As I write this we are at Jekyl Island, Georgia, so it seems only appropriate that our title photo should be from the island, even if it is one I had already featured in Titles I Didn't Use. If you're feeling cheated (I know I am) feel free to take a look at the Alternative Title Shot which was taken a few days back in St. Marys.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 - Walburg Creek, off St. Catherine Sound, Georgia
We pulled into Walburg Creek just in time for a rousing cheer from a group of a dozen cruisers having a picnic dinner on the beach nearby. We'd heard this event being organized over the radio earlier in the day, with Scandia, Drifter, and Saltine, all boats we've seen along our journey. Annie looked at the happy group on the beach and said, "Looks like they've put the George Town into Georgia."

Although I overslept and we didn't get started until 10:00 AM, we still managed to make 65 miles today. The route alternates between wide, shallow bays and narrow twisting channels through saw grass prairie, and likewise the influence of the tide is at one time your friend and an hour later your foe as you approach and depart various inlets. We saw many dolphins today, but they weren't playful and rarely paid any attention to us. We negotiated the skinniest stretch of water, Jekyl Creek just north of the marina where we spent the night, near high tide and thus had no problems. I'm still curious how Amaranth did last night at low tide. About fifteen miles ahead of us is another shallow area, Hell Gate, but again we should have a rising tide in our favor.

Ship's Note: After adjusting the engine mount again the knock has just about disappeared at all RPM's, so perhaps that problem is on the mend at last.

View from the bow ICW Milepost
Photos: (1) Ah, flat water. This is the front of our boat, but you probably guessed knew that. (2) Tides in this area run 5-6 feet, as evidenced by this daymark.

Friday, June 16, 2006 - Beaufort, South Carolina
Just to be clear, we are in Beaufort ("Bew-fort"), South Carolina, not the town of the same name ("Bo-fort") on the coast of North Carolina. After a long day of 80 miles on the ICW, I would settle for just about anyplace at this point.

We were underway by 7:30 AM and gradually caught up with the fleet of Scandia, Drifter, and Saltine, who had started to go outside in the Atlantic but changed their minds. We traveled in concert with them most of the day, which was convenient for getting through two bridges that needed to open, but lost them at Hilton Head when they peeled off to go into a marina. The wind whipped up to around 20 knots as we crossed the Savannah River. It seemed that the wind and the tide were against us most of the day. We made one more windy, wet crossing (Port Royal Sound with the wind against the tide), then went by the Marine training center at Parris Island (could this be where Gomer Pyle was stationed?) and finally anchored off the island near Beaufort with two other boats. The holding wasn't great but the Delta set after the second try...sometime after midnight we'll get to see if it stays put when the current reverses with the tide. Overall, a pretty good anchorage.

In three days we've come 175 miles since St. Marys and have 540 more to Norfolk. Tomorrow night we plan to stop in Charleston for a couple of days and visit with Steve and Gloria on Living Well. Our hope is to get to the Norfolk area by the 4th of July so that we can get together with family and friends for Laura's birthday the next day.

The fleet
Photo: The fleet motors north. We developed a sort of kinship with these boats, hearing them on the radio over a period of months, even though we really never even met them.

Saturday, June 17, 2006 - Charleston, South Carolina
Another long day on the water. We motored around 70 miles, all morning against the current, and then raced along on the outgoing tide for the last couple of hours. A few things I'll remember:

  • Around midday speedboats started filing out of a cut behind us and just kept on coming in a line that stretched for almost a mile. There were between two and three dozen boats, obviously all traveling together in a group. They passed us, then slowed down, and we saw them again and again throughout the day.
  • Steering the boat through Elliotts Cut near Charleston in three knots of current reminded me of canoeing a whitewater river. I can report that with its deep keel, Seaductress handles standing waves even better than our canoe.
  • The Charleston City Marina, home of the Megadock (where we ended up because the Maritime Center, where Living Well is docked, was full tonight) is huge. We had a very nice evening on board with our neighbor's Hunter 44 Albion but the "Megadock" was not the most comfortable place to be with the wind out of the south and holiday boat traffic all around.

