers among the rest of us.   Not a restful night.   Would we drag anchor and hit the silly sailboat that had settled far too close to our stern?   Would the equally silly sailboat that had pushed in and settled just off our bow drag into us?  

Oh, on another point.   Mindful of the date, we lit a candle in a plastic jack o'lantern and placed it in a window of the pilot house.  But we didn't get a single trick-or-treater!

11/1:  We got up extra early the next morning, and departed before most had pulled their heads from beneath their wings.  We wanted to be early in line for the first of a series of bridges south of Norfolk -- a bridge that had recently been put under severe restrictions.   Doesn't open at all during morning rush hour, and thereafter only once an hour.   So, we arrived at the bridge far in advance of the first scheduled opening.   A fair number of boats already in line.   Each awkwardly maneuvering to sit in place while fighting the current and attempting to not hit the bridge or another boat.   No sense in rushing up to that mess.   So I am slowly approaching the bridge, hardly moving at all.   Lots of boats behind, coming faster.   No reason to hurry; no reason to rush up to the chaotic pack, right?  Wrong.   Silly sailboats cruised right on by, cutting into the line.   Silly Chuck sitting up on the flybridge, cursing them as they passed, pointedly reminding them that "the line forms at the rear!".   Asking loudly, "What the hell do you think you are doing?"  Silly Barb down below wincing at her husband's behavior and trying to quietly but most forcefully convey her displeasure.   With the silly sailboats?   Well, she *was* displeased with them too, I suppose.

When the bridge finally opened we all made a mad dash and squeezed through the opening like a mob leaving through a small gate after a football game.   Silly sailboats.   They shouldn't be in the front -- they'll just have to be passed in the narrow channel on the other side anyway.   Another bridge all too soon, with its own un-synchronized schedule.   Guess how everyone behaved here.   Exactly the same!   And at the next one too.   Big power boats would leave enormous wakes, rocking all others in the channel as they rushed down to the next bridge, only to mill around in front of the bridge, only to be joined by the silly sailboats that would crowd in to join the fun at the head of the line.  Maybe next time we come north we will wait longer to start south.  Or start south much sooner.  Or maybe we'll just get into movie making and earn a small fortune documenting this bizarre migration.

By the time we arrived at Great Bridge Lock, the only lock on the entire ICW (not counting the two locks on the alternative Dismal Swamp route), things had straightened out somewhat.   The silly sailboats had tired of being rocked by the oversized motor yachts and over-testosterone-soaked sportfisher boats, and had learned to hang back at the bridges, if indeed they even arrived in time for the opening.   So, when the lock opened for southbound traffic, it was entirely packed with motor vessels of various descriptions:  Sportfishers, Motor Yachts, and  Trawlers, the latter being piloted by individuals of enormous composure, tact, and quietude (who may however have inwardly snickered at the notable absence of silly sailboats.)

We stopped at a crowded marina located in the middle of a boring narrow and straight canal.   Nothing here, except a marina on the port side and a marina on the starboard side, each with its own store and restaurant.   Tall bridge just to the south, but it would be a five-mile walk to get around from one side to the other.  Coinjock, which location the alert reader will remember as the locus of prime rib for two.   Yup.  We did it again.   Interesting hostelry at the marina.   Lotsa T-shirts, among many other things.   One of the T-shirts said:  "What happens in Coinjock stays in Coinjock".

11/2:  Another windy day, and forecast to just get worse, peaking at midnight at sustained winds of 30 mph.   Having not added fuel since our departure from Savannah, we were running low, and had used the guidebooks to note the spots with significantly lower prices.   We decided to gamble on one that wouldn't give prices over VHF or phone, and hit the jackpot:  $2.29/gal. of diesel for quantities over 200 gallons.   That was easy.  We took on almost 800 gallons.   And after some moments of hesitation decided to just stay tucked in out of the wind.   Good thing too, 'cause we met several interesting folks that we subsequently invited over for late afternoon drinks.   Roger and Jacki on "Goin' South", a 42' Krogen, and Bjarne and Jeanne on "Too Much Fun".   Oh, and before the drinking began, I went for a run.   Down an absolutely straight road that cut through a cypress swamp.   Several miles down the road there was a sign:  "Red Wolf Crossing".  Didn't see any, though.  Just several squished 'possums.

