Up the Chesapeake Bay

The next part of the journey homeward became a challenge thanks to the weather and sea conditions. We needed to go up the Chesapeake Bay, down the Delaware Bay, and then up the New Jersey coast.  It will be a total of about 230 nautical miles, which will take 36 hours total of non-stop traveling time, and isn’t going to happen even under perfect weather conditions. The driving distance would be 210 miles, not much different than over water, but would only take 3.5 hours!

Up, and down, and up again .......... Or, in more nautical terms - north, then south, then north again.

Up, and down, and up again ………. Or, in more nautical terms – north, then south, then north again.

For these bodies of water, you need specific conditions, for wind and seas, currents, and weather. The weather pattern of Winter 2016 in the Bahamas has continued into Spring 2016 here on the east coast. The fronts are quick moving, with only short durations of good conditions for traveling by boat. Oh well. I am working very hard on accepting the reality that I cannot change or influence Mother Nature. Notice that I have not said that I have accepted it, just “working on it.” 😉

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit both left Portsmouth’s free dock on April 21st to head across Hampton Roads to Hampton, Virginia. A two-hour hop.

Al gives Cutting Class a helpful shove off the Portsmouth dock.

Al gives Cutting Class a helpful shove off the Portsmouth dock.

We only intended to spend one night in Hampton, but strong winds in the lower Chesapeake Bay and some rain kept us there for 3 days.  Arriving in Hampton meant that we were completely finished with the Intracoastal Waterway now. Hampton is designated as ICW Mile Marker 11.2 . Yes, that is an intentional negative number. I find that funny. Portsmouth is really where it begins, at zero.

There’s not much to say about our stay in Hampton this time. Sunset Creek Boating Center is convenient, reasonably priced, and friendly, but not scenic, and not quiet. The lifts were busy plopping boats in the water right next to our slip. Interesting, but not quiet. Down the creek a bit, there was a barge being loaded with crushed stone. Lots of stone, It can not be said that we have not experienced a variety of marinas and anchorages.  We did use our bikes for a grocery shopping and an ice cream run into Hampton. Alas, the little ice cream shop has left. The Crouch clan invited us to join them for lunch at the SurfRider and we had crab cakes that definitely made up for missing the ice cream (Yes, Al, honey, it does!)

Captain AL uses our quiet time in Hampton to catchup on checking and modifying routes for the days ahead.

Captain Al uses our quiet time in Hampton to catch up on checking and modifying routes for the days ahead.

Hampton to Mill Creek –  54 nm, 7.5 hours

We left Hampton on Sunday morning with hopes that the predicted change in winds would make the trip to Mill Creek, Reedville, VA, comfortable. We had strong north winds and 4 foot seas until 2:00 pm, then the sea calmed and the wind finally lessened and turned south. We anchored just inside for an easier start the next day. Much to our surprise, it was not such a peaceful night!! We were rocking and rolling.

Surfing along

Surfing along. At least the sun was shining.

Sunset at Mill Creek, Virginia

Sunset at Mill Creek, Virginia

Mill Creek to Annapolis, MD –  75 nm, 10.5 hours

Just before sunrise at Mill Creek. We needed an early start because this would be a long day!

Just before sunrise at Mill Creek. We needed an early start because this would be a long day!

First challenge is to miss those fish sticks as we exit Mill Creek and re-enter the Chesapeake Bay.

First challenge is to miss those fish sticks as we exit Mill Creek and re-enter the Chesapeake Bay.You can just barely see the sticks in this light.

It wouldn't be the Chesapeake Bay without the crab skiffs out and about taking care of their pots.

It wouldn’t be the Chesapeake Bay without the crab skiffs out and about taking care of their pots.

Love to eat crabs, but the crab pot buoys create an obstacle course as we travel on the bay. The autopilot does an incredible job of following a well-laid out course, but "Otto" cannot see the pots. That is our job. Crab pot ahead! Be sure to avoid it -- look back...... yup, it is in our wake.

Love to eat crabs, but the crab pot buoys create an obstacle course as we travel on the bay. The autopilot does an incredible job of following a well-laid out course, but “Otto” cannot see the pots. That is our job. Crab pot ahead! Be sure to avoid it — look back…… yup, it is in our wake. Did not catch it (sigh of relief follows that).

Some moments of sparkling water on the Chesapeake Bay.

A few moments of sparkling water on the Chesapeake Bay.

My favorite lighthouse in the Chesapeake - Thomas Shoal Light.

My favorite lighthouse in the Chesapeake – Thomas Shoal Light.

If we can only stop in one place on the Chesapeake Bay, it has to be in Annapolis to visit with our special cruising friends, Mary Marie and Frank. They bought a lovely home with a dock for their boat, Eleanor Q, and welcome all of their cruising friends to stop by when traveling through the bay.

KS Lake Ogleton

Mary Marie not only welcomes you at the dock, she photographs you! We have never stayed at any marina that does that. 😉

We did not intend to stay long, but the weather “convinced” us that another day here with Mary Marie and Frank would not impact our pace going home.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class are snuggled in with Eleanor Q at her dock.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class are snuggled in with Eleanor Q at her dock.

It really is possible to pack a heap of fun into a short time. This stopover was meant to be, on this date  — Frank was home on a Tuesday following a business trip. How lucky can we get??

The six of us decided a trip into Annapolis was on the schedule for the afternoon. The guys decided to go by boat in the little runabout.

The six of us decided a trip into Annapolis was on the schedule for the afternoon. The guys decided to go by boat in the little runabout. The girls went by car. We didn’t think the skiff would fare well carrying 6 in these winds.

Windy, but like a summer day, in the 80's. A stop for ice cream!!

Windy, but like a summer day, in the 80’s. A stop for ice cream!!

Hanging out with friends. The temperature dropped from 80s (bottom pic) to high 50s the next day (top pic). Wow, that was short summer!

Hanging out with friends. The temperature dropped from 80’s (bottom pic) to high 50’s the next day (top pic). Wow, that was a short summer! Or did we stay too long and fall has arrived??

After ice cream, we had beers at Eastport Yacht Club. Beer and ice cream - what could be better?

After ice cream, we had beers at Eastport Yacht Club. Beer and ice cream – what could be better? And what a great deck for watching the sailboats in the Annapolis harbor.

I was intrigued by the Eastport Yacht Club’s burgee. I studied the cocktail napkin, trying to figure out the meaning of the design. On the napkin, it looked like a bird’s tail, to me. I’m glad my curiosity prompted me to ask Frank and Mary Marie. The burgee’s design is a graphic representation of the Compromise Street Bridge, a drawbridge, that crosses over Spa Creek in Annapolis.

The EYC burgee’s design flies from the flagpole, it decorates the napkins, and it lines the bathroom sink. We got a kick out of that sink.

We returned to downtown Annapolis the next day for another walk around. Such a great place that I hope we can spend more time here again in the future.

Couldn't resist snapping a photo of this man in his historical garb and his cell phone - An anachronism in action.

We couldn’t resist snapping photos of this man in his historical garb with his cell phone – an anachronism in action! He was very cute about it.

I am the only one in our little trio with brown eyes.........