Ship's Note: We filled up the tanks with 21 gallons of diesel (674 hours). Those 21 gallons took us 250 miles, so that's roughly 12 MPG or, since we put about forty hours on the engine, our usual rate of a little more than half a gallon an hour. The nice thing about the Megadock is that you can get fuel from any spot along its tremendous length.

Just some of the flotilla Playing on the dock
Photos: (1) A portion of the speedboat flotilla catches up with us again at the Wappoo creek Bridge. We've heard that some cruisers won't even consider traveling on the ICW on weekends. (2) Fun on the Megadock. As we cruised by this thing the first time, I said to myself, "Pity the poor boat that gets stuck out on the end there taking those waves." Of course, a few minutes later, that was us.

Monday, June 19, 2006 - Charleston, South Carolina
Having called the Maritime Center first thing Sunday morning and determined they now had space for us, we motored directly there and docked right next to Living Well. The Maritime Center is located right in the historic district, near the fantastic Harris-Teeter grocery store (I have never seen a better produce department), just two blocks from the South Carolina Aquarium. The harbor has a breakwater of sorts but is not particularly well protected from the south and east. In contrast to our tame experience with Alberto, Living Well had one of the roughest nights in Steve's seventeen years aboard as the storm's huge ocean swells came right at them. The docks behind us, which were mostly empty, were damaged and are now roped off.

Lots of history here in Charleston, some of it ugly. The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center next door to the Aquarium where you board the ferry out to Fort the (you can, we confirmed, visit in your dinghy if you prefer) had some excellent free exhibits. Some of today's politicians would be quite at home in pre-Civil War Charleston. The arguments made that slavery was a "positive good" for the world and Orwellian quotes such as "Freedom cannot exist without slavery" remind me more than a little bit of some of the current political rhetoric...except in those days, of course, I would have been a Republican!

We've noticed some rocking and rolling while here, but nothing as bad as we had out at the end of the Megadock, and they are charging us half of what the larger marina was, so we are happy here. There is only room for a few boats due to shoaling and dock damage but the facilities are nice and the staff extremely helpful. We spent a fun day visiting with Steve and Gloria (Gloria's daughters Emily and Lea, who live here in Charleston, also came over), had a nice visit at the Aquarium, and made a run to West Marine. We were planning to leave tomorrow to resume our rush towards Norfolk, but while biting into some excellent sushi from Harris-Teeter, a crown came loose in my mouth so we're going to try to stay one more day so I can visit a dentist tomorrow.

Riding a giant turtle Large popcorn Large pship
Photos: Charleston is a city famous for its charm and grace, both of which may not be accurately depicted in the following photos. (1) Who could resist a ride on this giant sea turtle? (2) The famous large popcorn outside the Charleston IMAX Theater. When they say large, they mean it! (3) Likewise, here's a super-sized stack of containers. We watched lots of these giants come and go from the safety of the Maritime Center.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - Georgetown, South Carolina
We had heard there was a move afoot to put moorings in at Georgetown, South Carolina and I think both Annie and I would sincerely support that initiative. We had a tough time getting anchored here! It was high tide, so we needed to select a spot with at least ten feet of water. Second, we needed a spot where one or both of our anchors would hold. This took several tries and it was at least an hour after we arrived here that we finally had two anchors down, Bahamian style, against the reversing current.

Yesterday the Amazing Steve took me to the dentist, where I had a crown cemented back in place. This morning I borrowed the car to drive back to the dentist to get my cell phone, which I had left in the waiting room. Duh! On the brighter side, this gave me one more chance to shop at Harris-Teeter, my new favorite if somewhat expensive store. And of course we had a little more time to visit with Steve and Gloria...they are a great couple who always make for an interesting and fun day.

We left the Maritime Center around 10:30 AM and made around 65 miles on the waterway today despite our late start. Luck and the tides were with us today, since we had a cooperative current that sped us along at up to eight knots over the ground.