11/3: Dropped anchor near the bridge just past the little town of Belhaven, NC.  I ran while Barb hiked two miles to a grocery store.  She wasn't back when I finished, so I ran the two miles to the store to help her carry the groceries back to the dinghy dock.  Tom and Phyllis on "Cocoon", a 42' Krogen, joined us at the anchorage and we had them over for pork tenderloin, which by reason of appearance after grilling, was affectionately referred to as "the slug".   Phyllis brought a salad that was to die for.   We drank Tom's wine.

11/4:  Anchored off just to the left after passing through the bridge at Oriental.   Dinghied to shore and ate ice cream and visited the fabulous independent marine store.   Bought Barb's birthday gift, which she is already wearing.

11/5:  There was a stretch of well over a mile along the ICW south of Oriental that was choked with small boats.  Really choked.   On both sides of the waterway, and often impinging dangerously on the waterway itself.   It was easy to see why.   They were pulling in fish at a rate so rapidly and regularly that at any given time we could see several landing drums -- at least that is what they told Barb they were:  drum.   The pictures below don't do justice to the number of small boats participating in the harvest -- hundreds and hundreds.

Anchored at Mile Hammock, a little hidey hole at Camp LeJeune.   The anchorage was mostly full, but we found a spot on the edge that was a respectable distance from all other vessels.   But the silly sailboats kept on coming, even after darkness fell, and soon we were hemmed in by those curious creatures.   I wonder what it is about hanging a rag on a pole that causes one to lose common sense and good manners.

11/6:  We had called ahead days earlier to reserve a spot at South Harbor Village Marina, near Southport, SC.   Cruisers need some way of getting their mail, and one method is to have all mail sent to a mailing service, which then forwards the mail on request to a specified location.   South Harbor Village Marina would have our forwarded mail.   We arrived late in the afternoon, and were surprised to be directed to an inside slip, B-23 in name.   As we entered the marina the promised helping dockhand was not to be seen.   The slips had NO identifying signage.   We had been instructed to back into B-23, with a starboard tie.   As I went down the freeway looking for an empty slip, the depth alarm sounded.   I was well under 6 feet, and the vessel draws 5.   Frantic calls on the VHF, with long delay in response.   "We are nearly 18 feet wide, and draw 5 feet; are you sure the slips are wide and deep enough?"   "No problem," was the response.   Passed an empty slip, but it would have been a port side tie.   That couldn't be it.   Must keep going, even though that meant going further in, which probably meant shallower water.   Came to another empty slip.   Starboard tie, so that must be it.   Sure wish there was an attendant around.   Ah, but several good samaritans have materialized, and will help us slide back into the slip.   Hmmm.   Bow thruster just doesn't seem to want to move the bow over as I back.   Strange behavior, but no time to analyze.   Gotta keep trying and get this thing into the spot.

I got it in about 5/8 of the way when I finally realized that I had been scraping bottom and now could go no further.   No wonder the bow didn't want to move over.  It was hitting the bottom.