I am the only one in our little trio with brown eyes………

Our first experience at Chick and Ruth’s Delly last September (Chesapeakin‘) turned us into fans which meant that we were not going to miss an opportunity to eat there while in Annapolis.

We HAD to eat dinner again at Chick and Ruth's Delly. We love this place! Funniest staff (and some are very dedicated to Maryland as our waiter's tattoo demonstrates), retro cool ambience, and delicious crab benedict.

We HAD to eat dinner again at Chick & Ruth’s Delly. We love this place! Funniest staff (and some are very dedicated to Maryland crabs as our waiter’s tattoo demonstrates), retro cool ambience, and delicious Crab Benedict. 

Having fun at Chick & Ruth's Delly. I thin I have finally written the name often enough that I amy no longer confuse it with Chris Ruth Steakhouse. Maybe.

Having fun at Chick & Ruth’s Delly. I think I have finally written the name often enough that I may no longer confuse it with the ” Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse”.  Maybe.

A favorite photo from the day!

A favorite photo from the day!  3Ms, or would that be 4 Ms in all  – MaryMarie, Marcia, Michele? OR, if you count my middle name, Marie, then it would be 5Ms……. enough!

It was time for us to leave the next day  to finish our trip up the Chesapeake Bay.  Both boats delayed departure long enough in the morning to catch Frank’s daughter, Nicole, on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. Coley was a Next Food Network Star finalist in 2014. We cruisers, family, and friends all avidly watched and cheered her on. It seems serendipitous that we could watch and cheer for her again as we finish another season of cruising. Nicole has a terrific website, Coley Cooks  and a YouTube channel with fun and informative videos ( love the “no fail kale chips” and the salted caramel videos.) Once I am back home in my land kitchen I will be checking out and trying more of her recipes.

We all enjoyed watching Coley on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. It was extra special because we got to watch it live with Mary Marie.

We all enjoyed watching Coley on the Today Show with Matt Lauer. It was extra special because we got to watch it live with Mary Marie.

Kindred Spirit departs from our favorite "marina." Thank you so much Mary Marie and Frank! We were a little sad, but eager to get underway again.

Kindred Spirit departs from our favorite “marina.” Thank you so much Mary Marie and Frank! Where is that survey for guests???

Off we go on another cold and dreary morning. Sad to say goodbye to friends, but eager to be underway and heading homeward.

Dances with Barges – Northbound on the Virginia Cut

We left Oriental very early on Monday, April 18th, with Cutting Class, the day the winds were finally going to lay down. The next two days are one of my least favorite sections of the ICW, perhaps the very least favorite. We just wanted to get it done.

We awaken to another morning glow in the east. Over the Oriental breakwater.

We awaken to another morning glow in the east. Over the Oriental breakwater.

On our way with the sunrising ahead.

On our way with the sunrising ahead.

It's an easy morning on the Neuse so Al decided to use the time to clean the windshield, inside and out.

It’s an easy morning so Al decided to use the time to clean the windshield, inside and out.

It's fun to watch the variety of local fisherman and crabbers out on the water, doing their thing.

It’s fun to watch the variety of local fisherman and crabbers out on the water, doing their thing.

It’s winding day in and out of rivers and canals. From Oriental the ICW heads into the Neuse River for a short stretch, and then cuts “inland” westward past Hoboken.

The big fishing boats at RE Mayo. "Cape Potter" is getting his named re-painted.

The big fishing boats at RE Mayo in Hobucken. “Cape Potter” is getting his named re-painted.

Hmmmm........ a duck blind for hunting? Looks like it needs a dressing of fresh greenery.

Hmmmm…….. a duck blind for hunting? Looks like it needs a dressing of fresh greenery.

We cross the Pimlico River and turn into the Pungo River. The Pungo River heads north to Bellhaven (we stopped there on both of our previous trips through here) and then turns eastward. The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal is a long 21 miles stretch of straight water.

We cross the Pimlico River and turn into the Pungo River. The Pungo River heads north to Bellhaven (we stopped there on both of our previous trips through here) and then turns eastward. The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal, 21 miles long, connects the Pungo  River with the Alligator River to the east.

The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal is a long 25 miles stretch of straight water. It has some limited charm, but gets boring fairly quickly. You can see where fallen dead trees are pulled off to the side and piled up. Driftwood, anyone??

The Alligator River-Pungo River Canal has some limited charm, but gets boring fairly quickly. You can see where fallen dead trees are pulled off to the side and piled up. Driftwood, anyone??

Three little turtles sitting on a log. Oops! Our wake washes them right off. SO sorry, but there wasn't much we could do? Perhaps they think of it as a water park ride?

Three little turtles sitting on a log.
Oops! Our wake washes them right off. SO sorry, but there wasn’t much we could do? Perhaps they think of it as a water park ride? Hope so!

How nice to come out of the canal into very calm waters.

How nice to come out of the canal into very calm waters.

The original plan was to reach Deep Point, an anchorage on the Alligator River, north of the Alligator River -Pungo River Canal, stop there for the night, and then continue across the Albemarle Sound and on to Coinjock. But both boats decided to keep on going past the Alligator River Bridge and anchor at Sandy Point.

We watched this smoke billowing up for quite a distance as we came through he Alligator River . Never did find out the cause.

Smoke was billowing up in distance as we came through the Alligator River. The smell of burning carried on the wind to us. NPR news reported (listening to a podcast) that this wildfire in the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge was the largest of 3 wildfires in North Carolina, consuming a total of 17,000 acres. 

A very long day, but very worth it. The sun sets on our 85-mile, 11.5 hour day.

A very long day, but very worth it. The sun sets on our 85-mile, 11.5 hour day.

Tuesday, April 19th and we are up and going again, time to cross the Albemarle. Albemarle Sound can be quite rough in certain conditions. It is wide and shallow (15-20 feet at most so the wind can kick up the waves. Today was a good day. It is on the other side of the  Albemarle Sound, that cruisers must make a choice – Dismal Swamp route or Virginia Cut?? In the fall we had “done the Dismal” taking that route from Portsmouth, Virginia into North Carolina. We decided that the Virginia Cut was the way to go on our northbound travels.

We reached Coinjock Marina on the North River in the Virginia Cut by noon. The docks at Coinjock is a singular dock– one long face dock, 1200 feet long! The marina’s crew knows just how to place the boats and are right there to assist as you come alongside. Coinjock is in the middle of nowhere, but that nowhere location is just right for stopping if you are on the ICW between the Alligator River and Virginia border. There aren’t many other choices.

This photo was taken in the dim morning light as we left the next day. Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit were the last boats at the very far end.

This photo was taken in the dim morning light as we left the next day. Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit were the last boats at the very far end.

coinjock bush

The meaning of the word “coinjock” from the marina’s website.

It felt like a summer day in the 80’s, a little warm blip of a day in the midst of the cold days we have experienced. While Al changed the oil and washed the entire boat with fresh water, I did laundry and polished stainless steel.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Coinjock

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Coinjock, North Carolina

Coinjock Marina has a famous restaurant, known for its prime rib dinners. How could we not try it?