Low tide on the ICW SV Jolly Rover near Georgetown, SC
Photos: (1) Low tide along the South Carolina ICW. (2) The Jolly Rover cruises past the anchorage off Georgetown, South Carolina. Note the thunderstorm in the background, which so far has slid off to the west--although it sure sounds like rain and wind are on the way as I write this. Nice to be able to track these things on Doppler radar thanks to a WiFi link here in town.

Friday, June 23, 2006 - Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
After two long days of travel we've reached North Carolina. Yesterday was an especially long day. Getting some difficulty in getting the anchors up (I had put down two anchors Bahamian-style to deal with the tight space and reversing currents) we discovered that the knocking from the drive train was back with a vengeance. Since we hadn't changed anything in the engine alignment from the day before, the likely culprit was the engine mounts. The motor was already hot after getting out to the channel from town, so we continued on at the fastest rate of speed we could make, around six knots. Typically on this stretch of the ICW the tidal currents from various inlets balance out, but on the stretch from Georgetown north there are no inlets and we found ourselves fighting a constant flow. Ever so slowly we proceeded up the Waccamaw River, at times making just three knots over the ground. The wind was light and behind us and it was hot on the boat.

And yet as it slowly grew from the wide open remains of old rice plantations (not so profitable since the demise of slavery) into a meandering path through a cypress swamp, the Waccamaw River held some of the most beautiful scenery one could imagine. I saw lots of bird and one alligator. An hour later we found ourselves in bizarro opposite world of a narrow ditch lined with continuous homes, condos, and docks, jet skis and little boats buzzing all around. With an hour of daylight left we reached Barefoot Landing at Mile 354, having covered only fifty miles in eleven hours. This dock was famous for a time because it provided a free place to tie up for the night, but these days the dock has been rebuilt and there is a fee ($1.25/ft is what I had read) for staying overnight. Unfortunately, when we arrived at 7:00 PM there was no one in the little office, nor any instructions for late arrivals. We wandered across the street into a huge collection of stores cleverly arranged around a lake, a sort of Disney Outlet Mall. In one corner was a small carnival area, where we rode on a carousel and then spent twenty minutes inside the "ultimate mirror maze." The experience was five dollars each, but we enjoyed it.

Barefoot Landing Mirror Maze
Photos: (1) The Barefoot Landing dock ain't free no mo'. (2) The Ultimate Mirror Maze is not free either, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Today we left the dock at Barefoot Landing (still unable to find anyone to pay, with no one answering my calls on the radio even after we stuck around to 8:30 AM) and motored north for the first time in months without any knocking or drive train noise. I had adjusted the engine mounts again, but also put hose clamps around one of the rear mounts to limit its movement. That seemed to do the trick, so it's definite that we need new mounts. We got through the Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge at 11:00 AM, which was the last opening for several hours due to low tide. This bridge is unusual because the opening is a floating barge pivots to one side on cables. You must wait for the operator to drop the cable before you steam through.

Lots of inlets today, so our speeds over the ground varied from four knots to well over eight depending on the moods of the tide. Most of the day was spent in fairly narrow canals, often with houses and boat docks on at least one side, but we did get to experience the wide open waters of the Cape Fear River for five miles or so as the tide literally swept us along. After 72 miles, we pulled off into a narrow channel leading to Wrightsville Beach and anchored with Scandia and several other sailboats in a large dredged area behind the beach businesses.

We had been trying to figure out where to put the boat while we went to Lori and Ron's place (Gallastar Equine Center) for Laura's birthday on July 5th, but today received a more-than-helpful e-mail from our old colleague Godwin from Sale Creek, who said we can come to his neighbor's dock off the Chesapeake. That's fantastic news!

Saturday, June 24, 2006 - Spooner Creek (ICW mile 210), North Carolina
Thirteen hours, four restricted bridges, one grounding, and 73 miles after we pulled up the anchor at Wrightsville Beach, we're sitting in a little basin surrounded by nice homes in Spooner Creek. The Skipper Bob guidebook speaks of a marina (this no longer exists--looks like condo towers are going up in its place) and a dinghy dock that leads to Walmart, but Spooner Creek is surrounded by homes and I'm not clear that dock still exists [postscript: on our return trip checked and was happy to see I was wrong about the dock...still there, with just a short walk to Walmart & Food Lion]. On the positive side, the entrance channel was plenty deep and we're out of the current, wind, and chop that was making life less than pleasant out on Bogue Sound.