All is well that ends well.   They had erroneously lined-through our reservation, and so hadn't saved room in the deeper water.   They had gotten overwhelmed by too many vessels arriving at the same time, and so had not been there to help.   They had gotten confused and sent us to a slip (B-23) that was already full.   They were terribly sorry.  But they would NOT give us free slippage for the night.   But they would squeeze together the vessels on the inside of the main T-dock so that we could move.   And so, after waiting for the tide to shift and come back in and float us off the mud, we turned on our lights (for it had by now gotten dark) and hailed the staff via VHF (for they were working late in order to accommodate our move) to advise them that we were on our way.   I made it out of the slip about 1/3 of the way before getting stuck again.   Another call on the VHF to advise them that there would be an additional 15 minute delay.   Finally, we gingerly made our way to the only-just-large enough spot in front of a not-so-silly sailboat and just aft of another such vessel.   The next morning as we left I had to back into the fairway again in order to turn around.   Guess what.  Got stuck again, but was able to power myself out without delay.   Why did we pick this marina for the mail pickup?   Because they had been so friendly and competent on the way up, and because the nearby Italian restaurant was outstanding.   Not merely good.  Superb.  Mouths watering, as we waited for the tide to come in so we could move, Jacki from Goin' South ran up to make reservations.   Closed on Sundays.   (Footnote:  Goin' South arrived right behind us, and took the slip I had passed -- the one presumably in deeper water.   They got stuck -- the 42 has a draft of 4' 8" -- and couldn't get all the way in, but since they didn't have stabilizing fins to be concerned about, they opted to stay put.   Barb got out the portable depth sounder and measured our slip.   2.8' at the very end of the slip, and 3.8' at the point of our furthest progress.   No wonder we were stuck .   And people ask, "Don't you get bored with nothing to do on the boat?"!)

11/7:  As we approached the free dock at Barefoot Landing, in North Myrtle Beach, VHF chatter had already revealed that the place was packed.   Remarkably enough, the protocol, mostly employed by silly sailboaters, is to tie up to a vessel if there are no empty spots along the dock.   We didn't think our heavy boat should be tied to another vessel, and so we were intending to pass on by and try to find another anchorage somewhere down the line, even though we knew that section of the ICW in South Carolina is narrow and has virtually no other stopping points.   (I suppose that explains the remarkable protocol -- a protocol which resulted in some formations that were up to three sailboats wide.)   In any case, just as we approached the Landing, a sailboat departed from a spot directly on the dock, leaving *just* enough space for us to squeeze in.   Once again good samaritans materialized to grab lines and help with the landing -- help that was most appreciated since the target spot was bounded by vessels two sailboats thick, both fore and aft.   (By the time we went to bed, it was three sailboats thick both fore and aft.)

I ran that afternoon, and again in the fog the next morning.   We partook of the happy hour at T-Bones to cop an inexpensive drink and snack, and met a number of interesting cruisers, including Denny and Larraine ("Flash") of "Isis", and 42' Krogen.

11/8:  After a late start due to the fog and a low tide that led to Isis briefly grounding, we made our way down to an anchorage alongside Butler Island just off the ICW.   By this time, the ICW had transformed from a rock-lined ditch into a somewhat wider and somewhat more meandering passage through a cypress swamp.   Lotsa room here.   Isis stopped, we stopped, and "Morrigan" -- yet another 42' Krogen -- stopped, as well as a number of sailboats.   We invited Isis (Denny and Flash), and Morrigan (Jim and Paula) and the crew from the first sailboat to join us for cocktails.   Very pleasant evening.   Nice to have a big saloon.

11/9:  We've made too much progress since we didn't stop in Georgetown!   We neither need nor want to be in Charleston until the 11th.   So we have pulled into an anchorage out in the middle of the marshes on some unnamed creek near Hamlin Sound, just a bit north of Isle of Palms.  Saw many oyster catchers and wood storks.  Pretty place.

11/10:  We are still here.   Spent the day reading (about forecasting marine weather) and relaxing.   We were joined in the anchorage this afternoon by two other Krogens (Cocoon and Lady Hawke) as well as three sailboats and another trawler.   Doesn't look like there will be a cocktail hour, since the wind is blowing hard enough to discourage dinghy down-putting.  Pity.

 

Beacon in the Chesapeake Bay

Crowded anchorage at Hospital Point, Norfolk

Rushing thru bridge south of Norfolk

Rushing to the next bridge

Dinner with Tom and Phyllis

Fishing for drum along ICW

More fishing boats...

... and yet more

Camp LeJeune warning

Mile Hammock anchorage

Fixer-upper!

Seining along the ICW -- are we in Norway???