Coinjock Marina has a famous restaurant, known for its prime rib dinners. How could we not try it? (Dim early morning light again)

prime rib

 

The four of us reserved our slabs of beef ahead of time, but showed some restraint – each couple shared a “Mate’s Cut”, the 14-16 ounce cut rather than the Captain’s 32 ounce piece. It was delicious.

 

prime rib dinner Coinjocks

The Coinjock folks have a sense of humor.

The Coinjock folks have a sense of humor.

We left the Coinjock dock before any of the dockhands arrived for the day.

We left the Coinjock dock before any of the dockhands arrived for the day.

It's a little chilly again.

It’s a little chilly again, but we prefer to be up on the flybridge.

 

IMG_5207

We cross the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Not much fanfare. No "Welcome to Virginia" Just a square green ICW 63. If you aren't reading the chart as you go, you wouldn't even notice.

We cross the border of North Carolina and Virginia. Not much fanfare. No “Welcome to Virginia” Just a square green ICW 63. If you aren’t reading the chart as you go, you wouldn’t even notice.

ICW markers are popular with birds for their waterfront homes. Seeing more than before, perhaps because this is our first trip heading north in the spring. Looks like the red marker fell over and a temporary floating buoy replaced it. Didn’t bother that bird at all.

ICW markers are popular with birds for their waterfront homes. It’s spring and everyone is nesting.     It looks like the red marker fell over and a temporary floating buoy replaced it. The closeness to the water didn’t bother this bird family at all.

The day began in a routine way, casting off and heading north, just like the many days that preceded it. After crossing the Pimlico River, the Alligator River, Albemarle Sound, and the North River (Coinjock), you would have thought we were done with potentially rough waters, but Currituck Sound and North Landing River gave us quite a ride! There was more “traffic” on the water than we had seen since beginning of this northbound trip three weeks ago. The bows of sailboats were splashing up and down in the strong winds and very choppy water in Currituck Sound. The top of our flybridge may be 18 feet above the water’s surface, but the water sprayed up and over our bow all over Kindred Spirit. Much to our surprise, and Al’s dismay after his hard work, the “spray” was sometime more like a wave of water. She was so clean….. and this river water is so brown.

Once we were into the narrower stretches of the ICW, the waters calmed and we settled into following the ICW route into Pungo Ferry. Well, things were calmer, and narrower, but there was also more boat traffic as well as barges and tugs.

I call this part of the trip “Dances with Barges.” The drama began with this sight coming around a bend —

"Time to Go", the trawler traveling ahead of us, rounds past a tug and barge that is off to the side of the ICW. This one was Aries, a tug-barge combo we would get to know rather well over the next few hours.

“Time to Go”, the trawler traveling ahead of us, rounds past a tug and barge that is off to the side of the ICW. This one was “Aries”, a tug-barge combo we would get to know rather well over the next few hours.

Aha! Aries was off to the side to let this southbound tug and barge pass by. Time to Go is caught in the middle.

Aha! Aries was off to the side to let this southbound tug and barge pass by. Time to Go is caught in the middle.

The ICW is narrow and winding here so the tugs and their barges aren’t visible until you round a bend. Fortunately, the VHF radios kept us in touch with each other. The barge captions were all patient.

Southbound John Parrish coming at us.

Southbound John Parrish coming at us.

Shortly after - southbound Kodiak coming at us.

Shortly after – southbound Kodiak coming at us.

Southbound Evelyn Doris coming at us.

Southbound Evelyn Doris coming at us.

We are all approaching the North Landing Bridge (a swing bridge) for its 10:30 am opening. Time to Go passes through, and then we pass through, noticing the damage recently caused by a barge.

We are all approaching the North Landing Bridge (a swing bridge) for its 10:30 am opening. Time to Go passes through, and then we pass through, noticing the damage recently caused by a barge.

Aries passes through behind us, with Asylum and Cutting Class steaming up as fast as they can while begging the bridge tender not to close before they get there. Marcia sweet-talked the bridge and Asylum flat out told him that if he began to close the bridge now both boats would be unable to stop in time. They got through!

Aries passes through behind us, with Asylum and Cutting Class steaming up as fast as they can while begging the bridge tender not to close before they get there. Marcia sweet-talked the bridge and Asylum flat out told him that if he began to close the bridge now both boats would be unable to stop in time. They got through!

Aries informs all of us that he will now move ahead and lead the pack to Great Bridge Bridge (not a typo, that’s the name) and then into the Great Bridge Lock. We are all aiming for the 12:00 bridge opening, because it only opens on the hour.

Aries pushes past us with its barge ahead.

Aries pushes past us with its barge ahead.

 Stumps, snags and deadheads line the shore. It is narrow here and no one wants to move over too close and get caught on them. The term “deadheads” does not relate to Grateful Dead fans at all.

Stumps, snags and deadheads line the shore’s edge. It is narrow here and not gets shallow quickly. No one wants to move over too close and get snagged on any sunken deadheads. The term “deadheads” does not relate to Grateful Dead fans at all.

Before we get to Great Bridge, we all had to get through the Centreville Turnpike Bridge's 11:30 am opening so that we could make the noon opening of Great Bridge Bridge. We have become quite a line-up of boats.

Before we get to Great Bridge, we all had to get through the Centreville Turnpike Bridge’s 11:30 am opening so that we could make the noon opening of Great Bridge Bridge. We have become quite a line-up of boats.

This caught my eye as we exited the Centerville Bridge - a Bahamas courtesy flag still flying on the mast.

This caught my eye as we exited the Centerville Bridge – a Bahamas courtesy flag still flying on the mast. Most of us take them down when we return to the U.S. I thought you had to take them down?

Great Bridge both sides

Aries leads the rest of us through.

Great Bridge Lock is coordinated with Great Bridge Bridge. On we all go……… One tug and barge followed by 9 “rec” boats as the commercial guys referred to us on the VHF radio. At least I assumed they mean “rec” for recreational boats and not “wreck.”

Into the lock – Aries with barge on the starboard side, and all of "rec" boats on portside

Into the lock – Aries with barge on the starboard side, and all of “rec” boats on portside

Ready and waiting for the lock to fill.

Ready and waiting for the lock to fill.

And out we go! Rec boats first.

And out we go! Rec boats first.

A few more bridges (open railroad bridges and the Gilmertin Bridge) and we are in Portsmouth. Whew. What a day! We will reconsider the Dismal Swamp route next time. It may be longer and a bit shallower, but it requires no dancing with barges and bridges.

Instead of anchoring at Hospital Point as we usually do, we decided to try the free docks in downtown Portsmouth, two small cut-out harbors.. This one, North Landing, seemed to be roomier and no one else was there at that hour. The only thing we had to contend with was the constant in and out of the ferry boat. But it’s a free dock for the night, so who cares about noise and some wakes???

Portmsouth free docks

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit, at another dock.

Using our headsets (Christmas present to each other) to dock in Portsmouth. We don’t use them a lot, but when we do they really help. The distance from the flybridge down to the bow or stern makes it hard to hear each other over the engine. At first it felt like “cheating” because we never used anything like this on the sailboats, but it sure does make it easier in potentially tricky docking or anchoring.