We went through the first three bridges (including one where we were almost an hour early for the scheduled opening) with Scandia and Drifter, who eventually and probably wisely stopped to anchor at Mile Hammock just before Camp Lejeune, thirty miles back. A mile before that point, however, was Browns Inlet at the New River (approximately mile 238) where Skipper Bob warned of shoaling. We'd had the good fortune so far to pass all the other trouble spots on the ICW at high tide, but today we hit Browns shortly after the water bottomed out and the tide was just rushing in. I had the sail up and with the current we were moving right along, following the red buoys marking the preferred path, when with no warning from the sounder we went into the mud and careened to a stop. As the boat pivoted sideways into the current, with the wind heeling us over, we began bumping along the muddy bottom until I spun us around and got out of there. As luck would have it, a Seatow boat was in the area (this inlet is probably a good spot for them to hang out) and he graciously volunteered to seek a route through the maze of mud and shoals. We three boats--the once fearless Seaductress now timidly in the rear--made a big dogleg well off the marked route and successfully got through. I was very impressed with the friendly (and free) service that Seatow provided.

At Camp Lejeune, the ICW goes right through a firing range, but there were no exercises taking place today. Instead, Marines were out in force for the weekend, boating, fishing, and attending festivities at the beach. After hearing so many horrible stories in the press lately about misconduct and murder in Iraq (not to mention the sickening "Hadji Girl" song that may have been filmed right here at Camp LeJeune) it did me some good to see these guys out with their pretty wives and children, taking a well-deserved break. It seems a little strange that I am lazing around on a sailboat all the time while these Marines are off fighting a guerilla war at the other end of the world--but then I didn't vote for the crazed man who sent them there, so maybe that's fair.

It was Saturday on the Waterway, and I'll bet we waved to 500 boats, some of them more than a few times. We're now just 210 miles from Norfolk, and looking forward to a special treat tomorrow in Beaufort when we visit our friends David and Shirley Pleace, who we haven't seen since we left Nashville eighteen years ago. Best of all, they have a dock and a guest room where we can spend the night like normal people.

Collage of ICW Sights
Photos: A collage of sights seen on ICW today (okay, one was yesterday). Clockwise from top left: (1) a life sized model of a giraffe in the backyard, (2) a nautical house (on an island, no less) complete with lighthouse, fish, anchors, etc. (3) they wanted a longer boat, but it wouldn't fit on the lift, (4) kayak buddies, and (5) if you get tired of waving at passing boats, set up a mannequin in your yard to do it for you.

Monday, June 26, 2006 - South River near Oriental, North Carolina
We left Beaufort in early afternoon after a fantastic visit thanks to the hospitality of David and Shirley Pleace. David met us at the dock which is within sight of their beautiful home, then took us for lunch with Shirley who was volunteering at an antique show. After lunch David gave us a personal tour of Fort Macon, including the three brick ovens he built there for the Park Service. We had a great home-cooked meal and spent a wonderful night ashore in their guest room. In the morning we toured the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which is excellent, then took the double-decker bus tour of Beaufort. David drives and maintains the bus, while Shirley was a hostess dressed in period costume. They were great people eighteen years ago and haven't changed a bit. Annie reminded me of the time we were moving across town in Nashville, making trips back and forth in our tiny Corolla, and found a station wagon with a note from David and Shirley saying, "Use this as long as you need it!" in the driveway. These are the sort of folks who restore your faith in the world.

Back on the waterway, we motored twenty miles north to the town of Oriental on the Neuse River. There is a small anchorage sandwiched between the marina docks and a breakwater, but the only open spot turned out to be over a shoal. We were surprised to see an S2 35C similar to our own anchored there, but there was no one on board and no name on the transom. Not wanting try to squeeze into the anchorage, we motored a bit further along the ICW and then a couple of miles up the South River to get out of the strong southeast chop.

Hot Shot Oven at Fort Macon After the bus tour Beaufort Mule Satellite Photo of Beaufort area.
Photos: (1) David built this oven to heat cannonballs at Fort Macon. (2) Happy tourists and volunteers after the Beaufort Historical Association double-decker bus tour. (3) Something about this yard just didn't seem to fit the historic atmosphere. (4) A satellite photo from the Maritime Museum. The arrow shows where we are anchored tonight. Beaufort is to the south, with the Outer Banks visible to the east.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - Oriental, North Carolina
We had noticed some knocking in the drive drain just before anchoring last night so this morning I opened up the engine compartment expecting to find that my hose clamps had slipped off the engine mount. Alas, the problem was worse than I had hoped. Apparently the folks at Harbortown in Fort Pierce had not put enough muscle into tightening the bolts on the shaft coupling. Two bolts were missing and one was broken off, with only one loose bolt remaining! We sailed slowly back towards Oriental in the pouring rain, obviously in need of repairs. As David Pleace pointed out only yesterday, problems in the drive train are just going to keep happening until the source (bad mounts) are fixed.

The situation at the Oriental anchorage was the same as last night, but being more desperate we shoe-horned ourselves in between the mystery S2 35 and a blue sloop named Ohama, putting down two anchors as they had. It's a tighter fit than I would prefer, but no closer than the other boats. I found the two missing bolts and put them back into the coupling. Three bolts will have to do for now; I can't see any easy way to get extract the broken piece of the fourth. Meanwhile, we've also concluded that the seals on raw water (seawater) pump on the engine are shot. I had noticed water leaking from the "weep hole" (which means the seals are leaking) some time ago and planned to fix this after Laura's birthday. I'd asked Steve from Living Well about the situation in Charleston and he said that so long as water wasn't dripping through the weep holes with the engine off, the pump would likely last a while longer. Although I'm pretty sure the engine couldn't have over heard this conversation since we were miles away at the time, it nonetheless decided to start weeping water even after the engine was shut down.

Although it was tempting to try to keep going north, I've ordered both new rear engine mounts and a rebuild kit for the pump to be sent overnight here to Oriental. Jimmy at the local marine store Inland Waterway Treasure Company was kind enough to agree to receive the packages for me. In the meantime, maybe I can figure out a way to lift the engine to get the new mounts installed. The weather today is terrible, with steady downpours and gusty winds, so we haven't even gone ashore yet. Oriental looks like a good place to spend a couple of days (if the rain ever stops), with good wireless access and even a very cool website for visitors ( If we can get underway again on Friday we will make a real push to get up to Virginia for Laura's birthday party. Laura is very excited about the party and we'll do whatever it takes to be there.

Update: we had some exciting winds here in the packed harbor this afternoon. Isabella, a Contest 35, dragged first, but the boat she hit was steel and shrugged it off. After an interlude that allowed untangling and reanchoring, the gales returned with winds swinging to the southwest (which was not good for all us boats riding on two windward anchors) and increasing to over 30 knots. Ohama slowly dragged backwards, anchors evidently plowing, almost into a trawler that was taking the wind on its beam and already in peril from rolling and knocking against the dock. I'm not sure that Seaductress dragged, but the wind shift got us just the same. The S2 35C tends to sail around at anchor worst than most, and as luck would have it we were right next to another S2 35C, Doug Bond's unattended Acony Bell, whose second anchor, like ours, had been rendered ineffective with the change in wind direction. It was like two Ford Pintos backing into each other--something exciting was certain to happen. Sure enough, the two boats got out of synch in their dance and the bow of Acony Bell kissed the stern of Seaductress. No damage to the former, just a scratch on the latter. Once the blow was over, we reanchored and are hoping for better weather tonight.

Entering Oriental Harbor
Photo: Three sailboats had the misfortune to be entering the harbor, heading for Oriental Marina, during the height of the blow. Nothing like trying to dock when it's blowing 30 knots.

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