A selfie with our bluetooth wireless headsets by Cruising Solutions, a Christmas present to each other.  We don’t use them a lot, but when we do they really help. The distance from the flybridge down to the bow or stern makes it hard to hear each other over the engine. At first it felt like “cheating” because we never used anything like this on the sailboats, but it sure does make it easier in potentially tricky docking or anchoring. We used them here in Portsmouth because there were no dock hands to assist at this free dock.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Portsmouth.

Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class in Portsmouth.

Not the most exciting segment of the journey, nor the prettiest for sure, but it was part of the journey and has been duly recorded. Done.

Brrrrrrr…….. Shivering Through North Carolina

Anthony was up bright and early to cast off our lines. We hope to see them again when they travel north to New England this summer. Bye!

Anthony was up bright and early to cast off our lines. We hope to see them again when they travel north to New England this summer. Bye!

It’s been chilly, perhaps one might even declare it to be cold. If you are living in a house, 49 degrees may only be chilly, but on a boat without heating, 49 degrees outside has translated into 52- 54 degrees at night in our cabin. That is cold. Now I wish we had brought along our flannel sheets! I have been wearing socks with my Keen sandals to keep my toes cozy.

We departed Osprey Marina in South Carolina with plans to reach North Carolina, at least to Southport, hopefully to Carolina Beach.  The sky was still a dusky gray-blue as we left the dock.

The Waccamaw River's colors swiftly changed from dusky gray-blue to a rosy glow.

The Waccamaw River’s colors swiftly changed from dusky gray-blue to a rosy glow. One of my favorite pictures of our days in Waccamaw River.

This was the first time our northbound voyage that we pulled out the heavy duty cold weather gear - hats, gloves, blanket. Not our best fashion statement, even for cruisers.

This was the first time our northbound voyage that we pulled out the heavy duty cold weather gear – hats, gloves, blanket. Not our best fashion statement, even for cruisers.

Cold rowing on the ICW ! We passed four of these boats in one section. The crews were mixed age groups. As we slowed to pass by, I stood outside and chatted with them. They were cold, too. And closer to the water.

Cold rowing on the ICW ! We passed four of these boats in one section. The crews were mixed age groups. As we slowed to pass by, I stood outside and chatted with them. They were cold, too. And closer to the water.

Big casino boats at dock near the Calabash River.

Big casino boats at dock near the Calabash River.

We made Southport in good time, only 7.5 hours, so we decided to brave the Cape Fear River and continue on. The current was in the right direction, but the wind was from the north. It was a “vigorous” ride, especially through the rip. There were 20+ knots of wind and  5-foot seas.Taking some water over the bow and upwards!

An attempted photo of our vigorous ride up the Cape Fear River. We were on the flybridge – photo taken through the closed plastic. I is easy to see how this river was named. In conditions worse than this, "fear" could be the word of the day.

An attempted photo of our vigorous ride up the Cape Fear River. We were on the flybridge (photo taken through the closed plastic.) It is easy to see how this river was named. In conditions worse than this, “fear” could be the word of the day.

This sailboat was having some trouble In the middle of the river. His anchor had fallen off the bow near the red nun, and a large barge was heading northward. We could hear them communicating on the VHF. to avoid any possible collision.

This sailboat was having some trouble In the middle of the river. His anchor had fallen off the bow near the red nun, and a container ship was heading northward. We could hear them communicating on the VHF  to avoid any possible collision.

The barge passes us by. There can be heavy barge and container ship traffic on the Cape Fear. BTW, the sailboat recovered his dropped anchor after the barge passed him.

The barge passes us by. There can be heavy traffic on the Cape Fear with the barges and container ships, plus ferries. BTW, the sailboat recovered his dropped anchor after the barge passed him.

Turning into Snows Cut, we noticed that the waters had a very curious look. It must have been near a tidal change because very dark water was next to lighter water, almost as though the two bodies of water met but refused to mingle. This occurred on both sides of Snows Cut.

Turning into Snows Cut, we noticed that the waters had a very curious look. It must have been near a tidal change because very dark water was next to lighter water, almost as though the two bodies of water met but refused to mingle. Salt and fresh? Dirty ICW/river water  and clearer ocean water?  We don’t know. This occurred on both sides of Snows Cut.

We were still making very good time, so we passed by Carolina Beach and went on to Wrightsville Beach, anchoring in Motts Channel in our usual spot (10.5 hour day, 78 nautical miles.)

The next day, Friday, April 15, continued to be cold. We opted to remain in the salon and steer from the lower helm. No flybridge today. Wimpy, but more comfortable.

Wrightsville Beach to Swansboro, 48 nautical miles, was a day of timing bridges, even though Al and Anthony had lowered our mini-mast. These bridges require careful timing or you could miss a scheduled opening (they are not “on request”) and be forced to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. — Beach Bridge, Figure 8 Bridge, Onslow Beach Bridge.

As we turned out of Motts Channel , we saw SS Sophie docked just before the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.

As we turned out of Motts Channel , we saw the SS Sophie docked just before the Wrightsville Beach Bridge.

Traveling through the Camp Lejeune section, we recalled the helicopters and military drills in the ICW during our first southern passage in 2013. This time we only saw tanks and orange cut-out men on the eastern side of ICW. Target practice??

Traveling through the Camp Lejeune section, we recalled the helicopters and military drills in the ICW during our first southern passage in 2013. This time we only saw abandoned (?) tanks and orange cut-out men on the eastern side of ICW. Target practice??

Swansboro

Swansboro

Needing a rest stop, we chose Swansboro, a waterfront town we had missed on prior trips. The On the Water ChartGuides and Active Captain both said it was possible to anchor here in the little harbor, but we were the only boat in town, on anchor. Before dropping the anchor, we toured around a bit to check the depths, and went over a little too far — our first grounding of this 2015-2016 travel (if you don’t count the deliberate one to clean the boat’s bottom in the Bahamas.) No worries. A little shifting and maneuvering and the captain had her off the mud and moving again.

The winds were still strong, and the current was running swiftly through this anchorage, holding us in one direction.

The winds were still strong, and the current was running swiftly through this anchorage, holding us in one direction. The boat made circles all night and day, but not in a 360 around the anchor, just in loops. Al kept the iPad on so he could monitor the swinging. Made quite a design.

Zoomed out view on left, Zoomed in view on right.   The boat made loops  all night and day, but not in a 360 around the anchor, just in loops off to one side of the anchor. The anchor is the upper right blue dot. The lower blue dot is the location of the boat when we pulled anchor the next day. Al kept the iPad on so he could monitor the swinging. Made quite a design.

Swansboro was a nice place to walk about and stretch the legs. The “main” street had gift shops and restaurants, most with a unique flavor of their own.

Swansboro waterfront view.

Swansboro waterfront view.

Lunch at Church Street Irish Pub & Deli – good burgers in a funky little restaurant.

Lunch at Church Street Irish Pub & Deli – good burgers in a funky little restaurant.

The most unusual store was named Poor Man’s Hole filled with antiques and vintage “stuff,” great for browsing or unearthing that unique special something that you didn’t know you needed or wanted. But had to have. (We only looked, no buying!)

The upper porch of Poor Man's Hole has matching his and her figureheads. Wouldn't that look nice on our house in Connecticut?

The upper porch of Poor Man’s Hole has matching his and her figureheads. Wouldn’t that look nice on our house in Connecticut?

A feast for the eyes if you like roaming through curious places looking at unusual items.

A feast for the eyes if you like roaming through curious places looking at unusual items. We do!

Look here! We could buy a figurehead to bring home! How cool would that be? We passed the opportunity up.

Look here –  We could buy a figurehead to bring home! How cool would that be? In the end, we passed the opportunity up.

Calm enough to cook a pot of sausage lentil soup while underway. Simmering soup helped to warm the cabin and then our tummies.

Calm enough to cook a pot of sausage lentil soup while underway. Simmering soup helped to warm the cabin and then our tummies.

Our day’s layover in Swansboro became one night and a partial day. After our lunch in Swansboro (followed by a nap), the Captain declared we would pull anchor and continue on (3:30 in the afternoon??) Never dull on this ship. It was a good decision – 2 hours farther and we anchored in a marina community cove called Spooner Creek which was much, much calmer.

Cinnamon apple raisin oatmeal keeps us warm on another cold morning.

Oatmeal with apples and raisins keeps us warm on the next cold morning.

 

Onward to Oriental, arriving around 10:00 am so we had the day to visit with Cutting Class. Here we are in Oriental, together once again! An extra bonus – our friends, John and Debra on Mandalay are also in Oriental.

Cutting Class at one of Oriental's free town docks (available for for 2 nights only within a 30-day time period). Mandalay, a classic 50+ foot steel hull Berger at the marina's dock.

Cutting Class at one of Oriental’s free town docks (available for for 2 nights only within a 30-day time period). We wish more towns and harbors were as accommodating as Oriental.
Mandalay, a classic 50+ foot steel-hull Berger at the marina’s dock. Like us, this is John and Debra’s 3rd boat with the same name. Sometimes you just get attached to a name and identify with it too much to ever give it up.

There was no room at the town’s free dock so we stayed out in the anchorage. Oriental has several “webcams” on their town website, TownDock.net, so we were checking the town docks and the anchorage before we even arrived. Wish more places had webcams!

Oriental TownDock.net webcams

Oriental TownDock.net webcams – Harbor view and anchorage view (These photos were after we left, which is why there are open docks and an empty anchorage!)

Our leg muscles had a nice stretch again with a walk around Oriental. The town certainly looked quite different than our previous 6-day visit in October waiting for Joachim and the torrential rains to pass by.  The streets are dry this time!

For a small town and harbor, there are a lot of fishing trawlers here.

Pleasure boats, power and sail, share the harbor with fishing boats. For a small town, there are a lot of fishing trawlers here.

"The Bean", the local hang-out for coffee, breakfast and ice cream. This time you can walk right up to the steps instead of kayak or wade to it, if at all.

“The Bean”, the local hang-out for coffee, breakfast and ice cream. This time we could  walk right up to the steps instead of kayak or wade to it, if at all.

So, how did Oriental get its name? The small town was originally known as Smith’s Creek, but in 1886 the new postmaster’s wife, Rebecca, thought the village needed a better name. Rebecca was obviously a woman ahead of her time, thinking of marketing possibilities. One version of the naming story says that Rebecca found the nameplate from the 1862 wreck of the  Civil War sailing steamer “Oriental” on the beaches of the Outer Banks and thought that name was more suitable. Another story says she just saw the nameplate in a Manteo home. Regardless, the name “Oriental” made such an impression on Rebecca that the village became known as Oriental a few years after the post office was established and the town was incorporated in 1899.

Oriental is a town that takes its name seriously.

Oriental is a town that takes its name seriously. Note the “oriental” style of lettering on the yacht club’s pavillion.

Dragons abound (and afloat) through Oriental. The dragon is the town's mascot, also continuing the oriental theme of its name.

Dragons abound (and afloat) through Oriental. The dragon is the town’s mascot, also continuing the oriental theme of its name. This is the first time we  saw this little gem of a dragon because in October it was under water.

The Captains of Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit had time to problem solve a Garmin chart plotter issue. Problem solving - two heads are better than one. Problem solved successfully!

Problem solving – two heads are better than one. Problem solved successfully! The Captains of Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit had time to problem solve a Garmin chart plotter issue. A problem that Garmin was unable to solve. Aha!

John holding Zoe, Dan, Marcia, Debra, Me. and Al - group selfie thanks to Al's long arm.

John holding Zoe, Dan, Marcia, Debra, me,  and Al – group selfie thanks to Al’s long arm.We had a another great cruiser happy hour with friends along the way.

From Osprey Marina in South Carolina to Oriental, North Carolina – four days and 170 miles. This northbound journey has been more about the friends we connect with along the way than it is about the places. We are moving quickly. Why? A baby shower for our newest grandchild, a granddaughter, on May 7th is quickly approaching……….

South Carolina’s Low Country

We are in South Carolina, the "palmetto state."

We are in South Carolina, the “palmetto state.”

Before we knew it, we were in “Low Country”; South Carolina was just across the Savannah River which acts as the border between it and Georgia. The “low country” is used to describe the geographic and cultural characteristics of coastal South Carolina.

Our goal was Charleston which would take two days on the ICW.  On the first day, Mother Nature gave us an early rain, but then tossed in the sun to brighten the way, along with some stronger west winds of 15-20 knots with 25+ gusts to keep us on our toes.

 

plotter speeds

Two pics on the left side — Sometimes the current was with us (going 10 knots in Port Royal Sound ) and sometimes it was against us (going 5.9 knots in Calibogue Sound) . Notice the end arrival times in both cases – same day, same anchorage. Two hour difference. That’s traveling on the ICW.                                                                                                                                                                On the right, another chart plotter picture the following day,  just for fun – 12.5 knots! Now that was a current that was with us. All of the speeds are at the same 1800 rpm.

I have been taking fewer photos along the way on this northern trip. Most of the good sights have been photo’d and blogged already on both of the southbound trips. It’s not easy finding new things to photograph and write about. 😉

But it is hard to resist a beautiful dawn in the marshes of the Low Country.

But it is hard to resist a beautiful dawn in the marshes of the Low Country.

Coming around the tip of Charleston by Battery Park, we saw these very fast little sailboats that get up above the water's surface and speed!

Coming around the tip of Charleston by Battery Park, we saw these very fast little sailboats that get up above the water’s surface on what looks like little posts, and the speed all over!

Two of the steeples of Charleston are visible from the water.

Two of the steeples of Charleston are visible from the water.

We love Charleston and that’s quite obvious by my previous blogs – Charleston Charm in 2013 and Captivated by Charleston’ Charm Again in 2015. This stop would be a short one for visiting with friends, grocery shopping, laundry, and a bit of Charleston fun. We were headed for a dock at the Charleston Maritime Center (friendly people, free laundry, close to historic Charleston.) We knew that 4 pm was the best time to arrive, for current and tide, so we tried to dawdle watching those fast little sailboats coming around the Ashley River and into the Cooper River, but……..we were still early. It was only 3:30 pm when we approached the entrance to the Maritime Center.   The marina staff said come on in, we will be on the dock to assist. Dan and Marcia were right there as well, but there isn’t much anyone can do when you get stuck partly in and partly out of the slip due to a dead low tide. Oh well. We tied off and sat for a half hour, just long enough to get enough water below the keel and shimmy in completely. I don’t believe that is what is meant by “low country!” We saw a lot of mud churned up under us. Not a pretty sight, and a somewhat worrisome one. Al did some preventive maintenance and cleaned the water intake filter thoroughly.

clean out that mud

Al took out the water intake filter for the engine and gave it a thorough cleaning. Get rid of  any mud that was sucked up!

Kindred Spirit in the slip (2nd boat in) Next time, we will be sure to request a slip that is a little farther out!

Kindred Spirit completely in the slip (2nd boat in) Next time, we will be sure to request a slip that is a little farther out!

South Carolina’s dramatic tidal range includes the Maritime Center. Even the water taxi had to use different docks around the marina to avoid the lowest tide.

Looking from our aft deck to the shore. The top photo was taken at low tide - the buoy is in visible sitting in the mud. The bottom photo was taken at high tide - water all the way up.

Looking from our aft deck to the shore. The top photo was taken at low tide – the buoy is tilted over sitting in the mud. The bottom photo was taken at high tide – more water!

A different style of “cruising” —-

The Maritime Center is near the Port Authority where cruise ships arrive and depart. This was the first time we were there when a ship was loading with luggage and people. Ecstasy is one big ship as she backs up just outside the small entrance to the Maritime Center.

The Maritime Center is near the Port Authority where cruise ships arrive and depart. This was the first time saw a cruise ship loading with luggage and people.
“Ecstasy” backs up just outside the small entrance to the Maritime Center before heading out to sea. We can’t wrap our heads around cruising on such an enormous ship with so many people!

It was fun to catch up with Dan and Marcia on Cutting Class again. Saturday morning was the first Charleston Farmers Market of the season, so the four of us walked over to Marion Square to check it out. And look at the crafts, buy produce and eat breakfast.

The vegetables and fruits were a thing of beauty. Like artwork!

The vegetables and fruits were a thing of beauty. Like artwork!

Country corn and country music.

Country corn and country music.

We chose breakfast crepes filled with ham and cheese. Charleston is the place for eating!

We chose breakfast crepes filled with ham and cheese. Charleston is the place for eating!

Before dinner that evening, we held a benne wafer “taste test”, in honor of continuing this southern food exploration that began in Georgia.

The history of benne wafers (from a package).

The history of benne wafers (from a package).

Two samples on the plate on each side. The winner? Package on the right -- "Southern Sisters."

Two samples on the plate, one type on each side. The winner? Package on the right, but the actual wafers are on the left side of the plate — “Southern Sisters.”

This was a good weekend to hang out in Charleston. Saturday was the first Farmers Market of the season, and Sunday just happened to be “2nd Sunday on King Street.” The city closes King Street to all traffic so that pedestrians can leisurely amble down the street to shop and eat.

King Street, Charleston on the 2nd Sunday."

King Street, Charleston on the “2nd Sunday.”

Guys and gals, aimlessly wandering down King Street in Charleston.

Guys and gals, aimlessly wandering down King Street in Charleston.

Food trucks on King Street

Food trucks on King Street. I noticed “roti rolls” in several  places but had never heard of it. It’s not a Southern food at all. Roti is an unleavened flat bread made from stoneground whole meal flour originating in Inda, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as South Africa and southern Carribean. I assume the “roll” part means the bread is filled with something and then rolled up.

Dan and Al (n the background) are patiently waiting while Marcia and I asked if we could take this picture -- Southern ladies with style! Wouldn’t that be such fun to do with a few girlfriends??? But where can we find hats like that in New England??

Dan and Al (in the background) are patiently waiting while Marcia and I asked if we could take this picture — Southern ladies with style! They looked awesome and were ever so gracious. Wouldn’t that be such fun to do with a few girlfriends??? But where can we find hats like that in New England??

In the interest of continuing our Southern food explorations, we all ate the “lunch express” at S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad, our favorite Charleston restaurant), the best deal in town. The “lunch express” for the day included soup, fried chicken, mac and cheese, and okra with iced tea or coffee for $12.95. The restaurant is beautiful and the service is wonderful. It’s no hole in the wall.

Juicy and flavorful Southern fried chicken with creamy mac and cheese, and okra. My first taste of okra - not bad at all.

Juicy and flavorful southern fried chicken with creamy mac and cheese and okra. My first taste of okra -not bad at all.

Our walk around Charleston took us through the Old City Market again just for the window shopping experience, although I did buy some bags of benne wafers to bring home, for good luck, as is said.

flower boxes

The blooming window boxes declared that spring was here in Charleston.

Fountain near the waterfront.

Fountain near the waterfront.

Enjoying our time in Charleston with good friends and good food.

Enjoying our time in Charleston with good friends and good food.

Monday morning was departure time for both Kindred Spirit and Cutting Class, each of us taking a different route. Cutting Class opted for a long offshore run of 33 hours from Charleston to Beaufort, North Carolina. We decided on the inside ICW route for two reasons, 1) The weather outside did not look compatible with a trawler, and 2) We would be able to stop and visit our friends on Magnolia, our Morgan 43/44 sistership, in Myrtle Beach. Cutting Class departed at 6 am while we waited for that pesky low tide to rise enough for us to slip out of the slip at 8 am.

We enjoy the mix and match between “civilization” and nature. After the civilization of Charleston and Savannah, we had two days of the wiggling and wandering through the marshes of the winding Waccamaw River.

icw creek

Creeks flow into the Waccamaw on both sides.

That'a lonely (or private) home sitting marshland.

That’a lonely (or private) home sitting out in the marshland.

The marshes can be quite lovely in the right light.

The marshes can be quite lovely in the right light.

Pelicans and egrets everywhere.

Pelicans and egrets everywhere.

We were still spotting dolphins all through the ICW. I have always thought of them as ocean creatures, but obviously I was wrong about that.

We were still spotting dolphins all through the ICW. I have always thought of them as ocean creatures, but obviously I was wrong about that. These dolphins were in playful moods, splashing and flipping their tails around.

We learned about the indigo and rice plantations that once covered this low country on a visit to the Rice Museum in Georgetown, SC  two years ago. Before the Civil War, miles of rice fields lined the ICW. Slave labor cleared the land, built the dikes and gates, and managed the water level by a system of wooden floodgates. The plantations and rice fields are long gone now.

We passed several structures that could only be the remains of the gates built to regulate the water in the rice fields, letting in water when needed and keeping it out when necessary. Supposedly a slave chid would sit atop the gate and wash his/her hands in the water on the non-field side. As long as the soap lathered, all was well. As soon as the soap no longer lathered, it was a sign that the water was sea water and salty. Any sea water let into the fields would ruin the soil for many years.

We passed several structures that could only be the remains of the gates built to regulate the water in the rice fields, letting in water when needed and keeping it out when necessary. Supposedly a slave chid would sit atop the gate and wash his/her hands in the water on the non-field side. As long as the soap lathered, all was well. As soon as the soap no longer lathered, it was a sign that the water was sea water and salty. Any sea water let into the fields would ruin the soil for many years.

Our anchorage for the night, just off the ICW in Butler Creek. All alone, just us and the sound of the birds.

After 61 nautical miles, we ended our day in an anchorage  just off the ICW in Butler Creek. All alone, just us and the sound of the birds.

Another glow on the eastern horizon accompanies us as we get an early start on the day’s miles.

Our second day on the Waccamaw River was much the same as the first but the view changed from marshes to trees lining the water’s edge. It was also a damp and rainy day. 🙁

We are still seeing Spanish moss hanging in the branches.

We are still seeing Spanish moss hanging in the branches.

Reflections in the water, even though it was overcast and damp.

Reflections in the water, even though it was overcast and damp.

trees and roots

Interesting roots on these trees that appear to live above and below the water, depending on the tide.

Red roots

Reddish orange roots

After only 21 miles, we arrived at Osprey Marina, just off the ICW on the Waccamaw River, to visit with our friends Anthony and Annette on Magnolia. We had left the Bahamas about the same day, but they took the long offshore route for multiple days and skipped Florida and Georgia entirely. This was our first stop at Osprey Marina and we found it to be one of the nicest marinas we have seen. I mean “nicest” in the true sense of the word. – friendly and nice. It may not be the fanciest or be near any stores, shops, or attractions (within walking distance of the docks), but we stayed an extra day because of Magnolia, first, but also because we were meeting nice people. Why should you stop here? Cheapest diesel fuel for miles and miles ($1.54/gal, reasonably priced dockage (a little more than $1/ft), very nice building with a small “convenience” store, and an area with tables and chairs for cruisers, free wifi, AND free donuts, bagels and coffee in the morning. They even give each new boat a little goody bag when you arrive.

Magnolia has been docked out in the "hinterland docks" for the past month. That dock lines the channel that leads to the fuel dock and inner docks. The marina provides golf carts for traveling back and forth.

Magnolia has been docked on the outer edge for the past month. That dock lines the channel that leads to the fuel dock and inner docks. The marina provides golf carts for traveling back and forth. Magnolia has a good view of everyone who enters and departs.

The marina office building.

The marina office building.

The crews of Magnolia and Kindred Spirit shared stories from the past five weeks over dinners onboard, first night on Magnolia, next night on Kindred Spirit. Anthony and Annette had a rental car so we did grocery shopping, West Marine, Home Depot, and……… drum roll………. ICE CREAM!!

Anthony and Al live for and thrive on their ice cream. Annette and I just go along... (not! We love it, too.)

Anthony and Al  thrive on their ice cream. Annette and I just go along… (not! We love it, too.)

Osprey Marina may n to be near many conveniences, but there is a nice road to take a walk and stretch the legs.

Osprey Marina may not be near many conveniences, but there is a nice road to take a walk and stretch the legs.

My walk took me past horses grazing and a field of goats. Each winter these goats are kept at Osprey, and in the spring they are gathered and brought back to Murrells Inlet, to Goat Island.

My walk took me past horses grazing and a field of goats. Each winter these goats are kept at Osprey, and in the spring they are gathered and brought back to Murrells Inlet, to Goat Island.

This little turtle was h hanging around the bow of the boat for a long time, never even submerging for a swim. We heard that people feed him. I guess he was expecting a treat to come his way.

This little turtle was  hanging around the bow of the boat for a long time, never even submerging for a swim. We heard that people feed him. I guess he was expecting a treat to come his way.

The happy hours on the deck at Osprey, rain or shine, were a delight. We met some very nice fellow boaters, sail and power. Some doing the ICW north and south, some to the Bahamas and back, some doing “the Loop.”

Becky (on the right) with Pat (in the middle) are soon-to-be cruisers.

On the porch on rainy days — Pat and Al talking with ? in the top photo and  Anthony, ?, and Becky. Pat and Becky are soon-to-be cruisers on “Turas”, their boat.  It was fun to meet Becky and learn that she reads my blog.

Annette & Anthony with us in the top photo. Jim and Joey on "My Pleasure", and Laurie and Artie on "My Leap of Faith" in the bottom photo.

On the sunny deck — Annette & Anthony with us in the top photo. Jim and Joey on “My Pleasure”, and Laurie and Artie on “My Leap of Faith” in the bottom photo.

Gene and Kimberly are great dockhands. Ready, willing and very able.

Gene and Kimberly are great dockhands. Ready, willing and very able.

During happy hour, Gene and Kimberly told us that an 80-foot long Trumpy would be arriving in Osprey that evening.What’s a “Trumpy?”, I asked (hopefully nothing related to the Trump in the news these days!) Trumpys were built for over 50 years until the factory closed in 1973. They were boats for the elite, status symbols, as it were.  The 80-foot Trumpy we would all soon see was the S.S. Sophie, built in 1947 and now owned by Greta van Susteren (host of FOX News On the Record) and her husband, John Coale. The November 2003 issue of Power & MotorYacht magazine has a very complete and thorough article on the S.S. Sophie.

We all watched S.S. Sophie pull into the fuel dock, very competently handled by her captain and first mate, a couple that take care of her (not Greta van Susteren and John Coale), with dock assistance from Gene and Kimberly.

The S.S. Sophie arrives at Osprey Marina

The S.S. Sophie arrives at Osprey Marina

Once Sophie was fueled, watered, and pumped out, she settled in for the night, staying at the fuel dock and planning to depart at 7:00 am the next morning. Hmmm…. we had plans to depart at 6:30 am for a long 78 miles day. Below is all 80-feet of Sophie at the fuel dock perpendicular to little 38-foot Kindred Spirit in her slip. Will there be enough room to maneuver out of the slip in the early morning hours just before full daylight????

Sophie and KS

Kindred Spirit in her slip with bow pointing at the port side of Sophie at the fuel dock.

Al and Anthony decided it was worth the effort to move Kindred Spirit that evening after our dinner so that Michele would not lose sleep all night worrying about whether we would damage a multi-million dollar yacht (or our own little boat) as we try to wiggle out of the tight quarters. I suspect the “boys” just loved the idea of a clever use of lines to skillfully maneuver her out. Where did Kindred Spirit go? Out to an empty spot on that long dock lining the channel. And that required parallel parking.

I managed to take couple pictures before Annette and I ran over to the other dock to catch the lines when they arrived.

I managed to take couple pictures before Annette and I ran over to the other dock to catch the lines when they arrived.

Kindred Spirit ready to parallel park at the long dock. I did not notice the homeport on this catamaran until I was looking at the photos just now. That homeport is Schwenksville, PA where I lived from the ages of 5 years to 11 years. Not a common homeport!

Kindred Spirit is ready to park at the long dock. I did not notice the homeport on that catamaran until I was looking at the photos just now. That homeport is Schwenksville, PA where I lived from the ages of 5 years to 11 years. Not a common homeport!

 

We will be moving on again in the morning to make our way from South Carolina to North Carolina.

A Return to Savannah, Friends, and “Good Fortune”

We awoke in our marshy anchorage in the Vernon River to the sound of birds and dolphins swimming around (I still find it curious that there are so many dolphins in the ICW. There was a time when I thought of them as ocean creatures.) Although we skipped most of Georgia, we believe we did spend time in the two best places – Cumberland Island and Savannah.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

Another morning wake up call with the red glow in the east.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

We still had a 2-3 hour trip to our next stop, so we were underway in the early morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

Marshes along the ICW in the morning.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint.

The birds are wonderful to watch, but they can be pretty harsh to things that are under them. If you know what I mean. This green can is not white washed in paint. It won’t be long until boaters will not be able to tell if it is green!

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

Caught one!! These dolphins are fast.

We stopped in Savannah to visit two couples once again. Peter and Kay live on Skidaway Island in the winter months and Connecticut in the summer. We made plans to visit again and they insisted on waving to us as we passed by, even though that would be 7:30 am.

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Peter and Kay waving to us from their neighbor’s lawn on the ICW. (The neighbor is in the bathrobe.) Now that’s a welcome! Getting up early just to wave as we go by. What nice neighbors they have, too!

Our final stop for the day, just 16 more miles on top of the 86 miles from Cumberland Island, was the transient dock at our friends’ community in Causton Bluff. Al met Al (yes, they are both named Al) online through a trawler forum and learned that both own Mariner Orients 38. When we stopped in Savannah on our way south we met Al and Lynn in person.

After settling in at the dock, we began a much-needed cleaning of Kindred Spirit. Washing off salt from the offshore run would soon be followed by washing off the tree pollen. Washing the boat is a never ending project (If water is available. If not, just grin and bear it.)

The tides in Georgia are tremendous. Truly tremendous to boaters from Long island Sound like us. The normal tidal range is 8 feet here, but there was a little extra on each end due to the moon phase.

High & Low

Low and High – I tried to take a photo standing in the same place by the dock ramp. Hope you can see the differences in the angle of the ramp and the amount of the rocky berm exposed.

The Causton Bluff docks are just off the ICW and near the marshes. We could watch boats passing by on the ICW and watch the birds hanging around.

Pelicans!

Pelicans!

Snowy egrets

Snowy egrets

Peter and Kay invited us to dinner for a home-cooked Southern meal. Who could resist an offer like that? What a lovely evening we enjoyed with them -delicious food and lots of fun catching up on news. Peter and Kay’s boat, Cheers, will be Kindred Spirit‘s dock neighbor at Shennecossett Yacht Club in Connecticut this summer.

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I've ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Shrimp and Grits! Kay is cooking the shrimp and I am stirring the grits (first time I’ve ever cooked, or stirred, grits.)

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Southern meal – (From upper left, clockwise) Appetizers – tomato sandwiches, pimento cheese spread. Dinner – shrimp and grits with salad, finished with a dessert of pecan pie. Simply delicious!

Peter and Kay - thank you for a lovely evening!

Peter and Kay – thank you for a lovely evening!

We had explored the city of Savannah for a day during our visit in November (Savannah, the City of Squares and found it be a gracious and beautiful southern city. Although we weren’t able to tour old Savannah again, we did have the opportunity to visit Bonaventure Cemetery, outside of historical downtown Savannah and just 2 miles away from where we were docked. Bonaventure Cemetery is a public cemetery located on a scenic bluff of the Wilmington River and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries and one of the most haunted locations in America.

The cemetery is located on the site of “Bonaventure Plantation”, a 600-acre plantation with its own private cemetery originally owned by John Mullryne. Bonaventure means “good fortune.” In 1846 it was sold and the new owners formed the Evergreen Cemetery Company in 1868. Evergreen Cemetery Company was later purchased by the City of Savannah in 1907, making the cemetery public and changing the name to Bonaventure Cemetery.

There are over 30,000 interments (burials) in the 600 acre cemetery, including famous people and regular folks. There is actually a website finding specific graves in a any cemetery– Find a Grave. Who knew such things existed? According to the Bonaventure section of Find a Grave, there are 15 Watsons buried in Bonaventure.

It would have been easy to spend hours and hours, if not days, wandering through this cemetery. The Spanish moss hangs from the live oaks casting a sorrowful, but beautiful light over the graves. The tombstones are as varied as the time periods and the personalities of those who created or chose each one.

Without captions, let the photographs paint the picture. As it is, they only touch the surface of the experience.

IMG_4645 IMG_4641 IMG_4629IMG_4642

As you walk down the roads lined with the live oaks the first thing you notice is that the graves are organized in family plots, usually with a concrete boundary marker or fencing.

family plot 2 family plot

Headstones of "Father" and "Mother" were often surrounded by their descendants.

Headstones of “Father” and “Mother” were often surrounded by their descendants.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

The small graves of young children are the saddest to come upon.

grave structures

Some sites are marked by simplicity and some, like the above, are notable for more grandeur.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments, as well as some very simply adorned burials.

Interspersed among family burial plots there were some above ground interments.

The statues that adorn many of the gravesites are works of art, evoking a mournful sadness. We overheard a guide telling his group about a sculptor named John Walz who became very well-known from his memorial sculptures here at Bonaventure. I do not know which of these were created by him.

statue 1 & 2 statues older statues

As we wandered in the sun and shadows, we also wondered if we would find anyone named Watson (this was before I stumbled upon the “Find A Grave” website.) Purely by accident, we saw the name Watson on the ground and the full name “Gracie Watson.”

Found a Watson

We paused for a longer time here to read about little Gracie. It was not until later that I learned how famous this little girl has become.

Gracie Watson plaque

The plaque above reads —  “Little Gracie Watson was born in 1883, the only child of her parents. Her father was manager of the Pulaski House, one of Savannah’s leading hotels, where the beautiful and charming little girl was a favorite with the guests. Two days before Easter, in April 1889, Gracie died of pneumonia at the age of six. In 1890, when the rising sculptor, John Walz, moved to Savannah, he carved from a photograph this life-sized, delicately detailed marble statue, which for almost a century has captured the interest of all passersby.”

Although this is the family plot, Gracie rests here all alone, which is so sad. After her death, her father and mother eventually left Savannah and moved back to New England.

John Walz

Gracie’s father had sculptor John Walz carve a monument to his beloved daughter. Using only a photograph as reference John Walz sculpted the statue that now sits upon Little Gracie’s grave site. It is said to be life size and a picture perfect representation of Little Gracie Watson.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Like the “Bird Girl” statue, little Gracie Watson has become very popular, and the grave is now fenced off in wrought-iron to prevent further damage. If you look closely you can see stuffed animal toys that people leave for her.

Our brief time in Savannah came to a close too soon, but we did squeeze in a breakfast with Al and Lynn before we departed.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

Lynn cut flowers from her lovely lilies for me to take back to the boat. The bouquet added such a touch of cheer to our little salon.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

A group selfie of Lynn and Alfred and Michele and Alan.

Southern hospitality and warmth is not a myth, it is a fact. Not only did we have that early morning wave from Peter and Kay to welcome us, but Al and Lynn came down to the dock to wave goodbye and send us off in style.

Waving farewell from the dock.

Waving farewell from the dock.

We may have only made two stops in Georgia, but both were filled with friends and “good fortune.”